Sunday, September 2, 2012

ATL, One Month In

I have now been living in Atlanta for one month. Before I tell you all about my experiences here in all their nuanced glory, allow me to make a few sweeping remarks on subjects that invariably arose when I began to announce the impending move:

1. Weather
It's been 90+ degrees and absurdly humid every day since I moved, which is unsurprising in a place that is colloquially referred to as "Hotlanta." There really isn't any mystery to this. It's fucking hot. As an over-corrective gesture, businesses crank their air-conditioners to goosebump levels, so I still manage to put all those scarves, shrugs, and sweaters from my corporate days to good use.

2. Danger
My loved ones worry for my safety, which is to be expected when migrating to any city where rappers are from  that has more than a million people in it.  Not to worry, for I carry pepper spray and have learned where not to venture alone at night ever.

3. Traffic
I heard the warnings and read the statistics about the notorious traffic problem, so I was not too shocked when I spent nearly an hour on I-85 the day I was stupid enough to venture out in the world during rush hour. I cheerfully resolved to avoid "bad roads" at "bad times" (I can barely write this sentence without chuckling like a bitter, jaded old-timer who went native decades ago), until I started driving to things that were actually scheduled - such as the kickoff events put on by the school for graduate students. They were all held in different neighborhoods, at different times of the day, and within 10 miles of my apartment, and yet it took me the better part of an hour to get to each one. The lesson: There is no good time, or good way, to get anywhere. Ever. Atlanta traffic is rigoddamndiculous.

4. Bugs
The bugs are giant and gross and fly out of nowhere and smack you in the face or surreptitiously suck your blood while you're sipping your beer on the outdoor patio of a bar, laughing to themselves about how you'll wake up the next day groaning, "Fuuuuuuuuck why is my shoulder so itchyyyyy?" Pretty shitty PR for a balanced ecosystem, Mama Nature.

5. Ethnicity
Certain family members, friends, and acquaintances have brought to my attention, on varying occasions and with varying degrees of subtlety, that I would encounter people of color in Atlanta. This has, incidentally, turned out to be correct.


I'm still getting a feel for what Atlanta is about. I have read that one cannot really write about a city until (s)he has lived there and then been away from it for a while. Hell, I have hardly been able to write about Granville, the town where I grew up, even though I have lived elsewhere for seven years now. Who knows how long it will take to give my adopted city the proper treatment?

Like any city, it has its different enclaves: sprawling suburbs with garish mansions; artsy streets with grungy hipsters; busy downtown with homeless people shaking filthy cups and asking for change; moneyed business districts with suited professionals driving luxury SUVs and sportscars; trendy intersections where the young and sexy go to get drunk; dilapidated neighborhoods with pawn shops and check-cashing stores and people milling around aimlessly. I can still sense that Atlanta is different somehow, that it's unlike any place I have ever visited (and certainly ever lived), and I cannot yet pin down why. There are the obvious, superficial differences between it and other places, but there is always an undercurrent that can neither be immediately identified nor easily articulated. Come back in a few years, and we'll talk about it.

Thankfully, modern technology enables me to supplement my vague prattle with visual aides. Please allow me the indulgence of pictures.


The MARTA Train

Downtown


School

The POlice. Trying to catch me walking dirty.

Because driving in Atlanta isn't confusing enough, some genius decided to name every other street some variant of Peachtree.

Downtown, by the Five Points station

Giant Coke sign

Southern HOspitality

Buckhead - rush hour

More Buckhead

Fancy-ass mall (think Polaris, Columbus-ites)

Post-rush hour Buckhead traffic

Fox Theater

Midtown

Midtown at midnight - traffic is STILL ridic

Downtown from the North

There was this other thing I was going to talk about....I dunno, something I was doing here? Oh yeah, school or whatever. I'll have to talk more about that another time.