Long ago, in the Before Times, I was dating a woman with a very young daughter. I had not yet gelled as an artistic entity, and was in the process of learning that I’m really not cut out to be a father, even a surrogate one. This became apparent on two occasions. Both were attempts on my part to make a connection with a kid. Both failed hilariously.
The first was the purchase of a “children’s book”. I spent hours at Books-A-Million (down the block from Media Play) hunting for just the right one. It had to be colorful, clever, and not condescending. I refused to buy anything “kiddie”, on principle. It had to be something that enticed, thrilled, and sparked the imagination, like the books I read in my grade school library.
When you listen to a professional newscaster, you are hearing an “all-purpose” American accent, very similar to how black comedians make fun of white guys. It’s a mode of speaking designed to be understood by a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. It’s also totally alien sounding, especially when they lapse into a Spanish voice for words like “Nicaragua”.
Outside of America, accents are seldom a focal point.
In 1990, I relocated from New Jersey to Georgia. Originally, I had a curt New Jersey accent, like Jim Norton. My first year, I roomed with a guy from Rhode Island, and when I went back to Jersey for vacation, my friends couldn’t believe what a horror show my speaking voice had become. I was the caricature of the braying Yankee.
If I could go back in time 20 years, and tell my 24-year-old self that I’d be signing my own comics at Criminal Records in Atlanta’s Little 5 Points, I wouldn’t believe it. Mostly because at 24 I was incredulous about the feasibility of time travel.
Three years ago, in jail, more than one dude told me I looked like Bruno Mars. I don’t see it.
I’ve guested at comic conventions before, but this was Criminal Records. They’ve had an almost mythical status since the 1990s, and their old location (it’s now Stratosphere Skateboards, another local business I highly recommend), which I visited often even before I lived here. It had cartoons drawn on the walls by Skip Williamson, Evan Dorkin and Bob Burden, just to name a few. I want to say Patty Leidy was up there too, but I’m going on memory here. Continue reading →
I would call Outkast the greatest rap group of all time. The thing is, we’re from the same city (ATL), and I’m afraid I’ll sound like a local promoter.
That’s why I always forget to bring ’em up. This is a problem, because the media tends to focus on the wrong aspects of rap; the guns, the gangster fetishism, the bitches and hoes. These things don’t really exist in Outkast’s oeuvre. Integrity? Quality? Talent? Those do, in excess. Continue reading →
You probably won’t believe this, but when I was a stage actor in the late 90s, I hung around with an actual carny. A guy who really did run off to join the circus as a kid, name of D.C.; a character so colorful, the memories seem like legends. We used to cruise the streets of Savannah in his gigantic box truck and pick up chicks. It was every bit as great as it sounds. Who amongst you can say you’ve been a carny’s wingman?
I have no idea where D.C. went after the century’s turn. Probably somewhere fun and awesome, relatively close to a beach or a circus. Backstage when we were castmates in a production of Brendan Behan’s The Hostage, he would signal an impending night of debauchery by singing “pound note, pound note.”
You wanna know how to tell if a city is your home? When terrible things happen to you there, and it never occurs to you to leave. You don’t abandon your home. You stay and tough it out.
There was a night during my stay in Fulton County Jail where all of us were herded into the rec area, so that the guards could search the ward for contraband. Apparently some inmates had been smoking weed in their cell. Since that cell was mine, and one of the inmates was me, I spent my time in the rec room deep in contemplation. As time wore on no quicker than molasses, we all started to chat to break the tension.
The cement room was sweltering. The walls were nine feet high, rimmed with cyclone fencing. If I jumped vertically, I could catch a glimpse of the glimmering Atlanta skyline I missed so terribly. This was soothing. Some of the inmates I’d befriended took notice, and I eagerly explained myself. It was the first view of the city I’d had in a month.