Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My Favorite Places to Be

Fav Places:

6th St, Austin
The Burboun St of Texas, and the best block party to run 12 months a year.  Endless choices of clubs and bars, and always filled to the brim with 20-somethings.  This alone solidifies Austin in any discussion for Single Capital of the country.

Little Five Points, Atlanta
Due east from the Big Five in downtown, this franchise-shunning mini-district is home to Frisbee-golf shops, vinyl record supply stores for DJs, rave outfitters, and what is far and away the greatest burger joint I have ever encountered in my long walks over the planet.  The Vortex is a place I absolutely must have on the itinerary during any swing through Atlanta, joining the likes of Rochester’s Dinosaur BBQ.    

The Outer Banks, NC
Forget Myrtle, forget Daytona, this is my pick for a top Atlantic beach vacation.  The number one reason is that OBX has managed to stay relatively undercommercialized.  You don’t have one big stretch of skyscraper hotels and private beaches.  You have modest timeshares and public beaches and sounds instead.  There’s hang gliding off of Jockey’s Ridge and the coolest miniature golf you can find.  No, it’s not Putt-Putt.  No Astroturf.  It’s short game golf, with natural landscaping and sandtraps.  My perfect vacation spot.

Cary St/The Fan, Richmond
Named after the way the streets fan out from VCU, this is a high school/college hangout mecca.  When the rest of Richmond’s grid disjointedly meets this area, you’re promised a drive full of HBO language.  The area is chock full of indie shops, parks, Monument Ave (use your imagination), and home to the Bird Movie Theater, quaint with seats that will have you wishing you were in Fenway.  Plenty of unique places to bum around in during the day, and you can’t be more than a block away from a kegger at night.  If you don’t know, you’d better ask somebody.  

The Mall, DC
The original greatest walk-around district in the country.  The standard-bearer.  Who can’t kill several days in at least semi-amusement here, no matter how many times you’ve been?  While train-ing for the train-wreck that would be my marathon, this was easily my most memorable run (among the positive ones).  The Air & Space Museum solidifies it as every kid’s #1 school field trip.  Wishing you had some NASA ice cream right now, aren’t you?

Chinatown, NYC
Maybe the country’s craziest marketplace, along with Seattle’s fish market.  From the price haggling (which you may find yourself in the middle of just by walking out of a store) to the surprise of some of the items for sale, it’s hard to beat.  I don’t personally vouch for the jewelry deals, however.  

125th St, NYC
The 5th avenue of Harlem and home of the Apollo.  In my mind, Harlem’s never fully recovered from the well-deserved rep it earned in the 60s and 70s, despite becoming a pretty safe place to walk around.  Believe me, there are areas around town that I don’t want to be caught in, but I don’t have that same feeling when browsing the shops here or even heading up Fred Doug to Rucker to catch the summer games.  Taxi Driver drove off a while back.  

Jackson Hole, Wy
You know the term ‘God’s Country’?  Aside from the U2 song, this place is the definition.  With the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, this is as close as you may ever come to communing with whatever higher being you recognize.  This area gives you the rare opportunity to be in a traffic snarl caused by buffalo that mosey on the main roads, and unfortunately once or twice a year Daddy gets the ill-fated idea to take little Joey’s picture on top of one of these not-as-docile-as-you’d-think critters.   You also lose a handful of amateur climbers to the Tetons, but hey.  If it weren’t for the 7-month winters, this would be the greatest place to live on the planet.  Inside tip: don’t visit when school’s out.

New Orleans French Quarter
I know this goes on everyone’s list.  But it’s for good reason.  Experiencing Mardi Gras here should be on everyone’s life checklist and is best completed before marriage.  It’s simply otherworldly when you see a 60-year old lady pulling her husband around on a leash, both covered in leather and chains.  For me, I got to first experience it during a college Spring Break when 8 of us headed down.  One of the guys was my buddy Ted, who had recently blown out one of his then three remaining joints in his legs.  Since he was hobbling around on crutches on the cobblestone, he needed a rest as soon as we started.  Marcus and I sent everyone else ahead to see the Wicked Witch chase Dorothy on a scooter by the rainbow district and went with Ted into the first bar & grill we saw a sign for.  Turns out there would be entertainment as we got something to drink; not exactly a deal-breaker.  So we sat, ordered a round, and were thoroughly entertained by Summer, Vixen, and Tequila.  Being the only non-creepy patrons (out of 6) and it being 1 pm, we got to talk to everyone between their rotations.  Slowly, certain things began to click, including how the waitress put down Playboy coasters for the drinks.  Heading to the bar, it was all confirmed when Summer introduced me to the house mother and it turned out this was the place that Playboy had taken over that year (they rotate around).  The three of us got invited back for that evening’s VIP party upstairs, a glee upon all glees.  It’s fun (and a little frightening) to be on a balcony watching below as people are crushed on Borboun St, but it’s a lot more fun to go back inside.  Oh, and don’t get caught sneaking up to the third floor where all the doors have been replaced with red drapes.  Some of them aren’t pulled all the way shut.  On that same trip, NOPD almost arrested me, but thankfully someone outdid me in a bid to earn some beads…we’ll talk about that one some other time.    


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