Sunday, November 17, 2013

Atlanta Holiday Highlights

The holiday season is here and Atlanta's diverse creative community is ready to celebrate with an impressive variety of performances! With so much to choose from there really is something for everyone. Feeling traditional? Go see the Christmas Carol at the Alliance Theater or the Nutcracker Ballet at the Fox. Looking to validate your holiday cynicism? Head to Little Five Points for Santaland Diaries and the John Waters Christmas (one night only, one man show). Prefer a little nostalgia during the holidays? Make plans to be at the Plaza theatre for a screening of It's a Wonderful Life. Comedy? Dad's Garage offers a fun twist on the Christmas Carol. Scary? Krampus Crawl cannot be missed. Excuse to dance the night away? Annual Merry Y'all Tide with Blair Crimmons and the Holiday Hootenanny at Terminal West. ( I don't think I can twist O's arm to join me for all of these so if someone wants to join me for a girls' night out just say the word!)

11/21-11/24 Urban Nutcracker at the Ferst Center. "Urban Nutcracker" takes place on Atlanta’s own Sweet Auburn Avenue in the 1940s. "Urban Nutcracker" is to "The Nutcracker" as what "The Wiz" is to "The Wizard of Oz." 

11/22-12/31 Santaland Diaries at Horizon Theater. The annual performance of beloved NPR satirist, David Sedaris's tale of working as an elf in Macy's Santaland. 

11/25-12/23 Invasion: Christmas Carol at Dad's Garage.  Every evening the audience will choose a new "invader" (who a is complete surprise to the cast and can be anything from a big purple monster to Paula Deen) to infiltrate the world of Scrooge. It's up to the cast to keep the story on track, but because this year will be bursting with even more improv flavor than last year, things are guaranteed to get even nuttier than a Cornish game hen!

11/29-12/29 Christmas Carol at the Alliance Theater.

12/5-12/29 Nutcracker Ballet at the Fabulous Fox Theater

12/6 It's a Wonderful Life at the Plaza 

12/7 Krampus Crawl in Little Five Points.  Krampus is the rarely mentioned counterpart to Santa. While Santa is bringing treats to good boys and girls, Krampus is punishing the bad ones. The horned beastly creature is pretty scary and the costumes that accompany his pub crawl are well done. This event is not for the young or conservative! 

12/7 5th Annual Merry Y'all Tide with Whiskey Gentry and Blair Crimmons & the Hookers.  (Same night as Krampus Crawl - really interested in seeing how these two subcultures interact on the streets of L5P!)

12/12 John Waters Christmas at Variety Playhouse.  An unforgettable one man show! John Waters pokes fun at the holiday season with adult-appropriate humor, effectively “putting the X in Xmas”.

12/14 Gremlins at the Center for Puppetry Arts. (Asking yourself how Gremlins relates to Christmas? Gizmo was a Christmas gift! Aw, poor little mogwi.)

12/21 Kingsized Christmas with the Big Mike Gier and the Dames Aflame. The all-ages 90-minute show features Holiday favorites by the likes of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Heat Miser, The Grinch and more!

12/22 3rd Annual Atlanta Holiday Hootenanny at Terminal West. Featuring:  Randall Bramblett, John Cowan, Col. Bruce Hampton, The Mosier Brothers, Grant Green Jr., Caroline Aiken, Count M'Butu, Donna Hopkins, Jeff Sipe Trio, Yonrico Scott, Mark Van Allen, Bobby Miller, Jeff Autry, Diane Durrett, Gaurav Malhotra, Leah Calvert, Ralph Roddenbery. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A short history of baseball and mass transit in Atlanta

The recent announcement that Atlanta's Braves plan to leave the city center in favor of a new suburban stadium has caught the entire nation by surprise. While I am not in favor of the move, the decision reminds me of the various roles transit has played in Atlanta baseball. In my mind, the two have always been intertwined: Atlanta's earliest organized baseball team, the Cracker's, played in a stadium accessible by streetcar. Ivan Allen chose the location for Atlanta Fulton County's Stadium based on it's proximity to "the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways". (Turner Field was built beside the original Braves stadium - but I don't know enough about the Olympic plans to say if consideration had been given to building elsewhere.) 

With all of that in mind, a brief (unofficial) history of baseball and mass transit in Atlanta:

• 1866 - Georgia’s General Assembly charters the Atlanta Street Railway Company.
• September 8, 1871 - The first horse drawn trolley line begins operation. Tracks extend from the city’s center to Peters Street near the present location of Spellman College. The “West End” line goes along Mitchell and Forsyth to the Fort McPherson Barracks.

• January 1872 - Service added from Marietta Street (downtown) running northwest to North Avenue
• May 1872 - Service added from Decatur Street (downtown) running east to the north entrance of Oakland Cemetery (no longer an entrance)
• August 1872 - Service added from downtown running north along Peachtree Street to Pine Street.
• 1874 - Peachtree line is extended further north to the present intersection of Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Ave. "Since the Ponce de Leon Avenue did not exist at the time, the rail line traveled east on a private right-of-way to Ponce de Leon Springs, a popular seasonal recreation spot in the lands beyond the city" [1].
• February 11, 1885 - the south's first organized, professional baseball league is formed by Henry W. Grady. At the end of the 100 game season Atlanta narrowly defeats Augusta to win the first Southern League pennant [2].
• 1899 - Southern League officially disbands but is credited with making baseball popular in the south.
• 1901 - Southern Association is formed. Atlanta's team is the "Firemen"[3].
• 1903 - Atlanta's baseball team changes it's name to the "Crackers". The Crackers become one of professional baseball's most successful franchises, winning more titles than any other team except the Yankees [4]. They play at various parks around Atlanta. 
• May 23, 1907 - Ponce de Leon Ball Park opens; the Crackers finally have a home field. The wooden stadium is built in the amusement park at the end of the streetcar line. 
•  September 9, 1923 - The stadium burns down. Uniforms, trophies and records are lost. 
• 1924 - A new steel and concrete stadium is built by RJ Spiller, a wealthy concessionaire. "The new park debuted in time for the 1924 season, and was widely hailed as the finest minor league stadium in the nation." [5] The outfield is noted for having a pair of magnolia trees in center field; as of 2013 these trees are still standing along the access road behind Whole Foods. 
• 1940's - the proposal to build an interstate cutting through downtown Atlanta begins
• 1954 - Atlanta Cracker, Montag hits the longest home run in baseball history. "It landed in a coal car passing on the railroad tracks beyond the right field fence at the Ponce de Leon park. A few days later, after the train had gone to Nashville, Tennessee, and back, the conductor asked Montag to autograph the ball, which by that time had traveled more than 500 miles." [6]
• 1958 - Interstate development maps outline a path alongside current-day Turner Field.
• 1961 - As part of his campaign for mayor, Ivan Allen Jr promises to build a sports facility that will attract a Major League Baseball team. After winning office, Allen chose a 47-acre plot in the Washington-Rawson neighborhood for the building site, citing its proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways [7].
• April 15, 1964 - Groundbreaking ceremony for the future Atlanta Fulton County Stadium
• 1965 - MARTA is formed by the Georgia Legislature
• 1965 - Atlanta Crackers play their final season in the new Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.
• April 9, 1965 Milwaukee Braves play an exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers in the new stadium.
• 1966 - Both the Atlanta Falcons football team and the newly minted Atlanta Braves baseball team move into Fulton County Stadium. Both teams share this facility for the next 26 years. (In 1992 the Falcons move to the Georgia Dome).
• 1968 - Construction for MARTA fails city of Atlanta, Fulton County and DeKalb County referendum.
• 1969 - Construction on 285 begins.
• 1971 - Voters pass MARTA construction referendum 
• April 8, 1974 - Hank Aaron became baseball's all-time career home run leader by hitting his 715th home run
• 1975 - Marta ground breaking
• March 29, 1997 - First Braves game in the new Turner Field (formerly the Olympic Stadium)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

38th Annual Grant Park MothBall

MothBall was almost a month ago and I'm still struggling for words to describe the experience. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about: MothBall is Grant Park's annual costume ball. The theme changes year to year; the 2013 theme was Hootenanny. How this all relates to me/And Topher Too? I was this year's Grant Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA) MothBall Committee Chair; as such I led a team of 10 Grant Park volunteers for three months. Together we brainstormed and built the entire party from the ground up. A task that sounded simple enough in the beginning but turned out to be extremely challenging. (You wouldn't believe the number of unpredictable complications that never stopped being hurtled in our direction. Even three hours before show time we were still confronting unexpected challenges).  

Fortunately, karma bestowed upon me a team of genuinely talented, hard working and supportive volunteers* that made the process fun, friendly and unforgettable. My sincerest thanks go out not only to the 2013 MothBall Core Committee but also to every single neighbor who showed their support. Three weeks after the event and we're still hearing rave reviews. If a picture is worth a thousand words then check out the photos below to see the looks of pure joy on everyones' faces.

(*Paul & Christy Simo, Jeff Rodgers, Lauren Rocereta & Rob Bernier - y'all are amazing. Thank you for your patience, brilliance and encouragement! You're the best neighbors ever.)


MothBall Core Committee marching in the EAV Strut Parade

And Topher Too - Proud 2013 MothBall sponsor


Monday, November 4, 2013

Spinach Salad with Soft Boiled Eggs

Still happily laying low. Tonight's dinner needed to be cheap, fast and healthy (read: first of the month so money is tight and I wanted to go to the gym not go grocery shopping). For nights like this spinach with 4-minute, soft boiled eggs and homemade dressing have become my go-to meal. Mix in a little bacon and even O is happy. 

We ate our dinner while catching up on The Walking Dead. Did anyone else notice the unusually perfect post-apocalyptic vegetable garden? We ignore our tomatoes for two weeks in August and they're falling all over themselves. These TV tomatoes are not only perfectly pruned but there isn't a single sign of worms or rot! It seems zombies must know a thing or two about gardening.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fall Back Steak Chili

Life is getting back to normal. MothBall has finally been wrapped up and there is nothing I'm expected  to do or plan until work tomorrow. I'm very happy to finally being relaxing and enjoying this gorgeous fall weather!  

I'll share more about the MothBall soon!