ARRIVAL IN ATLANTA
When I travel, I don’t usually request a specific room at the hotels. Sometimes I might ask for one with a water view if available.
But it’s not that important to me because I don’t plan on being in that room very much during my stay. I’d rather be out doing something.
But when I arrived late Saturday night (actually 1 a.m. Sunday morning) I was talking to the night desk clerk, Brad, and told him it was my first time to visit Atlanta and my first time to stay at the InterContinental Hotel.
He saw that as a good opportunity to promote the hotel and make my first time there a little more special, so he immediately told me he would like to upgrade me to a room on the top floor to welcome me as a first-time visitor.
That was a first for me and it was a very nice surprise. I thanked Brad and I appreciate him for doing so.
About that time, Ricky, one of the valets on the night shift, who had just parked the canary yellow Camaro I rented for this trip, came over to ask me what time I was going to play ball.
A few minutes earlier, when I arrived at the hotel, he saw my basketball, said he liked to play too, and he asked me about it. I told him some people like to play golf wherever they go but I like to play basketball, so I carry one with me wherever I go.
It was already 1:30 a.m., so I told him I would play about noon at the park he told me about (Piedmont Park). He said, “Aw, I’ll already be asleep by then.” I said, “Well, maybe, next time, huh?”
Since I only had Sunday to do things, I didn’t sleep in. I got up and had breakfast at the Southern Art restaurant on the main floor of the hotel.
Then I moved to another space in the lobby, had a second cup of coffee while I read a few chapters of a book I brought with me.
About 11 a.m. I went up to the room and got ready to play ball at Piedmont Park. I got to the park about 11:30.
Air Time At Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia
I turned the camera on and as soon as I started shooting around, other guys suddenly showed up and started shooting too. So I didn’t have the court to myself as I have had in the past.
There were about ten guys shooting seven or eight basketballs. The cool thing about it was how we all shared the space so effectively and somehow managed to stay out of each other’s way (for the most part).
Lizz Wright “Homecoming” Show
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, I think you are aware of how highly I regard Lizz Wright as a singer, songwriter, and person.
I love who she is as well as what she does. I don’t use the word, love, lightly, nor am I using it in the romantic sense. It’s a kind of unconditional love like a parent feels for a child. It’s unilateral but its how I honestly feel.
The truth, sincerity and vibrancy I heard in her voice the very first time I heard her singing “Reaching For The Moon and You” is where the affinity started.
So since then I have traveled to several places to see and hear her sing and I have blogged about those trips.
Last weekend I flew to Atlanta, Georgia. She was doing a “homecoming show” at the Buckhead Theater in Atlanta.
She’s from Hahira, Georgia, so this was a kind of reunion with family, friends, and fans.
She sang her heart out.
It was a great experience to witness.
And it was very rewarding to all who attended.
Everybody loves Lizz.
So, prior to going to Atlanta, one day I was at home in Seattle, in my office, listening to a playlist, I made some time ago, which consisted only of the 27 songs (27 that I know of) that Lizz has written.
Most of the time I just hit, “Shuffle” and listen to all of her songs on all five CD’s randomly. But sometimes I just like to listen to the ones that SHE wrote.
That day I was listening closely to the words to each song and marveling over the MANY original phrases and ideas that she put into each of her songs, that either resonated with me, influenced me, or inspired me in some way. They are numerous and they are refreshing.
Then I saw a photo (below) of her on Facebook where I noticed her “Quotes” (the “quote marks” on both sides of her lips).
As I was looking at them I, teasingly, thought to myself, “So, everything out of her mouth is a QUOTE! She doesn’t have one original thing to say!”
(BTW, her quotes are adorable just as dimples are adorable).
AN IDEA IS BORN
So that’s where the idea started……from the photo, the “quotes”, and the “other quotes” (the creative lyrics in her songs).
And another thing! When I looked at her photo (above), I saw sincerity and gratitude in her eyes.
To me, having gratitude, makes what I already have, seem like so much more.
William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
So I got the idea to do a poster to tease her about her “quotes” but at the same time show my appreciation for her creative wordsmithing and musical genius.
I started with this mock-up of the poster:
The speech bubbles include selected phrases I like from some of the lyrics in the songs she wrote.
Also since I was a Korean translator most of my adult life, I wanted to sign the poster at the bottom, in Korean , in front of her (if I had the chance to give it to her), so Lizz would know I’m not just a pretty face! 🙂
I found a local caricature artist, Steve Hartley ,(firstname.lastname@example.org), and sent a photo of the mock-up, to show him what I was trying to do.
I told Steve, “I want the caricature of Lizz to replace the upper photo, but the most important thing to me is that you capture the sincerity and gratitude in her eyes. That’s her blessed essence.”
So he did the initial sketch and sent it to me for my approval:
I saw four changes to be made:
(1) The left eye needed to be darkened.
(2) the “designing woman” type eyebrows needed to say “gentle but self-confident”.
(3) The hairline needed to be rounded down and not so oval.
(4) The “Quotes” had to be more exaggerated!
I texted the changes to Steve. He agreed with me and he started making the changes right away. Then he sent me the revised version:
This revised version pleased me!
I think Steve captured her essence well with this one. It blows me away that he can do that. Steve is so very creative and talented.
So Steve asked if I wanted him to add color, I said I’d like to have one this way and one in color. Also he said he could do it all digitally for me. So I no longer needed the mock-up. And we did it all over the phone.
THE FINAL VERSION
When the final version was done, he sent it to me and I took it to FedEx and had them print one color copy of the poster, one black and white copy of the poster, and one copy of the revised caricature (above).
So, with posters in hand, I got on the plane, flew into Atlanta, and I enjoyed the show immensely.
But, unfortunately, I was unable to give her the poster and the caricature.
But that’s ok. Sometimes things don’t work out like we want them to.
Grateful for all the little things
On the other hand, I’m so grateful for the many things that did go well this past weekend. Nothing spectacular. Just great little things:
Playing basketball under sunny Atlanta skies in a beautiful park.
Getting to chow down on some Southern style shrimp and grits. Having those shrimp and grits served to me by a gracious young woman named Brandy, who was my waitress for the day, and was interesting to talk to.
Walking from the InterContinental Hotel to the Buckhead Theater to see the show, instead of driving, just because it was a beautiful evening for a walk.
Getting an upgrade to the top floor of the hotel by Brad.
Getting a feel for the vibe in Atlanta.
Having a little food and drink at the King and Duke, where I met and talked with Tasha and Questa for a little while, prior to going into the theater to see the show. Tasha already knew about LIzz and likes her music. But Questa had not heard of her so I evangelized a little bit (actually, a lotta bit) to her.
Riding around town, in a canary yellow Camaro, with the top down….“feeling kind o’ big in my britches”……(I’m quoting Lizz now. She said that during the show about herself. She’s funny!)
Meeting and sitting together with T.J. and Theresa at the Lizz show. It was T.J.’s birthday and the Lizz show was Theresa’s birthday present to T.J. I told T.J. I would buy a Lizz CD for him for his birthday after the show, but that night they didn’t happen to be selling any. But he thanked me for the gesture anyway.
Creating the idea for the poster, making the mock-up, and then working together with Steve to get a final copy. That was a lot of fun.
And last, but not least, getting to see and hear Lizz sing again. The show was spectacular. I’ll never get tired of listening to her sing.
She’s an amazing force for goodness, light, love and inspiration!
It was a great way to spend a weekend!
P.S. The Korean (above) that I signed at the bottom of the poster means:
“To a precious black pearl of a girl….Sincerely, Dennis”