July 14, 2007

WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION - PART I

A few weeks ago my 2007 summer vacation was merely a collection of tickets, maps, itineraries and high hopes but it all-too-quickly morphed into a handful of snapshots and a headfull of soon-to-be fuzzy memories. So I'd better go ahead and reminisce. This year my destination was determined by the location of the HOW Magazine Design Conference.. Atlanta, followed by one of my preferred tourist meccas, Gatlinburg, Tennessee since it's more or less on the way home.

ATLANTA
This was my umpteenth visit to the capitol of Georgia, but only my second HOW conference. The event consists of half a week of design related events, workshops, tours and seminars that are given by well-known designers (Well, they're known among other designers).

Photo of Chip Kidd (far left) by this Flickr user

Several of the sessions I attended featured folks who have had a big influence on my own design life, especially Chip Kidd who gave the most rousing lecture of the conference which managed to both genuinely delight and appall the masses (note to self: refrain from ever making wisecracks about friends' miscarriages.) Another presenter I've admired for a while is Sharon Werner. You might recognize her studio's Target Halloween campaign from a few years back...

You retro-lovin' folk will appreciate this amazing cereal box design they did, also for Target...


I realize fellow designer-geeks are the only ones who might give a rip, but I also took in presentations by Jim Coudal (best known for the popular coudal.com), the guys from the Chopping Block, Joshua Chen, and Toronto's 3 Dogz. Overall it was entertaining, inspiring and a great way to spend my boss's money.

So what about the Secret Fun type stuff? No trip of mine is complete without it so I set aside an evening for a drive to Athens, home to artist, comic shop proprietor, uber-collector, and occasional Fun Blog commenter, Devlin Thompson.

ATHENS
It stands to reason that an independent record shop in Athens would have to be pretty great. Thus, I give you Wuxtry Records...


When this record shop expanded into a comic book and toy establishment the aptly named Bizarro Wuxtry was born (which sits directly atop its sister store...)

Meet Devlin the shopkeep in his natural habitat...

(click the photos for much larger images)

When someone makes a custom action figure in your likeness you know you're the right man for the job...

Devlin gave me an after hours, mind-melting tour of his Bizarro world. The amassment of relics both new and old exceeded my expectations. In the first five minutes I think I saw my entire amazon.com wishlist. The shop occupies most of the second floor so the multi-room layout allows the shopper to discover the place one sugar-coated chunk at a time....

The new issues area

A glimpse of the book room

The toy room

A portion of the back issues

I had a great time picking Devlin's brain about the biz, and the many treasures surrounding us with the intent to include his answers in this write up, but I'm afraid that our dialogue was competing with the constant stimulus that poured into my eyes, and only shreds of information were able to reach my long term memory. The place appealed to more than just my eyes. My feet enjoyed the give of the floorboards, and my nose kept getting perfectly mixed whiffs of old pulp and old building. To top it off Devlin popped a vintage tune on the vintage record player and the drizzly afternoon turned golden.

Another room.

And another.

Messes are essential for giving a comic shop a proper sense of mystique.

Both the Wuxtry and its Bizarro self are part store, part museum...

Of course that's Mexican black velvet

No boring gumball machines here.

These two inflatables are somehow perfect together.

A piece of beautiful 'found art'


And then there are the one-of-a-kind creations by Mr. Thompson...



Whew! I guess I should have strapped in my brain. The tour concluded and I with my assaulted senses, came away pondering the human capacity for exposure to curios and pop cultural remnants. I felt I had already approached hazardous levels and yet I craved more. So I followed Devlin home...


A hint to passers by that there's something.. different.. about this house


His living room boasts one of those illusive giant masks from the much celebrated Target Halloween '03 promotion (by CSA Design).

Some of Devlin's stuff gets its own bedroom.

It shouldn't surprise you that Mandy Mastrovita, Devlin's better half, is also an artist and collector. Inspiration hangs all around her desk.

The six foot Frankenstein poster from an Honor House ad assured me that I was among my own people.

This is the view from the John. Try not to be intimidated.

But no master collector is satisfied with the officially released items. Customs are a must!

Another community resides behind the bathroom door.

These are the Guardians of the basement. (The lattice is attached to a pulley system that lowers for easy mask refreshment. )


The descent into the heart of the lair.

The minty colored bureau is home to hundreds of View Master reels.

I could have spent weeks in this archive. It reminded me of Steve Bushimi's pad in Ghost World.. if he had been even more hardcore.

"How often do you hang out down here?" I asked.
"A lot."


You just ain't livin' if you don't have a blacklight bathroom.

I neglected to get a shot of his massive DVD library or his new baby.. the vintage Jukebox. But you get the idea. He is a keeper of our memories and I hope that he moves into an underground bunker soon. Anyway, thanks Devlin for sharing!

To be continued...

12 comments:

Ronn Roxx said...

Does this guy wanna addopt a 38 year old son?! He wouldn't mind me playing with all his 'toys' would he??

Rozum said...

Kirk, you keep company with quite a few people with some really great houses.

Thanks for sharing with us.

The CDP. said...

Man, I just...man...

I need to sit down for a...geez...

Damn. That's beautiful. My collection is about .0000000001% of what this guy has, and my wife is already threatening a garage sale.

It's funny you brought up the smell of the store, because I was thinking the same thing. "Man, I bet that place smells awesome."

Shawn Robare said...

"Hmmmm..." I said being only a mere 45 minutes from Athens. I think I'm going to have to head up this weekend for a peek into Bizarro Wuxtry. Must now go convince the wife...

Mr. Kimberly said...

Wow, thank's for the post. Sad that I will be leaving Atlanta before getting to discover these places.

However, if you find yourself in the area again, I would highly recommend the Bruce Wiener Microcar collection in nearby Madison and the Georgia Guidestones in Elberton.

And thanks for blogging about your trip.

Kirk D. said...

ron- I can't imagine why he wouldn't want that.

rozum- my pleasure!

cdp- And as I read your post I could almost smell your garage.

shawn r.- I hope it went well with the wife and you make it up to the Bizarro Wuxtry. Tell Devlin that I sent you for an extra 0% discount.

mr. kimberly- thanks for the tip! I'll definitely check it out.

Kirk D. said...

Turns out Shawn make it. He writes about it here...
http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/index.php?post_id=237513

Jeremiah Moss said...

you do the best stuff--your sites have provided me with greatly needed research for my own writing. thanks!

Kirk D. said...

You bet Jeremiah! Thank YOU.
Nice blog you've got there too. Some really beautiful shots.

Devlin Thompson said...

Kirk, you were an exemplary guest, and you're welcome to come back anytime! Mazel tov!

Kirk D. said...

That evening is now a very fond memory of mine. My only regret is that I didn't actually purchase anything! Next time I'll visit as an excited customer and not just a frenzied shutterbug. Thanks again Devlin.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a Frankenstein head for sale or for trade? I have a Black Cat head and the Bear I would be willing to trade. contact me at dallen@cmtengr.com