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In 1990, when Atlanta beat out Athens to host the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, it was an impressive come-from-behind win, even for a former University of Georgia football star. William “Billy” Porter Payne, an All-SEC defensive end for the Dawgs and Dunwoody real estate lawyer, dreamed up Atlanta’s quixotic bid and served as CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.
Outkast’s beats and lyrics embodied everything associated with the South. It felt good, and like your grandmama, it could charm you one minute and cuss you out the next. And unlike East Coast or West Coast hip-hop, it seldom picked a fight, but instead welcomed everybody to sit on the porch and listen.
The story of Turner Field and its neighbors is one of stunted vision, cynical opportunism, halfhearted reform efforts, and misguided renewal schemes. Millions of dollars have been squandered and hundreds of acres left vacant. Around here, thousands of people live below the poverty line while just a handful—some legally, some not—cash in, because it’s more lucrative to park cars on an empty lot eighty-one days a year than to clean up that lot, open a business, and operate it year-round.
The [Associated Press reports today] that the U.S. Olympic Committee sent letters to thirty-five big city mayors—Atlanta’s Kasim Reed among them—asking if they might be interested in hosting the 2024 summer games. So, should Atlanta, the last U.S. city to host the summer games, put its hat in the Olympic rings?“No,” said Andrew Young, who helped bring the games here in 1996, emphatically.
Not so long ago, Billy Payne was the most famous man in Atlanta. He was hailed as a hero, an improbable good old boy who had a dream and forced it to come true. He traveled the world, bridged the gaps between political correctness and corporate interests, made friends with royals dignitaries, helped revive a dying inner city and gave millions of people the experience of a lifetime. He did what he set out to do, and is trying to get back to what he used to do – carry on with his private life. In private.
His office in the back of the Luthersville Town Hall is compact and plain: walls painted off-white, a green Army surplus desk and filing cabinet and two chairs for visitors. Propped up in a corner behind his desk is the odd combination of a shotgun, a rifle and a fishing pole.
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