Talk of the Town - Freaks and geeks July 08 2000

Dungeons and DerMarr in the ATL

One reason John Rocker said he hated New York was because of all the "freaks" who roam the Big Apple. Well, don't tell Johnny Rotten, but last weekend, while he was cocking and preening in New York, a group of freaks invaded Atlanta. From last Thursday through Sunday, the downtown Hyatt played host to DragonCon 2000, the annual meeting of science-fiction/fantasy aficionados that kicked off in Atlanta in '87. The lobby and lower level of the hotel was basically wall to wall with people either in elaborate costumes or black T-shirts advertising one of several sci-fi franchises, from Star Wars to Star Trek.

Jason Martin drove in from near Fayetteville, Ark., to revel in the camaraderie. "DragonCon is a place where people that are into forms of science fiction can get together, face to face. I'm from a small town, and coming here helps remind me that it's important to people other than myself." (It should be noted that Martin was dressed as a Klingon; he later shared with me his "Klingon name," which, though I'm not sure of the spelling, sounded something like "Harrgh-sdjaenf-ppqop.")

While fees ranged from $75 for the entire weekend to $25 for a one day pass, Martin felt that was a small sacrifice: "To me, money is not the issue," he said. "It costs money to put the event on, and I think that everyone here would gladly pay even more to be able to attend an event of this caliber."

When I asked if he felt like a freak, Martin hesitated before answering. "Yeah, I'm a freak, but I think it's a good thing. I'm a freak for Star Trek. And so what? Aren't we all freaks for something or another?"

PR 101: Last Wednesday, June 28, the Atlanta Hawks held their annual NBA draft party down at the CNN Center, drawing several thousand fans out of the woodwork. Also in attendance were Hawks legends Dominique Wilkins and Cliff Levingston. The partisan crowd cheered the Hawks' selection of University of Cincinnati swingman DerMarr Johnson with the sixth overall pick, a departure from the draft fiascoes of the past several years.

Later, Johnson appeared live via satellite from the draft site in Minnesota to converse with the fans in the CNN Center. After answering a few easy questions, Johnson told the crowd goodbye. Then, as a technician began to remove Johnson's lapel microphone, you could hear Johnson mutter, "Get this shit off me."

A few minutes later, Johnson called in to speak to local media. Somehow I ended up on the phone with him. I asked him if he happened to be a Braves fan. "No," he said, flatly. "I hate baseball."

Cash Money: The AJC hasn't been the same since longtime music writer Steve Dollar skipped town a few months back. We caught up with him this week at his new place in the Big Apple, where he's been freelancing for the Wall Street Journal and Newsday.

"My vistas have been expanded in a very pleasant way," says Dollar. "I had been wanting to be up here for a long time and finally just shoved myself into it ... and now have hours of free time that I used to spend complaining about Atlanta."

This and that: Fusebox, the Buckhead restaurant where the Asian-American fusion cuisine was drawing raves, has made a surprising change. Gone are the Asian influences. The menu will now concentrate on American food. ... Speaking of food, Wolfgang Puck, the California-based chef to the stars, is rumored to be in negotiations to open his first Atlanta restaurant. It looks as if it will end up in Midtown ... I'm out.

What's up, ATL? Hit me up at 404-688-5623, or lang@creativeloafing.com.

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