Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Rainy Day in Georgia

Centennial Olympic Park
After spending the last two and a half days locked in the over-air-conditioned 1970s modern style Peachtree Plaza hotel in downtown Atlanta, I had a Saturday afternoon to play Atlanta tourist before heading back to Las Vegas.

During my four years in Atlanta at Georgia Tech, I always wanted to stay in the Peachtree Plaza. It was the tallest building in Atlanta at the time. So when I found out my National Employment Lawyers Association would be having its annual convention for 2015 in Atlanta -- at the Peachtree Plaza -- well of course I couldn't have been kept away.

The rooms were nice:

Big ol' comfortable bed. Very small, but otherwise contemporary bathroom. But other than that, it was worth it.  Nice view, too, from the 55th floor:

So nice let's have another look:

The Peachtree Plaza is now the "Westin Peachtree Plaza," but it's still a tall slender cylinder. There were only 20 rooms per circular floor.  You can the tall cylinder of a hotel building in this shot:

The convention ended noon-ish on Saturday, which meant I would have a whole afternoon to play tourist,  My plan was to walk through nearby Centennial Olympic Park, maybe visit the World of Coca-Cola, then walk around the Georgia Tech campus.

Former Atlanta mayor, and Jimmy Carter's U.N. Ambassador, the late Andrew Young, was right outside the hotel to greet me.

I walked a few blocks to the Centennial Olympic Park.  There's a giant ferris wheel of some sort nearby for some reason.

Pay attention to the ominous sky in that picture.  This statue honors some French guy who was the founder of the modern Olympic movement.

Since I just attended the politically-charged NELA convention, for those of who represent workers in dispute with capital, I must point out that the Olympic movement was founded on the principle of amateurism solely to keep out the working class and people of color, as only the elite could afford to be dilettantes at athletics. Note that Jim Thorpe, a non-elite gentleman of color and one of the 20th Century's greatest athletes, was stripped of his medals for a very minor peripheral violation of the sacred principle of amateurism.  Thus ends the Marxism portion of our programming for today.

As I near the World of Coca-Cola, the skies opened up.

Maybe it was because of the rain. Maybe it was because it was Saturday. But the line to buy tickets to get into World of Coca-Cola was enormous.

And the line to enter -- after standing in the line to buy tickets -- was even longer. Longer than the non-EZ pass line for Splash Mountain on a 95 degree summer day in Disney. For a place that charges $17 just to drink unlimited Tab Cola. Or Fresca.  Well, now that I put it that way, maybe I was a bit too hasty to abandon that plan.  So instead I went here:

The "V."

The Varsity. That Atlanta institution that should be anathema to those of us taking a walk on the gluten-free side.

It was so packed you would have thought there was a Georgia Tech football game going on.  I was just glad to be out of the rain.  What'd I have? What'd I have?

When I placed my order for a chiliburger, I actually unintentionally used the old Varsity lingo from my college days and ordered a "chili steak." Hey, sometimes you got to cheat on a gluten free diet. Ordered a chili dog, too. But the fries were gluten-free, as was the Frosted Orange, or "F.O."

The rain kinda-sorta let up, so I went to walk the Georgia Tech campus, my first time there in almost a quarter century. It's only a block from the V:

Old Smith dorm, right there at the corner, Here's old Brittain Dining Hall, where I ate many a meal my freshman year.

I walked up the hill that had a name back in my day, but I can't recall what it could have been. Then over to the old Student Center.

"Balls in a vise" apparently is long gone, those P.C. bastards. In its place is a tasteful fountain and some needle-like structure. Let's get a closer look, shall we?

I then went into the Student Center.

It seems to have shrunk over the last 35 years. The music listening room was replaced with computer space. As if! The dining area was replaced with a mall-style fast-food court. And the old offices of the Technique and Blueprint?


Replaced by dining offices. I know the Technique and Blueprint still print, as I saw the latest editions of each. But they aren't in the Student Center. I also saw a bin for copies of the Erato, the Georgia Tech literary magazine which, if memory serves, may have published one issue in my four years at Tech. I wonder if they've printed any new copies since. Maybe the bin just held a few remaining copies of the 1979 edition.

But the Georgia Tech campus has changed noticeably since my last visit, a month before I went to Las Vegas to interview to work for some law firm out there. This is where the Tech Tower used to be:

It's now a construction site.

And the Pi Kappa Phi house?  It's now the Cry-U house.

I'm not sure why I must call the Psi Upsilon house as such, but I must.  Here is the new Pi Kappa Phi house:

They moved into a mansion with white columns! Impressive! And apparently they are competitive in intramural sports, displaying no sense of tradition, I didn't knock on the door and introduce myself because I didn't want to be one of those old guys who knocks on the door of his old fraternity house and introduces himself. 

Anyway, my dogs were barking and I long walk back to the Peachtree Plaza. It rained most of the walk back. But here's a last look at Centennial Olympic Park.

In the quarter century (give or take a year) since I was last in Atlanta, Atlanta became a tourist city. It is packed to the gills with tourist attractions and -- get this -- tourists. That is not the Atlanta I knew. But then again how much of Atlanta did I know being on the Georgia Tech campus for four years?

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