Hawaii (on the cruise)

Big Island is big adventure more than relaxation, we see from the rest of the guests at the B&B. But not for us. Not yet. We plan to drive all the way around the island, to hike the volcano, to see black sand beaches, to stay in three divergent areas.

Every morning as we enjoy our farm-to-table breakfast and Kona coffee at a communal table full of folks much older than us, we hear of their adventures: repelling, hiking, exploring, and then the spotlight shines on us, and we say not much. “We had a massage: an hour-and-a-half massage…outside.”

on the cruise

We hang out with the staff and they attend solely to us, while the other guests depart for more adventure. We say, “Maybe a swim in the pool after our morning nap. I like to read and stare at the pineapple and listen to the birds sing. We are just enjoying the property and our suite together…and the little town. We may walk out for lunch, again. Maybe a late lunch.”

Our favorite staff member tells us, “You are on the cruise. Go relax by the pool and I’ll bring you some scones and delicious iced tea in a half hour. We baked extra scones this morning because you like them so much. It’s good to be on the cruise.”

Hawaii (a different world)

Welcome to Hawaii:

The mountain roads to Holualoa winding upward through lush vegetation and small rural housing, it had me reminiscing about the time I toured inland Puerto Rico with my father and one of my brothers. We reached Holualoa and were immediately astounded by the number of art galleries in such a small town, at most, really just a little village. Holualoa exists around two of my passions: art and coffee.

Off of Main Street, a tropical tree-lined gorgeous bed-and-breakfast, Holualoa Inn. The lack of a wall separating the living room from the lush green lawn and outside grounds first struck me. This was a different world.

Hawaii fruit

My Last Hipster Run

(Photo by: Han Vance)

My hair was overgrown, so I took out my peanut and shaved the sides up – way up. I looked a bit like Crispin Glover as I made a deposit in my bank and quickly walked the rest of the way down Ponce to get my haircut. I wanted to make sure the sides were right, and the line was perfect. I trusted only myself. I had the rest done relatively short and usually left it product-mussed. I broke out my dad’s old cover sunglasses, as huge as any they wore in Manchester and Miami. I started wearing bright tight shirts everyday, which almost fit me, as I’d recently lost ten pounds. I longboarded as much as I could and strutted to the transit station or took cabs everywhere else, except on the weekend mornings when my curvy fiancee’ drove me to work at the Euro-cafe’ in Midtown. Those mornings, I would finish a can of Coors Light in the bath to rally. Then we would sit in her car and make out while I swayed about to the space age Athens weirdness of Of Montreal. Then I would walk inside and make myself a double espresso. I was drunk in bars with thirty-somethings, with twenty-somethings to the point of belligerent incoherence and laughed and talked too loudly. I proudly peacocked amongst fellow urbanists whom would never have my flair for extravagantly varied fashions or my honed way with words. I worked a final lunch shift, had a huge late lunch, walked back to the cafe’ and had my free birthday shot, a Strega. Shared a toast with the definitely-old-enough-to-know-how-to-live-way-better-but-still-clinging-to-it-for-some-reason bartender, had a drink with the actor Paul Walker as we discussed Hawaii and my California book and my afternoon pool party planned for the next day. Walked away and had a few drinks in various haunts with a career student. Met my love in our suite. Went out by taxi for sushi and for wine by candlelight. The city glowed around and for me, as we stumbled to the disco lounge without panic or pretense. An off night in the Southern sprawl of summer ATL, but an on one for me, I suppose. My last as a hipster. As she and I had done so many times in the old loft where we deeply fell, we sat perched atop our city as midnight neared. I counted it down like it was New Year’s Eve. Five-four-three-two-one. Suddenly, I was 40. And I went to bed.

Gringo Star Interview

I spoke with rocker Pete DeLorenzo of Gringo Star at Aurora Coffeehouse in L5P of The ATL before they embarked upon a recent European Tour. Back home after, they played the Masquerade in Atlanta on Friday night September 10th, with The Toadies, before hitting the road again. You can view their music videos at youtube and listen to them at: www.gringostar.net

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO MUSIC?

I always loved radio a lot. I was a senior in high school thinking about what to do with my life. I’m not religious as far as organized religion but spirituality is important to me. I went to church and was not really listening to the sermon, I was just kinda…I had this image come to my mind. I was playing to thousands of people. I maybe didn’t even have a guitar at the time. I went home and freaked out. Was that a genuine experience or was it something I took the wrong way? I don’t know. I went to college and halfway through I started playing guitar more. I had a young man’s revelation that I’d rather was dishes and play. Music was the only thing that was pure to me.

NOW YOU’RE JADED?

Well my band had music in a Tommy Hilfiger ad…You need money. In the ’90s we wanted to be so anti-commercial.

WAS THAT A RESPONSE TO THE ’80s, ANTI-’80s?

I wouldn’t say anti-’80s, it was artists wanting to be artists. A lot musicians saw the commerciality  – fascinated but repulsed by it.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO, WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR INFLUENCES?

I’m 9 years older than the rest of the guys in the band. Replacements, Minutemen, Husker Du. The rest of the band is into Buddy Holly. When I heard the Replacements all my conditioning was disintegrated. That discontent in the music, I really related to. Their music wasn’t tailor-made.

YOU’VE TOURED IN THIS BAND SINCE 2004?

Yeah

BEEN TO EUROPE BEFORE?

Couple of times. I’m still working at Eat’s when I’m in town, but we are starting to sustain ourselves. Sometimes we want to take a break, but we are not to that point where we can do a record, tour, then take a break. We are still introducing ourselves.

I HEARD YOU JUST PLAYED ORLANDO, WHERE I ONCE LIVED. WAS THAT DOWNTOWN?

We played a downtown music fest and a really fun house party that night.

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR NAME?

We had a different name and changed it. A friend of ours came up with it and we laughed. People have a love-hate relationship with that name.

DO YOU REST AT ALL WHEN YOU TOUR?

We generally play everyday.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT ATLANTA?

It’s like a small town in a big city. The people I know are really good people. I always think about wanting to leave, but people are friendly here. It’s a really good place to hone in on your craft.

ATLANTA IS WHERE YOU LIVE TO BECOME WHAT YOU ARE?

True. And it’s still wide open.

20 great things about The South:

1.Southern Girls (and other friendly folks)

2.ATL’s ROCKET SHIP Architecture

3.College Football, y’all

4.N’awlins’ Food

5.Charleston Flavor

6.”30 A” Beaches of the Florida Panhandle – especially Rosemary Beach

7.The Smoky Mountains in autumn

8.Sweet Tea, Grits, Biscuits, BBQ

9.America’s Teams: (the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Braves)

10.Southern Literary Tradition: William Faulkner, Tom Wolfe, Gone with the Wind, the Decatur Book Festival, Grisham, urban ATL poetry scene, me

11.ELVIS (Memphis, Tupelo)

12.The BeltLine (Atlanta)

13.ATL and Athens Music Scenes – from Outkast to Mastodon to Rhianna to REM to SVA to Of Montreal to the B-52s, from the Tabernacle to Chastain to the 40watt club to TI to Music Hates You, from Pylon to Black Lips to “Superman those hos.”

14.Twilight Criterium (Athens)

15.Lowtide at Tybee Island (GA)

16.The Live Music Capital of the World  (Keep Austin Weird)

17.Mommas

18.Vulcan (Birmingham)

19.Deepdene Park -of the Olmstead Linear Parks (Atlanta)

20.Taco Stand (Athens)

Few things in the ‘hood

They closed down the disco, but don’t panic because it will re-open in a few months … or so. San Francisco Coffee in the Poncey-Highland hood of The ATL is easily one of my favorite hangouts, because they have good brew, show cool art, and the hilariously sardonic Christian of the super-heavy band “Whores” is amongst the quality baristas that work there. But they shut her down to move to a bigger location next store, so I’m frequenting Aurora in the Virginia-Highlands for now. I like to bust that way sometimes anyway (on my long board of course), because Bill Hallman’s shop along the way is my favorite for window shopping and stopping in to see my friend Will at Striver’s Row is always an enlightening cultural experience. Great people, great clothes, great weather for sidewalk surfing, and great coffee. (Please tip your baristas as you would a good bartender -They do notice and really love it.)

Anyway, they have some funny, cool baristas at Aurora (Krystal, James, etc). And they play a wild mix of music that today included the Flight of the Conchords’ better stuff and some smooth alt-rock I’d never heard before. I once had an office across the street and ate a scone dunked in a cap daily back then, so my nostalgia is palpable. Plus, the sun shines in, and they display and sell local independent art.

I bought a groovy owl magnet there recently, which gives a hoot on my fridge amongst the Cali, NYC, Mexico and Vancouver travel magnets and my collection of DAWGS and Texas Native magnets. I also have a 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympics magnet proudly displayed; a brand new Elvis Hawaii magnet which excites me on several levels; and fun art magnets by my oldest son, my oldest nephew and several more-acclaimed artists

The artist Jeffree Lerner created my owl magnet, and he has other magnets and small paintings displayed at Aurora, all for sale at very reasonable prices (well under $100, some around $10). I would describe his style as modern primitive tribal, with an emphasis on animal iconography and positive messages. Great stuff.

My positive message to y’all this Good Friday is just that: In every way possible: Live Love and Be Good!

Painting by Jeffree Lerner:

(Photo by: Han Vance)

Experience Hendrix

Channelling Jimi Hendrix: the legendary Robert Randolph on slide; Joe Satriani backed by Living Colour; members of Aerosmith & Stevie Ray Vaughn’s band & The Jimi Hendrix Experience; and a cast of music veteran others. The setting was the Fabulous Fox on Peachtree Street in the sparkling capital of the New South, and the stars on the Fox’s ceiling were twinkling and shooting. Buckshot was lovely in purple with her cream skin and dark mane. One of her prettiest nights – and she is always pretty.

First, a perfect snack of margherita pizza at Baraonda was procured barely before the show. Myers Dark Rum and pineapple was the early evening’s beverage of choice. We also had a swell concoction I called for, of Pama, Goose Orange, and pineapple, splash of soda – that was at the Fox’s little martini bar. After it was Apres Diem for chocolate mouse, late coffee, dance beats, hip art and a sexy vibe. I wore all Ben Sherman, black and brown with pink and white stripes. It was another great night out in The ATL.

The music: Could they match Jimi? No, he is the greatest guitar player of all-time and an underrated songwriter who constantly innovated and pushed boundaries, until he was gone too soon at age 27, after choking on his own vomit while drugged on barbiturates. But they were all talented and inspired to bring their best show in his honor.

Hendrix played space music, blues, radio songs, love songs, psychedelic noise – he did it all. An afro-domed man of Jimi’s height danced in a Jimi shirt as he strutted the wide aisle from one end of the building to the other.

And it was nostalgic – helping me remember my old friends from Marietta, like the groovy Jeff Edens (RIP). At one point in high school, I had a room that was covered strictly in psychedelic Jimi Hendrix and iconic Jim Morrison pictures. Gone but not forgotten, these great American rock-and-roll Vincent Van Goghs or James Deans.

JAVA LORDS Open Mic (L5P)

Tuesday night was a very fun time. I started the evening at home with my wonderful sweetheart and then ventured to JAVA LORDS in Little Five Points of The ATL for an open mic read.

I have had this unusually strong sense of place of late and have been writing of Atlanta and Georgia and America. Before departing the house, I watched a wild Of Montreal video (they are actually of ATHENS, GA and are my current favorite band). Along the way to L5P, I listened to the long-defunct ATL art rock band “BOB” (FYI: not nearly the same as the current local rapper of the same moniker). I was feeling my StreetLocal vibe and dressed to the nines in pink and tan.

Open mic at some places means strictly singer-songwriter, but Andrew hosts this event and also encourages poets and comedians. Also, JAVA LORDS is a coffeehouse with alcohol, which always adds a dimension to the room. I had a quick margarita at the wonderful EL MYR, next door, and then signed up to perform in the tenth spot.

The music was entertaining, especially the angst-fueled stuff by a singer/guitarist named Owen. A young singer/guitarist named Luke played a fun melody of Billy Joel’s Piano Man and an original he had written.

One poet other than I read. Missed his name, but he stands barefoot on a log, propped also by a wooden walking stick. His stuff had heart and seemed to me a call for a return in spirit to the simpler times in the South’s storied past – I saw him as a sort of modern day Walt Whitman.

More music while the “to go” nachos from EL MYR were ingested and washed down with a house drink called Spring Break, and then my time to shine came, and I did, reading 3 poems about Atlanta. The first was of my romance with MARTA trains (“I Have a Romance with the Subway”); the second was of Atlanta’s deserved title as Strip Club Capital of the World (“ATL-Strip”); and the third was “A-Town.”

And here are the last two lines of that final piece:

Frankly My Dears

I Do Give A Damn

…And I really do. May peace be with you! Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I found $11 on the floor.

I’m Here to Work

Stoop of NoLita House

Houston Street, Near Lafayette

Then The Puck Building

And Its Pluckish Sprite of A Figure

Puck Is Ready For Action

This Is NYC, So Alarm Clock

Prep, Prep, Step

Big Industry Day, Today

For Me

Convention Center

Subway Soon

After Coffee Completion

Contemplation Of Grand Central Yesterday:

Tourists, Locals, Mets Fans,

People Here To Work

I’m Here To Work