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Archive for the ‘Photographical Fun’ Category

Last Monday, I saw a fairy in Atlanta purposefully walking at a jaunty clip toward Moreland Avenue en route from East Atlanta Village. And I suppose it would be note-worthy to mention that the fairy was a middle-aged male whose hair was arranged in two crooked pig tails, was clad in a purple leotard, lavender glitter wings, and, of course…..clutching a magic wand. And the reason why it is note-worthy to mention this is that in all honesty, while the “fairy” did get a second glance from me, it was a respectful second glance. A second glance that said: “You go ON with your big, bad, wand-wielding self, dude. BE THAT FAIRY!” Because, you see…the Creative Crazy Folk in Atlanta are aplenty, and the longer I live here, the more I appreciate them. I had to fight the urge to go back, shake his hand, beat one fist on my chest, and give him some intricate, made-up gang sign that clearly means “RE-SPECK!” in the Land of Mystical Creatures.

I was excited to see a new character because the my other Favorite Crazy Person has become just like a part of scenery during my regular weekly route to dance class. He’s almost too normal to me now. He gets a quick head nod and wave from me from my convertible as I wait at the light at the corner of Briarcliff and Ponce de Leon, sipping from my light Frappacino after Latin Jazz class is over, but otherwise, he’s just another Atlanta citizen, out for a friendly loitering on the corner of a busy street. It was several years ago that I, and every other Atlanta citizen, began to notice him there – – a tall, older, smiling African-American man, holding a cane, wearing bicycle shorts and waving at motorists as we went by. At first you didn’t notice IT because you weren’t expecting IT….then one day, IT jumped out at you like Godzilla in a china shop. Large and menacing and – – well….did I mention LARGE? And did I mention he was wearing BICYCLE SHORTS. Are you catching my drift yet? Here…the only way I can explain it is through illustration (but if you’re easily offended or have children in the room DO NOT SCROLL DOWN ANY FURTHER. And don’t say I didn’t warn you…)

cornerman

Yeah. His name is, of course, “Willie”, and he’s a bit of a legend. He’s been dubbed Spandex Guy, Disturbing Package Man, Crotch Man, Dong DeLeon, Zucchini Man, Bulge Man – – and a whole myriad of other colorful names by the Atlanta population. And there is much mystery that surrounds him. Is he a male prostitute? One would think so – – but if he is, he’s extremely elusive about it because he doesn’t appear to ever be “picked up” by anyone. Is he homeless? Doesn’t seem to be – – he does go somewhere at the end of the day and hasn’t been seen sleeping on the streets. Is he a beggar? Nope. Doesn’t accept hand-outs. In fact, his main occupation appears to just be smiling and waving his cane at passing motorists while advertising his very impressively long appendage. Apparently at one point, he was prosecuted for indecent exposure but he fought it in the courts and won – – and so he is allowed to continue to wear the bicycle shorts. And wear them he does – – come rain, sleet, snow or shine.

Then there’s Baton Bob. I’ve not actually seen Baton Bob – – but he’s apparently the most legendary Atlanta character around. Basically, he’s a tall, physically fit, African-American man with a penchant for dressing up like a majorette. And a bride. And showing up at various functions doing various gyrations. A Baton Bob sighting is a good omen – – because who couldn’t see a large African-American man dressed as a majorette or a bride and NOT have something good befall them? I mean look at him…

baton-bob

Baton_Bob_bride

Bob-sidewalk-web

I DEFY you to tell me that you’re not in a better mood now, having seen Baton Bob in his Easter get-up. I mean – – come on. The crazy folk out there ROCK – – because, let’s face it. They’re doing what a lot of us wish we COULD do were we not confined by the societal rules which bind us to a world of “acting sane”. Or, in my case, acting SEMI-sane.

All I’m sayin’ is that if you see me dressed up one day as a superhero wearing a viking hat and a cape, waving at cars with a magic wand made out of tin foil and old newspaper, then I MIGHT not be crazy. I might just finally be really, really SANE.

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So I have Blog Elves working for me, now. Little Elves with cameras on their phones, and zany brains contained within cute heads on their shoulders, on the look-out for things that could rock my blog world. Here are a few photos found out there on various mundane outings by said Elves:

Contribution from my friend Regyna during one of her jaunts to Ikea:

THE INEXPLICABLE BIG-ASS TAGS:

bigasstags

bigasstags2bigasstags3

Ok so……..any ideas why pillows require multiple tags as big as your head? Were there complaints at some point in the past that the tags were too SMALL and therefore, some manager in a high-up position in the Ikea chain of command, grinned wickedly and said “Too small? Well then. We can fix THAT now, can’t we?” Then proceeded to yell maniacally at the Ikea Troops of Doom: “BIGGER!!!!! BIGGER!!!!! I’M TALKING TAGS THE SIZE OF ALASKA!!!! I’M TALKING TAGS THE SIZE OF A JUPITER MOON!!!! NOW, NOW, NOW!!!!”

Seriously, you’d have to pull out your paper shredder to properly dispose of the tags – – either that or leave them ON the pillows and risk a midnight strangulation during a position shift. IKEA: from me to you – – SIMMER!!!! We get it!!! There are apparently a lot of rules that come with your pillows. But don’t you think this is a teeny-weeny bit excessive?

Next is a contribution by my friend Elizabeth who saw this monstrosity on the dashboard of the car next to her on a recent store outing:

dashboard

In case you can’t quite make out what’s going on there (it took me a moment too), that is a farm of WEIRD STUFF on someone’s dash. And by weird stuff, I mean an enchanted forest of plastic animals, cartoon characters, and generally things that should be set up in the playhouse of a whimsical, precocious eight year old child. Firstly, I want to know how a person can see out the window enough to drive. Secondly, I would imagine that the type of person who would PUT such a display on their dashboard could easily get distracted by the display and perhaps move them around, exploring intricate plot lines with the characters – – – while driving 75 MPH down the interstate. And, thus – – we should all forget about being frightened by drunk drivers and should, instead, watch out for THIS GUY when on a leisurely, afternoon drive.

Thirdly – – I wonder how many times they’ve had to re-set those things up after braking a liiiiiitttle too hard at an intersection.

And fourthly – – – well, I don’t have a fourthly. Other than to say I was strangely comforted that there is someone out there WEIRDER THAN ME, driving around in the world.

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taxidermy

Wow. I mean……WOW.

Where would you put this? WHERE WOULD YOU PUT THIS? In any SEMBLANCE of a welcoming home – – where would you possibly put this where it wouldn’t stand the chance of scaring small children or perhaps other LIVING animals? Would it be a special Autumnal table center piece for a group of unsuspecting Thanksgiving guests? Imagine eating your turkey with THAT GUY snarling stiffly at you as you timidly put a bite into your mouth. Or maybe placed prominently on the mantle over the fireplace – – screeching silently down on you as glance shiftily around the room wondering if anyone else has noticed that this thing is not only in EXISTENCE, but is HOLDING A FOOTBALL.

And how would it be explained?

“Well Barbara and I hit the little guy with our car one evening coming back from the country club and we couldn’t bear to see him lying there on the side of the road. So I said ‘Honey….I think there’s something we can do to make everyone feel a lot better – – including our furry friend here…’ He’s become a part of the family, really. We dress him up for every major holiday or seasonal event – – you should see the bunny suit we put him in for Easter. Adorable doesn’t begin to describe it…right honey?”

And I don’t even want to THINK about what he’d look like as Cupid.

Furthermore – – is it just me, or is that thing’s hair styled into a MULLET?

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batwithkids

Well, folks….I’m finally speechless. Having this photo sent to me was like having someone find the Holy Grail, leave it on my doorstep, and when I opened the door….there stood a choir of angels, singing various, harmonious songs from “The Messiah” beside this treasure chest of perfection. I have looked at it and looked at it, mouth agape…searching for meaning…searching for understanding….calling to the Mother Ship for assistance. I bow down to its random, bizarre perfection….and thank the humor gods most humbly and magnanimously for their gracious gift. I fear I am not worthy.

With that said… I worry that if I say anything else, I will possibly mar the exquisiteness of this photo and this moment irreparably. So I will, instead, ask each of you to raise a glass of wine….milk….apple juice….whatever you got on ya….in toast to The Giant Bat.

**To the Giant BAT!!!!!**

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I’m a little obsessed with my new camera. Or maybe “addicted” would be even more accurate. It’s been my constant companion on outings of late….even yesterday, when I went to Starbucks in the afternoon for a coffee while running errands…I still had my camera bag with me like an appendage. Of course, at Starbucks, there’s not much you can photograph except, you know…..THIS:

starbucks

That would be my cup of Nonfat Caffe Mocha. Since I know everyone was just dying to know what I was drinking at 2:34pm on Saturday afternoon.

During that coffee jaunt, I also input a few notes into my i-phone on my electronic notepad where I’ve started a list of possible blog posts. I’ve realized that if i don’t do this the moment I think of something bizarre that might make for good material, I forget it. I saw the word “tomatoes” listed there from an earlier entry – – and was rummaging through my cerebral cortex attempting to find what that referenced….why did I want to blog about tomatoes?….when I realized that this was something I’d jotted down for a grocery list item, but had put it on the wrong page.

However…given my penchant for grocery store tales….it’s really difficult to know if it’s a blog idea or something I plan to eat on Tuesday night, honestly.

Additionally, yesterday afternoon/evening, in between cleaning and watching “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” (remember the part where they took John Travolta in the plastic bubble to the beach? I kept thinking how tragic it would have been if a crab had happened upon the bubble and popped it with his claw. Talk about a downer on the day…) …..I began working again on learning how to adjust all the manual settings on my camera so that I can photograph various things. Including portraits of unwitting victims who allow themselves to suffer through one of my amateur photoshoots. Until that time, I’ve been practicing on myself. The inspiration was a pair of Elvis glasses that I acquired from a friend. You CAN’T have a new camera, suddenly acquire Elvis glasses, and NOT take a photo of yourself wearing them. It would violate quite a few Humor Laws. I was only disappointed that I don’t have an Elvis jumpsuit. That would have made cleaning my condo interesting as well.

I took a few other self-portraits too…all the while, moving the setting dial up and down, producing some horrific results, and a few passable ones.

So when you start to feel like you didn’t do anything interesting this weekend….then take a look at THESE little gems…and suddenly, you won’t feel so bad. Because at least you didn’t spend your Saturday night squinting at a camera on a tripod, while periodically blinding yourself with a camera flash…..clad in Elvis glasses: 😉

amyelvis1bwamyflash3purple

amy2bw

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amyatlantalightscr1

I moved to Atlanta with a total of two suitcases in tow, and four cardboard boxes that had been shipped earlier via UPS, on the way. I was 23, and had just returned to the south from nearly two years of living in Oregon, leaving many experiences…some bad, some good, all important…behind me. I was facing a new job, new car…new life…immediately upon my arrival and I was both excited and nervous….as one would expect to be given all the changes that had taken place in so short a time. It had taken less than a month to land the job, quit my other job, buy a car, and hatch a plan to restart my life. That was a lot to take in.

What I wasn’t planning on, was the degree of Urban Intimidation I would be facing upon my arrival. And by “Urban Intimidation”, I’m not talking gang signs and car-jackings – – – I’m talking about being intimidated by the idea of living in a city. All other places I’d lived were either small towns or fairly large towns – – not actual, certified, horn-honking, sky-scraper wielding cities. Oh I was concerned about what this would mean to my psyche in theory…sure…but distantly, like it was a story where I was the main character that I was reciting to myself and others. And until I stepped foot onto Atlanta soil, it hadn’t felt real…..but once it was real, I began to slowly slip into an ashen-faced panic.

I memorized all my routes to and from work on back roads because the interstates were what made my heart get palpitations in the extreme. All those winding, snaking sheaths of road…fast-moving cars that showed no mercy to a shy new-comer like myself who did not know what lane she was supposed to be in. Exits would appear out of nowhere, taking you onto an overpass which lept up into the sky – – arching you over the city and dumping you off onto one of the 20 bazillion “Peachtree” streets, where you were left to wind your way back to an area that looked familiar. And since NOTHING was familiar to me at that time, this sometimes took a while.

I don’t know how long I avoided those interstates – – a month probably – – maybe two. I probably could have done it at least a year…maybe more…if I’d worked really hard at it.

But as with most things in my life that have involved fear, I avoid it until I can’t stand to look at my fearful eyes in the mirror any longer – – until I can’t take one more moment of palm sweats and not facing the thing that I just cannot do. And on this instance, this point came when I was sitting alone in my apartment, that contained only a lawn chair, a rabbit-ear TV, and an inflatable mattress that deflated every night so that I woke up lying on what had now essentially become a plastic sheet on top of the hard, worn carpet. I sat in my ratty little lawn chair, gripping the metal arms of it, concentrating on the floor at my feet….giving myself the mental pep-talk of my life.

I needed to go somewhere across town, and I needed to take the interstate to do it. Oh…I could have worked out a back-way, I’m sure….but I was sick of figuring out the back-ways….sick of avoiding the inevitable. I was sick of being afraid.

So with sweaty palms and a determined spirit, I made my way across town on the interstate – – shaky and careful in my driving – – and it was, honestly, awful. But it became less awful each time I got into the car. Each time I made myself tackle the beast. Until one day, it no longer bothered me….and I became a curser and a yeller just like everyone else who lived here. There are still times when I catch myself mid-eye-roll, and realize how far I’ve come….celebrating this fact instead of lamenting the stupidity of the driver in front of me. I used to be that stupid driver – – and now I’m………still a stupid driver (but I do it with a lot more panache and style! ;)).

The city grew into my bones – – its quirky, fast rhythms – – its lit-up streaks of red and white car lights. Where intimidation once resided, now there was excitement. Where fear lay, now there was curiosity. I eventually got some furniture…I got some gumption…I got a life….and I counted the city as one of my friends now.

So it was with these thoughts in mind this past Saturday night, as I carried my new camera, tripod and a creative spirit along-side my photographer friend, Kyle…..en route across the bridge overlooking Freedom Parkway to take photos of one of the most fantastic views of Atlanta around.

The wind was cold and biting, the air completely clear, and Atlanta rose up like an electronic, angular sun – – its skyline truly a beautiful sight. I looked down on the cars whizzing past – – on all these people who have found their daily, nightly rhythms in this great city….just like I did and still do. It is all comforting to me now, in an exciting sort of way. These streets that I know, that have taken me to so many new places in both body and spirit….they are constant with their lullaby of fury…carrying our agendas and egos with them.

No matter where I go and what I do from here forward….I cut my teeth on this city. It opened up a portal to the rest of the world for me – – – not because of what IT is, with all it’s sweeping vertical movements of concrete and steel – – – but because of what I found of myself in it.

atlantalights

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I’m warning everyone upfront – – – when I’m having a complete, utter, total lack of any brain activity like I am tonight, then you very well might get something from my Random, Inane and Bizarre Photo Collection if I have any energy at all to type on the keyboard. This is a collection of various photos that I usually find accidentally during a random Google search and keep on hand “just in case”. “Just in case…what?”, you might ask? And my answer is: I don’t know exactly. But here are some ideas:

  • Just in case aliens land on our planet and intend to hold all world leaders hostage until they receive a photo that makes them laugh their little triangle heads off. And I, thus, become an international hero when I send them one of these little gems.
  • Just in case Ellen Degeneres’s car breaks down outside of my house and is in desperate need of a new comedy sketch for an episode she’s taping in 15 minutes. And I have JUST the photo that will work.
  • Just in case I’m talking to someone Really Important on the phone and they’re telling a bone-achingly boring story but they think it’s funny and I need to laugh in the appropriate spots, so I pull out various photos from my stash at various points in the conversation to assist me with this endeavor. (OK…that one’s not actually so far-fetched…)

So here’s what I’ve got tonight….and I gotta say that I think this dog is British:

dawgwithglasses

Any offerings for possible photo captions welcome!

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