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The Return of the "A"
April 24, 2012 1:18 PM   Subscribe

"Atlanta went from a town to a city." ā€” Rico Wade

Creative Loafing writer Rodney Carmichael engages in some nostalgia for the "Real Atlanta" after watching the new documentary and music video for The Return from Tre Luce's debut album The Return of the "A". By way of rebuttal, Carmichael also points out a video filmed for Fink magazine by Maurice Garland in which Garland and controversial Atlanta rapper Killer Mike discuss, among other things, the danger of nostalgically presenting Atlanta's popular culture as Atlanta's historic culture. [Sound improves after 2:40]

Caution: Links NSFW
posted by ob1quixote (38 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Atlanta music scene people have indulged in nostalgia before!
posted by thelonius at 1:41 PM on April 24, 2012


Nostalgia ain't what it used to be...
posted by lalochezia at 1:48 PM on April 24, 2012


I grew up in Midtown. Atlanta has not been a town in my lifetime, nor in the 40 years my parents have lived here.
posted by strixus at 2:08 PM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fuck Atlanta.

Yours Resentfully,

Birmingham

(Actually, Birmingham completely deserved to get overtaken by Atlanta. We had our head up our asses while Atlanta was actually planning for the future. I go to Atlanta a couple of times of year and always have a good time. Go Falcons. Yay Braves.)

And I don't know much about the hippity-hoppity rapping musics, but I kinda like this Killer Mike fellow.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:15 PM on April 24, 2012


As a sometime medievalist, I'm pretty sure that Atlanta became a City on January 5, 1937, when Pope Pius XI issued a proclamation changing the Diocese of Savannah to the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta.

Cities being defined as Cathedral towns, of course.
posted by Mad_Carew at 2:32 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wait, my old hometown of Atlanta indulging in questionable nostalgia?

Well, I never.
posted by Kitteh at 2:46 PM on April 24, 2012


As an Atlanta native and someone who's of an age with some of the guys in the video, I guess I can kinda understand where this feeling comes from. Pre-Olympics Atlanta really was a different place and had a much less big city metropolitan feel. Of course that was because after plowing an interstate through the historic and thriving Black neighborhoods and then having large parts of the city get gutted by a couple decades of White Flight, Atlanta really was a small town in a sense. Still is in a way, only about 500K of the 4+ million in the Metro area actually live in the city.

Still though, I'm not sure why anyone would want to go back to those days. I mean, they referenced Bankhead with nostalgia? I'm not sure how anyone gets away eulogizing an area who's name is synonymous with murder, rape, and robbery. Yes, they changed the name of Bankhead Highway, they renamed it after Donald Holloway, civil rights lawyer who worked with Dr. King and integrated UGA.

I guess this is like the ATL-version of people who pine for a pre-Guiliani NYC. Yeah, neighborhoods have changed, businesses have closed, white people are back in a big way, and so is gentrification, but how is this bad? Crime rates have been cut in half (or more, in some neighborhoods), areas of the city that used to be nothing more than abandoned hulks have been revitalized, Downtown (which turned into a ghost town after 5pm as late as a few years ago) is now booming thanks to both city and GSU involvement. Atlanta may not have the same Dirty South party town rep it used to, but the grimy is still there, you just got to look harder to see it under all the awesome that's popped up around it.

The A (I live here, I am allow to call it that), has a definite problem with tearing down our history to put up office towers, but this video seems to be looking back at one of the worst eras of the city's history (save the whole early 20th century race riot problem and that unfortunate conflagration in the 1860s) through the thickest of rose colored glasses. Atlanta is the most vibrant it has been in decades, and these people seem to be pining over that fact that the Gold Club got shut down and Murder Kroger got a face lift.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:50 PM on April 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, anyone who uses the term "Hotlanta," I will hunt you down and drown you in vat of peaches and Varsity grease.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:52 PM on April 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yes, they changed the name of Bankhead Highway, they renamed it after Donald Holloway, civil rights lawyer who worked with Dr. King and integrated UGA.

They changed the name, but everyone still calls it Bankhead. Of course the Atlanta City Council has long had an obsession with changing the names of streets.
posted by dortmunder at 3:30 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Atlanta is the most vibrant it has been in decades, and these people seem to be pining over that fact that the Gold Club got shut down and Murder Kroger got a face lift.
Panjandrum absolutely nails it. Inner-city Atlanta is getting crazy real metropolitan cred, and yes it's a complex place with plusses and minuses but what Real City isn't? I moved to ATL in '06 and don't feel like I missed anything by living in Reynoldstown after the gang violence and crack problems of the '90s. ATL is a safer place than it's been in a long time, and business is thriving and there are honest-to-god bohemian quarters (Cabbagetown, anyone? EAV?). The west side is still genuinely rough in places, but there's a real effort to get MARTA expanded into functional public transit. Keep an eye on that city. Its growth has got staying power.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 3:33 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting videos, and I need to know more about Killer Mike.

I moved here in 2002 and people still referenced things as "before the Olympics" and "after the Olympics".

Living in ATL has been an education and the longer Iā€™m here the more I love it, the opposite of how I felt about L.A.
posted by bongo_x at 3:36 PM on April 24, 2012


the Atlanta City Council has long had an obsession with changing the names of streets.

Lain Shakespeare, former Exec. Director of the Wren's Nest, had some really intelligent things to say about the problem with renaming streets.

Thanks for the post! There's a lot to sort through, but one of the things that the first video brought to mind was the recent talk about how to revitalize the area downtown around the Five Points MARTA Station--where the Rich's used to be. All the stuff south and west of that area--basically from Forsyth until you get to Castleberry Hill--is shutting down and falling apart and it's been posited that maybe GSU putting student housing there could help save it.
posted by Maaik at 3:41 PM on April 24, 2012


I moved away in '94 - I wasn't sorry to miss the Olympics. I'm pleased to hear that downtown is doing so much better. I remember the last few years I was there, the city tried with great fanfare to revive Underground Atlanta, and ended up creating a sort of dismal Bourbon Street ride at Disneyland.

Murder Kroger
In a more innocent time, we had the Disco Kroger....
posted by thelonius at 3:42 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


We still have Disco Kroger! I grew up within distance of Disco, Murder, Ghetto, Kosher, and Krogay Krogers. And I still call them that! Despite the fact I now live within a short drive of TWO MORE Kosher Krogers, that were born out of the old Kosher Kroger.
posted by strixus at 4:03 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, Ghetto Kroger. How I have traversed your aisles, purchasing alcohol I didn't really need to drink (already being drunk at the time). I still have my Kroger card too!
posted by Kitteh at 4:13 PM on April 24, 2012


Wait, I always called the Murder Kroger the Ghetto Kroger. I mean, six of one, half a dozen of the other, I suppose...
posted by Kitteh at 4:14 PM on April 24, 2012


Lived there from the late 90s through the early oughts. I was a teenager and impressionable, and to this day I don't know how much of what I believed was the "rough" Atlanta was veiled racism on the part of longer-established folks. (My parents were told by some well-meaning neighbors when we moved in to NEVER, EVER go to Piedmont Park. Still don't know what that was about.) It's a fascinating town and I wish it well, though as of the mid-2000s Atlanta still seemed intent on swallowing itself with soulless exurbs.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:19 PM on April 24, 2012


There's the one in Brookhaven I call Yuppie Kroger. Silly Kroger thinks it's a Publix.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 4:21 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


the Atlanta City Council has long had an obsession with changing the names of streets.

Judging from the last time I drove through Atlanta, they have renamed them all "Peachtree".
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:30 PM on April 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Common mistake, Kitteh. But Murder Kroger had a long and fun urban legend behind how it got its name. Ghetto Kroger... is just what it says on the tin.
posted by strixus at 4:32 PM on April 24, 2012


Regarding Atlanta's obsession with switching over street names seemingly at random: My personal favorite has always been the stretch just South of L5P as Austin Ave, then turns into Lake, then into Irwin, all within the space of less than a mile. Naturally, of course, Irwin turns into JW Dobbs less than a mile later. At least the current flurry of re-naming is simply misguided attempts to honor people and curry political favor, instead of code wording the city on racial ground.

Which brings me to dixiecup's comment:

to this day I don't know how much of what I believed was the "rough" Atlanta was veiled racism on the part of longer-established folks.

I still have friends and strangers who still warn me off about one part of the city or another, even if they only heresay to go on. Very few of them actually live actually live in the city and I would say that race is a significant factor in both their ignorance and concern (though ATL has it's share of Black suburbanites). The thing is though, in the past decade plus, I have literally seen knots of abandoned lots that even I thought sketchy turned in viable neighborhoods. The soulless exurbs have just never taken the time to appreciate that.
posted by Panjandrum at 4:38 PM on April 24, 2012


Warning you about Piedmont Park though? In the late 90s/early 00s? That's not even racist, that's just paranoid. They were probably just afraid you'd be snatched up by the Gay Mafia and forced to drinks Cosmos at Blake's.
posted by Panjandrum at 4:41 PM on April 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I got married in Piedmont Park. There was a Furry convention in town. The two didn't happen simultaneously.

Shame.
posted by Kitteh at 4:47 PM on April 24, 2012


Warning you about Piedmont Park though? In the late 90s/early 00s? That's not even racist, that's just paranoid. They were probably just afraid you'd be snatched up by the Gay Mafia and forced to drinks Cosmos at Blake's.

Yeah, luckily I found that out for myself. I used to really enjoy exploring the city, which my parents never did (we were living in North Fulton, they worked outside the perimeter, no real incentive). Toward the end of high school I spent a lot of time hopelessly posturing, smoking cigarettes at the Majestic diner on Ponce, doing whatever in Little Five Points, etc. etc., but outside of a few pockets in that Midtown-east-to-Decatur belt, I am kind of ashamed to admit how little I ever got to know of Atlanta.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:38 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was in Murder Kroger today. Good pizza place next door....
posted by pearlybob at 6:35 PM on April 24, 2012


I was just back in the suburbs this weekend to visit mom. First trip back in about 5 years, I moved North to VA in 98. I've been feeling a little homesick for Atlanta since we left on Monday morning. This post didn't help.
posted by COD at 6:45 PM on April 24, 2012


Oh let's do it -- Atlanta Meetup getting scheduled right now! By the way, it's close to the airport for any outatowners who might want to come!.
posted by zpousman at 7:12 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, my. Total nostalgia reading these comments and watching the videos.

Moved to Atlanta in 1988, went to GSU, worked there for a while, moved away in '97. I remember standing right under the Peach at Underground Atlanta (happened to be walking past to go to school, and stopped for the announcement) and hearing Juan Antonio Samaranch announcing the Olympics, everyone there going crazy. It was very odd. I'm completely missing "my" Atlanta right now. L5P, hanging out in Piedmont Park, team trivia at Manuel's Tavern, best pasta ever at Eats. I loved leaving school late, walking through a completely empty downtown and feeling like I was the only person alive after the apocalypse.

Haven't been back since 2001, maybe it's time to go back to see how it's changed.
posted by gemmy at 7:57 PM on April 24, 2012


I'll miss Atlanta. I moved in in 2005 and out in 2010 and even though I was on the tail end of the gigantic development spree that was the post-olympics decade, I still saw a ton of changes and things to be nostalgic about.

It's not the best city, but I have to give it credit for self-improvement.
posted by azazello at 9:41 PM on April 24, 2012


I've been living around Decatur and Scottdale (Beef It Up!) for about six years now and my job's had me all over the city. One thing that I feel is pretty indisputable is that Atlanta has a crazy vibrant art scene, which is a pretty telling barometer of a city's cultural health. From dance troupes to all manner of street artists to theater to literary events and reading series, filmmakers and holy crap, so. Many. Bands. For all its many faults, it's not terribly hard for me to love this city.
posted by Maaik at 10:15 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]



How strange to come to a MeFi thread mentioning Atlanta without someone in the first 5 commends painting all of us as backward, racist and culturally illiterate.

The intown arts, music and food scene, the culture in general, that has evolved here in the last 2 decades has every bit validated my numerous decisions over the years not to move away (I'm a native of Atlanta). I now live in Decatur, and I can officially no longer keep up with the festivals I'd like to attend, the new music venues to see, the bars and restaurants I want to try, just in the 5 mile radius of home.

We have our issues (which are mostly no different than any other town our size), but intown Atlanta is a great place to live. The suburbs...not so much.

Oh...and what @Panjandrum said.
posted by kjs3 at 8:30 AM on April 25, 2012


Decatur has changed so much. When I was a kid, they really rolled up the sidewalks at 6 PM.
posted by thelonius at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2012


Murder Kroger = Ponce
Disco Kroger = Buckhead
Krogay = Ansley Mall
Hipster Kroger = Edgewood
Ghetto Kroger = South Moreland
Kosher Kroger = North Druid Hills
Baby Kroger =Commerce Drive (because one day it might grow up and be a real Kroger)
Rainbow Kroger =Decatur
posted by Violet Hour at 5:32 PM on April 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Kosher Kroger = North Druid Hills

or alternately, "Hanukkroger"

*ducks*

And wait, which one's the Rainbow Kroger? The one on Dekalb Industrial?
posted by Maaik at 4:19 AM on April 26, 2012


Using Violet Hour's list, you can probably accurately pinpoint exactly where in Midtown I grew up.

Do other cities do this? I've always wondered.
Also, Kosher Kroger Mk2 is in Dunwoody, Kosher Kroger Deluxe is in Sandy Springs.
posted by strixus at 8:40 AM on April 26, 2012


So I guess that would make the Kroger we visited frequently in Woodstock the Gun Rack Kroger?

Sadly, it was gone when we were back last weekend. The Publix across the street apparently won the grocery store battle of Sandy Plains.
posted by COD at 9:22 AM on April 26, 2012


Yeah, I thought the Kroger in Toco Hills would be the Kosher one. There is a large Orthodox neighborhood near there, I used to see the people walking to services every Friday
posted by thelonius at 11:36 AM on April 26, 2012


#wheninatl [NSFW] has been brought to my attention today. Especially When Your Out-of-Town Friends Want to Go to The Varsity for Dinner.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:51 PM on April 26, 2012


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