More on Alabama and the BBQ of It all

Back again to Alabama! This time we were not even close to a city.

My intern and I did find a very common trend. When you're very near the interstate, you get chains. You get this big gas stations, you get the fast food, you get the restaurants with names that davertise nationally, but drive further, another 10 minutes, you get to the small local restaurants and in Valley Alabama, you get Barbeque!

The odd thing is that when we went to Chuck's, we got delicious Barbeque, but it was vinegar based with a side mustard sauce! You'd have thought we were in North Carolina!

Places like this are essential. If you don't have local joints with local flavor, then it doesn't matter whether you're in Boise, Boston, or Birmingham. It's also the fun of taking off roads when you can take them and the fun of going out of state.

Interestingly, some of the reviews for this place kvetched that patrons could not bring in their guns nor smoke. It's interesting to be in a part of the country where there are enough gun toting smokers to matter!

Alabama is Coming, City by City!

After traveling to two different cities in Alabama last month, I am here to tell you that Alabama is modernizing.

Both Phenix City and Birmingham have taken it on themselves to make progress. Though the state itself seems ddetermined to make laws and elect judges that keep them in Biblican times, the individual cities have decided to modernize.

They're building new roads, new public facilites, and new hotels. The key to filling the hotels is to have something to do at night. That's where Alabama is really going to need improvement. Birmingham is making progress. They've great bars, a few late night dining establishments, and Waffle Hice (yes, Hice).

Phenix City has built the hotels, now they need the entertainment and the people. Phenix city is fighting 60 years of bad memories, but they can do it. Let's hope. 

What New England Has That Atlanta Lacks

Boston and Providence remain amazing places to be. THey're getting expensive, they're building condos at an amazing rate, but still they hold on to certain elements from which Atlanta could really learn.

1) They Preserve. In several places, older building were preserved. They may have been renovated on the inside, but the the key design elements were kept. In some cases, the facades were kept, but larger buildings were put above them.

What this does is link a city's history to it's past. So much of old Atlanta has been lost and we risk losing what's left everyday.

2) Wealthy institutions work with more resource bare institutions to benefit everyone. Simmons College renovated and did huge environmental clean up on Daly Fields in Brighton. They were origally part of the Brighton High School campus but had been fallow for 25 years. Brighton High School had no place to play. Now they do. Simmons did the environmental clean up and created a partnership with the school and the community. The College gets Athletic fields as does the High School and community. They also now have regular interaction between the college students and the High School students who go there.

3) They have a sense of place. Boston believes in Boston. They're genuinely proud of being Bostonians. They're proud of their community, their people, their shops, they're sports teams, and everything.

4) They're greening as fast as possible. Solar and wind power are going up everywhere. Bikes are plentiful. Acommodating them is important.

5) Universities are incorporated into the community. Atlanta Claims to have 300 colleges. Between Boston and Providence, you have about 5000. They're integrated into the city. While Morehouse, Clark, Emory, and Oglethorpe have all gated themselves off, Harvard, MIT, Simmons, Northeastern, RISD, Brown, and so many others have open campuses through which you can walk. They have lots of free galleries into which you can walk. They want people involved. They don't have security officers who stop you even trying to get on to campus. They want transit to serve their campuses.

6) Excellence matters more than flashy or brand. When you go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, you get amazing art. Not just art 'you've heard of' (sic). The MFA displays the most interesting art they have. The High Museum of art has great art, but you've not heard of lots of it, so it's packed away.

As Atlanta moves toward becoming a more muscular city, it needs to demand that people commit to the city itself. It would be really cool to see people want to be 'Atlanta Strong'. 

Need Road!

I went to Rome. Briefly, with a loved one. I had the pleasure of visiting with one of the city commissioners there. The most interesting item I learned from her was that zoning is the killer. Apparently, the balance between advancing the cause of a community as a whole versus the property rights of an individual or corporation are time consuming.

This surprised me. The best part of the trip was being up close and personal at the Braves game. Best seats in the house. No doubt about it.

The second best part of the trip was being away. It meant there was less I could do. Now, being away is great, but as I have said before, the out of state barrier is the magic one. Once you've crossed a state line, everyone understands that it's too late to turn back and that they're on their own .

I'd like an exucse to use Airbnb this month, but I'll settle for just crossing the border.

I did it to myself again!

So, I have loved my visit to Chattanooga. If you know me, this is not a surprise.

I love that I parked my van and have not driven in 3 days. I bike everywhere or take the free electric shittle. I love that Chattanooga is a city that is still expanding and growing denser. I love that this is among the best Airbnb experiences I have had.

My mistake has been sharing. Now, I love my interns. They're great and I made the offer freely so that they could participate, but one of the joys of travel for me, I am learning, is the complete near escape from everyone. I love my little routine and with folks around, I can't get up, throw on my bathrobe, start browning a bagel, and listen to NPR all the while reading the newspaper and glancing at the computer.

Tomorrow is my last day here, before it is again, back to reality. Back to driving, back to greater responsibility, and back to limited ice cream. I plan to push my luck before I leave and go the Chattanooga Ice Cream Social. Can I survive 6 scoops of Ice cream in one day? Be there and find out!

I hopefully will be a good host to my interns. Twas a good show and the next one is Dragoncon!

I Did It To Myself

There's nothing worse than letting yourself down.

I promised an intern that I would try to see her in one her shows and I did! However, I did not know that said show would be in Dalhlonega. Traffic, yes, traffic, killed me. Yet, when the show was over, I foolishly headed back to town, rather than enjoy what I could or even scoot up to North Carolina, which was just 35 miles away.

I will not make that mistake again.

Where'd I Put that Accent?

A few people have said to me whilst in Boston, 'You're clearly from here. You don't sound like your from here.'

When I was young, I sounded as though I was from here. I tried mightly to keep the accent when in Indiana, but when I moved to California, I just gave up and began to sound as though I were from the East Bay.

Some words still come out as though I were still from Chicago.

The question becomes the contrast between a pure authenticity and the need to code switch. On the one hand, I feel entirely comfortable speaking in a myriad of accents from the wide variety of places that I've lived. On the other hand, the people who know me only a little, get very unconfortable when I switch from accent to accent to accent. Moreover, as we all know, how you speak is a semiotic indicator that you belong.

Over and over again, I have flavored my speech with just a touch of what I need to show I belong. Here, in the northeast, that matters. Sounding neutral is okay, but doesn't garner acceptance. Sounding as though I were southern would shut me out of certain conversations.

Lest you judge this, sounding northern has cost me far more in the south than sounding southern up here. I've honestly had people at facilities tell me they will not talk with me and that I need to have a Southernor call. This has happened on multiple occasions.

So far, my ansah has been to be as much of a Red Soux fan as I can be, Y'all.

Roxbury and Race and Gentrification

So, I sit in Roxbury, which, if you're of a certain age, you think of the place that launched New Edition and Bobby Brown.

Like the Bronx in New York and West End in Atlanta, Roxburynis changing. Affordable housing is scarce and so what is a largely working class Black neighborhood is becoming a wealthier diverse neighborhood.

The tell tale signs are there. There's a Starbucks where the candy store once stood. A fancy vegan soul fusion casual noodle place has opened on the corner.

Fancy real estate folks have opened offices.

Still, you can see signs of rebellion against the influx of people like me. Rather than supporting the local teams, the jersey in the window of the local sporting goods stores is that of the Chicago Bulls. There are signs saying 'Don't Sell'.

Community Activists are tryingto keep local businesses running smoothly by connecting wealthier white new residents to folks in the community to champion smooher permitting for the locals who have long suffered discrimination.

Still the issues ars the same in West End, Roxbury, and Harlem where the red line has been replaced by the green line because of the Silver Line.

What do I mean by that? Roxbury became the home for the Black community through red lining, through banks refusing to loan to Black people except in areas such as Roxbury. Hence, it's built up businesses that cater to and have become institutions for the Black community.

Now an abundance of green, new money, is driving up housing rpices and rents for Residents and businesses alike.

The sign and the literal driver for this is rapid transit in the form if thr Silver line, which is true BRT. It effectively acts as a Subway line into the center of Roxbury making it far more desirable.

The result is that rather than being divided by race lines, the community is being divided by economic class lines.

Now, the African drummers who used to walk over on Sunday to drum in the park are going to be invited to drum as part of a festival in the square.

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Giving up the car has a silver line-ing

So having had to rent a car upon arrival in Boston was not what I wanted nor expected. Renting a car a nearly any major airport is unpleasant at best. Logan was not terrible. There were only four people in front of me. If you're coming to Boston, do not rent from Avis/budget. Their line was 30 people long.

Driving here is also not fun. The roads are better than Georgia and the signs make more sense, but there are countless Massholes who are well aware that they're cutting you off as they do it.

Rhode Island, on the other hand, is not well kept up. Massachusetts has good clean corruption. They know that if the streets are not paved, there will be trouble. The state claims it lacks the money to take care of these problems.

Still Newport was beautiful and the mansions make anything you've ever seen look pedestrian. To wit:

It's now a hotel, but at one point, this was apparently a bachelor pad.

Upon arriving back in Boston, the first thing I did was ditch the car. Back to the rental car place and on to the T! Boston is pretty smart. Your ride into town from the airport is free. They use BRT to get you there quickly and the city still makes sense.

I am now safely ensconsed in a small cambridge studio appartment. It's going to do nicely.

Again, however, I am remiss in not checking on air conditioning first. It's also about 15 minutes from the T. Still, it's cosy, there's internet, and I can walk to Improv Boston.

Apparently Millenials are as am I in that they hate cars. Perhaps I am just trying to hold on to my youth!