Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 19: The Hobbyist’s Shopping Interlude

wacky skull shop!

I was too buys getting my directions wrong to catch the name of this shop. I trust they sell cool stuff.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.

Anne and I don’t shop a lot on vacation. As long as she can get her smashed pennies and some other relevant souvenirs for herself and a few key relatives, she’s generally not interested in high fashion, heavy knickknacks, home decor, or…well, whatever else the upper class buy when they’re off jet-setting and whatnot. Frankly, we wouldn’t know. Depending on where we are, sometimes I’ll look for shops that feed my core hobbies. I don’t like to take us too far out of our way for my art fixes, but if viable candidates just so happen to fall along a paths between Major Attraction A and Historical Point of Interest B, Anne is okay with me indulging as long as I keep us safe and we don’t have to forfeit sites she really wanted to see.

On our way back from Stone Mountain to the heart of Atlanta, Anne graciously allowed me to make a few stops along the way, and took photos of the scenery around us while I faked my way through unfamiliar turf. By and large, Google Maps did right by us on this leg of our journey and I only made two wrong turns, neither of them irreversible. And there was only one moment she officially deemed “scary”.

Avondale Estates stores!

First stop: this quaint strip of stores in Avondale Estates. We didn’t actually get out of the car. I just needed to park and recheck my bearings before we continued west.

Towne Cinema!

In the past I’ve collected photos of old-fashioned marquees in the places we visit, but they’re getting rarer these days in the face of so much rebirth and/or gentrification. This isn’t the first one we’ve seen on an abandoned movie theater.


We passed by the ArtLot, a pop-up art park that looks wild. I’m annoyed this didn’t come up in our research beforehand, because I’m pretty sure I would’ve braked here if it had.

Beyond Avondale Estates we reached my next target: the nearest comic book shop. Every Wednesday across America is New Comic Book Day, when all publishers’ latest releases hit shelves and collectors like me descend on their local shops for their weekly fix. Sometimes I can get my fix while we’re out of town, as I did last year in Philadelphia. In other locales (New Orleans comes to mind), I’ve had to contain myself till we return to Indy. Atlanta has several comic shops all over town, mostly in distant corners nowhere near anyplace on our to-do list.

I found exactly one provider that wouldn’t require a wide detour: a multipurpose joint called My Parents’ Basement. To a certain extent the name spoke to me, and cried out for my attention. Although they have comics as the name implies, they’re also a full-service restaurant and bar. We’d just eaten a hearty lunch in Stone Mountain and didn’t have room to test that aspect of their business. We also don’t drink, so there’s that.

My Parents Basement!

Formerly the site of James Joyce Irish Pub, which changed names a few times in 2012 before it eventually became the current hub of reading and drinking.


Cool Spider-mural on its west wall.

For fun and for curious fellow readers: my new-comics purchases for the week of August 28, 2019, were Ascender #5, Dial H for Hero #6, House of X #3, Marvel Comics #1000, Power Pack: Grow Up #1, Runaways #24, Star Wars Age of Resistance: Hux, Star Wars Age of Resistance: Poe, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #5, with Tommy Gun Wizards #1 on the “maybe” list. They had most, not all of those. Wizards‘ omission was unsurprising (my local shop skipped it, too), but Galaxy’s Edge seemed like a glaring omission. And they only had one (1) shelf copy of the much-publicized Marvel Comics #1000 special event. The Skottie Young variant cover was fine, but it wouldn’t have been my first choice. (No offense to Mr. Young. My son is a huge fan.)

Most of their stock is in trades and OGNs, many of which aren’t shelved in any discernible order. Sometimes I’m okay with scavenger-hunting like that, but that leaves Anne to stand around and do nothing. I didn’t browse for long, but also didn’t have to worry about her. She found another pastime to occupy her: the largest collection of pinball machines I’ve seen in years. Their mini-arcade was busier than either the comic racks or the restaurant.


Yesterday’s machines meet today’s intellectual properties.




Remember the Munsters, who have yet to star in their own neutered big-screen mediocrity.

Star Wars Pinball!


We continued west from there, catching a few more random tidbits on the way before our next destination.

Waffle House Museum sign!

This way to the Waffle House Museum! Your chance to check out the world’s very first Waffle House, which opened in 1955.

Waffle House Museum!

Alas, Waffle House Museum tours are available by appointment only. To us that phrase means “basically closed to the public”. We usually skip such attractions.

HI street-light box!

Random acts of local creativity include this bit of HI art.

Under Bridge Mural!

Another mural, this one under the bridge and featuring no famous IPs.

Next stop was the neighborhood of Little Five Points, one of those trendy areas every large city has, where outsiders fear to tread because insiders might sneer at them. Back home ours is called Broad Ripple, though it’s seen better days. Little Five Points is actually within walking distance of the Jimmy Carter Museum if you’re younger, healthier, and maybe a bit brave, and if it isn’t raining as hard as it had been on Tuesday.

Little Five Points!

Eye-popping visuals everywhere around us.

Junkman's Daughter!

We surely looked more out of place than anyone around us.

Criminal Records!

Target acquired: a record shop!

We managed to snag a parallel parking space right in front of Criminal Records. While I fiddled with the 21st-century digital parking meter, an elderly man came up to Anne and mumbled a nonstop stream that took her several repetitions to realize he was trying to tell her how the meters work, probably in hopes we’d tip him as an honorary valet.

Inside the store was a wonderland of vinyl, a fair number of Funko Pops, and a smattering of new comics including Tommy Gun Wizards #1, which the Basement lacked. However, as with other places I’ve been in recent times, CD sections in music shops are shrinking as customers flee either to trendy retro vinyl or to convenient digital music. Guys like me who still listen to CDs are today’s dinosaurs, and not even a cool kind of dinosaur. I grabbed that comic, Jack White’s last solo album, some classic Arctic Monkeys, and called it a day.

Anne was still fine and of saintly patience, but I knew this scene wasn’t her thing. As my way of saying thank-you times 1000, our last stop for the day would feature some good old-fashioned American history and government stuff, just for her.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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