Saturday, March 5, 2011

Report from the Streets: Ours on Ponce Screening at Hotel Palomar

Lobby at Hotel Palomar

I could not believe it! As we pulled up to the Hotel Palomar on Wednesday night, the search lights were beaming across the front of this 20+ story modernistic boutique hotel and we were about to watch the screening of our short film "Ours On Ponce."  Way to make us feel special!

What started as an idea for this blog somehow turned into a documentary that was now being seen by hundreds of people.  Serendipity was on our side.  When we went out to film that night in January we had no real plans, other than to film on Ponce de Leon Avenue from sunset to sunrise, to not get mugged or hurt and to have fun documenting the infamous street that personifies Atlanta, GA.  As luck would have it we ran into some of Atlanta most recognized characters:  Kenny Crucial, The guy who plays trumpet outside the Drunken Unicorn, Romeo Collogne and even Dax!  We even got a personalized 3AM tour of the condemned Clermont Hotel. This was all about Atlanta! And most importantly we had a lot of fun.

So now, only a few weeks later, along with 15 other short films, our film was being screened at a fancy hotel and is being considered for an award!  And if we win, we will be screened at the main Atlanta Film Festival and we will all get passes for the festival.

Screening at Hotel Palomar
So as we walked into Hotel Palomar I picked up a program, a glass of wine and perused the delectable h'ors d'oeuvres.  They even had a theater popcorn machine.  We watched the screening of the first eight films.  Ours on Ponce was my favorite of the night of course, but I also really liked Good Times.  It was a cute film that features the Krog Street tunnel, though I kind of wished it had a little bit more of an Atlanta element to it.  A few of the films made me feel like I was in art school again, randomly meandering through the minds of artists, slightly confused.  Later Adron would play a set.  We were proud to have been chosen, and all the hard work of editing (mostly done by Kim) seemed to have paid off.

The second 8 of the 16 chosen films screened the second night, and the competition was a little more fierce that night.  To/From L5P was in the same vein as ours without all the interviews and funny commentary.  I also really liked Gnome or Mr. Nice Guy, but again I was hoping for something a little more "Atlanta" from it.

The thing that strikes me most is that we had literally just filmed this 1 month ago and now we were watching it among our "peers" and being treated as "artists" or "filmmakers."  None of us are professional artists or filmmakers, we just had an idea of how we see Atlanta and now it was being seen and appreciated (we hope) by lots of people.  Again, serendipity was our friend all along the way on this little journey.  I was also honored to be among all of the other filmmakers who put together some inventive and humorous views of Atlanta.

So, Ours On Ponce is up for a "Viewers Choice" award.  What that means is that YOU the viewer can decide if this is screened at the big Atlanta Film Festival this year.  Voting ends March 18th.  Please watch and vote and then go tell your friends!


Thanks to Creative Loafing, The Atlanta Film Festival and especially to all the bars and people we ran into that night.  You are Atlanta and you make us proud!

OURS ON PONCE - Of course I am bias but I think you should vote for this one:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cheating death has never been so fun: Ours on Ponce

The original plan was that each of us would detail our Ponceyisms within one post. I think. But the type of writer I am, the definition of brevity vacates my brain... which thereby means I'm bereft of soul (or would that be wit?). So, this post is the co-supplement to Kim Ware's supplement to the future award-winning veryshort film, Ours on Ponce.

I've lived in Georgia most of my life. I hang out in Atlanta. It's where my life is. Yet there is still so much territory that remains unexplored, which includes the simple stretch of Ponce de Leon Avenue. It's almost embarrassing. Like the night a few years ago when visiting The Local for the first time. I COULD NOT FIND the damn place. After passing the building four times and making two phonecalls to my patient friends, I finally made it... an hour later.

So, my purpose in this project is not only to learn for myself but also to broadcast to others. Though, in the film, verbally, I'm not certain I conveyed that message clearly (what's up, Blinkety McBlink?!?).

We chose Cameli's Gourmet Pizza as the night's springboard because they've started hosting live music once a month. And since we're all musiclovers, it was a natural choice. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, we ran into the inimitable Kenny Crucial outside the restaurant. Snagged a few soundbites from him and went inside to grab a slice.

I wasn't prepared for Cameli's WTF?! slices. My eyes popped out of my head when I saw this:



So what, you say? Allow me to lend some perspective:


WTF Cameli's?!

That should hold me for a few beers and until we reach our nightending Krispy Kreme doughnut.

After watching sets by local acts Balkans and The Clap, we crossed the street to The Bookhouse. Or, as I kept saying, "Teh Bookhouse." My group was confused at first, why I insisted on referring to it "Teh." Have you SEEN the restaurant's Facebook page?! I couldn't help myself.

We took in the atmosphere and some cocktails. Half the group ventured to the gay bar around the corner, Friends (another establishment that was news to me), while the rest of us held down the fort at Bookhouse. Once we reconvened, we chatted up some interesting (read: drunk) people on the back deck. Satisfied with the footage we captured, we left Teh Bookhouse for some more excitement.


Nto kidding.

Next, we trekked to the now-familiar-to-me bar, The Local (note: former Local bartender, Grant Henry, now owns Sister Louisa's...) . It was packed, so all we could do was stand against a railing and look like fish-out-of-water idiots even though it's our crowd and we technically "belong," with the exception of the hipster element. We quit that bitch and slid out the back door. There, we found the "my daughter thought 'Ponce' was a fancy way of saying 'pants'" dude. Great stuff.

After that, we Froggered across Ponce to the pièce de résistance of Atlanta nightlife: the Clermont Lounge. We knew we wouldn't be allowed to film inside, on account of the strippers(?), but it didn't matter. We still hit jackpot, three times. 1) DJ legend, Romeo Cologne; 2) a girl puking, which totally captures the essence of this fine establishment; 3) a security guard for the [condemned] hotel portion of the Clermont, who instructed us to return later for a tour.

Meanwhile, we took a quick detour to El Bar, where they wouldn't let us film inside. Too bad. The place was bumpin', and you could hear the music through the walls. We decided to pass time at Righteous Room instead. Not one of my favorite places, as it's smoky-- but the jukebox has excellent music. It was here where we met the film's bookend character, "The Rick Dang of the Righteous Room," as I called him.

Finally, we were ready for our Clermont Hotel tour. The security guard was definitely a little "off," so of course we made jokes about him luring us inside, stealing our money and leaving us for dead (or killing us and then raiding our pockets). The tour was supposed to be for our group only. Unfortunately, a group of fuckwads piggybacked their way inside. Which wouldn't have been so bad if they weren't obnoxious. One girl wanted to pick a fight with Donna, which was actually entertaining.


Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

Mr. Not-Much-of-a-Security Guard stressed that he could get in trouble for allowing us inside the Clermont Hotel, so we had to be fast. He led up up a few flights of stairs. "Where the fuck are we going?" echoed throughout the hallways from one person or another. Finally, we reached, uh, some floor and were taken to some room. It was inconsequential, since the entire hotel had been gutted. Whatever room we were shown, it apparently was Al Capone's, where he contracted some sort of sexually transitted disease. Yeah.

After 15 seconds of gazing at an empty room stripped down to the drywall, our tourguide led us back downstairs to the lobby. I noted his porn magazine strewn across a chair-- a scene that did not strike me as atypical, yet it was still hilarious. Even more hilarious was that a couple of the fuckwads forgot how to follow instructions and thought it best to lag behind the group on the way out. In turn, they were locked inside the hotel and had to break out, literally. Served them right!

What happened after our hotel tour is a bit fuzzy-- not because I was drunk, but because it was... whatever time it was... asdfjk o'clock a.m. We ate at The Majestic, where all the clubbers and barhoppers and freaks and what-not end up. Anxious for another round of food, we attempted to get a doughnut at Krispy Kreme. Little did we know that only the drive-in was open at this hour-- walk-ins opened at 5:30 a.m. Drive-in was not satisfactory-- we wanted to sit inside and enjoy a fresh, hot, delicious doughnut-- so we left.


Artist's rendition of us at the Majestic. Look! You can see the top of Andy's bra! HAHAHAHA!!!

To pass time, we visited what Atlantans lovingly refer to as Murder Kroger. What, just a couple deaths have occurred there. No big deal. It's funny, though. When I lived at GSU, I shopped at that Kroger but had no idea it was Murder Kroger. All I knew about back then was what we called Ghetto Chevron, which sold beer to minors. Not that I took part in it. No, really, I didn't.

Finally, the time had come for us to redeem our prize. Back at the Krispy Kreme, we watched "them" make the doughnuts. Rotating through the racks, plopping into the fryer, floating along the oil river to pass through a waterfall of glaze. And it smelled damn tasty, too. Believe it or not, this is another Atlanta institution I have never stepped foot in... mostly because I do not like Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Yet, even though Krispy Kreme is not my favorite (Donut Pub in Manhattan takes the cake), I am happy to have experienced one of the first doughnuts of the day, unglazed... which tastes better to me that way, actually.

Sitting pie-eyed around a table, barely able to speak intelligibly, 6:00 a.m. approached us. We high-fived each other, exultant over what we'd accomplished, and relieved that we didn't die... or kill each other for that matter. Ultimately, we achieved our goals: Kim likes Atlanta a little bit more than she did before; Andy effectively continues to promote and proclaim her love for the city; and I finally patronized establishments that people rave about. Best of all, I made new friends.

IMPORTANT NEWS: Ours on Ponce has made a shortlist-- so far-- in Creative Loafing's ATL Short Cuts film contest. There will be a screening of the film on Wednesday, March 2, 7:00 p.m., at Hotel Palomar in Midtown (info also found in the hyperlink above).
Viewers' Choice voting begins Friday, March 4, on Creative Loafing's website. We're looking to take it all the way, so please vote! And thank you for everyone's support and kind words. My role is this project is minimal compared to Kim Ware's, so be sure to give her an extra pat on the back... or a bag of money or something.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our's on Ponce - Spending All Night on Ponce de Leon Avenue

Contributed by: Kim Ware
Director of Ours on Ponce


Ours on Ponce from Ours in Atlanta on Vimeo.


I just finished editing my very first short film, a documentary called “Ours on Ponce,” about the Ponce de Leon area of Atlanta. All total, the editing alone must have taken me 40 hours. I’m never afraid to take on a creative project, but I will say this one really tested my patience, probably more than most any other project I’ve ever done. But I’m also more proud of it than I have been of anything I’ve done in a very long time.
The idea for “Ours on Ponce” was born out of a conversation I had a couple of months ago with my good friend Andy Gish. Andy had started a blog about Atlanta, and mentioned that she hoped the blog would help her “look at Atlanta through new eyes.” She approached me about contributing to the blog, and ironically, I was looking for something to help me also appreciate Atlanta. I had just been to Austin, a place that I love probably more than any other place I’ve ever visited. Every time I go to Austin I leave there thinking, “I want to move there!” But this time, I decided instead that I wanted to seek out the things I love about Austin, in Atlanta.
So I was happy to help and thought the experience would be good for me. Over drinks at our new favorite bar, Sister Louisa’s, Andy and I discussed possible topics for the blog. She mentioned how much she loves Ponce, and I suddenly got the brilliant(?) idea that we should stay out all night (yes, all night) on Ponce and document our adventures. By “document,” I simply meant write and take a few pictures. But a week or so later I saw that Creative Loafing was sponsoring a short film contest. It had to be about Atlanta, about 5 minutes in length, and shot by point-and-shoots, Flips, or phone cams—nothing fancy. Bingo! That’s how we’d document our adventures! We’d get a bunch of footage and I’d edit it all together and submit it for us. Never mind the fact that the only video editing I’d ever done was very simple edits (placing a title slide over a presentation) for work.
So I jumped in head first, recruited a few friends, and on January 29, we stayed out all night on Ponce. We hit some of the regular spots, like The Local, Righteous Room, The Majestic, and Murder Kroger. But we also visited some new (to me) places, like Friends and even the Clermont Hotel. A lucky break that couldn’t have been better even if it had been scripted, the Clermont security guard offered to give us a tour if we came back when his shift was over. Of course, we jumped at the chance.
As sunrise rolled around, Andy and I high-fived each other, celebrating our accomplishment. We did it. We stayed out all night without any casualties, no one got too wasted and annoying, and we didn’t even get the slightest bit grumpy at each other. In fact, we had a wonderful time. We met a cast of characters that again, couldn’t have been better if they had been scripted. We received a sketch of ourselves from a caricature artist at The Majestic. We made new friends, and strengthened the relationships with old ones. It might sound a little cheesy, but I really did feel like the five of us had created a bond that other people just wouldn’t really understand. We did this together, and we loved every minute of it. And for me, our night out did exactly what I hoped it would do. It made me appreciate and even fall in love with Atlanta all over again.
As I worked on the editing of “Ours on Ponce,” my appreciation for Atlanta increased even more. A few days into the editing, I posted something about the project on “Friends of Music,” an active Facebook group that I’m fortunate to be part of. I was hoping to get a few Atlanta-centric songs from Atlanta bands. I was amazed at the response. I must have received 10 songs, just in the span of a few days. That there are so many talented artists finding inspiration from our city is just a testament to how unique it is. And I’m so happy they got to be part of our little film.
I hope you find as much enjoyment in watching “Ours on Ponce” as we did making it. And I hope you find your own little slice of Atlanta to love. All you really have to do is look around.

Check out Kim's blog Pretty New Songs.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Majestic Diner - Food That Pleases, All Kinds Welcome

Contributed by: Andy Gish


The Majestic in 1993 -- Photo by David Henderson 


Location: Poncey Highlands
1031 Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast 
Atlanta, GA 30306  (404) 875-0276




The Majestic Diner's ever-glowing neon beckons with an offer of "Food that Pleases" day or night since 1929.

I have never been in the Majestic during daylight hours.  In fact, I seem to forget it is open altogether unless it is at least 3 am in the morning.  My favorite memory of being at the Majestic was at the tail-end of my best friends bachelorette party.  We had been escorted around town in a 60's VW Van with flames on it from scandalous venue to venue.  There was a consensus at the last bar we we went to that we were too intoxicated to be in public, so where did we go?  The Majestic.

So there we were, six girls sitting around a table with the Bachelorette's leopard print vibrator twirling in circles on the table.  And we were completely at home.  Treated as if we belonged there.  Where else can you order pork chops, silver dollar pancakes and a milkshake with a leopard vibrator in your hand at 3am without mention of calling the cops?

I have driven by the Majestic in the afternoon to see it full of older nicely dressed ladies filling the tables, completely unaware of the "colorful" characters that were sitting in those very seats the night before.

My friend David tells a story that in 1998 the sign was taken down for repairs, after which the repair guy skipped town.  Apparently the Majestic was without its famous headdress until 2007.  Is this true?  How could I have missed this?  In my head, the Lady Majestic has never been undressed.

In January 2011, the folks of the blog set out to do a film project called "Ours On Ponce" where we spent the entire night until sunrise on Ponce de Leon Avenue (posts from this extravaganza are forthcoming).  Of course, the Majestic was at the top of the list and we found ourselves there at 5am.  Like so many others, we found refuge there after all the bars had closed.  The point being that, especially late at night the Majestic sign is indeed a beacon of refuge;  The dear and patient souls who work at the Majestic put out the welcome mat for just about everyone.

We left with this sketch from a local caricature artist:

The folks from Ours on Ponce at the Majestic 


Me and some scary character. 

Still awake at 5am, well Brittany was at least.


A funny video from 1989 of some Drag Queens excited to visit to the Majestic again. 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Have you been to Church lately? Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium



If you live in "in-town" Atlanta you have likely been invited to "Church" lately. Now, we are not talking about getting up early on Sunday morning and repenting your sins.  We are talking about outsider artist Grant Henry's new bar on Edgewood called Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium, Come on in Precious!  Yeah, that's really the name.  And unless you have been under a rock, you too can likely recite at least half of the formal title. But you can just call it "Church," as that's what everyone seems to be calling it.  


I first ventured to Sister Louisa's on a Tuesday night, about 2 weeks after they had opened.  When I arrived there were literally only a handful of people hanging out at the bar downstairs.  Within an hour though, the place filled up (on a Tuesday night) and it was a full-on party both upstairs and down.  I was impressed.  Not only was this new venue pulling in curious folks to sit and have some spirits and conversation, but it was doing it on Edgewood at Boulevard.  I love this part of town and always was rooting for it, hoping it would get that special push that made it more welcoming.  And now right there at the very corner "Church" (along with Sound Table of course) is anchoring a new welcome mat and it is working.  



For the record: I would like to now propose that we call the block of Edgewood between Boulevard and I-85 "Ping Pong Alley" as we now have two venues (The Music Room and The Church) with active ping pong tables.

"Ping Pong Alley"

If you know Sister Louisa's art and are religious, it could definitely make you pray for our souls.  It is blasphemy.  It is satire.  But it is funny and there is a hell of a lot of truth in those words panted across the canvases.  After all, Jesus does love crack whores too.

The Church Organ


If you look out of the windows on Boulevard, you will see not even a half block up is an old Catholic Church.  Rumor has it that a priest from this church visited Sister Louisa's on three different occasions, took photos and told Grant that "we have to talk."  I am not religious and I surely am not Catholic, but personally if a priest walked in, I think I might hide underneath the ping pong table in case lightening struck or he was taking names.  But this is exactly what draws people here.  A light-hearted satire on religion, beliefs, iconic figures and even art.

After all, what kind of businesses does Georgia have the most of?  Churches and liquor stores. Why not offer them both in one place?

Grant Henry: Proprietor, Bartender and Resident Artist


Downstairs is a simple old style wooden bar with ample libations including "Good Wine"  and "Better Wine" selections, a full range of liquor and beer.  Oh yes, and the Sister's famous Sangria.  That is a must try.  It comes with a heap of fruit, so you can act like it's good for you.  They offer a small menu called "the Church Picnic" featuring faves from Homegrown like pimento cheese, hot dogs and potato salad.  And the desert is a Rubik's Cube-sized Captin Crunch/Rice Krispy Treat.  Their drinks and food are pretty cheap - keeping with Sister Louisa's welcoming hospitality.  The downstairs is anchored by a real-life confession booth from the 1800s.  

Upstairs Looking Towards Edgewood
But the party really starts on the second floor.  Upstairs is kinda like the room above your parents garage - if it was huge and if it was decorated by hipsters with a thick budget.  It sports a ping pong table that overlooks the corner of Edgewood and Boulevard, a real church organ (more about this later), church pews and the always coveted comfy sofas.  It's welcoming and warm and makes you feel like you are hanging out at someones home. 

Church Organ Karaoke

So about that Church Organ.  Unlike any other place in Atlanta (and probably the world), on Sunday nights Sister Louisa's turns into something you have never seen before:  A place for church organ karaoke.  What exactly does that mean?  Well, the ping pong table is put away, the church pews are turned towards the back wall and a pulpit is placed in front of the house church organ.

What happens next is quite entertaining.  A list of popular and traditional songs is handed out and a live organist plays music while people step up to the pulpit and sing to the crowd.  And a crowd it was.  The place was standing room only.  Hearing "Private Eyes" (Hall and Oates) and old Elvis songs is pretty standard in karaoke.... but to hear "Black Celebration" by Depeche Mode and "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga on the Church Organ was pretty darn entertaining.  

I recommend going to watch this at least once. It's unlike anything you have seen.  Below is the list of songs to choose from for the first week.  I am sure more will be added as the weeks pass.

Double Click to Enlarge

Double Click to Enlarge


The Sister is good company and she creates an environment that encourages camaraderie, conversation and relaxed fun.  This place has warmth and heart, something Edgewood (especially the Ping Pong Alley portion) has desperately needed for sometime now.  It's already changing the atmosphere of this area of town in a good way, and I am glad to have it on my list of regular hangouts.  Plus, I have honestly never had so much fun at church.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Georgia Musicians Challenge for 2011

This is official.

Pink Pompeii are playing Fri Jan 14th @ the Drunken Unicorn

If you are a Georgian musician or local music fan, especially one in Atlanta, we are challenging you.

We all get into a rut of sorts.  Not that we realize that its a rut.  Its just a comfortable pattern actually.  We go out to see the bands we know, with the friends we have on speed dial at the same old places we have been going for a decade.  This is nice.  This is comfortable.  This is community.  And it's one of the things I love about living here.

However, before I knew a soul here, I would venture out to see people I didn't know play in bands I had never heard of before and what did I find? Amazing music made by interesting people that made me want to put my roots down here in Georgia and stay put.

So, what if we go back?  What if we approach things as if we weren't completely comfortable?  Explore our own city through music we have never heard before? Challenge ourselves to show up for the openers, drag out friends that have never seen these bands and listen with open ears and minds.

For the year of 2011, we make this challenge:  Each month, we want you to go see one (yes, only 1) local (non-national) band you have never seen before that is made up of people that are not close friends. It can be the guy who works at your coffee shop or the girl who makes your favorite vodka tonic but it can't be someone you can call up to help you move a couch or you have dinner with on a regular basis.  It can even be the opener of your friends band, but to stay true to the spirt of things it would be really cool if it was a complete bill of bands you had never seen before.

That's 12 bands in 12 months.  It's easy.  It will be liberating.

And we want you to report back!

The Guidelines:
- 1 local Georgia (non-national) band you have never seen before
- Made up of people that are not close friends
- See 12 of these bands in 12 months (average 1 per month)

Resources for shows:
Stomp and Stammer's "Get Out"
Creative Loafing

A few suggestions of where you could start:
Fri. Jan 14th || The NEC @ the Earl Friday
Fri. Jan 14th || Pink Pompeii @ The Drunken Unicorn
Thurs. Jan 20th || Baby Baby @ The Drunken Unicorn
Fri. Jan 21 || Kuroma @ the 40 Watt
Sun. Jan 30th || Tag Team @ The Earl's Dunch
Mon. Jan 31||  Jan The Humms @ the 40 Watt

Let's challenge ourselves while supporting our music community.
January is already half over - Let's get to it!

email suggestions for future shows to andy gish at g mail dot com

Monday, January 10, 2011

REM's Radio Free Europe is Chosen for the Library of Congress National Recording Registry


Contributed by: Andy Gish


The Library of Congress apparently collects 25 recordings each year that they feel should be preserved forever.  REM's Radio Free Europe has been chosen as part of its "National Recording Registry". They chose the original version of the song that was released as a single, not the one that was later released on Murmur.

Thanks to Studio 360  for posting these:

The first clip below is a really cool interview with Mike Mills and Mitch Easter (who recorded it) and Mike Henry (who originally played it on UGA radio) all looking back at Radio Free Europe:




The second is a recording of one of their first shows at Tyrone's in Athens, GA:



REM Flyer from 1981 - Courtesy of Al Shelton


Tyrone's apparently burned down in 1982.  It was located at 110 Foundry Street, very close to where Flagpole Magazine currently sits. 


REM Flyer from 1981 - Courtesy of Al Shelton 

Also check out this site for other REM landmarks.

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