Monday, January 19, 2009

The Masquerade - Part I

I happen to believe that Atlanta is a fine city.

True, all of my visits have been work-related, and most of those trips have been about as much fun as getting an old school rectal exam from Darryl Dawkins. But the fact is that if I’d ever had the benefit of a proper tour guide, I probably would have had a good time there. Never you mind that legend in my family has borne out that someone our clan may have served in the Fighting 69th (likely a bullshit story), I have no beef with Atlanta.

In fact, what tends to ruin all of my trips to Atlanta is the frigging work…..pacing my hotel room nervous about the following day’s meeting, getting yelled at by my clients, trying to negotiate the awful traffic, crashing in my hotel room because I’m usually just too damned drained at the end of it all to do anything but eat lousy hotel food. (oh, the crap hotel food I've enjoyed in this fine city).

But there was this one time I got some extended time to myself in Atlanta.

I was working for this absolutely ridiculous advertising agency. It was the silliest damned job in the world; my job was to work the phones and travel the country selling yellow pages ads. It was odd and humiliating, and it wasn’t at all what I’d gone to college to do, and I didn’t really make any significant efforts to leave this job, no matter how ill-suited I was for it.

But they did send me some of the least inspiring cities on in the United States. Tulsa, San Antonio, Knoxville, Springfield, MO….I’m sure they all have far more to offer than your average, surly, 23 year old yellow pages salesman gets to experience, but the fact was that I had a kind of crappy experience in all of them.

So when I was booked to go a-sellin’ in Atlanta, you’d better believe that I was psyched. After all, this was right after the Olympics, and Atlanta had experienced massive growth: The food was supposedly legendary. The girls were reported to be beautiful, friendly, and fun. The nightlife was supposed to be amazing. And the music……all I heard about was how live music in Atlanta was more or less everywhere, and that unlike my native of D.C., people actually WENT OUT to see live music in Atlanta!

My Southern friends and coworkers would get this wild-eyed look when they discussed Atlanta, as though it were the Paris of the South.

Yes, I was very excited for this trip. So excited, in fact, that I took a few days off and decided to make myself a little mini-vacation while I was down there. I would work on Tuesday and Wednesday, take Thursday and Friday off, stay through the weekend, and come home on Sunday. I would stay in a motel in Buckhead, so I could walk everywhere. I’d probably make a bunch of friends and we’d all party like crazy, and Atlanta would be my spiritual home from that point on.

But that’s not exactly the way it happened.

As I recall, my sales appointments were typically disastrous, and the girl who was covering for me while I was on the road got all pissy about something I'd managed to screw up before I'd left, and called me at my hotel to tell me about it. She also ratted me out to my boss, who was sort of the living embodiment of Michael Scott, who also yelled at me when I got home. For some reason I took this rather personally.

Anyway, I'd ventured out a little on the weeknights, but it was kind of messy because the hotel that work had put me up in was sort of out of the way. I poked around a little and tried to take a mental inventory of things I wanted to check out over the weekend, but for the most part, the work week was a wash. By the time Wednesday afternoon arrived, I was seriously ready to get this party weekend in ATL rolling.

Having checked out of my Econo Lodge and packed my belongings into my rental car earlier that morning, I hit the road for another day of failed meetings. After wrapping the final one up, I went in search of my Buckhead motel to forget about it all.

It won't surprise anyone who knows me that I got lost trying to find the place. I followed all the signs for Buckhead, but for some reason they just didn't sync with the directions I got from the hotel. Something just wasn't right here, and the trifecta of the shitty attitude from my coworker, the shitty hotel in the outskirts of Dunwoodie, the humiliation of being stood up for about half of my sales appointments, and the stark realization that unlike REAL men I have no sense of direction, had me in a full scale Don Vito style conniption fit in my rental car.

After driving in circles for about 40 minutes I finally found my motel. The reason I got lost? It wasn't in Buckhead. The second reason? Because the motel was located off the street, behind an establishment called the Tattle Tail, famed in Motley Crue's 1987 hit, "Girls! Girls! Girls!"

Now, at the age of 23, there were certain fascinations that I had, which I am now old and wise enough to have a very healthy fear of. Such was not the case in 1997. These fascinations included - among other things - Motley Crue, strippers, cocaine, and prime rib, all of which I ventured I might be able to find in the strip joint across the parking lot from me.

(Just kidding. I would never eat in a strip joint).

So, a small chunk of night number one was spent in a really crummy titty joint. It was kind of slummin, so I got out and goofed off somewhere else in town. Eventually, I jumped on the MARTA, caught a baseball game, and returned to my motel, eyeing the Tattle Tail with contempt ("Fuck you ,Tattle Tail!") as I decided to go to bed.

Thursday was was wasted bumbling around Buckhead proper, eating really bad pizza, considering more strip joints, and wondering what the big fucking deal with this town was. I think I ended up in little Five Points, where I bought a completely kick ass Samhain shirt (well, *I* liked it), ate some quesadillas at the Vortex, read Creative Loafing, and half-drunkenly intruded on a total stranger's conversation about the merits of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik (I could shoot myself as I write this).

That evening I went to some club in Little Five Points to see some bands. My freinds were right about one thing: people did come out, and the girls were all totally fun and friendly. I caught a ridiculous hair-metal-styled band, which was later featured - no shit - on E!'s "Wild On" series (they were fucking awful).

I also saw that night a rockabilly band featuring what I thought was four black dudes in suits. This seemed rather cool to me, before I realized that these were four white dudes in blackface.

This was not cool, and all the friendly girls and shitty strip joints in the world were not going to make things better.

I was kind of starting to hate Atlanta.

I finished my beer and went back to my hotel, once again considering the Tattle Tail and once again shunning her advances. I have a feeling I stopped on the way home pick up a 6-pack to kill in my hotel room. This was no way to vacation.

God knows what I did the next day. What i do know is this: At some point I was in the car on Saturday morning, and the DJ's on the local rock station were pimping something called the "Mid Summer Night's Dream" party at a club called the Masquerade. This party would feature three bands, a lot of beer, and appearances by 20 or so of the leading adult film acresses of the day, including the likes of Shane, Rebecca Lord, and the legendary Ron Jeremy, who would serve as the master of ceremonies.

(Hey kids, that last link may not be safe for work...or your soul).

This trip had been a bust, start to finish. But goddamn it, I was going to find a way to party with pornstars.

In Atlanta.

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