But people are happy because they get recognition. There are the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys and the People's Choice Awards. There are Time's Person of the Year, the Nobel Peace Prize and the Delta SkyMile. There are employees of the month and lottery jackpots.
Heck, we give out something like 300 "Best Of Atlanta" certificates each year, and on the facing page CL is bestowing its annual CL Award, which honors the person or persons deemed to have had the most positive influence over the last 12 months on Atlanta's arts and culture.
So, this year, to offer recognition to folks who normally might not be applauded, we're proud to unveil the our first Real-End-of-A-Millennium Awards (If this proves popular, we'll do it again at the very next turn of the millennium). In some cases, the winners are folks whose quiet achievements were overshadowed by others' headlines. In most cases, they're folks whose achievements embarrassed the rest of us.
But all our REAM Award winners are being given these awards with one thought in common: Everyone -- no matter how venal, no matter how generous, no matter how petty, paranoid or ripe for indictment -- everyone deserves to go out a winner.
FERDINAND & IMELDA MARCOS AWARD FOR FUTILE ATTEMPTS AT TYRANNY: To Sidney & Sherry Dorsey, for their long list of scandals. Sidney, the DeKalb County sheriff, lost his race to the late Derwin Brown, after becoming the subject of numerous investigations, including one involving a program in which his wife, Sherry, an Atlanta councilwoman, used DeKalb County jail inmates to fix the homes of political supporters.
WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN AWARD FOR TIRELESS ORATORY: To Mayor Bill Campbell, for traveling the nation to give $142,788 in speeches to groups and corporations, some of which turned out to be city contractors. We'll overlook that little error about not reporting income from those speeches on public-disclosure documents; Now, if only the State Ethics Commission would also ignore the mayor's boo-boo.
BIGGEST BELLY FLOP AWARD: To Bert Ellis of iXL, who made hundreds of millions for TV station investors in the 1980s but lost hundreds of jobs for techies in 2000. Just as the Web-strategies company was moving into spiffy, high-profile offices off the Downtown Connector, iXL's stock-market value dropped from nearly $4.5 billion to less than $100 million, and the company announced 350 layoffs.
PLANET RADIO MEMORIAL AWARD FOR BONE-HEADED MARKETING MOVE: To the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center for changing its name from the distinctive and renowned Nexus Contemporary Arts Center to something bland enough to be the name of a furniture store.
BEST EVIDENCE OF ATLANTA'S CONTINUED PROVINCIALISM AWARD: To the High Museum of Art for its Ted Turner and Elton John exhibits. Two of the High's biggest shows this year amounted to voyeuristic expeditions into the private collections of two of the city's biggest celebrities.
KING OF CRAPS AWARD: To Bill Campbell, for his gambling trips. After questions were raised about whom he might be associating with and how the trips were funded, hizzoner explained that the answers were nobody's business.
PATIENCE OF JOB AWARD: To Cathy Woolard, Vincent Fort, Johnny Isakson -- three smart, hard-working people who find themselves islands of reason in seas of insanity: Woolard in Atlanta City Council, Fort in the Georgia Senate and Isakson in Georgia's extremist U.S. House Republican Caucus.
MOTHER TERESA HELP FOR THE HOMELESS AWARD: To Campbell, for housing an "aide" named Dewey Clark in his basement, who turned out to be a better friend of strip-club owner Michael David Childs.
BUFFALO GAL WON'T YOU COME OUT TONIGHT AWARD: To Ted Turner, who not only separated from wife Jane Fonda but also is falling further and further from the circles of power at CNN/Turner Broadcasting/ Time Warner/AOL/Masters of the Universe Inc. Not that he minds. Turner is dating up a storm and seems more interested in becoming a Wild West, buffalo-herding land baron than in controlling what you see and hear.
PRAVDA AWARD: Shared by Hot 97 and the Morning X, for providing an obsequious forum for Campbell in the midst of his many controversies.
HARMONIOUS LIVING AWARD: To state School Superintendent Linda Schrenko and state Education Board Chairman Otis Brumby. She's a cranky maverick who has alienated half her party. He's an overbearing newspaper publisher, known to be one of the most difficult bosses in Georgia. Together, they're in charge of your children's education. And, by the way, they hate each other.
THE OH-YOU'RE-SUCH-A-TEASE, UGLY-ASSED-BRIDGE AWARD FOR THRIFT IN ARCHITECTURE AWARD: To the state Department of Transportation for exercising uncharacteristic belt-tightening after soliciting public opinion on proposed designs for a signature span across the Downtown Connector. Web surfers overwhelmingly voted for any of three highfalutin schemes to turn the bridge into a landmark gateway. The DOT's answer? "Just kidding. We'll just build the same butt-ugly slab we always do."
MARY LOU RETTON AWARD FOR FLEXIBILITY AND BACKFLIPS: To Bill Campbell (this guy's rackin' 'em up!), who vowed to "fight to the death" a Southeastern Legal Foundation lawsuit challenging the city's affirmative action, then quietly entered into negotiations to settle the suit. The city now appears prepared to adopt a more modest, less scandal-prone program -- basically the one Campbell was advised to accept before spending taxpayers' money on fighting a lost-cause lawsuit.
MARCIA CLARK SNATCHES DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY AWARD: To Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. He jumped the gun in bringing indictments against all-pro linebacker Ray Lewis in a high-profile Buckhead murder case. Then, he bungled the prosecution of Lewis and two of Lewis' hangers-on. But Fulton voters didn't seem to mind: He was easily re-elected over a well-qualified opponent.
WITH CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS LIKE THESE WHO NEEDS FRIENDS AWARD: To Mayor Bill Campbell, for his close relationship with campaign contributors, minority contractor and convicted tax cheat Fred B. Prewitt.
EXPANDING COX AWARD: To media giant Cox Enterprises. Already in possession of WSB TV, WSB radio, the Beat 95.5 and the Access Atlanta website, as well as the AJC, the Coxtopus reached an arm this fall toward the alternative press, anteing up for a 25-percent stake in the newly reorganized Creative Loafing chain. Does this mean we can borrow Clark Howard?
ABSENCE IN THE LINE OF DUTY AWARD: To the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for failing to cover the local angle on the presidential and congressional elections. One October morning, less than a month before the election, the "South's Standard Newspaper" ran only a few briefs on the closest presidential race in a generation.
NOT SO WISE GUY AWARD: To Gold Club owner Steve Kaplan, whose alleged ties to the mob became the subject of a federal sting. Kaplan and the strip club are accused of racketeering and allowing sex-for-hire on the premises.
BIGGEST BONE TO PICK AWARD: To former Southeastern Legal Foundation chief Matt Glavin. He was caught, so to speak, with his pants down during a gay-cruising sting in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Glavin, who is married, led an organization that made hay over Bill Clinton's sexual misadventures and staked out a strong position against gay marriage. We wonder if he was the victim of a vast right-hand conspiracy.
YOU'LL NEVER GO BROKE SELLING DRUGS IN L5P AWARD: Shared by homegrown Aurora and world-renowned coffee lord, Starbucks. Some feared the new Starbucks in Little Five would snare groggy customers away from the favorite son, but Aurora's lines are as long as ever. Meanwhile, McD ... er, we mean, Starbucks seems to be doing just fine also.
DEAD MEN COLLECT NO ROYALTIES AWARD: To Benjamin, who was the focus of a weekend-long music and art celebration, two tribute CDs, CD reissues of Smoke and Opal Foxx Quartet (his former bands), and an acclaimed documentary, Benjamin Smoke.
A PACK OF RAMEN WILL LAST 'EM A WEEK AWARD: To Black Crowes singer and Atlanta native Chris Robinson and wispy starlet Kate Hudson. We understand they announced their engagement over seltzer and saltines, and won't hold the wedding in a strong breeze.
BEST PROMOTIONAL USE OF AN ALLEGED CRIME AWARD: To Da Brat, who appeared in court on battery charges the same week her CD, Unrestricted, was released.
DON'T FORGET TO WRITE AWARD: To LaFace Records mogul L.A. Reid, who left his "Motown of the South" for the Big Apple. Reid, who is filling the shoes of Arista founder Clive Davis, brought along a number of hand-picked top executives. Keep it real, Antonio, and resist the corporate pressure to sign German rap groups.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL AWARD: To Capricorn Records, which spent the latter part of the year in limbo, unable to release new music, as it looked for a new distribution deal, or else someone to buy the company (at press time, unconfirmed reports that a deal to sell the label's assets to Volcano Records had been made).
I COULDA BEEN A CONTENDER AWARD: To Atlanta Press (nee Poets, Artists & Madmen), which made very public its efforts to unseat Creative Loafing as Atlanta's alternative weekly, but wasn't able to. (Sorry, Patrick.)
SMALL-TIME CROOKS AWARD: To longtime south Fulton Commissioner Michael Hightower and Josh Kenyon, chief of staff for Chairman Mike Kenn. They sacrificed their political careers and earned jail time for taking bribes amounting to what a state legislator would consider chump change.
ERIC RUDOLPH AWARD: To former Fulton Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis, who enjoys some scary parallels to alleged Olympic Park bomber. Both are extreme conservatives with large chips on their shoulders. Both like throwing bombs (Rudolph, allegedly; Skandalakis, figuratively). Both vanish when the federal heat comes down on them.
THANK YOU, SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER AWARD: To Bill Campbell, just because we thought he earned one.
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