Saturday, February 18, 2012

Your mother should know

Who Is Paul McCartney?!

Apparently Twitter had a surge of live-tweeters during the Grammy awards who had no idea who this "legend" was supposed to be. I guess they didn't stick around for the end of the show.

I'm trying to imagine how my generation would have reacted in 1972 (that's the year that Carole King, Tapestry and "You've Got a Friend" owned the show) if the Grammys had trotted out Frederick Loewe, Richard Rodgers or Meredith Willson for some kind of recognition, all of whom would have been approximately the same age McCartney is now. I can't honestly claim we would have acted any differently. Possibly we would have welcomed Willson, whose "Music Man" was still recent enough to be on people's minds.

P.S.: Okay, I'm sentimental. She made me cry.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

There goes the neighborhood -- slowly

The southside Moreland Avenue corridor -- from I-20 at East Atlanta Village south through Ormewood Park to Thomasville Heights and the Starlight Drive-In -- has been in a steady decline for years. Occasionally, some new development will spring up, almost as a surprise, like the new Kroger and Burger King, or "Moreland Station" at Custer Avenue where the old Kroger was (CVS, Sonic, Aldi, O'Reilly), but generally I've just become accustomed to watching things get older and fall in on themselves.

For instance, after many years of neglect and nominal attempts to attract attention to it, that 1965-futuristic C&S Bank reached the point of no return and was demolished in August. Simple renovation wouldn't have been enough: it would have been impossible to modify the split-level facility to conform to modern handicapped-access standards. And the squatter crack-dealers really needed to be relocated.

Then there were the dueling car-washes. Okay, they really weren't dueling: They weren't both open at the same time. I'm thinking of the corner of Moreland and Confederate, where on the Dekalb County side of the street, a defunct car wash proudly bore a sign proclaiming that it would soon be the home of a new restaurant-and-mixed-use development. Meanwhile, on the Fulton County side, a closed restaurant proclaimed that a spiffy new car wash was coming soon. The idea of a restaurant and car wash going to so much trouble just to swap sides of the street tickled me.

Well, imagine my surprise when the new car wash opened. It's still there, and doing a thriving business. But the old car wash structure still stands and has shown no sign of activity in years (not since the removal of the unnamed restaurant's overly-optimistic opening date). Perhaps, being tied to residential construction, it is a victim of the housing bust.

But then there's the QuikTrip that ain't. Just up the street at Ormewood, There stands an increasingly dilapidated-looking Jiffy Grocery, the owner of which has been trying to make a deal with QT to build a spanking-new combination convenience store and gas station on the site. After months of finagling, tract-redividing and refiling, the project ultimately fell through because city regulations require a 100-foot buffer between private homes and a gas station, and it couldn't be done on that lot. We don't oppose progress, you understand, we just don't want it here.

And now Papa John's is facing the same kind of fight. They want to build between that derelict car wash I was talking about (the one where that new unnamed restaurant was supposed to go) and a Family Dollar. There are indications that the market can bear it: the Pizza Hut next door to the Kroger is always crowded, because they have neither seating nor delivery. You want pizza in Ormewood, you have to go get it. And we do.

But there are ten trees on the lot that would have to come down to make room, and the residents aren't having it. We don't oppose progress, you understand, we just don't want it here. And Papa John's isn't interested in an alternate plan.

This is why we can't have nice things. I love trees, but I hate empty buildings more than I love trees, and the area could really do with one less empty building.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy the Mall!

Occupy Atlanta event fizzles in Buckhead |
About a dozen protesters put tape across their mouths and tried to enter the [J W Marriott] hotel, intending to walk through the attached Lenox Square shopping mall to Phipps [Plaza, the upscale shopping center that was their planned rendezvous point]. But security guards stopped them and told them the demonstrators would not be allowed in the hotel, as it was private property.
One organizer told [WSB-TV reporter Richard] Elliot that the protesters had not realized the mall was private property.
It's not the "some participants apparently lost their way" that gets me. I've ridden MARTA, I know how easy that is. It's their utter surprise and unpreparedness at learning that Lenox Square is private property. What did they think it was?

And I wonder why they thought going through Lenox Square would get them to Phipps Plaza any quicker than the sidewalk on Lenox Road. The two malls are not connected.

They have no idea of the level of tolerance their Occupation is already receiving. And they've spent so much time talking to each other that they think everyone agrees with them and their methods. These are the people who are going to show the Evil Rich how economy should work?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Time Marches On

The building in which I attended high school is now a middle school. The building with my school's name on it didn't exist at the time.

The grocery store in which I first worked is now a coffee shop. (Yes, it was that small.) The laundromat and variety store in which I worked are now furniture stores. The catalog retailer in which I worked is now a self-store warehouse.

None of the bookstores in which I have worked still exist.

None of the movie theaters in which I have worked still exist. Neither do the companies that owned them. In only one case is the building still standing - vacant.

None of the data centers in which I have worked still exist.

Only one company for which I have ever worked has the same name, and is in the same line of work, as when I worked there. But the location in which I worked is gone.

My resume is a list of untraceable people, obsolete trademarks and abandoned real estate.

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's not all about peaches here, you know

Deal unveils new Georgia license plate | WLTZ 38
Georgia's new license plate is ... busy | Creative Loafing

At least it doesn't have a URL and QR code on it.

Although, now I think of it, a QR code would at least be functional. Passing police wouldn't have to actually type in your plate number to do a quick license check, they could just wave their smart phones at it.

But my objection was that all of the proposed tag designs were about peaches. It's enough to make me nostalgic for the days of simple, solid-color license plates.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another street name gone, another clothesline in place

Harris Street renamed in honor of John Portman | Creative Loafing

Actually, I'm not opposed to this one in principle. Although I would have thought that most of the tallest buildings on the skyline being his, that would be a big enough mark. But couldn't it have been simply Portman Street?

At least they didn't stick his middle name up there too.

I think it may be a plot to keep people out of the downtown area. You're out of breath before you've finished telling anyone where you are. Remember the downtown Steak and Ale? We used to tell people it was at the corner of Cain and Ivy, and now the building where it once operated is at the corner of Andrew Young International Boulevard and Peachtree Center Avenue! I have to think that was a factor.

See also Wren's Nest Blog and Stop Renaming Atlanta Streets.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another "Opt-Out" list

Now, those of you who have pets, you may find what I'm about to say heartless. You're invited to skip this post. is a web-based telephone solicitation service that... Well, here's what they say:

When a child is missing, an Amber Alert is issued and the surrounding area, even the nation, goes to work to locate the child and return them safely home to their loved ones. is based on the very same principle to help spread the word rapidly about your lost dog, lost cat, or any type of lost pet!
It's a new service -- well, I guess it's new. I'd never heard of it until I received a call from them a few minutes ago. The oldest alert listed on their site for Georgia is from February 2010, but if you're as cynical as I am, you might wonder if there's any reason to believe them.

If you weren't already cynical, know this: Caller ID doesn't say "Pet Amber Alert" or anything of the kind. It gives the pet owner's name and number. That is, PetAmberAlert deliberately misidentifies themselves. 

But wait: This shouldn't be a problem, should it? I mean, this is just the kind of thing the Do Not Call List was instituted to prevent.

FAQs | What if my neighbor’s phone is unregistered/unlisted? is a leading, recognized emergency response service that is exempt by the National Do Not Call Registry, so we may call your neighbors who are on the Do Not Call list. This gives us an even greater chance of recovering your lost pet.
Human emergency response organizations don't make random cold calls to locate missing people. You love your pet so much that you don't perceive the danger in redefining the word "emergency" to mean "a lost dog."

Well, OK, you love your pet so much, and the little darling is housetrained so he's helpless outdoors, so of course there's some urgency to locate him. And how can anyone doubt the honesty of an organization devoted to such a noble task? | Lost Pets Found Using Phone Technology
"They are an do not call exempt organization because they are not selling anything."
The hell they're not! It costs $87 to issue an alert! Unless you go for the $197 package which offers ten times the number of unsolicited calls to your friends and neighbors. And just because your pet isn't lost (yet?) is no reason not to send them money: You can "pre-register" your pet and order an "Advanced Pet ID Tag" (don't worry, "advanced" doesn't mean anything useful like RFID chip technology, it's just a custom tag with their logo on it), which comes with pre-paid Amber Alerts should the unthinkable happen. (Three tiers of pricing, up to $50!)

If you do a Google search for "block petamberalert," all you get are pages explaining why you can't. But if you do a Google search for "petamberalert do not call" you can find their page containing the form to request removing your number from their database.

That will hold me until the next call comes, from an "emergency pest control" service, or an "emergency cable TV upgrade" service, or an "emergency shoe sale notification" service...

I'm trying to be reasonable, really. But something about their smug "your neighbors can't block us because we're a registered emergency response service" really gets my goat. Hey, goats can be pets, right? Maybe I should report that my goat is missing.

LATER: I'll muster up as much fairness as I can manage and tell you that they found the dog they called me about. I feel obligated to point out that PetAmberAlert had nothing to do with it: The women who had the dog saw a friend of the dog's owner putting up a "missing" poster.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shrinking the "digital divide"

Low-income families get access to cheaper Internet |
Today at a morning press conference, Comcast executives along with Mayor Kasim Reed, Gov. Nathan Deal and other area leaders will announce the program, which will be offered to families of students who qualify for free school lunch.
Families who qualify will receive broadband Internet for $9.95 a month with no activation fee, no modem rental and a voucher to purchase a computer for $149.99.
Isn't this an implicit admission that you're overcharging the rest of us?
Atlanta Public Schools Chief Technology Officer Dave Williamson, said the district will be encouraging parents to take advantage of the offer.
"We believe it will be used in large part to support our educational mission by providing students with the means to stay engaged in the learning process beyond the regular class day,” he said.
...and porn.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

We did it once...

Pimp our highway, please | Opinion | Creative Loafing Atlanta

I'm astounded that at the same time we face the imminent catastrophic failure of a regional transit proposal, Central Atlanta Progress and the Midtown Alliance are talking about, not functional improvements, but redecorating the downtown connector.

One reader takes it the logical step further and suggests "Roof it over from 17th Street to the Grady curve. Make it a linear park." Why, that's absurd, it... wait.

We did it once. Underground Atlanta is only part of a much larger area one story below downtown Atlanta's current street level. Long-time residents still call the area "the viaduct". It stretches from GSU and the Capitol west to CNN Center and the World Congress Center. Railroads became such a large part of the city's economy that multiple overpasses were built for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. An architect named Haralson Bleckley had the outrageous idea to rebuild the iron bridges in concrete and connect them with a linear mall.


LATER: Okay, "catastrophic failure" may have been unnecessarily hyperbolic. "Failed to reach a consensus" seemed inadequate.

Fulton says "we didn't ignore Dekalb, see, here's Clifton Corridor", and DeKalb says "I-20 rail line or no deal", and Clayton says "Hello, remember us?" and Henry says "Please, forget us", and Fayette says "We don't even have interstates here, let alone rail transit, and glad of it!" I had such high hopes for a committee on which other areas (read "south of I-20") were represented.

I underestimated the intensity with which the doughnut hates the hole.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Straight Dope: Whatever happened to the "paperless office"?

Well, it's a complicated question, but the ultimate answer is, we're getting there.

The Straight Dope: Whatever happened to the "paperless office"?
A more persuasive explanation [for why the paperless office has failed to materialize], however, is that computers suck. Paper is cheap and adaptable, and, equally important, almost always works. If you’re an office drone scrambling to get a last-minute report out, one disaster you're not living in fear of is the Blue Sheet of Death. Computers, in contrast, make politicians look reliable. And let’s not forget premature high-tech obsolescence.
Having worked in the report-distribution end of the computer room, my own theory is that we just plain feel better if we have our customer data nearby in hard copy. In the old days, replacing a cabinet full of data tables was something you only did every other month or so. With handy, inexpensive computer printers that could print documents far faster than anyone could ever read them, even a small office could generate thousands of pages of new, customized reference data every day.