Tag Archives: Atlanta

22

30 Oct

I’ve been thinking. When you visit a city, you can either see all the touristy things, which will all be crowded and busy, though it is nice to see in person the places you’ve seen on TV and read about in books.

That’s not the way I want to travel, though. I want to meet the locals, talk to them, and see what they consider the best parts of their city. I want to hear and see and experience what they love about where they live.

So, as a result, I’ve comprised a list of five things every Atlantan or Atlanta visitor should do.

1. See The Nutcracker at the Fox Theatre
When I was small, Christmas wasn’t really Christmas until my mom and I dressed up, drove all the way down Peachtree Street, and saw the Atlanta Ballet dance The Nutcracker at The Fox Theatre. We slacked off for a few years when I got older, for one reason or another, but recently, we’ve started the tradition again full force. We dress up. We go to dinner somewhere in midtown or Buckhead. And then we start down the road, Christmas music playing, the sun slowly setting over my city and the Christmas lights making Peachtree Street positively glow. That in itself is perfection, but then we get to the Fox and the marquee lights are reflecting off passing cars and the air is cold and I’m wearing heels and a nice coat…the theatre is crowded with happy patrons, and everyone is dressed in their holiday best. The smells grab you from one side – popcorn, coffee spiced nuts – and old theatre from the other – dance shoes, wooden floors, carpets, hopes, dreams. We buy tickets so that we’re close enough to see the dancers’ faces, hear their pointe shoes as they hit the stage. And when the lights go down and the first notes start, it’s more magic; when the foamy snow starts to fall from the ceiling and the Atlanta Boys Choir breaks into song, it’s finally Christmas.

2. Piedmont Park
Originally farmland and then prime location for expositions, this 189-acre jewel is certain to provide everyone with something to do. From the dog park, swimming pool and playground to the track, two lakes and tennis courts, Piedmont Park should be and is the destination for anyone in their right mind, especially on warm spring or cool fall days. You can satiate your hunger, either by patronizing the Park Tavern or grabbing a burrito at Willys. You can attend festivals, like the Dogwood Festival every spring, or the Jazz Festival in the summer, or attend a movie with hundreds of your neighbors at Screen on the Green. You can hang out on the lawn and welcome runners of the Peachtree Road Race, which ends its annual 10k race on the great lawn. You can dance at concerts, as many did this year when the Eagles came to play the Green Concert. Or, if you’re quieter, like me, you can take a blanket and lie in the grass, or swing life away on one of the swings that are situated beside the lakes. Piedmont Park is one of my favorite places in Atlanta, and a place that everyone should visit at least once, if not more.

3. Dinner at Mary Mac’s
After you have your fill of nature at Piedmont Park, venture down the road a little to Mary Mac’s Tea Room, an Atlanta landmark since 1945. If you’ve never had southern cooking (though I don’t know people like that) then this is the place to come, with a menu full of fried chicken, vegetables, cornbread, and banana pudding. This food tastes like something your old southern grandmother would make, bringing to mind the Progresso soup commercials where imbibers of the soup call the factory, demanding to speak to their grandma; you would swear mee-maw is in the kitchen, whipping up those mashed potatoes in her old Pyrex mixing bowl. Don’t expect to stick to your diet-they’re known for their sweet tea, and if you don’t get a dessert you’re missing out on one of life’s joys. You’ll leave full, of both food and southern hospitality, as each server is kind and polite, much as any good southern momma teach their children to be. This is Atlanta. Welcome to the South.

4. Spend a holiday at Lenox Square
I lived in Atlanta for 18 years before I ever went to Lenox Square, 22 before I ever saw the great tree on top of Macy’s, and 23 before I witnessed the largest fireworks display in the South. Lenox Square was the first major shopping mall in Georgia, and one of the most upscale. You can celebrity watch while you shop like a celebrity; with stores like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, 7 for All Mankind, and several others, if you have some money to spend and want to feel like somebody, shop here. If you’re not into shopping, however, there are other events that might strike your fancy. Every 4th of July the sky explodes in the largest fireworks display in the Southeast. Every Thanksgiving night, at 7pm sharp, choirs and local musicians welcome the Christmas season by lighting Macy’s Great Tree, a giant Georgia Christmas tree that sits on top of Macy’s. These are Atlanta traditions, and it wouldn’t feel like home without them. Swing by Lenox Square for a weekend, buy some Jimmy Choo shoes or sit atone of the many restaurants and just watch the people. You’ll start, very soon, to feel like a real Atlantan.

5. Murder Kroger
“Down on Ponce where the call girls roam
Where homeless trannies won’t leave you alone
Just a block or so past the Clermont Lounge
Sits the deadliest grocery store in town.
It’s a good place to go if you wanna buy crack
But if you go there for groceries you may never come back

It’s murder, Murder Kroger
It’s murder, Murder Kroger
It’s a grocery store with a deadly twist
You’ll get shot in the head for your shopping list
Murder Kroger!”

It goes on from there. No, this isn’t just a clever song – Murder Kroger is real, and living down on Ponce beside the Ford Factory Lofts. There is a Facebook group dedicated to this scary/interesting/unique establishment, and dozens of stories adorn the group wall, all about strange occurrences which took place there. The term Murder Kroger stemmed from a decomposing body found in the parking lot in the late 90’s; the fear and reputation probably originated because that area of Ponce was pretty rough before the gentrification that started in 1996. Any number of odd things can happen when one visits, and it always makes for a good story, especially when one visits the store when drunk. Murder Kroger is open 24 hours a day, which means if your plane is delayed for a few hours or you have a layover, you can take a cab up and wander around, even at 3am. But remember:
“When you leave your car don’t forget your mace
Unless you wanna be stabbed in the face
By an angry bum with a switchblade knife
I hope those hot pockets were worth your life!”

Welcome to Atlanta!

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18

30 Sep

I’m blogging early this week; probably because I can’t wait any longer to wax sentimental about the quickly changing season here in my city of Atlanta.

This time of year makes me feel alive. The temperature has been hovering around the 90 degree mark for the past three and a half months, at least. It’s hard here in the summer. You start to feel like you’ll never cool off, you’ll never be able to step outside without instantly feeling somewhat drenched.

Then I walked outside last night, to go home from work. The rain was still falling, though I could see light behind the trees in the distance. The temperature had cooled, I think into the 60’s, and for the first time all summer, I was able to stand and take a breath and feel complete; I had no desire to hurry to my car and crank the air conditioning, no. I wanted to stand there, arms open, welcoming in the season that had taken so long to arrive.

Today was even better. Sunny, 72, and Target had a bunch of Halloween things that I had to buy. This is my time of year. This is when I truly feel like myself.

The nights are getting colder…I step outside after work to a dropped temperature, a darkening sky with smears of red and pink, and a slight breeze. I drive home with the windows down, and when I get there, the smell of my next door neighbor’s wood burning fireplace greets me, and I take my time getting my things from the car just so I can breathe in that wintry smell just a little longer.

I wish the trees would catch up with the air. Alas, they’re still defiantly green, holding onto their color and refusing to grant me my favorite part of autumn. Ah, well. All in good time.

As an aside, Saturday marks the one year anniversary since my Pa-Pa had open heart surgery and received his pacemaker. He is doing wonderfully, completely back to normal, or back to better, if one can describe something as such. Those first fall days in 2009 were marked by hospital visits, late night intensive care meetings, and coffee runs for everyone. It was dark for a moment, but fall hasn’t let me down yet, and it’s as much a testimony to her glorious afternoons that he’s still here with us, having lunches with me and greeting me with hugs and smiles. No, Dr. Hyman, fall does not mean death and endings. It’s a chance for new life, for a fresh start, for new chapters, and for feeling alive.

(My pa-pa and my small one I nanny)