Mountain Men

Copyright © 2008 HV


“So you’re a friend of Hillbilly,” they all say.


Brian Southard is Hillbilly, and the answer is one of my best. He owns the company. They sell protection for “yer ass.” Pads, man. Some of us need them. Not me. Not today. I ride longboard all the time. I skate, but I’m not strapping one of those on tonight. I’ll leave that to the pros.

These boards have bindings for your feet. Mountain bike-like, shock-bounce and wheels that appear almost as if those of a Jeep had been shrunken, this is the board of the future.

And, as I mentioned, the pros are here. From Utah and P-A and outside Johnson City, Tennessee and parts unknown, they are here to ride the course, to spin and twist and flip off the ramps, the tallest of which is on the ceiling of the DJ Booth. Rap only and it pounds out, much of it of The ATL variety, of course.

Theme is Tiki: long a favorite of mine. Opted out of my 1950’s green tiki shirt because we walked here from the train and it was 90 degrees out and late spring in the Deep South. Big thick white T-shirt sweats better, dries better, and I found out how much today on this sweatfest of a labyrinthian hike that Alex from Russia and I took.

By car, then foot, then bus, then train, then foot, then train, then foot, then even more foot we saw Atlanta in all her daytime, hazy glory. High Museum she said and Coca-Cola she said. The Fabulous Fox she said. Twinkle she said. Twinkle, gleam, twinkle…Traffic and pollution not so pretty, but the young Russian Foreign Exchange student saw the City at her shiniest and her less than, with a man “from here.”

From the Arts Center in Midtown we walked to Downtown. From Is-That-A-New-Building-Ville…to “Not so new and under construction anymore,” as I described. Then from the neighborhoods and park where my ex-wife lived when she was just my girl to Little 5 Points. That was only after pizza and the paper in the cushy confines of Peachtree Center’s food court and two train rides. We met a few nice folks along the way.

L5P for seven minutes of Russian victory soccer in the pub, then we were back on the streets, beating our soles to the heat that came in sheets, on our way to East Atlanta. Reynoldstown was there in between, in so many ways.

East ATL and Brian did not answer from the payphone back in Little 5. We don’t know where the party is. Ask at The Earl if they, by chance, know where the Mountain Board Compound is. They don’t. Can’t dial long distance on their phones and Hillbilly is (706). Payphones are not working if more than an empty payphone coffin. A cell would have been handy today. I usually use only my home/office phone.

Think. Tatoo shop. I know Guz and he is back now, I think, doing tats in East ATL, and he knows Brian. He is working today, looking lean and sharp, and he is as nice as always. Not getting off until 8 pm, but he calls Brian for me. Directions. We walk. More ATL.

I have been here, lived here in Greater Metro Atlanta since 1976, with a few breaks for Athens and one for a year in Orlando, so when I talk of her, I talk from experience. I have worked in every major commercial district in Atlanta in my former lives. Now: I WRITE but now, now, we walk.

We walk…We walk…We walk, now. Mile after – we are exhausted – mile. We are back in the burbs basically, just way southside which means a different socioeconomic world.

Then finally, we see the Hillbilly flags a flyin’. We made it. Probably just under 15 miles on the day by foot, so some water sounds good.

At the party, the Tiki bar hives with gregarious and generous folks, having a nice evening. The rum is flowing. The beer is flowing. Lots to look at with the flips and hips, the ramps, the ladies.

And my boy Adam was there. Big Ups, Doctor Adam. Some really cool people were hanging out I admired and of course a few loudmouths that I only liked okay. I was in element.

The scene was made and the sun shifted to shade, and we talked and mingled. Kisses all around for the select few. Digits to one early and from one late…I really like the second one and the first was also pretty nice.

Conclusion is late night boy banter, just like other post-sporting events. The athletes can’t hang too much until the event is over, see, and it was by then. I would be remiss not to comment on how nice and humble these very talented athletes are. And they are good. Skinny Kenny, Big Ups. Jason, Big Ups. All the riders, Big Ups.

Check the sport out live anytime you get the chance. Good Party. Great entertainment – thanks to all the very COOL hosts and my main man Brain Southard at Hillbilly Protection Gear.


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Han Vance

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