Thursday, March 29, 2012

Keeping an eye on Sine Die

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 12:29 PM

On this, the final day of the legislative session, Georgia lawmakers are scrambling to tie up any legislative loose ends in disturbingly hasty fashion. By tonight, the floor of the Capitol will be littered with bills both failed and successful, and it will be like it was all a dream - a dream that (might) impede on the rights of pregnant women, (could) restrict the ability to protest, and (maybe) screw jobless workers.

Here are the things to keep an eye on as the end of the insanity draws nigh. Or is it just the beginning ...

SB 469
The cause celebre among Occupiers, union leaders, and - oddly enough - tea partiers, the bill would prevent picketing in front of private homes. The tea party argues it's tantamount to a violation of constitutional rights. Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party says, "This bill is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. It's in violation of the Georgia Constitution, Article I, Section I, Paragraph V: 'No law shall be passed to curtail or restrain the freedom of speech or of the press.'" Church leaders are also up in arms, worried that religious institutions could be crippled by fines of up to $10,000 a day for peaceful protests. Current full text here.

SB 447
Another focus of labor unions and Occupiers, the bill would reduce unemployment benefits for the jobless. Georgia State AFL-CIO President Charlie Flemming says, "This bill is an attack on working Georgians ... the corporate community was given a tax holiday when times were good, and they didn't have to pay into insurance. Now they want to make up for the hole on the backs of the people who can lease support it." Current full text here.

HB 954
Georgia's fetal pain bill stalled a couple days ago - but that doesn't mean it's dead. Lawmakers are at an impasse because the super-pro-life House thinks the just-about-as-pro-life Senate weakened the bill - which, among other things, outlaws abortions after 20 weeks - when they amended it. They decided it should be legally OK for a woman to abort a baby after 20 weeks if the pregnancy is not viable, and the child would not survive once it was born due to fatal chromosomal or congenital defects. The House doesn't agree (which basically means they think women should carry a fetus to term even if it will absolutely die outside the womb). Current full text here.

Then there's HB 1176, Georgia's criminal justice reform legislation, which needs final approval by the House (which it will get) before it's signed by the Governor (which he will do). We'll be writing more about the final product in the next few days.

Also, there's SB 458, which originally would have prevented illegal immigrants from attending Georgia's public colleges, but was stripped of that language yesterday. Now, according to the AJC, "it's a housekeeping bill that tweaks the sweeping illegal immigration legislation that the General Assembly passed last year."

CL's annual Golden Sleaze issue will be in print next Thursday (but online sooner)!

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Dean and Britta make the Most Beautiful music for Warhol

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 9:15 AM

Dean Wareham (left) and Britta Phillips
Dean Wareham admits that being asked to score 13 of Pop Art icon Andy Warhol’s screen tests was intimidating. In 2008, the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust commissioned Wareham and his wife Britta Phillips, aka indie pop duo Dean and Britta, to put music to 13 of Warhol’s “stillies” featuring Factory regulars such as Dennis Hopper, Lou Reed, and Edie Sedgwick, for the 2008 Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The result is The 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, a guitar-and-keyboard soundtrack of original works created specifically for the short films, save a few older Dean & Britta songs, a cover of Reed’s “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore” for the Velvet Underground frontman and a Bob Dylan cover ("I'll Keep it With Mine”) for Nico. The project led to the first DVD release of Warhol’s works. Dean and Britta come to Atlanta to perform The 13 Most Beautiful… at Symphony Hall as part of the High’s Culture Shock event series. The exhibit Picasso to Warhol: 14 Modern Masters remains on view at the High through April 29.

Would you explain Warhol's screen test films?
Warhol made 472 of these films between 1964 and 1966. They are short, silent, black-and-white portraits. Before he was doing this he was doing photo booth portraits, which he called “stillies,” so this kind of grew out of that – it was the next step when he bought a Bolex and decided that he was moving into making film. He didn’t really know how to edit film I guess; he didn’t have to edit film. He’d just load a reel of film, which is about three minutes in length, and he would sit someone against a white background or a black background and just let the film roll and tell them to stare straight into the camera and do as little as possible. Then he would play these films back at a slower speed, at a silent film speed instead of the sound film speed, so they’re all kind of stretched out. So, they play back and they were just over four minutes each and that’s what kind of gives them a slightly spooky quality. If you slow down someone’s face you can kind of see things flicker across them that you really wouldn’t otherwise notice. The first part of our assignment was to pick 13 of these films.

What drew you to these 13?
We started reading about the Factory in this period; it’s called the Silver Factory. It was the one that was painted silver and it was a former hat factory on East 47th Street. After this period he moved to Union Square, which is where everything changed. It’s where he got shot. I know a little bit about Warhol and the Velvet Underground and the people that were around them, but I didn’t really know much about them at all until I started researching this and the more we learned the more we decided to focus on the people that were there everyday, like Billy Name who was Warhol’s assistant and even Dennis Hopper who was an important early champion of Warhol’s work when he went out to the West Coast. This is at a point where Warhol wasn’t selling anything at all and Dennis Hopper was blacklisted from Hollywood, he wasn’t doing much at all either – this was before Easy Rider — he was blacklisted for the first time because he was too difficult to work with, I think. Hopper was one of the first people to buy a soup can painting.

Continue reading »

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First Slice 3/29/12: Sine Die day, and the AJC hates schools

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 8:31 AM

1. It's Sine Die day, the last day of the General Assembly. Let's see how the war on women ends, shall we?

2. The Metro Atlanta jobless rate dropped to 9 percent in February, down from 9.9 percent a year earlier. Feel free to make your "not at CL" jokes in the comments.

3. The AJC has a largely ridiculous story on teacher absences in which it takes up a lot of space to say that teachers in Metro Atlanta often take off a day or two more a year than the state average. And if you read closely and look at the charts, you'll see sometimes that they're being chastised for taking off fewer than the number of days they're allowed by the district. It's just more of the AJC only covering schools as an investigative beat, not an explanatory beat, and overreaching. I'll have more on this concerning the AJC's big national cheating scandal stories later today.

5 things today: Matthis Hunter, Benjamin Percy

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 7:00 AM

1. Matthis Hunter and the Rinse play the Star Bar
2. Benjamin Percy and Joy Harjo speak at the Agnes Scott Writers' Festival
3. ATLFF Music Experience with Sealions, Cousin Dan, and others at the Goat Farm
4. John Wesley Harding, Joe Pernice, and Rick Moody play Eddie's Attic (Yes, novelist Rick Moody)
5. Whitney Houston tribute at Apache Cafe


5 things today: Matthis Hunter, Benjamin Percy

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 7:00 AM

1. Matthis Hunter and the Rinse play the Star Bar
2. Benjamin Percy and Joy Harjo speak at the Agnes Scott Writers' Festival
3. ATLFF Music Experience with Sealions, Cousin Dan, and others at the Goat Farm
4. John Wesley Harding, Joe Pernice, and Rick Moody play Eddie's Attic (Yes, novelist Rick Moody)
5. Whitney Houston tribute at Apache Cafe


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Atlanta butt injector 'almost killed' a Baltimore stripper

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Do you want to make more money? Sure. We all do. Today, Atlanta entrepreneur Kimberly Smedley shared the inspiring story of how she made upward of $200,000 traveling to hotels across the country and injecting the rear ends of insufficiently endowed strippers with commercial-grade silicone, then plugging up the holes with super glue.

WHAT A SUCCESS. Oh, I'm just kidding. Smedley pleaded guilty in a Baltimore federal courtroom today to "transporting misbranded medicine across state lines" and spending eight years performing the illegal and really dangerous injections.

Commercial grade silicone is not supposed to go into human bodies. It's supposed to be used to polish furniture and stuff like that. In the incident that led to Smedley's October arrest, she administered 18 shots of the stuff to a Baltimore exotic dancer's butt cheeks. The woman fell ill when the silicone seeped into her lungs, causing her to experience pneumonia-like symptoms. "You almost killed me," the dancer said in a text she sent to Smedley.

Prosecutors say she performed similar procedures on women in Washington, New York, Detroit and Philadelphia — but not Atlanta? — and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Should've gone with that at-home degree in TV/VCR repair instead, girlfriend.

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$3 million and 9,200-square-foot KSU museum expansion gets the OK

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Rendering of the proposed new expansion
Kennesaw State University's art program keeps growing. Atlanta dance darling Lauri Stallings is an artist-in-residence for its dance program. Last July, artist/professor Teresa Bramlette Reeves was named director and chief curator of its art museum and galleries. Now KSU — the third largest university in Georgia — has announced a $3 million expansion to its art museum to be completed by March 2013.

Local architecture firm Stanley Beaman & Sears will be designing the 9,200-square-foot addition to the building, originally built in 2007, which will include more exhibition space in addition to a center for interdisciplinary research. KSU's permanent collection has grown to include more than 1,000 works since a gift of five prints from local collectors Fred D. Bentley Sr. and J. Allan Sellars 40 years ago. It holds pieces by Marc Chagall, Norman Rockwell, Howard Finster, Pierre-August Renoir, Lamar Dodd, and more.

Funding for the phase II expansion began with a $2 million pledge from retired carpet industry executive Bernard Zuckerman that required the university to raise an additional $1 million. One hundred sculptures by Zuckerman's late wife Ruth will be displayed in a new wing, the all-glass "Ruth V. Zuckerman Pavilion."

A yet to be determined exhibit will celebrate the expansion's grand opening next spring.

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Atlanta has biggest "urban footprint" growth in the country. That's bad, right?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 3:59 PM

As pointed out today by the Atlantic's excellent Cities blog:

Atlanta saw the largest absolute increase in its urban area between 2000 and 2010, growing from 1,962 square miles to 2,645, an increase of nearly 683 square miles.

Okay, that makes sense, right? It's suburban (and exurban) sprawl. No news there, not in a city of only 420k but in a metro area with 5.5 million. But I also wondered, what does "urban" mean exactly? Can something like the development of the city's westside be considered new "urban" land, because it has more density now? Or is what they count as "new" urban land just formerly unincorporated areas that now have roads and such?

Someone who helped me get my head around this is Patrick Kennedy, a Dallas-based urban designer and planner currently doing work in Atlanta. (Dallas, you'll see from the chart on the linked post above, gained the second-most urban square miles, and there are many similarities between the two cities' growth patterns.) This got us into a discussion whether such sprawl can possibly be good for an area. On the jump is some of our exchange.

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Atlanta Daily World 'demolition' to be voted on today

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 3:17 PM

At 4 p.m., the Atlanta Urban Design Commission is scheduled to vote on whether or not it will allow the demolition of the old Atlanta Daily World building on Auburn Avenue. Regarded as the "first successful African-American paper in the country," the Atlanta Daily World was founded in the building 1928 moved into the building's top floor in 1950, and continued to operate out of it until recently. (The paper was founded at 210 Auburn Avenue.)

The Historic District Development Corporation has been a vocal opponent of the demolition, which the developer, Integral Group, subsequently explained would only be a "partial demolition," explaining that they intend to preserve the building's facade. Still, the HDDC urged the community to sign a petition to save the entire building, and preserve the "fabric" of Auburn Avenue.

It was initially reported that GSU had submitted the application for demolition so they could construct dorms on the property, but a spokesperson told CL in February, "This is not our project."

As former CL writer Scott Henry explained, the issue is somewhat more complicated than a big-bad developer wiping out an African-American landmark:

Integral is a black-owned development firm. The Scotts, meanwhile, are Atlanta royalty. W.A. Scott founded the Daily World on this site in 1928, and the family has remained prominent in political and business circles ever since. Yes, the building is important to Auburn Avenue and African-African history as a whole, but who's going to tell the family that it can't realize a profit from its property?

The HDDC is encouraging people to attend the Design Commission's meeting, which takes place at 4 p.m. at City Hall.

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Steel Wheels 5's freight train art rolls into Atlanta

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM

A model train painted by artist King 157.
  • Cole Only
  • A model train painted by artist King 157.

Steel Wheels, a railroad inspired art show at Archive Gallery, rolls into Atlanta this Friday, March 30 featuring work inspired by boxcar art from more than 100 artists. The show includes photography, canvas work, painted railroad memorabilia like signs and hand-painted model trains.

When the modern graffiti or aerosol art movement started in New York City during the 1970s, the canvas of choice was almost always a subway train since it offered a larger audience. Painting a subway train was like sending one's art on tour, trains would travel throughout the five boroughs of NYC, bringing more viewers than just painting on a wall.

Once the subway system started cracking down on graffiti in the '80s and began a comprehensive clean up initiative, painters turned to freight trains that traversed the entire nation instead of just a single city, and the freight movement was born.

Steel Wheels' co-curator and hype man, who prefers to be called "Mendiesel the freight enthusiast," explains the movement's magnitude: "An artist could paint a train in Atlanta and people in the middle of a corn field in Nebraska could see the piece and be inspired by the art."

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