In a Sentimental Mood by Duke Ellington
Having left Atlanta whenever returning there are 2 types of places I always visit. Those spaces steeped in nostalgia, of my time in the past, and the second, what’s new, what’s happening here now. As I went inside of Sweet Auburn BBQ on Highland Avenue it was quite a peculiar space to be in as it hit kind of filled both of these spaces, well, it hit 3 checkpoints actually because I also like to go places to get something that I am incredibly hard pressed to find in Europe.
The thing is that this location of Sweet Auburn BBQ was once Pura Vida, a tapas bar that had been here for years. As I sat down looking through a menu of overpriced BBQ it dawned on me that I was sitting in the exact same spot that I had sat many times before. Either with friends, friends from work, dates, family… Even the time I came there when I visited when I was in college and realized that I was out of my price range.
Settling on a meal, I sat and just took in all of the things that were different. All of the changes in the space. How the bar was a bit different, where the bathroom was… speaking of the bathroom, I figured that I might as well go before the food came… then I was stopped in my tracks. In a Sentimental Mood began to play. Elllington and Coltrane. This period of Ellington is one that resonates with me most, I mean for example Fleurette Africaine with Mingus is one of my ABSOLUTE favourite compositions EVER, easily… but …Whenever I hear the setup of those ever so simple, so sweet soft twinkle of those keys it immediately lulls me into a wistful state, where I have to listen to the story that that horn is telling me. When I hear what the horn is telling me, I wanna share my stories too. The stories may be mundane but this is the same thing that makes them so special, so important, so significant. I’m sure everyone has a story or twelve about trying to decide whether to order an extra tapas or whether they should order something different other than what they always order just to branch out, but this is my memory that is as golden and intimate as it is common.
This stretches out to the later memory of the friends that had to work here so that they could have a decent living even though they had a masters and were college professors, and what that means, what it means really, what it means about where things are going, where things are heading, as a society and are we placing emphasis and importance on the things that we should…. at this moment I really doubted so even more than what I had before.
All the times of running into people at Buddies.
That time the chef at Pura Vida was on TV and was one of the first chefs in Atlanta to be so.
That time he had that burrito stand outside.
That time a friend was attacked around the corner from here and one of them getting pistol whipped and the other somehow talking the kids away from further attacks.
All of the times of walking past this space going to work down the street
All the times of meeting someone at San Francisco Coffee when it was right next door
Or having shows next door at Highland Inn, or that time I wanted to bring Madlib or Prince Paul but then realised I couldn’t
Heading over to Soul Veg.
The conversations I’ve had on these corners in this neighborhood.
This stretches out into where did these past moments go, where are they really? Like what if a point in time is even more mundane and is less temporal and purely physical, like its only a space that exists somewhere in the twisting and turning of an ever expanding universe. What one thinks of as a point in time is purely just a point in space. Somewhere. Somewhere out there, all of these past haps and mishaps are trapped out there etched in space maybe to one day be decoded or maybe simply to have the sacredness of those moments preserved in secrecy.
Here’s your food.
Damn, I didn’t go the bathroom yet.
I go and wash my hands.
I come back and eat, in a place I’ve eaten before, but not in a place I’ve eaten before.
Eiliyas is a Macon born, Atlanta bred, Berlin-based artist working with music, sound design, creative writing and conceptual art. He also is host and curator of Mixtape Menage, a platform for becoming familiar with cultural facilitators of the world through sound.
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