Friday, July 15, 2016

First Slice 7/15/16: City Council to ask to renovate, not raze Central Library

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 9:07 AM

Downtown's iconic library building may yet be saved. - EOGHANACHAT/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Downtown's iconic library building may yet be saved.

The Atlanta City Council is preparing to ask for Downtown's historic Central Library building to be renovated, not torn down or abandoned. The council is slated to approve a resolution on Monday requesting that the Fulton County Board of Commissioners keep the iconic Marcel Breuer-designed facility in tact.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site on Auburn Ave. could soon be upgraded to national park status if Congress approves. The site's superintendent, Judy Forte, says it's a small but significant change that's "long overdue."

Last night Georgia executed John Wayne Conner, 34 years and one day after he was convicted for murder. This marks the state's sixth execution this year, a record for the four decades since Georgia approved the death penalty.

Access to higher education will soon be more affordable (or at least, less debt-inducing) for Kennesaw State University students. Following a troubling audit report, university officials are cutting back on unnecessary fees, including no longer requiring commuter students to purchase meal plans.

In a suburban nightmare come true, a rabid coyote attacked a park visitor in Roswell. Officials were able to capture the sick animal, but the health department is cautioning residents to keep pets inside and report sighting any other creatures who may have picked up rabies.

A recent report ranked Georgia among the worst states for access to mental health care. WABE digs in to the state of mental illness in Georgia and beyond.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Time and Place: American dreams

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 2:11 PM

2:46 a.m., July 12, 2016, 254 Peachtree St. SW, Atlanta, GA - BRANDON ENGLISH
  • Brandon English
  • 2:46 a.m., July 12, 2016, 254 Peachtree St. SW, Atlanta, GA

Photographer Brandon English spent endless hours covering the demonstrations that took place in Atlanta to protest the recent shooting deaths of black males by police officers, including the highly publicized and videotaped killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota last week. Wherever and whenever protesters gathered, people could see English's tall, lanky silhouette near the front of the action with cameras wrapped around him. The former CL intern greatly contributed to CL’s coverage of the protests, including the instantly classic image we chose for our Time and Place photograph in this week's print edition of Creative Loafing. I talked with English about the image above, which was taken at 2:46 a.m. on Tuesday outside the Atlanta City Detention Center.

What is going on in this picture?
Several people sleep under the American flag outside of the Atlanta Detention Center while waiting for the release of protesters arrested during a protest/march in Buckhead on Monday July 11th.

Why do you like it?
I'm really into the way in which the repetition of the flags establishes a symbolic language throughout the photograph. The flag being a moniker of freedom/justice directly clashes with the physical location being that of a detention center. That sort of ideological conflict creates a subtext I can appreciate in a image.

Why do you think it makes a good Time and Place photo versus all the other photos you took of all the protests?
I believe the contrast of this one versus the other photographs of the weekend made it stand out. My other photographs are rife with tension, while this has the atmosphere of peace despite the location and context.

How many protests did you cover over the five days? How late do you work? How far did you walk? What was the most surprising thing you saw?
I covered five days of protests. Initially I was going to rest on Saturday, but saw a late-night post on Facebook from a protester seeking someone to bring water. So I hopped in the car, picked up some palettes of water and drove down from my mom's house in Cobb County. Most nights ran until the early morning. On Saturday night, I actually ended up editing photos at a frat house on Georgia Tech's campus until 5 a.m. Monday definitely ran the longest, as I stayed at the Atlanta Detention Center until the last protester was released at 6 a.m. 

How far did I walk? A lot. More often than not I was running to reach the front of the march. At this time, I'm actually feeling pretty good. A few days ago I'd say the soreness was pretty well distributed, but the shoulders and knees definitely would have taken the cake. The unity that was able to be achieved certain nights despite such an amalgamation of people and ideals was easily the most surprising thing. I could list numerous things I witnessed from onlookers or police, but I don't know that I found those surprising.

Why did you cover the protests?
I had to. Not because I was assigned (I wasn't), but because of my process as an artist. I work in reality, so when the city I'm living in is having a moment such as this, I would be failing myself as an artist if I wasn't there. One part coping mechanism, one part my way of fighting for what I believe in.

More photographs from the Atlanta protests

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House of June turns reality into radical black cinema

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 11:36 AM

HOTTER THAN JULY: Indie filmmakers Amber L. N. Bournett (left) and Ebony Blanding are House of June. - SPENCER CHARLES GREENE
  • Spencer Charles Greene
  • HOTTER THAN JULY: Indie filmmakers Amber L. N. Bournett (left) and Ebony Blanding are House of June.

When Amber L. N. Bournett and Ebony Blanding announced their plans to host a night of Unapologetic Melaninated Cinema two weeks ago, they had no idea how dark things would get between then and now.

The avalanche of black death, perpetrated by the state and replayed on continuous loop. The nationwide protests, obscured by alleged sniper fire that left five police officers dead in Dallas. The curious case of a black man found hanged to death in Piedmont Park. And a woman named Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, armed with a camera phone and courage under fire, whose live-streamed video of her boyfriend’s fatal shooting by Minnesota police rewrote the script on black girl magic.

Five days prior, Bournett, 30, and Blanding, 31, were in another world. The only two black women chilling in an offbeat Candler Park tea shop, they talked about what drew them to pick up cameras and begin telling stories of their own under the banner House of June.

“Honestly, we started making films out of necessity,” Bournett says, recalling the period just before the Shonda Rhimes-ification of ABC on Thursday nights. “Now there’s a lot of us on television, but it was like there was no representation.”

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Weekend Arts Agenda: One last glance at the Isness of Being

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 10:39 AM

A triptych of Ibrahim's paintings. - BASSMI IBRAHIM
  • Bassmi Ibrahim
  • A triptych of Ibrahim's paintings.

This weekend is your last chance to contemplate Bassmi Ibrahim’s Isness of Being, before it’s gone from the Bill Lowe Gallery. The Egyptian-American painter’s exhibition features a unique style of “poured” paintings. Ibrahim’s striking art inspires a connection between the physical and spiritual selves by abandoning the paintbrush entirely. You’ve had a month to see it — and now that time’s running out.

Isness of Being runs Thurs-Fri., from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Sat., July 16, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Bill Lowe Gallery.

It’s been some kind of week, that’s for sure. I’ve made it easy for you, Atlanta: here’s your weekend all laid out — assuming you ever take a break from Pokémon GO.

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First Slice 7/14/16: Paideia 8th grader schools world on white male privilege

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 9:28 AM

  • screenshot/YouTube

"I fuckin' love being privileged and I'm not willing to give that away!" Paideia student Royce Mann, 14, says in his spoken word piece "White Boy Privilege." "I love it because I can say 'fuckin'' and not one of you is attributing that to the fact that everyone with my skin color has a dirty mouth." Though recorded at a poetry slam at the Atlanta private school in May, it's now going viral as the nation struggles to have another conversation on race in the aftermath of recent racially-tinged violence. The eighth-grader breaks down the litany of societal biases that fall in his favor as a white male, apologizing to women, black people, Asian Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and "everyone who isn't a middle or upper class white boy."

In the race for the next Atlanta mayor, City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and businessman Peter Aman have positioned themselves as frontrunners after each raising a large amount of money since declaring in April, Ernie Suggs of the AJC reports. [paywall]

More details about the identity of Piedmont Park hanging victim have emerged. Michael George Smith Jr., a New Jersey native, was a gay resident of Midtown who was being persecuted by his family due to his sexual orientation. He'd also recently been diagnosed with cancer, according to a close friend.

BMI's R&B/Hip-Hop Awards will happen in Atlanta for the first time in its decade-and-a-half history. The private music industry awards show will take place Sept. 1 at the Woodruff Arts Center's Symphony Hall and bestow Toni Braxton and Ludacris with the BMI President's Award. Braxton started her career in Atlanta with the hometown label LaFace Records in the ’90s. And Luda's been Disturbing tha Peace in his hometown since his days as Chris Lova Lova on the city's first hip-hop station Hot 97.5 in the mid-’90s.

Developers are proposing the construction of a new Atlanta skyscraper — yaaawn — that would be the second tallest building in the city's skyline. What'll it house? What else? Luxury condos (382) and extended-stay corporate suites (180) on 14th Street. Whoopee.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What Nike's new Atlanta ’96 shoe says about the identity of the city

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 4:02 PM

  • Courtesy Nike
Whatizit, you ask? Why, the new limited-edition Nike shoe created to commemorate Atlanta's 1996 Olympics.

And, yep, they look just look Izzy! But fresher — depending on whom you ask.

OK, guess he doesn't think so. What about this guy?

Can't argue with that. They DO look like they were used to A-Town stomp Izzy. Which is how I like to imagine Billy Payne (former Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games President and CEO) taking out his frustration on the unanimously lampooned reception his Olympic mascot got all those years ago. 

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Open Door Community, Ponce's long-running haven for Atlanta's homeless, is closing next year

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 3:51 PM

For 35 years, the Open Door Community on Ponce de Leon Avenue has provided a place where homeless men and women could find a bed, eat a meal, or take a shower. It wasn't uncommon to see some of the members — some of whom sold everything they owned and passed up a salary to launch the ministry — protesting the death penalty and demanding the state expand Medicaid. 

Next year, the shelter will vacate the aging former apartment building on Ponce. The six "elder" members of the community will be moving from Atlanta to be near family. And the already small number of resources for people living on the city's streets will get even smaller. 

The Open Door Community's leadership team — Murphy Davis and Ed Loring, Gladys and Dick Rustay, Nelia and Calvin Kimbrough, and David Payne — say in a letter sent to supporters that they anticipate the center at 910 Ponce de Leon Ave. — "the location of our residential community and hub of our ministry," its members say — will close in January 2017. They say the organization "cannot move forward in the way that we have lived and worked for the past 35 years."  

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Jackson, Lankford in rematch for Fulton County sheriff

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 2:40 PM

In addition to overseeing court security and serving papers, the sheriff oversees the Fulton County Jail on Rice Street in northwest Atlanta. - JOEFF DAVIS/CL FILE
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • In addition to overseeing court security and serving papers, the sheriff oversees the Fulton County Jail on Rice Street in northwest Atlanta.

On a recent Thursday night, candidates in July 26 runoff sat in a small Fairburn church and waited to make their pitches to the jam-packed crowd.

Several of the men and women running for county solicitor, the state Legislature, and Fulton Superior Court judge sat at tables below the pulpit. But it was the the Democrats vying to serve as Fulton County Sheriff — a position that oversees the county jail, handles courthouse security, and serves foreclosure papers — who probably drew the most cheers and murmurs from the audience of 150 or so.

Both men have years of experience: current Sheriff Theodore "Ted" Jackson was first elected in 2008. Richard Lankford was elected for two terms starting in 1984. They both inherited lockups that attracted separate federal inquiries for unsafe overcrowding. And the two men have met in an election before. In 2012, Jackson beat several Democrats, including Lankford, in one round of voting, though in a vote so close, Lankford unsuccessfully called for a runoff

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