Archive for January, 2010

ATL represent

The Zac Brown Band

The Zac Brown Band

So I’m watching the Grammy’s with El Padre, and the Zac Brown Band comes on.  “I want to say these guys are from Athens,” he says.  Really, I’m not watching the Grammy’s unless some chick comes out in something skimpy – I’m buried in spreadsheets (and loving every minute of it, sadly).

“Huh?  Who is this?  Zac what?”  Turns out they are from Atlanta.  Huh.  They played some pretty good country, which was way better than the crappy arrangement Stevie Nicks and Taylor Swift just performed.

Atlanta has gotten to a place where we regularly represent at the Grammy’s.  Usher is on right now, T-Pain was performing with Jamie Foxxxxxxxxxx, and Decatur’s Keri Hilson was nominated for Best New Artist.  I’m sure there are more Atlanta folks involved, but certainly it says something about our place in the music industry when I can’t even be bothered to try and count it all up, right?

I had no idea the state of Georgia could fit in my uterus.

Imagine my surprise disgust, when standing in line to pay my ad valorem tax at the Fulton county annex (what? It’s tradition to go in person) and gazing at the sample plates on the wall, that I saw this:

Wildflowers, I get. Give Wildlife a Chance, I get. Breast Cancer, I get.

And before you start a protest rally outside my house, make no mistake: I support adoption. What I don’t support (or understand) is putting out a Pro-Life plate with no Pro-Choice plate. Is it because it’s more a popular/fashionable stance? And since when is it appropriate to put a stance about such a sensitive, private choice on a car tag?

WTF, GA?

Oh and PS, I’m now fully aware that I’m 5 years late being annoyed with this. I have no idea where I’ve been.

D’ya like dags?

I’m following up my last hard-hitting post with an equally weighty subject.  Dags.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seR3KQtkHIo[/youtube]

Well, Atlanta likes dags.  Specifically, Atlanta likes scary dags.  The AKC released the most popular dog list for the last year, and both German Shepherds and Boxers placed higher in Atlanta than in the rest of the country.

Dags.

Dags.

I’m a bit surprised that German Shepherds are more popular in Atlanta than elsewhere, but not Boxers.  Man, just go walking through any gentrifying revitalizing intown neighborhood, and everyone and their mother has a boxer.  I mean, I think they are great dogs.  But it’s like everyone said, “Hey, I live in a gritty, up and coming area.  I need a dog that can scare the shit out of a burglar.  But let’s make sure he slobbers all over himself in a way that’s ironically cute – that’ll reaffirm my hipness.”

2 all-stars? not since 1998.

the nba all star reserves were announced last night.

and my friends, there are TWO atlanta hawks on the roster. BFD, you say? well let me tell you that not since dikembe mutombo and steve smith were on the all star team in 1998 have two hawks been named to the all star team.

i don’t know if anything yet speaks to the resurgence of this team like the inclusion of two of it’s stars on the team.

congrats to joe johnson and al horford on their selection.

there is a lot of justified anger in the hawks blogosphere that three hawks weren’t included. josh smith deserved to go too and the amazing thing is this is being echoed nationally. i love this.

i feel especially excited about al horford. he’s my favorite hawk and i decided to become a hawks fan the year he was drafted. i even dug up my old post about his draft. it makes me smile to see what he has blossomed into (even if that acie law thing never worked out!!)

so congrats again to joe and al and condolences to j-smoove. keep playing like you are and next year you’ll be voted in over creaky old kevin garnett.

GO HAWKS!!!

(now when is that al horford jersey going to be available to buy?)

Dinner with Lynne

A friend of mine with a generous spirit recently donated to our local NPR station, WABE. The donation wasn’t enough to warrant receipt of a stainless steel coffee tumbler, but instead an evening with Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

For those who haven’t yet been properly introduced, Lynne is the host of NPR’s The Splendid Table, during which she speaks of food with such a passion, with such colorful words and such dreaminess in her voice that you find yourself in love with the items she’s describing.

Callers ring into the show with questions surrounding a surplus of an item or soliciting new ideas for an old favorite and Lynne greets each of them with a calm gusto I lack the words to describe.

After a lovely chat with WABE Sr. VP and General Manager John Weatherford and his lovely bride, and a ten minute (!!!) chat with Lynne herself, we were seated.

Lynne read the menu and improvised, causing my friend to lean in and whisper “I need to take her to lunch with me every day. Imagine what she could do to a Chik-fil-a menu…”

Indeed.

The meal was a fancy 5 courses number – which by the way was delightfully and appropriately preceded by light delicious apps and free flowing wine. There was one that involved bleu cheese on a gingersnap but I was still so high from my conversation with Lynne I’d forgotten it almost instantly.

Course 1 – Classic Caesar Napoleon of brioche crouton, filet of romaine heart, aged parmesan frico, salt cured anchovy and quail egg.

It was fine right up until Kim double dog dared me to eat the anchovy. *shudder*

Course 2 – Chef’s choice seasonal fresh fruit sorbet intermezzo. It was so delightful, I don’t remember what the hell fruit it was.

Course 3 – Main entree: Thyme seared petit lamb chops and crab cake Napoleon severed with truffled asigo potatoes, grilled white asparagus tips and broccoli-rapini and finished with demi glace.

Good, not great. My lamb was over cooked, but there was a sweet spot on the potato that nearly sent me to the moon. Looking over my shoulder, I could see Lynne’s chop was cooked perfectly.

Course 4 – Cheese course: brie, 18 month aged gouda, manchego, aged white cheddar and gorgonzola blue. Present but not mentioned: strawberry, fig, and an unidentifiable brown object.

Course 5 – Desert: study in apple. Dried cranberry and apple crisp in micro hazelnut torte shell, vanilla bean crème brulee stuffed roasted apple cup, cinnamon apple fritter with bourbon crème anglaise.

Topping it off: the rest of my wine followed by French Italian (!?) dark roast decaf.

For me, it wasn’t about the food entirely: it was about Lynne and her contagious spirit and passion. It was about spending quality time with a friend sharing a perfectly imperfect cliché riddled once in a lifetime experience.

You can buy Lynne’s book The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio’s Award-Winning Food Show By Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Sally Swift via this nifty link.

As for scoring dinner with Lynne? Cough up some change during the next pledge drive instead of just whining about it, you never know what surprise fringe benefit you’ll get out of it.


(originally posted on my personal blog)

say goodbye to mei lan this weekend.

i’ve already discussed my feelings on mei lan’s impending departure (although i am sure some of you will be glad to know that this will probably cut down on the number of panda related posts!) suffice it to say i am NOT taking it well.

anyway, it’s all official. mei lan is leaving tuesday. she’ll get to fly on a special fedex panda express plane, which will stop in dc to pick up tai shan (aka butterstick) before heading to chengdu.

the zoo made official the plans in a press release this morning.

this weekend will be the last time to see atlanta’s beauty on exhibit, so get out there. there will also be a special going away party and raffle on saturday between 10 am and 3 pm. along with plenty of entertainment, 500 $25 raffle tickets will be sold with the winner getting a chance to see mei lan leave her enclosure for good.

i’ll be there for sure and will probably try to head over on both saturday and sunday – perk of being a zoo member.

the zoo also has a short “best of mei lan” video up.

it made me cry. seriously.

Even better in retrospect

We used to be good at stuff

We used to be good at stuff

For all the flack we get as a city these days, Atlanta has done a few things right over the years.  Exhibit A was the Olympics.  With the exception of Eric Rudolph, the Games went off very well.  No public money went into the production of the Games (although we did spend $500 million on infrastructure), and the Games themselves made a cool $10 million profit.  Most importantly, from the city’s perspective, is that the legacy of the Games was largely as-planned.

Atlanta was left with a great stadium, dorms for GSU (now Georgia Tech), a lot of new housing downtown, a new mixed-income community to replace Techwood Homes, and Centennial Olympic Park.  You know, the park that has been the focal point for all that investment in the Aquarium, the new World of Coke, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, not to mention a renovation of CNN Center and new developments like the Embassy Suites, Allen Plaza, Museum Tower, and the Hilton Garden Hotel.

Consider Vancouver, and how awful it all could have gone:

The original cost estimate was $660 million in public money. It’s now at an admitted $6 billion and steadily climbing. An early economic impact statement was that the games could bring in $10 billion. Price Waterhouse Coopers just released their own study showing that the total economic impact will be more like $1 billion. In addition, the Olympic Village came in $100 million over budget and had to be bailed out by the city.

Yowza.  It’s not just Vancouver, though – China and Greece now have a bunch of empty venues and spent billions in public money for the games.  And of course NBC is losing about $250 million on the deal this year.  (It’s Conan’s revenge!)  Check out the whole summary of Olympic discontent at The Sporting Blog.  Any way you slice it, though, we have to be one of the best examples for how to use the Olympics to actually help the city.

The Power Of Half

Today I had the good fortune to meet Atlanta author Kevin Salwen. Kevin has written a book called The Power Of Half. Kevin’s daughter Hannah noticed the disparity between the rich and poor in Atlanta and encouraged her family to DO something about it. They sold their house and gave half the money to charity.

Kevin’s book is about the changes that occurred from living this philosophy. Kevin encouraged me to give up half of something. He prefaced it by saying it’s not realistic for everyone to sell their house. However there is something we can give to someone else. Give up half of the time you watch TV. Give up half of the money you spend on coffee.

Kevin said the results of living this philosophy with his family have been more honestly, intimacy and trust. I’d say pretty good trade offs.

Kevin and Hannah are embarking on a nationwide book tour. They will also be at Barnes & Noble in Atlanta on February 3rd and February 8th at Georgia Center for the Book Auditorium in Decatur. Check their site for more details.

thepowerofhalf.com

spooooooooon!

wow.

my friends have been trying to get me to go see the room for almost a year.

and i know ben wrote about it way back in july, and normally i wouldn’t write about something again, but the room, well the room, just needs to be written about.

ben mentioned how awful it is. and it really is. everything, the script which makes no sense and is really just a string of one non sequitur after another thrown together, the production, the cinematography, the art direction, it’s all just atrociously awful. many times if you would have looked at me during the showing, you would have seen me with my hands on my cheeks, mouth open, stunned.

they kept telling me, “turn your brain off.” but i couldn’t. i just sat there stunned at how horrendous this movie is. i was also told that was normal. that a return visit allows you to just revel in it without trying to think about it.

it’s also like rocky horror, in that audience participation from throwing spoons to yelling at the screen is encouraged and part of the experience. many an amateur comedian practiced their material yelling at the actors on the screen.

so yes, score one more for the plaza theater (also your atlanta home for the aforementioned rocky horror, which i have never gone and seen in this city), which is showing the room every month on the last tuesday. the room is the sort of thing that keeps the plaza in business and makes it a success even in the face of overwhelming odds. we’ve written about the plaza many times and we’re huge fans.

the room is just one more reason.

American by birth; Atlantan by choice.

What genius gave me access to this thing? Look out now! My name is Sarah and I’ve been an Atlanta resident for about 4 years. I was born in Tallahassee, FL, and spent most of my life in southwest Georgia. From da woods to da ‘hood, y’all. I’m a bit delayed in making a post, but now I’m going to make up for it.

So, I have recently returned to the dirty south after spending a week in the frozen north; more specifically, Boston. Anytime I grow weary of Atlanta– be it due to the combination of soul-crushing heat and lung-crushing pollen, or the never ending traffic jams– traveling out of state always makes me appreciate Atlanta more.

Yes, Boston’s public transit would kick MARTA’s ass in a cage fight. But public transit in Boston is actually boring. Efficient, but not as entertaining. People just sit on the train and stare blankly, either at a newpaper, cell phone, or inside their coffee (maybe they are reading the grounds and trying to predict the future– who knows!). On the other hand, one of my favorite pastimes is taking out-of-town friends on MARTA because it seems like that’s when all the good stuff happens. People break out into spontaneous rap battles. Random dudes start preaching about the apocalypse and how we’re living in the End Times. Bums regale me with elaborate stories in an attempt to coerce a dolla’ dolla’ bill from my pocket.

And speaking of panhandlers; I think if you can deal with them in Atlanta, other cities are no problem. They are passive by comparison. Our bums are the stuff of legends.

The drinking establishments in Boston are way too homogenized and sanitary. I understand that smoking is uncool (I’ve never been one of the cool kids) but what else is a bar supposed to be if not a safe haven for people with vices? I have yet to find a northern equivalent to the Earl, El Myr, or MJQ, and that’s because I don’t think they exist. Part of the atmosphere of dive bars is that you leave feeling like a toilet and smelling like an ashtray. Sure, there are a lot of great non-smoking bars in Atlanta, but I like that we have options. In Boston, there’s no option, except to stand outside and suck on your nicotine stick in the snow. Amurrica is about FREEDOM! And that means the freedom to pollute my body as I see fit, dang it.

On the other hand, they do allow alcohol sales on Sundays, so… you win this round, yankees.

We also don’t have an Atlanta equivalent to the Harvard Douche. The worst you might encounter is a particularly intoxicated Tech student. (But at least they will fix your computer in exchange for a 12-pack of Natty Light.)

Probably the biggest thing I noticed is how people in Atlanta are much friendlier to tourists. Maybe it’s the Southern hospitality, or maybe people here are just tired of the entire South being stereotyped as backwards, so we’re enthusiastic about showing that Atlanta does indeed contain culture and history (well, the parts Sherman didn’t burn during the War of Northern Aggression). But mainly I think it’s because we actually feel bad when people visit here, given that the urban sprawl is atrocious, the highways are deadly (at best), the surface roads are all named Peachtree, most of the cool stuff is inaccessible by train and the bus routes make no sense. We want to help out tourists, not shun them. People in Boston, on the other hand… not so much. There is a disdain for tourists that floats in the air so thickly, it’s almost palpable. And I’m not just talking about the fanny-pack-wearing, “I’m going to stop in the middle of the sidewalk and block the flow of pedestrians so I can get a new Facebook picture in front of this old building” types of tourists. They seem to dislike anybody who might want to see (and, gasp, photograph!) some historical sites.

Also, Boston accents are not sexy. If I had to hear another person say “lobstah chowdah” I might have jumped off the Charles River Bridge. I’ll take a drawl any day!

Yep, I’m glad to be home.

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