If you're looking for the perfect gag gift to round out your Christmas shopping, you might want to think twice before putting Ben Palmer's book, "Stock Photos with Captions," on your list. With its mix of idiotic, politically-incorrect, creepster captions, his compilation of mundane stock photos culled from the Internet puts a new twist on the meaning of "stocking stuffer."
"I wonder how long it takes him to get hard," reads one above a photo of a middle-aged woman and grey-haired man harmlessly collaborating in a corporate setting. Then there's the photo of televangelist Benny Hinn, arm outstretched while cradling the Bible, with a caption that reads: "Fall over dammit I'm healing you."
That sardonic sense of humor, paired with his penchant for pranks, pretty much sums up Palmer's comedic approach. Since moving to Atlanta two and a half years ago, the Ohio native has become a staple in the local comedy scene, with regular appearances at Uptown Comedy Club, Laughing Skull Lounge, Punchline, Hole in the Wall, and elsewhere.
But his preferred stage might be his Facebook page. He uses social media the way traditional standups use a hot mic. And his posts run the gamut, from seriously depressing screeds on his personal quest for meaning to totally inane comments left on Fortune 500 companies' sponsored pages.
"That's what I love to do, just get high and try to make people laugh on the Internet," he says.
I caught up with Palmer offline this week to talk about the differences between black and white crowds, the money he's earned from running TV court scams with friends on "Judge Joe Brown" and "Judge Alex," and the reason why his dad blocked him on Facebook.
I just want to tell you that I will not be giving anyone your book for Christmas because I'm scared of what they'd think of me as a result.
Ben Palmer: What? C'mon, they'll love it man. I just wouldn't show it to any kids.
So what was the inspiration for "Stock Photos with Captions"?
A new report says that Georgia's poverty rates have steadily climbed despite the recent recovery of the state's economy.
The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute this week released its latest policy report that says 1.8 million adults and children - about one in five Georgians - lived in poverty in 2012. Georgia suffered its highest levels in more than three decades and currently has the nation's sixth-worst poverty rate.
"The recent recession caused pain both for people already living in poverty and people who fell into it for the first time," GBPI Policy Analyst Melissa Johnson wrote. "Yet the long-standing barriers that continue to block Georgians from moving out of poverty stubbornly persist."
More than 60,000 children in Georgia live in low-income households, according to the report. Poverty across Georgia, the study says, has impacted 15 percent of all families, 20 percent of families with children, and nearly half of all single mothers with kids.
Georgia's poverty rates have disproportionately impacted some of the state's minority populations, GBPI's report says. While the study says 31 percent of Georgians are black, they comprise an estimated 45 percent of the state's impoverished residents. Meanwhile, Hispanics make up 9 percent of the state's overall population, but around 15 percent of those who are poor.
According to the study, residents below the poverty line are less likely to have higher education opportunities and access to health care. Forty-three percent of poor Georgia residents have jobs but many of the available employment opportunities don't offer enough compensation to fully provide for their families. In recent years, part-work time and long-term unemployment have both increased, contributing to Georgia's rising poverty rates.
And echoing findings in other reports, GPBI notes that Georgia's poverty rates rose faster in the suburbs than urban and rural areas. More than 1 million poor residents in Georgia have migrated from the city to more affordable residences in the suburbs. With many poor Georgians heavily dependent on public transit, access to better jobs or schools can become increasingly difficult.
Without key policy changes - including a higher minimum wage, affordable health care, and better education opportunities - GPBI says that poor residents will continue to rely upon government programs rather than help the state through paying more taxes.
"Unless Georgia addresses the fundamental causes of persistent poverty in Georgia, low-income Georgians will continue to struggle for economic survival instead of being valuable resources to the state," Johnson wrote.
We've included the full GPBI report after the jump:
Jurors this morning found Balfour not guilty on all counts after three full days of listening to the defense and prosecutors present their case. Last September, a Fulton County grand jury indicted the Gwinnett County lawmaker and Waffle House executive on 18 counts that included making a false certificate, theft by taking, and making a false statement and writing.
The charges followed a 2012 ethics complaint that accused Balfour of reimbursing mileage expenses for time he spent on a lobbyist-paid trip. He paid a $5,000 fine levied by the Senate Ethics Committee. Jim Walls of Atlanta Unfiltered first reported on the expense filings.
Prosecutors were unable to convince jurors that Balfour intentionally tried to pocket thousands from the state by double-billing his legislative expenses. Balfour, who was first elected to the Georgia Senate in 1992, on Wednesday testified in his own defense the state actually owed him more than $23,000 for 115 days where he didn't claim his $173 legislative per diem. His legal team tried pointing out that mistakes happened not only with his own record keeping, but also with state investigators.
"I should've gotten paid per diems for those days but for the fact that I didn't turn them in," Balfour said. "It wasn't important. I wasn't there for the money."
The defense also called upon several prominent former lawmakers including former Govs. Roy Barnes and Sonny Perdue; former Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson; and Georgia Court of Appeals Judge and one-time state Sen. William Ray to attest to Balfour's character.
Minutes after the verdict, Gov. Nathan Deal's office immediately lifted his Gold Dome suspension so that he can return to work for the 2014 legislative session.
Following the decision, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said he was "very disappointed" in the outcome, but defended his decision to bring to the case to trial.
"The GBI investigation revealed that Senator Balfour requested and received reimbursements for expenses he did not actually incur: miles he did not drive, days he did not work, hotels other people paid for," Olens said in a statement. "Those requests were too numerous and systematic to be simply isolated mistakes. If those requests had been submitted by an unelected state employee, they would have been prosecuted, and a state senator should not be held to a lower standard."
This story is still developing. We'll post more details when we have an update.
1. Krampus Xmas at 7 Stages
2. Christina Pazsitzky at the Punchline
3. Single Mingle at the High Museum
4. Exhumed, Mangled, and Dismemberment at the Drunken Unicorn
5. Holiday Sip and Shop at the Museum of Design Atlanta
A tractor-trailer decided to go H.A.M. earlier this morning on the ramp from Old National Highway to I-85 southbound when it overturned, spilling 40,000 pounds of ham all over the road. The driver is fine but those little piggies won't be going to the market.
The Gainesville School board has decided it will allow school resource officers at three of its schools to have access to long-range rifles that will be kept in safes on school grounds.
Alabama's newest and largest casino opened this week. Wind Creek Wetumpka is the $246 million creation of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. But it's not all neon glitz and triple cherries: Oklahoma Creeks believe the Poarch construction project defaced sacred tribal land and the state of Alabama "has a pending federal lawsuit claiming that the casino is a nuisance to the community and the machines are illegal under both state and federal law."
A new report says that the European-led boycott of exporting medical drugs used to execute prisoners has had a dramatic impact on the number of overall executions in the United States this year.
Happy belated 70th birfday, Keef!
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, who's vying to win U.S. Saxby Chambliss' open seat in 2014, last weekend said that children who qualify for the federal school lunch program should have to pay a small portion of the cost or perform additional work to get their meals. (via Huffington Post)
To save CL time from painstakingly documenting every comment people say, we've created 'Soundbites' to call attention to their remarks.
But the loopy comedy may have been destined to feel like an afterthought no matter how it was marketed. Anchorman 2 struggles to live up to the standard of its predecessor of nearly 10 years ago. As an increasingly bizarre spoof of 1970s television and gender roles, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy combined an innately amusing concept with a tight, improv-happy cast at the height of their powers. Anchorman 2 can't recapture the same brand of silly spontaneity, but its sheer quantity of gags ensure that enough of them stick.
Peach Pundit this morning noted that international consulting firm Arthur D. Little has released its second-ever "Future of Urban Mobility" study. The Boston-based group, which analyzed 84 major international cities, created an index for "highlighting the mobility challenges cities face on a worldwide basis."
Sadly, Atlanta ranked 82nd, surpassing only Asian capitals Baghdad and Hanoi. The top three global cities on the index were Hong Kong, Stockholm, and Amsterdam, while New York City scored best among the U.S. cities included in the report.
According to the study, most North American cities were at a disadvantage due to the continent's reliance on cars and related CO2 emissions. The firm's findings, however, didn't elaborate much about what specifically contributed to Atlanta's low rankings. We've embedded the full report after the jump:
According to the Secretary of State's report, officials found numerous problems with Fulton County officials' inadequate planning, training, communication, and decision-making before and during the 2012 election. That led to several violations and thousands of ballots being discounted.
"Perhaps most troubling is the apparent utter disregard for the security and integrity of practically the entirety of the provisional ballot process," the report says. "Almost 10,000 votes were essentially un-documented or under-documented and under-secured."
In addition, an unknown number of voters in the July 2012 primary may have cast ballots in the wrong Georgia General Assembly elections due to recent redistricting.
Some Fulton officials felt the findings overstated the problems and said that the county's election board contains new leadership and upgraded voting equipment. Fulton County experienced fewer issues during the 2013 citywide election - one that had far fewer races and low voter turnout.
The AJC's David Wickert explains what happens next:
Those proceedings will determine whether Fulton committed at least 15 violations of state election laws during its 2012 general and primary elections. It faces the possibility of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and perhaps some remedial lessons in how to run elections.
A settlement of the case could involve additional training and reporting requirements. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office conducted the investigation, said he hopes it's resolved in time to help Fulton better prepare for elections next year.
Olens has several options moving forward: enter into a consent order with the county, schedule a trial in front of the Office of Administrative Hearings, or look into criminal charges.
1. Alchemy 3 continues at Beep Beep Gallery
2. Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner at Big Tex Decatur
3. Dave Nelson and Marlon Patton at the Goat Farm
4. Toys For Tots show at the Punchline
5. Keith Richards Birthday Bash at the Earl
"They're not knick knacks for a billionaire's shelf." True, they're not knick knacks, they are…
Oy, Neither of these stadia will be a public amenity any more than the Cheetah…
How do you carry on an honest discussion without discussing Chicago? More children die in…
Get over yourself, JR. It's been a while since I laughed as hard as I…
Oy, multi-millions for public amenities, civic pride and bragging rights; but, not a penny for…
Not to be the one hijacking a thread here, but imagine the freak out if…