Tag Archives: Atlanta

That Logan’s Run Feeling

18 Jun

My wife owns a boutique, which means she has attend market a few times a year. This is where she buys clothes for the upcoming season. Luckily, this takes place an easy drive away in Atlanta. Most times, she takes someone who works at the boutique or a friend who knows something about fashion. When she gets desperate, I am the choice to tag along.

The market is held at AmericasMart, a huge complex that holds may different events. I have been several times, and the building always amazes me. There are a ton of stories, and people are everywhere.

However, there is one feeling that I got the first time I walked in, and I have gotten the same feeling each time.

When I am in AmericasMart, I feel that I have been dropped into Logan’s Run, the 1976 dystopian movie where everyone lives in a dome and are killed when they turn 30 years old. A long time ago, I wrote a blog post about the movie and will not recount it here. Those of you who have seen the movie know what it is about. It is just freaky feeling that I get when I am there.

The architecture is just like the movie.

The constant murmur of voices echoing through the chamber is the same as in the movie. The building is a confined space that is huge, and that is exactly the way the film is portrayed.

I have always given this feeling some thought, but, this time, I realized something. One night, I was going through the rabbit hole that is the Internet Movie Database and looked up where Logan’s Run was filmed. It was at the Dallas Market Center. (This is also where John F. Kennedy’s motorcade was going when it passed the Dallas Book Depository.)

Wait, it was filmed at a market center, and I feel like I am in Logan’s Run when I go to a market center. Could there be a connection? It turns out that both of them were built in 1957 and look just alike. Those Logan’s Run feelings come from the fact that I have seen that movie too many times, and I was essentially walking onto the set. If you have seen Logan’s Run, then you have essentially seen where boutique owners from across the nation go to buy next year’s fashions.

Luckily for us, next year does not involve a hand crystal turning black and a trip to Carrousel.

A Musical Story About Georgia

11 Jun

My wife had to go to Atlanta for business, so we drove down for an overnight stay. On the way back, I started thinking about songs with Georgia in their titles. This post is the result of the string of ideas that my mind put together. As you can tell, strange things run through my brain when I am driving.

Ray Charles called Jim Croce and said, “I’ve got Georgia on My Mind.” Jim replied, “Let’s start Walkin’ Back to Georgia.” As they walked down the road, Gladys Knight and the Pips passed on their way to the station. She yelled out of the window, “We’re taking the Midnight Train to Georgia. You guys should come with us.”

Ray and Jim jumped into the car with Gladys and the Pips. Before boarding the train, Gladys got a text from Brook Benton saying that it was a Rainy Night in Georgia. Despite the news, they still wanted to go. However, things would get worse.

When they disembarked, the station was totally dark. People were scrambling. Then, they ran into Vicki Lawrence who told them the bad news. This was The Night That the Lights Went Out in Georgia. Nobody knew what happened. The lights just went out. It was almost supernatural.

Suddenly, a bell sounded throughout the station. Someone spoke through a megaphone. The voice sounded familiar.

Ladies and gentlemen, please do not be alarmed. We are working on the lights, and we have discovered the problem. The Devil Went Down to Georgia and blew out all of the transformers.

They looked up and saw Charlie Daniels assuring people that everything would be alright.

With nothing else to do, Ray, Jim, Gladys and the Pips sat on benches, and someone finally asked Ray an important question. Why did you want to come to Georgia? He simply answered that he wanted to meet up with Sweet Georgia Brown.

Super Bowl Memories

6 Feb

Super Bowl 50 is here, and it is special enough to abandon the Roman Numerals. Honestly, I wish they would leave them off forever. The Super Bowl is everywhere. Radio ads. Television ads. Lists of the greatest games. Lists of the greatest players. Millions are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl.

It is during this time of year that I realize how lucky I have been to attend two Super Bowls and that they rank as two of the best.23

Super Bowl XXIII pitted the San Francisco 49ers against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 49ers had Joe Montana, and the Bengals had the Icky Shuffle. My dad took me to the game, and I can remember trying to take in every detail. Unfortunately, a lot of those details have faded away.

The game was played in Miami, at what was then called Joe Robbie Stadium. White tents filled with corporate parties were everywhere. We sat in the corner of the upper deck with Bengals fans. That was good because I was cheering for Cincinnati. Tim McGee, a Bengals receiver, played for the University of Tennessee, and I had to be for him. Besides that, the rise of the 49ers began by beating the Dallas Cowboys, my favorite childhood team. I could never forgive that.

The Bengals led for most of the game, but Joe Montana got the ball with a few minutes left. He drove the 49ers down the field and threw a go ahead touchdown with only a few seconds left. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 20-16.34

Super Bowl XXXIV was important for this part of the country. The Tennessee Titans had a miracle run through the playoffs and made it to the final game. For the second time that year, they would play the St. Louis Rams. The first game was a Titans victory.

A bunch of us took a luxury bus to Atlanta to see the game in the Georgia Dome. It was a good thing that the Super Bowl was inside because an ice storm hit the city. Unlike my first Super Bowl, we did not have any tickets and had to find some for an entire bus full of people.

The tickets that we got were scattered throughout the stadium. Club Level. Front Row. Upper Deck. We all paid the same but had to decide who would get what. Someone suggested cutting cards to choose tickets. I cut the wrong card and ended up on the last row of the upper deck. I could almost touch the ceiling.

I remember that Tina Turner performed at the game. I can always say that I have heard Tina in person. However, I have not seen her in person. That is all I remember about the entertainment because the game was the important thing. We were not there as casual observers. We had a stake in the outcome.

The Titans fell behind but made a gallant comeback to tie the game with 2 minutes to go. Then, Kurt Warner hit a bomb for a touchdown. The events that followed have gone down in Super Bowl lore.

Steve McNair led the Titans down the field. On one play, he broke a tackle to complete a pass near the end zone. Timeout was called to set the last play. McNair dropped back and hit Kevin Dyson on a slant across the middle. He was running into the end zone when he was tackled from behind. He stretched out the ball but was stopped one yard short of the first overtime in Super Bowl history.

It was a stunning ending. As Titans players laid on the field, confetti rained from the ceiling. The Rams fans next to me were celebrating as we stood in silence.

We were not upset on the ride home. This was our first NFL season, and we did not realize how it worked. We went to the Super Bowl once and figured it would happen again. However, it has not happened again. In fact, the Titans are not the worst team in the league.

Hopefully, I will get to another Super Bowl, and it would be awesome if my team was in it. That is doubtful, but, without a doubt, it would not be as dramatic as the two I have seen.

Hilton Head – Driving Down the Musical Highway

23 Oct

We got a late start on our trip to Hilton Head because I had a midday meeting. This meant that we would be driving through the late afternoon and into the night. On top of that, we had to hit five different interstates to get there.

Whenever I am on a long drive, my mind starts to entertain itself. This means that useless trivia moves from the back of my brain and dominates my mind. It is a good way to stay awake and a good way to go crazy. On this drive, music was the category of choice, and it all started as we made our way over Monteagle.

For those who do not know, Monteagle is a ridge that has to be crossed just north of Chattanooga. The grade is steep and trucks have a hard time making their way up one side and down the other. Each time I drive over Monteagle, I think about the opening song of Smokey and the Bandit and start singing it under my breath.

In case you do not remember the opening to one of the greatest movies in cinema history, the song recounts how the Bandit became famous in the truck driving world. I wrote an entire post about it, but, simply, it talks about how he lost control of his rig on Monteagle. With heroic driving skills, he was able to make it to the bottom.

(Brief Interlude: While writing that post, I looked up the lyrics of the song. All of the sites had him crossing something called Montvale. It is not Montvale. One of my life’s goals is to get those lyrics corrected and give Monteagle is rightful place in Smokey and the Bandit history.)

Of course, driving through Chattanooga brought to mind “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, but the route through north Georgia made my mind go musically dead. Atlanta played a big role in that. It does not matter what time you drive through Atlanta. The traffic is always bad, and your focus needs to be on the road. However, I still heard Ronnie Van Zant telling Billy Powell to “play it pretty for Atlanta.”

Eventually, we made our way to Macon and hit a desolate stretch of road toward Savannah. It was getting later. It was getting darker. That is when I saw a sign for Statesboro, Georgia, the subject of “Statesboro Blues” by the Allman Brothers. That meant that the next several miles were filled with an internal soundtrack of their tunes.

After several days in Hilton Head, which I will write about in the next post, we retraced our journey. This time, the excitement of a vacation was behind us, and we were making that long, tired drive toward home. That does not mean that the musical journey was over. As the miles passed, I tried to think of songs that have Georgia in their titles.Georgia

I ended up with the following.

“Sweet Georgia Brown” (I can see Curly Neal dribbling around Meadowlark Lemon.)

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (Charlie D. lives not too far down the road.)

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” (Yep, Vicki Lawrence can sing, too.)

“Midnight Train to Georgia” (The Pips make this song stand out.)

“Rainy Night in Georgia” (The Tony Joe White version is the best.)

“Georgia on My Mind” (It is hard to beat Ray Charles.)

“Marching Through Georgia” (I only know this one because it was mentioned in a John Wayne movie.)

“Walkin’ Back to Georgia” (One of Jim Croce’s lesser known songs.)

Before I knew it, we were back at Monteagle, but it was not before I thought of something else. Does anyone remember a television show called Carter Country?




A Storm Is Coming

21 Feb

Bad weather is on the way, as a line of thunderstorms is barreling down upon us. That happens during this time of year when winter is giving way to spring. It is unseasonably warm, and that always brings this wrath of nature.Lightning

This afternoon, I walked onto the deck to feel the calm that comes before such things. The trees were rustling. The animals were restless. I think those were frogs that I was hearing. The calm before the storm is a cliché, but it is one that I like. For some reason, I have always liked that time. The feel of the air. The haze in the sky. The realization that something is coming.

Storms have always fascinated me. I am not sure why. Maybe it is the power of nature on display. We humans have learned to control a lot of things, but storms remain beyond our reach. Growing up, there were several occupations that I dreamed about. One of those was being a storm chaser driving a fast car and watching a tornado off in the distance.

Storms are dangerous. They cause a lot of damage, and many people are afraid of them. That causes a conflict for me. I do not want to see people get hurt or property get damages, but I am fascinated by the power that sweeps over us. Thunder. Lightning. Wind. Rain. Something about that calms me.

I was in Atlanta when it was struck by a tornado. It was like being in the midst of the apocalypse. However, I was calm. I made rational decisions. In the end, I along with everyone else got through it. I wrote a post about it and have linked it here.

Hopefully, the storm that hits us tonight will not be as catastrophic as the one that hit Atlanta on that night.

Play It Pretty for Atlanta

16 Apr

This weekend, I did something that I never envisioned doing. I went to market, the industry name for a women’s clothing convention. My fiance, owner of Beauty Boutique, needed to attend because that’s what boutique owners do. I needed to go because, well, I just wanted to. Life is full of experiences, and this would probably be an interesting one.

Shockingly, we got a late start, but, once we hit the road, it was smooth sailing. Actually, there was one rough patch. When we crossed Monteagle Mountain, I serenaded her with the theme from Smokey and the Bandit. She laughed hysterically and wrote about it on Facebook. Did I mention that I hate Facebook?

My sentiments exactly.

My sentiments exactly.

We arrived in Atlanta, and, after some fancy driving on my part, we made it to the hotel. She immediately wanted to head to market to check in and browse before they closed for the day. I had no idea what to expect, but I felt like that I had walked into the cantina on Tatooine at closing time.

The girls all get prettier at closing time.

The girls all get prettier at closing time.

There was some strange-looking creatures hanging around, and they all looked worn out. That’s not totally correct because there were some fair looking creatures there, too. However, they looked just as tired.

We went back to the hotel and started wondering about dinner. We didn’t want to venture too far out, so I looked up the hotel restaurants. That’s when my eyes bugged out. The lower level of our hotel housed Trader Vic’s. I only knew two things about Trader Vic’s. It is a hangout for werewolves who like pina coladas, and I had to go there.

I didn’t see any werewolves. However, I felt like I had walked into a 1950s postcard from Hawaii. I don’t even have the words to explain this surreal experience. Imagine getting swallowed up in a song by The Ventures and being served an umbrella drink. That’s Trader Vic’s.

How can you go wrong with a menu with this cover?

How can you go wrong with a menu with this cover?

The next day, we got up bright and early for market, and it was a completely different experience. The cantina crowd was ready to go and buyers from stores throughout the nation were cramming the aisles between the booths. They had everything that a woman could possibly wear, and there was a thousand varieties of each item. Heck, there were ten stories filled with stuff. As a crowd watcher instead of a buyer, I started to figure out the difference between the serious buyers and the sightseers. I could also pick out the guys who were doing the exact same thing that I was.

However, that was just the appetizer for what I really wanted to see, the runway fashion show. I couldn’t wait to see a bunch of models strut their stuff on the catwalk. I wasn’t disappointed because they looked like I imagined. But, there was a problem. There was a woman in front of me wearing cat ears, and she was blocking my view. I promise that there is nothing worse than sitting behind a woman wearing cat ears at a fashion show.

After the show, we needed to eat. There wasn’t much around, so we ended up at The Hard Rock Cafe. The cheeseburger and 80s videos were great, but there was another form of entertainment. Atlanta’s version of The Amazing Race was going on. Some teams were taking it serious, and other teams were coming into the bar to get drunk. After this much activity, I needed a nap.

I slept most of the afternoon and woke up hungry. I didn’t want Trader Vic’s or a cheeseburger.  I wanted something good. Not knowing anything about Atlanta dining, we searched for Atlanta’s best restaurants and found Rathbun’s. I have written about Nashville’s booming food scene and know that we have some great restaurants. Rathbun’s would fit right in. The duck breast was awesome but not as good as the appetizer. If you ever go to Rathbun’s, then you have to get the Pan Fried Kefalotiri Cheese. It’s the most awesome thing ever.

Yesterday, we packed up to head home but not before going to Lenox Square Mall. I have heard of people going to Atlanta just to shop, and now I know why. It’s a cool mall. Wait, I went to Atlanta just to shop didn’t I? Weird. Anyway, we drove back to Tennessee and crossed Monteagle Mountain once again. This time I just hummed.

A Post About Nothing

12 Apr

It’s completely quiet in the house. The only noise is the rain falling outside. I sit in my chair with the laptop in my lap (where else would it be?) and with the television on mute. There are things that I should be doing, but I am blogging about them instead of actually doing them.

I need to pack because I am going to Atlanta tomorrow. The last time I spent a few nights in Atlanta this happened.Tornado

I need to get on the treadmill, but I keep getting sidetracked by a bag of Pecan Sandies.

I need to fill out checks for income tax purposes. April 15 is still a few days away, and the government can wait. All they are going to do is take good money and waste it.

I need to turn the volume up on the television. It looks like they are having a very interesting conversation about the day’s action at The Masters. I used to watch the tournament every year but have gotten in a habit of missing it. This year, I will be busy doing some things in Atlanta. Last year, I was busy doing some things in Costa Rica.

A big storm was supposed to hit us today. It rained a lot, but there was nothing destructive going on. When I was in the bank, a lady said that she hoped it didn’t hit us. That made me start to think. Did she want it to hit someone else? That’s the kind of stuff I think about at the bank. I also wonder how much money they spend on suckers. I don’t know about your town, but around here all banks have candy sitting around for the customers.

I guess that’s it. I really can’t think of anything else to write about. Well, I have a posting idea in mind, but it will need to wait. There’s all this stuff I need to do, and I am close to falling asleep. The rain must be doing that.

Alas, there are two other things that need to be done. I have to get the towels out of the dryer, and I have to clip my fingernails. They absolutely drive me crazy when they get too long.

So, that’s it for now. I will check back in a few days from now with a report from Atlanta. Surely, it will be better than my last trip. Of course, if you didn’t click the link you don’t know how bad it was.


18 Mar

If you ever take a drive along the southern back roads, then you will eventually see something strange – a vine that has covered the ground, trees, fences, power lines and buildings.

It may look lush and green from your point of view, but underneath it has taken over and sucked all of the nutrients out of the area it has covered. This plant is most commonly known as kudzu, but, as a child, I knew it as “mile-a-minute”. Other people call it “the plant that ate the south”.

Native to Japan, the plant was introduced to the United States at the Centennial Exposition, held in Philadelphia in 1876. According to The Amazing Story of Kudzu, gardeners first cultivated kudzu for ornamental reasons, but people began realized that animals would eat it. Southern farmers latched on to this idea and began to grow it for this purpose. However, the plant really took root in the 1930s when the Soil Conservation Service used it for erosion control.

Have you ever heard that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions? Well, in the South it is covered with kudzu. Good intentions led to the promotion of a plant that could not be controlled. It is estimated that this stuff can grow a foot per day and can take up to ten years to kill. Life After People, a show on the History Channel, estimated that it would take fifty years for kudzu to completely cover downtown Atlanta. My friends, that is a successful plant.

I described the effect of the plant on the South because the Surrounded by Imbeciles world has its own kind of kudzu. When this blog was birthed, I had grand plans to sarcastically discuss the “problems” in the world. I wrote about the issues of gas pumps; moved on to my pet peeve with Sonic Drive-In; and, continued with the uncomfortable aspects of day spas. Eventually, I altered my attitude and writing style, and these older posts were forgotten.

No one read any of these. And, I mean NO ONE. Then, in mid-January someone clicked on my gas pump rant. I was so stunned that I published a post about how we may forget about posts, but they are always out there. I went on my merry blogging way but realized that more and more people were checking out the gas pump post. As the numbers grew, I had no idea why this lost post suddenly became popular and wrote about it again.

And, that brings me to this post and the comparison to kudzu. “The Problem With Gas Pumps” has continued to grow in readership and popularity. Not only has it become the most popular post in the Surrounded by Imbeciles world, but it has also taken over the field. More people have read the post than the next eight posts combined. It is even sneaking up on “Homepage”.

Please understand that I am not complaining. Nothing makes us bloggers feel better than going to the Stats page and finding out how many people are interested in our written thoughts. That’s the ego in all of us. It just amazes me to watch an old and forgotten post continue its seemingly nonstop growth. Perhaps, kudzu is not the correct metaphor because “gas pumps” is not destroying anything. In fact, it is assisting my blog with its continued growth and improvement (along with all of the fellow bloggers and readers that I really appreciate). It’s just that every time I see the blog-o-meter crank up the numbers I envision that vine growing up the telephone poles.

On Top of the Tornado

3 Mar

Storms swept across Tennessee today and left some destruction in their wake. Tornado warnings and watches were all over as the map turned green, orange and red. Thankfully, not much happened around my house, but it reminded me of a time that I found myself on top of the tornado. This tornado to be specific:

In 2008, my girlfriend of the time and I traveled to Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament. We hit the afternoon session to see my favorite team, the University of Tennessee, win a close game. As it ended, fans from all of the teams filed out of the Georgia Dome in anticipation of the night session and more excitement to come. However, we had other plans. Dinner reservations at the restaurant on top of our hotel, the kind that slowly turns so patrons can get a panoramic view of the city. After dinner and a few drinks, we would hit the lobby bar before turning in. As we got dressed and prepared for the evening, we could not anticipate what was really going to happen.

As we left the room, she asked if we should take our phones, and I said no because we weren’t even leaving the building. We took the special elevator to the top and exited into a crowded restaurant with people laughing and dishes clanking. With a little time to wait for a table, we found a seat, ordered some drinks and watched the sky light up in the distance. Lightning was everywhere, but it was miles away. At no point did anyone think that it would have an effect on us. Then, it happened. I noticed a strange haze outside and suddenly saw a large piece of something fly by. I immediately grabbed my girlfriend’s arm and said let’s go. Why?

I could only say one word. Tornado.

As we moved it hit the hotel. Diners screamed and began to panic. Chandeliers swayed, hitting the ceiling with each swing. The building was swaying as well. Not a good feeling when you are 73 stories high.

People immediately began running down the stairs thinking that they could beat the fall if the building collapsed. There was no way I was getting trampled in that stampede, so we stayed behind and rode the elevator down with the restaurant staff. By then, the tornado had passed and the electricity had not gone out. It was the slowest elevator ride ever because we really didn’t know if we would make it all the way down. Luckily, we did, and, when the doors opened, we found a lobby turned into a refugee camp. People who had been on the street came straggling in covered with water, dirt, debris and with haggard looks on their faces. It was a disaster movie come to life.

As people continued to pour in, we learned what happened after the tornado hit. It traveled down the street, wreaking havoc along the way, and hit the Georgia Dome where a basketball game was being played. Fans and players scrambled as the roof was ripped apart and pieces fell on top of them. I realized that my dad would have been watching the game and seen the carnage. I didn’t have a phone and was banned from going to the upper floors. Knowing that my parents were home worrying, I could kick myself for leaving my phone behind, but I got lucky again. Sitting on the floor across from me was a man from my hometown. I used his phone to call home, and my parents relayed what they were seeing on television. It was hell outside, and we were lucky to be alive.

After several hours, we were allowed to go to our room and got there at the same time as the people next to us. When they opened the door, they stood with shocked looks on their faces. Like moths to a flame, we followed them in and saw their entire window blown out. We were standing in an open room 40 stories in the air. Lucky once more, our room was untouched.

We left the next day and, for the first time, realized what we had found ourselves in. Debris was piled on all of the streets, and demolition workers had cleared a path on one street to get people to the interstate. It was like driving through an apocalyptic landscape, and we were scared. The shock and adrenaline had worn off, and reality set in. We came close to death and never realized it.

Lucky has been used a lot in this post, but that is an understatement. It’s been four years, and I still don’t have adequate words to describe it.