Archive for January, 2010

Phoning it in and throwing bombs

Not all of our posts are wonderful works of originality that make your mouth drop open in astonishment.  “How do they keep churning out such fantastic content day after day after day?!” you say to yourself.

I know this will surprise you, but sometimes I just phone it in.  For real.  Like right now.  I’m going to simply link to this post at Beep Beep Gallery’s blog.  It is aptly titled, “You HATE Atlanta? Well fuck you buddy!”  Guess what it is about?  It’s a little call-and-answer style FAQ, for all you non-Atlantaphiles.  I’m sure there are some folks around here who might take offense, of course.  I try to practice a bit more tolerance with these folks than Beep Beep does, but I must admit this piece represents my id on many levels.

My favorite part is probably the complaint-and-response #2:

2) “There are too many ‘Peachtrees’…”

You’re an idiot.

Yes.  Yes you are.

2) “There are too many ‘Peachtrees’…”
You’re an idiot.

tuesday cuteness.

well, why not?

everybody needs a little cute in their lives.

today’s cuteness comes courtesy of atlanta’s excellent center for puppetry arts. the center is currently running a contest called the amazon rainforest coloring contest for kids k-5th grade.

what makes this great is the center is uploading them all to their flickr page.

so head over there and spend about three minutes looking at some fine work from atlanta’s youngster.

bound to put a smile on your face and make you forget about whatever you were thinking about for a second.

35 is the new 35

Thirty-fiveUnless you too are car-less and in temporary exile in southwest Cobb County, you might not have noticed the gaping hole in public transportation coverage out here. I’m staying with an extraordinarily generous friend in a subdivision off Oakdale Road, which is, in turn, off Veterans’ Memorial Highway. Veteran’s Memorial is the name Bankhead Highway/Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway (DLH) assumes once it crosses 285. MARTA service used to run as far up DLH as Bankhead Courts, but since Bankhead Courts closed, it now stops almost a mile further east, just before DLH crosses 285. So, anyone out here who needed to get to a transit station had to drive to or be dropped off at Bankhead Station or H. E. Holmes. Until now, anyway.

On Jan. 4 Cobb Community Transit added the new CCT Route 35, which (PDF) starts at Wellstar Cobb Hospital, ends at the H.E. Holmes MARTA station and runs 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Route 35 also serves Mable House Amphitheatre, Six Flags, downtown Austell, and the South Cobb Government Services Center.

Unrelated side note: I catch the #35 at the intersection of Discovery Boulevard (the name Oakdale Road takes on after it crosses Veterans’/Bankhead/DLH) and Veterans’, just past Pizza Bar and right in front of a new, ostensibly mixed-use development bearing the name “The Walk At Legacy.” The Walk At Legacy’s most prominent feature, other than a near-complete lack of tenants, is the acreage of parking lot splayed in front of it. I guess “The Drive and Park At Legacy” lacked the desired cachet.

Anyway, this isn’t an area that people move to if easy access to transit is high – or really, anywhere – on their list of important features in a neighborhood, so the creation of the new route certainly wasn’t driven by residents of the “Enclaves” and “Plantations” along Oakdale Road. I’m going to try to get in touch with someone at CCT to see if I can find out more about what went into the design and planning for this route.

“This would be paradise if it weren’t for the traffic”

A streetcar in Portland, made by Siemens

A streetcar in Portland, made by Siemens

I had the opportunity Friday to interview Ken Cornelius and Richard Palmieri of Siemens.  I know, you are thinking, “Ben, you have your own blog where you write about business stuff.  This is a culture blog where we talk about pandas and Cartoon Network.  What is wrong with you?”  Surprisingly, I have also resisted the opportunity to make immature jokes.  If you ask James, you’ll know how hard that was for me.  So what gives?

The thing is, I know you guys care about transportation in Atlanta, and that issues like the BeltLine and the Peachtree Streetcar are important.  Ken is the CEO of Siemens One, and Rich is the regional Sales Manager for Siemens Industry.  These are the folks that actually make the streetcars that are going in every city except Atlanta.

Ken is very involved with the Chamber of Commerce and lobbying the state for transportation funding.  Rich seems to have encyclopedic knowledge of streetcar technology.  They both work here in the Atlanta region despite the fact that we have no streetcars here – Siemens employs about 600 folks in Alpharetta where they make the power supply systems for all the streetcars the build.

My first question was about overhead wires, which got Rich rolling about some of the technology they have in development.  In the audio, Rich is the one that talks louder and quicker.  I’m the guy going, “uh, um,” the whole time.

Q1 – Overhead lines

The rest of the interview is after the jump. (more…)

a random night of music.

travel by train at the earl

travel by train at the earl

one of the activities i forget i love so much until i do it again, is to decide on a whim to go see a local band playing at one of atlanta’s eclectic music venues. it’s been a while since i have done this, but on saturday night, i found myself drinking a cup of tea in joe’s coffee shop in east atlanta and chatting with a few people i know.

one of the had noted on facebook earlier that they might try to go see a show at the earl. i asked him about the band and he knew almost nothing about it, but well, we were right down the street, AND if you want to go see some random live music there really is no better place than the earl (see paulie’s great review on the metblog here.) the $7 cover sealed the deal for us and off we went.

we missed the opening bands, but we did catch the headliner, a local combo called travel by train. hard to completely describe their music, a soft combination of rock and soul, i guess. immense talent is on display however.

kelly taylor, who fronts that band, has an amazing voice that had to be heard to be believed and the lead guitarist is very talented as well.

i am going to be keep my eye on travel by train and heading out to see them when i can. and all because we decided on a whim to go see some music.

i need to do this more often. after all, i can walk to the earl.

A little culture on the cheap

Female Portrait, 1949

Female Portrait, 1949

Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence. – Henri Matisse

Beginning Sunday, January 24, The Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA) will be showcasing the first-ever North American exhibition of the Albert Skira Collection of Matisse work. Henri Matisse: A Celebration of French Poets and Poetry will showcase 16 etchings and 47 lithographs from a 1930-1932 series and a 1948 series, respectively. The exhibit will run through May 9, 2010 with an opening reception this Saturday night, January 23. Tickets are only $5 for the non-OU general public.

At that price, we can all afford a little culture.*

*I hope to regularly bring you fun, inexpensive things to do around the city because I know I can’t be the only one on a budget.

saying good-bye to atlanta’s beauty.

mei lan chewing on some bamboo

mei lan chewing on some bamboo

i have no catchy headline for this post. i am actually overwhelmingly sad about it. i love zoos, i love pandas and i love atlanta. for all those reasons, seeing atlanta’s first baby panda leave is going to be very difficult for me to take.

mei lan was born on september 6, 2006. i’d been in atlanta for a little over a year and half at the time and the pandas’s arrival also corresponded with my beginning to feel at home here in the south. for that reason i have always had a soft spot for this gorgeous, round cheeked animal.

when her brother xi lan was born, i made the investment in a zoo atlanta membership and i go often to look at these animals. will i love young p, i will confess that mei lan is my favorite. i can sit and watch this girl feed on bamboo for quite a long time.

no official word yet on when she is headed to chengdu where the chinese panda experts feel like she will be excellent at breeding pandas to try to repopulate the world with her, but it’s going to be soon. i’ll be hitting the zoo a lot over the next few weeks to say goodbye.

good bye mei lan

good bye mei lan


stop by if you get a chance and wish her well and a safe journey. she’s been a great, if only temporary, resident of this city. she’ll carry us with her as she goes across the pacific, though. her name, atlanta’s beauty, a testament to the city she called home.

make sure when you go, you look at the goodbye cards that school kids have been sending mei lan. they’re just past the entrance to the panda area in a small wooden inlet.

gonna miss you mei lan.

what is this beltline thing anyway?

a meeting of the study group for area 10 master plan launch?

a meeting of the study group for area 10 master plan launch?

i used to be really up on the beltline. if you remember, and if you don’t who can blame you, the beltline is supposed to be a network of transit, parks and trails utilizing old train tracks and right-of-ways to create a circle around the city, or a “belt”, get it?

i have kind of given up on the beltline, which is supposed to run right by my house, but it seems like every few weeks i get an email from whatever city office is running this thing, where i am once again invited to some planning meetings, or community meetings, or task force meetings.

so i guess now the beltline isn’t really a network of transit, trails and parks anymore, it’s just a bunch of emails and meetings. today i got an email inviting me to a study group of a master plan launch for subareas 10 and 8. is the communist party of the soviet union running this thing?

on the homepage of beltline.org it says “the beltline is coming!”

which is suppose is true if by coming you mean coming to a study group for a master plan launch for subarea 8.

sad. and the reason why nothing gets done about transit in this city.

no will. no will at all to do anything about the problem.

oh well.

Surely everyone at Cartoon Network is high

I’m a little bit late, but I got very excited about this:

Rapper T-Pain has executive produced a one-hour animated special set to air on Adult Swim in March called “Freaknik.”…

The special features T-Pain as the “ghost of Freaknik.” Fellow rap starLil Wayne voices a man named Jesus. (Some Web reports erroneously say he’s actually playing Christ. Not true.) Plotwise, Lil Wayne’s character advises four guys who are coming to Atlanta to compete in a battle of the bands contest during Freaknik, according to Adult Swim spokesman Tim De Claire.

I’m not sure how many of y’all were around for Freaknik – it has been about a decade since He Who Shall Not Be Named shut it down, and I get the impression from the comments that there are a lot of folks who have been here 5-8 years.

I can’t say exactly why this excites me. It isn’t like I have great memories of Freaknik, even though I was in high school when it was at its peak. I was always rather neutral about it – things never seemed to get very crazy over towards my area, and I didn’t really have much interest in going to where the action was.  I actually remember things were pretty quite around my area because just about every adult I knew either went out of town for a week or stocked up on groceries like it was about to snow.

I do remember this kid on the Grady High JV baseball team almost hyperventilating as he shouted, “Freaknik comin, Freaknik comin,” over and over on the way to a game because he was so excited. That always makes me laugh.

I think I just have a knee-jerk excitement when anything Atlanta related makes any kind of national noise.  I certainly wouldn’t own any of the T.I. songs I have if he weren’t from Atlanta, I know that much.  I like them all, I just probably wouldn’t have paid enough attention otherwise.

Also, Adult Swim is utterly awesome and I will watch anything about Freaknik that they deign to produce.

macabre display?

this recent story on fox 5 caught my eye.

apparently the atlanta fbi office has kept all of the evidence from the olympic park bombing case that they developed for a trial that never happened after eric robert rudolph pled guilty.

according to the article:

In a long hallway in Atlanta’s FBI headquarters there is a curious pay phone. The phone is the Atlanta pay phone Rudolph used to call in the bomb threat at Centennial Olympic Park.

and also:

here is also an ATF recreation of deadly Olympic Park bomb, pieced together from fragments found in the park. Next, there are ATF mock-ups of the two Sandy Springs bombs and The Other Side Lounge. All of the recreations show the similar timing devices used and the nails for shrapnel. A ripped up sign from the lounge parking lot demonstrates the bombs deadly intent.

Something you can’t appreciate by just looking at the recreation of the Olympic Park bomb is how heavy it is. The bomb has a steel shock plate, three steel pipes, all surrounded by nails.

i must admit that while i find this a tad macabre i am absolutely intrigued by it. i wonder if the stuff is on public display. i am planning on finding out and if so adding this to my list of field trips i need to take.

i will, of course, report back to all of you.

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