Scene & Herd - Take a flying leap ...

Off the PC bandwagon

Last Monday, I visited Southern Comfort, a trucker's honky-tonk on Moreland Avenue south of I-285. Located behind a row of tractor-trailers, it appears to be a little dive bar, but that's deceptive. It's actually quite a large dive bar. The spot is outfitted with a couple dozen tables, a sizable stage overlooking a dancefloor, a long counter and even a back room with a pool table.

The country bar's resident DJ looked like you'd expect a country bar DJ to look: mullet, beer gut, dressed like a biker. He called out to the few people in the room to come up and take part in the dive's "live" karaoke. In between singers trying their best to croon country tunes, the DJ played funky '70s soul music — a jarring contrast. The small crowd was a mix of good ol' boys, truckers, lot lizards and a few folks from the projects up Moreland (which reminded me of the old days at Dottie's before the place got taken over by college kids. Somehow I doubt Southern Comfort is in danger of becoming the hip underground bar for the latest indie or experimental music).</
I returned on Friday, hoping the weekend would bring a bigger crowd, but both patrons and employees said Saturday is their biggest night (though I'll definitely return on a Thursday for "lingerie night," something even the waitress said was "surreal.") The Joe Tucker Band plays many nights, covering all your favorite country classics to near perfection, occasionally emptying the dancefloor when it switches gears to funk. Guys in tight jeans and cowboy hats danced with ladies in outfits you won't see at the end of an episode of "What Not to Wear." A few boot-scooters even line-danced with robotic precision. According to one trucker, the joint is famous on the CB circuit. A unit sits at the end of the bar and the waitresses pick it up and chat away when things are slow, drawing in clients from the surrounding highways. So if you're looking for a honky-tonk woman, a truck-drivin' man, a plate of truck-stop food or just a stiff drink at a good price, have a shot of Southern Comfort.

SATURDAY, I STOPPED by L'Avenue, a gallery on Charles Allen Drive at Ponce, for its final show before the space is given to new owners. The gallery is currently showing a collection of works titled Geisha Punk by an artist calling himself simply "Saint." The works are watercolors done in traditional Japanese style, depicting geishas, samurai and street scenes but with decidedly nontraditional themes. One geisha wears a protective mask as she sprays graffiti tags on a wall overlooking a busy street. Another geisha sports a face full of piercings. A samurai in full armor wields a baseball bat in one hand and holds a beer in the other, standing in sneakers. The works are mostly small and simple; black paint on white paper with a tan color wash background. They're affordable, too, around $100 with prints for a mere $20, so get out and support your local artists.</
I CHECKED OUT the Los Amigos Invisibles show at the Variety Playhouse on Saturday night, so pardon me while I stage-dive off the PC bandwagon: I love Latin women. Crank up some syncopated rhythms and suddenly skintight jeans or short skirts are swaying in a way that screams sex to us poor puritanical white folk — but, of course, it's really more about the music to them. Black hair, brown skin and dark eyes make me thank Christopher Columbus for beginning the largest migration in human history, creating a mixed race of Native American, African and European descent. Sure, it cost millions of lives and destroyed entire cultures and pillaged whole continents — but ooh, look at her. When the race war comes, I'm fighting for the other side.

OK, back to the music: Los Amigos Invisibles could've used a horn section to add some punch to their somewhat trippy Latin grooves but they kept the energy going from start to finish. I couldn't stop staring at the bassist who was the spitting image of Jack Black, minus 50 pounds. He even made the appropriate grimace during his face-melting bass solos.</
THE CROWD BOUNCED and shook through the entire set, and after such a workout I needed refueling. Euclid Avenue Yacht Club has some of the best bar food in town. And nothing will help settle a belly full of shaken-up beer like the Georgia Dog, a massive hot dog covered in Brunswick stew. It was so tasty that a stranger sitting across from me demanded a bite. Recent transplants from up north were shocked when the bar announced last call and turned up the lights. They asked me where they could go to get a drink and I told them to go to the polling booth and vote out the members of the Atlanta City Council, since they are the ones who have imposed this silly early closing time (except for their own dying pet project, Underground Atlanta.)</
WHEN I SAW the announcement of the National Black Arts Festival Marketplace, I was looking forward to having an excuse to explore some of our city's historically black neighborhoods — such as the outdoor mall/condo community of Atlantic Station. I remember the passionate Civil Rights marches that have taken place there and learning in school about the many African-American leaders born in that neighborhood. What better place to host the International Vendor Marketplace? Seriously though, Atlantic Station boasts ample parking and you can swing by the Gap after you've browsed arts and crafts from places like Ghana and Canada. Perhaps the most interesting work on display is by displaced New Orleans painter J. Pierre. His paintings portray jazz and blues musicians of his former home city with expressionistic style. There's a lot of carved wooden sculpture and heavy-duty jewelry as well as assorted clothing, beauty products and more. With a market that stretches over two blocks of blacktop, the only thing lacking is shade.</

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