Celebrating Celestine Sibley’s centennial

“Child, what are you up to?” Instantly recognizing the voice behind me, I froze midway into shoving the crumpled dollar bill into the brown interoffice memo envelope. It was the morning of October 3, 1995. In Los Angeles, the verdict was about to be read in the O.J. Simpson trial. And on the eighth floor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Features Department, I was collecting up the office pool. As the department’s unofficial class clown/kid brother and a writer for the paper’s Peach Buzz column (the copy desk lovingly referred to me as Buzz Boy), this was in my job description. The voice behind me belonged to Celestine Sibley, a newspapering icon and state treasure. Red-faced, I explained to “ma’am” what in the hell I was doing (I never, ever called her Celestine. I had grown up reading her, after all). She toddled off and I assumed she was on her way upstairs to demand that the publisher fire me and then tie me to printing presses in the basement and use my blood to pump out the afternoon’s Extra edition. A minute later, Celestine handed me a dollar and said, “Put me down for a guilty.”

Tracy Thompson’s take on the South’s shifting identity

In The New Mind of the South, former journalist and Georgia native Thompson revisits the concept of Southern identity first explored in W.J. Cash’s 1941 classic 'The Mind of the South.'

You can’t replace this: The musical legacy of Dante’s Down the Hatch

At one o’clock today, Atlanta city councilman Michael Julian Bond will honor Dante’s Down the Hatch owner Dante Stephensen at city hall with a City of Atlanta proclamation in honor of the restaurateur and jazz promoter’s “contributions to Atlanta’s cultural and business life.” Bond, a regular at the now-shuttered Buckhead nightspot, followed in the footsteps of his civil rights icon father Julian Bond, who was a regular at the original Dante’s Underground Atlanta location in the 1970s. “Dante’s was an Atlanta tradition,” explains Bond. “Locals and tourists alike flocked this unique establishment to experience a taste of the city in a communal fashion. This proclamation is our small gesture to Mr. Stephensen for four decades of service to Atlanta.”

April Fool’s! These tales of Atlanta history are more myth than fact

Last summer local news outlets carried a story about the proposed sale of the decrepit Clermont Hotel on Ponce de Leon Avenue. An Associated Press dispatch, which was posted on WSB radio’s website, stated, “Atlanta lore has it that the building eventually converted to a hotel once was home to gangster 
Al Capone.”

Report: Atlanta ranks No. 42 for city parks

Atlanta sometimes is called “the city in the trees,” and certainly as you fly into Hartsfield-Jackson this time of year, a green canopy appears to cover the city. But deplane and explore at ground level and you’ll soon realize things aren’t quite so verdant. For the third year in a row we have earned a low score on a national assessment of city parks. But—in large part due to the Atlanta BeltLine—Atlanta’s gaining green space and serving more residents.

For one night only, reliving Rich’s Fashionata

Of his legendary style sense, Rich’s fashion director Sol Kent once wryly observed to Atlanta Constitution columnist Celestine Sibley, “There’s nothing so unchic as a woman who looks too new.” Kent’s genius at merging the new with the traditional and his eye for discovering future classics will be on dazzling display at tonight’s tribute to his career, “Be Divine: A Tribute to Fashionata” at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Midtown. The evening benefiting the Breman also serves as a social set finale for the museum’s six month-long “Return to Rich’s: The Story Behind the Store” retrospective set to close on May 27.

Gasp! Manuel’s Tavern is now smoke-free

Throughout its storied 58-year history, three things have remained constant at Atlanta’s politico watering hole Manuel’s Tavern. The city’s scribblers can always score a scoop if you wait around long enough. The tavern’s telepathic bartenders know you want another drink before you do. And at the end of the evening, your clothes are a walking billboard for Lucky Strikes.

Sam Massell: It’s time to say “never again”

Last Tuesday night, huddled behind the steering wheel in an overcoat, gloves and a hat, Buckhead Coalition president Sam Massell was gridlocked on Atlanta’s main artery, stuck in the slush with the rest of us. As his usual 16-minute Buckhead commute down Peachtree Road slid into an hour, Massell, 86, had time to reflect on half a century of metro Atlanta's mass transit maladies.

Commentary: Atlanta’s neglect of the Sweet Auburn district is a civic shame

A century or so ago, if a black resident of Atlanta wanted to stop for a drink after work, he’d have to go to the basement of a saloon, or sit behind a curtain or screen in the rear of a bar. Jim Crow laws, which controlled everything from what African Americans could wear (no capes) and how they got to upper floors of the Candler Building (the freight elevator), kept the races from sharing a cold beer or shot of rye side by side.

The iconic Randolph-Lucas House has found a savior

The beleaguered but beloved red brick mansion on Peachtree Road at Lindbergh Drive has finally found a savior. This summer, NewTown Partners, an Atlanta-based economic development consulting firm specializing in historic preservation, will move the home to 78 Peachtree Circle, an empty lot in Ansley Park, where it will become the private home of company founders Christopher Jones and Roger Smith.

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