Monday, September 13, 2010

A Rose From Any Other Bum Would Not Smell As Sweet.

Whoa baby, well it certainly took awhile but I FINALLY made it to "The Vortex". Hands down, NO question, it is just as AWESOME as everyone says. Pretty much any Atlanta burgermeister will tell you that it's a freakin' must and I was practically ashamed that through all of my meaty travels, I hadn't had one of THE MOST delicious burgers in the city. Proudly, it is now scratched off.

Me and Elle. 
But it's not just the food. Also included: wacky ambience, smartass waitstaff, kooky diners and an unapologetic LONG drought between the time your grub is ordered and it's arrival. I reckon they figure you'll chug two draft beers in the meantime, become EXTRA animated during the retelling of a story and elbow your patron/ neighbor's table (HARD) startling the piss out of them. Well, they were certainly on the money if that's the intention. Doh!

I had the Tasmanian Devil burger as you will see below which was particularly wonderful in every facet known to food-dom. It's coated in a pepper-berry rub and topped off with pineapple salsa. Killer flavor! My friend opted for the Coney club, this crazy hot dog thing on a pretzel with bacon, pimento cheese...gulp.. she said it was TASTY. Her daughter Elle also came along for a fun day of shopping in the quirky area of "Lil 5 Points." Elle is currently attempting to break into modeling and thought maybe this would be a good chance to get some decent shots against the funky background. Most of the agencies want the pics submitted to be taken by friends/family, not pros. She's not shooting for a runway model mind you, she's not thin or tall enough at 120 pounds and 5"7 (fuckin' crazy that's not thin enough!) but I think she may have a fair shot at catalog. Either way, it was tons of fun playing fashion photographer with my own life size Barbie. I actually think as an amateur, I did o-tay. Elle is an extremely easy subject and not just because of her looks, she really is just a joy to be around in general.
I enjoyed this. 

Fair warning...the pics are placed kinda randomly on this one because after I uploaded, Blogger started being a dirty whore and I was too lazy to put up a fight.

By the way, the painting of the boobs is mainly for Steve as a peace offering for douching him on his Princess Leia pics.

Coney Club. 
Tasmanian Devil burger.....Freakin' yum. Seriously. 

I picked out the hat. 

Blurry, or this would have been a good one!

Loved this hat too but she wasn't a fan.

I call this "Waiting for a burger....Man."

Of course he did!

Elle found her halloween costume at the kitschy "Junkman's Daughter" and while she struggled over "what shoes?" with her mother, I slipped out front for a breath. The store had taken on a coffin-like feeling for me as it filled with trendy hipsters as far as the eye could see. I also have a problem watching people who have no business wearing revealing costumes, try them on while everyone else is supposed to be polite, suffering quietly in their horror.  Not every woman is a "naughty nurse" ladies. Dear Lord, will that somehow seep in  one day?

Anyways, outside the front of the store sat an aging black gentleman in a lawn chair reading a very weathered paperback. At his feet, a big plastic white bucket filled with single-stemmed fresh roses. No sooner than being alerted to my presence by the door's ringing bell, was a styrofoam cup, half filled with change shaken in my general direction.

"Sorry man, I got nothing."


As I found a place to stand beside him and watched him shake that cup at passers by, not lifting his eyes from the book, sometimes saying "Open your noses",  I began to wonder what it must be like to live the way he does. I mean, he seemed happy enough. Not like I haven't seen my fair share of pan handlers, Lil Five is brimming with them, there was just an ambient aura about this dude that really intrigued me.

"What are you reading?"

It took him a second to realize that I was actually trying to have a conversation with him.

"Oh" he said, looking around at me for a sec before diving back in as he spoke "It's a murder mystery. Yeah...murder mystery."

"Looks like you've read it more than once"

I guess he decided this wasn't a fluke and finally decided to flip the book over in his lap and talk.

"Oh yeah, I've read it ten times or more. It's a good'un. I like murder mystery's and Westerns! I love me some westerns but they don't write many of'em these days. I like western movies too but they don't care much about them these days neither. Open your noses young ladies!"  A group of cute, young black girls walked by just then, attempting to ignore my begging amigo but at last responded with "We ain't got no cash, just my momma's debit card."


"Guess the whole "debit card" thing really puts a cramp in your business huh? Not as many folks with change and all?" I asked.

"Oh sure, but I still make it. I sit in front of "The Vortex" for a few hours a day, sell some roses...I do o.k. Pays the rent AND I got Comcast cable. They had a whole "John Wayne" marathon on last Sunday. I watched Westerns all day."

"Yeah, I don't like'm as much now since I found out how racist he was."  God I'm a dildo sometimes.

"Oh really?" he queried. "Well I don't care bout the man's personal preferences...I like his movies. Don't have to like a man's ways to appreciate his talent."

Score one for the panhandler.

"Well, you know they're re-making "True Grit" I informed him "comes out at Christmas time."

"Oh wow!" he exclaimed. "That's nice, really nice. Open your noses!"

The two gentleman passing by did NOT open them.

"But Clint Eastwood" he said "That's my man. "Hang'em High, Good the Bad and the Ugly...that's what I'm talkin' bout. Nobody  like'em."

Since I was in the business of dropping knowledge I continued on "Yeah, he's directing a movie right now at 80 years old. 80! And he still fly's a helicopter onto the set. Maybe that's the key to longevity" I mused aloud (mostly to myself) "finding something you love and then doing it till you die".

"Hey" he said "That's me (pointing to his bucket of roses) that's what I'm doing. I love this."

Of course, after that statement I went back inside and shook my friend down for 4 singles, gladly stuffing them into his cup on the way out. "My baby!" he wailed "I knew you'd come through. Thank ya doll! Can't wait for that Western!" Gay or not, it made me feel good.

We probably passed 20 more through out the evening but none had the profound affect on me that "The Reader" (as i will forever call him) did. Sometimes, no matter what the situation, you just connect with certain people I think. I didn't even get pissed when I realized the old bastard stiffed me on a rose. I mean after all,  I did give him 4 fucking dollars.


  1. Great pictures and a great story.

    Sorry you missed on on your rose.

  2. Old John Wayne was indeed a bit of a tosser. But he brought a very distinctive personal presence to the screen, and occasionally there were directors who had the sense to utilise that persona to good effect.

  3. Barnes- Thanks! I've been thinkin' though, maybe a rose was 5 bucks? Maybe. :)

    Flinthart- Totally agree and I definitely dug many of his flicks when I was comin' up. "Sons of Katie Elder"....that's my shit.

  4. So the old dude pays his rent and cable bill by panhandling roses. Back in the 70's I met a guy at a party who panhandled his way around the country. He liked it. I asked how much he made panhandling and he said so far this year, about $30,000. That was about twice what I was making at the time.

  5. Mr.C- The thought totally crossed my mind as I stood there with him that maybe he was on to something. I mean, I make enough at my job to pay the mortgage and the cable bill but I flippin' HATE it.Plus, I've got this Stephen King book I've been wanting to read forever dammit!

    Mulling a change in professions..... :)

  6. Sounds like a great day all around! Kudos to you for being human to the dude with the roses -- too many people aren't.

  7. Awww thanks intelliwench- srsly though, I'm usually looking the other way so I can't act like I'd do that everytime. He was just different, unimposing, charismatic. What all panhandlers should shoot for! :)