Monday, March 30, 2009


I in no way condone insulting anyone based on where they are from or their ethnicity. That sort of behavior is reprehensible and uncalled for. But... if you ever find yourself in a heated argument with a Southerner, may I, suggest, you might call them... a Waffle House motherfucker!

Just keep that one in your back pocket if you ever need it.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Atlanta has many distinctive neighborhoods such as super-gay Midtown, hipster-dipster Cabbagetown, fancy-pants Inman Park, slightly grungy East Atlanta, boutique-happy Virginia-Highlands, post-hippy Lake Clare and the neighborhood I live in, Victorian-era Grant Park, which is the largest historical district in the city. Just east of Downtown, Grant Park is a large, attractive, hilly park, which contains the city zoo and some recreational facilities, but mostly is about lazy strolls on curving paths beneath giant trees. In the middle of the park near the zoo, you’ll often find the guy who plays the trombone not so well next to the guy who does not so great portraits. Many of the homes in the neighborhood that surrounds the park on all four sides are from the Victorian era (I live in a big pink one) and they range from those restored to gleaming perfection to ones with overgrown lawns and junk strewn all over the porch. But neighbors are chill here. It’s somewhat racially mixed, mostly white and black; though I haven’t noticed many Asians or Latinos. There are a lot of young families and, for one of the older neighborhoods in town, not so many old folks.

I’ll keep it short, but Grant Park has a decent amount of history. It’s named after Lemuel P. Grant, not Ulysses S. Grant, which wouldn’t make any sense if you think about it. Lemuel was on the other side of the war and was in charge of constructing defensive lines around the city. The high part of the park, near where my house is, was a lookout spot called Ft. Walker, not really a proper fort, though, a few original fortifications remain. There was no fighting in Atlanta proper, but plenty in the countryside north of Atlanta. The city was starved out by the Union until it was forced to surrender. Lemuel owned most of the land around here and gave or traded most of it to the city in the 1800s. It became a residential area in the 1890s when many of its distinguished Victorian homes were built. In the 1960s, the top part of Grant Park was cut away from the rest when Interstate 20 was constructed and the neighborhood fell into disrepair. In the late ‘80s, Grant Park started to come back and is in excellent shape today, though lacking a good taqueria.

There are three major attractions in Grant Park: the zoo, which has some giant pandas, Xi Lan, Mei Lan, Lun Lun, and Yang Yang, the Cyclorama, and the Oakland Cemetery.

I’m not into zoos (animals in cages of any sort doesn’t do it for me), so I haven’t been there, but that’s the park’s main draw, along with the usual jogging, strolling with babies and massive family barbecues.

Next door to the zoo is an odd attraction, the Cyclorama, a circular painting (the largest oil painting in the world) that depicts the Battle of Atlanta in the Civil War. There are dioramas in front of the painting that create an optical illusion where you can’t tell where the dioramas (horses, soldiers, etc.) and painting start and end. But is this something that you really need to see? I can’t say that it is, unless you particularly fancy Civil War kitsch.

No photography allowed in the Cyclorama, but this photo of a painting in the adjacent mini-museum gives you the basic idea

The Oakland Cemetery, which is at the northern most point of the neighborhood, is one of the first spots I bring folks from out of town. It’s a fascinating, characteristically Southern cemetery with large monuments, and a few notable residents including Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and golfer Bobby Jones. There is a whole section of Jews buried there and nearly 3,000 Confederate soldiers, who are guarded by a Narnia-like lion statue.

Across the street is the popular seafood restaurant Six Feet Under, named with the graveyard in mind, and Ria’s Bluebird, Grant Park’s best breakfast/lunch, ultra-hipster spot. There are about eight restaurants in Grant Park, mostly at the northern end of the neighborhood.

It snows once in a while (not very often)

If there is one criticism I have of Grant Park, it’s that there is a lack of commercial property considering how many people live here. In the whole neighborhood, I believe there are two gas stations, one bedraggled 24-hour pharmacy and just a few corner markets, no supermarket. This is hardly a big deal, though. It’s only 10 minutes to Moreland Avenue, where there are a couple of supermarkets, a bank and lots of other junk. But Grant Park has vast amounts of unused land surrounding it especially on its Southern fringe in the direction of the penitentiary and the hood, but also to the west and east (not natural spaces that need to be saved, but old railroad and factory areas that could be developed into something useful). There is no shortage of recently constructed condo and loft spaces on Grant Park’s fringes surrounded by very little. I know some of this land is supposed to be a part of Atlanta’s ambitious beltline project, which will create a ring of parks, trails, transit and affordable housing around the city.

Spring in the park

There’s also a lot of small, neat-looking historical properties around the neighborhood that used to be small grocery stores, but are now unused. They are almost all on side streets and it would be great if they were actual stores and businesses, but more likely, I can see them being converted into small gallery spaces (there is one new, small gallery space on Boulevard).

Open your business here

Some things I’d like to see in the neighborhood: an authentic taqueria, a store that sells Victorian antiques and some antique stores in general (it’s amazing that there isn’t one in a neighborhood that has so much old stuff), a thrift store, a bank with an ATM, a bookstore (I can keep dreaming), some vintage/junk/whatever stores, and a supermarket on the edge of the neighborhood (preferably a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or a local Farmer’s Market type store). Some ethnic grocery stores would also be swell, but I think there would have to be some Latinos or Asians in the area for that to happen.

This is my favorite house in the neighborhood, the Burns Mansion. It is often part of the Grant Park Tour of Homes. Three gay fellas live in there and have restored the interior to perfect, Victorian splendor with some amazing themed rooms (sorry, don't have any photos of the interior).

This is another mansion in Grant Park owned by a gay couple. They have a spectacular backyard.

This looks like it was formerly a store with a house attached to it

A lot of stained glass in Grant Park

This is a modern Victorian across the street from the Burns Mansion. I believe it was built in the last ten years. Fooled me.

This used to be a Masonic Lodge, now a restaurant and real estate agency.

A lot of babies in Grant Park

This is supposed to be converted into a B&B. But restoration looks like it may have been stalled.

This is my house

The parlor

This is the porch after it snowed

Friday, March 13, 2009


Much like a New Yorker who moves to L.A. and complains that there is no snow and no proper seasons and that people are shallow and dress like bums, I am forever a transplanted Angeleno hundreds of miles away from my homeland, lacking sunshine at times and ocean breezes and not truly adapting to the relaxed pace of things.

I haven’t managed to get beyond my narrow Angeleno point of view despite ordering sweet tea with just about any meal and attempting to drive like I don’t care where I’m going or when I get there.

One thing that I can’t get used to in Atlanta is that in L.A. it seems there is always a taqueria down the street. When I lived in Pasadena on Los Robles Avenue, there was Puebla Tacos (location #3 2057 N Los Robles Ave), one of the finest taquerias I have ever been to nearby. Head east from there down Washington Boulevard and there’s Burrito Express (1597 E. Washington Blvd.), another exceptional little takeout place. Though it didn’t use to be the case, there are now numerous taquerias in West L.A. and practically everywhere in the city.

Here in Atlanta, there actually is a taqueria down the street that I live on. But it is the dumpiest little hovel and the burrito I ordered there was uninspiring. Most people would be afraid to go in this place. There was also a faux taqueria run by a small Mexican restaurant chain on my street, but it closed a few months ago, and wasn’t what I was looking for anyways. If I really want the authentic taqueria experience, I have to drive a half-hour to Buford Highway, where there are blocks of taquerias surrounded by Chinese and Vietnamese eateries, an unparalleled abundance of scrumptiousness. You can find boba over there too. My favorite taqueria on Buford (though I haven’t tried that many) is Taco Veloz (5084 Buford Highway NE), which is a little shack with an eating area that is basically a tent with some tables inside and a drive through. They make a spectacular spicy green salsa. There are even a couple of taco trucks in the area and though I haven’t eaten at them, I always start clapping and yelling “taco truck!” when I see one. You are definitely an Angeleno down to the marrow if you get sentimental over taco trucks.

When I get hungry and I’m driving in downtown Atlanta, I am always disappointed that I can never find a taqueria amongst the many takeout spots, as I would in downtown L.A. It’s always wings or hot dogs or wings and messed-up Chinese food or fried chicken and wings. It may seem a small complaint, but being an Angeleno, and not having good burritos readily available is maybe well, a little less worse than being a French gourmand living in Uzbekistan (I imagine it’s hard to find foie gras there).

Another petty gripe that I have is that there is no ocean here in Atlanta. There’s one about four hours east, but that’s hardly convenient. Personally, I don’t care for beaches, which are sandy and gross and even if it’s okay to lie or walk on one for a little while, you always end up with sand between your toes and then it gets in your car and then eventually in your bed. You can shower, whatever; there’s no way to avoid at least a little bit of sand ending up in your bed. But it is always a relief to at least know there is an ocean nearby. In Atlanta, I have no such comfort. On the Westside of L.A., there’s a fantastic ocean breeze that cools the air on a hot day like ice cubes in a glass of cream soda. This ocean breeze doesn’t reach Pasadena or even Hollywood, but it can make the Westside of L.A. seem heavenly at times.

It’s not right to complain about the weather in Atlanta. The winters are for the most part mild. Fall features a dramatic change of color that one cannot find in L.A. Spring is gorgeous, though it sometimes leads too quickly into summer, which is inevitably brutal. Everything is soaking wet. There are bugs crawling on your eyebrows. It becomes hard to tell the difference between one’s eyebrows and bugs.

There are some lakes beyond the suburbs of Atlanta, but those are no substitute for oceans. I’m from L.A. I don’t know what the hell to do on or around a lake except get bitten by mosquitoes. If there’s fish in a lake, I couldn’t care less. What would I want with them? Lakes are to oceans what speed bumps are to mountains.

I know people live in really shitty places like Texas or Michigan and I have no right to whine about lacking an ocean breeze or that I have to drive a half-hour to find a decent burrito. I don’t have to scrape ice off the windshield of my car or eat crabs or talk to some moron wearing a cowboy hat. But I am a goddamn Westside Jew and I want a vegetarian burrito with guacamole right now and some very spicy hot sauce on the side and some horchata and I’d like to eat it outside, perhaps reading the L.A. Times, with a nice ocean breeze cooling me off and no bugs on my eyebrows please!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I love the Hot Dog King (But his kingdom is dwindling)
Greenville, S.C.

Um, no thanks. I think I will shop somewhere else.

Grandpa Store: Gizzar $3.99

Fresh Meat Skin, North Georgia

North Georgia Cheap Grub, Chicken Biscuit $1.25

Kreeze Bings (?) apparently available at the Northside Tavern, Atlanta

Pass me dem tax forms mon

The Hair Shack Dawsonville, GA

Denture Repair, Decatur, GA

Bo-Nats 7-11, Greenville, SC

Beefalo in North Georgia

Jesus is Mr. Popular