Archive for January, 2009

las vegas – underground style.

well i saw it in the ajc today. someone is back with the most colossally stupid idea for downtown revitalization i can think of. according to today’s ajc, a developer is back pitching the idea of turning underground atlanta into a casino.

i rememebr this idea coming up before when i lived in atlanta back in 1999 and i think i remember it being pitched again a few years ago.

i have a feeling there is plenty of research to back me up, though i am not going to go look for it right now, but just on the face of it , i can’t think of anything worse for downtown atlanta than a casino.

maybe a strip club. maybe.

seriously, the point of this post was to query if anyone out there thinks this is a good idea.


how about my downtown guys…ben? rashid?

What you probably don’t know about Irwin Street Market

I had the pleasure last week of spending an evening in the company of Jake Rothschild, the namesake and man behind the success of Jake’s Ice Cream, and now also the proud pappa of the Irwin Street Market. The market is located in the Old Fourth Ward on the corner of Irwin and Sampson Street, across from the well photographed and directional landmark water tower.

When you walk into the market you’re greeted by a large, industrial but cozy room. The exterior walls host a variety of vendors: to your right is Flower Bar, beyond that is a woman who sells handmade soaps and beauty products, beyond that is another room with art, books and my favorite clever greeting cards on a spinning rack (you need to go yourself to see). In the main room continuing counter clockwise is a cupcake maker, a fabulous cookie bar and beyond that a coffee bar. That brings you around to the left side of the room and its anchor businesses: Jake’s.

There’s another room to your left as you come in, hosting framed photography on the walls, comfy couches and more intimate lighting with two adjoining alcoves for privacy and conversation. Back in the main room, you’ll find couches, armchairs and the family table flanking retro ovens being used as displays for other locally made wares.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Jake or his business adventures, and while I had patronized the Irwin Street Market (lunch at Jake’s, flowers from Flower Bar for the housewarming, cupcakes from Button Cakes Bakery) I wasn’t entirely clear on what was happening in the space, and hadn’t given a lot of thought to the eclectic collection.

Friday night, I got the 411. Simply stated, it isn’t just the goal of the market, but the intent behind everything Jake does: to nurture and help local business grow. On the website for ISM, its declared as our neighborhood s urban artist market, and it is.

It’s an incubator for small business who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a storefront, who wouldn’t normally have the coaching and support of someone who has tried, stumbled, succeeded and found himself in the process.

As someone with a unquenchable passion for small business and a soft spot for “the little guy”, I’ll be undoubtedly be spending more time at the market. Bonus: free wifi and loads of comfy spots to sit without loud-not-my-taste music rattling your thoughts out of your head. Perfect for plotting about and noodling your own business dreams, which you can see to fruition right there at the Irwin Street Market.

Oh yeah, and remember that post several weeks back where I said that if I wasn’t so lazy I’d start a small local produce stand? Great minds think alike: keep an eye out for just that at Jake’s in the next couple of months.

Give or Take

Given the last two weeks, I wanted to write something about the shooting in East Atlanta Village this week, even though James already covered it once. Not long before the shots were fired, I was a few blocks away, standing in the street talking with police and neighbors about the crime in our neighborhood lately. And about how nervous and how angry we are.

People want things, so they’re coming into our homes and taking them. They’re smashing down our doors. They’re pulling guns. They’re killing and dying in the pursuit of money.

I sat down to write about that, but I keep thinking about something else. A friend of mine told me about a man who stood up on a MARTA train this morning, said he was homeless, and asked the passengers for money. This happens all the time, but tonight I kept picturing it.

“I’m homeless because of a fire at my house,” the man said. He sounded a little rehearsed. “I just need nine more dollars to get set up for the night. I’m trying to get back on my feet.”

People gave him five-dollar and ten-dollar bills. People nudged each other on the train, saying “Excuse me, I just want to get by you for a second so I can give that guy a dollar.” The man made more than his nine needed bucks for sure.

We can read a lot into this moment, if we want to.

We can see a train car full of passengers suckered out of money by a guy with a well aimed sob story. We can picture the train car passengers filing out and being replaced by another car full of Midtown professionals. We can picture the man telling his story again. We can picture him holding the cash out, pinched between two knuckles, and swapping it for a baggie of yellow rocks.

Or we can picture a man standing in a public bathroom, counting his last couple of bucks and coming up nine short of the fee for his motel room. We can picture him reciting his story to himself in the mirror, getting up the nerve to out himself as homeless in front of strangers. We can picture him standing in the strobing red glow of the fire trucks, soot on his face, wearing his pajamas, staring at the soggy ashes he used to live in.

I don’t know if that man’s story was true or not. It may be a mistake to look for too much meaning in these stories. What I know is that I’ve heard two stories about people trying to get money out of strangers this week, and they have different endings.

All your transportation are belong to us

Wondering what is going on with transportation in the state?  Between the never-ending traffic, the recent spike in gas prices, and Obama’s infrastructure spending proposal, the topic is one that comes up often.  Now, the Metblog isn’t traditionally a political blog, and I’m not trying to turn it into one.  But, the circus is in town legislature is in session, and I thought that Metblog readers might appreciate a round-up to know what state and leaders have on the table to address the problems:

I think that covers all the big stuff going on, but please add what I’ve missed in the comments section.

death in the eav.

the parking lot of the ace hardware in the east atlanta villiage is a plot of land i know very well. i visit the ace hardware in the eav at least once a month or so and either run or walk past it at least four to five times a week. this parking lot is only about 1/2 mile from my house.

it also happened to be the scene of yet another shooting last night, and yet another fatality last night.

at least in this instance the good guys are still alive. the victim of an armed robbery who had left the graveyard tavern pulled his own weapon and shot the robber 5-6 times, leaving him dead in the parking lot.

there was a time when i ate a lot more red meat, listened to a lot more right-wing talk radio and still believed in the death penalty, when i would have stood up cheering for this, as many on the popular east atlanta message eavbuzz are doing this morning. while i can’t join them in celebrating the loss of life, i certainly don’t begrudge them their feelings.

behind it is a sense of overwhelming frustration at what is occurring in these neighborhoods. yes, i realize, as karsh pointed out that this happens in all neighborhoods and we should care, but when it happens consistently within a tight radius of where you live or frequent after a long period of relative quiet, and when the crime begins to seem so senseless and so fatal, the frustration definitely grows to a level that i can grasp why some would actually celebrate the death of this criminal.

i don’t know. i have changed with age and no longer support the death penalty or listen to too much right-wing talk radio (although i still eat a bunch of red meat) and i can’t cheer at the death of this person, but i don’t feel sorry for him either and i am glad this ended with the person committing the crime dead as opposed to the victim (ala john henderson.)

my one hope is maybe it will serve as a deterrent. maybe the next armed robber will think twice before pulling his own weapon.

in closing, i don’t know who this guy was, but to be able to draw on someone that has already drawn on you with all the adrenaline of being in the middle of a violent crime and manage to put 5-6 rounds in them is pretty impressive.

maybe jack bauer paid a visit to the eav last night?

UPDATE: as cap’n ken points out in the comments, when i mention “another shooting and another fatality” above, i am NOT referring to one at that location but rather the shooting at the standard the other week. sorry for any confusion.

Drunk on Sunday?

For the past two years state legislators attempted to get Sunday liquor sales approved for Georgia. Georgia is one of three states that do not allow Sunday sales, Connecticut and Indiana are the others. Each year the bill has gained momentum and this year is no different.

The state legislature convened this week for their 2009 session. Already the bill to approve Sunday sales has been filed in the Senate with the House to soon follow. The main opponent is Governor Sonny Perdue. He doesn’t drink, he’s proud of that and he will veto the bill.

According to the AJC there is more support for the bill than ever. Lt. Governor Casey Cagle says, “He will not stand in the way,” of the bill. Last year Cagle helped stall the bill in the Senate.

As long as Perdue is governor this bill will not pass. Conventional wisdom is that there is not a 2/3 majority that is needed in both houses to overturn Perdue’s veto. With the state facing a $2 billion budget gap, you’d think they’d be looking wherever possible to find money. Granted having liquor sold on Sunday may prove to a negligible increase in revenue. However, the fact that grown adults cannot go to the store and buy liquor on Sunday seems downright comical. As one friend pointed out, you can drive to a bar or restaurant, drink and then drive home; but you can’t go the store, drive home sober and drink at your home.

The legislation, if passed, leaves it up to voters to decide if they want Sunday liquor sales. The added the revenue alone make the choice an easy one. I think we’ve all grown up enough to have a little sauce on Sunday if we want.

It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green in Atlanta (and GA)

Trying to be green in Atlanta might be new to you since you watched An Inconvenient Truth last year and it scared the wee out of you, but it’s not new for a lot of in-towners. In fact, I think it’s is one of the many common values that ties us together as a community.

To that end, what’s been chapping me for years and keeping Vaseline in business is this: why is it such a pain in the tuckus to be green in our fair and otherwise ironically green city?

As an example of our brownness, I pose the question: does your local/favorite bar recycle?

If you guesstimate the bars in the ViHi, L5P, EAV, Inman Park areas alone to be in numbers close to 150, and you figure each of them sells an average of 50 bottles of beer a night (not counting restaurants and their wine/beer consumption) we’re at 7500 bottles a day being [presumably] thrown into a dumpster and not into a recycling bin.

Don’t get me started on local business and their paper consumption. I worked for a firm just after Y2K that didn’t recycle because they couldn’t find anyone that would come pick it up, and they were one of three dozen tenants in a Buckhead office building. Is this still the case today?

If you find yourself flitting about anywhere in North Carolina (some of the best hiking and river paddling is just two and a half hours away) and looking out at the landscape from the passenger seat, you’ll notice recycling centers are abundant and tucked off on the sides of roadways.

In Atlanta, we have few options, and they’re well kept secrets. Most apartment and condo compounds don’t have bins, and many curbside pick ups claim to be recycling your goods but I have my doubts.

So with that, and with the new year and Al Gores and God bless him and the interwebs, I bring you what little bits of greenie I have under my

First (and with a HT to MetBlog alum Lori aka mingaling), there’s the ole drop and dash behind Whole Foods on Ponce. Here you can drop your dirties without sorting and scurry back around to the civilization side of the building, making you feel like a convict in the making – even if there is a big sign tell you it’s okay.

Reportedly, you can also drop your bits at Sevanunda, the Dekalb Farmers Market and IKEA though I’d try the two former before the latter.

For your nastier more complex electronic pieces parts after you go Office Space / PC load letter on ’em, you can go to Grady High School every third Saturday of the month. Accepted items include: A/V equipment, cell phones, computer components, coax cables, walkmans, mice, computers, copiers, digital cameras, wire, DVD players, fax machines, batteries, wireless devices, keyboards, microwaves, misc. computer peripherals, monitors, mp3 players, pagers, Palm Pilots, power cables, power supplies, printers, projectors, scanners, server cabinets, speakers, steel and alloy rims (!?), steel scrap, stereo equipment, telephone equipment, toner cartridges, TV’s, vacuum cleaners, VCRs and video game systems.

I have my own doubts about where the city itself does its recycling and how that goes down. Maybe I’ll do a little investigative piece on it, but in the meantime I’ll continue to drop my goods where I know they’ll be taken care of. For many in Atlanta it isn’t even a consideration, if you don’t own a home (ie you rent an apartment that doesn’t offer recycling) you’re SOL and have no choice but to be an uber earth Samaritan and ironically increase your carbon footprint while trying to do good for the earth. Oy.

To this end, and to out myself as the trippy dippy hippie I am at heart, I’ll tell you I recently went out to the website for Barack Obama where you can submit your thoughts to him (more accurately, his staff) about what you’d like to see changed. My submission said something like this, as inspired by a twitter convo with @lauter and @carl (see also: I can haz twitter?):

The post office is a government operation. As such, you could and should enforce recycling in their centers by offering bins for paper next to mailboxes, where thousands of paper bits are disposed of every day.

Additionally, to hold a liquor license in this country you should be held to a high standard for recycling glass. Those caught disposing of recyclables in “regular” bins should have fines levied.

If you’re as into it as I am, take five minutes and submit a note, it certainly can’t hurt and you don’t even have to print/mail it. Win win!

Now that I’ve done all that rambling I do want to give props to Decatur, where it’s a different story: you “pay as you throw” and recycling is free, so you’re better off recycling every little bit you can.

One last thing, because this seems to be the post that never ends and I’m giving myself carpal tunnel: November 17th is Atlanta Recycles Day. I shittith thee not.

Recycling drop off behind Whole Foods on Ponce. The sign lists items you can drop: glass, newspapers, magazines, office paper, all plastic containers and bags, aluminum and steel, and also indicates no sorting is needed.

i can haz twitter?

I Can Haz Twitter?

I Can Haz Twitter?

lots of people around these parts are becoming obsessed with twitter, the catchy, addictive little microblogging service that let’s you post whatever to the world in 140 characters. what i think is most amazing is the way the service has taken off as a marketing platform for marketers savvy enough to grasp how to use it. several atlanta-based organizations have figured it out. i thought i would share with you the atlanta stuff that i follow on twitter, just in case you are curious. would love it if you would drop your faves in the comments:

@atlantamusic – the atlanta music guide, keeps you up-to-date on all music going down in the atl
@atlanta_steam – atlanta’s lingerie football league franchise. this is pretty silly but too silly to pass up. btw – how sad is it that none of our major francises can figure out twitter (braves, hawks, thrashers> but the atlanta steam can?
@ATLHOMER – atlanta sports thought from the ultimate homer
@beeratlanta – the atlanta beer guide. i don’t drink but if i did this resource would be invaluable
@criminalrecords criminal records twitter feed – a highly entertaining feed from one of atlanta’s best independent merchants
@earl_eav – the earl – the newly created twitter feed for the popular east atlanta restaurant and music venue
@myATLevents – myATLevents – a great feed of atltana events
@peachyruns – Big Peach Running Company – twitter feed for the greatest running store in the world. a must-follow for atlanta runners

got all that?

good, now i have just one more that is a must follow:

@atlantametblogs – that’s right we are on twitter now too. give us a follow for updates and fastest notification of new posts.

and of course you can follow this intrepid author at @jeherv.

What gives, Real World?

The granddaddy reality TV series is starting up again for season 17, this time in Brooklyn.  17 seasons, and all I really remember is San Fransisco, with Pedro and Puck.  Oh, and that all the cast members in Las Vegas were alcoholics.  Honestly, I stopped watching after San Fransisco (season 3), except for when I occasionally got sucked into some marathon viewing session.

You may be saying to yourself, “WTF?  This is the Atlanta Metblog.  Atlanta Metblog. What does the Real World have to do with Atlanta?”  Well, I for one, want to know how out of 17 seasons, MTV never decided that Atlanta was a good location.  Atlanta is regularly listed as a top location for young people, singles, college grads – the same folks who grow up watching the Real World.  It is prime real estate for showcasing your city!  All the show does is follow a bunch of twenty somethings around as they go to bars and clubs, and maybe they’ll throw in some socially conscious “job”.  Well, we have great bars and clubs (just not downtown).

Seriously, look at some of the place the Real World has shot.  Obviously I’m not delusional, and I don’t think Atlanta is as neat as London, Paris, Sydney, or New York.  But San Diego, Austin, and Denver?  Aren’t we at least that interesting?  They’ve now done New York three times, and LA twice.  Some on-line sleuthing suggestst that a Midtown loft may have almost made the cut for Season 16, and was on the short list for Season 19.  What happened?  Give us some love!

One thing that Atlanta is missing that the Real World needs to work is a pedestrian environment.  IIRC, for the most part, the cast is denied cars and they spend their time walking to and from the many bars.  There are plenty of neighborhoods that would work, though.  Put our ardent potential alcoholics in a Castleberry loft with a view of downtown, or in a penthouse in a Midtown condo building like they planned to five years ago.  This shouldn’t be that hard.

Crime Hits Home

I didn’t know John Henderson.  From what I’ve read in the paper he sounds like a cool guy.  I’ve never been to The Standard, where he was senselessly murdered, just 3 miles from my house. His tragic death yesterday morning has stirred real action. Today I got to be a small part of that.

News of the vigil first appeared on Twitter yesterday afternoon. Last night I received an invite to the vigil on Facebook. By the time I sent my RSVP to go over 250 people confirmed they’d be there as well. I got there this morning just before 7 a.m. Already there were 4 news vans and 2 Atlanta-Journal Constitution cars. Later I heard NPR was there as well.

I didn’t know anyone there when I arrived. I looked around and saw lots of emotion, some tears and lots of hugs. The darkness that visited The Standard was still lingered, I could feel it. Seeing the plywood on the front door that was smashed was surreal. However as more and more people showed up a sense of hope and calm emerged. Some say as many as 400 people showed up to the vigil.

I feel a real sense that something positive is happening from this tragedy. This website, Atlantans Together Against Crime & Cutbacks, has been created and is organizing future events. Folks were giving their e-mail addresses to become involved. This Facebook group has been created and has already grown to 470 members at the time of this writing. A meeting has been organized on Sunday at Aurora Coffee in Little 5 Points.

For the 7 years I’ve lived in East Atlanta I’ve felt safe. I recall the murder of Christian Henderson five and a half years ago. The only other major crime I can recall in my time here was the kidnapping of 2 Atlanta men in July of 2007. I still feel safe in my neighborhood. There is a strong community and we look out for one another.

I pray that John Henderson’s murder was an isolated event. Seeing the vigil today and the subsequent action that is coming, I believe that we as citizens are doing what we can to make it so.

Please see Creative Loafing’s and The AJC’s coverage of this story.

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