Monday, July 14, 2008

Reasons #4,509 and #4,510 why the media sucks

Two articles came to my attention this weekend, each trying to define Atlanta to the rest of the nation. I have a feeling I'm not going to like it...

First, Galloway points the way to a Washington Post op-ed by New York-born Spelman professor Jelani Cobb, titled The Atlanta Way. The piece is focused on Atlanta's role as the center for the black middle class in this country, and mentions some of the tension that comes with Atlanta's racial history and current succes. I have a few issues with the piece, most of which are better left to those more qualified to comment on black culture and politics than I am. Generally speaking, I think the column lacks a certain depth and understanding of Atlanta history and politics. I'll just mention this little historical inaccuracy:
Atlanta's roots run much deeper than ATL. Drive through the city today, and you encounter a maddening patchwork of street names that seem to change every two miles. Heading west, for instance, you can go from Dekalb Avenue to Decatur Street to Marietta Street to Perry Road without ever hitting your turn signal. The name changes are a holdover from the segregation era, a racial grid that indicated who was eligible to live where.
Perhaps Decatur and Marietta Street isn't the best example. Monroe/Boulevard, Glen Iris/Randolph, or Briarcliff/Moreland would have been much better examples. The basic point is correct, as all those streets that I mentioned DID have separate names to separate the races. But Decatur and Marietta were originally distinct street, with origins in how downtown Atlanta was originally laid out around a railroad track. It is the same reason that Peachtree south of Five Points was originally Whitehall Street. Because of the railroad tracks, the streets were actually different streets, all meeting at Five Points.

Marietta St. and Decatur St. each run parallel to different railroad lines, and meet at Five Points. I presume that Dekalb Avenue is named that because it ran from downtown Atlanta to Dekalb County. It is the same reason I could drive from Ann Arbor, MI to Saline, MI via Main Street, to Ann Arbor-Saline Road, to Ann Arbor Street without hitting a turn signal. Also, DeKalb Ave. was and is primarily an industrial corridor; I don't think the name change was due to concerns over housing boundaries.

I don't know the history of Perry Road, so I can't speak to it specifically.

Damn Yankees

Our second article is from the New York Sun, and mostly consists of New York transplants bitching that they can't find good pizza. I can't possibly fathom why people think New Yorkers are assholes:
New Yorkers may even take exception to the way Georgians speak. Their drawl, and expressions like "y'all" and "bless her heart," grate on some newcomers.

"If my kids have a Southern accent, I will kill myself," Brooklyn native Jodi Fleisig, an Atlanta resident since 1998, said. Ms. Fleisig said she tends to socialize with ex-New Yorkers, and finds inviting Southerners to lunch can be troublesome.

"Being Southern means you wait for someone to finish a sentence," she said. "We talk really fast. They can't get a word in edgewise."
So glad you came! Most folks I know that have moved to Atlanta stay because of the people. They really are nicer here. And I don't need to tell you guys this, but Atlanta is vastly more than what these New Yorkers tend to think:
Displaced Northerners must adjust to Southern accents, a slower lifestyle, restaurants that close early, a ban on Sunday liquor sales, and a reverence for "Gone With the Wind."
Restaurants that close early? Gone with the Wind? This isn't Mayberry, and we aren't hicks. Damn Yankees.*

*The use of the term Yankees on this blog will almost always be a slur. I use the term because it conotates a sterotype of Northerners and their arrogant view of Atlanta as some provincial backwoods. It has absolutely nothing to do with the civil war. Also, it is a slur because I'm still bitter about Jim Leyritz and the World Series.

3 comments:

  1. I'm kind of surprised articles like the second one are still being written. It reflects worse on the writer than it does on New Yorkers or Atlantans. It's kind of like a local TV news crew going into a shoot and seeking out the absolute dumbest person available to plop in front of the camera.

    I don't go to New York looking for the best grits in the country, so I hope that any reasonable person wouldn't come down here looking for the best pizza/bagels. And I don't think any reasonable person would, only the insufferable asses the writer went out looking for, as if they represent everyone.

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  2. As the late, great Lewis Grizzard said regarding yankees coming down here and complaining..."Delta is ready when you are."

    (Of course this was invoking Delta's longtime tag-line, which was current when Grizzard wrote this.)

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