Scene & Herd - Biohazard
And bye for now
Lock up your diaries! Hide away your anecdotes!</
StoryCorps has arrived in Atlanta! If you see them, do not approach them. They are armed with a portable recording studio, warm smiles, and page after page of penetrating questions. StoryCorps commandos (they call themselves "facilitators," but I know better) won't relent until they complete their mission of capturing every interesting life story that Atlantans have to tell, or until March 26, whichever comes first.
In reality, StoryCorps isn't even remotely menacing. It's pretty effing great, in fact. StoryCorps opened its first StoryBooth in Grand Central Terminal in 2003. Regular people could go into the booth and interview friends or loved ones about their life. The StoryCorps people help the interview along and also make a broadcast-quality recording of it. Have you ever wanted to ask your grandfather about the war? StoryCorps can help. Have you ever wanted to ask your mom how she got mixed up with that big jerk dad of yours? StoryCorps will help. And if the story is good, NPR might air some of it.</
Last spring, StoryCorps sent two MobileBooths out on the road. One of the MobileBooths (an aluminum Airstream trailer with "StoryCorps" in giant letters on each side) arrived in Atlanta last week. It's parked outside the museum on the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.</
I went by the booth on Saturday. I didn't have an appointment (every appointment between now and March 26 is taken — this thing is popular), but I didn't really need one. I wasn't there to tell my story. I was there to capture people's StoryCorps stories. To borrow a phrase from my friend Reid, I was a StoryCorps StoryCorps, recording stories about people's experience recording stories with StoryCorps.</
I talked to two sets of people — one set on their way in, one set on their way out. A young mother named Abby brought her mother, Marlene, to interview. Abby is a big fan of StoryCorps and claims to have heard every single story they've ever published. Abby wouldn't say what questions she was going to ask her mother. She would only say that she wanted an audio recording of her mother that her 3-year-old daughter could one day listen to. I didn't want to pester too much because it was clearly a meaningful personal moment for them, so we left it at that.</
On their way out of the booth, I talked to husband and wife Shawn and Paula Patch. Paula interviewed Shawn about his experience putting himself through college, without the help of his family. Shawn is among the first generation of his family to ever attend college. The best part of my interview with them was when Paula called Shawn "an inspiration" to her. I can't think of a better thing I've done as a writer than inadvertently prompt someone to call her spouse an inspiration. I've posted the audio of my StoryCorps StoryCorps with Paula and Shawn on my-lanta.com.
Bears In Heat: Lun Lun, Zoo Atlanta's female giant panda, is ready for action! I know that because last week Zoo Atlanta sent out an e-mail alert with the subject heading "Panda Estrus Is Near."</
After StoryCorps StoryCorps on Saturday, I went all PandaCorps and stopped by the zoo to see if I could capture any of the action on camera for my new magazine, Bearly Legal.</
Sadly, Lun Lun and her male counterpart, Yang Yang, were not getting busy when I visited. Yang Yang was eating bamboo in an enclosure while Lun Lun nervously paced in the adjacent enclosure. A zoo employee told me that even if the pandas were going at it, we wouldn't be able to watch. When the pandas get jiggy, they close the exhibit so the pandas can focus on the task at hand and so parents don't have to answer questions like "Mommy, why are the pandas stuck together?"</
Baby Internet: Last Wednesday, former Tennessee water skiing champion and daughter of (Vice) President Al Gore, Karenna Gore Schiff, was in town promoting her book Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America. I met her that morning on the set of WXIA-TV/Channel 11's "Atlanta & Company" (where I sometimes talk about my event-related activities).</
Our meeting was brief. I shook her hand twice. It clearly meant a lot to her, though, because she autographed my copy of her book "To Andy, with admiration for your wit and fond memories of meeting you in Atlanta." It meant a lot to me, too. The book is actually really good.
Pinky Swear: Last Tuesday night, I saw one of the strangest rock shows I've ever seen. It was Ariel Pink's performance at the Drunken Unicorn.</
I don't know much about Pink. All I know is that someone gave me his CD titled The Doldrums and I can't stop listening to it. It's not because I like it. I'm not sure that I really do. It's just weird and fascinating. It's a relatively recent CD, but it sounds like a ninth-generation cassette copy of music recordings made by a precocious, slightly odd child in a bedroom somewhere 30 years ago.</
I went to the show mostly because I wanted to the see the face of the man making all the strange sounds I'd heard and to find out how he could re-create live the ambiance of old cassettes. The answer — he played along to old cassettes. Not great. But weird and fun.
Bye for now: Just in time for panda estrus, I'm taking approximately three months off from writing this column. I plan to travel a bit, write a book, read magazines and take long naps. I will continue to write Don't Panic in the News & Views section and plan to keep up with all of my blog and podcast activities. Frederick Noble of DegeneratePress.com will be writing in this space while I'm gone. He has hair, but I think you'll like him, anyway.