Archive for April, 2008

Turner Field: 19th best MLB Stadium?

SI.com has a new feature article/report on fan experiences at MLB stadiums and Turner Field, home of the Braves, ranks 19th out of 30 venues.

Turner Field

I’ve never been a huge fan of “The Ted” but I don’t dislike it either. It just seems to lack some of the character of an older stadium, the neighborhood feel of some of those same stadiums and it comes off a bit vanilla.

Don’t get me wrong. The old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was as cookie cutter as they come, but isn’t “The Ted” just a newer version, following a different trend.

Sure, this trend is better, but it just lacks character.

Of course, cheap ticket prices and a winning tradition make any experience above average, but on the whole, I think ranking solidly in the middle seems about right to me.

What about you? How does “The Ted” stack up against other ballparks in your mind?

For the record, I like Wrigley Field, but I have roots in the Midwest and I saw my first game their at age 6. I also watched a game at the old Comiskey Park in it’s last season, but was unimpressed.

Weekend Away: Sloss Furnaces

If you like to take pictures, you’ll dig the hell out of the Sloss Furnaces . The place is loaded with great inspiration for pictures, from the interaction of nature and industry to the textures of rotting metal and weathered brick. And yet, the place is classy, accessible, and somehow clean feeling even though it’s also rife with rust and weeds. Beautiful juxtaposition there.

The Sloss Furnaces, located in downtown Birmingham, are about two hours from metro Atlanta and worth the drive. The place is kept as a local heirloom, but it’s not a behind-ropes sort of place. Wander around. Touch things. Take pictures. The place is just set out for you, interactive in the most elemental sense—you control your trip, you decide where to go, you find your own unique photos even in this often-photographed place.

The steampunk vibe is palpable and lovely.

There’s this terrific performance venue on the grounds, too, beneath a towering metal ceiling, with a sloped warehouse-style floor ending in a stage that slopes up and away from the audience—perfect for visibility and a great mix of an outdoor venue with some indoor comfort. When we were there, in the midst of an otherwise quiet Sunday, dudes were sword-fighting on stage, in front a cameraman. It was like a damn episode of Highlander in there, in a good way: industrial swordplay.

First, it was kids with iron rods, letting loose with huge overhead swings and swashing blows. Their “swords” clattered off the stage, sending thudding, ringing echoes into the space. They hollered dramatically. One kid back-flipped away from a lunge. If you’d told me these kids were going to replace those rods with lightsabers, I would’ve believed you.

Then, after all that, they did it again. Same moves, better timing.

All this was a rehearsal of the Shakespeare at Sloss company, preparing their performance of Macbeth for this weekend. It looks like one hell of an exciting, stylized production, and they couldn’t ask for a better space for action-packed Shakespeare. If you’re game, take some of your weekend and head out to performance this weekend, May 3rd and 4th. The show’s at 3pm each day, so you can drive out and back, no problem.

If you happen to catch the show, be sure to come back here and drop a review in the comments. I’m hoping to get out there, but I’ve got to work, so I may be counting on your reviews for my vicarious satisfaction.

Hawks even series with Celtics, 2-2

Anybody think the Hawks will eventually win/Celtics lose this first-round series.

And if you haven’t been watching this series, the Hawks are a different team at Philips than they were in Boston. Josh Smith and Joe Smith are *definitely* worth the price of admission.

Who’s going Friday night?

just in case you can’t find anything else to do tonight….

like picking belly button lint or reorganizing your sock drawer, the one and only vanilla ice will be appearing tonignt at cowboy’s in kennessaw.

yo v.i.p. let’s kick it.

if you don’t even know how to get to kennessaw you should probably just go ahead and skip this one.

for those not planning to help vanilla ice fund his retirement, what are you up to this weekend?

B&B Getaway: Washington, GA

Washington Plantation YardWhen the weather gets like this—warm but not hot, sunny but not humid—I think about dashing out to small towns in the country and looking for farmer’s markets. I think about driving around rustic roads with the windows down and the music up. I think about jarred honey and vegetables with dirt still on them.

In the Midwest, I have a good idea how to run out and find those places. Out here, I’ve only done it once, but to great success. Last autumn, the wife and I spent a weekend perusing old houses and buying fresh food in Washington, Georgia, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be driving back this spring to do it again. (See what I wrote back then.) It’s a good distance—away but not far—and a pretty drive, depending on how you do it.

When we were out there last fall, we decided to spring for a night in a local B&B, which I’ve actually never done before in the States. (I think of B&Bs as Something You Do In Europe and New England.) My advice? Do it. Go forth and spend even just one night in a small town this spring.

The B&B we chose was the Washington Plantation (pictured here), and we will absolutely go again. Just having the nice weather here has me thinking about it. The place is charming, but both big and cozy. You get rooms with fireplaces, but also cable, for the best of both worlds. Plus, it’s got a three-legged cat, which is always good.

I don’t have a fireplace or cable at my house, so that’s almost reason enough to seek out a night away right there. But, of course, a B&B is half bed and half breakfast. Our bedroom was a claw-foot-tub and candies-on-the-pillows kind of place, good for the history buff in me, but good also for the guy who wants to sit around and watch a Dirty Jobs marathon for two hours. Breakfast, I recall, was awfully good, with fresh fruit and French toast, but aside from the grits (terrific, but I’m neither Southern nor a purist, so my opinion may not be worth much), what I really remember is the conversation.

Looks like a genuine plantation house to me.In my opinion, the hidden reason to stay at a B&B—and what makes it a trip in its own right—is the chance to chat with new people over breakfast. Every time I’ve done it, in the UK or the US, I’ve thought “it’s going to be awkward,” but it never is for long. At the Washington Plantation we talked politics with strangers and it wasn’t tense or vitriolic or fake. It was pleasant, thoughtful, reorienting. It was an exchange of ideas, like you read about. Even as somebody addicted to the Internet for it’s supposed ability to facilitate communication, I pine for happy conversations with strangers. You know, in person.

It said a lot about the place, to me, that it was the pinnacle of a long search for the perfect B&B-worthy home. The funny and welcoming Yankee couple that runs the Washington Plantation, Tom and Barb, drove up and down the old Colonies looking for a spot to live out the dream of running a B&B, and they landed here. It’s easy to see why. The house seems built for slowing down, for sipping at Saturdays, for breathing deep, for sweet tea and sunshine. By the end of breakfast, and maybe some kind of crazy-delicious sausage grits I can’t forget, you’ll probably start thinking about moving outside the Perimeter and opening a B&B, too.

Of course, you won’t go through with it. But that’s the point, right? We don’t have to. We can go and live inside somebody else’s dream house for a weekend, drink wine on a wraparound porch, chase a three-legged cat, and browse the local real estate, without giving up our lives ITP. We can get away, and come back. Good deal.

Next week, why Birmingham, Alabama’s Sloss Furnaces are a great photographer’s daytrip.

playoffs. seriously.

i tried to tell you a long time ago. our hawks ended the nba’s longest playoff drought and snuck in as an 8 seed in the eastern conference finals.

the hawks open tonight against the celtics in boston. sekou smith has the match-ups, and you can see how hard it will be. the hawks have lost all the regular season games against the celtics by 10 points or more, getting blown out by 23 in the first meeting.

the celtics are arguably the best team in the nba, and one blogger is seriously hoping the hawks can just win ONE game.

the hawks are 15.5 point underdogs, which according to some is probably a good bet. i’d offer to bet my friends over at the boston metblogs but i am a realist.

either way they are in the dance and it’s nice to say i told you so…..

Former GA Senator Sam Nunn endorses Obama

I hate to get political or partisan, but given the current state of the Democratic contest for their party’s nomination, I figured this was apropos.

Former GA Senator Sam Nunn endorses Obama

[h/t Griftdrift]

Now, to hear the commenters “discuss” things over at AJC.com, this is either the magic bullet that saves Obama or the silver bullet that kills him.

I realize we’re not very political here (well, I’ve already endorsed Obama personally on my blog and james has endorsed McCain here & on his personal blog) but I’m curious what Atlantans think of this move.

Does it matter for Georgia?
Does it matter for Pennsylvania?
Does it matter for the Democratic race?

Nunn had previously toyed with the idea of his own Presidential run, do you think he’s lobbying here to be Obama’s running mate? (I do, but I think Bill Richardson is a likely choice).

Anyhow, I’m no political blogger, but I think this is a big deal. Nunn was always well-liked in the state and had that magical “bi-partisan” quality that pundits and voters talk about but can’t quite define. The “I’ll know it when I see it” variety.

Feel free to throw in your two cents on this issue.

some monday satire.

on a bit of a lighter note form my last post, the insanely high-brow economist magazine is actually doing something here in our city. actually it’s funny i wrote that because i have been noticing a ton of ads for the economist popping up on marta buses, so i wonder if we are a focus city for them for some reason.

either way, the economist has teamed up with the performers from second city to present a riff on the art of political satire. the event will be hitting atlanta next monday, the 21st at the alliance theatre at 7:30 pm (details and a pretty funny video here) for the mere price of $15.

the event promises improv and live cartooning, which sounds absurdly interesting.

speaking of videos here is my favorite, a little riff on my chosen candidate :-)

darfur. now.


it’s one of those issues that transcends left or right, that is a matter of human decency and the struggle over pure, unadulterated evil in this world. it is the genocide that is taking place in darfur under the watchful eye of one of the world’s most criminal regimes.

the darfur now tour will be in atlanta next week with several activities going on, including a screening of the don cheadle documentary darfur now, performances by janelle monae, anthony david, and novel. it’ll be taking place at the quad at goizueta business school at emory on the 25th (next friday) at 7 p.m.

show up and learn what you can do.

your author plans to me there, i hope you will be too.
more information is available here.

Plight of the Atlanta Parent

I’m surprised they still let me post here at Metblogs. See, I spent the last month-plus living about two hours outside of Atlanta (that will have to be a whole ‘nother post) while we moved out of our East Atlanta home and waited to close on our new house in the burbs. I had no internet access at home. It was truly harrowing.

There. I said it. I can no longer say I live intown. I live in the burbs. OTP. Outside the fence.

I have written numerous times about my love for our old neighborhood. When it came down to it, though, I love my kids more. I just wasn’t ready to send my kid to a school with abysmal test scores and where he would be a less than one percent minority at that school. I know. Many parents send their kids to schools where their child is in that small a minority, but I wonder how many of them send them to a school where their child is in that small a minority and test scores are bottom of the barrel. My guess? Not many. I am thinking that parents might overlook the lack of diversity at a school if it meant a child would be surrounded by kids who are more successful.  We weighed the options and the issues, and it came down to the realization that sending my child to that school would simply serve the purpose of proving a point, rather than striving to give my child the best educational opportunities I can manage to give him.

When we made the decision not to send our children to the public elementary school in our neighborhood, we started looking at other options. Charter schools? Not an option for us in our area of unincorporated Dekalb. Private schools? Yikes. Even at the more affordable end they were going to cost us five to seven thousand dollars a year (and some of them cost much more than a year of public university tuitions!) Sure, we could swing $7000/year if I went back to work. Oh, wait – Our daughter will start school in four years. Then we’d be paying almost 15,000 dollars/year tuition. Not to mention the cost of after school childcare and for the summers, when they aren’t in school.

We searched for homes inside the perimeter in better school districts. (I dare anyone to start researching schools and not start going gray – It is as if someone didn’t want me to compare test scores and other information for schools in different areas and different school districts, much less for different states. Try to compare public and private schools and your head will explode.) We’d either be downsizing (and we already lived in a three BR), or paying so much for a house that, again, I would have to go back to work and then the daycare costs until both kids started elementary (and again, for summers) would barely make the back-to-work option worth it.

We slowly started discussing the possibility of moving outside the perimeter, at first laughingly, then in whispers, as it became a more real possibility, and finally we resigned ourselves to it. We started looking at homes in the school districts we had identified that had what we were looking for: Decent test scores, diversity, in a neighborhood we could afford, and not so far from town that the commute would suck my husband of any semblance of a meaningful life. We finally found an area we liked (ish), where houses are in our price range, the kids would have other kids to play with, and that we didn’t find too lacking in character. We bought a house here a few weeks ago.

When it came down to it, I cried when I left East Atlanta. I hated leaving the place where I met my husband, where I met friends and wonderful neighbors, and to which I brought two kids home from the hospital. I had been there long enough that I couldn’t go anywhere without at least seeing one person I knew from the neighborhood.
In the end, I know that it is for the best. The kids love the new house and neighborhood already, and my husband and I are laughingly giving in to a quieter way of life, and at the same time cracking up at what we have become. I do think, though, that we are not alone. I have already met four sets of neighbors with kids close in age to ours. They always ask where we moved from and then nod knowingly at our answer. Turns out they moved from Ormewood, Kirkwood, and East Atlanta themselves. As one girl told me, “We are city folk.”

I wonder how many people all over Atlanta have struggled with the same thing, forced by poverty, job location, housing prices or failing schools to make the same difficult decision that we made. Our decision is made, though, and we do not regret it. I just see it as an adventure, a challenge to find what is interesting and colorful, and special about the new area we live in. I’ve already been thinking a lot about it, and exploring this new frontier, and you can bet that you will see some Metblogs posts about it. I think that intown readers might be surprised at a few of my observations. I know I have already found a few things that surprised me.

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