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Our first Real-End-of-A-Millennium Awards 

Brought to you by the usual panel of experts, cranks and ne'er-do-wells at Creative Loafing

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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.

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