News & Opinion

News about Atlanta issues, arts, events, and more

Smoltz’s Hall of Fame induction, Sid’s slide celebrates 20 this weekend at Turner Field

Of course, the main reason to lose your voice screaming at The Ted this weekend is tonight's sure-to-be-tearful salute to John Smoltz as his No. 29 jersey is retired forever when the iconic pitcher is inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame during a pre-game ceremony at Turner Field.

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.

Catch Spring Fever tonight, Miller Union chef discloses cancer battle, Fernbank vs. Fernbank

The swag bags are all stuffed for tonight's launch party celebrating Atlanta author Mary Kay Andrews' ninth novel, "Spring Fever" (St. Martin's Press, $25.99). The juicy, North Carolina-set beach read (that will no doubt have readers reconsidering the romantic implications of a burst appendix) makes its debut in Decatur Monday night when the former AJC reporter greets friends and fans at the Harbour Bar & Fish House from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Summer Reading List

This summer’s nonfiction ranges from the memoirs of a ramblin’ Rock and Roll Hall of Famer to the musings of a civil rights icon to the travelogue of an accidental bird-watcher. New novels set in suburban Atlanta, rural Georgia, Manhattan, small-town Alabama, North Carolina, and a midsize Hungarian city are testaments to the depth and variety of literature happening right here. 

Q&A with Greg Phillinganes

As a session keyboardist and arranger, Greg Phillinganes's work with the Jacksons spans thirty years. He played on all of Michael Jackson's solo albums, including "Off the Wall," "Bad," and 1982's iconic "Thriller," and served as musical director for the late pop star's "Bad" and "Dangerous" tours. He serves in the same capacity for Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour," set to play Philips Arena June 29 to July 1.A lot of this show remains cloaked in mystery. What can you reveal about we might expect? Expect a very high quality show with a lot of the familiar elements of Cirque as far as dancers and acrobats but with no clowns and no fake Michael. You will definitely feel Michael in the room though.How do you set about achieving that, given that Michael Jackson was one of the most electrifying live performers in pop music history? This show started out with the vision of Jamie King, who is the writer and director of the show. Jamie had a direct working connection with Michael, starting out as a dancer for him (on Jackson's 1992 "Dangerous" tour) and then as a choreographer and now he produces all the megaconcert tours for artists including Madonna and Rihanna. He brought along Kevin Antunes who serves as the show's musical designer. Thanks to Sony Music's assistance, Kevin had the enviable job of going through all of Michael's original recordings and creating specific arrangements based on Jamie's ideas.You've spent more than three decades playing on various Jackson recordings from the Jacksons' 1978 "Destiny" album to Michael's 2009 posthumous recording "This Is It." What made you and Michael such solid collaborators? I was first brought on to work as an arranger for Michael and his brothers on the "Destiny" album. There was a kinship, a mutual respect, but most of all, it was fun. One night after a session on the album, I talked most of the brothers into going to Magic Mountain, an amusement park outside of L.A. with me. No security guards, no cops, it was just us. But this was early, early on when they were making the transition from Motown to [CBS Records].In the early 1980s, when you were in the studio with producer Quincy Jones and Michael creating "Thriller," were you aware the material had the potential to have the kind of cultural impact it ended up making? No. You can't ever know that. It's just impossible. And yet, maybe Steve Jobs knew he was going to revolutionize the world when he created the iPhone. You can't go into a studio to create music thinking that you're going to change the world. Having thoughts like that can actually get in the way of the creative process. All you can hope is that if you create something that gets you excited, a whole lot of other people will feel the same way. Quincy and Michael just wanted the best songs possible for the album. That was the goal when we went in, and it ended up becoming the game-changing event it was.When casual music fans ask you to point out one specific Greg Phillinganes musical moment on the "Thriller" album, which of your many contributions do you point them to? Probably the title track "Thriller" written by Rod Temperton. There are just layers and layers of keyboards on that. There's so much ear candy on that song. I did the synth bass part, those high-pitched synth parts, I did the Rhodes [keyboard] part and even did the pipe organ that Vincent Price does his rap over. It was crazy! When I listen to it now, I just think about all the fun we had creating all those layers in the studio.You bring a lot of credibility and a personal connection to Michael to this Cirque production. What elements of Michael t

All Hail Terminal West

After three years of drawing ravers to grind in the gallery spaces of the King Plow Arts Center, Robert Shaw and Alan Sher have set up the permanent venue Terminal West in Studio C of the refurbished farm-equipment foundry. With high-grade sound and light systems built around a twenty-by-thirty-three-foot stage, wide concrete floors, three bars loaded with twenty-nine different canned craft beers, and a back patio facing the railroad tracks, the unce-unce dance party will be beating strong in Westside. But starting this summer, Shaw and Sher say music lovers of all ages and metronomic temperaments will find a reason to stop in. “The first few months have been electronic music; that was our network,” says Shaw. “But we’ve got reggae and bluegrass acts coming to use this amazing performance space. The goal is to diversify the audience.”

The Orly Crash Forced Atlanta’s Art Scene to Grow Up Fast

Like the alkaline dust that coated lower Manhattan for months after the Twin Towers crumbled, the 1962 disaster at Orly Field near Paris hung in Atlanta’s atmosphere for years afterward. On June 3 of that year, a Boeing 707 carrying 106Atlantans—some of the city’s most passionate arts patrons, returning from an art tour of Europe—crashed on takeoff, killing everyone aboard except for two flight attendants. Gone were Atlanta’s cultural elite—its artists, collectors, and those who sustained the still-embryonic High Museum and its school, the Atlanta Art Institute.

The Dance Movement

Atlanta dance is having a moment. Performers are suddenly undulating through parks, cemeteries, churches, and art museums—even stopping traffic at Midtown intersections. Funded by a hodgepodge of grants, commissions, donations, and income, Atlanta’s dance scene is as intertwined as a game of Twister, with players moving back and forth between companies—not to mention thriving programs at Emory, Kennesaw State, and Spelman. Here’s how some connect. 

Our Place in the Universe: Dead last in per-capita state tax revenue

As my fellow blogger Andisheh Nouraee pointed out yesterday, Tea Party types will never come around to the proposed transportation sales tax (to say nothing of "taxis, taxidermy, and tacks"). But really, they should lighten up a bit.

Jay Bookman’s cool wisdom for transportation tax skeptics

One of the things I love about AJC columnist Jay Bookman's work is that it's insightful without being inciteful. Take it from a former opinion columnist, that's not easy.

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