“Athens is unique.  What is it about Athens that gets into your blood and intoxicates you with its sweet Southern comfort?”

These words are on a plaque of pictures and poetry that was given to me as an engagement gift over 10 years ago.  It has been hanging in my office ever since.  I apologize for not knowing the author who wrote these perfect words.  That statement and question capture the essence that many people ask themselves of what exactly is it about this city that will grab hold of you and stay with you forever.  Here is my own interpretation through words, pictures and video.  Just a dad spending a summer afternoon with his kids.

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This video takes place in Downtown Athens, Georgia.  In brief, what does Athens mean to you?

I have enjoyed many years as an Athens local.  Six, yes I said six college years at the University of Georgia and almost ten as a tax paying local resident.  My children were born here.  We have great friends and neighbors.  My wife and I have put down deep roots and could never imagine living anywhere else.  Paris would be nice, but they don’t play SEC football over there.  There are times when my real job (this blog and making movies is my fun job) takes me all around the state of Georgia.  I see a lot of different communities and once my car and I are about halfway down highway 316 on the way back home, there is a genuine build of excitement for me each and every time.

The epicenter of Athens is naturally the downtown scene and offers up  a restaurant/bar/music environment that is world-renowned.  Naturally, my wife and I don’t hit the downtown scene with the same zeal that we used to.  Nowadays, our time is spent showing our three little ones a few of the entertaining venues and spots that we once felt like we “ruled”.

You shot this all in one day, what drove you to create this project?

I heard there was a “girls weekend” planned and that my wife would be high tailing it out of here last Saturday.  School is about to start back and I wanted to just hang out with my kids and hopefully give them a memory of a special day with just Dad.  My goal was to spend our entire Saturday downtown (we accomplished that, more or less) , revisit some of the Athens spots that they long to go to and share with them some new experiences.

My children have lived in Athens their entire little lives and until this day, I had never mentioned or shown them, “The Tree That Owns Itself“. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either, but where else can you drive by an old white oak tree that legendarily has the rights to itself and then continue driving past it down an old cobblestone street?

To me, and I believe my children feel the same way (although they won’t admit it just yet), experiences are far more valuable than any token souvenir.

How did the footage, your song choice and the editing process come together?

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My buddy had borrowed my GoPro, so I had to resort to the ole standby, my iPhone in my pocket.  I first made sure there was plenty of space freed up and then just tried to shoot as many quick little vignettes of whatever I thought was interesting.  I literally had no plan when I began the day, which is way outside of my usual comfort zone when planning a video.  In fact, by about mid-afternoon, the thought of ditching this whole idea passed over me a few times.  But, I’m glad I didn’t.

With me being so focuseD on pulling out my iPhone to capture little moments of video here and there, I did not take any photographs.  Instead, I knew that I would be able to still have some pictures to go along with this post thanks to the Vhoto app for iPhone.

Related Post:  iPhone App Review :: Vhoto :: Extract Photos From Video

Similar Video:  Pura Vida! Costa Rica!

The song choice for this video never crossed my mind until the kids were in bed and I got in front of my computer to see what kind of footage I had.  It was then I remembered to revisit the very last shot I captured during the day.  It was of my little guy spontaneously bursting into an old R.E.M. song that made me want to use R.E.M. for the video  We are in Athens, right?  And Athens is the birthplace of R.E.M.  So I searched through my old CDs and settled on “Sitting Still”.  It worked perfectly and the clips just began to easily fall into place.

I usually take weeks to edit a video.  Let’s just say, I’m easily distracted with a houseful of kiddos, a wife and a job (not this, this is my fun creative outlet).  However, since my wife was coming back the next day and I wanted to show her what all we had done last Saturday, I worked on it non-stop til about the time the bars in downtown Athens close at night.  It was totally worth it, the lack of sleep that is, for when she walked in the door the next day and asked what we had done while she was gone?  A cool little gift from dad is all that it was.  She loved it.

It all happens so fast in the video, what were some of the places y’all visited?

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We were able to hit quite a few spots.  The great thing about this #ClassicCity #NewSouthCity is that one could make a dozen or so videos like the one you can see in this post and still have unique images and stories to tell for each one.

  • Ted’s Most Best :: One of those places my kids absolutely die to go to.  Ted’s has wood-fired pizza and a bocce ball court sandbox for the kids to play in  (yeah, it’s really a bocce ball court, but all I’ve ever seen are kids making sandcastles in it and that’s awesome too).  Ted’s has won a historic preservation award and is a converted car tire garage that still maintains the roll up doors, which on nice days, are open.
  • The Max Canada & Trappeze Pub :: Max’s is a small bar/music venue with a great[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
    Root beer

    Root beer

    patio and Trappeze has any beer you could imagine.  Do yourself a favor order a Terrapin and rosemary garlic fries with raspberry Ketchup.  Oh yeah, the boiled peanuts are unlike any you’ve had anywhere.
  • The Georgia Theatre :: Great rooftop bar and a legendary music venue.  Fire gutted the interior, in 2009.  The facade was all that remained.  But they built it back and it is one of the finest small music venues in the country.  They now have a rooftop bar that is THE happy hour place to see and be seen.
  • Nowhere Bar :: Didn’t go in, you’ll see the 21 and over sign in the video.  One of my old college spots to shoot pool.  The kids asked me who that tall person was painted on the wall outside of this place?  “That’s Sky”, I said.  Rest in Peace, Sky.
  • Kum’s Fashions :: All I can say is “an eclectic shoe store”.  Who knows what you will find.  Quick story, I had driven the kids downtown and forgot to put shoes on my daughter.  No surprise there.  So, we bought some new ones at Kum’s.  I did receive the proverbial “I can’t believe you forgot your daughter’s shoes eye-roll” when I told my wife the next day, but she needed some anyway, right?
  • UGA North Campus :: Quite possibly the most beautiful part of campus (and it’s right across from downtown).  This is a must for the kids whenever we venture downtown.  They love the Magnolias, ringing the Chapel Bell and playing around the fountains.  Those steps on the Academic Building are definite photo ops.  Kinda bummed I didn’t get a shot of the famed Arches, but there was a bathroom emergency that cut that opportunity short.
  • The Volstead Grill & Bar ::  [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Update: Sadly, The Volstead is out of business. It was fun while it lasted.]  Great food, friendly staff (ask for Mara, she was one of the most attentive and sweet servers and even showed my kids around the place) The Volstead can claim the coolest, “literally, coolest” bar in Athens.  The bar has a long strip of ice, sort of like an ice rink, that keeps your drinks cold in between sips.  Genius!  Fun for the kids too as you’ll see in the Video.
  • The Volstead, notice the strip of ice on the bar behind my son taking aim at me with his makeshift "ice shooter"

    The Volstead, notice the strip of ice on the bar behind my son taking aim at me with his makeshift “ice shooter”

    The College Avenue Parking Deck :: Yep, we went to a parking deck to hang out.  Luckily, my kids will follow along and trust me when I say we’re gonna go see something cool.  We went to the top of the deck, the sun was setting and I knew they would enjoy it.  It is a great vantage point in 360°, with a cool view of Athens City Hall.  A photographer’s paradise.

A wise preacher once told me that, “A man’s family is a direct reflection of his involvement in it”.  I try to live that everyday.  It helps to have such a wonderfully diverse and close-knit community to foster that goal.  You don’t have to venture far for to find that “sweet southern comfort” you are seeking when you reside in or come to visit Athens, Georgia.


 

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