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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Stand in the place where you lived: restaurants, religion, wrestlers

The town where I grew up is known for the music it produces. (Yeah, yeah, college football also puts us on the map, and we’re proud of that too.) Many people I’ve known over the years have journeyed to Athens, Georgia to seek their musical fortunes – sort of an “If I can make it at the 40 Watt, I can make it anywhere” kind of thing, I suppose. I feel lucky to be the product of an environment that is supportive not just of music, but of the arts in general: This is the land of alligator-shaped dulcimers, entire stores devoted to handmade clothes, artfully-arranged detritus (a.k.a. yard art), and a bunch of other things that may or may not qualify as art in other regions. Like whirlygigs. And playing the saw (yeah, the tool). Truthfully, it’s a bit of a free-for-all, which can be encouraging: Sometimes I remind myself that if somebody can put a rusted-out boat motor topped with the head from a deer statue in their yard and call it art, then surely I can be brave enough to write a play.

Anyway, we’ve talked about the inspiration music provides here before. I spent some time in Athens last week, and sort of accidentally ended up giving my brother (and Demonio) an R.E.M. mini-tour. Of course, the band's music figures prominently on my growing up/young adulthood soundtrack. I say "accidentally," because when we were driving around one day, my brother told me he didn't know about these places and one thing led to another:

People know this railroad trestle from the cover of R.E.M.’s first LP, Murmur

R.E.M.’s 1992 album takes its name from the slogan for this soul food joint. (I’m sure the food inspired them too!)

Before they were losing their religion (sorry, sorry), the band played its first show at a party held here, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in 1980 (not operating as a church at the time)

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