Atlanta Must Reads for the Week: Deportation raids, 19th-century black bartenders, and the Hawks’s heated Uno games

Plus, David Bowie’s death, development’s impact on Atlanta arts, and Sean Penn’s ’El Chapo’ interview

A photo posted by Kent Bazemore (@24baze) on

Pamela Constable in the Washington Post on deportation raids

To ring in the New Year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conducted a series of deportation raids across the country, including in metro Atlanta. In total, the federal government detained 121 mothers and children and sent them to detention facilities. Few details were released. Because of that secrecy, the U.S. crackdown has caused fear among other illegal immigrants. Constable sheds some light on what happened:

They had come for his sister Rosa Vargas and her children, who fled their native Guatemala and walked across the Texas border in July 2014. Morales said Vargas, 36, decided to head north after she witnessed a murder and was threatened by gang members. “The whole family agreed she would be better off leaving, that she should come here because she would be safe in America,” said Morales, 30, a carpenter with temporary legal status. He said Vargas was issued a work permit and a Social Security number when she was released from border detention in 2014 and found work cleaning houses in Atlanta after coming to live with him.

The agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement “made me wait outside while they went upstairs,” Morales said. “They said they had an order from a judge. They didn’t hurt anyone, but they shouted a lot.” After allowing the family to dress and gather a few belongings, the agents put Vargas, 17-year-old Juan and 11-year-old Dankilia into vans and drove off, Morales said. Vargas’s older daughter was allowed to stay behind with her year-old son, who was born in the United States. By Monday, the others were in a detention center in Texas awaiting deportation, while a lawyer tried to file an emergency appeal. “Together we were a family, and we made this house a home,” Morales said. “Now there is nothing.”

Read: Deportation raids to continue, despite outcry

Scott Cacciola in the New York Times on the Hawks’s intense Uno games

When they’re on the court, the Hawks have won games left and right to capture fourth place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. But four Hawks players are nearly as competitive when playing Uno. Cacciola looks at the histrionics behind a children’s card game taken very seriously by four professional athletes:

It all started innocently enough when Jeff Teague, the team’s starting point guard, brought a deck of Uno cards on a trip last season. He gradually recruited several teammates—Bazemore, center Al Horford and guards Kyle Korver and Dennis Schroder—to start participating in a regular game.

The conventional objective—first player to get rid of all his cards wins—was enough to keep them interested, but they soon wanted to spice things up. So Bazemore and Schroder hatched the idea of adding some of the more notorious cards from at least two other decks—all the Draw 2s, Wild Draw 4s, Reverses and Skips. The players referred to the extra cards as “heat.” The game was born anew.

“I think everyone should play it that way, because it’s no-holds-barred,” Bazemore said. “It’s the W.W.E. of Uno, man. It’s crazy.”

Read: For Some Atlanta Hawks, a Revved-Up Game of Uno Is Diversion No. 1

Guillermo Castro in Immersive Atlanta on development’s impact on local arts in 2015

Over the past year, Atlanta has seen a massive development boom, particularly along the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail. We’ve gained destinations like Ponce City Market, but we’ve also lost cultural institutions such as Thunderbox, the Old Fourth Ward practice space home to many local bands, and will soon say goodbye to the Masquerade. Castro takes a long look at how development and gentrification impacted—and in some cases undermined—Atlanta arts in 2015:

On May 10th, 2015, Thunderbox Rehearsal Studios closed its doors ending its decade long run as Atlanta’s foremost proprietor of rehearsal spaces. Located on Ralph McGill Boulevard in the Old Fourth Ward, Thunderbox served as home base for some of the city’s most storied acts, including metal giants Mastodon and Torche, punk darlings the Coathangers, and a litany of other local favorites, such as HAWKS, Whores., Big Jesus, and many others. With dozens of rooms spread out across the warehouse-like complex, the studios provided hundreds—if not thousands—of artists the space needed to not only store their equipment, but to practice and develop, to experiment and collaborate, to focus and mature. It’s sister space, Avatar, followed soon after, creating even more havoc. With few alternatives available, much of the Atlanta music scene was thrown into turmoil. As bands scrambled to find new accommodations, many were forced to go into temporary hiatus and the longtime artistic ties and community building, forged over time, close proximity, and 24/7 access to studio space, were forever severed.

Read: Wherefore Art Thou ATL? A Year in Review

David Wondrich in the Bitter Southerner on the hidden history of African-American bartenders

From a 19th century Cincinnati bartender fired due to his skin color to a Virginian mixologist praised for crafting a fine Mint Julep, the James Beard Award winner explores how black bartenders managed to find acceptance in the South well before they did in the North. Wondrich writes:

Dixie did things very differently indeed: Mr. Dabney was no aberration. Sure, at any time except during the very height of Reconstruction, when equality laws were enforced at gunpoint, a black man would not be served in a white bar. Yet black bartenders in such establishments were not only tolerated but often even celebrated. That had nothing to do with Reconstruction: indeed, it went back to the early days of the Republic. In Virginia, the tradition was particularly strong. In Richmond, the Quoit Club, which brought together 30 of the city’s leading citizens (including, e.g., Chief Justice John Marshall of the United States Supreme Court) every other Saturday from May to October to toss quoits, eat barbecued pig with cayenne and drink porter, Mint Juleps and the club’s punch, had Jasper Crouch to preside over all the catering and cooking. A black freedman who was acknowledged for his particular and unparalleled expertise in punch-making, he had, as Samuel Mordecai recalled in 1856, “acquired the gout in this congenial occupation, and also the rotundity of an alderman.”

Read: The Cunningest Compounders of Beverages: The Hidden History of African-Americans Behind The Bar

Sean Penn in Rolling Stone on Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman

One day after Mexican authorities arrested Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Rolling Stone published Penn’s story featuring the drug lord’s first interview thought to be given in decades. But the exclusive story set off a media firestorm over journalistic ethics. Then, the Mexican government claimed Penn’s October interview ultimately led them to Guzman—a claim Penn pushed back against in a “60 Minutes” interview.

“How much money will you make writing this article?” he asks. I answer that when I do journalism, I take no payment. I could see that, to him, the idea of doing any kind of work without payment is a fool’s game. Unlike the gangsters we’re used to, the John Gottis who claimed to be simple businessmen hiding behind numerous international front companies, El Chapo sticks to an illicit game, proudly volunteering, “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”

Read: El Chapo Speaks

Watch: Sean Penn has “a terrible regret” about “El Chapo” meeting

Longreads archive on David Bowie

When David Bowie died on January 10, a collective outpouring of grief ensued around the world. People shared their favorite songs and his peers recalled their favorite memories—Iggy Pop’s recollection of the time his dad met Bowie was particularly poignant. (“He came to my parents’ trailer, and the neighbors were so frightened of the car and the bodyguard they called the police,” Mr. Pop said. “My father’s a very wonderful man, and he said, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing for my son.’ I thought: Shut up, Dad. You’re making me look uncool.”) A few days ago, Longreads rounded up the best Bowie stories published in recent years, which are worth revisiting:

If you are under the age of 40 you live in a world he helped make, whether you’re aware of it or not. His importance transcends his work in a way that only a few other artists of his generation can claim.

Read: David Bowie, 1947-2016