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Mark Watkins


Milledgeville: Hang out on Georgia College’s front yard

Truth is, most of downtown Milledgeville is on a few blocks off the main drag, West Hancock Street. There are the antebellum houses straight out of a Flannery O’Connor story, the grass carpet rolled out as Georgia College’s front lawn, the bars and restaurants lining the street, and the Gothic Revival spires of Georgia Military College in the distance. That’s about it, though. The town winks out a few miles off West Hancock in any direction.

The city’s charm isn’t really found in what’s there, but in what people do with it. Students use Georgia College’s front campus like their front yard, throwing Frisbees, studying in hammocks, lounging in the sun between classes with picnics, books, or laptops. The downtown bars and restaurants host pairings of students and professors at lunchtime, crowds of thirsty late-night patrons, and the swarms of visitors who pour onto the street when open-container laws are suspended during the annual music festival, Deep Roots (conveniently scheduled on Georgia College’s Family Day). And, as many seniors who came with plans to transfer after a semester or two could tell you, those stately houses with their wide front porches looking out over West Hancock become homes for far longer.

Where to find the best …

Coffee shop for studying
Starbucks at U.S. 441 and Roberson Mill Road
It may not be unique, but the store is far enough away from campus that you won’t be distracted by classmates wandering in. 2400 North Columbia Street, 478-454-4040

Coffee shop for coffee
Blackbird Coffee
With beans roasted in-house, this is where you go for coffee as craft rather than access to Wi-Fi. 114 West Hancock Street, 478-454-2473

The Local Yolkal Cafe
It’s hard to compete with a place that serves multiple eggs Benedict variations and a bacon cheeseburger omelet. 117 West Hancock Street, 478-295-0098

Buffington’s Burger Lounge
The burger runs $6.99 for a half-pounder with fries, fried pickles, or chips. Quality, quantity, and cheap price? Can’t beat it. 120 West Hancock Street, 478-414-1975

Campus dive bar
Amici Italian Cafe
Live music, regular Thursday night crowd, and the home of the Dead Turtle shot (secret ingredient: pickle juice). 101 West Hancock Street, 478-452-5003

Essential place to show friends
The remains of Central State Hospital
Take the country’s largest mental health institution, close it down, let the buildings decay, add a carful of students on a night tour, and you’ve got a spooky experience no one is likely to forget. 620 Broad Street

This article originally appeared in our March 2014 issue.

Wellness Revolution

For Bevery Daniel Tatum, epiphany came at a basketball game. Cheering on the Jaguars, the president of Spelman College realized that few, if any, of the players on the court would continue to play after college. Money was being spent on a select group of athletes to be fit, but only temporarily.

Tatum already faced a quandary. Three schools were leaving Spelman’s athletic conference, the Great South Athletic Conference, meaning the historic Atlanta women’s college would have to join another
to remain in the NCAA. Tatum and her administration questioned the benefit of adding new travel costs to a program that already ran close to $1
million annually and involved less than 4 percent of the student body.

So she took a drastic step. In November 2012, Tatum publicly announced that Spelman would discontinue NCAA athletics and reallocate the budget to a Wellness Revolution program and gym upgrades that would help all 2,100 students.

Recognizing that Spelman’s African American female students represent a population at risk for diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, Tatum wanted to help instill lifelong habits. “In the same way we should develop habits of the mind, we should develop healthy habits of the body,” she says.

“Wellness Revolution” may sound like a PR catchphrase, but it touches the heart of Spelman’s legacy, says Tatum. The college began by teaching freed female slaves to read—a skill its alumnae then spread across the South. It enabled, says Tatum, a literacy revolution. “In the same way that learning to read became viral, learning to exercise can be viral,” she says.

This article originally appeared in out November 2013 issue.

What are you doing this weekend? October 25 – 27

Atlanta Celebrates Photography Closing Party
ACP closes out its six-week festival with “Slideluck,” a slideshow of curated #weloveATL Instagram photos and a potluck. The one-night-only show will take place inside the Westside Cultural Arts Center. Friday, 6-9:30 p.m. acpinfo.org

Taste of Atlanta
The event at Tech Square includes samples from more than ninety restaurants. Plus a deviled egg duel and Big Green Egg competition. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. tasteofatlanta.com

For a more foodie-informed take, check out Carly Cooper’s preview in Covered Dish.

Halloween Lantern Parade at Grant Park
If you missed the magic of the Atlanta BeltLine lantern procession, you can get a taste of the experience with a trek through Grant Park led by the Black Sheep Marching Ensemble. Saturday. Line-up starts at 6:30 p.m; parade at 7:30. gpconservancy.org

Scoutmob Goat Farm Halloween Party
The third annual bash includes out-there music, art installations, and, evidently, a twelve-foot astronaut puppet. facebook.com/thegoatfarmartscenter

Paul Rand at MODA
Steve Jobs once called Paul Rand the greatest living graphic designer, and Rand was inducted—with Warhol and Rockwell—into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. The Museum of Design Atlanta will showcase selections from Rand’s career alongside multimedia content illuminating his creative philosophy in the exhibition “Paul Rand: Defining Design.” Opens Sunday, runs through January 26, 2014. museum-ofdesign.org

Day of the Dead at the Atlanta History Center
Storytelling, music, decorated altars, food and drink. Also free admission to the History Center exhibits and grounds. Sunday; noon – 5 p.m. atlantahistorycenter.com

Ongoing and recently previewed:

Sleepy Hollow Experience at Serenbe

Containment ATL at Atlantic Station

What are you doing this weekend? October 18-20

This is a great weekend to be a patron of the arts—and party while doing so. From the newly renovated Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center to installations in downtown Atlanta to an exhibit by upcoming talents, there’s plenty to pick from.

The Creatives Project Annual Show and Benefit
Who says you have to be a Medici or a Carnegie to underwrite creativity? The Creatives Project is an inspiring nonprofit founded by Atlanta photographer Neda Abghari. It supports an artists residency program, arts education, and more. The Friday TCP benefit at the Goat Farm Arts Center includes the exhibition “Momentum: Exit to the Future,” showcasing 2011-2013 artist-in-studio residents—Jerushia Graham, Justin Rabideau, Ashley L. Shick, Marcy Starz, and Nikki Starz—and the 2012-2014 housing residents Gyun Hur, Andre Keichian, Masud “MAO” Olufani, and Charlie Watts. Friday, 8-11 p.m. thecreativesproject.org

The nine-day program of art installations and performances kicks off Friday with a block party at the intersection of Fairlie and Poplar. The lineup includes: the Giwayen Mata Elephant Women (twenty female African drummers), dance troupes RemoteKontrol and Dragonhouse, and DJ Speakerfoxxx. Friday, 7-11 p.m. elevateatlantaart.com

The Art Party Is Back!
The fabled Art Party returns after an eleven-year absence to mark the unveiling of a newly renovated Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. The Contemporary celebrates its fortieth anniversary with exhibitions from Fallen Fruit and Steven L. Anderson and open studio tours. Music and entertainment by DJ Kemit, Nonsense, the Dames Aflame, and others. Saturday, 7-midnight. thecontemporary.org

Lewis Black
If all that high-minded arts stuff gets to you, get a dose of ranting and raving as the easily irritated stand-up performs at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Saturday, 8 p.m. cobbenergycentre.com

Little Five Points Halloween Festival and Parade
One could argue that every day is Halloween in L5P. But things get kicked up a notch with bands, artists, food, drinks, and one heck of a parade. Saturday, noon – 11 p.m. Parade is at 4 p.m. l5phalloween.com

AIDS Walk Atlanta
It’s the twenty-third annual 5K walk/run to benefit the programs and services of AIDS Atlanta. Sunday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Run starts at 1 p.m., walk at 2 pm. aidswalkatlanta.com

Learn more: Our interview with AID Atlanta’s interim executive director Cathy Woolard

What are you doing this weekend? October 11-13

Well, the huge event of the weekend is Atlanta Pride, the celebration that started in the 1970s and just keeps getting bigger and better. The 2013 massive list of events includes parties, performances, an artists market, a Eucharist service, Lady Gaga-inspired yoga, workshops, films, a car and motorcycle show, and, of course, one hell of a parade. Piedmont Park and environs. atlantapride.org

Tosca at the Atlanta Opera
The Atlanta Opera’s season opener—Puccini’s dramatic tale of love, lust, and treachery—continues this weekend. The opera follows Floria Tosca as she tries to save her lover from a nefarious police chief. Though Puccini’s compositions are as passionate as they are beautiful, the opera is equally noted for its violence. Catch the last two shows: Friday evening or Sunday afternoon. Cobb Energy Centre. atlantaopera.org

The Wizard of Oz (in marionette form)
L. Frank Baum’s classic will be re-created at the Center for Puppetry Arts—sparkly slippers and all. Through October 20. Various showtimes.

Jerry Pinkney at the High
Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney, opens at the High Museum on Saturday and runs through January 5. The first show of its kind, this spans the Caldecott Medal winner’s fifty-year career creating watercolor illustrations for children’s books and other clients, including the National Parks Service. Pinkney will give a lecture Saturday at 2 p.m. high.org

The Great Georgia Air Show
This weekend’s Great Georgia Air Show draws thousands to see acrobatic aviation displays from top-tier performers. See pilots and their planes up close and personal thanks to the unique layout of Atlanta Regional Airport and catch the festival’s first-ever night show. Advice from one who’s attended: Don’t forget your earplugs. thegreatgeorgiaairshow.com

Art on the Atlanta BeltLine: Performances at Gordon White Park and Reynoldstown
The Saturday line up at Gordon White Park in southwest Atlanta includes dance by the Crossover Arts Movement and Onur Topal-Sumer, blues by Pete Peterson, and a day-long live-painting project. Sunday’s show in Reynoldstown (near the rail spur that ends behind H. Harper Station) includes dance from Beacon and Full Radius and electronica from Eyedrum. The live painting will continue. For the full schedule, beltline.org.

Oktoberfest in Stone Mountain Village
Art, food, beer, stuff to keep the kids entertained. German folk dancing. And admission’s free. Saturday and Sunday. stonemountainvillage.com

Containment at Atlantic Station
Plan to scare yourself silly in the maze/haunted house crafted out of freight containers? Read our preview here.

Civil rights themed murals installed in the King District

Three giant (as in building-sized) murals were installed in the King Historic District yesterday in the latest Living Walls effort to turn structures into canvasses. One such “canvas” is the former Henry’s Grill at 345 Auburn Avenue, where a small crowd turned out to watch an acclaimed muralist at work.

The three King District murals commemorate the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and were created by the internationally known French muralist, JR. Although press materials and JR’s own bio claim that the artist “remains anonymous,” he was very present yesterday, directing his assistants, and snapping pictures with fans and spectators, among them Kwanza Hall, who represents the King area on Atlanta City Council.

Once a youthful graffitist himself, Hall, said he plans to have more artists put their work on empty walls in his district as a way to “open dialogue and provoke thought.” (Fun fact: as a teen the future-councilmember got into trouble for his graffiti efforts.)

“It was appropriate at this time in the country for a message like this,” Hall said of the 1963 march. “It’s still poignant, people are still talking about it.”

The new murals use photos taken during the Civil Rights era—some from the march itself—and according to the artist, “Placing them in the public space adds a geographical dimension to their historical references.” The mural on Hilliard Street shows three black men, with one in the center holding a sign saying, “In this country you can do anything if you try, but can I live next door to you?”

The other two murals were scheduled to be installed on Hilliard Street and Edgewood Avenue.

The Silverbacks have the rowdiest supporters in town

Merited or not, Atlanta sports fans have a reputation for fair-weather flightiness. Followers of the city’s big-league teams would do well to take a lesson from supporters of our lesser-known pro team, the Atlanta Silverbacks. In a city dogged by national derision for its lack of spirit, these soccer aficionados are a standout exception.

In the spirit of European football clubs, the Atlanta Ultras (aka Ultras 101) light flares and smoke bombs when the Silverbacks score, take heckling to the boundaries of vulgarity, and generally cause as much ruckus as they can without getting kicked out of Silverbacks Park. “We’re not just there to watch a soccer game,” says Steve Gurlen, founder and president. “We’re there to show what the team, the club, and our city mean to us. This is our house, and we’re going to protect this house no matter what.”

With membership dating back to 1996, the Westside 109 epitomizes undying dedication, especially to a team that doesn’t often get its name in the paper. Under the lead of founder Kurt Braunsroth, the club forms an unofficial drumline that’s known to follow the team to away games.

Despite their pugnacious nickname and “East Atlanta/Little Five Points tattooed look,” the Eastside 309 Guerrillas have a slightly mellower vibe, says Silverbacks spokesman Neal Malone, stressing that the groups have more in common than not: “After we win, they all celebrate.”

This article originally appeared in our August 2013 issue.

Don’t miss out on the last two days of Plaza’s Bond binge

Here’s a quick synopsis of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: James Bond, played by George Lazenby (for the first and only time), travels in disguise to a remote research facility (literally) on top of a Swiss mountain to spy on super-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Thuggish henchmen take Bond through the facility and deposit him in his room where he is told he can’t leave without an escort. Sinister indeed. He’s later retrieved and escorted to dinner; you half-expect to see Blofeld grinning maniacally from a high-backed chair, stroking his trademark white cat. Rather, Bond walks in on an array of scantily-clad women.

If you were seeing this in a theater when the film came out forty-four years ago, you might have heard nervous shuffling or a few coughs, but at a recent Plaza Theatre screening, there was a different response–laughter. And lots of it. My friend leaned over and whispered through giggles, “They can’t really be serious!”

Sure, there’s no plausible reason of a bevy of beauties would happen to lounge in skimpy outfits at this extremely remote location that Bond would just happen to visit. Still, the laughter puzzled me. This is James Bond we’re talking about; isn’t he supposed to be surrounded by women? No one laughed when Halle Berry rose out of the ocean in that orange two-piece in 2002, and I would venture to assume that back in the 1970s, the audience didn’t burst into laughter when Bond entered Blofeld’s lair.

Perhaps—thanks to Austin Powers spoofs—we’re all too jaded take the old Bond seriously.

Consider Skyfall, which plays tonight at the Plaza Theatre as part of its 007 film fest. Bond, played by Daniel Craig, is also forced to a secluded location, but he has only his family’s old, crotchety groundskeeper for company–a far cry from the ladies of the Lazenby film.

Where Lazenby’s Bond at times has the almost tongue-in-cheek “look what we’re getting away with” vibe that the Austin Powers series satirized, Craig’s Bond remains the gritty super-spy whose circumstances are fanciful, but not necessarily ridiculous.

Sure, differences are expected over the course of four decades, but Lazenby was nominated for a Golden Globe, and Skyfall did well with critics, so something must have been right about both films. Quite simply, they both appealed to their era’s audience.

Seeing the movies at the Plaza isn’t just a rare chance to see an old flick on a big screen, but also a chance to experience the series in a different way. Now’s the perfect time to go, too. Skyfall will be followed by two nights of fan favorites, so you can catch the best of both worlds. And hey, if you’re going to laugh at an old movie, it’s a lot more fun to do it with a full theater than by yourself on your couch at home. Not that I ever do that…

John Lewis’s memoir comes alive as a graphic novel

Few would question John Lewis’s place in the pantheon of modern heroes. The civil rights crusader and longtime Georgia congressman is rightly referred to as
an icon. Now his story is immortalized in a new way: Next month Marietta-based Top Shelf Productions releases the first volume of March, a three-part Lewis memoir presented in graphic-novel format.

Lewis’s collaborators started the project with some trepidation. “There was definitely a certain level of anxiety once I realized the scope,” says illustrator Nate Powell. The artist is no pushover, however; his graphic novel Swallow Me Whole earned an Eisner Award, the comic industry’s highest accolade. “One thing that really helped me connect was discovering what a genuine guy John Lewis is,” says Powell. Working on the series has underscored to him the danger Lewis experienced as a Freedom Rider and nonviolent protester. “There’s lots of violence occurring through the story, and sometimes as I’m drawing this sensational action scene I have to remind myself that this is the way things actually happened,” Powell says.

Andrew Aydin, an aide to Lewis and the comic coauthor, says the congressman’s experience as a preacher and politician made him a natural for the form: “John is an amazing storyteller, so when you hear [him] you feel like you’re there.” Powell echoes this, adding that the story “plays out in a very cinematic way,” and few things are better for a graphic novel.

This article originally appeared in our July 2013 issue.

Well, an Atlanta team actually won a championship

Atlanta sports fans can no longer gripe about our championship drought. Last week the Atlanta Silverbacks won the Spring North American Soccer League Championship. Can we all just say it together? Championship.

The Silverbacks jockeyed in the rankings with the Carolina RailHawks toward the end of the season, but held on to their title shot with a 3-0 victory over Minnesota United FC on July 4. The RailHawks lost the same night, giving the Silverbacks the needed breakdown for a one-point lead in the final rankings.

“I feel the word I’m looking for is justified,” Silverbacks head coach Brian Haynes said about the win. “It’s always good at the end of a season to be rewarded with a championship, but it’s all accredited to the guys’ hard work.”

As an added perk of winning the title, the Silverbacks will host the NASL’s post-season championship game, the Soccer Bowl, in early November. And with the international Gold Cup quarter-finals coming to the Georgia Dome on July 20, it’s a good time to be a soccer fan in Atlanta.

An open-invitation barbecue celebration where fans can get pictures with players, coaches, and the trophy is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17 at the Atlanta Silverbacks Park.

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