I know, judging from the headline and lede it sounds like I'm kidding. But alas and unfortunately, it's true.
CL Publisher Sharry Smith told staffers today that Celeste's last day in the office would be Friday, Oct. 12.
"Eric, thank you for your strong leadership and contributions over the past year," Smith wrote in a staff announcement. "I have thoroughly enjoyed working with you, will miss you, and wish you only the best!"
In addition to editing the paper, Celeste opined on living in an auto-oriented city without an automobile, Atlanta's homelessness issues, that little cable news network headquartered downtown, questioned the AJC's seven-month long expose into school testing irregularities, among other things.
Celeste came to Atlanta last year from Dallas, where he's scribbled for and led various publications over the decades. He was the founding editor of The Met, an arts, culture and entertainment weekly in Dallas. worked as a features editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, served as associate editor of the Dallas Observer, editor in chief of Southwest Spirit — Southwest Airlines' in-flight magazine — and managing editor and editorial strategist for Dallas' D Magazine.
He holds the Texas city close to his heart and will be going back to live with his longtime girlfriend and be closer to friends and family.
"This was entirely a personal decision," Celeste says. "I don't have a full-time gig lined up. I think the paper moving forward needs someone committed to the city. Despite the obvious turmoil the paper and industry has undergone, we've managed to assemble such a young and talented staff that does fantastic work every day."
In the staff announcement, Smith says she's interviewing internal candidates and hopes to hire a new editor before Celeste leaves.
Staffers were too busy dancing on desks and could not be bothered to comment. No, we're kidding, we will miss him but wish him the best.
If you haven’t noticed, here at Creative Loafing we’re pretty excited about our 40th anniversary year (and party this Wednesday!). It’s a pretty big deal for any newspaper, alternative weekly or nay, to have stayed afloat and intertwined with a community for a stint that reaches across generations.
But rare is the day that an entire editorial staff is willing to stand behind the news hole that signs their checks and make complete fools of themselves to celebrate a milestone. This past week at CL, we did exactly that.
"Is it that time already?" you're asking. "Doesn't the Best of Atlanta issue come out in, like, SEPTEMBER? Do I have to vote again?"
Yes, yes, and yes. But fear not, CL reader. We've made it easier on you. This year, we've broken down the voting over five weeks - one category a week - so you don't have to answer 250 questions at once.
Instead of a six-pack to get through it, now you need a shorty, a pint, or, at most, a growler. So for the next five weeks, you'll vote on your favorite things about the city.
This week, look around at the things that make Atlanta great and cast your 'Cityscape' votes. What's the hot new thing that makes you proud to call Atlanta home, your favorite park to take the pooch, or the wittiest local Twit on Twitter? CL, and Atlanta at large, want your thoughts on the things that help make this city great - the best of the best and nothing in between.
Get started, happy voting, and remember - don't vote and drive. Best of Atlanta 2012 ballot.
In case you were wondering, the rest of the voting schedule goes like this:
Week 1: CONSUMER CULTURE (July 2)
Week 2: AFTER DARK (July 9)
Week 3: POETS, ARTISTS & MADMEN (July 16)
Week 4: CITYSCAPE (July 23)
Week 5: ORAL PLEASURES (July 30)
Creative Loafing Atlanta has been purchased by SouthComm Inc., a Nashville-based media company. The sale also includes CL's sister publication Washington City Paper in D.C. (Here's WCP's write-up of the sale.) Once the transition to new ownership is complete, Creative Loafing Inc. will no longer exist as a company.
SouthComm, which now publishes eight alt-weeklies and more than 20 niche publications total, bought the paper for an undisclosed sum from Atalaya Capital Management. The New York-based hedge fund took control of the company in August 2009 after Ben Eason, the former owners and son of CL's founders, lost the paper during bankruptcy proceedings.
In a press release - as well as a lunch conversation that I'm not saying happened last week but probably did - SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell said he expected no immediate editorial changes at the papers. Ferrell said he will examine each market to decide whether to introduce new print and digital products to complement the publications. Ferrell, a former Nashville city councilman who formed the company in 2007, said that although Atlanta and D.C. represent larger markets than SouthComm has previously served, the company's business principles still apply.
District 2 City Councilman Kwanza Hall tells CL, "Historic Fourth Ward Park has exceeded our expectations in the year since it came online."
The idea for the park, or at least a retention pond to help control flooding in the area, was born in the early 2000s by environmental activist Bill Eisenhauer. Trust for Public Land soon became involved and, with the help of the city and civic leaders, pushed along the idea. Between 2007 and 2008, Hall joined 1,000 other residents and businesses to create a master plan for improving the neighborhood. Hall said, "One of the plan's priorities was for the park to be a gathering place for families."
And that's what it's become. Crystal Wells, a resident of downtown who watches four kids during the summer months, says her young charges beg her to take them to the park. They play on the splash pads, while skaters ride in the 15,000 square-foot skate park, and owners walk their dogs along the two-acre retention pond.
Besides being a place for the community to congregate, sources say the park has been an economically positive addition to the neighborhood.
Neighborhood Planning Unit M, comprising Downtown, Castleberry Hill, Sweet Auburn, and the Old Fourth Ward, contributed 10 percent of the entire cities growth over a decade. In the past three years, hundreds of new residents have moved to the neighborhood, housing prices around the park have stabilized, and there's a general sense of excitement about what's to come in the future. Good things, it seems: the scheduled completion of Ponce City Market in 2014 and the development of apartments to the west of Masquerade will draw even more residents and visitors within walking distance of the young greenspace.
So, Historic Old Fourth Ward Park, here's to a good first year - and lots of good years to come.
NOTE: We've updated the post to include additional information about the creation of the park.
As a commenter noted the last time we wrote about the possibility that expired meter fines were going to increase, "Obey the rules and you'll be fine." I'll take that wisdom one step further: Don't obey the rules and you'll be fined. We have
At the moment, it's looking pretty likely that drivers will, in fact, have even more incentive to follow the rules and soon. Yesterday, City Council's Transportation Committee voted in favor of legislation that would increase the fine for parking at an expired meter by $10 from $25 to $35. Other fun things in the legislation (which you can read here): It adds an extra increment to overtime fees. So, like, currently if you get a ticket and you don't pay it within 14 days, it doubles to $50. Under the new legislation, the late fee triples after 45 days, going from $35 to $70 (after 14 days) to $95 (after 45). Also, the legislation would allow PARKatlanta to impose a penalty of up to $1,000 on people who fight tickets in municipal court.
What City Council is trying to do is to make up the difference between the $1.5 in profits PARKatlanta currently pays the city and the $5.5 million they were supposed to pay according to the terms of the original contract. And they want to do so without pissing off the business community. (Another proposal involved increasing the number of hours parking would be enforced in certain parts of the city - business owners were chagrined.)
H. Lamar Willis, who submitted the new ordinance, told WSB-TV: "[Business leaders said] we're OK. We're comfortable with fines being doubled, tripled, even quadrupled. We just want to leave the times in place as they are."
Um, please don't quadruple fines because some people said they'd be OK with it.
The full council should vote on the proposal on Monday, after some details - "appeals, multiple tickets and collections," for instance - have been ironed out.
For next week's cover story, we're featuring our favorite places in Atlanta. They could be anything: a seat at a bar, a patch of a park, a rooftop, a restaurant, a bridge — you name it. Ours include everything from abandoned buildings and downtown intersections to tunnels, parks and trees and strip clubs.
We're asking readers to send us a picture of their favorite spot in Atlanta and tell us why they love it. We plan to include a few really good selections in next week's issue and build a photo gallery of all the submissions. (If you want to tell us about your least favorite spot go here.)
Send us your photos and reasons why you love that specific place to email@example.com. We'll need your submissions no later than June 11 — that's this Monday — to be considered for next week's issue.
Huzzahs are in order! Creative Loafing Atlanta, the very publication that's sullying your screen, be it on a desktop or mobile device, has been nominated for two Association of Alternative Newsmedia awards.
Former (shed a tear) CL culture writer/cat whisperer Wyatt Williams has been nominated in the arts feature (circulation 50,000 and over) for "Life in the belle jar," his profile of The Help author Kathryn Stockett. CL shutterbugs Joeff Davis, Dustin Chambers, James Camp, and Evey Wilson are nominated for best photography (circulation 50,000 and over). It's Davis' 3,425 nomination. (Actually, it's the third year in a row Joeff's been recognized for his work at CL, winning in 2010, and garnering an honorable mention in 2011.)
CL's sister papers also scored nominations and are even competing in several categories. The Washington City Paper snagged nods in arts criticism, investigative reporting, individual blog (the excellent-even-if-you-don't-live-in-DC "Housing Complex"), and innovation/format buster. The Chicago Reader, which is helmed by former CL editor in chief Mara Shalhoup, earned nominations for arts criticism, feature story, food writing, investigative reporting, and special section.
Winners will be announced at the AAN annual convention in Detroit on Friday, June 7.
In the meantime, behold a gallery of CL's nominated photography.
Debbie Michaud has the information over on Culture Surfing, but I thought I should put out the official word here: As of Monday, Culture Surfing and Screen Grab will no longer be live. Fresh Loaf will be expanding its mission, going from "a daily fix for news junkies" to a broader discussion about the city's news, arts, politics, and pop culture.
We're doing this because - this may shock you, I hope you're sitting down for this - our site is pretty difficult to navigate sometimes, and we felt as though a lot of great posts were getting lost in our very busy home page. Also, many of the posts on Culture Surfing were very newsy, anyway. And Screen Grab, well, I just like reading our TV recaps and movie reviews. Hope you do, too.
I'd ask you to welcome our arts-and-culture loving cohorts with open arms and the brightest of smiles, but, c'mon, this is Fresh Loaf. We all know that isn't going to happen.
Note from Thomas, 6:52 p.m.: Hi. You might notice some duplicate posts here and there. Please bear with us as the migration/consolidation/absorption of Culture Surfing and Screen Grab posts has begun.
"Who is the creative loafer?" asks the first line of print that CL ever published.
There's only one surviving copy of that issue here at the office, and it's been filed away in our
morgue archive since Richard Nixon was still in office, its pages now yellow and almost too brittle for human hands to touch. The cover query continues, "Our latest scientific research indicates [creative loafers] are persons whose origin and behavior are of endless variety and defy description. However, certain characteristics are obvious. They are displeased with the 'Establishment's Rat Race' and motivated to enjoy distractions of a particular nature. We have only a limited estimate of these distractions, but shall describe some of the most interesting.
Many of these distractions are caused by five of their many senses. With their eyes they look for things that are different. This stimulates their curiosity, a motivating force. Their noses search out enjoyable fragrances of nature, and of food stuffs that satisfy their taste sense. Their ears send them to different places to hear weird sounds. A sense of touch is used to experience everything. They feel, fondle, or fix countless crafty things which delight this and other senses."
And so begins a legacy of loafing, and really, after 40 years we haven't strayed too far off course. The exact publication date for issue no. 1 is difficult to pinpoint, since there is no date printed on the paper, although there is a hand-scrawled, "May 31, 1971," marked on the inside cover of the bound volume that chronicles each week's paper from June of 1972 on up through Oct. 1973. But if it was truly operating like a weekly back then, the May 31 date doesn't match up with the June 3-9 date that's stamped on the cover of issue no. 2. Like so much of Atlanta's history, the past is riddled with inconsistencies.
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