Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Artmore Hotel, Atlanta

 The Artmore Hotel building was first opened in 1924 as an apartment residence, built in the Spanish Mediterranean style.  Some time in the mid 80s, it was converted to a hotel.  I first discovered it in 2003 (when it was the Granada Suites), ironically, when I went to Atlanta for the CSWE conference (which is why I was in Atlanta this past week) and interviewed for the job with the University of Mississippi.  Ironically also, the conference then was in the Marriott Marquis as it was this time.  I was explaining to my colleagues today how Jane/Gigi and I used to seek out smaller, unique hotels when we traveled, and would generally find them on Travelocity or Cityscape.  I primarily selected this hotel based on its looks (I have always been drawn to unique architecture), and the fact that it was across the street from the Marta and I could easily get to the conference hotel.
 I have been unable to locate any other information about the building itself, though it is just slightly north of the Midtown Historic District.  In 2009, the building was purchased and renovated, and thank goodness, they left the original exterior.  The interior is very reminiscent to me of the golden Hollywood days (which would have begun in the 20s and lasted through the 50s) with its elegance.  White leather, white linens, with touches of black and red, black and white photographs, marble tile, and crystal doorknobs and woodwork that appears to be original to the building (or at least here for a very long time) give it a simple and clean elegance.  While distinctly different from the Spanish Mediterranean exterior, the interior compliments the exterior with a sense of Morocco meets modern glamour.  One almost expects Humphrey Bogart to wander down the hall and take a seat at the curving bar with its metal, glass, and stone elements.

At night, the firepit in the center of the courtyard is lit, and when it is cool, they use the kerosene outdoor heaters.  It reminds me of Moyo in South Africa, which also evokes very positive and warm feelings in me.  When we arrived Wednesday evening, the teaching artists from the Atlanta Music Project for Social Change were playing in the courtyard, and the Artmore frequently hosts music events.  As John Lee Hooker says, "this is hip, pretty baby, this is hip."

For the first 4 posts on Atlanta and why I love the Artmore, click here, here, here, and here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday night in notHotlanta

Note: I left my glasses in the vehicle tonight, and once I discovered it, I was not in the mindset to dress and trudge down that hill to get them (and you will discover why shortly), so if you see lots of typos, forgive me and I will correct them once I can see more than a big old blur. :)

Okay, it was just flat too cold to go out taking pictures today, not to mention, after walking up and down hills so much to/from the Marta, I am making Dr. Gregory House look like a sprint runner in a relay race.    And, did I mention walking downhill to the parking garage in the rain last night after my truck was broken into, to verify what or if anything had been stolen?  And then walking back uphill...with a 20 something young man who--though just as nice as he could be holding the umbrella, and so apologetic for making me get out of bed and dress to go check it out while the police were called, did not seem to grasp that me and my walking stick (I think the African term sounds better than cane, so I am adopting it along with all the other African terms I prefer) could not scale that hill quite as easily as he could.

I had another 8 a.m. meeting this morning, related to my gerontology curriculum grant, but it was worth the early morning rising.  It was really great to hear from the other 9 faculty members (there are only 10 grants that were awarded in the US, and I was one of them), and to be able to share our accomplishments and recommendations with others.  

 Debra and I decided we were in the mood for Asian cuisine tonight, so I did a little leg work via the Internet (isn't it great you can just type in "asian food atlanta midtown" and voila! find out where to eat?). Although my first pick would have been the Vietnamese place where the chef had been here since 1987 when she came over from Vietnam and opened her restaurant, unfortunately, it was temporarily closed due to her illness.  Next up on the list was Tamarind Seed, and I recalled having passed it when I was taking my walk around the block Thursday.  We decided we had walked enough for this week, and two blocks in the cold wind from the Marta station one stop up was not appealing, so I had them bring the truck up and we drove over.  When you have one-way streets (West Peachtree where we are is one way north, and Peachtree where we needed to go is one way south) it can mean you have to go a tad out of your way at times.  Add to that construction, and we ended up on Peachtree Circle (yes, at this point, Debra said there were way too many Peachtree somethings in this town) and I was winging it and hoping I could find my way.  We drove through some beautiful homes in the area though, and agreed when we win the lotto tonight that we will buy one in case we need to travel to Atlanta again sometime, or just want a nice weekend away.

As I often do, I had intuited correctly and we made it to Peachtree right by the Tamarind Seed.  We pulled into the parking garage and the lower floor was valet parking, but as we kept going, I saw a handicapped spot--and it appeared to not be in the valet section--though why one needs handicapped parking in valet is sort of a mystery to me.  We pulled in, I hung my tag, and as I was getting my walking stick (see, it is a habit already) out of the truck, a young man pulled into the handicapped space next to us with a non-handicap tag and kept looking at us.  Debra said, "Is it okay for us to park in this handicapped spot?"  The young man proceeds to explain--with a strong accent--that yes, it is, since I am handicapped, but it is really valet parking.  I said fine, just tell me where the handicapped parking was, and I did not see that this space was valet parking.  He assured us it would be okay since I was handicapped, and though I was ready to get back in the truck and move, Debra was saying, "he says it is okay."  I was just worried my truck might not be there when I came out of the restaurant because I was clearly taking the space for a valet-parked handicapped vehicle, even though it was driven by an able-bodied person at the time.  I have to tell you, I am just not adjusting well to these rules--seems to me that valet or not, if it says handicapped parking only with a big ole blue square and wheelchair symbol, and it is closest, it ought not be co-opted by the folks who earn money for parking the car for you, but maybe that is just me.
We parked and to make it easier to find the ticket on the way out, I stuck it in the visor.  I have way too many tickets, entry cards, etc in my wallet now.  We got to the restaurant 3 escalators up, and see a big old sign: free parking with validation from the restaurant.  Neither of us was willing to walk back down, so I paid $9 for parking in a place in order to eat dinner.

In spite of all the folks in their Halloween costumes (what is the thing with adults dressing up in costumes and going out to eat?) we enjoyed our food, and its deliciously beautiful presentation.  It was difficult to decide, but finally we settled on a spring roll appetizer, which was indeed wonderful, and I had Siam chicken while Debra had shrimp and scallops with okra and eggplant.  I was mainly intrigued by my food being served in half of a pineapple, but it was truly delicious.  I said I wished it had less chicken and more pineapple, which Debra found oddly amusing.  While I could easily live on bread, cheese, and vegetables, Debra needs her meat.  One thing we both agreed on, living in the city is for young folks and we need to be back on our Taylor hill sides with our dogs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Fed, the Grand, and Gone with the Wind

 I stumbled across the Margaret Mitchell House while taking my walk around the block after brunch yesterday.  The house was built as a single residence in 1899 in the Tudor Revival style.  It was converted into apartments in 1919, and Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind here.

 I was planning to head on back to the Marta stop, but spotted a sign across the street advising of the Fed, so thought one more block would not be that far out of my way.  They have a museum in the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, but I figured it would involve security lines, etc, and I was not in the mood to relinquish my cane and camera for whatever might be in a bank museum.

 This building is One Atlanta Center, a 50 story skyscraper completed in 1987 by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee.  It was the tallest building in Atlanta until 1992, and now remains the 3rd tallest at 820 feet.  It is made from Spanish pink granite, with a copper pyramidal top and a gold peak, and has "gothic flourishes."
It's neighbor, the Art Deco-inspired GLG Grand building is the 9th tallest building in Atlanta, and was finished in 1992 by Swedish developer G. Lars Gullstedt.  It opened to a depressed market that led to Gullstedt's eventual bankruptcy.  Known first as the GLG Grand, then the Occidental Grand, and now home to the Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta, it was the first mixed-use skyscraper in Atlanta.  The bottom portion is the hotel, and offices and condominiums are on the upper floors.  Architect was Rabun Hogan Ota Rasche firm.

As I made my way back up to Peachtree, I thought (mistakenly, I might add) that I had walked far enough out of my way that it would be just as close to return to the hotel as to return to the Marta stop.  Not the case, and Peachtree is an up-and-down section in Midtown.  It's been an Advil day today.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who is making a movie in Atlanta?

 After registration this morning, I went to get brunch before the afternoon sessions began.  I had decided that the Midtown stop on the MARTA was probably the intersection where I had found all the neat cafes and shops before, when I had walked up Peachtree, and I was right.  I had a terrific Huevos Avocado, which was their version of Eggs Benedict, and some delicious oven-roasted potatoes.  Before heading back to the conference, I decided to take a short walk around the block.
 My first clue they were filming was all the lights, trucks, people in black, and equipment all over the sidewalk and I had to walk in the street.  I loved this beautiful old building, which was obviously in some sort of starring role in the film.  They were prepping the building, doing something to windows and the arch over the door.
A workman was taping black plastic over some of the windows, and some guy was pasting fake Washington DC tags on cars parked on the street.  Okay, is that a clue that the movie is supposed to be taking place in DC, or that a whole lot of folks from DC are visiting in Atlanta?  A search of the Internet shows Ashton Kutcher (my not favorite actor, and in fact, don't even like anything he does actor) is filming a movie in which he plays a CIA agent, so perhaps we are supposed to believe this is DC?
Whatever they are doing with it, I still thought it was a great building.  Unfortunately, due to movie magic, I don't know where or what this building is, though from the area, I would say apartments.  It is near the Georgia Tech campus, but appears to be a pretty pricey neighborhood.
Whatever was going on, was not going on anytime soon.  I returned to the conference and guess who is staying at the Marriott downtown?  Steven Baldwin.  Maybe it is his movie...or maybe he is just here in solidarity with the striking union carpenters across the street from the Marriott who are upset that Atlanta is hiring sub-minimum wage workers.

We attended the opening plenary tonight, which used to be somebody famous giving a speech.  Tonight, they awarded 2 lifetime service awards to social work educators, introduced and thanked about a hundred people or so, and then served a carnivore's buffet in honor of the retirement of the President of CSWE, Julia Watkins.  I am not that much of a meat eater, and was really tired, so had one little brisket biscuit and then headed back to the Artmore, my favorite home in Atlanta.

We had just reached the top of the escalator in the Marriott, me with my cane in one hand, and my skirt in the other to keep it from getting tangled in the steps, when an employee suddenly comes charging up the steps shouting to keep going, and pushed me right into the people in front of me.  I realize she was trying to clear the bottleneck of folks getting off the escalator, but her shove caused my cane to get tangled with my feet and I stumbled and had nothing to grab.  I turned around and told her to hold it back or I would be in the floor in a minute; her response was to shout "keep moving; keep moving."  Now there is another good reason not to be spending my money to sleep in the Marriott.  Here at the Artmore, they open the door for me, and tell me to have a nice night, and by the way, do I need any help with anything?

I will say that an annoying as it is to be unable to walk without assistance these days, and to see people jauntily and briskly walking all over--quite taking it for granted as I used to--it does have its occasional perks.  Like getting on the MARTA and the young man sitting in the "Reserved for Disabled" seat immediately stands up so I can sit.  Personally, I'd rather be able to walk unassisted, and stand for a couple of miles on the subway, but since I can't, I thanked him and sat down.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Here I am in Atlanta

Tonight, there are word pictures.  I could upload a semi-blurry picture of the Wells Fargo bank building outside my window, but I'm thinking it will not be any more fascinating for you than it is for me.  I am finally unpacked, email checked, phoned home, and about to get ready to do a little bit of writing before calling it [a very long] day. However, I have enjoyed the sights and sounds of traffic and lights outside my window.  As much as I love my quiet and relatively peaceful life in the cottage on my Taylor hillside, I love the sights and sounds of the city--any city.

We were 2 hours late leaving this morning due to a combination of factors, but it was a pleasant drive with my two colleagues, and we enjoyed some fun stories intermittently on the trip.  Due to being late, we hit Atlanta at rush hour traffic--the thing I was trying to avoid!--but all in all, it was not too bad due to where our hotel is.  I discovered a wonderful little boutique hotel, the Artmore, formerly the Grenada, back in 2003 and it is my go-to hotel for all things Atlanta.  When they remodeled the interior a couple of years ago, they wisely kept the exterior, a Spanish, Mediterranean design.

The service is outstanding, I love the modern artwork and decor after the renovation (believe me, while it was nice enough before, the decor reflected nothing of the grandeur of the building's architecture, so it was not a loss in the decision to renovate rather than restore).  It is located in mid-town, right across the street from a Marta station and there is little that makes me as happy as using rapid transit when I am in a big city.  You can get anywhere in a few minutes, for not much money, and way less hassle than driving, parking, or taking a cab.  Top that off with a little deli/convenience store across the street where they have Asian take-out and wine, and I am perfectly happy with my 5 minute subway ride and 2 minute walk to the conference hotel--a glass, concrete and steel nondescript building that looks like every other hotel downtown, is furnished like every other hotel in downtown, and charges twice as much for the same kind of room.  Here, there are also great little neighborhood bars, cafes, and stores within the 2-3 block range, and one subway stop down, awesome shopping and food.  Last trip, and eating in an Irish pub, we met a young man from Ireland who was here on a work visa for 4 months.  Now that is my idea of a place to eat.

Debra and I plan to go to the Martin Luther King Memorial and the Carter Center while we are here--both a short subway ride away.  I have long wanted to do both of those, and just never made the time before.

Updated: How many college seniors does it take to help a 3rd grader with math?

Monday marked our first return to Riverside for the semester.  We had 15 children for most of the time, and 5 or 6 more showed up near the end of our time there.  It was a beautiful day outside, which was fortunate, because the police officers had their annual haunted house set up in the community room so we could not use it.  This group of students had planned 3 activities, and they were all easily adapted to outside.
 This might be my favorite photo from the day: Does not this just say it all?
 The students split up into teams for some critical thinking exercises.  The little boy in the blue shirt used to come to the program with his older cousins when he was still in diapers.  I had not seen him in a while, so it was great fun to see how much he has grown and listen to him tell us about his school.

 Along with the "regulars" we had several new children, and as always, they just fit right in like they have always known us.  That is one of the things that is so amazing about going to Riverside: Even though it is a different group of students each semester, we have affiliation with them because we have been going for so long--5 years now, several times every semester.  It was gratifying yesterday when they all got off the school bus that they would run up to me and hug me, ask what were we going to do today, or ask if we were going to help with home work.  There are two brothers who have been coming for years, and the older one shouted to his brother, "Hey, look who is here!" and pointed to me.

The students planned an engagement phase: Introductions of themselves and the students, using a physical activity.  What knowledge and skills can you identify in the activity?  I will fill in the gaps, but only after some "critical thinking" by all!  They also played a communication game, and several sessions of the critical thinking exercises.

Near the end of the activities, a little boy had come outside of his apartment and was standing across the street.  I asked him if he wanted to join us, but he shook his head no, so I said okay.  In a few minutes, he crossed the street and stood on the sidewalk.  I asked if he would like to come watch, and he nodded yes.  I asked if he would like a snack or a juice, but he shook his head no again on that one.  I recognized him from last spring when he participated a few times, so I was not sure where his reluctance was coming from, but I respected it and did not further attempt to engage him.  A few other boys came up and I offered snacks and drinks, and the little boy ventured over.  I offered snacks and drinks again, and this time, he accepted one.  He kept his distance from the others, standing a few feet away, and quietly watching.  

After clean-up--which was minimal as the children had placed their empty drink cartons and snack bags in the trash sack--there was a little homework time on the front steps, and the answer is 5 social work students are required to answer a math question.  We even needed the iPhone to look up a few terms and a chart--math has changed a lot!  It is a few minutes out of our lives--and I know it is an additional stressor for the students--but it matters that we are there time after time.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dancing the Wobble...

As mentioned before, this is definitely not my dance genre.  I can schottische, polka, two-step, waltz, cotton-eyed joe, Texas two-step, and even do the macarena, but the wobble just eluded me totally.  Still, it was a lot of fun, along with the rest of the day with this great group of students.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mound Bayou Marathon: Conclusion

 After almost 2 hours, and hundreds of photos, we neared the community facility after our detour through the cemetery with its many historic headstones commemorating early members of the community.  The photo above is another one of those examples that I enjoy looking at--the play of the lights on the sheen of the water.  This photo is what finally tipped me off to the yin/yang picture that I had mistakenly thought was some angle on a headstone.
 There was some type of metal tank near the road, and one of the students had gone over to investigate.  The first photo is a closeup of the water in the tank.
 I also liked the play of colors and shapes in this reflection of the bridge and the water.
"How high's the water, Mama?  Six feet high and rising."  (Johnny Cash)

There are so many other wonderful pictures that the students created, and we will be working on some of them for our Art Gallery display between now and January.  We plan a reception at the end of our Wintersession class and will display the work that we have done throughout the fall and during the class.  They will be available for sale, and for the silent auction fundraiser during our March Cultural Diversity workshop as well.

The final post of our Historic Preservation Workshop last weekend will be the video of the girls teaching us how to do the Wobble.  While I clearly am not suited to that genre of dance, as I mentioned yesterday, being from Texas, I can do the Macarena.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Religion through the eyes of Mound Bayou students

 The Church of the Covenant occupies one of the store fronts remaining along Edwards Street.
 Bethel Church: One of the buildings included in our historic preservation workshop to discuss the modernist movement.
 This building was erected in 1973.

Almost 2 hours later, and we were nearly full-circle, headed back to the community facility--definitely walking a little slower.

I have tried my best to figure out the source of this photo.  It appears in the ones the students took of the cemetery, just at the end of the walk.  It reminds me of an abstract yin/yang design, and it fascinates me to look at it.
(Note: I figured it out, but I will save it for tomorrow's post.  Let's see if any of you can decipher it.)

We have one more stop along our tour, crossing the bridge and then arriving back at the facility, where you'll be treated to a short video of watching us try to dance the Wobble.  Let me just say that 3 out of 4 of us did pretty well...and I was not one of the 3.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halfway through town: Mound Bayou Marathon Part V

Ora's Variety Shop
Make a right turn on Green Street, cross East Main Street and City Hall comes into view.
On the corner of West Main and Green, the old Bank of Mound Bayou building.
Remember that unusual brick design?  Here is another example.
The bank has been partially restored, including the glass (just barely visible under the arch) which is covered for now.

A set of apartment buildings lie between the bank and the I. T. Montgomery house.  Though empty and in varying stages of disrepair for now, they are part of the redevelopment plans of the city.
We've got two more stops coming up from our marathon of walking--further down West Main street, and then along the cemetery road where we'll view some of the religious aspects of the community.  By the time I finish documenting those last two stops on the town tour, I might even be recovered from all the walking.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Marathon in Mound Bayou Part IV: Edwards Street

I was on the road before 8 a.m. this morning, going back to Mound Bayou.  I had a follow up meeting with the Mayor about our January Wintersession class in Mound Bayou, and some updating on where we are in terms of other service learning projects.  It was winter in Mississippi this morning, with overcast skies, drizzle, downright rain, and temperatures ranging in the mid 50s, lower 60s.  I had on a sweater and socks for the first time this year, and though it was gorgeous with the sun roof open initially, I finally had to close it and turn on some heat--even before it rained.

But for now, back to the work produced by the students in Saturday's workshop:

 A building on the corner served as the bus station for years.  It is currently a restaurant/bar.  I could imagine a time when patrons sat on the bench outside, waiting for the bus that would take them up to Memphis, or Chicago.  It would stop in every little town along the way for passengers to disembark or board.
 What is a juke joint (or jook joint) without a juke box?
 How many of these names do you recognize?
Wasn't it amazing when we put a nickel (or dime!) in the juke box, and watched that arm travel across to pick out our record?  Who remembers when they put those miniature juke boxes on each table so you did not have to get up to go select your songs?  Raise your hand now!
 The story we were told is that this bar and mirror were part of a soda fountain originally, but that is not clearly evident in this picture.
 Are these walls Baker Miller Pink?  I have a Sweet Home Chicago Blues poster similar to this, from one of mine and Gigi's Chicago trips.  If I recall, that was when Gigi and I discovered that just because we are pronoid, does not mean everyone else is.  We had always been warmly welcomed in the neighborhood joints we chose to patronize in New York City.  We opt for a neighborhood Irish bar in Chicago and while they did not say "leave" the fact that we could not get served, or a place to sit, convinced us we should just move on.  We moved on the the Sweet Home Chicago Blues store, and then moved on waaaaaaayyyyyy back to our hotel.
 Okay, raise your hand again--who remembers when this was a penny scale?
 Stained glass in the mirror behind the bar.
On the next block, watch for this brick design again.