Archive for July, 2009

Atlanta Music Venues — Variety Playhouse

For this week’s venue I’ll venture a few miles up Moreland Avenue from my East Atlanta neighborhood to Little 5 Points.

Without doubt my favorite music venue in L5P is the Variety Playhouse. For some reason my photostream over at Flickr doesn’t contain an image of the Variety Playhouse’s iconic marquee. However, I do have one of the inexplicably narrow door which is in the rear of the building:
Skinny door at the back of Variety Playhouse
(image used by permission)

The building which houses the Variety Playhouse started its life in 1940 as a movie theater; the theater occupied the space until the early 1960’s. For more than twenty years the building was not used for any sort of performances until it was resurrected as a performance space in the mid-1980’s. It wasn’t until the early 1990’s that Variety Playhouse gained its foothold as one of Atlanta’s better music venues. Remnants of Variety’s days as a movie / theatrical venue remain as the space contains a slanted main floor and what best can be described as “vintage movie theater” seating in the middle of the lower space as well as in the balcony. The seating is surrounded by fairly generous standing room areas including a patch of cement nearest the stage.

Because of the quality of the sound within Variety Playhouse as well as the size of the venue, it’s ideal for bands who come through Atlanta and are either too “big” to play in bars or are not “big enough” to warrant playing in the city’s largest venues such as Philips Arena or the Georgia Dome.

    What I Like

  • The sound is usually loud, but is mixed well and sounds great.
  • Smoking is not allowed inside.
  • Because of the standing-room locations if you get there early enough and you can almost guarantee a good place to see the show.
  • It has three bars and all are located away from the music area. This keeps the “bar noise” down to a minimum.
  • Shows rarely start at a late hour.
  • Prices for shows are generally reasonable, and Variety Playhouse offers an online ticket purchasing option which is far better than Ticketmaster’s.
    What I Dislike

  • Parking/Traffic can be somewhat of a bother. I don’t much care for the parking lot behind the Variety Playhouse.
  • People tend to talk a lot during shows (SHUT UP, PEOPLE. YOU ARE SUPPOSEDLY THERE TO HEAR MUSIC) and while the music is loud it can’t drown them out.

Address : 1099 Euclid Av, Atlanta, GA, 30307
Capacity1 : Seated 750, General Admission 400-1050
Cameras Allowed? : Yes
Smoking Allowed? : No, smoking areas are provided outdoors
All Ages? : Yes (at least to the best of my knowlege)
Ticket Source : Ticketmaster, Variety Playhouse’s website, or at the Variety Playhouse’s ticket booth
Favorite Shows I’ve Seen Here : Bob Mould, Built To Spill, Manchester Orchestra, New Pornographers, Alejandro Escovedo, Steven Malkmus and the Jicks, Cracker, Dead Confederate

What’s your opinion of the Variety Playhouse?

1: Wikipedia’s Variety Playhouse page

This is a bit of a surprise to me

Turns out the Braves are the third most popular team in all of baseball.  They are behind the Yankees and the Red Sox.  Okay, okay – before you freak out….. too late.

“Of COURSE we are behind the Yankees and the Red Sox, ESPN spends ungodly coverage on them, and OMFG they are so annoying, rawrgh!”

Okay – got that out of your system?  See, the Braves actually USED to be the most popular team in the country.  From 1993-1999, the Braves beat the Yankees by wide margins.  All that TBS and Andy Griffith was good for business.  Man I wish we had owners who cared…

about that zaza letter.

i promise, promise, that i will get off of this topic soon, but….

a few days ago, i implied, somewhat tounge-in-cheek that my open letter to zaza pachulia may have been the reason he opted to sign a four year deal with the atlanta hawks*.

well, this sunday, while touring around with the fam, i opened up twitter and i found this tweet from none other than zaza pachulia (who tweets as @zaza27):

@jeherv hey buddy read your letter and want to tell you that you are the best.would love to invite you on the games ones the season starts

wow. you could say i was suitably shocked. so while $18 mil may have had more to do with it, maybe my letter did help out a bit.

even more impressive is to see that zaza is actually reading and responding to things that are being sent to him by his fans. that says a lot about the power of social media for sure, that i could write a blog post about an athlete, communicate it by twitter and get a response, but it says even more about why zaza is a fan favorite here in the atl.

and it could mean a lot of good things for this town basketball-wise for the next four years.

thanks zaza!!!

*Now* You Tell Me…

Sue and Bob (names changed to protect the innocent) moved to Atlanta a few years ago from Boston and knew exactly two people in Atlanta. Not especially close friends, they were still relying on them for random, useful bits of information.

When they selected a bright, large apartment near the Krispy Kreme on Ponce, their friends gave them the thumbs up.

Thanks for that, a-holes.

OTOH, my sister lives in Austin and has a friend coming to our fair city in August to scope it out. Said friend is hoping to move here, and I plan to drive her around the in-town neighborhoods, warn her about Stone Mountain (prepare to be underwhelmed), help her find a temple and figure out what really makes her tick to see if I can help plug her in.

My point? A question: what do you wish someone had told you before you moved to Atlanta, or what did you find out the hard way? I wish someone had warned me that “downtown” wasn’t a real “downtown” back in 1994, and had taken more time to ensure that I fully understood blue laws.

Tyler Perry’s intergalactic Star Fleet?

I know I’m a bit late on this, but did anyone else have a “WTF?” moment when they saw Tyler Perry in Star Trek?  That was one of the most bizarre castings I can think of in recent memory.

The role was basically a throw-away role, but I’m amused by the idea that most white people were blissfully unaware of how odd the casting was.  I’ll bet the vast majority of the Star Trek audience had NO CLUE that the Commander of Star Fleet moonlights in drag. Were I not an unrepentant hometown booster, I’d have no clue who Tyler Perry is.

I mean, things came off fine.  Perry said his lines and the movie kept on goin’.  I was the only person looking around the theater like a mad-man, trying to figure out if anyone else’s brain was about to explode by the incongruity of it all.  It reminds me of when I saw Domino and Tom Waits came driving on screen.  I was freaking out like, “woah, that’s Tom Waits!  He’s so WEIRD!  But awesome, too!” and my friends were like, “huh? STFU”.

Incidentally, I used to work for a company that leased some property to Tyler Perry for a weekend so they could stage production for The Family That Preys.  I got paid to sit around and watch supervise the property.  Making movies is a lot more boring that I expected.  Most folks sat around for a while, chatting and eating stuff, while a few people worked to set up the scene. I fit right in!

Then everyone would be quite and SOMETHING WOULD HAPPEN for 45 seconds.  The scene was done, and then have to reset for another take ten minutes later.  Perry would come out of his trailer (he’s really tall), take a look at the video playback, and go back into his trailer.


Still, I got paid, yo, and all the folks on the crew were really nice.

ATL history blogging

Some local bloggers are feeling nostalgic it seems… Christa at Pecanne Log and Rusty at, um, Rusty’s Blog have both been doing a bit of the old history blogging.  Christa has some great posts on the old Ponce de Leon Springs, historic Atlanta cross dressers, and Atlanta’s seedy past.  Rusty did some digging on Alex Cooley, found some great old postcards, and gives the low down on Snake Nation.

I haven’t done any history blogging lately, although I’m quite a fan.  You can see some of my old posts on Terminal Station – mostly links to neat old maps.  If you are intersted in doing some history reading of your own, I suggest Google Books.  You can download entire books, such as History of Atlanta, Georgia and Pioneer Citizens’ History of Atlanta, 1833-1902.  The Pecanne Log post has a number of other books with great information, too.

Finally, no history blogger is complete without the GSU archives and Atlanta Time Machine.  Jump down the memory hole and lose yourself for a few hours.  Make sure you are caught up on all things Atlanta.  You don’t want to be like a friend of mine who moved here a few years ago – he gave me a blank stare the other night when I cracked a joke about the Big Chicken.

Atlanta Music Venues — The EARL

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a running series of posts I write about Atlanta’s music venues. These will not be in any particular order and who knows, maybe every once in a while I’ll dip back and post about a venue that is no longer in business.

This week I will choose the venue which has probably gotten more of my money than any others since I moved to Atlanta in January, 1995 — The EARL.

I moved to East Atlanta in March, 1999 and a handful of months after that The EARL, which actually stands for East Atlanta Restaurant and Lounge, opened its doors for business. From the building’s front you’d never know that this bar contained a great little music room that has seen the likes of many “big name” acts.

If the three rules of real estate are “1) Location 2) Location 3) Location” then the three rules of concert venues should be “1) Act Booking 2) Act Booking 3) Act Booking.” Let’s be honest, you can create a great music venue, but if you don’t book acts that people want to come and see/hear you are missing the point. For almost ten years The EARL’s bookings have been stellar.

As an added bonus The EARL serves up some of the best bar food in town. Show up early for a show (which, be forewarned rarely starts before 9pm weeknight and 10pm weekend at The EARL) and eat.

    What I Like

  • The sound is usually loud, but is mixed well and sounds great. Earplugs are for sale from a gumball machine if you want protection from the loudness.
  • There really is no bad seat in the room, in fact there are almost no seats in the room.
  • There is a back bar which makes it easy to keep your drink on while continuing to hear the music.
  • Shows start late.
  • Prices for shows at The EARL are usually in the $10-$20 range.
    What I Dislike

  • Low ceilings and many smokers — I call The EARL “The Home of the ‘Two Pack Minimum'”
  • The bathrooms in the music room are usually nasty.
  • Shows start late. (My post, I can both Like and Dislike this.)

Address : 468 Flat Shoals Av, Atlanta, GA, 30316
Capacity1 : ~300
Cameras Allowed? : Yes
Smoking Allowed? : Yes, although rarely shows are “Smoke Free”
All Ages? : No, 21+
Ticket Source : Ticket Alternative or at the door on the night of a given show
Favorite Shows I’ve Seen : Bob Mould, Alejandro Escovedo, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Dick Dale, Meat Puppets, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, The Hold Steady, The Long Ryders

What’s your opinion of The EARL?


big z and the hawks come to terms. local blogger takes credit.

the hawks would be atlanta’s resurgent nba franchise; big z would be one zaza pachulia, #27; and the local blogger would be me.

sekou smith reported yesterday that the hawks and zaza have come to terms on a new deal that will keep the big georgian here in atlanta, where he has become a fan favorite, for four more years.

i am really excited about this.

and i can’t help but notice this happened right after a certain blogger published a letter to zaza right here on these pages.


you decide.

Is Atlanta "Home" To You?

I moved to Atlanta in 1995. September will be 14 years for me. During this time I can say with certainty that I’ve never felt at home in Atlanta. For me Atlanta is a place I live, not home. I’ve wanted to move but situations have kept me here. I’m not complaining in the slightest. I have a great life here, great relationships and opportunities. I’m not in a hurry to get somewhere else, although my house is for sale. I won’t get into all the reasons I want to leave, most are out of my control.

What I want to know is does Atlanta feel like home to you? If so, why? What do you like about it? Why do you choose to stay?

"Free Family Fun" in Grant Park – even if it’s in name only, a nice thought.

slumdog-millionaireNear the Berne Street entrance to Grant Park, the following movies will be/have been showing at 8pm on Wednesday evenings during an event billed as “Free Family Fun” by a group called the Lewis Allstars.

The films featured are as follows:
Wednesday, July 1st:
Transformers, PG-13, released 2007.

Wednesday, July 8th
Spiderman, PG-13, released 2002.

Wednesday, July 15th
Slumdog Millionaire, R, released 2009.

So, two PG-13 films and an R-rated one are considered “family fun”?  To whom?

While I’m glad to see free movies are showing in a patch of grass near my neighborhood, so that I don’t have to pay to park or fry my backside on the concrete at Centennial Olympic Park, calling it “family fun” is misleading (or ignorant).

I got “the look” from my wife for letting our nearly-3-year-old stay in the room during Return of the Jedi last weekend (especially when said 3-year-old covered her eyes and said, “Daddy, that’s too scary” during Darth Vader’s entrance onto the nearly-completed Death Star).

Ain’t no way I’m taking her to see all the mangled bodies and crashing cars featured in the above three films.  Good idea, bad marketing.

See, e.g., the urban legend about Chevy’s marketing the “Nova” in Mexico.

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