Talk of the Town - Brotherly Love February 03 2005

Ken and Jeph Burgoon, and a whole lot of giraffes

Brothers Ken and Jeph Burgoon have lived together nearly all of their lives. After graduating from Central Gwinnett High in 1998, elder brother Jeph left the 'burbs to move into a Virginia-Highland studio apartment. Ken moved in shortly after his graduation in 2001. A year later, Jeph vacated the great white Va-Hi for the ramshackle urban frontier of Atlanta's West End warehouse district. Like all loyal little brothers, Ken followed in his footsteps.

Now holed up together in a divided house in Poncey-Highland, the middle two of seven siblings have relocated with no sign of parting ways.

Their bedrooms, at opposite ends of the house, are separated by an avalanche of empty beer bottles. Books, sticker-covered appliances and flyers from Jeph's one-man electronic dance-punk outfit, Airoes, litter every possible surface. Amid it all, Jeph's peculiar fascination with giraffes crawls out of every nook and cranny. Everything from a giraffe-shaped end table to a screen saver on the computer of a giraffe piloting a tank decorate the home, but perhaps the most profound spectacle of his affinity for the long-necked animals are the giraffic white, yellow and orange walls that alternate from room to room.

Niri, their 2-year-old Great Dane, wanders the perimeter with stoic grace. His massive, chocolate form is a stark contrast to the vibrant colors glowing in the periphery.

Creative Loafing: So what's up with all of the giraffes?

Jeph: I just think they're awesome.

Did you paint the walls?

No, the woman who lives upstairs did.

Tell me about the neighborhood?

People call it the Poncey-Highlands, but this is straight Ponce.

(He motions toward the intersection about 100 feet away that separates Fellini's Pizza from La Fonda Latina.)

When you can sit in your living room and hear the cars crashing into each other and then sirens coming down the road, you're living on Ponce. If we had cars parking in our yard because of the bars, then I would call this the Highlands. There's nothing "Poncey" or "Highland" about where we live.

What's the neighborhood like?

Ken: It's pretty diverse. We have some families, some college kids. I walk to and from work in the Highlands and I haven't ever had any problems.

So crime is pretty negligible around here?

It's not bad. When we first moved in here, we had to chase a bunch of prostitutes out of the basement. Before it was fixed up, the house was pretty cheap and pretty run down and there were prostitutes using the basement to take care of business.

So how does it compare to living in the West End or Gwinnett?

Jeph: It's great. You don't have to get on the interstate anytime you need to run an errand. We seriously can walk to pretty much anywhere we need to go.


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