I met a writer who told me to get the fuck out of Atlanta. He spoke highly of Louisiana and his comrade of Memphis, both of which are more Southern, and perhaps part of his reasoning for disliking my hometown. He lived in Texas–a state which prides its local culture–and I guess he loves the place a shit ton since he ran for governor once.
ATL is a homogeneous city, packed at all sides with burbs. Kids here rarely have Southern accents, and soul food or BBQ aren’t as readily available as you’d think. Even though I loved the dude’s Elvis, Jesus and Coca-Cola book, I sort of hated him for knocking ATL. Then again he played Smith’s Olde Bar (a place I’ve avoided in all my 10 years of music-making), probably basing his opinions about my hometown on some experience with a promoter or the beer-guzzling jock dad clientele in one bar.
When I was younger, I hated Atlanta’s baseness and lack of fantasy. If you’re a person who dips their toes in the excitable vein of music machinery, this city had major mega musical limitations, especially then. And we were very divided. The queer scene hadn’t really become its own entirely, especially the queer DIY punk scene. There was a lot of whiteness.
Today’s story is different but my complaints about music still exist. When music is some variation of something past, a good homage at best, our minds aren’t blown often in the local scene. Would we appreciate something bolder anyway? I rant about youth culture, the problems, triumphs, diamonds and dumps in our Dirty South rock ‘n’ roll but right now I’m going to expand to the young community I’m familiar with at large. First World shitheads aren’t accustomed to counting our blessings. Though we’ve moved away from copying other cities, we still “copy” via Junk Culture in the age of the Internet.
There’s also that problem of ATL being reserved compared to West Coast kids or whatever cities have more widespread crypto-hippie mannerisms. However, I’ve had a few well known “assholes” for BFFs, and I always prefer honesty over “nice” dime-a-dozen brownnosers. Of course some people, like Allie Bushuk of Young, Foxy & Free , artist Ashley Anderson or photographer Jason Travis, were born genuinely permasweet. Some of our amazing people here are fiercely honest. Some people though are basic, vanilla and stupid.
Catty shit exists through and through, especially in girls that swarm in groups. We have the same social problems as any place. Being an individual with individual friends of different creative Harry Potter houses, I’ve been able to interact with many different circles of friendships. I’ve noticed groups beginning to overlap, interact and combine forces. Thus I predict ATL will be richly wild as our weirdo reservations melt away. FINALLY!
Still, people are shy and have bad days or play shitty shows at shitty venues to shitty audiences. Parties can be boring. As the saying goes: if you’re bored, you’re boring. I’ve learned to be okay with the here and now, some sort of Zen Rumi approach to ATL. I’ve also actively been seeking out new perspectives (even physical landscapes and scenery like the Beltline’s UFO installments and graffiti underpasses to the new Cameli’s rooftop lounge).
Above all, my recent heartbeats go to the amazing people I’ve met in just the past TWO MONTHS. I’ve had many meaningful conversations folks I didn’t know well or at all, but I made myself open for the interactions. The universe’s wily ways aren’t enough to just hand the goods over, especially in such a small place as ATL has been known to be.
A recent migration of kids leaving Atlanta may open the floodgates for fresh energy, too. A best friend moved to Portland, emotionally checking out in the few weeks before leaving (around the same time a boy who scored a spot on The Blotter for an acid meltdown and rad artist Nick Benson moved there, too). This happened 10 years ago when three of my friends from Scaryetta moved there together among countless others. So far a place full of young people, the hipster retirement city, listed as the most promiscuous, close in size and expense to ATL.
Others move with bigger aims, such as the ATL-to-NYC train, often with no prospects for school or work. Undoubtedly scoring “cooler” clothes and maybe “cooler” friends, the first six months are still a hell of an adjustment. Some stay, some come running back, others move home 10 years later. Either way, people leaving their burnt bridges behind allows an opportunity for others to keep creating the path on the bridges they are building. You follow yourself wherever you go so you might as well make it good.
I’m not gonna ask anyone to stop leaving. People want to escape baggage or need to get away; others just wanna travel. ATL’s blankness doesn’t work for everyone. That’s cool with me because this city’s waiting to be filled up with awesome shit. Right now I am really excited about ATL. The girl who used to complain about ATL more than anyone now loves to call it home.
If I’m gonna do what I want here, I’m gonna have to do it a thousand times harder than a place that is already set up. Even it’s gonna be a pain in the ass, not nearly as easy as Brooklyn or LA or Chicago, it’s gonna be radical and real and above all it’s gonna be mine. How many cities have the opportunity to be a phoenix when so many other cities are just a cultural Wal-mart?
And even then there’s so much going on. This week alone I’m gonna:
+ Go to the Atlanta Zine Fest’s Exquisite Corpse event at Hodge Podge TONIGHT. Drinking booze and cutting out pictures from old National Geographics with other creatives? That’s a pretty nice Wednesday night. Amanda Mills, an amazing woman who runs a tape label and was president of Faces of Feminism, was recently interviewed about the Atlanta Zine Library by Purge ATL.
+ Glam out at Mary’s with a bunch of fabulous (new wave and old school) drag queens for Glitz’s Halloween Edition Thursday Night!! The Paris is Burning edition last month was amazing and I rarely have an excuse to dress like Janet Jackson a la Rhythm Nation. Now we’ll be riding the wave of The Craft and Elvira or Vampira. I probably most excited about the drag scene than anything else in ATL right now.
+ Bounce around afterwards at a rad DIY show via the Sampson Lofts (cheapish living quarters haven) with Ghost Bikini, our resident ATL ‘60s garage band.
+ And Saturday the tradition of the Little 5 Points Halloween Parade goes on (my all-girl Misfits cover band will be jamming on a float, too). This is always a cute time. Little kids and adults alike costume up and despite the OTP day drunk people, it’s nice to see the community act like a community.
+ Saturday night Living Walls will have a makeshift warehouse party event. Makeshift spaces are always cool opportunities for kids to do it for themselves which is what ATL is all about. Living Walls is also a prime example of a bunch of kids who built something out of nothing, making our city more street art friendly every year.
+ And if all that is not enough, Sunday evening there’s Purge Apocalypse at Estoria which will be a blast of course.
It’s not even Halloween week yet. Sorry, Kinky. I think I’m perfectly content. (: