pce-001Okay, it’s the morning of Friday, March 9 and I’m up early. ToyLanta registration is later this afternoon, so I have time to cover the trip so far in photos and a few words.

To your right you see a bowl of soup from Sweet Tomatoes. This is a chain of restaurants that is known as “Souplantation” on the West Coast, and for many years now one of my favorite bloggers, Mark Evanier, has been writing about their tomato soup.

He has spoken well of this tomato soup, proclaiming it to be the best he’s ever had. The catch is that they only have tomato soup during the month of March. This year I looked into their Southern locations while planning our annual trip to Atlanta for toys and fun, and discovered that there is a Sweet Tomatoes location right off the Interstate in Kennesaw, Georgia, about half an hour before Atlanta creeps up over the horizon.

We stopped there on Monday and I am happy to report that Evanier’s tales of this soup are quite accurate. We’re going to hit them again on our way back home.  It was an epic meal.

Shortly after that, we first laid eyes on the Atlanta Skyline.


And then we laid eyes on the building that houses Adult Swim and Cartoon Network, and CNN, among other channels.



Then there was that whole traffic thing.



We come down to the Atlanta area early the week of ToyLanta so that we can spend a couple of days in Senoia, Georigia, where they film The Walking Dead. Mrs. PopCulteer is a huge TWD fan and will be introducing her Walking Dead Trivia at ToyLanta this year.




We stopped in at the Georgia Tour Company in their new location, and stumbled across a cool mystery that I’ll tell you about in a moment. Mel keeps in touch with all the friends she’s met down here and it’s cool to see her walk into stores that we see once a year, and be welcomed like an old friend.

pce006About that mystery…to the right you see a photo of a phantom sign that’s on the wall inside the Georgia Tour Company. The building they’re in now was built onto the side of an existing building decades ago, and one of their interior walls used to be an exterior wall of the building next door. The wall is covered with phantom signs, probably faded by the weather and age before the new building was built, and one of the phantom signs was a mystery because it was so badly faded.

The folks working there had been trying to figure out what the sign was. You could make out a few smaller like “comedy” and “music” but the two big words were so badly faded that nobody could figure them out.

I was intrigued, and after staring at the sign “magic eye” style, and trying to suss out each letter, I deciphered it as reading “Florida Blossoms,” which didn’t mean anything to me or make much sense until I Googled it along with “vaudeville.”

I discovered that the Florida Blossoms Big Comedy and Minstrel Show was a black-owned travelling variety show that ran from 1907 into the 1940s, and among other things was known as the company that may have discovered Bessie Smith.

The company was founded by Charles Henry Douglass Jr., the son of a former slave who went on to become the richest African American in Georgia.  He founded Florida Blossoms in 1907, and sold his interest in 1912 before going on to found a legendary theater booking ogranization and the Douglass Theater Complex in Macon, which is still open.

That briefly took me down a rabbit hole of early vaudeville and black theater which I intended to explore more fully when I’m not on vacation. There’s a cool coincidence in the fact that my friend Doris Fields (AKA Lady D) is a fan of The Walking Dead, and while standing in a building that plays host to Walking Dead tours, we discovered a phantom playbill for the company that gave Bessie Smith her first paying job. Doris does a great tribute show to Bessie Smith called “The Lady and The Empress.”

After that little mystery, we stopped in a few other places around town. Mel met “German Abraham. We checked out the new carnage and destruction at the Alexandria Safe Zone. We also found the church where the survivors searched for Sophia in season two of The Walking Dead (it’s for sale, if you’re interested). Back in Senoia, we stopped in to The Georgia Mercantile Company, and saw the new “selfie spot” in front of the Woodbury Shoppe.











Wednesday night we met up with some of the early arrivals for ToyLanta and had dinner at Lucky’s, where some of the party indulged in a giant mutant monstrosity of a hamburger that weighed in at twelve pounds and was bigger than most people’s heads. It was scary just sitting near that thing.






That’s your first blast of photos from this trip. The plan is to try to post some short videos over the weekend, but this will be my first time trying to render video on the laptop, so it remains to be seen whether or not that’s possible. Stay tuned.