Scene & Herd - Elvis, Christmas, dating

And other things long dead

Now that Carlton has stopped gushing about his encounter with Ms. Jackson (in print, anyhow) it's time for the return of the permanent temp.

LAST WEEK, I went speed dating. Wait, scratch that; "Speed Dating" is a trademarked term I'm not supposed to use. The local flavor is HurryDate. I participated in one of their "parties" last week. You may have seen it in films, TV and print, so you're probably familiar with the idea: a bunch of guys play musical chairs while hitting on an equal number of gals. This particular event was at the trendy, upscale restaurant Joël, a place I've avoided due to a case of umlaut-phobia — brought on by being hit in the head by a Löwenbräu bottle at a Mötley Crüe concert in Königsbrück.

Participants register online and fork over $26.95 (or $35 for non-members) to get their shot at a dozen or more prospective mates at four minutes each. Parties are organized by age group (such as men 24-32 and women 21-29 or men 35-45 and women 30-40), and apparently, I don't fit in with folks my age who are willing and able to pay $26 for a night of socializing. The cost didn't include drinks, and the only food involved was a bowl of that trail-mix-like stuff at the bar. Crap. I can visit a bar any night of the week and find a dozen women who'll shoot me down in less than four minutes for free.

But seriously, if you're one of those OTP people who work hard and don't have time and/or desire to troll bars every weekend, HurryDate might work for you. It's not as nightmarish as the scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but I did experience some odd moments. Bachelorette No. 17 didn't get 10 seconds into our time before she cut me off: "It's been nice talking to you." Ouch. Only bachelorette No. 2 didn't glaze over in confusion when I rattled off my favorite bars in East Atlanta and L5P.

By the time the party was over I was ready for some alone time. There are only so many times you can shake hands and ask what someone does for a living before you stop caring. But at least this way you can pack weeks' worth of efforts into one evening. I've read a review of the experience from the female perspective where she equated it to shopping. From the male perspective, it felt more like panhandling.

At the end of the event, you rate your dates by indicating "Yes" or "No" on a ballot. If your "Yes" matches someone else's "Yes," the website hooks you up. I only selected two "Yes" answers, yet I got five matches, so I suspect the site is matching profiles in addition to participants' choices. Check out www.hurrydate.com if you're interested.

ON FRIDAY, I went to the launch party of a new publication, Pine Magazine, "the South's newest independent magazine." In the interest of fair disclosure, I've developed something of a crush on the editor/publisher, former AP journalist and author Holly Lang. But lustful and intellectual curiosities aside, the party was swell — good music, smart and pretty people, and booze flowing freely. And the shindig went down in a loft apartment building owned by a former CLer, the magnanimous Tom Houck. The view of the downtown skyline from the rooftop deck was worth the visit in itself. Pine is online at www.pine-magazine.com and definitely worth a visit. They cover politics, arts and music, random opinions and other good stuff.

A BLOCK AWAY, Lenny's was packed with people in wacky, Vegas-themed costumes celebrating the 10th anniversary of local band Lust. The luscious ladies and the lone lad on drums were done up as Elvises (or is it "Elvi?") and performed a set of their B-movie-inspired garage rock to a room full of festive smiles. Lenny's management is apparently still awaiting the signature of Shirley Franklin to approve the new space before they can move. According to Houck, the whole block will turn into a pedestrian mall/condo development eventually, so if you enjoy the graffitied grunginess of the current location get your fill while you can.

I CAN'T REMEMBER the last organized event I attended OTP. It might have been the Scottish Festival at Stone Mountain — when I was 9. But for you, loyal readers, I am willing to brave the wilds of suburbia to bring news from the frontier. Saturday, the quiet town of Clarkston was awash in surf music as a result of the Surf Fest tucked behind the former Women's Club. The free, outdoor affair attracted people of all ages, from suckling babies to tottering elderly and all life stages in between. Fortunately it didn't attract too many of them, since the tiny lawn could only host a few dozen lawn chairs and strollers. After a little acoustic non-surf-related warm-up by Randy Duke, the reverb electricity began with Strato-Geezer, a three-piece a bit tentative in their efforts. Surf guitar requires precision and the geezers were a bit sloppy.

But the next act, El Capitan, had the meticulous picking down pat and threw in some tunes that took their sound more from Ennio Morricone, master of spaghetti-western soundtracks, than king-of-surf-guitar Dick Dale. The slight variation was nice, since no matter how well it's played, there's only so much surf music I can take before it becomes as repetitive as doing laps in a swimming pool.

Back in the safety and familiarity of the city proper, I ended the night at the Star Bar for Xmas in July, a long night of incredibly varied bands culminating in Yule Log, another themed and costumed band dreamed up by Jim Stacy. Shitty Claus lead other Clauses, elves and escaped slaves from Santa's workshop in performing random rock classics with lyrics changed to celebrate, and rebel against, all things Christmas. A crowd favorite was a twisted version of OutKast's "Hey Ya." "What's cooler than ice cold? North Pole!"

There's not much cooler than that.


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