Archive for February, 2009

Cut From The City?

Maybe you heard the piece on NPR on Wednesday about pay cuts at the High Museum of Art? Here’s my short recap: “Everyone at the museum’s getting a small, 5-7% pay cut, with the worst of it given to martyr the head of the museum. Oh, except for some people who are taking a 100% pay cut or something. Whatever.”

But I’ll admit that I’m just bitter. My wife was one of the people laid off from the museum on Monday. The story, though, will be that the High brass bravely took pay cuts. [This is where I cut some honest criticism for the sake of politeness.]

Here’s what the actual NPR piece sounded like:

“Five percent for the majority of the staff, six percent for the [department directors], and seven percent for myself.”

Sign Of The Times

Well, it’s happened again — last night I caught wind of another of my favorite Atlanta stores having to shutter its doors soon.

Last night I found out that Ella Guru will be closing in a few days. As a music lover I’m saddened to hear that another of the places I go to purchased used CDs is forced to call it quits. Blame the economy. Blame the consumer who purchases digitally. Blame piracy. Whatever you blame, nothing will change the fact that it’s leaving.

Ella Guru has been an Atlanta used CD destination for nearly ten years. Until last September it occupied a storefront in the mammoth Toco Hill Shopping Center, before picking up and moving to Inman Park where it sublet some space from the now-defunct scooter store. I questioned the move initially because within a mile of its new location there are at least two other music stores selling used CDs (namely Criminal Records and Wax-n-Facts). I reasoned that Ella Guru needed the move to survive and that they might be following the same logic as automobile dealers or piano stores who also seem to cluster together.

That section of Inman Park has seen its fair share of business changes in recent times:

  • Johnny’s Pizza changed owners.
  • The aforementioned scooter store opened and closed.
  • The Grape on Highland decided it couldn’t stay in business and closed its doors.

Ella Guru will soon join my list of Atlanta establishments that I miss (see also: Frijoleros, Tortillas, The Point, Burrito Art, Crescent Moon, Kool Korner Grocery, The French Quarter Food Market / The Stein Club, The Beer Mug (Brookwood Interchange), Bridgetown Grill, and the 1990’s version of Buckhead).

Which Atlanta establishments do you miss and would like to turn-back the clock to revisit?

eat. sleep. tweet. buy.

eat. sleep. tweet.

eat. sleep. tweet.

i thought i would take a moment in this space to give a shout out to a local entrepeneur i would like you all to get acquainted with. the guy, albert or @ialbert if you are a twitter nerd has taken his love of twitter and turned into an apparel business selling the original “eat. sleep. tweet.” t-shirt and other twitter themed apparel.

this author actually met albert last night at the atl tweet-up (and in interests of full disclosure he gave me and many others a free t-shirt) and i thought his stuff was cool enough to pass along. and since they are local and atlanta-based what better place to put it out.

you can check him out at eatsleeptweet.com.

also check out the site for his parent company micah apparel where you can learn all about his very strong commitment to social responsibility and clean water.

hope you like. i know i did and am already loving my new eat. sleep. tweet. t-shirt.

Is It Enough To Feel Unsafe?

East Atlanta has had its teeth clenched for months. Its throat is raw from shouting warnings across the neighborhood. Its eyes are dry from watching crime reports come across local mailing lists and message boards.

People don’t feel safe. Groups like ATAC (Atlantans Together Against Crime) are getting the word out about it with their website and public rallies.

In contrast, this AJC article on symbolic flamingos describes the situation like this:

[Jason] Hatcher, an art director for a local weekly newspaper, and Johnny Castellic (a.k.a. “Johnny Hollywood”) have launched a campaign to raise public awareness of what they insist is a growing crime problem in their area.

[Emphases mine.]

That same article quotes APD Chief Richard Pennington from an earlier statement. He said:

“The community groups work closely together[.] […] When they hear about one crime, they e-mail their neighbors and then you get a barrage of e-mails. I think they just respond to what they hear. And a lot of times, perception to them is reality.”

Those lines about insistence and perception-as-reality made some of my neighbors real angry. The implication is that citizens are being spooked by the echo chambers of online message boards amplifying every crime — that local crime has always been like this and people used to feel safer because they used to be happily uninformed. What I think a lot of locals heard in that quote was that they shouldn’t get all worked up just because a few houses have been invaded. That he knows better than the citizenry whether we should feel safe or not.

Is that how feeling safe works?

The argument on the ground is that it’s reasonable out here to feel unsafe and call for additional protection when armed gunmen are kicking in doors for televisions. The argument upstairs, in the city offices, is that stats are trending favorably and, so, we are safer even if we don’t feel safer.

I’ve stewed on this for a while, hoping I’d have some wise breakthrough. I haven’t. What I keep coming back to, though, is this: Does it matter if the stats are up or down? That’s a separate issue — a distraction.

The issue, to the people in their homes, isn’t whether burglaries and armed robberies are technically up or down, but that they’re common and frightening. People don’t feel safe. Winning the argument that property crimes are up or down, one way or the other, isn’t going to make anyone feel safer. The APD Chief isn’t really hearing the ground-level argument and the ground-level ralliers are getting distracted into a debate that they’ll lose even if they win. But the people on the blocks getting robbed need a win somewhere, and Chief Pennington and the AJC coverage are visible targets.

And now I’ve gotten distracted in all this. It’s easy to do.

I wanted to put it to y’all and hear more opinions: What does it take to feel safe? What is safety worth if you don’t believe you’re safe? How bad is bad?

walter payton?? really? seriously, really?

it started as most idea do, with an offhand comment. with a twitter reading group, and an active tweetup here in atlanta, and a million other things twitter-related going down here in the atl, someone (it may well have been me) suggested there should be a twitter trivia team.

last week we made that dream a reality. about six of us who tweet way more than we should gathered last tuesday for team trivia. since the vast majority of our get-togethers tend to be in the “south of ponce” sphere of influence we decided to head to neighbor’s in virginia-highland for trivia.

we had a good time and i would say the food was serviceable and the service was good. nothing spectacular or anything to write home about, but good. the place seemed kinda empty for a seriously challenging trivia night, although reports are than neighbor’s can fill up for trivia. i would gather that part of the issue is the weather; neighbor’s being known for it’s patio, which no one wants to sit on in 40 degree weather playing trivia.

the questions were okay. not too hard, not too easy. the trivia emcee was kind of bland, but in the end who really cares if you are having fun, and unless the guy is a real, true comedian i would rather have a bland emcee than one trying to be funny and ultimately failing. and we are going back there tonight, so obviously it worked well enough to get us back.

i am curious however, where do you like going for trivia. got any suggestions for us if we decide to leave neighbor’s?

btw – we were in the money until losing out by betting all our points on the question of “who was the first pro football player to appear on a wheaties box?”

the answer: walter payton. apparently wheaties didn’t feel the need to put a pro football player on their cover until 1985. go figure.

I miss Ted and crappy baseball

Growing up in Atlanta in the late 80’s, one thing was pretty much a certainty – the Braves would suck.  There were some good side effects to this of course – you could get cheapo tickets for Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and the just walk down the aisle to much better seats.  No one really seemed to care, because you were pretty much the only folks in the stadium anyway.  Also, the Braves had these great “half-season” ticket packages where you could get like 20 or 40 home game tickets if you were too cheap to buy a full 81 game season ticket.  The fam-dam-ily I went to lots of Braves games in the late 80’s and early 90’s (with el hermano often taking a book to read – he wasn’t much of a baseball fan).

I used to like baseball a lot more than I do now.  Baseball was the one sport I was half-decent at, and it was kind of ‘my sport’.  Then I discovered football in high school, and when I went to Michigan the football obsession really took off.  Football is simply a much more exciting spectator sport.  However, in those halycon days of Braves baseball, I watched the Braves every night.  Dale Murphy was my hero, and I can’t tell you how many Andy Griffith re-runs I watched on TBS waiting out rain delays.  Thankfully, I didn’t know what Mormon meant when I was 8.

The point I’m trying to make here, other than rampant, blathering, nostalgia, is that I had a lot more fun watching the Braves when they sucked than I do lately.  Part of that is that I have gotten older and my attention span has shrunk (thanks, modern life!), but I think part of it is that the Braves don’t really feel like they are “our team” anymore.  Part of it is that they were owned by the local eccentric millionaire – and when you have as much money as Ted Turner, you get to be called “eccentric” and not “crazy”.  They were on ALL THE TIME, and there was a certain lovable-loser quality to the team.  Ted crashed ostrich carts on the infield and it was all a lot more fun.

Still, Ted loved the team and cared about them winning.  He was willing to invest not only money, but time and oversight to the team.  Slowly, he built a powerhouse franchise that this city loved deeply in the 90s.  This city absolutely worshiped not only Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux, but McGriff, Bream, Pendleton, Gant, Belliard, and Nixon.  Give me those guys over Sheffield, Teixeira, Lofton (remember that!), or any of the high priced guys out there these days.  At least Chipper still has that underdog thing going on.  He is the most underrated player in the MLB, IMO – but he isn’t a prima dona, so there ya go.

That feeling is gone.  Every week it seems like we get snubbed by some free agent or another.  The team doesn’t even really have the “professional” attitude it had in the mid 90’s.  It doesn’t really know who it is, and the city can’t really rally behind it.  It is hard to escape the feeling that the team is sliding back into obscurity.  I might be okay with that – maybe it’ll find its soul again.

there is some bipartisanship for you….

i guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find that there is one potential issue that young republicans and young democrats can agree on: sunday alcohol sales.

according to this ajc article the two groups will be holding a press conference today to announce their joint support for sunday sales.

ah, nothing brings young people together like the right to get trashed on sunday. seriously, this issue has become the windmill that we tilt at year after year here in georgia.

could this be the year? i doubt it, but momentum is growing.

h/t to the atlanta beer guide for sending the link. any guesses where those folks stand on this issue?

Why I like local joints

Readers of my personal blog will not be surprised that I have been going to a few new breakfast joints recently.  One place that got added to the rotation is Rise ‘N Dine in Emory Village.  One of the things I like about it is the fun artwork on the wall:

I am not quite sure what the context of this is (it seems to be drawn on the back of something else), but my favorite part is the mustache.

Seriously, Park Tavern?

I was at Park Tavern this Tuesday night with a handful of co-workers and exactly 8 other patrons over the course of the night (5-11), and we sat in the back at a nice big square table, next to something that alarmed me: the new sushi bar they’re putting in.

I was assured by our waitperson that they’d had the sushi that is to be served and that it was awesome – which I don’t doubt – but come on. You’re a tavern.

If you’re that hard up for business, which apparently you are, how about throwing energy at some social media efforts? Marketing? Waiting for spring? You have an identity and a brand, stick with it…and make it better.

Sushi at Park Tavern = jumping the shark. IMO.

Free First Saturdays

I don’t think most people are aware that if you are a Fulton County resident, you get free admission to the High Museum on the first Saturday of the month.  I myself totally forgot about it until I was checking out the High website the other day with the intent of actually buying tickets.  To think I was this close to paying out money like a chump…  

If you check your calendar, you’ll see that this Saturday is the first Saturday of February, which means I’ll be at the High Museum this Saturday.  And, so you don’t have to, I called the ticket office to double check that yes, that includes the Chinese Emperor pottery guys and the Louvre Atlanta exhibit.  Also, you get there before 4 p.m. if you want the free shwag.

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