So, Creative Loafing Atlanta‘s published its “Favorite Places in Atlanta” piece today. I love Creative Loafing, I really do; particularly when compared to other local news sources, I feel it consistently delivers engaging, well-executed content. I suppose I could say my love has been tested recently with its recent editorial layoffs. Also, with yesterday’s news that CL writer Gwynedd Stuart is moving on to Chicago, it sort of feels like the good is draining out of Atlanta publications.
But, in the nature of things, change is what it is. Ascribing “good” or “bad” qualities to it is, in my opinion, non-constructive and uselessly cynical. (Perhaps the dynamicism of change is contradictory to saying “it is what it is,” but I stand by my statement.) Atlanta, for as much as its own residents like to hate on it, is wonderfully creative. And weird. Maybe it’s the heat that makes us all a little nuts — we have to keep creating, keep moving, because otherwise we stagnate and suffocate in our smoggy air, summer or winter. Atlanta will never not be a creative city, and will continue to attract incredible talent that’s hungry to write about its problems and crow about its triumphs; put on festivals that take back the streets and promote “human-powered amusement”; build community-supported conferences and free schools around the importance of public art, and radical education, in the face of corruption and injustice. It helps that we’re the #8 most popular metro destination for newcomers. And so on.
I love Atlanta because it can be a difficult place to live. You have to get creative with how you’re going to get anywhere if you don’t want to/can’t drive a car; May-September can be horrific if you live in a charming old house like I do that doesn’t have air conditioning; the roads (and sidewalks) themselves are in a rapid state of deterioration; the city is guilty of demolishing its historic places and bemoaning the lost value, after the fact. But if those are the main cons to living here, the pros must certainly outnumber them.
It’s nice to read pieces like “Our Favorite Places in Atlanta” because no matter where you live, disillusionment is a real thing; left untended, it can dull the vibrancy and vitality of a community. I’ve lived in Atlanta/Decatur for 6 years now, and certainly had my bouts of frustration with the city’s flaws. The thing is, when I moved here to go to Agnes Scott, I was astounded by the pride ATLiens had in living here … whether they were natives or newcomers. From city-specific hand gestures to Braves caps to mixtapes at the corner store. It was certainly a dramatic shift from Tampa, where people I knew were quite vocal about how much they hated the place, how it seemed like a cultural black hole encircled by Gasparilla beads.
It’s good to be proud of where you live, even if you kind of dislike it sometimes. That dissatisfaction breeds creativity, breeds weird things and house shows and collectives. The results of that dissatisfaction, those fun, awesome, Atlanta-specific things, bring in new writers, artists, creatives, talkers, activists, you name it. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.
(My favorite place in Atlanta, other than my balcony porch in Decatur: the intersection of Freedom Parkway and Boulevard, facing downtown, at sunrise or sunset. Also, I titled this “A love letter to Atlanta” because it’s not only an ode to the city, but today is a 3-year anniversary for me and my beau, whom I would never have met if not for Peoplestown.)