Decatur Book Festival: I went, I saw, I sweated my ass off

** re photo: see below

On Saturday, Hotlanta lived up to its name and coughed up a phlemy, humid day for the book festival. It felt like Decatur was trying out for the title “Best US version of Small European Village” with the funky shops and outside dining and dogs, dogs, dogs. I wanted to drink every type of Belgium beer at this place, but I also wanted to smack the husky owners who paraded their panting beasts like a sandwich board announcing their stupidity.
I also wanted to have a heart to heart with Darren Wang and Tom Bell, two of the guys in charge of the planning of the DBF. They did a fantastic job drawing talent, and man, all the details were fab. Really, all around a wonderful thing for the city. A HUGE thing… but…
Why were the writing seminars held at the same exact time as the really cool panels and readings? And why was one at Agnes Scott College and the rest in downtown Decatur?

I tried to take advantage of both. Last year, the trek from the historic downtown courthouse of Decatur to the Agnes Scott College campus seemed quick and easy, a nice stroll actually. Perhaps it was the helpful people with the maps and highlighters at the Holiday Inn that made it seem so easy (those people were nowhere to be found this year- and the map did not include a walking trek to the campus), so I trusted my memory from last year and took off walking in some very comfy sandals, missed two turns, came up on the wrong side of the campus and wandered some more to buildings that were not marked…asked some construction guys, and finally arrived-sweaty and blistered 30 minutes later, asking myself, “Why didn’t you just pull the car out of the parking garage and repay???”

The talk was great, Hollis Gillespie, Amanda Stern and Sheri Joseph.
But there was no way in hell I was going to walk back to Decatur for the signings, readings and panels and then BACK up to the college for another set of blisters.
As I hobbled back toward town, I thought about walking barefoot, imagined myself growing wings, prayed for a passing car to recognize me and offer a ride, I knew then that the one thing they needed to make the DBF complete was a shuttle bus, a trolley, for god’s sake, a rickshaw. Some bitches gave me wrong directions and I ended up another four blocks out of the way on the return trip and twenty minutes late for the Blount-Singleton show. Good thing I had my books with me. I went straight to the signing line and waited for two of the wittiest writers in the south to make me feel this had all been worthwhile. I hoped my sweat smelled like fresh lilacs.

I met George a few years ago, and he always recognizes me when I stalk- I mean, appear at his readings. We have emailed and he’s read some of my pieces and offered advice.. he’s just great.
Roy Blount Jr. is my Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me hero and I told him so. he said, “Well, you’re not listening to it today.” And I thought he sounded like my Grandpa.

This guy totally blew me away. As did this beer.

After which I wandered the booths with my pal Jeanie and we met Pam who was having her feet rubbed in the middle of the street. I am not kidding.

I did not do half the stuff I wanted and sometimes that’s okay, because it was meant to be that way, and although there is a whole new day of DBF today, I just am too worn out to try again.

** Another thing I learned, was to NOT just hand my camera to the old guy in the line behind me and say, “It’s easy, just point and shoot!” Because invariably, that dude will know absolutely nothing about photo composition, or background, or for the love of Pete, how to move the camera CLOSER to the subject. Good thing I can edit.

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