Hey y’all, I’m back in Portland.
Our last few days on the road were great. We got into Atlanta on Thursday just in time to return our rental car without getting a late charge. I wasn’t so sure we’d make it since we started out from a cheap hotel in Hamilton, Alabama that morning. While checking out, the front desk person warned us that the highway between Talladega and Georgia would be heavily policed to enforce the 55 mph speed limit there. It seems weird that the speed limit is 55 (as opposed to 70 everywhere else) right outside one of the most popular NASCAR sites in the world, but I guess it’s meant to discourage amateurs Jeff Gordons. There are some pretty bad drivers in the South.
Besides the lower speed limit, we had to pass through Birmingham–like actually drive through it, which seemed strange. Also, did you know Birmingham, Alabama is called “The City of Trees.”
And keep in mind that we did most of this driving without the aid of good coffee. On this particular morning, we had to settle for McDonald’s coffee (and breakfast from Hardee’s). Has good coffee really not caught on down here?
Once we made it to Atlanta, Jamie Iredell picked us up at the Hertz office and we went to settle in to his guest room. For those of you who don’t know, Jamie was recently selected in an alternate list of 20 writers to watch (in response to the New Yorker list) and his next book, The Book of Freaks, will be coming out this winter from Future Tense.
That night, our other Atlanta friends, Blake Butler and Amy McDaniel, joined us (and Jamie’s sister Megan) for some Thai food and walking around. Atlanta is a cool city despite being the one city that was actually burned to the ground by Sherman’s army in the Civil War.
Amy McDaniel and Blake Butler (BB copied me and ordered a Thai iced coffee too)
The following night, we went to Amy’s house for a pre-reading barbecue. We met a bunch of other people like Ben Spivey (who read with us that night), Chris DeWeese, and Heather Christle.
Chris DeWeese and Heather Christle
When we got to the Beep Beep Gallery, there was a good crowd waiting for us (thanks for the nice review, Creative Loafing!). Frayn read her now legendary-in-Atlanta story “1970s Space Erotica.” Blake Butler was at a loss for words after that and tried to assure the crowd that I wrote dirty stories as well and then he said something about how we were “a sexual couple.” I think he was a little buzzed. The reading went really well and I was able to do the slide show as well. I sold a few books too (I even signed one for a woman named Diva).
A bunch of us went back to Jamie’s house after that and Blake told us a hilarious story about his experience in Second Life. I will not be able to do it justice, so we will have to hope that Blake writes his own porn-centric memoir some day (but apparently, you have to buy a dick if you want to have sex in Second Life).
After midnight, we decided to go on a Krispy Kreme and Taco Bell run. I was really excited about this because I didn’t get to have any doughnuts at all on the road trip and I was craving some. Frayn, me, Blake, and Amy hopped into Amy’s car and waited in the long drive-thru line at the KK. This was down the street, I was told, from the “Murder Kroger,” so called because of the store’s criminal history (there are a lot of late night security guards and bouncers employed in Atlanta). After a much quicker stop at the Taco Bell, we returned to Jamie’s place and stayed up late talking more about porn, Thomas Kinkade, HTML Giant, rapid weight loss, and Blake’s attempt to write 70,000 words in ten days (insomnia helps).
Blake and me, with some precious Krispy Kremes
We got a couple of hours sleep and then Jamie and his wife took us to the airport. It was a great road trip and I want to thank everyone who helped us out in any way. We will definitely come back to visit again someday. Much love to everyone.
Jamie Iredell, Frayn, and me