Scene & Herd - Just bead it because

war is heck

On Sunday afternoon, I trekked (with gasoline at $2.50 per gallon, all of my OTP car trips will henceforth be called treks) up to Cobb County for a few hours of history-themed fun at the National Battlefield Park at Kennesaw Mountain.

If I remember my history correctly, the 1864 battle at Kennesaw went like this: The Gen. Sherman-led Union army was on the offensive, attempting to sweep through Cobb County and remove all the unsightly stickers from its school textbooks, before marching Southeast into Atlanta where it was to install a tax-and-spend liberal government, sorely out of touch with the values of everyday Georgians.

Standing in the Union army's way was a Confederate force under the leadership of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. A successful moonshiner and cousin to each of the 60,000 soldiers, Johnston commanded his forces from the passenger seat of an orange-red Dodge Charger nicknamed the General Lee.

Johnston wasn't able to stop Sherman at Kennesaw. It was just a deadly bump in the road on the way to the Battle of Atlanta and eventual Union victory.

Though traversed by busy roads, the park is still a beautiful spot. Even if you have no interest in history, it's a lovely, tree-filled place to hike and hang out on a sunny weekend day. Inside the visitors' center, there's a small museum dedicated to the battle. My favorite artifacts are the portraits of some of the soldiers who fought at Kennesaw. It's impossible not to look at their solemn faces and wonder what they were thinking or how they felt. The face I can't get out of my head is that of Corp. Charles O. Brown. Thirteen years old when he arrived at Kennesaw, he was already a three-year war veteran.

Outside the visitors' center, re-enactors from the 45th Alabama Regiment (10 men and one woman), put on a short soldiering demonstration. The highlight of such demos is always the shooting. Not just because of the explosions and the smoke, which are fun, but because it's humbling to see how these men fought ­-- standing up straight and firing at people who also were standing up straight, firing at you. It seems that the tactic of ducking your head to dodge bullets wasn't invented until the 20th century.

By the way, if you make it up there anytime soon, be sure to note the short film history of the battle in the visitors' center. The otherwise excellent film starts with the lame, Confederate-PC assertion that the war was fought over "sectionalism." The world "slavery" isn't even mentioned. Saying that the Civil War was fought over sectionalism is so vague that it's meaningless. It's like saying that WWII was fought over "a difference of opinion." Someone please fix it.

To Bead Or Not To Bead: On Saturday afternoon, I went to the Georgia International Convention Center for Bead Fest Atlanta, a trade show dedicated to the people who like to make and sell beaded jewelry.

The bulk of the fest was an exhibit hall filled with bead wholesalers from around the world. The first thing I noticed is that beaders like puns. The vendors included Bead Me Up, Some Enchanted Beading, Beadroom, and my favorite, Bead Attitudes.

That would have actually been the last thing I noticed if I didn't run into a friendly, talkative gemologist named Ashley Clarke. Clarke escorted me around the show, helping me figure out which stuff was gemmy and which stuff was plastic crap. She also told me how some of the beads are made, in sometimes painful detail. Cultured pearls, she says, are made by inserting an irritant into the gonads or feet of an oyster. Gonads and feet are the most easily irritated part of an oyster, hence the best spot for pearl-making. (Note to self: Do oysters even have feet?) She also noted that a lot of beads get their bright color from being irradiated and that I probably shouldn't eat them. As for her advice on what's "hot" in beads, Clarke says that this season, she's "really feeling" cinnabar irradiated pearls.

El Rey: Elvis Presley is still dead. To mark the anniversary of his death, Kingsized played a tribute show at Variety Playhouse. As usual, Mike Geier and the band struck the perfect balance, presenting Elvis the musician and Elvis the showman in perfect portions. It helps that they're the only band and singer around these parts with the range to cover Elvis' entire catalog, from the rockabilly of "Mystery Train," the power-balladry of "Suspicious Minds," to the mock opera of "It's Now or Never." Plus, there were scantily dressed dancers on stage, which is never bad.

Armour All: Much to the dismay of Atlanta's vampire, mosquito and tick communities, Mason Murer gallery's new Fresh Blood art show has nothing to do with the delicious red liquid that carries nutrients around our bodies. Fresh Blood is instead a reference to the youth of the artists whose work is being shown. "A collection of emerging young talent from Atlanta's universities and beyond."

One of the show's centerpieces is an installation by metalworker Corrina Mensoff. According to HGTV, Mensoff is one of just 50 female full-time blacksmiths working in the United States. Her installation is titled Exodus Populace. An exploration of immigration and cultural identity (so says the handy booklet I picked up in the gallery), the installation consists of two bows and a series of port holes from a ship. One of the bows, titled "Self-Loading Cargo," appears to be stitched together with old black-and-white family photographs. The iron and glass port holes along the wall each contain metaphorical images relating to 20th-century immigration by ship. Look into one of the portals and you'll see a TV screen showing empty ocean — which, now that I think of it, isn't a metaphor, but rather a literal rendering of the immigrant's port hole view.

The show also featured folk art paintings by Eddie Owens Martin (St. EOM). In the description "young talent from Atlanta's universities and beyond," he must represent "and beyond" as he's been dead for nearly 20 years. The exhibition runs until Sept. 11.

For more of Andy's weekend outings, visit Scene & Herd at andy2000.org.

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