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Postcards from Hitler

And a highway to the danger zone


To bridge the painfully long gap between now and the release of the next Avril Lavigne CD, I went by Grant Park's Youngblood Gallery last Saturday for the skateboard show, a 55-artist vaganza ... no, wait, extravaganza of art on skateboards.

Hanging side-by-side on each of the gallery's walls, the art applied to the boards spans many styles and media. Among my favorites were boards by Ann-Marie Manker Downs and Rick Kemp. The latter looks like a scene from "Ren & Stimpy" drawn by Dr. Seuss and R. Land. While I was staring at it, I observed a woman next to me pointing at an adjacent board and telling a friend how much she likes it because, "you know how I love primary colors." About 90 percent of the board she was talking about is colored gray and pink.

The only artist to actually transform a board into another object altogether was Caroline Smith. She stained her board cherryish, added a back, and turned it into a bookshelf. Tucked in her board was a homemade book titled The Murderous Skate Board Heist.

While the art-gazing went on, a group of a half-dozen or so young men skateboarded for a small audience on a quarter pipe ramp erected in the dead-end across from the gallery. Despite the "kill" and "die" messages scrawled on the ramp, no one wrecked while I watched. A couple of the more conscientious skaters warned me to be careful of flying skateboards while I was taking photos. Apparently I was shooting from what they called the "danger zone," which prompted at least three people (me included) to start humming that damned Kenny Loggins song.

Take your guns to town, son: Before going to the skateboard show, I actually did take a highway to the danger zone: I-75 to Marietta, where I attended the Eastman Gun Show at the Cobb County Civic Center. To get in, I had to pass the strangest security checkpoint of my life. Weapons and ammo are allowed in, as long as they aren't touching, but getting my camera in was a mini-chore. I had to convince the show's namesake, Matt Eastman, that I wasn't gonna write something anti-gun.

No problem. I'm not anti-guns; I'm just a gun owner who doesn't want anyone else to have them. That's not anti-gun; that's selfish hypocrisy.

Like other gun shows I've been to, the show was pretty quiet; antique shows and flea markets are raucous by comparison. The people at the show were mostly of the geek variety -- not geeky in the "Urkel" sense, but geeky like people at record shows drooling over bootlegs from the Beach Boys' Smile sessions. They like guns, and they like talking about them. I overheard a bragging conversation about large muzzle blasts ("from here to that wall!"). I also heard a man talking about how the AK-47 is durable ("You can pick one up out of a rice paddy and it'll still shoot"), but its poor accuracy renders it useless beyond 200 yards. That's a good thing to keep in mind next time you're ambushed on the way to Publix by a platoon of NVA.

In addition to guns, there were tables offering targets (bin Laden, Saddam, Barney), literature (sample title: Sniper: Training & Employment), bling-bling (gold chains and Rolexes) and genuine Adolf Hitler postcards (to send Arnold a congratulatory note). Judging from the yellow tint and the German writing, they were from the '30s or '40s. They depicted Hitler in both heroic and casual poses (such as the one where he's sitting under a tree and laughing). I keep imagining a German woman going to her mailbox in 1939 and finding a Hitler postcard with: "The weather's awesome. Blitzkreiged Poland yesterday. My love to the kids. Hugs, Helmut."

After the gun show, I headed deeper into the dark heart of Cobb County to visit my BFF, Scene & Herd Recurring Character Matt Gove, at the live-music-and-ballooned grand opening of The Avenue West Cobb shopping center. Matt works for folks who own the place, Cousins Properties (aka The Man). I only mention it because while I was there, I met Mickle The Pickle. Mickle used to be a clown. Now he's the Sheriff of Fun (take that, Jackie Barrett!). His jurisdiction is Earth and his mission is entertaining sick children. Mickle wanted me to mention that he's coming out with a CD that you'll be able to buy at www.mick I have no desire to upset law enforcement, so I'm telling you.

Mash it up inna: The Cool Crooners of Bulawayo, whose sound is obviously influenced by South African vocal groups like the Manhattan Brothers and the Woody Woodpeckers, played a wonderful show at the Rialto Saturday night. In reality, I've never heard of the Manhattan Brothers or the Woody Woodpeckers. I read their names on the Cool Crooners' website. They're a feel-good, doo-woppy vocal group from Zimbabwe that sings in Ndebele (their native language). In between songs, they teased each other about their ages, and taught us useful Ndebele words such as frog, Saturday, pants and iguana.

Dr. Heimlich to The Ted, stat: What's worse than sitting at Turner Field surrounded by cocky drunken Cubs fans while watching the Braves collapse? Poverty, war, getting mauled by my pet white tiger -- OK, those are all much worse, but none of them happened to me on Sunday night. One worse thing did happen to me though. Thanks to the Atlanta Police Department (who've gotten my civic panties in a knot for ignoring my daily requests to shut down the drive-thru crack market at Dill and Hartford avenues in southwest Atlanta), I sat in a traffic jam for an hour and missed the first inning of the game. I can understand the lack of an efficient traffic plan though. They've only had six years to figure it out.

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