Thursday, January 15, 2015

Johnny's Trading Spot is No Hideaway

If you have ever lived in Atlanta, chances are you have heard of Johnny's Hideaway. When I was a younger man, I heard stories about Johnny's. In particular, Johnny's was always known as a Cougar den. Indeed, if you Google "Johnny's Hideaway" using Google's suggestions, the second item on the list after "Johnny's Hideaway Atlanta GA" is "Johnny's Hideaway Cougar."

Now that I'm a bit older -- as in, 15 years older -- I have now been to Johnny's and can say that the stories were true. The place is full of 40-somethings and 50-somethings and 60-somethings and even 70-somethings, all dancing and having fun. Here's a photo I found in a Google search to show you:

I think ol' Wallet Card should make a run there.

Anyway, Johnny's Hideaway should not be confused with Johnny's Trading Spot. No matter how appropriate some of the activity at Johnny's Hideaway might be if it were characterized as being a trading spot -- even if Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich are not involved -- Johnny's Trading Spot is about the cards.

John sent me a ton of Brewers cards in a package just before Christmas. Using the music of the Hideaway as inspiration, here are some of the highlights.

"It's Now or Never"
One of the features at Johnny's Hideaway is The King's Corner, which is all about Elvis Presley. I always liked Elvis's take on "O Sole mio," so "It's Now or Never" gets to represent two guys who always seemed to be close to taking that next step but always got in their own ways -- whether through injury (Eldred) or the distinct inability to make contact (Deer).

Okay, I admit it. I've been to Johnny's Hideaway a couple of times. As the people who like the Elvis Presley stuff fade off into the sunset, they have adapted. Now that the children of the 80s -- like myself -- are now in their 40s, the DJ at Johnny's had added more and more music from the 1980s. 

There's only one song appropriate for David Nilsson cards -- Men At Work's classic from 1981. This was one of my favorite songs at age 9. In fact, I know that it was the very first 45 RPM single that I ever bought myself. And I have heard them play the song at Johnny's Hideaway.

I may even have been the one to request it.

"Little Old Lady from Pasadena"
It's a little mean to associate this song with Jeff Cirillo since he's not a little old lady. But, he is from Pasadena, and the Beach Boys are right in the Hideaway wheelhouse.

"You Make Me Feel So Young"
While Elvis Presley gets a corner in his honor at Johnny's Hideaway, Frank Sinatra has an entire room dedicated to him. One of Ol' Blue Eyes' songs really applies to these cards, because guys like Moose Haas, Don Money, Mike Caldwell, and Jerry Augustine make me feel like a pre-teen kid chasing autographs again.


Poor Bill Wegman. Apparently, no one wanted to get close enough to him to take any photos other than of him on the mound still holding the ball. These pictures are similar enough in their look that they brought Madonna's "Vogue" to mind -- it looks almost intentional that they are so similar.

That, or Wegman was super consistent in his pitching motion. 

I like my conspiracy theory better. It's more interesting.

"Hip Hop Hooray"
Let me be honest. The last time I went to Johnny's Hideaway, the one thing I noticed was that it was not a very diverse crowd. I mean, even in that photo above, I see only two African-American faces. That said, the DJ does play some white-person-friendly rap stuff from the early 1990s. At least the last time I was there, you did not hear any Lil Jon, but you might hear Naughty by Nature.  And Rickie Weeks deserves a little hooray anyway.

"Rags to Riches"
An old school Tony Bennett song for an old-school player, Jim Gantner, and his pal Ted Simmons. Yeah, Simmons is probably more Rachmaninov than Tony Bennett, but I have never heard classical music at a nightclub. Not even Johnny's Hideaway.

Sorry Chuck, I've got nothing for you.

"Living La Vida Loca"
Just as you don't see many black folks in Johnny's Hideaway, you also do not run into too many Hispanic people there.  So, there also isn't much Latino-influenced music that gets played there.  So, Jose Valentin, you get stuck with a Ricky Martin earworm.  

If I had my choice, I'd give you some Juanes "La Camisa Negra"...I mean, that's pretty old school too being ten years old and all, but it's probably too recent for Johnny's Hideaway.

Then again, after reading that the fascists in Italy adopted the song because the fascists like wearing and being called the Black Shirts, I think I'll stick with the ex-Menudo guy's song.

"Dazed and Confused"
The problem with finding any kind of dance club song for Gorman Thomas is that, well, there isn't one that is at all appropriate. I have heard Led Zeppelin in Johnny's Hideaway before, though I've never heard "Dazed and Confused" there. But with Gorman's drug and alcohol issues after his career (and during it), it makes sense to be his song.

"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
It's random, but it fits. 1985 was the year that Wham! took over the pop music airwaves with the infectious energy of this song about going out to dance. 1985 was the year that B.J. Surhoff was the number one overall draft pick. 

I'd have picked the number one overall song from 1985 -- another Wham! song called "Careless Whisper" -- but it's a boring ballad.  Johnny's Hideaway plays those about as regularly as any other 8th grade dance, and watching the action on and off the floor is about as painful and awkward. So, it's the uptempo song that finished the year #3 on the Billboard chart.

"You Dropped A Bomb On Me"
For some reason, this last gasp for disco in 1982 from The Gap Band seemed like the right song for Greg Vaughn. Vaughn loved to hit the bombs.  Thankfully, I never saw Greg Vaughn dressed in any way close to the way that the lead singer of The Gap Band is dressed in that video though...rhinestones on a vest with a camouflage t-shirt and cargo pants along with a green fedora...I don't think Vaughn could have pulled that one off.

Then again, with that hightop fade on that Studio card, maybe I should have dropped a Kid 'N Play video in here.

"You Shook Me All Night Long"
The one AC/DC song that got played at literally every middle school and high school dance I ever attended -- and every time I've ever been at Johnny's Hideaway -- just seems to fit for Jeromy Burnitz. Part of me always will associate this song with our high school weight room too, and that's probably why it fits for Burnitz.  

He kind of reminds me of meathead Rob Lowe from the DirecTV commercial.

"You're the One that I Want"

Ben Sheets was born in 1978. This song that panders to every woman in the bar who pictured themselves as playing the Olivia Newton-John character in Grease hit number one midway through 1978. And trust me, those women in Johnny's Hideaway eat this song up.

Okay, sometimes Johnny's Hideaway realizes that it has to update its playlist. Often, that's based entirely on some person -- usually a woman -- requesting a song.  When they do, they often look to some of the local boys. I've heard Outkast's "Hey Ya" there, and I've heard another local artist there too -- Usher's "Yeah!" in particular.

Funny thing: back in 2004, Geoff Jenkins's at-bat music was....yup, you guessed it. "Yeah!" by Usher.

Personally, I gained more respect for Lyle Overbay when I saw that "Why Go" by Pearl Jam was his at-bat music. 

That's a whole lot of cards -- and those guys were only the player collection additions. Johnny's Trading Spot hit me with a ton more cards from non-PCs as well. To include all of those here, though, would force me into more creative musical gymnastics!

John, thank you VERY much for the huge Priority Mail box you sent. I'm sorry to see that your Atlanta Braves are trying to trade away anything that isn't nailed down to the floor at this point -- it would be nice to have a decent team here in town, but it appears that John Hart is trying to build on young pitching. 

Or something like that.


  1. Those are some really nice cards. Love Johnny's. He sends some great cards.

  2. Awesome. You make me feel like dancing. Wanna dance the night away.


    1. COOL! I have plenty of patience -- I hope that everyone else here in the blogosphere does with me. :-)