Thursday, July 19, 2018

Atlanta: Southern Charm, World Class

The good, the quirky, the tasty charm of the city that needs a new slogan!

Actually, the title here was my submission for a new Atlanta slogan apparently to replace an ages-old one about the city being too busy to hate. But they changed that a couple of years ago to one I thought was really good cause it made me think of my beloved Atlanta Braves. The slogan was to be a part of a new branding of Atlanta that included a "Coca Cola" red and white design. Oh yea, the slogan was Atlanta: Where Everyday Is Opening Day. The city is not really known as a baseball town, but if you're a sports fan that lives here, you know that the Braves are really the only major league team that's any fun to watch. Course, the thing about that is, that if you're a sports fan that lives here, you're more than likely from somewhere else. I mean, there are sports fans from all over the country that have re-located here. Where else can you find an entire sports bar dedicated to the St. Louis Rams, for heavens sakes! That's why when the Atlanta Falcons play the Philadelphia Eagles, there are more Eagle's fans in the Georgia Dome than there are Falcons fans. But one thing you can't take away from the humble smattering of Falcons fans: An 8-and-8 season is darn near heaven for us, and we'll definately take it!

Having Said That, getting back to the slogan debacle, I think it was just recently announced that the "Brand Atlanta" campaign was going nowhere and they wanted to go in a different direction. So, the city remains sloganless, at least officially. But to me, and perhaps two-to-three million other people who are here from somewhere else, but really don't remember the last time we spent more than a couple of nights with our folks over Christmas in the city of wherever it was we are from, we call Atlanta home. First rule to remember is about the traffic. Its arguably the worst in the nation, but officially we're number 2 behind Los Angeles. One of the first things I learned here was stay off of Interstate 285. Its our area's by-pass that goes in a big circle. If you drive 285, its probably because you work up in one of the many office parks along the northern arc and you really only drive 2 or 3 exits to the nearest escape, then you're on your way to your destination. If you're on the perimeter highway, as some call it, for much longer its because you moved here and didn't really know where you were gonna live, or where you were gonna work, so you found out the hard way that work was say, in Chamblee, but you moved to say, Vinnings, across town and the only way you had to get to work you a second here to figure it out...yes! taking 285. But because we're being positive here and laughing off our little mistake, at least you learned that when you've paid your dues and you can move to a better location, you can think of how mad you were every day at around say 4:30 to 7 PM at how horrible 285 was. And you can learn how going 4 miles can take around 110 minutes.

Related To Traffic But Much More Pleasant is a little street we love called Peachtree Street. It's famous here in the south and is home to our Fabulous Fox Theatre, which was the site of the official opening of Gone With The Wind. You've heard of it, the story of Tara and the tattered south at the time of the Civil War. But back to Peachtree Street, its the site of the home once lived in by Gone With The Wind author Marguaret Mitchell. Her old place is now preserved and is a showpiece called "The Dump". Someone has tried more than once to burn it down, but it has survived and is a "must see" for any 'Gone fan. I love the rich history of Peachtree Street, which stretches from north near the city line towards a place called Brookhaven to south, well into the bowels of downtown, below a place we send the tourists to, called Underground Atlanta. Underground is a place you're likely to hear music, see street entertainers and be able to buy t-shirts and sunglasses for pretty cheap. Underground has been up and down in the 18 years I have lived here. When I first came here in the late 80s, Underground was pretty boarded up and forgotten as I recall. Over the years it has opened up, been painted and freshened a bit and has mostly thrived as the area known as the "Tourist Triangle" has attracted in-town visitors to the many sporting events, conventions and the trade shows. The World Of Coca Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and other attractions opened since the 1996 Olympics has helped the area as well. Peachtree Street of course is mostly known outside Atlanta as the home to the annual Peachtree Road Race. Hundreds of thousands of runners from all over the world converge onto our little street to pound a little pavement. Two things to remember here: The places that serve all the frozen liquor drinks all open up around 5 AM, hint hint. And secondly, someone from Kenya usually wins, but everyone gets a t-shirt and mingling with all the runners afterwards when you've got a nice buzz is always fun. Oh, and there's one thing before we move on that you need to know: And that is, there are at least 10-thousand streets around the metro area that include the name Peachtree. So when you ask where Peachtree Street is, make sure you know which one!

The Weather Here Rocks! That's probably why everyone is moving here and crowding up our streets. Winter time here starts as soon as all us guys are no longer wearing shorts, which is usually sometime in mid-January. Bitter cold is that day that looks like its gonna snow, you know the one, where its all cloudy and the weather people are breaking into '24, making you mad cause Jack Bauer is just about to save the country again, as soon as Chloe breaks a code. But, getting back to the weather, seriously, from about mid-January to say the first few days of March, it could be considered winter. If it snows, please, pleeease do not attempt to drive. You will not be able to. Its a rule here, no driving allowed during snowfall. But fortunately, there are only a few snowfalls during a decade, except for that mega blizzard during, i believe the 93 winter season. My folks thought I was dead, but I made it pretty good, and was quoted in the city's newspaper on what would become the Great Winter Storm of 93! Summertime here is death. Actually, and quite sadly, more people die in Chicago during a heat wave than will ever die here. That's because your air conditioner usually works, if not in your car than at least at your place. And your buddy's place down the street has a pool. One of the most fun things to do during the summer is going to a Braves game. You can wait till game time and get a 5 dollar ticket usually. And its not as if you actually have to sit in that seat. You can follow the crowds to the Chop House and get a cold beverage, a snack and hang out with the folks doing the same thing. At night, I love going to Chastain Park Ampitheatre! Summer concerts there range from Earth, Wind and Fire, to Chicago to a nice night of Jazz featuring the Rhythm of Love tour, one of my favorites and great for date night. Thing to remember here: Chastain is more of an event, and not strictly a concert. You come to Chastain with your picnic basket with wine and cheese and usually two big Subways that you bought on your way for $7.99. If you're date is a particularly good cook, you can skip the subways and bring a nice dinner. That's what you do. There have been a few performers who have complained about the noise, but remember this Garrison Keiller: Chastain is for singers and performers who can blow, sing and knock us out with their talent. I'm sorry, but we get easily restless with your drawn-out dissertations of the fascinating folks at Lake Wobegon. This is after all Chastain, not NPR. Well, now I feel much better having gotten that out of the way. We have two seasons left here, and one of them would be spring. Two things about spring are the many festivals here including The Dogwood Festival, or as I know it, PollenFest!. It's the official opening of spring festivals here which usually drag on toward the end of June. Spring is also the unofficial opening of college football season. Its when our favorite teams, like the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers have their spring games. And you don't need an excuse to begin talking about college football, either, so bone up so you'll be ready for fall kickoff!

A Little Of This, A Little Of That: Atlanta is a great music town! Too many clubs to count play usually anything from hip-hop to soul to country, which are about the three most notable formats here. LaFace records was here for a bit, which brought late 80s, early 90s icons like Pebbles, Whitney Houston and my girl Toni Braxton. Atlanta is home to TLC and all the drama that came with them! And no matter who you like or where you're from, if you live here, you love the hip-hop group Outkast! Admit it, you secretely hope they win the award when they're up for nomination. Of course, Georgia is home to many icons of both country and soul, such as Gladys Knight, Trisha Yearwood, George Jones and the late James Brown. You only have to drive maybe 40 minutes to a little town called Athens, which is home to a national re-birth of rock and roll, where groups such as REM and the B52s re-defined the entire genre.....Food here is a little harder to pin down. You can get anything good here, such as Mexican or Bar-b-que, but Atlanta is not really known for either. Soul food is as good here as about any you can get in the south and for fine dining, bring your credit card and you're in! But as much as food here is just that, food, Atlanta is a great place for patio seating. Nearly every restaurant that covets a great location has a patio, usually open to the street, which makes you feel like you're part of the neighborhood.

Finally, Atlanta is a beautiful city with a beautiful skyline. Its a place where you're likely to hear someone calling you 'hon, or dear. Its also a place where you're just as easily likely to hear some speaking in a language you've never heard of. Either way, at least try the grits! You never know, you might like them.

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tnecvolfan2001 is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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