Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

UPDATE Stole Cat

The super-edgy suburban mall chain clothing store, Forever 21, has a reputation for ripping off designer’s work. This pops up from time to time with Urban Outfitters, too, especially with jewelry.

 

But this time … well, this time it looks like some junky-ass knock-off store stole from a well-known Atlanta artist. Bold.

 

R. Land is the crazy cool dude who creates awesome, funny, Atlanta-centric art that you see in local businesses around town. The murals in Criminal Records and El Myr are the two that come to mind, but check out the Facebook page and you’ll say, “ohhhhhh, that guy.” He’s made some scary-funny Aqua Teen Hunger Force stuff, the poster for the L5P Halloween parade, and a street sign for Dong de Leon.

 

Speckles (the Loss Cat Himself) is just nastily, adorably endearing to me. He’s also enduring, as Land originally created him in the 90’s and is still selling it on his website. Oh, right, and on Forever 21’s website. Nowadays word is that he’s in a lawsuit with Forever 21. I would suggest a peek at R. Land’s website shop (I’m partial to the unaspeckles, myself) and consider supporting a local folk art icon.

EDIT: UPDATE and Loss Cat timeline at Creative Loafing:  http://clatl.com/culturesurfing/archives/2011/07/06/forever-21-found-rlands-loss-cat-adopted-without-asking

From Sunday sales laws come “shot houses”

A little noticed story was reported by WSBTV Channel 2 last night. Apparently, someone in a College Park neighborhood was selling booze out of their home on Sundays in what the story refers to as a “shot house.” According to police, “Customers could go to the home on Surrey Trail and order a drink, or buy a six pack on Sunday.” Hmmm. So the illegal activity in question is a direct result of the government’s decision to outlaw an activity one day out of the week that it fully supports and collects taxes on the other six days of the week. WEIRD.

After receiving reports from neighbors about a line of cars in front of the home on Sundays, police “conducted surveillance, made traffic stops as customers left, and sent in an officer with a hidden camera. They then returned with a warrant and the SWAT team.” Okay, I get it. Something illegal was going on. And it’s the police department’s job to stop it. I understand that the problem here isn’t just selling alcohol on Sundays. Someone was selling out of a home in a residential neighborhood, operating without a license and in a place with children and families. Obviously, the potential exists for some sort of misconduct or violence to spill over. This is all bad. I’m glad the police intervened. 

 BUT. But. The fact that all of this happened – the bar’s existence, the police raid, the arrests, the coming prosecutions – happened because our state allows for the sale of alcohol Mondays through Saturdays. But not Sundays – unless you drink at a bar. On Sunday, it’s illegal. From a policy standpoint, it seems like a problem to require law enforcement to commit precious time, manpower, and resources to shut down shot houses while potential robberies, rapes, and homicides are taking place elsewhere. Can we just allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays already? Is it really too much to ask?

The Latest Street Name Changing Ridiculousness

Atlanta has a pretty serious history of street name-changing ridiculousness. A certain street on the west side of the city has gone through four names (based on some serious Wikipedia-ing, it looks like it went from Bellwood Ave to Bankhead Ave in the 1920s to Bankhead Highway to, most recently, Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway. You can’t bounce on DLH. But I guess you don’t get robbed on DLH?).

Other egregious offenses that come to mind are the Lakewood Freeway -> Langford Parkway switch, Stewart -> Metropolitan, our Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and, most ridiculous of all, a  stretch of Memorial Drive has already been switched back to Memorial after a brief stint as Cynthia McKinney Parkway.

The latest round of street name changes is up for a vote this week.  City Council is proposing to change Harris St. downtown to John Portman (the architect behind downtown’s gorgeous atrium hotels who is often partially blamed for the neighborhood’s dearth of welcoming street life), and to change Cone to recognize Xernona Clayton, a well-known civil rights activist and close friend to Coretta Scott King.  Both people are living, both people have made significant contributions to the city, and, I strongly believe, neither street name change is warranted. Creative Loafing has a thoughtful editorial about the issue here – “A surefire way not to be remembered: Note to City Council: Street signs are not chalkboards.” (more…)

Ale No

Way to blow it, Atlanta. A craft beer store in EAV? Nah, let’s send them to Decatur where they’re wanted.

There’s a few-months-old discussion on EAV Buzz that reading took me from elation to full-on pissiness in about 3 minutes. (Read as: sorry guys, stand by for a poorly crafted and rambling rant). A craft beer store, the over-adorably named Ale Yeah, had signed a lease on Flat Shoals, a few doors down from the EARL. I thrilled at the prospect of a place closer to home to buy my snooty beer (I’ve geeked out in Hop City a few times, but it’s a slow, heavy ride home from the Westside with a bag full of beers. I’ve since learned to drive when I go there.). Was a little giddy as I read through the thread on the buzz, which entailed, for the most part, happy tears and boner talk.

Turns out, however, that the location in the Village is too close to a “package store” (Buddy’s on Moreland and the East Atlanta Supermarket a few blocks down Glenwood) to open. Needs to be 1500 feet or more, according to a Buzz poster. “JBB” says it “also needs to be 600′ from residence, 600′ from library, 600′ from public park, 600′ from school… etc. the only way through is a complete exemption of EAV from all distance requirements.” Obviously a craft beer store would be an unfair competitor to Buddy’s. Or maybe it would just make the district too alcohol-saturated, what with opportunities to buy both bum wine and Allagash.

So we lost another cool thing (and tax revenue source) to Decatur due to some junk zoning issues. What now Atlanta’s got a few more details.

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Zero Dollars for Biking in Atlanta?

Ah, crap, I’m a little last-minute on this, but this one’s it’s worth ten minutes of your time!  As reported earlier, the transportation legislation this year has divided the state up into 12 regions, and each region will vote (yea or nay) on a list of transportation projects and their accompanying 1% sales tax. TODAY is the last day to submit your comments to the Atlanta Regional Commission, who has developed the first bit of the first bit of this list. See details here, and the criteria for the list here (PDF).

My concern, which is cited more eloquently and with more detail at the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition here and here, is that they’ve set aside a whopping 0-5% to use on non-motorized projects.

Record numbers of Atlantans are hopping on bikes.  25% of our trips are made within a mile of the home and 40% are made within two miles – these are distances that, barring extreme temperatures, we should almost always bike. Or at least they are distances for which we should have the option to safely and comfortably bike.  Each of the 25 or so bicycles locked up outside my office represents one less car, less wear and tear on the roads, less pollution, more vibrant communities, healthier citizens, and less sprawl. I cannot imagine not encouraging this sort of transportation.

The culture is changing, and we need our infrastructure to keep up! All this to say that a 0-5% allocation for bike and ped programs is not acceptable for the Atlanta region to do so. Other cities (with which we are competing for jobs and investment) are adding bike lanes, installing bike racks, and encouraging alternative means of getting to work, and I worry that Georgia is stuck in a paradigm of an unsustainable, auto-focused transportation network. I ask you to check out the criteria the ARC has posted, and consider sending off a quick email to let them know how you feel about the future of transportation in Atlanta.

(I recognize that this may be as simple as “Don’t tax us anymore!”, which is another correct opinion. Make your voice heard!)

Gwinnett, your genius is showing!

If this was on The Onion, I’d laugh. But it’s on the AJC.

Next summer, commuting will change for thousands of I-85 drivers in Gwinnett County.

For the first time in Georgia, an interstate lane will have a toll, and the computerized price will change moment by moment, rising when congestion in the main lanes rises.

It’s good news if you’re a solo driver willing to pay to get to an appointment a little faster.

But it’s bad news if you’re in a two-person car pool used to a free HOV lane, because you’ll be paying a toll, too.

In a couple of weeks, state Department of Transportation contractors intend to start closing parts of I-85 to construct an electronic toll in the HOV lane. The toll is to run from just south of Spaghetti Junction in DeKalb County to Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County.

If state officials have their way, it’s the first leg of a metrowide network of such lanes.

It is a huge innovation in transportation, one of just a handful of such projects nationwide. On the flip side of that coin, it’s an experiment. State officials readily admit they don’t know if it will work. And can drivers figure it out? The AJC got a look at the freshly designed road signs. Some of them may hinder more than help, judging by the reaction of drivers interviewed this week.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the DOT is holding events to launch the lane’s construction. A public meeting is from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Gwinnett Center.

HOV toll lanes — now called “express lanes” — have advocates. They marvel that even in metro Atlanta, even at rush hour, a driver who is willing to pay will be able to find free-flowing highway traffic.

“I think that’s pretty cool,” said Darryl Harden, a Norcross plumber who drives a lot for his work. “If I can get in that — hey, I’ll go for it.”

And the concept has detractors.

“The taxpayers have already paid for this” HOV lane, said Sabrina Smith, chairwoman of Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government. She was concerned that more tax dollars are being invested simply to force out taxpaying two-person car pools. “That’s what’s frustrating for people who play by the rules and try to do the right thing.”

Others note that the reliable traffic flow relies on keeping out people who can’t afford the toll.

Express lane drivers tend to have higher incomes than average, but advocates say the lanes are valuable for working-class parents late to pick up a child from day care.

The lanes may or may not make money. A traffic and revenue study done for the state predicts the lanes may bring in from $3 million to $7 million the first year, and several times more in years after that. But officials say the point is to create one place on the highways where rush-hour traffic is reliably mobile.

There are no reliable examples to show what exactly the effect on the regular lanes will be, experts at a conference here said earlier this year. On the one hand, the toll lane might move more cars, if the toll lane moves faster than the HOV lane. On the other hand, whenever government builds a new road project, people make trips they’ve been putting off, adding to the traffic.

One undeniable fact: Traffic on I-85 needs help.

The state says it’s on the way.

Invest money in expanding MARTA, thereby increasing ridership, lowering fares, and eliminating traffic?… Hell no!

Punish people who carpool by making them pay a toll to ride in the HOV lane, thereby causing more people to drive alone and therefore create more traffic?… Hell yes!

Face, meet desk.

Sauce: http://www.ajc.com/news/gwinnett/for-i-85-drivers-600705.html

Saw something, said something

I called the MARTA police yesterday.

When I got off the train at Civic Center, there was a large shopping bag from World of Coca-Cola sitting on the northbound platform. Hardly unusual, as it’s the closest station to there. But this bag had been placed right against a column at the north end of the platform, and rolled up clothes and a blanket were stacked up around three sides of it. No one was anywhere near it. At least two trains came and went from the platform,  still no one came for it.

The operator sounded a touch skeptical when I called. She asked a couple of times whether the bag had any wires protruding from it, whether it had a strange odor or was ticking. I didn’t see any wires and I passed within a couple of feet of it and didn’t smell anything, but do explosives actually tick any more? Besides, as loud as it gets down there with trains going in and out, that thing could have been playing the 1812 Overture and I wouldn’t have heard it. She said they’d send someone by. I waited a while. I never saw anyone come.

The chances that it was something dangerous are nearly nothing, of course. I almost didn’t call. It’s not as if it was purple and green with question marks all over it, like something from The Joker would leave. A “suspicious package” is only suspicious because someone is suspicious of it.

Maybe a homeless person left it there. But I can’t imagine why. When people own very little, they tend to always keep it with them and usually where they can see it. If they can’t keep it with them, they tend to put it behind or under something, or stuff into a bush or even up in a tree. I can’t imagine a homeless person just leaving their things where they’re sure to be stolen or thrown away. It just didn’t make sense, sitting there so neat and conspicuous.

I really hope that those clothes and that bag weren’t all that someone has in the world and that they weren’t thrown away by the MARTA police – if they ever came.

Late Night Edgewood

So Edgewood is the new Ponce. I mean this in the best possible way. It’s become one of my favorite streets in the city – delicious food, only the occasional whiff of fecal matter, a bar where they know my name, barber shops where they blast funk out the front door at 8am. You’ve got modern and retro with Circa and Rolling Bones. There’s high-minded good food and low-minded good food – Dynamic Dish and King Slice. New and old, with Sound Table and the Jamaican place, and, well, the neighborhood itself, a cornerstone of Atlanta history. It’s also one of the more racially integrated places in the city, in that black people and white people are there in roughly equal numbers (I’ve said it before: that’s a whole new post. Maybe more like a series of discussions. Decades-long series of discussions). But basically, it’s a good place to be at most hours, it’s bike and pedestrian friendly, and it’s about a 2 minute ride from home.

Overall I was pretty happy to see some of the coverage for the city council’s proposal to designate Edgewood and Auburn Avenues a special “Entertainment District,” which would mean later closing hours for the bars there. Businesses would pay an extra fee to cover extra security and clean-up. Since it worked so well in Underground, why not, right?

Underground issues aside, we all know the story – old-money Buckhead Betties on their morning strolls didn’t like walking across the remains of late-night thugs shooting each other, so they voted to drop back the hours of bars throughout the whole city, because there aren’t any stabbings before 2am. Oh, and then, of course, they razed the Buckhead Village, which, though I couldn’t give you directions there (um, go north on Peachtree a ways?), still affects all of us in the message it sends.

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Beltline Progress … ever enough?

I admit, I have expressed extreme frustration with transit, transportation, and connectivity in Atlanta. Apparently the Beltline concept was conceived when I was finishing up high school, which was A PRETTY FRIGGING LONG TIME AGO, frankly. I remember seeing a Beltline advocacy booth at an outdoors event 5 years ago, and getting excited to talk to someone about it. I asked what, specifically, we could do to help, and at the time, all they had was “well, you can go to our website and register to get email updates.” A little disappointing.

But lately I’ve been getting excited about the Beltline. We’ve finally started seeing progress – there are actual trails you can walk (or mountainbike, but after my first experience with those stupid little rocks on a bike I’m going to wait for some pavement), there are gorgeous parks and a skatepark underway, there’s a mile paved in the Northwest bit, the art is making people talk, and this weekend Mayor Reed accepted some major checks from Kaiser Permanente and the PATH Foundation to create a bike trail from Dekalb Ave to Piedmont Park.

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BP: Beyond Pissed

Cross-posted from my blog, because I haven’t written anything in a while.

This BP oil leak debacle has broken my heart more than a lot of events in the last decade. For example, as bad as it sounds, I was very detached from 9/11, because at the time I had never even been to New York; I may as well have been watching a movie. Same with Hurricane Katrina; back then, to me New Orleans only existed in theory. But watching this is like being kicked in the stomach. The Gulf coast is like a second home to me. I was born in Tallahassee, FL, and grew up close to it; from the time I was a baby I spent every summer on the Florida panhandle. They are not the prettiest nor the most glamorous beaches in the country (in fact, Panama City is referred to as “the redneck Riviera”) and most people treat the coastal South with the kind of disdain reserved for the most backwater, podunk, culturally and economically stunted parts of the US. On the other hand, in my eyes the Gulf coast is absolutely beautiful, and has a special place in my heart– which is why this whole event is so painful to watch.

The green is Google maps’ tracking of where oil in the water has been reported. The star is Mexico Beach, where my family would always spend a few weeks every summer. When I was growing up, we’d find tar balls on the beach all the time, but they were always small (maybe at most 2 inches in diameter) and hard like rocks. Meanwhile, I have seen some still and video footage of the tar balls pulled out of the water near Pensacola in the last couple of days.



It makes me think of:

But seriously, y’all. Pensacola is only about 130 miles from Mexico Beach. How much longer before the entire panhandle is affected? I always thought that maybe when I’m old I would find a bungalow on some deserted stretch of sand along the Gulf, where I could spend my twilight years sunbathing, listening to the waves, and avoiding cold winters. Now I have to wonder what these beaches will look like when I’m in my 70′s. In four decades’ time, perhaps through human effort and the earth’s natural method of recycling, the oceans, estuaries, and bayous will have returned to something resembling “normal”– Conversely, in 40 years this planet may be so polluted to the point where this mess looks about as serious as a grease spot in your garage.

A lot of my friends have been supporting the “boycott BP” campaigns floating around, and while their hearts are in the right place, I don’t think simply avoiding BP gas stations is going to make much of an impact, especially when every other oil company has an equally bad track record of human rights violations and environmental destruction. I would love to simply stop buying gas altogether, but even if I could feasibly get around without a car (which is very difficult to do in the South)… Everything nowadays is made with some kind of petroleum byproduct. Everything. Plastic? Good luck boycotting that. I think the real issue here isn’t the oil spilling, but the fact that our society is so heavily based around oil to begin with.

I don’t think most Americans are going to be as outraged about this for the same reasons I did not have an emotional reaction to 9/11 or Katrina… This clusterfuck is not taking place in their backyard. I can’t honestly be too surprised if most people just don’t care. But for those of us who grew up in the coastal South, it’s like someone is taking a shit on our front lawn.

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