Of Beards, Beer and Bros: An Ode to Athens, Ga.

Posted on November 28, 2012

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The whole idea of one’s “territory” seems rather antiquated in 2012. All the same, it feels utterly appropriate to refer to Athens, Ga., as mine.

Though a newly minted graduate of the University of Georgia, the town’s economic life-blood, I still call Athens home — it has my heart, after all. I’ve considered every (extremely frequent) return trip prodigal in spirit and heartwarming in reward.

In the months since moving away, too, I’ve found myself meandering through Brooklyn, yearning for my town’s comparatively peanut-sized intimacy, and presenting a business case centered on the Georgia Theatre (one which eventually helped me score a job) at Red Bull’s Los Angeles headquarters.

I called — and I say this verbatim — the Theatre, “A glorious phoenix of a venue.” I might have a problem.

And though I emit an enthusiasm/borderline creepy alumna status that has irked some folks (see: the unfortunate souls who simply don’t understand), I just can’t leave Athens entirely. It can’t seem to leave me, either.

Athens’ pull is magnetic, its ability to foster lasting pride unparalleled. Its beers cheap. Its everything cheap. Its late-night hot dog stands and pizza joints and sandwicheries ubiquitous. Its music scene iconic. Its shaded (and presently Christmas-lit) downtown streets picturesque. Its residents (the majority, at least) young and beautiful.

I could go on. In fact, I will.

Athens, as comedian/actor/genius Patton Oswalt put it, is a “weird, bubble, dream-city of goodness.” It’s a place where the mysterious concoction of bearded buskers, extreme bros, esteemed chefs, street-corner evangelists, counter-cultural elite, Rack Em Willie (RIP), and, well, undergraduate binge drinking professionals proves more exquisitely poised than jumbled. The very nature of its inherent juxtapositions is what makes it so endearing — and so enduring, too.

Case in point, Athens is this:

And this:

And most particularly for me, this, a spontaneous and free Reptar show at my favorite place in America on a Monday night at midnight:

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Between the tunes, the Trestle and the hidden pockets one must stumble upon to discover, it’s hard not to paint Athens as a college town utopia. It’s the cloud that cushions a university community, rendering a magnificent lack of boredom and solitude. It emanates a vibrant soul of its own that perseveres, molds to and graces distinctly each of its inhabitants.

Such a sensation is easy to clasp and hard to abandon.

So if you see me in the vicinity of Saturday’s SEC Championship football game between UGA and Alabama, decked in red and black and swelling with pride (and maybe, probably, yeah definitely a little beer, too), know my boasts and Go Dawgses aren’t fraught with fighting words. They’re simply tiny truisms buried in a hyperbolic defense of my territory, a devotion to the superior school and its superior, eclectic intellectu-bro of a town that I’ll always hold dear.

Its superior football team, too.

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