Traveling One America

Watching the finale of “Treme” got me thinking about the America I have traveled in throughout the past year and a half. First, the Crescent City of New Orleans – resilient and full of culture, art and music post-Katrina. Most recently, the Big island of Hawaii: diverse, exotic, gorgeous, volcanic, American. Rosemary Beach, Florida, an urban planners’ vision set by the Gulf of Mexico near where Spring Break was in the ever-distancing past of our childhoods; that strip of towns on Highway 30A is a beauty of an American slice. I dished up the Big Apple. NYC – the Capital of the World, and I was there to work, to meet the agents, and it went well, and the Chrysler building shone silvery in the sun. Perched atop Nob Hill, the highest peak in perhaps the loftiest U.S. town, San Francisco, I saw that American icon from my living room: the Golden Gate Bridge. The Palace of Fine Arts was visible, The City. Five divergently unique places – all America. Plus, of course my ATL and Athens, GA. Go USA! One America.

Painting by Georgia-born artist Jasper Johns:

(Photo by: Han Vance)

Righteous Art Room

My love for a good jukebox bar can best be emblem-ized in The ATL by the Righteous Room on Ponce de Leon Avenue in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood – where a mix of old and new rock emanates available by the dollar. They also display local art down on Ponce here, in The Plaza shopping center, next to the Majestic Diner. Royce Riley’s long run – which resulted in me purchasing a painting entitled “Frog Flag” – is over. And Ashley Norfleet has taken over.  She lists herself as “mother, painter, designer, human” and all that experience plays out in portraits lifelike of humans and birds. Eagles and other birds, people with wings, eyelashes becoming birds, even a few portraits not associated with flight. My favorite piece in this collection of works is of smaller birds forming into what I take to be a giant ostrich, running barely above land. Though the show by Royce Riley (aka R.Land) was nearly impossible to stand up to, Ashley Norfleet holds her own. Check her out: www.bossladydesign.com

Painting by Royce Riley:

(Photo by: Jami Buck-Vance)

Fashion Night Out (with TI)

A late summer Friday evening and I’m at Strivers’ Row men’s fashion boutique in the Virginia-Highlands section of The ATL. Pretty people: black, white, asian and the cameras click while we sip free cocktails and the gear is on sale.

I tried, I tried, I tried to stay in and edit tonight, but out of coffee saw me longboard skating to L5P, where an ice coffee with honey led to a mood to good for home. And I recalled my friend Will – he manages the shop here – had said event Friday. It’s fashion night out. I’m a fashionista. I couldn’t stay in.

DJ MLK spun a solid mix of old and new hip-hop and our heads bobbed. T.I. co-owns the shop here and made his grand entrance, daughter in-tow. When he had a free moment I stepped to him to introduce myself. He’s more cordial than you may have guessed and more humble than he comes across in rap.

The night wore on before we wore out, the jeans sold, the drinks flowed. The Mayor no showed, but it didn’t seem to matter much because we’d all already had a nice time by 9 pm. And with my lady away on business and balmy weather, it was perfect for a boys’ night out, accomplished four-deep via foot, because safety comes first, and this is my side of my town. Glory to The ATL.

One Night with Jucifer

Rock Lit Circa 2007:

Jucifer Live at Lenny’s in Atlanta

 

The lucid dream power duo, JUCIFER, lived in Athens from 1991 to 2001 and are now self-described to be nomadic. They stopped along their voyage at Lenny’s on Decatur Street in Atlanta on November 29th. Three opening acts warmed the dressed-to-rock, medium-size audience on a crisp, cool autumn evening. The twenty-four ounce cans of PBR beer cost only $3 and were worth every penny of numbness, for the pounding on stage was assaulting.

“That drummer is pretty good,” I said to my young friend.

“Yeah, he is,” she agreed.

I warned her, “If you think this guy is good and powerful, wait. Edgar is ten or twenty times that.”

Next, Public Enemy was on. The pre-game music was the Intro to their first of several groundbreaking rap albums, “Yo! Bumrush the Show.” We did not get “Bum,” instead we were reminded by N.W.A. to “F**k Tha Police.”

 

And then I saw her. What if Jim Morrison was a girl? What if Tina Turner’s thighs had played guitar and bass? Cloaked like a medieval witch or warlock, she sulked in the shadows getting the stage set just right. Twice she turned to the sonic breeze to cool her hot body. She was below the light next–a woman and her instrument barely visible in the almost dark. I begged for more flashes to illuminate her. Then the cloak was removed. The sexual energy was palpable as the noise started and she summoned her formidable powers.

And then her husband appeared, breaking my trance. The ripped T-shirt and Daniel Boone hat. The wry expression. Edgar is simply the most provocative and powerful drummer in the world, and he knows it. The beating starts. His physical onslaught reminds me of a linebacker or running back totally dominating a football game. He is Daniel “BOOM” pioneering an unfathomable tunnel of sound and energy.

“Nothing prepares you for him,” I said to my shocked friend.

 

They are but two and are seamlessly one. JUCIFER is not simply tight the audience gets through the many stops and starts; they are married tight.

Amber is the most overtly sexual rock star in America today. Her short, townie-girl dress comes only to here. Her powerful thighs make love to her instrument. I want to be the cut on her knee. I want to be her wristband, soaking up her sweat. At one point, she whips her guitar repeatedly in a feedback circle that would make the members of Sonic Youth blush. Her black panties are the only thing between the audience and pure rock and roll bliss.

 

Oh…it was as if I was in love. I finally got what a groupie gets. I got what it feels like to be in awe of and love with that control, that power, that energy. I had succumbed to unabashed gawking–my fandom overcoming me.

The drum kit illuminates to tell me that this is not a dream. I look over at a dude up front and center. I wonder what he is thinking about Amber. From the side of the stage I have the better full view of her, but she is in his face. I bet he loves her too.

Edgar works the cymbals while flashing his wife a pearly white “Hey Honey” grin. Their chemistry has no boundary; their unison has no division. They are one. JUCIFER is brutal and beautiful like life. They may be the best two person band of all-time. I am utterly enraptured, and it all culminates with the diva on the ground on her back absolutely screwing her instrument, her face an ecstatic baby doll alabaster.

Then she is up flash-dancing in perfect leather boots. Closing with force is a given for this pair, but the final encore, “Amplifier,” is easily the most melodic moment of the night. Amber’s singing is so lovely when she wants it to be. “I like Becky’s amplifier,” whimsically floats through the air. Then it is over.

She looks for something on the side stage behind the wall of speakers as I stare and wish for more. One lone roadie escorts her as she walks through the thankful audience to hang out at the T-shirt stand that has been sold out of JUCIFER shirts for the entire evening.

 

I wait behind one other fan then say, “Amber. Remember me…I used to always eat at The Grit.”

“Oh yeah,” she says. “Hey…It’s good to see you.”

“I’m Han.”

“That’s right,” she is saying as I hug her.

“I’m going to write about you…I think you are going to be the biggest star in the world.”

Currently listening :
Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip
By Jucifer
Release date: By 21 August, 2001