Recently the Los Angeles Lakers came to town to play the Hawks. Philips Arena was filled -- with Lakers fans. They chanted "MVP" -- on behalf of Laker Kobe Bryant. They booed -- when a Hawks player made a free throw.
We're told this is due to the transient nature of our populace. Everyone's from somewhere else. Perhaps, but I guarantee there weren't 15,000 Southern California transplants in Philips Arena that night.
And no way are there 30,000 native New Englanders filling Turner Field whenever the Red Sox come to town. Most of them are, in fact, front-running trendoids (Red Sox fans since 2004). I despise them. Unfortunately, Atlanta seems to have cornered the market on their kind.
Now if you were, say, a Tampa Bay Rays fan, you could make the same argument, but that franchise is just a decade old. The Braves have been here since 1966. Same with the Falcons. The Hawks relocated from St. Louis two years later.
They might as well be expansion teams, considering the lackluster fan support. Yes, the Falcons and Hawks have mostly sucked. The Braves have not, but too many of the city's fickle fans consider them disappointments. They expect World Series victories every season. They don't know much about baseball.
Neither do the flaks who run the local baseball concern. In a city that doesn't know it's history, the Braves do little to promote theirs. Fans in St. Louis are treated to Stan Musial playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on Opening Day; here, we get the VP of marketing from Kroger tossing out the first pitch. It's become sadly fitting that an out-of-town corporation owns the franchise.
It wasn't always so. In 1991, when the Braves went from worst to first, the city was electric. Everyone followed the Braves. We were, for one magical summer, just like Boston, minus insufferable Bostonians.
The 1994 baseball strike did much to curb that enthusiasm, but Atlantans as a whole have become increasingly addicted to instant gratification. If we can't find it here, we'll look elsewhere.
Hard to think of many cities as preoccupied with the "cool kids."
(first in a series of diatribes from an ATL native)
THE CITY TOO BUSY TO BE INTERESTING
It would be an overstatement to label the Buckhead Library a historic landmark, considering it was built in 1989. Of course, in Atlanta years, that's damn near medieval. Regardless, the "deconstructivist" facility is an architectural standout, a funky island in a sea of sameness.
"It's one of the most important buildings of the last quarter-century" in Atlanta, said Robert Craig, an architecture professor at Georgia Tech. "It's one of the handful in the city known well beyond the city itself."
Yet the library is a likely casualty of the ongoing movement to transform Buckhead into Alpharetta. Seems you can't have enough mixed-use developments.
Developer Ben Carter, the builder of the $1.5 billion Streets of Buckhead project, is offering Fulton County $24 million for the 2-acre site. He proposes demolishing the building, which sits in the middle of his eight-block redevelopment, and relocating the library to a future mixed-use building with condominiums and retail.
Might as well change the city's name to Mixed-Use Development. (The same fate awaits the first solo effort of I.M. Pei.)
Atlanta's disdain for the original is nothing new -- back in the 1970s, The Fox Theatre was nearly torn down to make room for a BellSouth office building.
We're still waiting for the new Atlanta Symphony Center, an ambitious structure -- designed by Santiago Calatrava -- that's languished on a sketch pad since it was introduced three years ago. Fund-raising efforts have fallen well short, and the city has done little to promote the project, choosing instead to waste $27 million on a since-discarded theme song and slogan.
In retrospect, the Calatrava building was probably too good to be true. AJC critic Catherine Fox (no link; from the archives) reviews a turgid history:
Atlanta is not without memorable buildings. The 1929 Fox Theatre still delights as a Moorish fantasy. John Portman's 1967 Hyatt Regency Hotel, the first of a national trend, attracted crowds with its atrium and revolving restaurant. Richard Meier's design for the High Museum of Art catapulted both the client and the rising-star architect to prominence in 1983.
None, however, became the city icon, and the past 20 years have produced little but missed opportunities. The 1996 Olympics came and went without leaving a souvenir of architectural consequence. The 17th Street Bridge got DOTed.
Atlanta's reputation is taking a well-deserved hit, as architect David M. Hamilton noted in his defense of the Buckhead Library:
In the relentless pursuit of reputation, wealth and growth, some important things have been overlooked. The city's increasingly large but still struggling arts community fights against the perception (and too often the reality) that Atlanta is not an arts-friendly town. It is because of that, I believe, that the reported destruction of the Buckhead Library seemed to strike such a deep chord with so many artists and architects in the city.
The very notion that a developer seemingly committed to public art would advocate for the demolition of what is arguably one of the most significant pieces of art and architecture in Atlanta seemed to confirm their worst fears about the direction of the city.
Here's an idea for a slogan:
ATLANTA Just slightly more interesting than Orlando
Andisheh's article about a Midtown resident's crusade against prostitues (most of whom happen to be transgendered) and their johns has some people upset with the messenger:
"Andisheh Nouraee just lost about 5 tons of street cred for this biased bootlicking of suburban homophobia," wrote reader Rick Day.
I'm glad somone finally exposed Andisheh as the bootlicking homophobe he is. For years friends have called him "Andy from Alpharetta" behind his back.
People should also know those jokes he claims as his own are merely recycled from Jeff Foxworthy's act. Oh, he'll change a word here and there -- he's clever that way -- but make no mistake: He's stealing from Foxworthy. Just give credit where it's due, Andy. Maybe then you can start rebuilding your credibility, street and otherwise.
Well this is going to confuse all those visitors who came to Atlanta because they heard "every day is an opening day." Brand Atlanta -- the city's image maker -- is dropping its slogan, replacing it with a "theme" that sounds suspiciously like a slogan.
(W)hen the campaign rolls out its newest spots aimed at young professionals ages 25-44 this January and February, the organization will use "City Lights, Southern Nights" because the emphasis will be on what makes the city appealing to this group: Atlanta's reputation as a youthful and energetic city, with great restaurants, shopping and nightlife, Ennis-Roughton said. (emphasis added)
"It's New York with southern manners and charm," she said.
And minus a vibrant downtown, a diverse theater scene, Chinatown, Little Italy ...
How about something more, um, truthful: "It's New York without the mob, obnoxious Yankees fans and crassly commercial Broadway musicals adapted from popular movies."