Thursday, March 7, 2013

CALL FOR PHOTOS: What makes your neighborhood so great?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM

MLK DAY: School teacher Raquel Davis spends the morning cleaning up a section of the Atlanta Beltline.
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • MLK DAY: School teacher Raquel Davis spends the morning cleaning up a section of the Atlanta Beltline.

For CL's 2013 Neighborhood Guide, we're on a quest to find the good in Atlanta so we can spread the Karma throughout the city - and we need your help. This year we are launching our Do Good campaign, a series of grassroots partnerships with local neighborhoods to help them realize goals and projects they haven't been able to accomplish on their own, from beautifying a decaying neighborhood corner to starting a community garden to fencing in a new dog park. More about that soon.

As part of this project, we want our faithful CL readers to show us what good looks like in their neighborhoods. Think about it, and send us a photo of what you see. It could be anything from that piece of public art that brightens up your day to a neighbor picking up after their dog, and pretty much anything in-between. Maybe it's an annual neighborhood festival? An oft-overlooked park? Or a community organization that brings people together? Whatever the reasons, we want to see what makes your neighborhood great.

So join us in bringing good to our fair city - send us photos of the good in your community and we will put your photo in our "do good photo gallery" and possibly publish it our upcoming Neighborhood Guide. Send your snapshots to photos@cln.com or post them to Twitter or Instagram using the #DoGoodATL hashtag before March 11, 2013. Don't forget to include the location and a brief description.

Now, go forth and rep your n'hood!

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Manuel's Tavern to raise prices, change hours ... and be smoke-free by 2014

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Patrons watched then-Sen. Barack Obama elected president at the packed bar in 2008
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Patrons watched then-Sen. Barack Obama elected president at the packed bar in 2008
Brian Maloof, the owner and general manager of the Poncey-Highland watering hole where Democrats have celebrated and mourned (and sometimes even broken bread with Republicans), said in an announcement this morning that the restaurant is making some changes.

In his letter, Maloof says that diners will notice a modest, across-the-board hike in menu items and the establishment will change hours. (Next time someone fails to understand the role that MARTA plays in metro Atlanta's economy, point 'em to Maloof's announcement. He notes that transit service cuts have made it difficult to staff the restaurant late at night.) In addition, the restaurant and bar also plans to comply with requests from customers and event coordinators and be completely smoke-free by next January.

What's to blame? Maloof says there are many culprits, including the rising costs of ingredients and maintenance, the burden of local regulations and taxes, and an effort to provide health insurance to all employees.

"If we are truly the business I think we are, and you are truly the customer I know you to be, then I know you will understand and continue to support us," Maloof writes.

He adds: "If you value honesty, please know I have been honest with you about our dilemma. It is scary and keeps me awake some nights. These changes are the best answers I have at the moment. They were conceived through lots of thought and meditation. I have not seen an alternative."

The vast majority of responses to the transparent post are supportive, though some customers say they are disgruntled by the smoking policy change. Fret not, we say, the joint isn't losing its soul. Maloof's full letter follows below.

Friends of Manuel's Tavern,

You are not nameless and faceless. You are not just customers. You are family, and as owner of Manuel's I want to share some difficult, upcoming changes. It is my hope that, after explanation, these necessary changes will be more understandable to you, and that Manuel's will continue to receive your support.

Without you, Manuel's would not be in business, and because of our established relationship we consider the impact of decisions on you. Nevertheless, uncomfortable and unwanted decisions have to be made. The changes below are being forced by financial need.

Every year management forecasts and surveys the business landscape and looks at any necessary adjustments to our business model. Most of the time, these adjustments are very small.

However, because of many circumstances beyond of our control, Manuel's is facing some big business hurdles. As a result, small changes are not in our current forecast.

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Druid Hills residents to fight new bill pushed by Clifton Ridge developer

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 1:05 PM

FIGHTING BACK: Druid Hills residents living off of Clifton Road have posted signs protesting against the proposed development
  • Max Blau
  • FIGHTING BACK: Druid Hills residents living off of Clifton Road have posted signs protesting against the proposed development
Residents in one Atlanta neighborhood say a new bill under the Gold Dome could upend Georgia's historic preservation code - all for a single developer's benefit.

Members of the Druid Hills Civic Association, mired in a longstanding fight against the developer of the proposed Clifton Ridge subdivision, say that HB 474 would enact statewide changes for a local issue.

The proposal by state Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, marks the third consecutive year that state lawmakers have introduced similar measures, including both standalone bills and other legislative amendments. If passed, Georgia's historic preservation codes would be amended as follows:

Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance or repair of any exterior architectural feature in or on a historic property, which maintenance or repair does not involve a material change in design, material, or outer appearance thereof, nor to prevent any owner of vacant property within a historic district from subdividing or developing such property in accordance with local zoning regulations, nor to prevent any property owner from making any use of his or her property not prohibited by other laws, ordinances, or regulations.

Community members say that Clifton Ridge developer Robert Buckler, who is also a Troutman Sanders partner, has pushed the bill through his close ties with state lawmakers. DHCA President Bruce MacGregor first learned about HB 474 on Tuesday and remains concerned about its potential impact.

"It's a very bad bill [that] would gut historic districts statewide," MacGregor tells CL. "We're concerned that this is the same thing."

MacGregor also adds that the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation has stood behind the DHCA's opposition in years past. Mark C. McDonald, the organization's CEO and president, says that it would be a shame to revise the state's longstanding codes.

"It is an effort to allow a single property owner in a solitary county in our state to subdivide a historically significant lot," McDonald tells CL. "There is no problem that exists across our state that demands this kind of statewide remedy."

The DHCA is still organizing to fight the bill, which could come in front of the Judiciary Committee on March 5. In addition, it recently filed a lawsuit against Buckler, its 11th case against the developer in the past decade.

"We have to [oppose it]," says MacGregor. "Historic Druid Hills is at stake and that destabilizes the community. The more important fact is that it sets a precedent."

In January, protesters temporarily halted a crew that started clearing land. Buckler claimed that he had the proper permits, and told the Virginia Highland-Druid Hills Patch that "they can protest until the cows come home."

CL reached out to Buckler and Willard for comment. We'll post an update if we hear back.

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Crazed horror-comedy 'John Dies at the End' deserves cult status

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 9:48 AM

THE SOY SAUCE IS TO DIE FOR: Chase Williamson and Paul Giamatti
  • Courtesy of Magnet
  • THE SOY SAUCE IS TO DIE FOR: Chase Williamson and Paul Giamatti
The most memorable innovation of Don Coscarelli's Phantasm trilogy of feverish horror films were flying silvery discs, shaped a little like yoyos, which showed a distressing tendency to sprout spikes or drills and embed themselves in the faces of unsuspecting victims. The new horror-comedy John Dies at the End finds Coscarelli dabbling with zany surrealism. Here, a flying menace turns out to be a malignant mustache, which detaches from one man's face to flap savagely around the hero's head.

With its bizarre but confident blend of deadpan humor and nightmarish shocks, John Dies at the End deserves a midnight-movie following. Currently film cults tend to surround fascinating failures - your Birdemics, your Troll 2s - but John Dies at the End succeeds as an authentic oddity with enough inventive set pieces and dorm-room philosophy to compensate for its low budget.

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Georgia's first Southern Cannabis Reform Conference coming

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 9:05 AM

The homegrown fight to legalize weed is getting fired up again.

Marijuana legalization advocates have announced Georgia's first Southern Cannabis Reform Conference, scheduled to take place March 15-16. Organized by Peachtree NORML, a local affiliate of the national organization, the conference will mix entertainment and education, with workshops and panels planned to discuss "the how's and why's of cannabis reform in Georgia," according to the press release.

In recent years, longtime state legalization advocates have jumped on the medical-marijuana bandwagon by pushing to activate the little-known Medical Marijuana Necessities Act passed by the Georgia Legislature in 1981 but long since buried under bureaucracy.

But since last November's election brought legalized marijuana usage to Colorado and Washington, Georgia advocates have felt empowered enough to push for complete legalization.

"The dam has been broken, so to speak, with Colorado and Washington," says Sharon Ravert, the executive director of Peachtree NORML and head of Georgia Moms For Marijuana. "We feel like it's coming this way, and as a parent I want to make sure it's done right."

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First Slice 2/28/13: Chickens reign supreme in Cobb

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 8:23 AM

1. A divided Cobb County Commission struck down stricter laws around hiring illegal immigrants and said it was okay for folks to have chickens in their yard (which was really the hot button issue).

2. Former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff calls Georgia a "lobbyist Disneyland", citing a national reputation for loose regulation and ethics. He's all for the lobbyist gift reform bill currently meandering its way through the Gold Dome, but says it still has too many loopholes.

3. Border patrol agents have confiscated a marijuana cannon capable of firing 13-kilo packages of drugs over the border into California.

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5 things to do: Solange

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM

5 things to do in Atlanta today

1. Solange at the Masquerade

2. Deb Perelman at Manuel's Tavern

3. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants art show at the M. Rich Building

4. Toast to Literacy at Local Three Kitchen & Bar

5. Drink in Design: In the Club with Michael Habachy at the Museum of Design Atlanta

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Now hiring: six DeKalb County school board members

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Who wants to work under this guy?
Have you ever pictured yourself guiding DeKalb County's school system from the depths of probation to bold new heights? Here's your chance.

On Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal canned six DeKalb County board members. After giving them the boot, he created a nominating panel tasked with finding their replacements. Starting now, prospective school board members can apply for the positions:

Applicants should send the following information to dekalbschoolboardnominations@georgia.gov:

1. Legal name, contact information and home address

2. District seat for which one is applying

3. Resume, CV and/or brief biography

4. Statement of interest

The panel will accept applications until March 6 at 5 p.m.

Plus points for anyone who incorporates former board member Eugene Walker's epic quote - "I was elected by the people, but I work for God" - in his or her statement of interest.

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Buckhead bigwigs support building a new Falcons stadium

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Buckhead wont save you now, pretty Dome
The Buckhead Coalition, the well-connected booster group and Jeff Foxworthy fan club headed by former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, has endorsed the idea of building a new Atlanta Falcons stadium. The group's executive committee passed a resolution of support for the estimated $1 billion sports complex at its meeting this morning. So sayeth the resolution:

WHEREAS the Buckhead Coalition focuses its involvement and effort on programs site-specific to this Community, and

WHEREAS it is clearly reasoned that it is unlikely any professional sports arena will ever be developed within Buckhead's environs, and

WHEREAS the Coalition recognizes the importance to our City that it be preeminent in all facilities major league, and

WHEREAS we recognize the importance of support for the City as a whole be always a commitment of the Coalition, and

WHEREAS detailed negotiations are ongoing by our City Government and the Downtown Civic Leadership on a proposed new football stadium in Downton, and

WHEREAS we believe that the business interests of Buckhead see such a development as a positive economic impact on Atlanta as a whole and Downtown specifically, and

WHEREAS we have confidence in conclusions reached in deliberations by our Mayor and City Council, and by our civic counterpart, Central Atlanta Progress,

WE THEREFORE RESOLVE by this means to support the plans as adopted by Atlanta City Government, concurred in by Central Atlanta Progress.

Anyone eager to tell the city they agree or disagree with the Buckhead Coalition should venture to Atlanta City Council this evening for another meeting about the proposed stadium. The fun starts at 6 p.m.

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Sandler Hudson and Kai Lin Art make moves on the Westside

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 12:41 PM

Work by Don Cooper will be exhibited at Sandler Hudsons new gallery space.
  • VIA SANDLER HUDSON
  • Work by Don Cooper will be exhibited at Sandler Hudson's new gallery space.

Two galleries, Sandler Hudson and Kai Lin Art, have new locations on the Westside.

Since opening in 1989, Sandler Hudson Gallery has become one of Atlanta's longest-running spaces for contemporary artists in the city. In recent years, it's been located next door to Octane Coffee's Westside location at the split of Howell Mill Road and Marietta Street. This week, the gallery announced a move to 1000 Marietta St. NW, Suite 116, in the Brickworks building across the street from the former location. They'll christen the space with an exhibition of works by Don Cooper, opening on March 22.

A relative newcomer to Atlanta's gallery scene, Kai Lin Art announced today that the gallery is expanding to a second location at 999 Brady Ave., Suite 7, in the same building as Miller Union and Fabrefaction Theatre. In a statement, the gallery said it will "remain as curator" of the current space next door to the Buckhead Theatre. The Westside gallery will exhibit work by two artists, Nathaniel Galka and Kent Knowles, during the month of March.

The news of these moves comes as a welcome change of pace from a recent streak of gallery closings on the Westside. Jennifer Schwartz, Emily Amy, Twin Kittens, and Saltworks closed Westside gallery spaces over the past year.

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