Archive | February, 2011

Signs of life at Scene Cafe

28 Feb
Lights on at Scene Cafe

Work has resumed at Scene Cafe, after abruptly stopping during the summer

The paper covering the windows was back up when I went by tonight, but for the last few weekends, there’s been work going on inside the building that’s eventually to become Scene Cafe (assuming the name hasn’t changed along with the opening date). A November 2010 opening was originally planned for the restaurant/lounge, but the construction workers disappeared mid-summer and the project languished, half-built, until a few weeks ago.

The project appears to have taken a turn into DIY territory, as the only cars to be seen on the lot while work is going on are regular vehicles, no commercial trucks or contractor’s vans. The crescent-shaped window upstairs still doesn’t have glass, but it’s been covered with plywood, and the exterior ground-level area is kept lit at night now. The construction debris container has been taken away, brought back and taken away again.

The brown paper that’s usually over the lower windows was down Saturday night and the downstairs interior was emanating a green glow. It was hard to tell from the outside whether the color was produced by light fixtures or something on the walls. A drink cooler and bakery case could be seen inside about a week ago.

The next time I pass by while people are working inside I’ll get an update on the new projected opening date and find out whether the concept and name will be the same.

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Coming in March: Phoenix Flies tours

23 Feb

Cross-posted with Metblogs:

Phoenix Flies logo

Phoenix Flies logo by APC

The Atlanta Preservation Center’s seventh annual Phoenix Flies tours will run March 5 to March 20 this year.

Phoenix Flies, which APC describes as “city-wide celebration of Atlanta’s vibrant living landmarks,” features tours of historic landmark buildings and neighborhoods all over the city.

I’ve been meaning to take the “Unseen Underground” tour for years, and I’ll admit to not being sure where Castleberry Hill even is, so I probably ought to get to that one too.

Most appear to be walking tours, but there’s also an approximately three-hour, 10-mile bicycle tour of downtown historic districts on March 5. All the events are free, but some require reservations.

Have you taken any of the Phoenix Flies tours? What did you think?

Complaint Desk: Is it something I said?

20 Feb

Are you mad at me, Route 110 bus?

You said you’d be there at 6:00 Saturday evening. I left home at 5:50, with plenty of time to get to the place where we usually meet. I waited.

I counted the people sleeping in Mayor’s Park (three). I counted the Cheersport cheerleaders with tell-tale be-ribboned ponytails (nine). I stared at that ghastly Medical Arts building. Fifteen minutes passed.

I read part of a book. I made a phone call. Ten more minutes passed. One of the people sleeping in the park finished his nap, packed up his things and left. The other person who was waiting for you got disgusted and left. Then you passed by going toward downtown, with another 110 bus right behind you.

Another ten minutes passed. Finally you arrived, 35 minutes late. As you got close to where I was standing, you slowed down as if to stop, then sped up again and drove away as if you hadn’t seen me there at all. I just stood and watched as you cruised away toward Midtown.

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Return of the Bread Breaker

18 Feb

Some time last July slices of bread started appearing on the sidewalk at the corner of Courtland and Ralph McGill. Never an entire loaf, but never just one or two slices either. It was usually four to seven slices of bread, usually white, some of it torn into smaller pieces. It appeared some time between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Perhaps whoever was putting the bread there intended to feed the pigeons that sit surveying the neighborhood from the streetlights on the opposite side of the street or flying in a loose formation near the Imperial Hotel. But, for whatever reason, neither the pigeons nor any other birds seem much interested in the bread. Other than the single pigeon I saw take a couple of desultory pecks at one of the sodden, greenish slices that had been lying there for a few days, then shake its head violently and quickly walk away, I’ve never even seen birds on the sidewalk on this side of the intersection.

But again and again the bread would appear, not at any regular intervals. Sometimes twice in 72 hours, sometimes only once a week or less. It would lie there night and day, sun and rain, getting  sniffed and stepped on by dogs. Then, it would disappear, presumably put into the trash. Then, some time in September or October, no more bread.

Until today.

The unseasonably warm weather seems to have ignited a renewal of the Bread Breaker’s inscrutable generosity.

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But, why now? If the person’s intention was to feed the birds, why not do it while it was cold and icy, when they might have a harder time finding food? Also, why are the birds indifferent to food on the ground on this side of the street, while on the other side of Courtland, there’s always a flapping, fluttering scrum at even the suggestion of anything edible?

Is this a one-off, or is the season of handfuls of stale baked goods strewn on the ground upon us again already?

We’ll see.

Idea of the Day: Mobility versus access

11 Feb

Red line train at Civic Center Station

Among the un-read content languishing on my RSS feed was this examination of the two overlapping services that users expect from transit, why they aren’t interchangeable, and how more of one reduces the need for the other.

Jarrett Walker at Human Transit proposes that by providing or increasing mobility – in this context, the ability to travel a certain distance quickly and easily- transit makes more of a city accessible to more people. But, Walker says, by stimulating increased commercial and residential density, well-executed transit encourages increased access – in this context, the ease with which a person can arrive at a desired destination.

That’s where things get interesting.

From the post:

Mobility is how far you can go in a given time.  Access is how many useful or valuable things you can do.  If a new grocery store opens near your house, that doesn’t improve your mobility but it does improve your access.  You can now get your groceries closer to home, so you don’t need as much mobility as you did before.  You can also improve your access by working at home instead of commuting, downloading music instead of going to a CD store, and moving in with your romantic partner.  In other words, a lot of the work of access is simply about eliminating the need to move your body around the city in order to complete the economic and personal transactions that make up a happy life.

Juxtaposing mobility and access brings to mind Atlanta’s several far-flung patches of “drive-to urbanism.” These developments sometimes skip right over the step in which transit generates increased density, instead introducing ready-made density in areas with sparse transit coverage. In another city or another economic climate, transit coverage might be expected to eventually catch up and complete the picture. Right now, though, the result is often lively, pleasant, somewhat isolated places that are only easily accessible to people who live nearby or who can drive there.

But as more of these islands of increased density appear throughout the city, access to them will increase for more people. That will, as Walker said, reduce the need to move bodies around the city to get to what those developments offer.

Atlanta has seen significant mixed-use and transit-oriented development in the last ten years. It has also seen not only the absence of development of transit itself, but a significant reduction in service. Will car-banism continue to reign or is it just step on the way to something better?

Vehicles 5, Fixed objects 1

6 Feb

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A little enhancement to yesterday’s AJC story about the morning power outage in Midtown:

A few minutes before 9:30 a.m. there was a muffled explosion, quickly followed by another explosion, which was accompanied by a reddish-yellow flash of light. Believe it or not, I didn’t think much of it. It had been raining for two days. When I lived in Peachtree Hills, there was a transformer that could be relied upon to blow up in a shower of silver-blue sparks at least a couple of times whenever it rained for more than 24 hours.

But when I looked outside about 10 minutes later, the street was blocked by three police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance to the south. A large, black Chevrolet pickup truck with a utility pole right in the middle of its hood was straddling the curb to the north. There were also two small trees missing.

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Very early, something’s gone very wrong

2 Feb

Nineteen cars from at least two law enforcement agencies – APD and Georgia State Patrol – just went past my building faster than I’ve ever seen anything go on this street. (That’s saying a lot, as this part of the street is five lanes one-way.) Lights, sirens, the whole business.

The first 15 cars came from the south on Piedmont Avenue and continued north toward Midtown. The last four came from the same direction, but turned east on Ralph McGill Boulevard toward Atlanta Medical Center, or they came from the west on Ralph McGill Boulevard and continued east that way.

Does anyone know what happened?

Update: Still nothing anywhere on the news about a chase, a raid or anything that would explain that.

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