I returned to Pedro last night after three weeks in the sadly-arterially-clogged place of my birth. Over the last two months, I've regressed to the rock I loved from the ages of 18-24, then suddenly straight back to junior high. Other than Neko Case and Mates of State, I've been all up ons with Iron Maiden and early R.E.M. And it got me thinking. While Athens' most famous sons got their start tooling around in busted-ass vans; writing songs on matttresses out in the yard and gardening at night, they've gradually, quietly, emerged as paragons of some sort of rock 'n' roll righteousness; the Bizzaro-World version of Fugazi, as it were. And Stipe, of course, has always been a rather enigmatic character. We don't know what he drives, but we like to imagine an alternate-universe version of Stipe in anything that isn't that the Prius that the retard-safe money would put him in. Remember, they shot Smokey and the Bandit in Georgia.

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