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)


18.Vulcan (Birmingham)

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

20.Taco Stand (Athens)

MetroFresh Likes You

I had a super-fresh late lunch today at MetroFresh, while I was walking around Atlanta In-town East. They’ve been open about four and a half years in the Midtown Promenade, behind Piedmont Park.

I have decided that not only shall I rise up by reverting to the previous level of niceness I had before I became jaded, I will also revert to my previous level of healthiness in diet. I was raised vegetarian by a health food caterer/gardener mom and a Chiropractor/nutritionist/deep muscle therapist dad.

Anyone that knows my siblings and I well knows that we are a seriously athletic and strong clan of handsome people that rarely get ill without provocation. This physical prowess is a result of both our healthy upbringing and our lineage: Dad was a young professional water ski jumper who also boxed and played football; Uncle Griff was the dominant SouthWest Conference football player of his day.

I slam dunked a basketball as a thirty-five year old white man who can’t palm a ball, and my three little brothers are all literally huge now and still super-athletic for their size. Your family simply could not cover or guard my family. And we can definitely out dance you – our nickname is the Dancing Vances! Even my little sister could beat many of my male friends up.

I attribute much of this to the fact that we all ate so well growing up, and we still eat our homegrown veggies. My much less health conscious friends are constantly getting sick, so I now revert.

I now digress: They change the menu daily at MetroFresh, where the slogan is “Fresh Food Fast.” It’s not cheap, but it is well worth it.

I had a Coke Zero and a deliciously melting lemon bar on the not that healthy tip. But I also had a rich and wonderful broccoli and cheddar soup; perfect soba noodles contrasted with colorful green edamame and snap peas; and an apple and cauliflower salad with crisp purple cabbage. It was almost LA-like, almost Cali-like, except the portions were American grownup-sized.

They do serve some meat dishes, but the focus is soups, salads, sandwiches.

The counter help was actually helpful … and fun to talk with.

Here is the real test of healthy food: I felt great when I was completely full from it. Full and walking, up a hill, in the heat. My mom would like this place; I loved it.

Check it out: www.metrofreshatl.com

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)

World’s Longest Oyster Po-Boy

Marietta-native and chef, Rob Vance of La Bayou restaurant, worked with many others to build the World’s Longest Oyster Po-Boy on March 27th in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOLA is home to the aptly-named New Orleans Oyster Fest, after all.  The 340-foot sub extended down Bourbon Street in yet another indication of the strong culture of New Orleans, the South … and America as a whole

When staying in NOLA, I highly recommend Hotel Monteleone for its location and ambient charm, Brennan’s for the best breakfast, and Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop for the strongest fresh Hurricanes. Jean Lafitte’s is the oldest bar in the USA (1772) and one of the few bars older than my alma mater, the University of Georgia (1785).

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.

Truman Show (Death Cab for Cutie at Fabulous Fox)

He has a mohawk, this dog. Truman is half UGA English Bulldawg and half Shih Tzu – a “Bullshit” – and his daddy had just moved him to Midtown ATL and was taking him for a walk near the Fabulous Fox.

Financial snafus had recently resulted in his daddy, my apartment sub-leaser in Atlanta, missing a Death Cab for Cutie show in which he had tickets, waiting in vain at will call, in New Orleans, while he was stuck in Mobile, where he was relocating from. And Truman is the biggest pimp on Bourbon Street, but that is another story.

Picture this. Today Truman and his daddy are on a walk, side of The Fox. And Death Cab’s lead guitarist, Chris Walla pops up near his bus to meet the four-legged mohawked star.

Ensuing went like this: ATL, Fox, Free Tickets, 5th row, great show. I was there too, man. How many cuties filled the place in body, with their lilting voices, as Ben Gibbard encouraged them to sing the chorus for him? Oh, those Southern Belles. They would follow their men through the dark, to the afterlife.

Romantic love expressed in big thoughtful words, carried by palatable punchy chord structures that are all about moments. Big, powerful drum moments, bass boom tricks, winding guitar riffs. Of Seattle, Death Cab is more child of REM, the Smith’s, the Replacements than of Nirvana and the legion of always predictable 1990’s grunge negativists that were of that ilk. They aren’t afraid to be fun and it shows.

This night the band emanated a sense of big show comprehension. It was a blossoming performance full of momentum and harmonic energy.

The Fox is just plain gorgeous, y’all. And the light show indicated money, the ultimate sign of big record label trust and hope. Death Cab gave the guys in the suits behind them a huge reason to smile with the ultimate success of this show. Large engaged audience, delighting to an “on” band. They were really on…and it was spring in The ATL, so y’all know we were “on.”

The lovely, artsy couple next to us were also guests of Chris Walla; he had met the her of the two that morning at the bank in which she works. America can be cool sometimes.

Transcendent Funk

Thinking about the transcendent nature of art a lot lately. I contemplate the re-write of my manuscript-that-will-be-masterpiece novel while in the friendly skies; I stare at an otherworldly sculpture garden in the swelter of Mid-City New Orleans; I trip on the surrealistic paintings of Matthew Peck in his gallery in the French Quarter; I marvel at rocket ships of ATL architecture from a rooftop in the sky. And my hips sway to the sounds when I hear them.

My sexy girlfriend danced in front of me. We’d had a bit of a bad day before ENTROPY took to the stage at the 420fest in Candler Park of Atlanta. This was before the flight, before New Orleans. It was a spring festival in the capital of the south – nothing new to me about that. Heck, it was our second festival in two days. It was a writer’s work day, and I was not in the mood. My sublease had suddenly dissolved, and I was stuck in a financial muck causing me to question.

Then frontman Rod had a suggestion: Dance your troubles away. ENTROPY is black and white and modern and classic. They represent the funk in America now. And we still want the funk.

Rod fired us up, shook us from our winter slumber. And then Slappy took over – he as charismatic a guitar instigator as exists. And the stage was full with up to ten total people at a time…all with one cause: To get you out of your funk. And suddenly we were drunk on the sounds, the excitement. It worked, man, it works.

Rob Robinson is more pounding drum machine than human being. Steve Boyd from Parliament joined to add an undeniable credibility. Rod’s daughter did not let being on crutches stop her from making the show a family affair.

And we were one again. My girl and I moved together to the beat. The crowd moved together to the beat. One nation under a groove.

Julie C. May at pb&j (Kirkwood-ATL)

Friday March 20th was the opening for photog Julie C. May at pb&j Gallery in the Kirkwood district in Atlanta, GA. They have been in business for two years. And the charming little village as a whole is doing quite well and now has most of your major urban needs condensed for you into a couple of blocks – so Atlanta, y’all. Please Go!!!

Hailing from the Beverlywood area of LA for the past ten years, Julie C. May has meanwhile toured the world in pursuit of great shots. The front room at this quaint, super-cute gallery is full of her selected finds. It runs through May 3rd.

Featured locations: Venice, Italy…Russia…Berlin…Poland…Puerto Rico…St.Kitts…CHI-Town…the girl really gets around. Her photography, shot in black and white with a 1976 Nikon and in shiny-today-digital-color, has so much life. As she says: “Every wrinkle tells a story.” These photos capture people “not reacting, living.”

Not much for self-promotion, the striking and radiant Julie C. May instead chooses to focus on her true passion – her business.  She founded the “Unscene Tour” to give a sense of home and a big boost to emerging photogs across the nation.  Check it: www.unscenetour.com

Back to the show, my companions were my adorable girlfriend, Jami Buck and my uber-hip Bromance from Cafe Intermezzo (via Cali), Duane. I wore lime green seersucker and a white belt and spring was underway. Spritzers are nice and so are almonds and art. Check it: www.facebook.com/hanvance

May got into photography originally “to get more boys to flirt with me.” Provocatively sexy statement for a married woman, I thought. Duane and I were the best heterosexual options on this night, as “the boys” were out in full force to support the gallery and kick back some free wine. They dress quite well, too. Check it: www.facebook.com/bobburkhart    (the b of pb&j)

From elderly Venetians that are clearly Old Souls to a Navyman resplendent in that one ray of light amongst the Chicago skyscrapers, personalities of people and the commonality of life experiences throughout diverse areas of the world are conveyed in a show perhaps more about face than space.

And then my baby paid half for me to get a small piece of Jack Simmonetta’s stuff. He is the j of pb&j. Just thinking to myself I was: the thousands of colors of blue are a nice color, and it is getting late.

So we said bye and headed to Poncey-Highlands for a post-pre-party at my babe’s townhouse, with too much of that Absolut Mango vodka and yet another adorable Jaimie, and then the four of us were up the street to the basement of the Highland Inn for the single best dance party in town. We listened to the Detriot to ATL transplanted rapper Stewart House along the way. And then we finally hit the dancefloor.

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.


Georgia O’Keefe – bloominess:

Color. Even before I leave my house I think of color: Pinks, Reds, Yellows, Blues. Oh Georgia, your use of color: profound.

Spring has almost sprung in Midtown, and the HIGH Museum of Art on Peachtree Street is showcasing the area’s inevitable bloominess by hosting a major show of works by the most celebrated American female painter, Georgia O’Keefe. The Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico co-organized the show, which runs through May 4th, as part of the Women in Art Series presented by Turner.

First wall, O’Keefe is quoted: “Women don’t make good painters they said. I just painted, that was all.” Unhappy to be defined solely by her femininity in a male dominated profession, her focus was on the work itself and the individual expression in the acts of their creation.

Photographer Alfred Stieglitz did much to ensure that photography was included in the categorizations that the public calls fine art. A prolific photographer and art dealer, he owned the Little Gallery on 5th Avenue in NYC. From its 1905 opening forward, Stieglitz championed European and American modernist artists. Visionary and unique for his time, Stieglitz began to show and promote a number of female artists, believing a woman’s essential femininity was exposed in the creative process.

Stieglitz called early protégé, Katherine Nash Rhoades, the “woman child” for what he saw as her beautiful childlike simplicity in painting. O’Keefe he later cast as the “Great Child.” She in fact studied the children’s way of making paintings. Is something not lost in a natural artist, as life and school and time begin to “teach” them? O’Keefe encouraged the notions of herself as a childlike visionary while rejecting assertions based on sexuality, although vaginal shapes do clearly appear in many of her flower paintings.

Stieglitz and O’Keefe blossomed from business interest to romance to marriage, in 1924. She is the subject of much of his photography; a full room of her as muse is off to the side of the main exhibit space. His champion-artist appears here as sexual and free, a gypsy in the prime of her life expression.

Flowers and Landscapes are O’Keefe’s major subjects. First came flowers, and a complete floral room easily highlights the exhibit. In the center of the room, in your garden, you notice that some are brighter than life, some bright as life.

Stieglitz died in 1942; O’Keefe lived until 1986 and the famous southwestern landscapes became a primary subject after his death and are thus not displayed in this show. Finally, perhaps foreshadowing her later landscape work, we see the piece: “Red, Yellow and Black Streak.” Here color has transcended form in a landscape from Georgia’s beautiful mind, which birthed an explosion of strata colored red, yellow, black and pink. Her magical vision for color most evident where red becomes pink, dark becomes light.