PART SIX: GAINESVILLE TO BIRMINGHAM
After our successful alligator hunt, we left Gainesville for Tallahassee, which is the home of one of my longest-running correspondents, the great zine artist Jeff Zenick. Despite having written to each other for more that 20 years (pre-dating the debut of King-Cat even!) we had never met in person before, and I was super excited.
Jeff is probably best known for his legendary bike trips, where he'd pack a tent and head out into the world on long-distance journeys. He'd set up camp in a new town, in the woods behind the Wal-Mart for instance, and live there for a period, drawing the town and its people, and compiling his work into beautiful zines like Destined for the Eternal Minor Leagues, and You Come Too. He'd intersperse his lovely drawings with diary-like entries and philosphical musings. Jeff is one of the few people I can point to as having directly influenced my approach to making art. It was an honor and a delight to finally meet him.
Jeff Zenick and John P.
Lately, Jeff has been making paintings and drawings based on old yearbook photos. I fell in love with this one, and traded him a bunch of King-Cat stuff for it. You should check out his listings on eBay and get a little something nice for yourself!
Camouflaged frog on the Thai Restaurant's outside wall, Tallahassee.
We drove all night to Jacksonville and stopped at another Super 8. This is the view from the motel balcony.
We drove around weird old Jacksonville for awhile, waiting for the Local Comic Shop to open. Inside they had a few sun-faded Where Creatures Roam, but they were issues that I already had... so we headed up to Savannah. On the way into Georgia I saw, for the first time in my life, a LIVE wild armadillo (I've seen probably 100 dead ones). For more Armadillo action, please see my book King-Cat Classix!
We made it up into Georgia in no time, and I got ready for my evening presentation at the illustrious Savannah College of Art and Design.
Beautiful downtown Savannah.
My Savannah host, the great Brian Ralph, on the way to dinner.
Full Moon over Georgia.
SCAD has 70 buildings in Savannah dedicated to teaching art, including their own theatre!
After doing a few more classroom visits at SCAD the next day, it was time to hightail it out to Athens, GA. Now, I have been wanting to make a pilgrimage (ahem) to Athens since I first heard R.E.M.'s Chronic Town ep, way back in 1984 or so. It couldn't really live up to my expectations, could it? It did.
The presentation was held at a hair salon out by the train tracks, called Honey's Salon. The wonderful proprietess Jo Nicole had snacks and drinks, and yes, I sat in a styling chair while I did my slideshow. I was tired!
That night we hung out with Kera, who I hadn't seen for a long time, and the next morning we drove into town to check things out.
Athens Post Office, home of the world-famous:
P.O. Box 8032.
Nice KC flyer by the great Eleanor Davis!
The legendary Bizarro Wuxtry comic book shop.
They're not open yet...
Once Wuxtry opened, we spent the next couple hours in there, digging through their amazing selection of weird and delightful stuff. Dan's EC fascination was rubbing off on me, and in addition to a nice stack of Monster Comics, I also picked up a few of the Weird Fantasy reprints.
Afterwards we drove out to the church where REM played its first show ever. All that was left of the building was the belltower, which was crumbling a bit, and covered in REM graffiti.
Finally, we didnt want to leave Georgia without sampling some barbecue. Dan's iPhone informed us that, sadly, the old Walter's BBQ was no longer in business, so we picked another one off the list. (I semi-randomly chose "Hollis Famous Ribs" because Hollis, Queens is where Run-DMC was from...)
Turns out Hollis Famous Ribs occupies the same building that Walter's did back in the day! A good sign. I had chicken with beans and collards. And, no lie, it was the best meal I've ever eaten in my life.
Two Yankees in Heaven. Photo by Hollis.
Hollis outside his joint. Highly Recommended!
On the way to Birmingham.
Downtown Birmingham at night.
We got into Birmingham pretty late, and met up with Delaine (of Not My Small Diary fame) and Lee, downtown, where we went for a little stroll. It was beautiful, but strangely devoid of people. I've always been a sucker for deserted urban areas though, as the following photos will attest.
(A stop on the Civil Rights walking tour...)
Finally we headed back to Delaine and Lee's place, exhausted.
Mac, Delaine, and John P.
NEXT TIME: Birmingham to Houston
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