Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Andre 3000's 'NY Times' Q&A is a frustratingly brilliant read

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Andre 3000 as Hendrix in the biopic <i>Jimi: All Is by My Side</i>, opening Sept. 26.
  • Patrick Redmond for XLrator Media
  • Andre 3000 as Hendrix in the biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side, opening Sept. 26.

The word "reclusive" has never felt right when used to describe Andre 3000.

J.D. Salinger was a recluse, before his 2010 death following more than 50 years out of the public eye. Phil Spector was a recluse, before a 2009 murder conviction sent him to a California prison. Sly Stone is still a recluse, even after that startling appearance at his Grammy Awards tribute in 2006.

Despite the geniuses who've been characterized by the word, it's always sounded like a curse. An adjective reserved for tormented souls who wilt away in silence leaving an adoring following in their wake. OK, so maybe that does fit Andre 3000 to an extent. But he's also consistently come across in interviews as "un-self-conscious." Which sort of contradicts what one would expect from a typical recluse.

New York Times music writer Jon Caramanica uses both words — "reclusive" and "un-self-conscious" — to describe Andre Benjamin in a new interview that went live on the Times' site today. The Sept. 26 theatrical debut of Andre portraying Jimi Hendrix in the biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side serves as the basis for their excerpted conversation. But they talk about a little bit of everything in between.

All in all, 3000 appears to be aging gracefully, even if he admits to often being in the dumps creatively, on the fence with rap, and over the OutKast nostalgia. Some of his revelations may be frustrating if you're a longtime fan of the band, but those who favor the kind of frankness associated with reclusive, un-self-conscious artists will understand why it's quite possibly the best Andre 3000 interview ever.

Here are some highlights, below, and a link to the whole thing at the bottom.

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Demolition of 20 Hilliard St. put on hold

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 2:54 PM

What a difference a protest makes. Maria Saporta reports that Atlanta Housing Authority Chairman Dan Halpern says the demolition of 20 Hilliard St., a two-story circa 1910 building in the Old Fourth Ward, is on hold to address community concerns. Writes Saporta:

“We are halting demolition until we do further review on both the structural integrity of the building and the environmental remediation requirements,” Halpern said. “We want to be responsive to the concerns of the preservation community.” [...]

Several issues need to be reviewed — the contamination of the soil underneath the building, what legal options AHA has regarding future use of that property, and whether the building can be saved.

“We want to work collaboratively with the preservation community to find a solution,” said Halpern, president and CEO of Jackmont Hospitality, a company founded by the late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, members of his family and Halpern.

Read Saporta's full report here. Preservationists in recent days have protested the AHA's decision to raze the former laundry building - and the process it followed.

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APS gives West End urban farm one more year to operate on school property (Update)

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Patchwork City Farms, shown above at Brown Middle School, was prepared to find a new home if APS didnt renew lease
  • Patchwork City Farms
  • Patchwork City Farms, shown above at Brown Middle School, was prepared to find a new home if APS didn't renew lease
A well-regarded urban farm will continue operating at Brown Middle School after Atlanta Public Schools last week backed off a surprise decision not to renew its lease.

Patchwork City Farms - which supplies some top restaurants and also offers community gardening space - says unfounded complaints from West End Neighborhood Development were behind a nonrenewal announcement two weeks ago. Patchwork City’s founders say they were unaware of WEND’s complaints to the Board of Education.

“We were about to have a heart attack when they told us, ‘We’re potentially not renewing the lease,’” says Jamila Norman, who runs Patchwork City with partner Cecilia Gatungo. “Pick up and move a farm - are you crazy?”

APS considered the nonrenewal announcement merely a formality as part of "evaluating" the farm-school relationship, says APS spokesman James Malone.

"I think the process proved itself out," Malone told CL. "We're in a good place."

But the newly approved lease is only a one-year extension, and Malone he can't speculate on APS's long-term interest in keeping the farm. The farm aims to build more community support to stay long-term.

WEND members were unavailable for comment.

For four years, Patchwork City has farmed a one-acre plot at the Peeples Street school. A small, for-profit LLC, Patchwork City took over the spot from a now-defunct nonprofit farm. It pays $200 a month in rent and installed its own water and power, using no school resources.

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Killer Mike talks constitutional rights on 'Breakfast Club'

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 10:52 AM

It's hard to tire of listening to Killer Mike talk about anything, but specifically the hot-button human rights issues in the aftermath of Ferguson, because the dude is so damn eloquent on the subject. I won't belabor the post with an extended analysis considering this is the third post in a week featuring the Atlanta-based rapper's response to the Michael Brown tragedy. But his ongoing argument as to why the occurrences in Missouri should be of concern to all Americans, regardless of color, class or political persuasion, is pretty compelling. This time he serves it to the hosts of New York-syndicated hip-hop morning show "The Breakfast Club," during his Tuesday, Aug. 26 appearance on the show.

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Beltline community residents highlighted in '45x45' project

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM

45 x 45: Neighbors Connected
For the past three years, renowned French street artist JR has helped communities across the world install large-format wheatpastes — similar to the kind he plastered on walls in Old Fourth Ward during the 2013 Living Walls Conference — of local residents as part of an ongoing participatory art project known as "Inside Out."

#weloveatl, a loose collective of cellular shutterbugs based around the Instagram hashtag, has partnered with Art on the Beltline on an "Inside Out" project that features 45 portraits of residents living in 45 different neighborhoods adjacent to the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and greenspace — aptly titled the "45 x 45: Neighbors Connected" project. The 15-foot-by-50-foot wheatpaste, comprised of monochrome portraits positioned in a 3-by-15 grid, was plastered last weekend onto a drab concrete wall on North Avenue near the Beltline and Historic Fourth Ward Park.

"We wanted to have a place that had a monumental quality to it," #weloveatl Co-founder Brandon Barr tells CL. "We didn't want to divide the installation [into individual photos]. I like it because it's located at the heart of the Beltline. [That location] shows what the Beltline has done for eastside neighborhoods and it hints at the promise of what the Beltline can do for westside neighborhoods."

#weloveatl reached out to 45 different photographers who actively contribute to the group's Instagram community. They assigned each cameraman with a specific neighborhood adjacent to the Beltline, provided them a neighborhood contact and map, and asked for a portrait of a community resident. The "45 x 45" photographers had varying degrees of experience — some are professionals, others solely post iPhone photos on Instagram — and used a wide range of equipment for the project.

"We've always been about encouraging people to connect offline and online," Barr says. "We wanted to connect people and to allow conversation to happen around the portraits. Some used the neighborhood contacts and others roamed the streets. What you get is a diverse sort of selection of people. In some neighborhoods, people have been involved for 30 years, other times it's someone walking their dog in Atlantic Station."

The "45 x 45" project's larger focus remains on how the Beltline interacts with its surrounding neighborhoods. It also allowed photographers to engage in different communities through the city. There were photographers who documented a person in a familiar neighborhood. For others, like commercial photographer Keith Taylor, who photographed Sister DeBorah Williams in West End, it allowed them to explore a new neighborhood that took him out of his comfort zone.

"I went down [to West End] not knowing the neighborhood," Taylor tells CL. "I never had a reason to go there during my 14 years in Atlanta. ... Some places you get the idea you're an outsider there. But I was there to tell the story of a resident as a photographer. It was one of those things where I'm a commercial photographer that gets paid by companies. It's going out to photograph strangers like that makes me feel alive and appreciate what I do."

#weloveatl and Art on the Beltline will be putting the finishing touches on the "45 x 45" project between now and Sept. 6. Once it's complete, you can head to to see the portraits online and read interviews with each of the residents about their relationship to the neighborhoods.

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What's holding up the 'Green Book,' Georgia's technical manual to help builders keep waterways clean?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 9:18 AM

State Rep. David Knight, R-Griffin, wanted to repeal technical manual from law
Like a backhoe sunk in the mud, Georgia regulations on a key water pollutant are marred up in a months-long dispute that’s making nobody happy. What’s at issue is the so-called “Green Book,” the state’s technical manual for best practices in erosion control at building sites.

The Green Book sets policies that can prevent silt by the ton from invading and suffocating Georgia’s waterways. After four years of work and a federal grant to get the new edition approved in January, it took only six weeks for serious opposition to appear.

What might sound like a wonky dispute over two texts that few people but builders, regulators, and scientists will read has real world impacts. The books set policy on multiple issues, including what products builders should be required to use to prevent construction site runoff, that have big effects on Georgia waterways.

“Every staff [in Fulton and its cities] I’ve talked to was puzzled and disappointed that the sixth edition is being held up,” said Alan Toney, the elected chair of the Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District, the body in charge of helping local governments, builders and citizens understand and implement soil and erosion laws. “Nobody seems to understand why, but we think it’s political.”

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First Slice 8/27/14: Atlanta's ethics board files complaint against Councilman Michael Julian Bond

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Atlanta City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond
Atlanta's Ethics Office has slapped Councilman Michael Julian Bond with an ethics complaint for his improper use of city funds to pay for party favors for his high school reunion, travel expenses to a Washington D.C. family reunion, and personal math tutoring.

Where did $2.2 million in asphalt and other supplies belonging to Atlanta's public works department go? The city can't seem to find it, according to a new audit.

Rooks Boynton, a 72-year-old evangelist, allegedly helped indicted former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer commit tens of thousands of dollars worth of fraud. Boyer faces criminal charges and possible jail time. Boynton has yet to be charged.

"I don't know why you thought I was undocumented. Is it because I look Hispanic?"

Atlanta's home prices are on the rise, but the metro area has the highest percentage of "under water" homeowners, according to two new reports.

Attention DeKalb County cityhood supporters: You have until Nov. 15 to submit a boundary map to state lawmakers that will be considered during the 2015 legislative session.

East Point police reportedly Tased Gregoy Towns more than a dozen times before he died. “This is a direct violation of their own rules,” says attorney Chris Stewart, who's preparing a lawsuit on behalf of the Towns family. “You cannot use a Taser to escort or prod a subject.”

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'Hard Knocks' recap: 'Grow up or get out'

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Before last night there were only two episodes left of "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons," which means it was time for some cutting. In the closing weeks of preseason, Head Coach Mike Smith and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff have to get their roster from 90 to 53 players before the Falcons first regular season matchup on Sun., Sep. 7, against the New Orleans Saints.

The tone of the episode was best prefaced by narrator Liev Schreiber — via the show's writers — who said it's time for the guys to "grow up or get out." If anything, the penultimate episode was about reminding players that regardless of their larger-than-life frames, the National Football League is a place where mental toughness trumps everything. As expected, some of the guys on the roster understood that sentiment better than others. Per usual, we've got the breakdown of last night's highlights, which proved no player is guaranteed a job, even Ivy League grads.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

'United' offers alternative coverage of Atlanta's response to Ferguson

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 5:24 PM

While covering two different Atlanta rallies organized over the past two weeks in response to Michael Brown's death and the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., I ran into a familiar face. Both times local filmmaker Artemus Jenkins had his camera with him and was busy shooting footage.

"I was out there shooting for myself and people like me so we can have control over our stories," he later informed me via text. His reasoning resonates with the strong critiques of mass media coverage of Michael Brown and Ferguson — from rapper Talib Kweli challenging CNN's reporting during an on-camera interview last week with Don Lemon to Monday's social media uproar resulting from the New York Times' characterization of Brown in a profile published on the day of his funeral. The critique has even gone meta with other media outlets, from the Washington Post to Vanity Fair, coming to different conclusions over the racial bias alleged against the Times for its usage of the descriptor "no angel." In a piece defending the overall tone of the Brown profile, the Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan called the "no angel" characterization an "ill-chosen" phrase in this case. Sullivan has also criticized and defended other Ferguson-related coverage by the paper.

All of which makes for interesting backdrop to consider Jenkins' short film titled United, which ironically includes scenes of the thousands who rallied last week on the steps of the CNN Center yet received no media coverage from the cable news behemoth.

Jenkins' filmography includes the independently produced 2012 docu-series P.O.P., which gave a behind-the-scenes peek into the lives of Atlanta strippers, and the 2013 fictional web-series "Smoke and Mirrors," in which he also played the lead role of a protagonist juggling the trials and trysts of love and bachelorhood.

The same indie streak that fueled those projects drove him to produce and shoot United in the span of seven days.

"Upon learning that elements of this murder were not getting covered properly, it dawned on us to ensure our story was properly documented," reads Jenkins' artist statement about the film on YouTube. "There needs to be as much VIDEO footage out there as possible for all cities doing anything around these events. Moving images controlled by the people as opposed to mass media provide a broader opportunity to draw real conclusions. I encourage every and anyone who is able to film and upload what is happening in your city. Everyone, specifically the residents of Ferguson need to see the support we all have for them and a large amount of that support is not letting the momentum subside as the news cycle moves on to another story."

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