Tech marching band’s offbeat amazing race

Long before TV’s “The Amazing Race,” an elaborate competition with puzzles and physical challenges already took place each year around Atlanta with little fanfare. On Saturday, the 25th anniversary Get-a-Clue featured 13 teams in a high-tech elaborate scavenger hunt, a modern tradition started by Georgia Tech musicians.

Contestants jumped out of cars in front of eateries in Decatur and Buckhead looking lost and determined at the same time. Carrying cinderblocks, they scampered through Inman Park, scanning QR codes from cryptic notes attached to public art, benches and other things. Continue reading

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Rules help ground Georgia’s largest hands-on farmers market

Through all the ice, snow and harsh temperatures of Atlanta’s recent winter, Christi Behrend waited for the Peachtree Road Farmers Market to open for the season. She keeps an organic kitchen at home and likes to support local farmers. The market, only 10 minutes from her home, shortens the distance from farm to her family’s forks. “You can shop DeKalb Farmers Market and Whole Foods but it’s not the same, definitely not the same,” said Behrend.

On a sunny morning Saturday, her wait ended in the parking lot of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip, filled with 50 vendors operating out of pickup trucks and popup tents to open the eighth season of the largest producer-only market in Georgia, according to Lauren Carey, market manager.
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An artist’s walk through the valley of censorship

After censorship, can there be reconciliation? That was the question for Atlanta artist Ruth Stanford on a recent visit with her to the re-installation of “A Walk Through the Valley” at Kennesaw State University. A month ago, the university’s president ordered her artwork removed from the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art as controversial.

It’s back after the sides found common ground, but the notoriety forced Stanford to scrutinize her comfort zone as an artist and sort out the ambiguities exposed by an issue that seems black and white. Is it possible for an introvert to take a stand as an artist?
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Young playwright brings comic touch to Atlanta

This week, Louisa Hill, a young playwright who learned to keep going in Atlanta and win national awards for making audiences laugh, will return to her alma mater to speak at the 43rd annual Agnes Scott Writers’ Festival. Organizers say Friday’s scheduled reading by Hill, who graduated in 2009, almost certainly marks the fastest turnaround for a former student to be invited back as a headliner.

With a history of drawing luminaries such as John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Reynolds Price, James Dickey, Eudora Welty and Robert Penn Warren, the Writers’ Festival often features one alumna whose Agnes Scott education helped launch her success in writing poetry, plays or books.
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Decatur illustrator finds patrons at $10 a pop

As technology makes creative work move faster, the careers of Deeds Davis and other illustrators have slowed way down. In a world of stock photography and digital design, fewer people seek intricate, original drawings by a human. Davis, whose art has always had a proletarian feel to it, found a small sweet spot in the tight art market and has some profit to show for it.

Last week, the Dallas, Texas, native launched a month-long exhibit of her latest sketches at the Java Monkey coffee shop in Decatur, where she works as a cook.
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Out of the Box, It’s CardboardCon

While Mardi  Gras was breaking out in New Orleans last weekend, an anti-carnival with all the snazz of a paper box unfolded in Atlanta. Scores of cardboard-covered figures paraded across downtown Atlanta last Saturday night, attracting attention from conventioneers, bar-hoppers and others out for good time.

In case you missed it – chances are you’ve never heard of it – Saturday marked Atlanta’s fifth annual CardboardCon. Welcome to the antithesis of DragonCon, the world’s largest fantasy/sci-fi convention that brings tens of thousands of costumed conventioneers into downtown Atlanta on Labor Day weekend. CardboardCon draws them there by the tens in late February or early March in outfits repurposed from a product with 101 uses and its helpful sister, duct tape.
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Michael Sam panel sign of changing climate for Morehouse gays

Morehouse College, the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has never been the kind of seeding ground for championing the civil rights of gays as it was for African Americans and other minorities. To some critics, it has been the opposite. Throughout the 1990s, the Princeton Review ranked the institution as one of the nation’s top homophobic campuses.

Last week’s student-initiated forum at the Thomas Kilgore Jr. Campus Center offered a chance to see how attitudes are becoming more tolerant. A packed crowd of 120, mostly young black men, listened to a panel of students—including football players and an LGBT campus representative—and professors discuss the highly publicized decision by star college football player Michael Sam to declare his homosexuality prior to the NFL draft.
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Hardware store’s warmth breaks icy isolation

Dozens of customers were waiting outside when Tony Powers unlocked the door of his Intown Ace hardware store in Decatur the morning before the ice storm.

Before the day ended, he had run up 22,000 steps, the equivalent of 12 miles on his fitness app, after assisting customers swarming for snow removal chemicals and sleds and fixing the broken knob on one guy’s propane grill tank – mine. He sold four pallets of ice melt and 200 sleds in the first two hours and seven generators and all the kerosene, firewood and lanterns before anyone felt the first drop of ice or snow.
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Luck, hope, and the ‘Book of Mormon’ ticket lottery

The Fox Theatre sometimes releases rush tickets for popular shows. Twenty prime seats for “Book of Mormon” would go for only $25 each to ten lucky winners whose names get drawn from a box two hours before showtime.

The key word here was lucky. I don’t win anything. The ticket lottery could be a test of how truly elusive luck is for me.

I gave myself three chances to test my crappy track record against the destiny of “The Book of Mormon.” This is what happened.

“In setting these dark elements to sunny melodies, ‘The Book of Mormon’ achieves something like a miracle,” the New York Times said in a glowing 2011 review when the play opened on Broadway. The creators had found a sweet spot between ridicule and reverence of religion, and “Mormon” went on to win nine Tonys—including best musical.

I wanted to see what everyone was talking about, and I wanted to be able to tell people that I had seen it too. Continue reading

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Savoring Hidinger’s legacy: Serving those who serve Atlanta

Ryan Hidinger’s dream of opening his own restaurant did not die with him. That dream, which the late chef had shared with his wife, Jennifer, to make a living running their own establishment, has grown into something much larger: a restaurant that will provide financial support to restaurant industry workers beset by catastrophic illnesses.

The service industry is the backbone of Atlanta, the reason that thousands of people gather here every year for conventions and big events. However, those who choose service careers – like the restaurants Hidinger worked for and devoted himself to –  are especially vulnerable to catastrophic events. About 250,000 of them work in metro Atlanta, and tend to be counted among those most likely to be uninsured, and hit hardest by lost wages when they lose shifts due to illness. Hidinger, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 gallbadder cancer in December 2012, experienced this firsthand. Continue reading

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