Daily thoughts by a guy that doesn't like to think deeply too often!

Friday, June 30, 2006

All's Well in Fishland!

My aquarium has been set up for about 5 weeks now and all of the fish are doing fine. I'm starting to get a little algae now, so it's time to get some algae-eaters to clean up a little. I would also like to get a couple of big angel fish... they are my favorites. I couldn't find them anywhere a few weeks ago... maybe I'll have better luck this weekend. I'd love to have a couple of Kissing fish (Gourami's?), but I've had bad luck with them in the past, so I think it's probably safer to stick with gentle fish like neons, tetras and angels. Are there any big tropical fish that aren't aggressive?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The View

Star And Barbara Use "The View" To Fued

It's now official. Star Jones Reynolds made the announcement on yesterday morning's show that she's definitely leaving "The View". She said, "I'm not sure what the future holds, but I'm absolutely sure who holds the future." She tells "People" magazine, "What you don't know is that my contract was not renewed for the tenth season. I feel like I was fired." Star says she discovered this just a few days before word got out back in April that Rosie O'Donnell was joining the show. Meanwhile, Barbara Walters was upset that Star made the announcement on yesterday's show and that she did the "People" interview. Barbara says the announcement was planned for Thursday, and Star, "betrayed" her. Barbara freely admits that producers wanted her gone because research showed that Star's wedding to allegedly gay banker Al Reynolds, coupled with all her weight loss chaos, were turning viewers off. Sources now say that ABC has asked Star not to return to the show and that her departure is effective immediately.

Your lesson for today: Do not "betray" Barbara Walters. Star Jones crossed Barbara when she made the surprise announcement on Tuesday's edition of "The View" that she wouldn't be back in the fall. Star was told not to show up for work yesterday, or ever again. In addition, all reference to and images of Star were removed from the show's opening credits, and its website at ABC.com (Star will still appear on some future shows in pre-taped segments.) As we told you yesterday, Star was supposed to announce that she was leaving "The View" on today's show. That's how Barbara and the show's producers had wanted it. But, she jumped the gun by talking about her dismissal on Tuesday's show. Barbara said, quote, "I would have loved for Star to have left and not said 'I was fired' and not make it look like the program was somehow being cruel to her."

If you don't mind, please take a minute to vote for my friend Christian. He's a former East Point, GA resident (my roommate for a few years here). He's currently in the lead in AOL's "hottest bartender of LA" contest, but the more votes, the better! The contest ends in about a week and the winner goes on to the "hottest bartender in America" contest! Voting is quick and easy- just click on the link on the right and then VOTE FOR CHRISTIAN! I know that some of you are voting daily, so this is just a reminder to everyone else.
Thanks for voting! Brian
P.S. If you don't mind, please save this link and vote daily!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Surprise B'day Party

I ran into my cousin Mary in the lobby of the Gastonia Hampton Inn last Friday. She invited me to her Father's Surprise birthday party that night. She had it all planned out-- we'll have 2 German chocolate cakes, we'll have balloons, presents, cards, etc. I said it sounded like fun. Then, Mary asked if I would mind going to the store and getting the cakes, the balloons, the candles and some cards.
Joel and I went to the store and bought everything we would need for a birthday party. We were walking into the hotel lobby, carrying the cakes and balloons, when we saw Uncle Hub getting off the elevator. Joel quickly handed me the cakes and made his way into the lobby. I was standing there holding two cakes and bouqet of Birthday balloons. I didn't want Uncle Hub to see me, so I hid behind a ficus tree. Hubby looked towards the ficus a few times, but never let on that he might have seen me. Joel was busy trying to distract him.
After the wedding rehearsal dinner, we all met in the hotel lobby and got ready for the big surprise party. Unfortunately, the power was still out, following a huge storm we had earlier in the evening. We sat in the darkened lobby until Hubby arrived. We all shouted "Surprise!!!" and later he enjoyed opening the one gift that he got, opened all of the cards that I bought for varius family members to give him and he devoured the German chocolate cake.

A Sad Day

I'm still upset. I still can't believe it. My friend and partner in crime, Peggy Jean, resigned today. I can't blame her- she wasn't happy and needed to get out of there before it destroyed her. I'm going to miss our morning chats, our scheming conversations and motivational talks that we often shared. I'll miss seeing her artwork, I'll miss sharing an office with her. It's going to be lonely in the furnace room!
We hugged before she left and I told her I loved her. I truly meant that. She has been such an inspiration in my life. PJ is the most talented lady that I've ever met, and I hope that she's able to turn those talents into a career.
PJ- I already miss you, and I hope that we can still get together now and then and that we'll remain good friends for years to come. Best of luck!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pride Pics

A couple of pictures of me with my co-workers at Pride. On the left is me with Spencer, on the right is me with Wayne. Great guys!!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bad Luck Day

I didn't realize until just now-- today is June 25th. Not a big day to most people, but HUGE in my family! Not only is today my Uncle's Birthday (Happy Birthday, Uncle Hub!), but it's also my familie's bad luck day. Something terrible has happened to a family member on this date every year since I was a kid. Here's a partial list of bad events- they all occurred on June 25th of different years:

  • My grandmother, Mommo died
  • My grandmother, Mema died
  • My father was rushed to the hospital after accidently cutting off his finger in a pair of hedgeclippers while volunteering at a nursing home
  • I fell in the carport and busted my chin- required stitches
  • My brother Joel had his appendix removed
  • My cousin Martha was hit by a car while walking to her car in a parking lot
  • My Grandfather, Granddaddy, had a heart attack
  • My brother Joel drove his brand new car off of a bridge: broke ribs, shoulder, legs and arms.
  • My brother Jim totalled his brand new Camaro when a senior citizen ran a stop sign (no injuries)
  • Jim accidentally cut me with a pocket knife, requiring stitches

Lots of other things happened-- I'd have to talk to my Mom to get the complete list. However, as far as I know, nothing bad has happened to my family today. Of course, there is still 1.5 hours left in the day, but I'm feeling pretty secure that all of my immediate family is safe at home. The scarey part is that all of my aunts, uncles and cousins are on the road tonight returning from the wedding in NC. Hopefully everyone will make it home in one piece and this will be the first year in my life that nothing bad will occur on June 25th.

The Drinks: Ther Were A-Flowing

I did get a couple of hours sleep before going to work this morning, after all. By 8am I had already completed one catering job, and the booth was set up and ready to go. We started slowly, since the neighborhood was full of police on every corner- we started off by selling sausage/egg/cheese biscuits, coffee, soft drinks, bottled water and Gatorade. Our sells were going pretty well until Caribou Coffee (across the street) opened their booth, then our coffee sells went down. A few minutes later, the pride committee opened their booths (2 at the same intersection, one within 10 feet of my booth!). Pride was offering water, and Gatorade for FREE! Of course our sells dwindled, so we decided to trump their aces! We brought out the beer and margaritas! All of a sudden, we had a line down the street. We sold out of margaritas within a couple of hours. We started with 840 bottles of beer and sold all but 120. Not too shabby. If it hadn't been for the torrential (sp?) rainfall that began just as the parade began, we probably would've sold out.
Outwrite Bookstore provided the street music for our intersection and they played great tunes: Tina Turner's "I Can't Stand the Rain", Annie Lenox's "Here Comes the Rain Again", Weathergirl's "It's Raining Men", "Sunshine Day" and "I Can See Clearly Now, the Rain has Gone". Unfortunately, none of us could see too clearly and the rain never stopped. By the time the parade ended, the streets were pretty bare and the people remaining were just searching for shelter, or at least a quick route home. I had a great day though-- ran into lots of former co-workers, friends and neighbors. And the best part, I came home with my pockets full of cash. Oh what a feeling! I wish we had a Pride Parade every weekend!

Happy Pride

As I write this, it's about 1:30am. I just got home from a whirlwind trip to NC a few minutes ago. I should be in bed now-- have to get up in 3 hours to go to work! I'm at the point of deciding wether or not it's worth it to go to bed at all. I know I need to get at least an hour or two of sleep before work so I'll write really quickly and scoot to bed.
The plan is for me to run a beer booth in Midtown all day on Sunday (at least before and during the Pride Parade). The city found out about our plans and gave us a warning that we are not allowed to sell beer on the sidewalk without a permit this year. They gave us the warning on Friday, around 4pm-- too late to get a permit. But, we have over 600 bottles of beer ordered for the event, and it's not the beers that we stock in the restaurant, so we're going ahead with our plans to open the beer booth and just hope that the city doesn't decide to revisit us during the parade.
I'll fill y'all in on the NC trip soon-- I especially have to tell you about the wedding, the power outage in Gastonia NC and the gay truck stop in Duncan SC! Don't let me forget- it's hysterical!
Happy Pride everyone! I hope to see all of you at my beer booth at some point during the day!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Me & Mimi Simone...

My daughter, my sister, my friend.
Like I said in a previous post-- keep an eye out for this one. She's a raw talent and she's just beginning to blossom. She has a lot of drive and ambition. She asks a lot of questions and is willing to take advice. Personally I think she could be a star with the right guidance and support. The next generation of great drag queens is growing up and they are ready to dominate and take it to a new level. Best of luck Mimi-- I know that you'll make Mama proud!

After-Party Photo

This picture was taken during the after-party of the PALS Benefit last weekend. I think it's a great picture and I'm planning on getting it printed and framed. I'll give it to the Corner Tavern for an anniversary present (after it's been autographed by Keisha and Melisha- that's what the white space beneath is for!). Hopefully they'll hang it somewhere in the bar and we'll have a little piece of immortality!

Monday, June 19, 2006

OK, Here's the SCOOP!

The show, from my perspective:
Actually I didn't get to see very much of the show, so my perspective is basically from backstage and the dressing room. I arrived early and staked my claim on the smallest dressing room. I figured that if I had the smallest, no one would want to share it with me! I was immediatley put to work- tableclothing the tables and teaching the bartenders how to tap the kegs. Soon, my makeup lady, Jaime, arrived and the transformation began. Her boyfriend Scott took pictures throughout the process- starting with me in sweats and a cap, and ending with me in full drag. I can't wait to see those pics! During the process, a few of the other performers dropped by to chat. I especially enjoyed getting to know Marsha Jenkins. She sat with us and chatted for a while about her other activities as a clarinet player in a Little 5 Points band. She couldn't have been nicer to me and my friends and I regretted that I didn't get to know her better when I first met her at last years show.
Soon we were visited by my buddy Daphne Jenkins. I talk to Daph a lot via email, and always enjoy her point of view. We've never seen each other out of drag so we really only know each other as our alternate personas. That makes the relationship truly unique. I wish we could've had more time to chat, but we were all busy getting ready. Daph does have a few pics on her camera that I'm dying to get my hands on, though! The one of us kissing will probably put the Madonna/Brittney kiss picture to shame!
My little apprentice, Mimi Simone and her b/f Blake whisked in and shared my dressing room. Mimi looked flawless walking in the door and after Blake put a few finishing touches on her, I was afraid that she would show me up! I was truly impressed. She's got a lot of potential and she's just starting out! Keep an eye on this one!
Melisha shared two dressing rooms- she kept her beer cooler in mine and did her getting ready in the larger dressing room. She needed more space- she had two hunky backup dancers that she had to help get dressed (or undressed) and my little room was getting crowded. Melisha wowed the crowd with a Celine Dion song, and I was so happy to see her be able to perform, given her recent health troubles and all. You can't keep a good queen down! I think this years performance was the best I've ever seen from Melisha. She's incredible and I can't wait to see what she does next year!
I think my performances went pretty well, too. I was beginning to panic earlier in the day. I literally felt sick and thought I would have to bow out. I broke out in hives all over and had small panic attacks. I knew that once the costume was on I'd feel ok, but I wasn't sure how the performances would be. I'm glad I didn't back out, because I was able to perform a song I love from Dream Girls. It's a song that I've wanted to perform for 10 years, but never had the guts to do it before. It was a smash! My other performance was a Brittney Spears song and I did it in true redneck fashion- wearing a Nascar pantsuit with a new blonde wig (both purchased on EBay), and a bra that I borrowed from an audience member between numbers (thanks, Kris!).
Other notable moments: Dewberry introducing my first number, Charlotte keeping the performers supplied with beer and jello-shooters throughout the show, my first $20 tip (thanks, Kitty!) and about 30 of my ATL friends, former & present coworkers (including my boss Delia, my right hand man Wayne and my former boy-toy Brent).
Of course the after party at the East Point Corner Tavern is worthy of mention, but it deserves it's own Blog. I'll fill you in on that blow-out soon! Peace!

What a Coincky-Dincky!

My friend, Teresa (aka Momma T) sent me this picture from the PALS benefit last weekend. Teresa didn't know any of these people, and I assume she was just taking a random crowd shot. Little did she know that she captured a huge segment of my life in that random shot!
The two ladies standing to the right are Delia and Wendy. Delia is my friend and employer, and Wendy is her partner who supplies me with graphics for my ads and T-shirts. Behind them is their partner in crime John, our I.T. guy (his partner Wesley was in attendance, but missing from this picture). In front of Wendy is my friend Jeff N. and his friend Luis. I worked with Jeff N. when I was at Rosenbluth International. I haven't seen him in several years. Well, actually I ran into him the night before the show, but we didn't talk about the show so I was very surprised to see him there. On Jeff's left is another former coworker, Dave (he's halfway cut out of the picture- all you can see is the H on his shirt). We worked together at ESC about 3 years ago. I haven't seen him since I left ESC. In the foreground are Jaime and her boyfriend Scott. Jaime and I worked together at Carlson Travel about 4 years ago. I've only seen her once since then, but decided to give her a call and see if she'd do my makeup for the show. She agreed and brought Scott with her- you might be able to tell that he was a little nervous- it was his first drag show! Sitting behind Scott is Jeff W. He's a local real estate agent. In fact, he sold me my house here 6 years ago. I see him from time to time socially, maybe once or twice a year.
As far as I know, none of these people knew each other before this night. I'm not sure how they all ended up sitting at, or standing beside, the same table. I don't know if they even talked or realized that they all had a connection (me) or not. But there they are- my past, present and future in one random crowd shot. Pretty amazing, huh?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

PALS Benefit

I'm still too pooped to post. The afterparty at the Corner Tavern wore me out! But, here's a very brief peek of last night's bash!

More pictures, and backstage gossip are coming soon-- stay tuned!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Brokeback Mormon

I went to the opening night performance of "Confessions of a Mormon Boy" at the 14th Street Playhouse last night and highly recommend it. It's a one man show, written and performed by Steven Fales. In the play, Fales tells us about growing up as a gay Mormon, his marriage and subsequent divorce and the excommunication from the church that followed. It's at times hysterically funny; at times very sweet and touching. Most of all I enjoyed sitting in the front row, 5 feet away from this sometimes half-dressed piece of eye candy for 90 minutes!
There was a twist at the end of the play that I can't reveal here- don't want to blow it for anyone that plans on seeing the show. Let's just say that I was shocked! Dewberry said that I actually gasped!
Click on the title of this blog ("Brokeback Mormon") above for more info on Fales and the show.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's Like Winning the Lottery!

My friend Rob fell down the stairs at chuch this week and broke his ankle! He'll be having the cast put on tomorrow. I advised him that he needed to call a lawyer and sue the church! He'll make a bundle, unless it's considered an act of God!

Hope you're feeling better soon, Rob. I can't wait to sign your cast- I'll bring a Sharpie to the Tavern with me Friday night!

A Brush With Semi-Greatness!

Here's a picture of me with Wendy, part of the production crew from "October Road", the TV show that was filmed in Candler Park a few months ago. She sent an email saying that the show wasn't picked up by the studio, but may be a mid-season replacement. Let's hope so!

The War is On!

I HATE, HATE, HATE Japanese Beetles! I never had a problem with them until last year. They swarmed in and turned my flower garden into their personal buffet/breeding ground. I learned to hate them then. My Aunt Jane gave me a hint: fill a cup with water and flick the suckers into the cup. They will drown. Well I did that every day last year and it didn't seem to help. Last year I bought some of those Beetle Bags- traps that lure the jerks into thinking the bag is full of the best flowers in the world. They fly in, but they can't get out and they die! That's a good thing!
I notice my first Japanese Beetle this year about a week or two ago. I put him in a cup of water and he died. I thought that would be the end of it. I was wrong. Since then, a "flock" of them have descended on my plants and they have taken over. The leaves all have holes in them, and the flowers are killed before they can even bloom. And the part that really gets me is how horny they are! Everytime I see a Japanese Beetle, there is always at least one other Beetle "attached". I don't know if they are breeding, but I assume so. How else can you explain the fact that their population seems to double every day? It's not fair that they have an endless supply of food and a nice place to have sex all day. I don't get that benefit and I'm the one that's paying the mortgage! I HATE them!
The war is on! I've already got one Beetle bag installed in the front yard and this weekend I'll get a few more. I'll also pick up some Sevin dust from the hardwarde store and maybe that'll kill them once and for all! If that doesn't work, I may just have to set fire to my plants and torch the little SOBs! They must die!!! I HATE them!
We've all got our causes- for now, mine is the Japanese Beetle. Oh yeah, did I mention that I HATE them?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

One of My Favorite Lines:

They told me that I was gullible, and I believed them!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Shoot for the Stars

..........I guess I got my "celebrity fascination" from my Uncle Andrew. He was a lot like me- he loved being surrounded by greatness, and having his picture taken with any celebrity that he happened to encounter. It all started when he was living in New York City. He was working in a diner as a busboy in 1959. One day, the cast of "Pillow Talk" came in to eat. Of course, Andrew recognized them and his heart skipped a beat! He happened to have his camera with him, and within the hour he had his picture taken with Rock Hudson, Doris Day and Tony Randall. You would've thought that he had met God himself! Andrew had the photo reproduced (actually mass-produced!). He mailed copies of the picture to everyone he knew. He also framed a copy and hung it on the wall of his Brooklyn apartment. He didn't know it, but he had been bitten by the bug!
Years later, he happened to come across Anita Bryant in that very same diner! He had his picture taken with Ms. Bryant and in the photo she was holding a glass of Florida Orange Juice- her claim to fame at the time. Little did Uncle Andrew know- the woman that he was pictured with would later be the founder and spokesperson for the anti-gay crusade entitled "Save Our Children". Later in life, he'd show the picture and when people asked "Isn't she the one that hates gays?", he'd reply "She doesn't hate gays, she just wants to stop them from recruiting children". He always defended her, because after having his picture taken with her he felt like they were friends. The picture was framed and hung on the wall next to the cast of "Pillow Talk".
Uncle Andrew also met Charles Wagenheim in the early 1970's. You might not recognize the name-- I'll give you a hint: "A Streetcar Named Desire". He is credited in the movie as "passerby #7", and appeared in the background of the famous scene where Marlon Brando yells: "Stella". He only appeared in the scene for about 1/2 of a second, but Andrew didn't care. He glady posed for a picture next to Mr. Wagenheim at a Tupperware Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. Wagenheim even autographed a Tupperware catalog for him, which he framed and hung on his "Wall of Fame", next to the photo and the other celebrity photos that he was amassing.
Years went by, and Uncle Andrew had not crossed paths with any celebrities of note. He did meet a lady that introduced herself as Jessica Lange's hairdresser's neighbor's best friend at an Amway "SA8 Detergent" demo in the food court of Green Tree Mall in Fargo, ND. He wasn't impressed enough to have his picture taken with her.
A few more years went buy and there were no more photos. Of course, we always asked him if he'd run into any celebrities lately. One time he told us that he had met the guy that played Mr. Whipple in the Charmin commercials, but he didn't have his camera with him so he didn't get a picture. The same thing happend when he ran into Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans in a St. Paul bowling alley. He learned to keep his camera with him at all times and thus he was able to capture his image with a Ronald McDonald clown, a Shoney's Big Boy statue, and the Atlanta Brave's Indian mascot, Cheif Knockahoma.
In an effort to redeem his "friend of the celebrities" status, he took a week-long vacation in LA in 1984. Armed with a Polaroid camera and a strong desire to meet celebrities, he apparently struck gold there! He came home with pictures of himself with Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Clarke Gable and Elvis Presley. All of these pictures were framed and hung. Some were even autographed. We didn't have the heart to tell him that none of these celebrities were alive in 1984. I'm not sure that he knew. All we could figure was that he was at a wax museum or a celebrity look-alike convention and he didn't realize that they weren't the real thing. He didn't seem to care- he framed their photos and hung them with the rest. How sad. He lived his life thinking that being photographed with greatness would make him great. Can you imagine how pathetic that must be?
I wish Uncle Andrew was still alive. I'd love to show him my framed photos of me with Wayne Newton, Leslie Jordan, Mary & Carol Higgins-Clarke, Chef G. Garvin and the one of me with those two guys that had bit parts in a show that I never heard of. These are true celebrites! He'd be so envious........

Sunday, June 11, 2006

RIP: Jon Marc

I attended the funeral of Jon Marc Rutherford yesterday. He was the organist and choirmaster of my church, St. John's Episcopal. He was a young man, about 3 weeks shy of his 41st birthday. My age.
It's amazing to me how many lives Jon Marc touched while he was with us. The church was filled to the gills yesterday. They anticipated a large crowd, so they set up a video feed in the basement so that those that couldn't get seats in the chapel would be able to view it from the lower level. The lower level was filled. There were 347 people in attendance and the service was very touching. The preacher told a few jokes, and we all laughed through many tears. Jon Marc was a very funny man and the laughter seemed appropriate.
Jon Marc loved music. He taught music at Emory University and Woodward Academy. At the service, 85 of his former students formed a choir and sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" (acapella). It was beautiful, and very moving.
After the service, Jon Marc's ashes were interred in the Memorial Garden at St. John's. It's not easy to watch a mother bury a son, a brother bury a brother, a partner bury the love of his life. It tears at your very being. It's at that moment that it becomes real.
Rest in Peace, Jon Marc. I only got to know you for 6 months. I feel cheated. I'm sure that you are making beautiful music up above right now.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Dream Weaver

My friend Steve (EPGraves from the Southern Shades blog, listed in my links to the right) recently posted that he has a recurring dream about discovering new rooms in his house. I responded that I have had similar dreams in the past. Mine usually involve me tearing down a wall and discovering a room that I never knew existed in my house. Usually it turns out that there is a grand ballroom, fully furnished, lying just behind the crumbled wall. Sometimes it's not that elaborate. At times it's just a closet or storage area. But it always seems so real and in the dream I'm hitting myself in the head and wondering why I had never noticed this room in my house before.
So, tonight I consulted the Dream Dictionary and found the meaning behind this dream. It makes total sense:
"To dream that you find or discover new rooms, suggests that you are developing new strengths and taking on new roles. The dream signafies that you are growing emotionally."
Now that that mystery is solved, I'm trying to figure out why there is sometimes a mental patient or homeless person living in my newly discovered room. If I find it, I'll post it!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Big Day!

After six weeks of Confirmation classes, I am finally a member of St. John's Episcopal Church in College Park, GA. Nine of us from our church (including me and Kitty) joined about 150 other candidates at the Cathedral of St. Philips today where we were all being Baptised, Confirmed, Received and/or Reaffirming our faith. The service was beautiful and attended by about 450 people, including our friends Rob Bitterman & Ray Townsend, my mother Harriet Burnett and cousin Martha Cantrell. It was a long service, but moving and impressive. When the Bishop, Priest and Associate Priest layed their hands on me, blessed me and welcomed me to the Episcopol church, I almost cried. I've been a "visitor" at church for 6 months-- now I can say that I am a member! It's a great feeling and it was a great day.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Emergency, 911

I received this e-mail from a neighbor tonight:
"We had our motorcycle saddlebags riffled through and the jacket, hat etc. tossed out and 1 glove taken. Our neighbor had his bicycle stolen. Both were on Pearl. Detective Sheehan said we should watch for " kids". I asked that the curfew be enforced by the patroling officers."

My first instinct was to feel sympathy. My neighbor was robbed! Then I re-read the email and realized that she had only lost one glove. Logic tells me that she lost that glove somewhere else. Why would any theif have a pair of gloves in their hand and decide to take just one of them? It doesn't make sense. If I had been a "victim" of a stolen glove, I don't think I would broadcast it to hundreds of my neighbors, with the subject line "notice of neighborhood break in". On the other hand, maybe it was a very nice glove. It must've been VERY nice, otherwise why would you send out a neighborhood-wide alert? Until the curfew laws are changed, or enforced better, I'll be on the lookout for a gang of kids (they'll be easy to spot- one of them is wearing one glove!). Who knows what dastardly crimes these kids have in mind- they may be scheming to steal the weeds from my flower garden next!

Raving Biscuits

From this weeks Creative Loafing:

Raving biscuits
Is the Flying Biscuit selling up or selling out?
Published 05.31.06

"What's up with that?" my friend asked when she heard about the recent acquisition of the Flying Biscuit Café by Raving Brands. "It just seems so weird."
She is not alone in her feelings about the deal. The Flying Biscuit has become an Atlanta institution in the 13 years since it opened, notorious for its quirky wait staff and hour-long waits on the weekend. Raving Brands is the Atlanta company responsible for franchise successes Moe's Southwest Grill and Doc Green's, among others. All over town, and in chat on the Internet, all I've heard about the deal is an uneasy disapproval.
On the surface, it's not obvious where this discomfort comes from. Delia Champion, the Biscuit's founder, and Steve LaMastra, president of Raving Brands, insist that the original locations will not change at all. "Nothing is changing, nothing will change," Champion says. "My biscuit is not changing, my employees are not changing, my storefront is not changing." Champion herself is planning on remaining involved in both the current restaurants, and in certain aspects of franchised Flying Biscuits that will open in the future.
But the idea of making the Flying Biscuit into a national brand is a significant departure from the restaurant's roots. After all, this is the place that served a "Bohemian Breakfast" when it opened in 1993 that consisted of an espresso brownie, a cup of coffee and two cigarettes. Its interior can best be described as quirky, with wonky painted sunflowers adorning the walls, and homemade curtains hanging from the ceiling. It is a place that feels anything but corporate.
On a recent morning, the Candler Park Flying Biscuit seemed like a microcosm of the neighborhood itself. Young families and attractive couples sat on brightly painted wooden chairs and broke open the famously tall biscuits to sop up their eggs and grits. Pigtailed waitresses poured coffee with smiling efficiency, and shrugged off inquiries about the change in ownership.
Raving Brands plans to open up to 100 Flying Biscuits across the country in the next two years. So then the question becomes: Is it possible to successfully franchise quirky? LaMastra talks about opening a franchise in Nashville because "it is a market that will absolutely embrace the Flying Biscuit. It's a funky, genuine, cultured market. If we pick the right real estate and the right communities, they will take to the Flying Biscuit exactly the way that our local communities have taken to it."
He also refers to the experience at Moe's Southwest Grill, saying, "If you look at Moe's for example, it was absolutely an organic concept, exactly the way that the Flying Biscuit is. Martin Sprock and others created Moe's six years ago, saying, 'We want to do something different, we want it to be colorful and relaxing and inviting and friendly, and we want good music to be playing and we want the food to be great, and we really want to stay focused on those things.' If you go to a Moe's in Phoenix, Ariz., I think you'll find a lot of that original feeling in that Moe's."
But while Moe's provides food of a significantly higher quality than many fast-food restaurants, the experience of eating there could hardly be described as personable. Everything about Moe's -- from the brochures describing their philosophy to the dining rooms that look like any other fast-food establishment -- feels as if it was conceived in a boardroom, and not as a labor of love.
Both LaMastra and Champion admit that the Flying Biscuits that open in the future will not be copies of the original. "Every store will be its own store," Champion says. "It's that simple. It's like when I went from Candler Park to Midtown. I knew when I signed the Midtown lease that it couldn't possibly be what Candler Park is. The Biscuit is going to fit into the location." When asked what she thinks makes the Flying Biscuit so popular in Atlanta, she replies, "The biscuits!" If she's right about that, that the biscuits are the magic ingredient and not the vibe, then there's no reason that Flying Biscuits all over the country make any less sense than Atlanta's most successful export, Krispy Kreme.
So, if the original restaurant is staying the same, and Raving Brands is simply a vehicle to spread good biscuits over the land in Atlanta's name, then what makes this acquisition so hard for us to swallow?
Other neighborhood spots like Ria's Bluebird Café in Grant Park and Carroll Street Café in Cabbagetown are natural followers of the Biscuit's legacy, and the idea that a corporation could come in and co-opt these places, or try to re-create them outside their natural environment, is counter to their nature. Atlanta's discomfort with Raving Brand's acquisition of the Flying Biscuit speaks to our unease about the city's changing personality and corporatization. The Flying Biscuit represents everything urban Atlantans love about intown living -- it's unique, it's neighborhood centric, it's an experience you can't get in suburban America. Raving Brands taking it over gives us the same willies that Atlantic Station and the Edgewood retail district give us. It's the fear that the homogenized, corporate landscape is gobbling up our city and robbing our neighborhoods of their personalities, their character and their independently run cafes.
"Nobody's giving me credit for choosing an organization that's going to honor what I've worked so hard for," Champion says. "Raving Brands is willing to do business with me because of what we have, because of the culture that we've created. It's hard for someone to understand why I partnered with them. But what will change is, I will be able to buy eggs 30 percent cheaper than I can today. I'll be able to give my employees opportunities that I could not afford them before."
As far as Delia Champion is concerned, she's just a small-business owner looking for an opportunity to expand, and to keep her business alive and thriving. The question is, will the Flying Biscuit still work when it's no longer just a small neighborhood phenomenon? And will we forgive the company for outgrowing us?

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Hottest Bartender in LA

My former roommate was entered into an AOL contest to determine the "Hottest Bartender in LA". Somehow, he's made it into the top 5 and was in first place when I first found it online yesterday. Christian is a great guy-- we had an on again, off again relationship for about 5 years. I met Chris when I lived at the Cotton Mill lofts. He lived on the 2nd floor, and I lived right above him on the 3rd. Before we met, we saw each other many times. We both had dogs and we'd pass each other on our dogwalks and say hello and that was about it. One day he left a note on my door-- on a Mickey Mouse Post-It. It said something like "Let's get together- here's my #". I was flattered and, of course I called. We finally met and got to know each other and spent the first of countless nights staying up all night-- listening to music, watching videos, decorating and redecorating our lofts together. I'd never had a stormy relationship before- he was the first. At times we hated each other, at times we loved each other. Sometimes we found that we were all that each of us had in this world.
I moved to East Point and he soon followed. He moved in with me and we spent several years arguing and making up. He is the only person that I've ever been able to argue with in my whole life. In most arguments, I clam up and do my best to make peace. When I argued with Chris, I went at it hard. I argued back, I stood up for myself and he did the same. It was a very unique relationship for me. He comes to visit once or twice a year, and I know that when he's here it's nothing but honesty. We'll tear each other to shreads, borrow each other's clothes and swear that we look better in the other guy's outfit. He knows all of my secrets and I know all of his.
So now he's about to be voted "the hottest bartender in LA"-- how cool is that? You know I love being linked to celebs, and this contest is just a stepping stone. If he wins this, he might move on to greatness. I've got all the dirt on him and I'd be willing to sell my story to the tabloids in a heartbeat!
Good luck, Chris! I really hope you win. It'd be cool if I could refer to one of my ex's as LA's "Hottest Bartender"!
Click the link below to vote for Christian: