It’s 2012, so to find out what people are thinking, I don’t turn on the TV or open the daily newspaper. I log on to Twitter. I’m writing this on August 1, which is the day after metro Atlantans resoundingly turned TSPLOST into TSPLAT. Nice joke, but it’s not mine. Found it on Twitter. (Thanks, Andisheh Nouraee.) What else am I finding as I scroll through this remarkable invention? Someone named Sandy is commending Governor Nathan Deal for pledging to take a more active role in transportation planning. “A plan that works w/o my $$—Gold!” Sandy writes. Sandy, evidently, lives off the grid and rides a horse to work, sticking only to dirt paths. She also seems to think that whatever Governor Deal does, he’ll do it using something other than tax dollars. Well, I suppose prayer is free.
Here’s one from MisterAtlanta, who describes himself as the “hardest working man in #Atlanta.” At 35,000 tweets, it’s clear what his job is. “People talking about how great #Atlanta ‘could’ be, pisses me off,” he writes. “#Atlanta could be better if you took your ass back where you came from.”
Mark Toro writes: “OK, #TeaParty, you win. What are YOU going to do about traffic?” Nick Aliffi: “If you live in Atlanta, you can no longer bitch about bad traffic. We’ll just stay a backwater town.”
I can’t keep up. These are just what I saw trending in the space of a few minutes. The TSPLOST supporters are writing eulogies for Atlanta, the Tea Partiers are gloating, and the residents of South DeKalb continue to wonder when anyone will pay attention to them.
I was, at most, a reluctant TSPLOST supporter. The cynical part of me saw it as nothing more than a way for spineless politicians to wash their hands of a tough decision and instead leave it up to the voters. (I mean, what are we paying these guys for?) But as election day grew near, I started to see the vote as less a laundry list of roads and rail than a referendum on vision. As in, can we unite behind one? That we can’t—so far, anyway—is dismaying.
Meanwhile, this magazine is about to go to the printer, and I’m so distracted I haven’t even talked about the great stuff in this issue. I haven’t mentioned Bill Addison’s artery-clogging ranking of our city’s best steakhouses. I haven’t talked about the gorgeous fashion spread from Barnsley Gardens. Nor have I directed your attention to the strange tale of Ed Kramer, the DragonCon cofounder who, twelve years after his arrest on child molestation charges, still awaits trial. What else haven’t I done? I haven’t talked about the Dream, Atlanta’s WNBA franchise that is the definition of affordable family entertainment, and yet inexplicably struggles for fans. I also haven’t referred you to our review of the Optimist, one of the year’s most exciting new restaurants. (Seafood! Or, to bring it back to Twitter: “@TheOptimistATL dinner was divine!”)
All these things I haven’t done. Clearly I need to work harder. Maybe MisterAtlanta could give me a lesson.