The chicken parmigiana was pretty good too…

I’ll just say that accidentally running into friends at dinner on a night when you’re feeling a little unexpectedly mopey and lonesome is a very nice surprise.

Also, watching a very snowy movie like Airport is a nice thing to so when the sunshine and hot weather are a bit oppressive.

Atlanta 2011

In many ways Atlanta was my introduction to cities and things urban, both as a child and as a young adult. When I was a youngster, my mom took regular business trips to Atlanta and my dad and I would often come down and meet her on the weekend. Atlanta was the first place I stayed in a high-rise “city” hotel (the Howell House, which is now a high-rise condo building just like everything else on Peachtree Street in Midtown) and the first place I visited giant downtown department stores like Davison’s and Rich’s (later Macy’s and Macy’s). In the early 1970s, there were even still mid-block streetcar strip supermarkets dating from the 1930s, which fed the obsession that later grew into Groceteria.

In college, Atlanta became a big road trip destination, both to see bands at the Fox and to visit queer bars like the original Weekends–bars that actually played good music rather than the dreary disco slop that dominated (and probably still dominates) the ones around here. It was fun to walk through Midtown in those days before it had been sanitized and lost any trace of texture and human scale. It was all very urban but also still comfortingly southern. In other words, you could still get collard greens, and Waffle House at 4AM was still an option. Here on Otherstream, there are also documented visits from 1997, 2001, and 2003.

My big fascination with American urban development centers on the period from the 1920s to the 1950s, a time which has alternately been described as urbanism’s pinnacle or its “last gasp.” For me, the fascination stems from the fact that it was such a period of transition for American cities as they moved from a pedestrian and transit orientation to an automobile-centered form. For a while, the two development models were able to survive side by side, if sometimes a bit warily. Eventually, urban renewal and white flight would destroy this coexistence in all but a few cities and neighborhoods, and the ones where it still exists are the ones I find most interesting. It’s possible to get a bit of this feel in certain parts of Atlanta and those are some of the parts I sought out on this trip (and that I seek out on most trips to most places).

In Atlanta, I always seem to gravitate toward the Ponce de Leon and Moreland Avenue corridors and all my detours somehow end up back here. They’re the parts of town that say “Atlanta” to me, particularly now that Midtown and Buckhead have been turned into generic “everything was built last week” pseudo-urban areas that could be (and are) found in any city from Houston to Charlotte. I had the obligatory vegetable plate at Mary Mac’s. And I always make a pilgrimage to Wax n’ Facts, a record store I’ve been visiting for almost thirty years now that’s also home to the DB Recs label and to whatever is currently inside the old A&P store that masqueraded as a Piggly Wiggly in Driving Miss Daisy.

I also like the slightly dowdy Cheshire Bridge road area and finally dined at the Colonnade this trip. Suffice to say, the atmosphere is much better than the food itself. I used to stay at the adjacent Cheshire Bridge Motor Inn pretty regularly but I’m no longer that brave.

Research for Groceteria really promotes this and forces me to really get to know a city. It’s how I became familiar with SF in many ways and it’s been a big help in other cities too, now including Atlanta. I spent about ten hours in the library at Emory doing research that led to this and this. Research took me to neighborhoods I’d never visited before in South and East Atlanta–neighborhoods that lots of people would find a bit frightening. And yes, I approach every city I visit as a research project to some extent. It can be exhausting. That’s why I have historically preferred to travel alone–or at least one of the reasons.

I toured some outlying areas too, in search of adventure and old supermarket carcasses. On one of these drives, I also managed to meet up with Joseph and BJ for dinner. Joseph and I have been reading each other’s sites for many years (although his is regrettably no longer active) and we’d met only once before, accidentally in the Atlanta airport between flights. It was nice to have a chance to talk, meet BJ, and eat quite good Indian food.

It was a good trip. There will be more of these and (I hope) better documentation, just like in the old days, now that I’m traveling solo again.

See photos from the Atlanta trip.

See more photos at Groceteria.

Randomly Friday Night

Two days in, I must say that I never knew how much I wanted an AppleTV until I got one. The streaming Netflix is quite amazing as is being able to access my whole iTunes library wirelessly. The coolest thing, though, is the way it integrates with the iPad. It’s cool enough using it as a remote (with a very useful real keyboard) but my favorite trick now is to start watching something on Netflix and then pick up exactly where I left off on the iPad later in bed or the bathroom.

I’ve not really been the “splurgy” sort in a long time (was I ever?) but these recent upgrades to my video universe–I call them my “divorce splurges”–have been quite satisfying. The AppleTV was my reward for some good news I’m not really supposed to talk about for a few more days, but it has something to do with this.

Other cool stuff:

  • Cool app. This is the kind of stuff we’re trying to get into at work these days.
  • Bullet point 2.
  • Bullet point 3.
  • Yeah, I’m tired and I’m going to bed now.

Morons, eh?

It amazes me that so much mayhem can ensue from something that’s so trivial in the overall scheme of things. Hear me out on this one, sports fans. This rant is not about you. It’s about a specific subset of idiots who apparently overdosed on beer and testosterone.

It’s no surprise to most readers that I don’t “get” sports. Never have. My dad gave me all the necessary training (since all boys are supposed to like sports, right?) and I was forced into junior high P.E. classes that pretty much put me right off physical activity for years to come, so I have a pretty good grasp of all the rules and the structures. I understand how most sports work. I just don’t care. That said, I recognize and understand that other people are just as baffled by my obsession with 1970s cop shows and dark, moody films from the 1940s and 1950s.

And that’s just it: I think of sporting events in pretty much the same way I think of movies and TV shows. They’re something you watch for a few hours to amuse yourself. It’s a form of entertainment, just like a play or a concert.  Maybe a sporting event is a little more interactive than some forms of entertainment (much like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I also never “got”) and maybe that causes people to be a little more passionate sometimes. But whatever a sporting event is, it’s certainly not something you get in fistfights or start burning things over. What the hell is wrong with these people? Where is their fucking perspective?

If I’m going to start a riot, it’s going to be about something a little more important than a movie or a hockey game.

Something to build on

My personal life really sort of sucks these days–and offers little in the way of exciting conversational topics. But from time to time, I have a day like today when I remember that I really fucking love my job.

And you know what? Maybe that’s enough for the moment. It’s a positive that I can build on. Anyhow, even if it’s not enough, it’s all I’ve got right now so i’d better learn to make the best of it, huh?

Otherstream.otherstream (with greens)

Biggest themes of the evening:

  • I don’t care if everyone else thinks it’s gross. I liked my collards and cheese omelette. Next time, though, I’ll add onions.
  • How the hell did I manage to burn my knee while cooking it?

More random thoughts for a Wednesday evening:

  • I think I’ll probably hang on to that $185,000 rather than spend it on my own TLD. I’ve owned my own domain name for almost fifteen years now, but I’m pretty comfy keeping my personality on the left side of the dot.
  • Best selling point for listening to your own iTunes library rather than the radio: When you hear the first notes of “Werewolves of London”, you can be sure you’ll hear it and not that stupid fucking Kid Rock song from a couple of years back.
  • Good post in general but he author makes one key mistake in assuming that Gannett publishes newspapers. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of reading one of theirs, you know that’s definitely not the case.