Monday, August 22, 2016

Week of 08/22/2016

Atlanta’s Ongoing Delusion with History
I consider myself to be an “Old New Englander”, even though I’ve lived here in Georgia longer than I have in any other state.  Sure, I can talk like a good ol’ boy and give the right drawl depending on which part of the state I’m in.  I’ll enjoy a good chicken biscuit for breakfast and even some biscuits and gravy.
But, in my heart, I know I’m still a New Englander.  I’ve never eaten grits and I don’t plan on doing so anytime soon.  I can’t stand Georgia’s summer humidity, which has gotten even worse here in Atlanta than when I moved to the southern part of the state in 1988. 
I like seeing the beautiful women of the south, but, for the life of me, I just can’t understand why people in Atlanta can be so delusional and still function. 
Maybe it’s the heat and humidity.  Maybe if you’re exposed to it long enough it fries that huge green tomato in your skull.  Maybe it has something to do with the pollen, which has also gotten worse and worse over the years.
Or maybe it’s just generations of southern self-righteousness and ignorance.  This is, after all, the state that not only boasts of being the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement, but also where the greatest enemy of that same movement was resurrected.
Either way, the people of Atlanta are not doing themselves any favors when they live in continual delusion about certain things, especially when it comes to its own history.
Take, for instance, the Olympics.
If you were to read the Atlanta newspapers or watched the local TV channels of late, you’d think that Atlanta hosted the most perfect Olympics ever back in 1996!  They want us all to believe that from the moment the late Muhammad Ali lit the torch until the closing ceremony, everything went off without a hitch, that everyone was kind and cordial to each other, and that Atlanta was the perfect and most gracious hosts that ever could exist!
Except that is all just a pile of chicken poop.
You see, I was here during the Olympics. And so were some of my readers.  I started my weekly column earlier that year, and I know the real history that the Atlanta media does not want you to remember!
First of all, you know those stories you were hearing earlier this past month about how Rio de Janeiro isn’t ready to be hosting the games right now?  How they’re not finished with some of the arrangements? Well, guess what?  We weren’t exactly ready for prime time either, and we had eight years to prepare for it!  A lot of what we did was last-minute too, and I seem to recall a few event locations weren’t “finished” by the Opening Ceremony either.  So we have no business at all complaining about Rio’s lack of preparedness.
Second, we had our share of embarrassments as well.  Remember Cobb County and their anti-gay platform?  Yeah, it cost them the volleyball venue, but it also exposed the ugly “good ol’ boy rednecks” that are in abundance in the state.  It’s like saying “Here’s Miss America, and now here’s a close-up of the bright-red oozing and infected pimple that’s on her butt.”
Funny, isn’t it, how the human mind will ignore the 99% beauty and focus on the 1% ugly?
The Atlanta delusion says that everyone prospered during the Olympics, but I was there in the city during the games.  I went to the restaurants and stores inside the city and I saw the frustrations of those store owners and restaurant workers who thought they’d be bursting at the seams with international customers.
My best friend from high school and first adopted brother came down to Atlanta that week for a visit.  His first vacation in forever.  He saw the rowing competition from the edge of our cove, then I took him into the city for the afternoon.  We went to the Sundial restaurant, thinking that it would be packed since it was the perfect place to see the whole city in an hour.  It wasn’t packed.  In fact, it was pretty much empty.  The staff were eager to have anyone there.  It turned out that while “the whole world” may have come to Atlanta, they all pretty much stayed within range of the venues and the Olympic Park.
Yes, there were business opportunities, but not for everyone. In fact, attorneys blatantly violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by claiming common words were somehow copyright protected. We couldn’t even say what state, city, or country we were in!  Any merchant that wasn’t an “official sponsor” of the games couldn’t even sell T-shirts that said “Welcome to Atlanta” without getting slapped with a lawsuit and an emergency order to cease-and-desist.  Having $40 million to be an “official sponsor” means you can afford an anti-American legal goon squad and never feel guilty about it. 
I don’t know about you, but I have a problem with these kinds of attorneys and the piece-of-crap power-mongers that hire them.  There is no hell that can be imagined that can properly dish out the kind of cosmic justice these bitches and bastards deserve.
Don’t remember it, Atlanta media?  You were the ones that were covering it!  You were the ones pointing it out.
And then... there is “the moment”.
You know which “moment” I’m talking about, Atlanta media!  The one that shocked everyone!  The one that pretty much ruined things for us.
The moment when a Christian terrorist named Eric Robert Rudolph planted a bomb in Centennial Olympic Park in the middle of the late-night Olympic festivities that took the life of one and injured dozens.  The moment that paused the games and ruined our “perfect” experience.
But what really did us in wasn’t the bombing.  It was what we did afterward.  We were so damned quick to find the culprit that we were ready to railroad an innocent person and send him to prison.  And not just any citizen; but the very security guard that discovered the bomb and was getting people to safety when it detonated.  Richard Jewel was his name, and he was the one that kept the loss of life to just one person.
Of course, I can understand why the Atlanta media doesn’t want us to remember that time.  They don’t want people to remember how they railroaded an innocent person and tried and convicted him in the court of public opinion and then tried to force the government to have him arrested and sent away just to have the whole bombing matter closed and done away with.
But I remember it well.  Hell, I even warned the Atlanta media not to do it!  But, of course, they don’t listen to people like me.  I’m just some guy on the Internet doing a weekly column that reached out to people around the world.  They’re the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB TV and WSB Radio and they’ll tell us what to think!
So, yeah, they don’t want you to remember that part of the whole 1996 Olympic experience.
Oh, and let’s not forget our little temper tantrum, shall we?
Yes, we threw a fit when International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch refused to close the Atlanta Games by saying they were “the best Olympics ever”.  As if we were somehow entitled to this distinction after all that we did!  “How dare he not bless us with that distinction”, we said.  “How dare he?!?”
All of this is conveniently forgotten when the Atlanta media wants us to look back at the events of twenty years ago and try to pretend it was a glorious spectacle.  Oh, it was a spectacle all right.  Just not the kind that we wanted.
Let’s get brutally honest here... we do ourselves a phenomenal disservice when we try to view our history with rose-colored glasses, no matter when it comes to the issue of slavery, to the Civil War, to Civil Rights, or even to our time hosting the Olympic Games.  Every time we refuse to recognize our failings, we fail to learn the lessons of them.  We can’t do better the next time around because we refuse to believe that we did anything that needed improvement.  So we’ll end up doing the same things again and end up with the same results and then wonder why that is.
And let’s not forget that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is otherwise known as insanity.
Face it, Atlanta: we weren’t that great during our time hosting the Olympics.  Our ugly sides were exposed like that hypothetical infected pimple on Miss America’s butt.  And if I can remember those events clearly, it’s a sure bet that others can as well.  If we truly want to be hosting international stages again, we need to stop living in delusion and denial about all that went on in the past.

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