#FreeArtDecatur and Sodabooze

FreeArtDecatur

Image courtesy of Emily Chapman. Art courtesy of _CheckTheBox_. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I grew up just outside of Decatur, an intown suburb of Atlanta that bills itself as “a city of homes, churches, and schools.” (Yes, really.) Though it’s not really Atlanta, in a metro area that still includes suburbs 2 hours outside of town, it is close enough. The town is basically what Berkley would be if it happened to be in Georgia; there are competing, longstanding independent coffee shops, and art fairs, and an annual book festival. A lot of earnest high school students are always around, playing ultimate frisbee.

It’s a lovely town. I would be charmed if I discovered it as an adult. But I didn’t, and as a result I’ve maintained an uneasy relationship with it into adulthood: I like it, I should like it, I am a product of it, but it seems like cheating to stay in it. I’m not establishing myself as an adult in any meaningful way if I’m still getting coffee at the same coffee shop I’ve been loitering at since I was 15, even if it’s a wonderful coffee shop (and I drink beer in it, now). So, I’ve been staying away, finding new coffee shops in my new neighborhood a few miles away. It’s been a good choice, I think.

But I was reminded how much I like the place this weekend, when I went back for the second annual Great Decatur Art Hunt. The event grew out of Free Art Friday/#FAFATL, a city-wide group of artists (loosely affiliated in some cases, unrelated in others) which drop art around town for folks to find. This was a concentrated version of that: starting at noon on Saturday, the artists gathered to drop art and watch as folks gathered it. Decatur was such the neighborhood for it: lots of families with small kids who wanted to participate, high walkability for finding drops on foot, a huge number of earnest people who Want to Support Art. Continue reading

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State parks, the New Deal, and kayaks

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Image courtesy of Cliff1066. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As part of my apparent thirst to spend as much of November away from my home as humanly possible, I spent this past weekend in FDR State Park, in a delightful cabin, with friends and beer and a lovely view. There was kayaking. Marshmallows were roasted.

You may be wondering why Georgia has a park named after a famous lefty president from New York. (You should have paid attention in Georgia History, dear reader. Those of you not from here, you get a pass.) It’s due in part to the nearby Little White House, FDR’s second home, where he routinely traveled to bathe in the nearby warm springs in order to help his polio and–though not mentioned by the lovely displays in the Little White House museum–be with his mistress. Continue reading

School is the Weirdest

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Image courtesy of Gotardo. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

While out at a Local Watering Hole with friends this weekend, there was a brief moment of discomfort when my friends realized that the folks standing nearby were a former middle school classmate and a former middle school teacher. My main reaction was one of delight: for once it wasn’t me running into someone from middle school! I am all about looking on the bright side.

The rest of the evening passed in a pleasant, uneventful way, but the run-in got me thinking about my K-12 education. Despite being a grade-a nerd, I had a perfectly pleasant time of public school. Because my memories of that time are mostly fond, it’s easy for me to forget that public education is occasionally completely bizarre. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that I spent 8 hours a day locked in a building where I had 22 minutes to eat lunch and the bathrooms were locked during that period to prevent people from having sex in them.

Which, by the way, did not ring any bells as weird during that time.

The moment that came to mind last night, however, came from high school. As a wee adolescent nerd, I was bussed over to a local science facility with others of my kind to learn about a variety of sciences for two periods a day. It was a good program, which allows for the best science teachers in the district (many of whom had been research scientists at some point) to talk to kids who actually cared about the subject. Continue reading

Making Knives Out of Rocks in North Georgia

Enjoying the North Georgia Primitive Arts Festival.

Image licensed under CC BY 2.0. Courtesy of erix!

As promised in last week’s post about not losing your time in a fog of Netflix and malaise*, I spent part of this weekend at the North Georgia Primitive Arts Festival/Knap In. As expected, it was fairly small and uniformly delightful. Y’all, it is a truth well established that festival folks in general are friendly, and rural southern festival folks even more so.

You want to feel loved? Haul out to the Georgia Apple Festival, ignore the warnings about chewing tobacco causing mouth cancer, and eat an apple fritter with someone who makes wreaths out of bullet casings.

So, I was just delighted to find myself with my two classmates and professor on a Saturday morning, heading out to Cartersville to hang with people who like to make their own arrowheads, and–in the case of the primitive bowhunter side of the festival–their own arrows and bows, and then shoot deer with them. We rolled up–one of the few cars that wasn’t a truck–around 11am, and headed on in.  Continue reading

New Favorite Drink

So this weekend was my little sister’s birthday. It was celebrated, as all good family shindigs are, in a house in the hills. This particular hill house was in Helen, GA.

Helen, for those of you who are Not From Around Here, is best-known for its epic Oktoberfest and–during the slightly less beer-soaked rest of the year–an agressive attempt to stay on theme. (The theme being twee and German.) Helen is the sort of place that is horrifying if you’re between the ages of 14-18, and absolutely weirdly delightful if you’re not.

There’s just something about Ye Olde Fudge Shoppe (and its 18 rivals, the Slightly Less Olde Fudge Shoppes and the Look At Our Fudge Innovation, We Learned This in Europe Shoppe) that is delightful. It’s probably the man in lederhosen outside, strumming his tiny banjo and renting out his parrots to children. As long as you can overlook the Confederate kitten t-shirts (it happened, I swear to you), the whole town is a weird escape from anything approaching real life.

But Alpine Helen eventually wore me out, and it was then that I retreated to the hill cabin to drink.

Continue reading