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Excess Baggage

The other day I was at the Atlanta airport and saw two Eastern Europeans lumbering down the concourse, laden with a suitcase that looked like they just got up that morning and decided to put a handle on their house.

Greenville, SC

While driving through downtown Greenville, South Carolina, after a recent visit to my parents’ house nearby, my husband—who has called New York and L.A. home —turned...

Barbie Redo

For more than half a century, the name "Barbie" has conjured indelible images into the psyches of children and adults alike: carefree, shapely, blond, and white. Now Mattel has enhanced the image of its fifty-something doll with the addition of So in Style Locks of Looks Barbie, a version inspired by Atlanta’s own hair-product juggernaut, Bronner Bros. The toy giant approached the sixty-five-year-old African American–owned company about making a special doll to coincide with Bronner's spectacularly successful, twice-a-year hair-care trade show—next one is February 18 to 21. (The show attracts about 60,000 attendees and was featured in Chris Rock's 2009 film "Good Hair.") Mattel enlisted designer Stacey McBride-Irby—the originator of the company’s first black doll line—to create the dolls, which come in three different models and are available at Walmart, Kmart, and other select retailers for about $20 each. All three models come with four hair extensions and a younger sister. "I want African American girls to know that dolls can represent their career aspirations, hobbies, and ethnic backgrounds," says McBride-Irby.

Key West, FL

Like the best Key West stories, this one begins at a bar. I'm at the Porch, which specializes in craft beer and catchy wines and occupies a corner of a Victorian mansion with, indeed, ...

Badge Girls

My apologies to our dining critic, Bill Addison, whose office is next to mine, but my longtime family recipe for chicken ratatouille involves opening lots of cans. That is, it did until recently, when I “earned” my Locavore Girl Scout badge. I couldn’t resist testing the new badges when I heard that the Girl Scouts had overhauled their entire program for the first time since 1987. Gone are awards like Food, Fibers & Farming, and Looking Your Best, which included hosting a color party to determine your most flattering palette. New are activities like Cross-Training, Screenwriter, and Geocacher. Thanks to the Locavore requirement that I cook a favorite dish with locally grown foods, I’m now addicted to the Marietta Square Farmers Market. Who knew parsley had flavor? If I were still in middle school, I’d take a stab at the Science of Happiness.

Green Power

Almost 80 percent of female business owners, 70 percent of female legislators, and all female astronauts used to be Girl Scouts. That’s fairly compelling evidence that scouting teaches young women to dream big. Want more? Consider Morgan Coffey, a junior at Oglethorpe University.

Q&A with Allen Ault

In the hours leading up to the September execution of Troy Davis, protests and pleas for clemency could be heard from hundreds of voices across the nation. But none was more impassioned or surprising than a letter issued from six retired corrections officials, led by former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, Allen Ault, who personally oversaw the executions of five Georgia men before resigning in 1995. Here, Ault, now dean of the College of Justice and Safety at Eastern Kentucky University, describes the true cost of capital punishment and why, after sixteen years, he decided to speak up now.

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation

The Ritz-Carlton properties in Atlanta typify the cosmopolitanism that defines the hotel brand the world over. The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, with its honeyed wood paneling and...

Flat Rock, NC

My friend and I followed national park ranger Peter Goldsmith into the modest, fifties-era living room of Connemara, Pulitzer-winning poet Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock, ...

Raising Herman Cain

It started in 2009 with a tentative, polite email. “I asked his secretary if Herman Cain would be embarrassed if I launched a draft effort on Facebook for him to run for president,” says Maurice Atkinson, a forty-nine-year-old insurance agent in Macon. “Herman called me back immediately and started chuckling. People accused me of having a man crush on Herman, but I said, ‘No, I’m on a mission to get something going for our country.’” Atkinson is not alone in his zeal, according to more than 25,000 followers on the site he established. Cain, the Atlanta entrepreneur and radio talk show host who resuscitated Godfather’s Pizza, has made the talking heads swivel with his unexpected rankings—just out of the gate, he polled at 10 percent, ahead of even Michele Bachmann, despite a lack of name recognition among two-thirds of Republican voters—and the spark plug fervor of his adherents, who call themselves “Hermanators” and “Cainiacs.” “People who have never been interested in politics before will gladly walk through the fires of hell for him,” marvels Atkinson. Cain claims a war chest of barely $2 million, relying mostly on small, online donations, but his business associates from Whirlpool and Hallmark have bolstered his “Friends of Herman Cain” PAC. The business-centered campaign, which calls for abolishing the IRS, has won over some Independents and Democrats, but his most reliable base is the Tea Party, which seems in the giddy throes of a collective man crush notable for crossing traditional demographic boundaries. Cain—an African American conservative who speaks in ministerial cadences, jokes that he is the “dark horse,” and denounces “playing the race card”—has endeared himself even to the movement’s most splenetic and unreconstructed Obama-haters, the so-called “crackers for Cain.” “Herman is a real brother, though,” says Rufus Montgomery, an African American founding member of the board of directors of the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute. He promptly wrote a check for $2,500 to Cain’s campaign after hearing the candidate speak. The appeal of Cain, whose slogan is “Let’s Get Real,” transcends all of the “too easy story lines,” says Atkinson, a white Republican who has never attended a Tea Party rally. “Herman does not focus on race; he focuses on issues,” says Atkinson, “and he is genuinely engaged with people. Of course, when you work without a script, you’re more likely to stick your foot in your mouth with an off-the-cuff remark that becomes part of the endless news cycle.” (Cain said communities have a right to ban mosques.) Another campaign donor, Atlanta attorney Blake Halberg, adds, “Herman is the black Ronald Reagan. His message is easy to understand.” Cain, who lives in Stockbridge, grew up on Albert Street, with his father holding down three jobs as a janitor, barber, and chauffeur while his mother worked as a domestic maid. Cain was a Morehouse Man, graduating with a degree in mathematics in 1967. Before entering the restaurant business, he worked as a computer systems analyst for the Coca-Cola Company, and more recently he honed his message on WSB’s The Herman Cain Show. Atkinson discovered him in 1997 when Cain galvanized a meeting of Walmart managers. “He was explaining practical approaches for a successful life, for believing in yourself with the knowledge that, if you work hard without whining, you can beat the odds. I think that’s the core of his popularity. People

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