"I won the the veteran of the year award twice now, so I’m scratching my name off the list this year."

Stewart Ave was the street to hit if you needed to satisfy any number of vices, back in the 80s and 90s. Street pharmacists were plentiful and the motels were inhabited, almost exclusively, by hookers, hanging out the doors, hoping to entice anyone with a few bucks to spend. 

In 1997 Stewart Avenue was renamed to Metropolitan Pkwy, in a half-hearted attempt to re-brand the street with one of the worst reps in the Southeast. The Atlanta City Council cited that it would give the street, known for prostitutes, strip clubs and drug dealers a clean slate.

That plan clearly didn’t work out. The only difference, 17 years later, is that the red lights don’t shine quite so bright but working girls and dope slingers still rule the night. 

I’ll be spending some more time down here in the next few months, working on collecting some stories from this colorful street. 

"Jesus don’t want you to hate nobody but that son of a bitch down at code enforcement caused me to have a five bypass surgery."

Flea Market Dolls

This book, No Cameras, about the Clermont Lounge, came unexpectedly in the mail yesterday. Thanks, cool partner of mine.

Thomas AKA Jasmine Rice

Thomas AKA Jasmine Rice

- been 4 months since I came here from Louisiana.
+ New Orleans?
- Nah, Lake Charles
+ why Atlanta?
- They said the jobs here.
+ Any luck?
- Nah man, not easy when you don’t have an address.
+ Where do you stay?
- Right there (points to car)

- been 4 months since I came here from Louisiana.

+ New Orleans?

- Nah, Lake Charles

+ why Atlanta?

- They said the jobs here.

+ Any luck?

- Nah man, not easy when you don’t have an address.

+ Where do you stay?

- Right there (points to car)

Only one of the shops was open on the seedy side of Columbus, GA last Sunday morning. Honestly, I couldn’t believe any were open, during church hours, in the heart of the bible belt. But, there it was, like a dirty little oasis, flaunting it’s torrid TOYS sign, for all of the glory seekers to see. 

I went in and an older black lady was watching the register. I introduced myself, like a southern gentlemen should, and asked her what she thought I should take pictures of in Columbus. She looked at me, as if to say, “Do you see a sign on the door that says “Visitor Center”, Mother Fucker?”

I then asked if I could take pictures of her. She laughed hard and said that she had a big African husband who wouldn’t like that. I did my best to assure her that he’d like the pictures just fine, maybe even love them! Sadly, she was unaffected by my passionate plea.   

When I told her that my girlfriend was in the car, she was kind enough to offer us a private room for the bargain price of $12. I told her we’d consider the offer and we parted ways. 

I met artist Ralph Frank Jr. in Columbus, GA yesterday. I was driving by and saw art dripping off the trees and house. I knocked but no answer. I took a few pictures and looked up to find Ralph on the front porch. He invited us in to see his place and it was filled with art. Interesting art, that was mostly his creation.

He was kind enough to show me his workshop and allow me to take a few pictures.  

I met Gary King this morning. I saw his field of wilting sunflowers so I pulled over. He was sitting on his front porch and we talked for a while. 

The first thing that he told me was how some girls came by and took their blouses off and took pictures in his sunflowers last week and he missed it cause he wasn’t home. I told him I was sorry and that I hope they come back. He chuckled and said “me too”.

He told me about how he was adopted when he was a baby. He was born in Atlanta to an unknown mother. He was raised in Newnan by his adopted family. The mother who raised him had lost a child due to an infection by a rabid fox and Gary was the cure for her depression.

His whole life had been spent within 100 yards from where we sat. 

"I used to know everybody that drove down this road. Now when people honk, I just throw up a hand. I don’t know who’s honking."

When I asked him his name he told me, “My name is King. I’m from the white side of the family.” He smiled and said, “I once told a black girl that and she laughed so hard she couldn’t see straight.”

"son, have you been saved?" "oh yeah, a bunch of times"