Tuesday, July 15, 2008

sometimes you get the octopus to chase the crab, sometimes it takes Katje instead...




Day started well, relaxed, no rushing really although I had much to do and to prepare. All chores complete, all packing complete I was able to enjoy some coffee and a bagel over google/news. I bade au revoir to the kitties and the extra kitties (the three boa constrictors) and locked the house behind me. They will be attended to by Mr. Smith but aside from that they are on their own for five whole days...good luck lads.

I made my way over to Corrie's place in Santa Monica. Traffic was ridiculous on 101 so I slipped off and cut an awkward path through surface streets. Once I crested the hill on Sepulveda I realized that the 405 was completely clear...moron...I continued on surface streets and was deep in Santa Monica in no time. I parked and carried my suitcase up to Corrie's. She got herself ready while I thumbed through her book collection for the millionth time. I picked out all of the books I need to read...let me fine-tune that statement...I picked all of the books I would need to take a year off of work to read. Work has always been my reading regiment's worst nightmare. I was looking forward to taking these 5 days off, finishing Ulysses, and possibly starting something else. I doubted that I’d get any writing done but I was sure to be swimming in inspiration. After all Athens has always been an inspiration to me. It even compelled me to write my first full-length novel.

LAX was the same as ever, b-r-u-t-a-l. I sat and read in the presence of thousands of frustrated and anxious humans, all clustered into tribes, waiting for our aluminum chariots and the destinations they promised to efficiently (albeit expensively) deliver. My flight left on time and sailed through the night toward Dallas, TX.

When I landed in Dallas, I had 8 text messages and 5 voice mails. Corrie’s flight, as well as mine had been delayed. I was staring down the barrel of a 3-hour layover...Corrie ended up waiting for SIX HOURS before leaving LA.


I made my way to the doors and choked down the first of five cigarettes. The humidity was absolutely oppressive and I balked at the thought of going any further South. Couldn’t I just go back to LA? But LA had been uncharacteristically muggy all the past week as well...damned if you leave, damned if you stay.

I located a terminal security entrance that for some reason was completely empty. A bit of kismet, no doubt. I treated myself to an icy and smooth (expertly poured) pint of Guinness and a large bacon cheeseburger. I felt like a king, in disguise, in order to gather an honest assessment of the kingdom. Falling in love with the simple pleasures and denouncing the pre-suppositions that often accompany burgeoning splendor (not that I would know...)


Day one: woke up to a call from mike, I passed him some bad info...nice start. More accurately, old info. DFW delayed all flights the day prior by an hour, in order to avoid making people miss their connector flights. It looked good on paper but in the end people like Corrie ended up having to spend the night in the Dallas Fort Worth airport spooning with stranger from Culver City that happened to sport a handle bar mustache and beard.

As a result I thought Corrie was coming in at 10AM or later. I told them that they should go on to Athens and Scott would come get us. Not true, unbeknownst to me they spoke at 6AM and Scott had arranged for them to pick us up because Corrie was coming in earlier at 930. I showered changed and we collected out front of the hotel. It was fucking great to see mike and Hillary. We loaded up into the car and then slipped onto the freeway and headed deep into the emerald Georgia canopy. It took forever to tell the truth, I was anxious. I kept busy on the text messaging. I finally began to recognize the area. We slipped down the beltway instead of gong down broad...c'est la vie, I’d have to wait for nostalgia until later. We dropped in on Milledge and after passing five points, we slipped between twin mansions of fraternity and providence and passed Scott and Corinne sitting on their porch waving..."where you dumb assholes going?" we turned around and pulled into the driveway.

It was really good to see Scott again and a pleasure to see Corrine again. I felt immediately at home, they have that effect on me.

After a bit of catching up we all walked to a Mexican place down the street and started what would end up being 72 hours of constant drinking. Soon after we made beer run #1 and returned to the house. The idea of a bar-b-que floated in the dense air and the next thing I knew we were traipsing to Lowe’s then another store until we found a grill that was 1) EXTREMELY CHEAP and 2) would last through the weekend. With our mission accomplished we made yet another beer run and settled in to dine on pork and chicken as the sun dipped behind the trees. Conversation was plentiful, a warm and challenging evening and the beer flowed my lovelies (11 for me), flowed like the waters of the Nile and delivered us to a peaceful rest.

wedding day 080621

I woke up to the sound of thunder smashing the ground in northern Georgia - giant men walking heavily through the tiny town.
I woke again to coffee and cigarettes with Scott and Corinne. A beautiful morning. It looked like rain was imminent. We all hoped it would blow over in typical southern style. We were guaranteed intermittent showers, but we feared that the humidity would be uncontrollable once sun came out.

Scott began cooking up breakfast for the hungry soldiers and Corrine’s father and brother arrived with the tents table and chairs. After a nice breakfast we all set out putting together the matrimonial landscape. Corrie was in charge and she really showed her chops. In a few hours the backyard was transformed and was perfect for the occasion.

Beer run...again...

Eventually people started showing up slowly, a little too slowly. If we were to pull off the whole enterprise before sunset people would need to get a move on. Everyone filtered into the backyard as the sun began setting. In an hours time we had herded the guests into their seats and away we went..."I Do." "I do." excellent, let's get back to drinking...

Corrine’s family was absolutely lovely. Every single one of them is friendly, interesting and very kind. I loved 'em, they reminded me so much of my family I even asked if they were in the market to adopt a 33 year old man.

Corinne’s good friend Dave put on the spread and goddamn, that boy can cook! I’m a picky son of a bitch and I ate until I was stuffed. (good thing too, I clocked in just over 20 beers for the day OI!).

I was finally able to spend individual time with some of the people I had met. Megan and her husband john were down from Adam’s Morgan in the DC area, which is only a few miles from where I had lived in Maryland. She’s a photojournalist and he works in tech-tenant improvements from Microsoft. A lovely couple, vastly interesting. I was also pleased to see Mr. Keith Kortemeir, I didn't really know it, but I missed that fucker while I was gone. It was great to catch up with him. He sold the Jittery Joe's name and business and was in the unique position of being in-between investments. We tossed ideas back and forth and (I'm embarrassed to say) I even got drunk enough to pitch my next book to him. FOR SHAME! Somewhere around 4am I called it quits and took possession of my couch back zzzzzz


Get up, coffee and bagels run with Mike and Hillary to Jittery Joes. Nostalgia was beginning; I spent many an afternoon in that coffee shop, wondering where I’d go next. DC had already come and gone and California was calling me home. Athens, the second time around, was a way station for me. I drew almost no pleasure from it; I simply existed until it was time to move on.

ATHFEST was in full-effect downtown and a posse was rounded up to do a walk-through. Once downtown we all parked at the new Game Day hotel where all of the parents and relatives were staying. I broke off from the group once we wandered down near the 40-watt. I had a photographic mission to complete. It had been 10 years since I’d last damaged my liver in Athens and I wanted photographic evidence of the changes...more importantly I wanted photographic evidence of what would NEVER change. Rocky's was gone, the engine room was gone, Jackson St. books remained (although, like an idiot, I waiting too long to walk in...they closed right before I made it back). Topper’s was still there in all of its shameless glory. The Lunch Paper had melted into history and (sorry kids) good riddance.

We met back up at smoker's den and had lunch in place that used to be bookstore. Incidentally the very bookstore where Scott and sis and I first spent a blistering summer day back in 1999. The service is horrendous, but the grilled cheese and tater tots were splendid.

Scott went back to visit his parents to visit parents, I tried to go to Jackson St. Bookstore but the bastards closed. I resigned to wait Scott out at Taco Stand, a bar I spent many an evening in. it was my favorite place to hide and drink during my work shifts. Good prices, nice staff, Guinness on tap...

The bartender is an ex all-nite diner employee (The Pantry) that looked just like JIMBO from the Simpsons, beanie and everything. I watched a show on Nat King Cole's brother.

I got my call from Scott and we headed over to the old neighborhood so I could snap a shot of 238 Cleveland Ave. as I mentioned, some things NEVER change.

Around 1130PM we heard thunder closing in again so we sit on the porch and watch the sky light up. The lightning was within a mile and lit the sky periodically. I called sis to let her hear the rain and Scott reminded me "bad idea to use a cell phone in an electrical storm." everyone moved off the porch in a hurry, Scott called them pussies. It rained REALLY HARD for an hour and then stops dead.


Woke up and helped Scott put tables and chairs into truck and take them over to the rental place. Scott and I putted around Athens a little reminiscing, but surprisingly talking much less about the past than we did about the present. A good thing, a sea change for us, and certainly a harbinger of happiness.

When we return, everyone is awake and showering, milling around. Coffee, cigarettes, conversation were in large supply.

Mike Corrie and Hillary left for ATL.

We made a trip to Dave's to drop off Annie (Scott and Corrine’s dog) and his cooking utensils. Dave is a crazy inspiring musician/showman/producer that I want the derv to work with. He is planning to create an all-analog reel-to-reel studio in Athens. Super cool guy, has a theory of "the Gibsonian Method" (Mel Gibson) wherein so much patriotism and anger and hatred (justified it is inferred) are rammed down your throat that you walk out of the theatre an angrier more ignorant human being.

The assorted parents showed up and hung out for a bit while everyone finished their packing and readied themselves to drive out to Atlanta. Scott Corinne and I headed to Borders for some reading material and then Chick-Fil-A for grubbin'. I picked up another copy of Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. I lost my copy and since I never technically read the entire novel I wanted very badly to get started on it again.

And we were off to the ATL with scattered sprinkles and a grey warm sky.

We drove by Jeremy and Tova's apartment (Jeremy is Corinne’s younger brother and Tova is his lady) and then take I took the kids to the MARTA station to say goodbye. I feel a bit sad saying goodbye, and more than a little jealous of both their honeymoon plans (three weeks in Nicaragua) and also the uncommon symbiosis between those two people. Scott and Corinne are very lucky. They seem to have definitely found soul mates in one another.

Jeremy and Tova had been kind enough to let me stay at their place for the night. My flight didn't leave until the next day, so instead of taking a cab/shuttle from Athens to the airport, I could have a more relaxing (and cheaper) day just walking to the MARTA station and taking the train to the airport.

Jeremy came home first; poor guy had some work bullshit he needed to get off his chest. He thanked me for letting him vent and I assured him that it was my pleasure. Tova arrived and we all decided on Mexican food. Dinner was fun but the REAL festivities began at home...Tova busted out SCATTERGORIES! I hadn't played Scattergories since the early nineties. I had a blast, it was the perfect last evening to the adventure.


Morning came and after a quick shower and smoke Jeremy and I drove over to the MARTA station. I thanked him profusely and made my way to the top of the platform. The trip across Atlanta was excellent eye candy. We sped through suburb to arts district to college campus to industrial wasteland and finally came to rest high in the air just outside of ATL. We waited for the tracks to clear and descended into the airport. The train let off right at baggage claim and after a quick session with security and TSA I was settled back into the waiting game...

Back to LA, back to reality, back to plebian existence.