Saturday, April 30, 2011

ATLANTApix: Frogs in the Garden

Boy with Frogs fountain
Frogs at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
As April comes to a close, the Atlanta Botanical Garden's first annual Atlanta Blooms! exhibition does as well. But, blooms are in full force throughout the are frogs!

I've seen so many frogs in the Garden lately that I feel I'm developing a fondness for the creatures...the Garden's amphibian research is a likely contributor to that fascination, as is the sighting of frogs in several gardens within the Garden.

I was at the Atlanta Botanical Garden earlier this week and passed by the boy-with-frogs fountain, in the Perennial Garden, and right there before me was a giant frog in the water! (photo, lower left)

And did you know that there's a daily frog feeding at the Garden? It takes place in front of the Fuqua Conservatory every day at 11:00 a.m. It's a great event for seeing some of the Garden's frogs, in part because feeding time is their most active time of day.

So, in addition to the human-size frogs throughout the Garden, there are lots of real ones to be sighted as well.

ATLANTApix and ATLANTAvidz of the tourATLANTA blog features a daily photo or video relative to Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Friday, April 29, 2011

ATLANTApix: Coca-Cola To-Do List

The World of Coca-Cola
The World of Coca-Cola
At the World of Coca-Cola in Pemberton Place, there's no shortage of things to do. Inside the museum you're treated to a seeing an operating bottling plant, a prestigious collection of Coke memorabilia, and an array of Coke art as diverse as there are artists.

Even more fun, you can have your photo made with the Coca-Cola polar bear, experiencing a 4D movie, an opportunity to drink all the Coke you want from around the world, and you're given a free bottle of Coca-Cola upon exiting the museum.

ATLANTApix and ATLANTAvidz of the tourATLANTA blog features a daily photo or video relative to Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ATLANTApix: Arts District Disguises

A cleverly disguised ATM in Atlanta's Arts District, Midtown
Atlanta Arts District, Midtown
Although I would easily be convinced that the geometric chrome "box" sitting on Peachtree Street in front of the Aecom Building is an artifact from Logan's Run ("the first motion picture of the 23rd Century"), it's actually a cleverly disguised ATM.

That's one of the things I love about Midtown, Atlanta's Arts District...there are creative aesthetics everywhere, including lighting, fencing, lobby furnishings...the possibilities are limited only by imagination and, of course, budgets.

ATLANTApix and ATLANTAvidz of the tourATLANTA blog features a daily photo or video relative to Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ATLANTApix: Happy Birthday, Coretta!

Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott was born on April 27, 1927, and became Mrs. Coretta Scott King, and imminent activist, on June 18, 1953, when she married Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

After Martin Luther's assination in 1968, Coretta continued her husband's message and dream, commiting a significant amount of time to establishing and sustaining the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, or the King Center

Coretta passed away, after a long and distinguished life, in 2006. She was laid to rest next to her husband at the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

I had the honor of seeing Coretta in the 1990s at Atlanta's Fox Theatre one evening for a program featuring poet Maya Angelou.

ATLANTApix and ATLANTAvidz of the tourATLANTA blog features a daily photo or video relative to Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ATLANTApix: The Buddha

Amitabha Buddha
Amitabha Buddha
Buddha can be found throughout Atlanta, most conspicuously in museums, such as the Amitabha Buddha pictured here. This one is part of the permanent collection of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art at Oglethorpe University.

Previously exhibited in 1986, this 25" Buddha is a 14th Century (Kamakura period) wood carving from Japan. It's covered with urushi, a lacquer made from a plant similar to poison ivy. Many of us have childhood memories of what poison ivy does to a camper, walker, nature explorer! It's not pretty. But this Buddha is.

You have only a few weeks left to see the current exhibit at the Museum. Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest, a beautiful exhibition of works by modern artists from India, is on display through Sunday, May 15, 2011.

ATLANTApix and ATLANTAvidz of the tourATLANTA blog features a daily photo or video relative to Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Monday, April 25, 2011

ATLANTApix: Star Wars at the Carter Museum

Star Wars Poster at the Carter Museum
Star wars Poster at the Carter Museum
It's not very often that I get to talk about my beloved Star Trek or Star Wars here on tourATLANTA, but a unique opportunity presents itself on occasion...such as the 1970s poster (photo) of Star Wars in The Museum of the Jimmy Carter Library.

This particular exhibit chronicles what happened in the United States and President Carter's life, as well as around the world, during President Carter's administration (1976-1981), who was the only U.S. President from the state of Georgia.

ATLANTApix and ATLANTAvidz of the tourATLANTA blog features a daily photo or video relative to Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dogwood Festival: The Best of 75

Ferris Wheel & Carousel
The Atlanta Dogwood Festival, in its 75th year, was the best I’ve attended since my first in the late 1980s…they totally outdid themselves. 

From the daily live music to the incredibly popular Ferris wheel, from the talented and very personable artists to the over-the-top food vendors, from the disc dog tournament to the animated clowns, this Festival was…well, it was very festive!

I tried to convince several friends to come along but heard the same story multiple times…“It’s all the same artists year after year,” as if that was the only thing this Festival is about. The friends who opted to not attend totally missed out because it was so much more. Next year, guys!

Yes, it’s true, there are some artists who are there year after year, many of which I welcome back with open arms…there’s some amazing talent at our festivals. Actually, I have several personal favorites that I’ll mention in just a moment.

The Dogwood Festival indeed has an artist market (similar but not the same as our annual Arts Festival later in the year), but it doesn’t stop there. There are numerous special events for adults and lots of children’s activities and programs…there’s more going on than most realize and more than any one person can possibly do in a single day…it’s a good thing it’s a three-day festival for us festival-lovers.

The Rides

Shark Slide
There were rides! The most popular was the antique Ferris wheel…and for good reason. From the top, you could see the Atlanta skyline…a unique and rare view of the Atlanta skyline at that. The line to ride was a little long, but it moved relatively quickly, so the wait would definitely be worth the view. Consider doing this first so you can enjoy the rest of the Festival at leisure, assuming the Ferris wheel returns next year.

There was also a shark slide, rock climbing, and a bungee jumping contraption with  trampolines that allowed riders to do mid-air somersaults…it looked like way too much fun!

The Artists

Greg Stones
The Dogwood Festival, in addition to its many other activities, is an opportunity for artists, local and from around the country, to showcase their work…and sell it. Some of my favorites are not local so I like it when I see them return so I can see their newest work in person.

My favorite artist this year, by far, was Greg Stones. Why? From the moment I stepped into his booth, and many times since, I was laughing out loud. I had to ask Greg where he got his inspiration…

From watching too many B-rated films,” Greg told me, totally reminding me of my friend Daved in Washington, D.C., who also has a great sense of humor and a writing style I can only aspire to. I have to admit that I do believe I’m developing a new respect for B-rated movies.

I asked Greg if I could take a photo for tourATLANTA and he agreed. He stood up and I immediately felt short…even at my 6’2”! Greg had to squat for the photo so that the background didn’t split his head, which he would have made a grand joke of, I’m sure.

Keep it coming, Greg…I’m in love with your humorous, clever work, also known as Gouache Paintings by Greg Stones.

Elaine Rader
The first artist I met at this year’s Festival was Elaine Rader, a Georgia resident. If you met Elaine anywhere else, chances are you would guess that she’s an artist of some kind. Well, she is…and a splendid one at that. Elaine was one of the artists in the “Georgia Artists” section of the Artist Market. 

I’ve heard of attorneys becoming chefs (on several counts), but I’ve never heard of a professional ballet dancer turning jewelry artist…that’s just what Elaine did. She studied at Julliard and performed as a member of the New York City Ballet. Her transformation is to our benefit…Elaine’s organic, sculptural jewelry is unique and sophisticated, as is she.

I also had the pleasure of meeting artist James LaCasse who does fantastic work based on the human form. An annual favorite of mine is artist Beau Tudzarov…his digital chess pieces and martini glasses are mind-bending phenomenal. And artist Maria-Louise Coil encapsulates Atlanta landmarks in a beautifully artistic manner the likes of which I’ve never seen…I foresee one of her pieces joining my art collection in the not too distant future.

The Events

In addition to the peripheral activities around the Festival, there were several more prominent events taking place. The one I found the most entertaining was the dog disc exhibition, which was a qualifier for a national competition.

Customer & Artist
The dog disc exhibition, held through Woof Sports USA, basically entailed playing catch with dogs using Frisbees instead of a stick. By the way, the competing dogs were the only canines allowed in the Festival.

During the tournament, the master of ceremonies conducted a trivia contest for all the nearby kids, which was just as entertaining as the dog disc exhibition. 

She would ask a question while the kids waited on the sidelines. As soon as the trivia question (such as “What kind of dog is commonly seen at fire stations?) was answered, all the kids had to run to the MC and shout their answer. The kids had a blast running and winning prizes and the parents undoubtedly enjoyed the guarantee that the kids got a good night’s sleep that evening.

La Fete, an event celebrating the international diversity of the Festival, was conducted on the first evening of the weekend in the Greystone event facility. Honored guests included councilman Kwanza Hall & Consul Salvador de Lara Rangel of Mexico, as well as Miss Georgia, the beautiful and radiant Christina McCauley. I didn’t get to go to La Fete this year, but it’s definitely on my calendar for next year! 

The Clowns

Clowns! No, I’m not talking about some of the festival attendees…there were real clowns there, round red noses and all, to entertain the masses.

If nothing else can garner a smile from the kiddies, a clown can. Whether by engaging them in colorful conversation, creating a balloon art hat, or sweeping the grass floor of Piedmont Park with a rainbow broom, these brightly colored animated artisans are a festival favorite…for kids of all ages.

I’ve loved clowns since my first visit to a circus as a child…and the Dogwood Festival clowns deliver every promised smile and a few giggles, too.

The kids have an opportunity to somewhat be a clown as well via a visit to the face painting booth…with lots of options to choose from, they can spend the day roaming Piedmont Park as a lion, a princess, or a clown. 

The Photos

I also saw more cameras this year than I’ve ever seen at the Dogwood Festival…and for good reason. The day I went, the weather was perfect…blue sky, moderate temperature, lots of color. 

People were snapping shots with the Atlanta skyline as a backdrop (Piedmont Park is excellent for those shots). They were making photos of the artwork (except in the booths with signs posted prohibiting photography). And many photos were made of the various attractions throughout the Festival, including the Ferris wheel, the dog disc competition, and of course other festival goers.

The Recycling 

3D Metal Art
Even a week before Earth Day, the Dogwood Festival was very environmentally conscious. There were recycling bins throughout the Festival and even the cooking oil being used by food vendors was designated to be recycled into bio fuel.

I find myself impressed with these endeavors. They’re not easy and they take time and money to conduct, so kudos to the Festival organizers for making the effort to do it and for helping to increase awareness of the necessity to recycle.

The Pop Art

Coke Dragon
There was more art at this year’s Dogwood Festival than what was in the artist booths. One of the pieces that you totally couldn’t miss was the Coca-Cola bottle dragon…yes, a car-size dragon made entirely of Coke bottles and cans. Talk about recycling!

There was also a fleet of decorated golf carts ranging in theme from tropic island to frat party. I wasn’t able to determine what they were for, but it looked like, based on signage on the carts, that there may have been some kind of parade or they may have just been used as transportation for Festival dignitaries.

And probably the most unique pop art item was a decorated port-a-potty artistically crafted to resemble a country out house. Oh, the things you see at festivals!

There’s More

Yes, there’s still more! One of the coolest things I saw was a Dogwood sapling giveaway. Atlanta already has more Dogwood trees than I could count, but I find it exciting to know there will be even more next year.

Chevrolet was onsite conducting a promotion (and giving away bags to those who completed a quick survey) and had quite a few cars on display…some sporty, some more family oriented.
Radio stations were out in force entertaining the Festival-goers adding to the music from the several live music stages throughout the Festival.

Food Vendors
And the food vendors…anyone would be remiss for not giving a nod to the food vendors at a festival of this nature. We had a grand choice of every kind of festival fare you can imagine. 

From funnel cakes to…wait for it…deep fried pickles? Yes, deep friend pickles (fondly called Elvis Pickles at one of my favorite dining establishments here in Atlanta).

I know we Southerners are famous for deep frying anything, but deep frying pickles surprised even me. I refrained from indulging, but many treated themselves.

The Challenges

Ok, so any festival this size will have its challenges and the Dogwood Festival did too, but they were not detrimental to ones’ having a great time.

Glass Art
Telephone reception was definitely an issue and I’ve heard the same complaint from people who have attended other festivals or large gatherings in Piedmont Park…so, City of Atlanta and cellular providers, listen up! We need more bandwidth in Piedmont Park! 

These festivals and gatherings are great for the local economy. Please don’t make visitors determine they can’t attend because something as simple as a phone call or a text message won’t go through.

And that’s not all…the bandwidth is also needed for vendors. Their mobile credit card machines don’t work if the transmission won’t go through. The vendors miss a revenue opportunity if they can’t conduct transactions and visitors miss opportunities to make a purchase if they don’t have the cash on them (and I know quite a few people who purchase a piece of art at these festivals on an annual basis).

Getting There

The Dogwood Festival takes place throughout Piedmont Park, which has several entrances…any of which can be used to immediately access the Festival. 

Parking during any event of this size can be a challenge, but not impossible. I was parked within three minutes of arriving, but I also have a small car. Many of our suburbanites, especially those with families, drive larger vehicles which can add to the time it takes to find parking.

There are a few pay parking lots in the vicinity of Piedmont Park, including the relatively new one shared by Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which went back and forth between lot full and available throughout the weekend.

The Return

The next Atlanta Dogwood Festival is a year from now…is it on my calendar? You’re doggone right it’s on my calendar. I will definitely be back…and I plan to take full advantage of all the events being offered, especially the La Fete event and I do hope they bring back the Ferris wheel—a sentiment many others have expressed!

Attending the Atlanta Dogwood Festival

Date toured: Sunday, April 17, 2011
Location: Piedmont Park (directions and map)
Parking: Piedmont Park parking deck or nearby street parking
MARTA: Taking MARTA to the Dogwood Festival
Cost: Free (with some ticketed events and rides)

Bring Back the Ferris Wheel!

ATLANTAvidz: Spring Color in Atlanta

Atlanta is one of the most colorful cities I've ever been to, especially in the spring. And with such a long growing season we can look forward to lots more color and an incredible lushness throughout the city for many more months to come.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

ATLANTApix: Japanese Garden Moon Gate

Japanese Garden Moon Gate
My favorite of the surprisingly few Japanese gardens in Atlanta is the one found at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, immediately identifiable by its signature Moon Gate.

The Japanese Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden predates the Garden itself. It was started in Piedmont Park in the 1960s, even before the Atlanta Botanical Garden was chartered. The Atlanta Botanical Garden was officially founded in 1976.

On the day I took this photo, less than two weeks ago, I saw Miss Georgia in the Garden. She was dressed in a black sequin dress, wearing her sash and crown! She was there for a photo shoot. It was a Monday and the Garden is closed on Mondays so she had practically the whole Garden to herself.

The few other Japanese gardens I know of include one at the Carter Center and one at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Buckhead. There is one also at the restaurant Nakato, but not it's not a Japanese Garden in the traditional sense, but fun nonetheless.

There are many beautiful gardens in Atlanta...I'm glad Japanese gardens are part of our garden diversity.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Friday, April 22, 2011

ATLANTApix: Was that Big Foot or Gigantopithicus?

I'm not sure if it was coincidence or collaboration that the Fernbank Museum of Natural History (Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids) and the Michael C. Carlos Museum (Monsters, Demons & Winged Beasts) are holding their seemingly similar exhibitions simultaneously. Either way, they're both phenomenal...and they're not at all similar, outside of genre.

Mythic Creatures is on display through Sunday, August 14, 2011. Lots of time to see it, right? Well, reconsider making plans to see it sooner rather than later...especially locals. You know how busy summers are in Atlanta...there's so much to see and do! Mythic Creatures is a great rainy day outing...that way you won't have to give up a trip to Six Flags or a picnic in Piedmont Park.

In addition to dragons, unicorns and mermaids, Mythic Creatures features the Gigantopithicus, a creature that roamed the Earth approximately 300,000 years ago. So, not all mythic creatures are drawn from the imagination...some are indeed based on living, breathing, or in this case extinct, beings.

See yesterday's ATALANTApix for more about Monsters, Demons & Winged Beasts.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ATLANTApix: Bronze Pour

Assyrian Tablet, circa 9th-7th Century B.C.
Assyrian Tablet, circa 9th-7th Century B.C.
You know, practically every exhibit in every museum in Atlanta has some kind of activities associated with it...some more interesting than others.

For example, in conjunction with the Monsters, Demons & Winged Beasts exhibition at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, on Friday night, April 29, 2011, there will be a bronze pour. Participants will have the opportunity to create a monster in a mold that will then be poured in bronze. How often can you say you created a bronze figure?

The Monsters, Demons & Winged Beasts exhibition is ongoing through Sunday, June 19, 2011, and it's an amazing that should be on everyone's must-see list...really!

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ATLANTApix: Underground Atlanta

Underground Atlanta
Underground Atlanta
Underground Atlanta, a once buried section of the original Atlanta city streets, is today a vibrant shopping, dining, entertainment complex. There's a lot to do at Underground Atlanta including a tour! The "From Civil War to Civil Rights" tour is offered at Underground February through September on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays several times throughout the day.

Underground was originally opened in 1968 and closed in 1980 due to rapid transit, MARTA, build out. It was reopened in 1989.

Underground is also the site of the 800-pound "Big Peach" that ceremoniously drops every New Years Eve to ring in the new year for thousands of Atlantans and visitors.

Unrelated, on this day in 1853, Harriet Tubman started the Underground Railroad, which would aid the escape of some Georgia slaves, especially those in the northern part of the state.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ATLANTApix: Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron's marker at the Braves Hall of Fame
Hank Aaron's marker at the Braves Hall of Fame
Number 44 graces the entrance courtyard of Turner Field in honor of Hank Aaron, long-time Atlanta Brave. On April 19, 1963, Aaron hit the 300th homerun of his baseball career, further cementing his eventual admission to the Braves Hall of Fame.

You can learn more about Hank Aaron and other famous Braves players in the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum & Hall of Fame, part of a full tour of Turner Field. The tour includes a trip to Sky Field, the press box, the locker room, the duggout, and an opportunity to walk out onto the field itself!

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Monday, April 18, 2011

ATLANTApix: The Color Purple

The Fox Theatre
The Fox Theatre
Alice Walker received her Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple on April 18, 1983. From Georgia herself, where the book's story takes place, Walker marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and reportedly influenced several famous Americans, including Maya Angelou, who I met at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. years after hearing her read some of her poetry at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

Speaking of the Fox Theatre (photo), The Color Purple, the stage version, will be showing at the Fox June 15-19, 2011. I've never read the book, but the movie is an all-time favorite, so I'm sure I will love the stage version. I'd wanted to see it when visiting New York City last year, but timing for a show wasn't in the cards.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

ATLANTApix: Dekalb Peachtree Airport

Medic Truck at 57th Fighter Group Restaurant near PDK
Medic Truck at 57th Fighter Group Restaurant near PDK
Driving through Atlanta you'll see lots of interesting every neighborhood. Driving down Clairmont Road, not too far from Peachtree Industrial Road, you might see this World War II vehicle (photo) sitting just inside the curb. Do not be alarmed...they're friendly.

This mobile medical unit, and several other nearby vehicles, are part of the decor of the 57 th Fighter Group Restaurant situated on Dekalb Peachtree Airport  PDK (for some reason sometimes called Peachtree Dekalb Airport).

Interestingly, the restaurant's theme is World War II, but the location's history is more significant to World War I. On this day, April 17, the United States joined World War I and shortly thereafter, several military stations popped up, including one on what is present day Dekalb Peachtree Airport—Camp Gordon.

Remember, when you're finished dining at the 57th, you can always go for an aerial tour of Atlanta!

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

ATLANTApix: State Bar of Georgia

State Bar of Georgia
With 33,882 active members in good standing, the State Bar of Georgia is a very busy place...and a critical necessity to our statewide legal system. All persons authorized to practice law in Georgia are required to be members of the State Bar of Georgia.

In the lobby of the State Bar of Georgia building, located at Marietta and Cone Streets in downtown Atlanta, is an exhibit of Woodrow Wilson's 19th Century law office (located in downtown in 1882), which includes several original artifacts. In the Conference Center on the third floor is a Law Museum that features portrayals of famous Georgia trials, numerous artifacts, and videos.

In addition to providing services, resources, and continuing education to Georgia lawyers, the State Bar of Georgia is very active in educating young people, some of who are undoubtedly future guardians of Georgia law. Many of the visiting youngsters get to participate in mock trials in a mock courtroom in the third floor Conference Center.

The State Bar of Georgia building was once home of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, now located at Peachtree and 10th Streets in Midtown. When standing in front of the building, if you look closely at the top of the front-facing wall, you can see the engraved name of the former tenant.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Friday, April 15, 2011

ATLANTApix: The Legacy Fountain

The Legacy Fountain
The Legacy Fountain in Piedmont Park
The new Legacy Fountain is now open in Piedmont Park. Part of a 53-acre expansion, the new Piedmont Park Promenade features two sprawling meadows, the Fountain, and a new woodlands and wetlands area, all adjacent to the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

The Legacy Fountain features more than 70 water jets that spray up to 30 feet into the air, as well as an LED-lighting system capable of a million lighting configurations...that's going to make for some spectacular shows!

Visitors can get to the Legacy Fountain, which is fully stroller and wheelchair accessible, via Piedmont Park's northeast quadrant or via the public path that also leads to the Atlanta Botanical Garden from Piedmont Avenue.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

ATLANTApix: Button Gwinnett

Button Gwinnett
Button Gwinnett
Button Gwinnett was one of the three signers from the state of Georgia of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. This bust (photo), located in the rotunda of the Georgia Capitol Building, commemmorates his contributions to the state.

I recently learned that Button Gwinnett's signature is one of the rarest from Georgia. As a matter of fact, it's so rare that at Southeby's auction in New York last year on April 14, one of only 50 Gwinnett signatures, sold for more than $720,000.

Gwinnett County, located immediately northeast of the Atlanta city limits, is also named for Button and is home to the Mall of Georgia (the largest shopping mall in the southeast), the Southeastern Railway Museum (Georgia's official transportation history musuem), BAPS Temple (the largest Hindu temple in the United States), and Gwinnett Arena (where Lady Gaga will perform on Monday, April 14, 2011).

In additon to signing the Declaration of Independence, Gwinnett also served as Acting President and Commander in Chief of Georgia.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ATLANTApix: Azaleas!

Atlanta Azalea
Atlanta Azalea
You can barely turn a corner in Atlanta this time of year without seeing yet another beautiful Azalea...they're everywhere! And in more colors than you might think.

Azaleas are one of the most popular flowering shrubs in the state of Georgia. But while most people associate them with spring, like I do, but the varieties are so diverse that you can find Azaleas that will bloom for eight months of the year.

I've mentioned before my fondness for the orange Azalea blossom, which I first saw at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, on their 1.6 miles Azalea Trail. Since then (that was more than 20 years ago), I've seen orange Azaleas several times in Atlanta, but sightings of that particular species remain quite rare.

Not so rare are Azaleas in general, including species that are indigenous to Georgia.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ATLANTApix: Georgia on My Mind

Piedmont Park
Piedmont Park
On this date in 1961, Ray Charles, born in Albany, Georgia (south of Macon), won four Grammy Awards, including a Grammy for Best Performance by a Pop Single Artist for Georgia on My Mind.

I saw Ray perform Georgia on my Mind in Piedmont Park (photo) many years ago. I and a couple of friend made our way up to the stage to get an upclose look at the music legend...he was an incredible performer!

Georgia on My Mind became Gerogia's official State song in 1979 and remains so's akin to a state anthem, actually.

Piedmont Park has long been a popular site for concerts, films, and festivals, like this week's Dogwood Festival (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, April 14-16, 2011). Venture out to the Dogwood Festival and know that you're walking the same grounds as great legends like Mr. Ray Charles.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Monday, April 11, 2011

ATLANTApix: The Vortex

The Vortex
The Vortex (Little Five Points)
 The Vortex offers one of the most "real" dining, drinking, and comedy experiences in all of the city of Atlanta. I particularly find their "Idiot-Free Zone" policy amusing (the language in which it's written, actually) and would never want to be on the wrong side of an incursion of said policy.

The Vortex is an Atlanta favorite (I myself enjoy going there). Locals go there in droves and bring visitors there in droves. It's a unique experience, especially after a tranquil visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the World of Coca-Cola, or the Margaret Mitchell House...a visit that many will remember for a very long time to come.

More on the Idiot-Free Zone: "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, especially if we think you're being a big jerk. We strive to keep The Vortex an official Idiot-Free Zone at all times, so if you're acting like an idiot we'll be sure to let you know, right before we throw you out."

Sound harsh? Not at all. Actually, I wish more establishments had such an outspoken policy. There's a time and place for everything (Your mother told you that too, right?). Certain behavior is just not appropriate in certain venues, events, or, kudos to The Vortex for telling it how it is and for being an Idiot-Free Zone!

Really, are you going to blare the latest Reba song while attending an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performance? No, they'd throw you out. Are you going to chain-smoke at Georgia Aquarium? No, they'd throw you out. Are you going to swear at a tour guide at the Fox Theatre? No, they'd throw you out. So when dining at The Vortex, behave! Otherwise, as noted, they will throw you out!

The Vortex has locations in Little Five Points (photo) and on Peachtree Street in Midtown...and be sure to catch their comedy musings at the Laughing Skull Lounge adjacent to their Midtown location.

Atlanta really does has something for everyone...The Vortex is an excellent testament to that fact.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

ATLANTApix: Photo with a Frog?

Frog at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Frog at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
The Atlanta Botanical Garden takes its frogs very seriously ... while at the same time having leaping loads of fun!

There are several human-size frogs throughout the Garden anxiously waiting to make photos with visitors ... they're such hams for the camera!

There's one near the Hardin Visitor Center (photo), one next to the fountain at the entrance to the Great Lawn, and quite a few in the Children's Garden. And I've seen visitors of all ages, myself included, enjoying posing with one of the Garden's giant frogs.

Also fun, there's a daily frog feeding (really!) in front of the Fuqua Conservatory, their most active time of the day. If you miss feeding time, you can always visit some of the resident frogs just inside the Conservatory doors to the right or left.

On a more serious note (and rather impressive if you ask me), the Atlanta Botanical Garden conducts amphibian research (lots of frogs!). The Garden is involved in an effort to preserve critically endangered frogs by housing them in breeding colonies ... these frog species in the wild are in danger of soon becoming extinct.

What will never go extinct is the Atlanta Botanical Garden's sincere involvement in serious research, preservation, and conservation and their abundant sense of great fun ... all of which visitors to Atlanta can enjoy!

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

ATLANTApix: Ebenezer Baptist Church

Ebenezer Baptist Church
Ebenezer Baptist Church
On this day in 1968, the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. was held at Ebenezer Baptist Church in the community of Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, Georgia. Approximately 100,000 mourners gathered for the funeral even though the church could only hold 800.

The original Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta was founded in 1886, during the reconstruction era of the city. The congregation moved into a newly built church, today known as the Heritage Sanctuary, on Auburn Avenue in 1914 where King was baptized and would eventually serve as co-pastor with his father.

The "Heritage Sanctuary" is currently undergoing renovations and is part of the Martin Luther King National Historic Site, managed by the National Park Service. A completion date for Phase II of the restoration project, which will return the sanctuary to its appearance in 1960-1968, when King was pastor at the Church, has not yet been established.

Immediately across the street is the new "Horizon Sanctuary" of Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was dedicated in 1999 and continues the 125 year legacy of the Church.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!

Friday, April 8, 2011

ATLANTApix: The Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood
Flowering Dogwood
The Flowering Dogwood is one of the most sought after plants for Southern the point that I personally find it difficult to imagine Atlanta in spring without conjuring images of bright white and pink dogwood blossoms.

On the festival scene, Atlantans are looking forward to the 75th Annual Dogwood Festival next week (Friday-Sunday, April 15-17, 2011) to be held in Piedmont Park. Dogwoods are in full bloom all over the city now so they should make a spectacular appearance for the Festival.

In 1995, President and First Lady Clinton planted a Flowering Dogwood on the grounds of the White House to memorialize the lives lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing. Additionally, the Dogwood is also the state tree of Virginia and Missouri and the state flower of North Carolina.

What may not be widely known (outside of the horticultural, botany, and dogwood enthusiast crowds) is that there are approximately 65 species of Dogwood that thrive in the northern hemisphere, South America, and Africa. Actually, the Dogwood is tree of British Columbia, which also has Dogwood blossoms in its Coat of Arms.

So...what I once thought was mostly popular in the South is actually a global passion...the tree and its flowers are quite beautiful after all.

ATLANTApix of the tourATLANTA blog features a "photo-of-the-day" of Atlanta. Come back tomorrow for a new one!