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The Beltline

B. and I hit the proposed NE quad of the Atlanta Beltline property; the "Emerald Necklace" transportation project that would create an inner city trolley/hiking/living/working/playing loop through the neighborhoods of Atlanta. We hiked from Moreland Avenue near the MLK MARTA Station in a generally N/NW direction, stopping near the intersection of Piedmont and Monroe.

The area all around the tracks was overgrown with kudzu, but the vines over the tracks themselves had been tamped down by previous foot traffic. We talked about the "hobo culture", romanticizing the predicament of men living out here and relieving our own anxiety; more so than we could have thinking about "the homeless". After all, we were walking through their backyard.

The first thing that struck me about the walk was how quickly it went; it took us more than thirty minutes to take the 2 MARTA trains to get to the beginning of our trail, but once on the trail, the walk connecting Inman Park, Freedom Parkway, Ponce/North Ave, Piedmont Park, and Ansley Mall was a breeze.

The second thing was how green it was (or would be in the spring). At a few points on our trip, it was hard to believe we were in the middle of the city.

This project has to happen.

Start at Moreland...These "downspouts" gotta go..."Train depot"

Graffiti near Fritti....Spraypaint cans...Freedom Pkwy graffiti

Beltline Recreation - Bike ramp...Grilling deck...Off-roading

North Ave & Ponce - The old Sears building...Detail...Ford Factory

Bridge over Ponce-Railing..."A.B.C"...Next to Ponce de Leon Park

South to VA Ave Bridge...Piedmont Park...South to Park Bridge

Clear "Ditch"...Clear "Creek"/North Woods...Old drain under tracks

Just before P'mont Rd...Piedmont Rd Bridge...End of the trail


American Bridge Company - In 1870, the American Bridge Company was first formed in Chicago, Illinois. In 1906, it installed this bridge over Ponce de Leon in Atlanta, GA. In 1929, AB erected the Chrysler Building. At 1,046', it was then the tallest building in the world.

Atlanta Crackers/Ponce de Leon Park - The original Ponce de Leon Ball Park first welcomed the Atlanta Crackers on May 23, 1907...On Sept. 9, 1923, the wooden stadium burned to the ground, destroying the team's uniforms, trophies and records. But a wealthy concessionaire named R. J. Spiller came to the team's rescue. Using $250,000 of his own money, Spiller rebuilt the park on a nearby piece of Ponce de Leon property across from a Sears & Roebuck warehouse building...Spiller Field's grandstands could seat 9,000 people...The fence was 365 feet down the left field line; 321 to right; and a mammoth 462 feet from home plate to center field, where a giant magnolia tree stood.

Today, all that is left of Spiller Field (later called Ponce de Leon Ball Park) is the giant magnolia, a silent sentinel standing in tribute to the heroic past. (from UGA library site)

Sears & Roebuck, 675 Ponce -The original 1925 Sears building in [Atlanta] was expanded in 1929 and several more times between 1946 and 1971. These postwar additions gave the building more than two million square feet of space...Sears abandoned the hulking distribution center in [the 1980's]. (from Midtown Community Work site)

Ford Factory, 699 Ponce (listed as 495 Ponce when built as a Ford plant)

Clear Creek - Begins under Grady High School at 10th and Monroe. Used to run through Piedmont Park in an open ditch. It was buried under the current play fields next to Park Tavern and now emerges in the North Woods of Piedmont Park, where it combines with the discharge of the Clear Creek CSO treatment facility. I don't know what happens to Clear Creek when the CSO tunneling work is completed.

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Gingerbread 2005

Here they are; the results of the famous, annual "Gingerbread Houses for the Kiddies" party...4 fabulous houses that I hardly have to redecorate at all before I deliver them tomorrow! (Look carefully for the "ruby slippers" sticking out from one of the houses in the background!)

Thanks to my terrific, supportive, and very merry friends that joined in this year...the McL's, McM's, John and Brad, Evan and Rich, A.D.D. and Michelle, Justine and Dondon, and the ever steadfast, understanding and loving Shawn.

Merry Christmas

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Mexico Stories - Things I learned

WATER PRESSURE - If the shower runs out of water, it's because someone else unplugged the water pump that fills the rooftop cistern for the whole building (it's really loud, especially at night).

SOUNDS - Listening to Karen Carpenter with headphones on is a good way to keep in the holiday spirit (and to mask out the sound of the water pump)

LANDSCAPING - Christmas flowers don't come from Home Depot - there are real, live, blooming, brilliant red outdoor Poinsettias...everywhere

HARRY POTTER I - Mad-Eye Moody is translated to "Ojoloco" in spanish.

HARRY POTTER II - There's no real way to translate "You're a right foul git".

HOLIDAYS - As explained by a native, Dec 12th is a holiday to celebrate the day the Virgin Mary "show up" in Guadalupe.

HEALTH - The "Cellophane Diet" is a good (but boring) way to keep from becoming sick (eat only packaged food from the grocery store).

PRODUCE - Irapuato is the "Strawberry Capital of the World" - roadside stands are lined with baskets of nearly fist-sized strawberries in ziggurat piles. I'll never know how they taste.

CLIMATE - There is no thermostat in my apartment...and no need for one.

LOCAL CUISINE - Fresh grilled quesadillas can't be beat; huitlacoche can (it's corn fungus - purple and slimy, like beets that have been sitting around too long - used in tamales). "Burrito" means "little donkey". "Gorditas" (a sort of thick tortilla sliced like pita bread and filled like a taco) means "chubby little girl".

HOW TO SLAUGHTER SPANISH - When I saw a mannequin on the side of the road, dressed in a Santa-mini-skirt and hat, I learned how to say "Santa Claus esta una puta picosa y barata" - Santa is a cheap and spicy hooker. Also, "Feliz ano nuevo" does NOT mean "Happy New Year".

ELEVATION - At 6000+ feet, jogging is a challenge - for me, anyway, but not for the local high school track team that blew past me one morning going at least twice my pace.

CONSUMERISM - I'm not watching TV, I can't read billboards, radio announcers speak far too quickly - without the influence of advertising telling me I need something, I find I lack nothing.

DRIVING - In the U.S., we drive on the right. In Britain, on the left. In Mexico, right down the damn middle of the road.

SIZE - The elevator in the local mall has a footprint of about 4 x 5 ft and a sign stating "Capacity: 11". "11 people fit in this tiny elevator?" I asked my friend. "11 Mexicans mi amigo, only 5 gringos..." He also told me that "amigo, you are taller than me, but I am standard-sized Mexican". (Note: The people conversion rate is different than the pesos-to-dollars rate of 10-to-1).

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Open letter to friends in Laguna...

Dave and Anthony,

Today I read that 55.7% of voters in your home town of Laguna Beach just approved a sales tax increase to go towards the $15 million needed to rebuild/replace property lost to the Bluebird Canyon landslide earlier this year. It seems that homeowner's insurance only pays to replace a home...not the land that disappeared out from underneath it.

1/2 cent sales tax increase to 8.25% isn't so bad, right? After all, it's not the homeowner's fault their property went away.

So, I was wondering - could you vote me in a new sales tax to buy me a car? After all, it's not my fault my current vehicle is depreciating...

They calculate income from 1/2 % sales tax to be $10,000,000 in six years. That works out to about $333,333,333 in taxable sales per year. I figger a .025% sales tax increase for just one measly, little year would still net me $83,333 - enough for a pretty sweet ride, even in southern California.

8.275% doesn't seem too high, does it?

Could you forward this to the city council for me? Thanks!

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The Met and The Rock

At the Met---
Brancusi I...............Occult Photography...........Brancusi II
Euro Sculpture...........Spanish Courtyard...........Art Student

At the Rock---
Look down................Retro Viewing..........Central Park West
Up the shaft.....................Middle.....................Bottom

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

I first saw Constantin Brancusi´s work while a student in Paris 10 years ago - I loved the simplicity inherent in his sculpture. In 2 of these photos, I was circling "L'oiseau d'espace" trying to find, in the lighting, two different ways to see the same sculpture.

The book is from an exhibit called "The Perfect Medium", about the early years of photography and its use to "prove" the existence of ghosts, ether, and other otherworldly stuff. As an art form, photography was in its infancy, and most people were unaware of how photographic plates could be exposed to produce false results. To me, it was more of an exhibit on how desperately some people needed to believe in the afterlife.

The first courtyard is filled with European sculpture; at the end of it is a lovely cafe where we ate lunch. The second courtyard was restored from an old Spanish villa. The third pic is a detail of the sculpture courtyard; no rest for the artist.

At Rockefeller Center:

To fill the high altitude viewing void left in New York by the destruction of the World Trade Center, The Rockefeller Center as re-opened "The Top of the Rock" for the first time since the 1980´s. Here we have a view to the south, a view of a Viewer, and a view north to Central Park and the upper west side.

The outside view wasn´t the only spectacular sight in "The Rock"; in a brilliant move, they have added a light show to the elevator shaft, visible through the glass ceiling of the elevator.

I want one in my building. (And no, they don´t sell "I topped The Rock" t-shirts, or you would all be getting them for Christmas...)

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Had a terrific trip to NYC with S - it snowed!

Sunday was the perfect day in New York; rode the C train (8th Avenue Local) to 86th on the West Side and walked across Central Park to the Met. Beautiful walk to beautiful art. Lunched there, then left for a matinee of "Wicked". Amazing. Dinner with the S/D's (together 35 years! Go John and Jim!) and then carousing with the most carousable J.M. (we love The Stomper!)

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