On The Road With Bob

Wednesday, 16 Apr 1997
Atlanta GA

Turner Field...
...and a few of the unsavory fans it attracts

A word of thanks to Dan Boorstein, who, responding to the shameless plea I posted to the Sugar mailing list, let me crash on his floor after the Variety gig. As if that weren't generous enough, Dan took note of my agitated state--darting eyes, cold sweat, fidgety manner--promptly diagnosed the ailment, and provided me with a much-needed fix of Internet access to catch up on my email. Crisis averted. You're a good man, Dan.

Wednesday was another off-day, so in the morning I meandered downtown for a look around, but there wasn't a whole lot to see or do. I asked a shopkeeper if Martin Luther King's grave was within walking distance; she said, "Sure, if you don't mind doing a lot of walking."

At midday I met with Bob, Kevin, and their friend Gary, who lives in an up-and-coming section of Atlanta. Now Atlanta, remember, isn't exactly awash with antebellum structures (see Gone With The Wind), and the houses in this neighborhood, some dating to just after the Civil War, are among the oldest in the city. Just a few years ago, the whole area, which is within shouting distance of downtown, was thoroughly rundown. Then a few artists, entertainment industry types, people who preferred alternative lifestyles, and people who prefer the company of people who prefer alternative lifestyles began to buy property in the neighborhood--and spend money to fix it up. The upshot is a vital and vibrant urban oasis, almost like a suburb in the city, where the neighbors all know and actually talk to each other and where property values have, not surprisingly, skyrocketed. It's a fascinating example of unplanned development, spurred by common, grassroots interest.

Gary had Braves tickets, so we went off to the new stadium, Turner Field, latest in the series of throwback ballparks inspired by the success of Camden Yards in Baltimore, to which it owes more than a little in terms of layout, architecture and atmosphere. Okay, so maybe there's a whiff of faux to these new parks, even a vague undercurrent of Disney, but they sure have it all over those 1970s-vintage National League stadiums that look as though they were imported from East Germany. For a baseball purist like me, who believes that no good ballparks have been built since the Great Depression and that the Red Sox had better play in Fenway Park forever if they know what's good for them, Turner Field proved to be within the bounds of acceptability.

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