Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Costs come due for Council on gift of AJC building

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Memories…the former AJC newsroom, as it now appears
  • Joeff Davis
  • Memories…the former AJC newsroom, as it now appears
Nothing in life is truly free, as the cliche goes. And today, Atlanta City Council members are being reminded of that axiom in the form of cold, hard numbers — including long lines of zeros.

You'll recall that the AJC's parent company, Cox Enterprises, donated the newly emptied newspaper building at 72 Marietta Street to the city last November. Although Cox never really detailed its motives in giving away a property valued at about $50 million, most onlookers interpreted the move to be a smart, generous and mutually beneficial tax write-off.

The old AJC building is actually two buildings — or three, depending how you figure it — forming an "L" and stretching the entire block from Fairlie Street to Spring Street. There's the familiar nine-story office building that fronts Marietta Street and once held the newsroom, the "Deadline Diner" commissary and other offices. But behind that, separated by a wide alleyway but linked by a skyway, is a trapezoidal, hangar-sized structure that juts into the Gultch. About half that second building housed the ginourmous AJC press and the other half was used as warehouse space.

How big was the press? I'd guess about three or four stories tall and maybe as long as a football field, but judge from yourself from the photos after the jump.

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Atlanta's a pretty healthy place

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 3:57 PM

A new study called County Health Rankings, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, shows that the metro Atlanta area is among the healthiest in the state — although there are some outliers.

The study used two different categories to rank counties: health outcomes (a length of life, or mortality, measure and then four quality of life, or morbidity, measures) and health factors (measures of health behaviors, access to clinical care as well as a county's social, economic and physical environment). This is because the study wanted to rank how counties are now and how they can be in the future. But, they say the health outcomes rank can be used if people are seeking a single ranking of counties.

So, knowing this, how did metro area counties stack up in the two rankings?
Fayette County was number one in both outcomes and factors, making it the healthiest county in Georgia.
Gwinnett came in fourth in outcomes and ninth in factors.
Cobb is fifth in outcomes and sixth in factors.
Cherokee is sixth in outcomes and fifth in factors.
Fulton is 26th in outcomes and 13th in factors.
DeKalb is 19th in outcomes and 23rd in factors.
Rockdale is 16th in outcomes and 31st in factors.
Clayton is 42nd in outcomes and 117th in factors.

The site has interactive maps and more in-depth explanations of their methodology, plus raw numbers for each county's specific health environment.

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Saw creators shed their gory reputations for old-school suspense with Insidious

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 3:46 PM

  • Alliance Films
Best known for their work on the original Saw film, writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan have become known (perhaps unrightfully so) as the purveyors of the torture porn fad in horror films. Their latest film Insidious, however, is an ode to the more suspenseful thrillers of the ‘60s and ‘70s, as a family struggles with a seemingly haunted house, a child in a coma and various other creepy creatures . Insidious is a well-crafted horror film with moments of comic relief (if you’re paying attention, you might catch a wink-nudge sort-of cameo by Saw’s Jigsaw) to offset the family’s despair. And, in true thriller fashion, you don’t even see the source of all these fears until the very end of the movie. With the film coming out this Friday, Whannell (who also makes a cameo as a Clark Kent-like ghost hunter) and Wan took a moment to discuss the fright fest. (Some spoilers follow after the jump.)

Many people say you guys started the recent trend known as torture porn in the horror genre, but Insidious has a much more classic horror feel. Was that a conscious choice on your part?
Wan: Yes, it was intentional, but it’s also what we love.

Whannell: We sort of gravitated towards it naturally because that’s what we love, then as a bonus it happens to be something that will hopefully show people we can do different things. But having said that, it’s an interesting thing for us and Saw because we’re sort of remembered as the kings of gore or whatever because we created Saw and Saw was the first film in this new subgenre of extreme horror films that led to things like Hostel and The Devil’s Rejects and stuff. But it’s interesting for us because James only directed the first film and if you go back and watch the first Saw film, it’s not very gory. The gore is very held back, it’s much more of a low-key psychological thriller. I actually love some of the scare sequences. The sequels, then, became progressively more gory, but we didn’t have much to do with those.

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Sarah Vowell trawls in Atlanta for 'Unfamiliar Fishes'

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 3:14 PM

TITLE: Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell.

GENRE: Downbeat history with a light-hearted touch

THE PITCH: Pop historian Sarah Vowell explores how the early 19th century culture clash between New England missionaries and Hawaii’s natives established tensions that culminated in 1898 when America annexed Hawaii and other Pacific islands in a fit of Imperialism.

OPENING LINE: “Why is there a glop of macaroni salad next to the Japanese chicken in my plate lunch? Because the ship Thaddeus left Boston Harbor with the first boatload of New England missionaries bound for Hawaii in 1819.”

SORT OF A SEQUEL: Vowell’s previous nonfiction book, The Wordy Shipmates, breezily recounted the 17th century founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and its influence on America’s self-image in the present-day. Unfamiliar Fishes takes up nearly two centuries later, but traces similar challenges of transplanting Puritan idealism into inhospitable soil.

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Bobby Franklin can't take your "encouragement" right now

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Bobby Franklin cant take your call. He's too busy keepin' an eye on your uterus.
  • Joeff Davis
  • Bobby Franklin can't take your call. He's too busy keepin' an eye on your uterus.
Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-East Cobb) doesn't need an answering machine. Why? Because he already knows why you're calling him, sillies — to offer your encouragement for his efforts to classify abortion as prenatal murder!

Today Gawker posted a sound clip of the outgoing message on Franklin's home phone (the number is conveniently listed on his House bio page). Here's the transcript:

This is State Representative Bobby Franklin. Thank you for calling to give me encouragement about my sponsorship of House Bill 1, recognizing that pre-natal murder is murder. I'm not able to take that encouragement right now, so at the tone please leave your name, number, and a message.

I imagine he's trying to trick people. Like, furious constituents dial him up, hear that message, and are like, "Wait. Encouragement? Oh, well, then ... great job calling gay people drug dealers?" Then Franklin gets home from a long day under the Gold Dome, takes off his loafers, puts on a pair of tennis shoes and a comfy cardigan (I don't know why his routine is the same as Mr. Rogers', but it is), kicks back and enjoys hours of "encouraging" answering machine messages.

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Ben's Sports Take: <24 hours until Opening Day

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 2:05 PM


Here are the final seven things that need to go right for Atlanta in 2011 if the Braves have any hopes of winning another World Series title.

7. Solidify the fifth starter position
—Top prospect Mike Minor and surprise stud Brandon "Life's A" Beachy spent the duration of Spring Training in a heated battle for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation. Despite posting a sub-1.00 ERA during the spring, it was announced last week that Minor would begin the season in Gwinnett as Beachy was subsequently anointed as the fifth and final starter. The Braves' 1-4 starters are one of the best units in baseball, but solidifying the fifth spot in the rotation could make it the best—yep, that includes the Phillies.

6. How much can you bench?
—With the loss of All-Star utility man Omar Infante, Atlanta's lineup flexibility and pinch-hitting prowess took a noticeable hit. The Braves re-signed Eric Hinske and have Brooks Conrad back, but they'll need more than two options to turn to in the eighth and ninth innings if they want to build off of last year's dramatic late-inning success.

5. Jurrjens needs to be effective, healthy
—Jair Jurrjens struggled to stay on the field in 2010 and even when he did make his scheduled starts, he struggled even more—posting a 4.64 ERA in just 116.1 innings of work. Jurrjens left his final Spring Training outing last week with an apparent rib cage injury and has had his first scheduled start of the regular season pushed back to April 6. The Braves not only need Jurrjens to remain healthy in 2011, but they need him to pitch like he did in 2009 when he pitched 215 innings and received a vote for the Cy Young Award.

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MTV debuts trailer for Atlanta-filmed "Teen Wolf"

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 1:47 PM

The Atlanta-based production of "Teen Wolf" seem clearly to be on Team Jacob, considering how MTV's new series evokes the Twilight formula of forbidden love, the supernatural and shirtless wolf-boys running through leafy woods. "Teen Wolf" is scheduled to debut its 12-episode Season 1 on June 5 after the MTV Movie Awards. Highlander director Russell Mulcahy helmed the pilot episode, and among the Atlanta actors in the cast is Out of Hand Theater's Adam Fristoe as "Mr. Harris."

I've never seen either Michael J. Fox's original Teen Wolf nor the sequel with Jason Bateman, but did catch Travis Sharp's musical stage homage, The Change, last summer at Dad's Garage Theatre. At the time, director Sean Daniels told me, "I think Travis remembered Teen Wolf as this amazing movie that used the werewolf idea to comment on the whole process of a teenage boy going through adolescence. Then he went back to watch it, and saw that Teen Wolf actually has none of that, so he added those ideas to The Change." Perhaps the new "Teen Wolf" will pick up on those ideas.

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Preview: Still Life at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Julie Blackmon
  • Julie Blackmon, "Portrait"

The Westside Arts District continues to grow. Last month, Jennifer Schwartz Gallery packed up their location in the TULA Art Center and joined the ranks of Saltworks, Sandler Hudson, Kiang, and others that have been making a name for the neighborhood. Next week, the gallery, which exclusively represents photographers, will exhibit Still Life, a group show featuring work by Julie Blackmon, Michael Marshall, Aline Smithson and Maggie Taylor.

The show brings together photographers whose work explores the relationship and limits between photography and painting. The gallery posits that recent developments in digital technology has made this relationship more fluid: "Painting heavily influenced photography by dictating the aesthetics which the medium should strive toward; however, with the rise of photographic digitization in the past decade or so, photography has exploded as an experimental medium, incorporating almost all painterly techniques."

Check out a few images of work from the show and more information about the artists after the jump. Still Life opens on Fri., April 8 at 7 pm.

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Streetcar, Beltline, MARTA improvements top Atlanta's transportation-tax wishlist

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Today's the deadline for cities and counties to submit the road, bridge and transit projects they'd like to see funded by the one-cent sales tax voters will decide in 2012.

We just got our hands on Atlanta's official list, which you can download here.

Among the proposed projects:

>> First on the list is the most expensive — and one we've known about for some time. The city wants $1.1 billion to design, construct and operate what's listed as the "Atlanta Beltline Streetcar Circulator," which actually includes several transit projects.

UPDATE, 2:41 p.m. Beltline officials say that includes transit along both the west and east sides of the project. Along the $2.8 billion project's western side, transit would snake from the Oakland City MARTA station to North Avenue and then venture intown to the North Avenue MARTA station. A spur line would travel south on Luckie Street and connect to the downtown streetcar near Centennial Olympic Park.

On the Beltline's eastern side, transit would basically link Armour Yard near Lindbergh to Glenwood Park. Spurs would head intown at 10th Street, North or Ponce de Leon avenues, and Irwin Street. The latter spur would link to the downtown streetcar near the King Center. Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit group tasked with designing the proposed 22-mile loop of parks, trails and transit, will decide the final alignment, so some details could change.

(Another proposal to connect the Beltline to the Arts Center via Atlantic Station was dismissed because of possible construction and engineering issues near Howell Junction, which is like the downtown connector for freight trains. What's more, Cobb County had already proposed a light-rail project linking Cumberland Mall to the Arts Center. That line would pass through Atlantic Station. The city opted to support that project.)

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Prolific O4W auto burglar stolen away to jail

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Earlier in March, after "months of surveillance," police nabbed the man they say is one of Zone 5's most prolific auto burglars, Kevin Rodney Charles ...

East Atlanta Patch reports Charles' arrest was addressed by Fulton County community prosecutor Sharla Jackson, who called the suspect Zone 5's "Number one car break-in perpetrator," at an NPU-M's monthly meeting. Zone 5 includes parts of the Old Fourth Ward, Midtown and downtown.

Charles is being held on $120,000 bond for nine charges associated with auto break-ins. Charles has been booked into the Fulton County Jail 12 times since 2005 on charges including possession of cocaine, disorderly conduct, trespassing and, of course, auto burglary.

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