DAY 6-7 – DEEP SOUTH/ATHENS, GA
There are certain places that, for a little while, can make a person feel different. Typically these are new places that a person has never been to. They can be magical places, they can be mundane places, they can be places where there is a greater proportion of young, or a greater proportion of old, but they have a feeling that can rub off on you. After that feeling wears off, and it happens in varying lenghts of time, depending on the person and their default mindset, that person is left with themselves again. It doesn’t matter where they are, or who they are with, their lives are ultimately in their heads. This is why a person can be overlooking a vast expanse of untouched land or sea, or a sprawling metropolis, and still be distracted and/or a bit miserable. Wherever you go, there you are. This has happened to me from time to time on this trip. Back in my adopted home of Arizona there are real life things still affecting me thousands of miles away and it is what it is. Meditation, for sure, has helped me stay present on this adventure. And on a trip such as this, one has to stay present to allow the events to be digested properly and enjoyed. New Orleans is a place that made me feel different, and for the most part it stuck, but now the long journey began through the heart of the south, through Mississippi, Alabama, and into Georgia. More uncharted territory.
The south is dirty. It is wet and it is dirty. It is hot and it is humid and it is green. Granted this is June, but I get the feeling that a lot of the grimy milieu is here all the time. I like that shit, I like an area that feels lived in and maybe a little bit dangerous. There are a lot of stories in a place like this. Bayous , southern city skylines, the Gulf Coast, inhaled deeply.
When I was still employed I spoke to a customer from the south and I asked him what a good place to go would be. He said go to Gulf Shores, so I went to Gulf Shores. Not impressed. It was nice to see the coast but it seemed like a kind of run-down beach town where college kids go to get drunk and giant souvenir buildings sell a bunch of crap with Gulf Shores on it. It was like all beach towns I had seen growing up when I went down to the shore in Jersey, Delaware or Maryland. I get the feeling that whatever beach a person spends time at when they are young has a special effect on them, like the Delaware shore does for me, or the Gulf Shores did to that anonymous customer. But hey, like I said, it was nice to see the Gulf Coast, and much of the drive along the coast to get to Gulf Shores was quite beautiful.
I don’t really have that much to say about the 630 mile drive. Gulf Shores, Josh had the worst cup of coffee he’s ever had in his entire life at a shit gas station in Opelika, Alabama, oh, and seeing the skyline of Atlanta at night was very cool. We drove through the heart and I wish we could have spent some time there. We arrived in Athens, Georgia around midnight, couldn’t find a 24 hour coffee spot (needed caffeine to work on this site after arrival), and we barely got a room at the Days Inn, classy, but we made it. We spent about 12 hours on the road. Here is the New Orleans short I put together at 1 in the morning at the hotel in Athens
Now the reason I wanted to go to Athens is its importance in musical history. There is a venue there called the 40 Watt Club, click this sentence learn. My friend Paul used to live here and did yard work for Michael Stipe of R.E.M. years ago. He told me that Michael is a really nice guy and would offer him large bags of used designer clothes he didn’t need anymore. Cool.
Athens is, for the most part, a southern college town, but I really dug the vibe. I think when I finally settle down, it will have to be in a place that is at least partially considered a college town (like Austin). After a few hours downtown seeing a couple sights and shooting the next John D short on the University of Georgia campus, we headed out to Asheville, North Carolina, only a 3 hour drive, thank god.