Late Night Restaurants in Atlanta

I've been doing a lot of traveling and when you travel all you want to do is come home...when you're at home all you want to do is travel. I'm trying to appreciate this home stretch in Atlanta after leaving Miami, Jacksonville, and Hoover, Alabama. From late night editing to flying in from different time zones, finding late night food becomes a priority. 

Bon Ton is in walking distance of my apartment stays open to 2 am and serves New Orleans style seafood. Gumbo, Po' Boys, crab legs and all that. 

The Catfish Po'Boy and a cup of Gumbo at Bon Ton. 

The Catfish Po'Boy and a cup of Gumbo at Bon Ton. 

My favorite place to post up for a comfortable meal that makes you feel like you worth something in life is Marcel in West Midtown. I try to blur out business crowd on the weekdays and focus on the old school boxing decor. It definitely feels like a place Rocky would eat after knocking someone out. ( Richer Rocky...not the poor Rocky.) It's really a french steak house with a 1930's vibe. I appreciate the dark lighting and they wrap up at 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. 

A late night neighborhood favorite is J.R. Crickets on North Ave a few blocks from my place. Billy Sorrels put me on to the Sanchez flavored chicken wings and my J.R. Crickets experience has forever been changed for the better. The midtown location closes at 2 am. 

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And when all else fails and you need a hearty good meal that isn't Waffle House...you take yourself to R Thomas on Peachtree...the main Peachtree. They've been doing things organic thanks to an owner with a heart and they go 24/7. 

 

Detroit

I've never seen so many consecutive blocks of pure hood. Not in Compton not in Chicago have I seen anything like the depth of Detroit. Though the city is on the rise, it's still a sad sight to see. You'll see a lot of boarded up homes right in the middle of a neighborhood or next to to a busy elementary school. And that's just the beginning of the area's problems. 

I was working in production on of the Eminem video "Framed" and got to see the beauty of the city - as well as the dark side. I  had to take a few moments out of the busy production schedule to check out the Motown Museum and pay respects to Marvin Gaye and nem. 

Before the shoot we got to check out Third Man Records - an independent record label led by The White Stripes Jack White. We got a tour of how vinyl records are created and learned that even with today's technology, the process hasn't changed much. 

We went to Margrove College deep in the Southfield section of Detroit to shoot the next day. Leaving set through the late night for production runs  was exciting af. The things I saw on those pot holed ridden streets belong in a Wayans brothers film. 

I'm always grateful for the opourtunity to work with other creatives like my brother Cisco and director James Lareese. I'm always able to learn something new being around other creative minds. I'm always inspired by their unique process to finding their answer. Plus, I got to meet Eminem. 

500 GB At Atlanta's Uptown Comedy Corner

The comedy show I produce and direct The 85 South Show was lucky enough to book a show during Karlous Miller's sold-out weekend at The Uptown Comedy Corner. When we started The 85 South Show, we hoped Atlanta legends like T.I. and Young Jeezy would be so excited about the brand...they'd line up to be on the show. We've been doing the show for two years and that kiiiinda happened at this show. Mr. Hustle Gang, T.I. himself cleared out the VIP section to make room for his family and got involved in the show - even when things got directed at TIP - he showed support and even kicked it after the show. 

I wanted to make sure I edited the show to perfection and gave the moment it's just due. My homie Craig shot on the crane and I held down two cameras which is our normal setup. When the audio, three camera angles, additional footage and effects were added, the video file was pushing 500GB. Just think about how much space is on your phone...then think about how much 500GB is. So naturally it takes time to move that much space. It sometimes takes days to output a 500GB video file and upload it on the internet. But this is the life I chose. I always make sure to create proxy files while editing to make it easier for my computer manage the files. Check the episode at www.85southshow.com. 

Grand Canyon

At a certain point while driving through the Mojave dessert I felt like I was truly on an adventure. Not because anything spectacular was happening - I was just driving from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon in a rented car with my girlfriend - but it felt as close to danger as I had been in a long time and danger felt good. 

I focused on the beautiful cacti and coversational questions that would illicit long and intimate responses but in the back of my head I knew one dark thought to be true: If the car were to for some reason get fucked up...we'd be fucked!  We both had Sprint service. 

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So in 110 degree heat we rode through the Wild West passing several blazes...the heat had grounded planes and made the devil jealous. (I felt so bad for the homeless people outside!) Luckily our Kia did it's thing and safely got us to the Grand Canyon where we stayed the night. We found a modern dope Italian restaurant amongst the tourists traps and after a flight beers and wine...we were ready to rest up for the sights. 

LA: Fairfax & Melrose

It's one of those cities that so good its bad. With all the weed, great weather and a whole bunch of other distractions, it's hard to get any work done in LA. The only good thing about those trying to stay focused...most of the clubs close at 2 but that might all change. 

Between meetings with suits, I checked in at The Dime - a dope Fairfax bar with solid DJ's - and hung out on Melrose capturing Karlous outside The Hollywood Improv. I even caught The Dodgers and a quick set from NBC's Last Comic Standing Champ, Clayton English in The Belly Room At The Comedy Store. 

 

NYC: Harlem, Time Square, and The MoMA

I just got back from New York and I'm glad to be back in Atlanta where it's a little easier to focus on one thing at a time. During my time in The Big Apple, I woke up (and went to sleep) to random shouting and an endless array of music coming from the streets. I did Shazaam a few bangers I heard coming from the bodega. In Atlanta, I wake up to chirping birds and the occasional lawn mower. Both cities have their charm. Coming from Atlanta, it's dope to explore another Black cultural hotbed in the country, 

I got to tape a few episodes of The 85 South Show in Leonard Ouzts Harlem apartment...His spot is very spacious and I appreciate the homie for looking out on such short notice. In Harlem,  we hit a the comedy spot to watch some amateurs with Karlous Miller, Jess Hilarious, B Simone and Leonard. 

A view from the apartment in New York City. 

A view from the apartment in New York City. 

The city though has a heart beat...an energy that just makes you want to get it. My team had a few meetings in Manhattan to solidify partnerships, so we decided to take the subway in. It was a great experience but we found out it can get kind of dangerous. So later, we headed to Amy Ruth's -an authentic Harlem soul food spot - in an Uber. 

I made sure to hit the Moma to check out the Unfinished Conversations exhibit at The MoMA. 

40 Acres Of Mules by Kara Walker on display at The MoMa

40 Acres Of Mules by Kara Walker on display at The MoMa

This striking drawing - taller than me - was stunning me. I was frozen for minutes when  I heard someone behind me whisper, "why is a drawing in the museum?" I used a lot of self-restraint in that moment.  Hear how the artist Kara Walker was inspired to create 40 Acres Of Mules

John Akomfrah. Still from“The Unfinished Conversation.” 2012. Three-channel video (color, sound), 45 min.

John Akomfrah. Still from“The Unfinished Conversation.” 2012. Three-channel video (color, sound), 45 min.

I've never seen a 3-channel video and I honestly think I may never one see again. John Akomosh exhibition was all encompassing but never over-whelming. Spanning an entire wall of the museum, I learned about Stuart Hall and his mission to communicate the power and creativity that Black kids from the London streets possessed in the late 80's.  


The exhibition considers the intertwining themes of social protest, the effect of history on the formation of identity, and how art juxtaposes fact and fiction. From Cairo to St. Petersburg, from The Hague to Recife, the artists in the exhibition observe and interpret acts of state violence and the resistance and activism they provoke. They reexamine historical moments, evoking images of the past and claiming their places within it. They take on contemporary struggles for power, intervening into debates about government surveillance and labor exploitation. Together, these artists look back to traditions both within and beyond the visual arts to imagine possibilities for an uncertain future.
— MOMA.ORG

The next day I got some work done at Wild N Out at Time Square inside The Playstation Theatre and tried my best to stay out of the tourist trap. We failed that mission...after the taping one of my friends paid for my $27 dollar pasta. #trapped

We headed back to roaming Malcom X Boulevard. Once again I was reminded that each city is changing...it's culture evolving, shifting and being reimagined. Landscapes and skylines are transforming so now more than ever the artist is necessary to tell the story of the time. The story of humans in this time. 

Keep expanding your horizon, decolonizing your mind and cross borders
— Yuri Kochiyama

Charlotte: Live Show

We hopped in a passenger van and drove to Charlotte for a live podcast at The Charlotte Comedy Zone - not knowing what to expect... This was our first ever live show outside of our home city of Atlanta and we had no idea how the show was going to go. I fired up the c300 and captured the energy before the show. Check out D.C. Young Fly, Chico Bean, Karlous Miller and Darren Brand roasting as the fans walk into the comedy club. 

Darren Brand opens opens up a hilarious podcast sponsored by the good folks at Backwoods. 

It's always extra cool when family shows up to support. My brother Paolo who works as a lawyer in Charlotte stopped by the show and got his laugh on too. 

LA: Hollywood to Inglewood with Karlous Miller

I headed out to the best coast to hit some legendary comedy spot with my dude Karlous Miller. He's definitely one of the funniest people in the world and a national treasure. He hails from Mississippi and lives in Atlanta so when he hits the comedy stages in LA, he brings a whole 'nother energy. From Hollywood to Inglewood, Karlous tears up the stages of LA. 

Karlous works Jay Anthony Brown's comedy club in Inglewood and The Comedy Store in Hollywood.  Lous bumps into comedy legends Tony Rock and Jay Anthony along the way. It all starts at comedian friend Billy Sorrells spot in South Central LA. 

Chicago: New Years with D.C.

When I heard Deray Davis, Michael Blackson, Lil Duval and D.C. Young Fly were doing a New Year's Eve show, I knew this was going to be one dope ass comedy show and I wanted to be there. So I set it up.

D.C. Young Fly performing stand-up in Chicago. 

D.C. Young Fly performing stand-up in Chicago. 

I booked the cheapest flight on Spirit. I found thrifty room in China Town. I headed to Chicago. Repping no official media organization, I needed someone to vouch for me once I got to the arena but I couldn't get a hold of anyone. So I did what anyone who was supposed to be there would do...act like I'm supposed to be there. I eventually caught up with D.C. backstage to capture some real moments with Lil Duval before an incredible night. 

Check out more photos on The 85 South Show tumblr page. 

Europe: Paris & Champagne

I had to go but it had to be the right time. Maybe because I'd heard that's where artists go. Maybe because my cousin had been urging me to visit since college. I had to go to Europe and my cousin Gordon - a legendary Swedish hip-hop musician - told me there would never be a "right time." 

Gordon was persuasive so I booked a ticked on Air France and arrived 8 hours later in Paris, France. I had to maneuver my way from Charles De Gaulle airport, to the train to the center of Paris to meet my cousin - who' s car had been stolen - but I did my thing. 

It's interesting that though Paris is thought of as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and ranks as the most visited city in the world for tourism, it seems to suffer from the same problems as every other major city...a great seperation of classes and people - exemplified but the shoddy housing and graffiti ridden neighborhoods that line the train ride from De Gaulle to Paris. 

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When I did finally catch up with Gordon in the center of Paris the first thing we did was drink Mezcal at a friend's place  - the amazing Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan - and drop my luggage. We avoided most of the normal tourist locations, choosing to meet up with friends, catch up on family and eat at amazing non-french restaurants. Paris was full of people hanging out on the street...smoking and talking about life...everyone with dirty white athletic shoes...usually Stan Smiths. For the Black man in America who puts so much emphasis on the kind of shoe - and the cleanliness of the shoe - seeing all these dirty shoes on fashionable people was kind of cool. I had to bring my Jordan 3M 4's that I bought in Chicago because I am an after all a black man.

We stayed in Les Halles for the night and woke up to explore the African neighborhood in Paris, Goutte D'Or ( it was the only time I saw a KFC) and met up with Gordon's friend - my new tour guide Pedro - to find (arguably the greatest view in all of Paris) The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur at Montmarte.  Later we caught the train out of Paris to Charly in Champagne -the Champagne where Champagne comes from - and stayed at Gordon's new hideaway. 

The fields of Charly in Champagne.  

The fields of Charly in Champagne.  

In Charly everyone on the streets made eye contact and said "bonjour" when they spotted you. In the cafe's everyone who walked in greeted each other happily with a handshake to add to the standard bojour. The stores closed at 7 so we had to hit the grocery store early if we wanted to eat. We walked to the store with the  French singer Bams in a town that looked like it was picked out a of Disney movie. We hit the grocery store and later on Gordon cooked one of the best meals I've ever had with a makeshift grill in his backyard.  The next day we took the train back into Paris to see more of the sights and do a little shopping. I hit the Nike Store in Paris at des Champs-Élysées and picked up some perfect walking shoes - some leather Nike Cortez. After checking out a dope installation at The Louvre we spotted some young people protesting and chanting for their rights.  I felt unworthy with my Nike bag. 

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We made our way to the Eiffell tower to round out the day and settled on visiting my great uncle and Gordon's dad in Nakka, Sweden just outside of Stockholm. We booked a ticked and prepared for the next destination on this European trip. 

 

Coming Outta Atlanta

For some reason at the end of year we start to gather up all the accomplishments and all the fuck-ups and try to balance  out in our head if we've had a good year or if it's been a waste. Essentially, either like Forrest Gump or Luteinant Dan on New Years...we're either contented or plotting our come up.

If your positive, depending on how your year went, you'll say either 1.we're gonna keep up the momentum or 2. we're gonna start fresh and make new luck this year. For me, I'm somewhere in the middle. This marks my fifth year in Atlanta and I must say Midtown has been pleasant (if we're not mentioning the transexual prostitutes on every other corner.) 

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I live close to what is now the unoriginal Original J.R. Crickets, a chicken wing staple in Atlanta and what T.I. called his favorite place to get wings in the city. I'm at the Rick Ross affiliated Wing Stop much more often though. Don't think it's because of a difference in service. No...they both have bad service. Wing Stop just let's your boy order online.