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?!?).
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:
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.
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.