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APRIL 17, 2013 · VOL. 27 · NO. 15 · FREE
And He’s Ready To Burn Down the Theatre Again p. 11
Downtown Store Closer But It’s Not Here, Yet p. 6
Not Dead Yet
Dead Confederate Has A Lively New Album p. 13
Hope Dashed p. 7 · Bradley & Velle p. 12 · Melissa Fay Greene p. 18 · Cowboy Choir p. 18
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FLAGPOLE.COM ∙ APRIL 17, 2013
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Stage Fright, Pt. 3
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Hereâ€™s what Iâ€™ve learned so far while I have been embedded in the Town & Gown production of August: Osage County (sonamed because itâ€™s situated in Osage County, Oklahoma). The Taco Stand or some other takeout joint should underwrite the theater. Actors basically have to eat between work and rehearsal. Even then, theyâ€™re generally eating with one hand and holding their script with the other, or a power drill, or a steering wheel. Directing a play is impossible, at least at this level. Youâ€™ve got to design the set and then build it, and if you donâ€™t know how to run a table saw, youâ€™d better know somebody who does, and youâ€™d better cast actors who can carry a sofa down a ladder from the loft. Then you have to go contend with loud wedding bands across the way at the Taylor-Grady House booming the sounds of Motown into the quiet climax of your production. Acting is the ability to appear not to be acting. You canâ€™t do that until you learn your lines so well that you donâ€™t even have to think about them. Even then, you forget them. Sometimes you leave out big chunks of your lines. Acting is the ability to appear not to be winging it and at best not to have to wing it.
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(l-r) Johnna (Asia Meana) listens to Barbara (Bryn Adamson). The theater is like an iceberg; 90 percent of it goes on behind the scenes. There is a lot of waiting around. People sit chatting, reading or checking their lines, then walk out on stage and turn into saints or serial killers. Each performance is different; each audience is different. The audience is a big part of the performance: some are live, some not. A live audience enhances the performance. Actors are just like you and me. You could be living next door to one and not know it. Theyâ€™re not just play-acting; they morph. I have watched them up close, and I still donâ€™t know how they do it, but it has a lot to do with practice, like baseball. You wouldnâ€™t be able to just walk out on the field and turn a double-play. There are people whose titles seem insignificant without whom there would be no play: the guy running the lights and the sound and the stage manager, who runs the show from behind the curtain. The stage manager is constantly on the go, keeping up with every actor and every prop and assuring that they go on at the right time together. Together, these actors make up one of the finest ensemble casts ever assembled in Athens. Allen Rowell, himself a fine actor, directs August, assisted by Carina McGeehin and Adam Shirley. Bryn Adamson and Gay Griggs McCommons, giving the performances of their lives, are surrounded by the experience and expertise of Mitch Maxey, Emily Myers, Derek Adams, Skip Hulett, Kelly Doyle-Mace, Patrick Hooper, Heather Reed, Asia Meana, Rex Totty, Isabella Germain (a 14-year-old pro) and me. Ashley Laramore designed the lights, and Steve Wildey designed the music. Jameson Totty runs both. Heather Sitler is the legendary stage manager. A lot of other people have helped put this production together, building and painting the set, working on everybodyâ€™s hair (Holly Richards), etc. The London Telegraph reviewer called August: Osage County â€œthe first great American play of this century.â€? Come see why. Pete McCommons firstname.lastname@example.org For tickets call 706-208-TOWN or go to www.townandgownplayers.org. The play is at the Athens Community Theatre behind the Taylor-Grady House on Prince Ave. and runs Thursday, Apr. 18, Friday, Apr. 19 and Saturday, Apr. 20 at 8 p.m.and Sunday, Apr. 21 at 2 p.m.
EDITOR & PUBLISHER Pete McCommons ADVERTISING DIRECTOR & PUBLISHER Alicia Nickles PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Larry Tenner ADVERTISING SALES Anita Aubrey, Dede Giddens, Jessica Pritchard Mangum MUSIC EDITOR Gabe Vodicka CITY EDITOR Blake Aued ARTS EDITOR Jessica Smith CLASSIFIEDS, DISTRIBUTION & OFFICE MANAGER Jessica Smith ASSISTANT OFFICE MANAGER Sydney Slotkin AD DESIGNERS Kelly Hart, Cindy Jerrell CARTOONISTS Lee Gatlin, Missy Kulik, David Mack, Jeremy Long ADOPT ME Special Agent Cindy Jerrell CONTRIBUTORS Tom Crawford, Allison Floyd, Chris Hassiotis, Derek Hill, Jyl Inov, Gordon Lamb, Sydney Slotkin, Will Stephenson, Drew Wheeler CIRCULATION Charles Greenleaf, Will Donaldson, Matt Shirley, Emily Armond WEB DESIGNER Kelly Hart ADVERTISING INTERNS Charlotte Hawkins, CD Skehan MUSIC INTERN Will Guerin
COVER PHOTOGRAPH of Big Boi (see feature story on p.â€‰11)
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APRIL 17, 2013 Âˇ FLAGPOLE.COM
city dope Paying for Our Dream Downtown Senate Bill 101 died the last day of the 2013 legislative session March 28 due to a disagreement between the House and Senate. But the gun lobby is expected to—yes, the puns are coming faster than a speeding bullet—reload next year.
Mark Your Calendars: Want to shape the future of downtown Athens? A second public hearing on the downtown master plan is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Apr. 25 in the Classic Center’s Grand Hall. UGA College of Environment and Design professor Jack Crowley and his team of graduate students will present visual concepts that attendees will rate from one to 10. In addition, Crowley is looking for ways to pay for projects proposed in the plan, such as a median on Oconee Street, repairing or rebuilding neglected trestles (including the neglected Murmur trestle) along the future Georgia Railroad rail-trail and a linear park on city-owned land alongside Jackson Street between Hancock Avenue and the Lyndon House. “One of the big things we hear is pedestrian, bicycle access to downtown,” he said. One idea is a tax allocation district. A TAD would devote additional property taxes collected on new developments in the eastern part of downtown to infrastructure improvements within the district. Crowley noted that $150 million worth of new development is already planned or underway between Thomas Street and the North Oconee River, including a new Hyatt hotel, three apartment complexes and the Selig mixeduse project. If the Athens-Clarke Commission acts by the end of the year, it could include revenue from those developments in the TAD, along with likely future developments Crowley anticipates near the Multimodal Center, on Dougherty Street where Good Dirt is now and at the auto repair shop on East Broad Street. “This is a way to do a lot of the infrastructure that needs to be done to continue to attract private development,” he said. Crowley suggested last week that the Athens Downtown Development Authority propose a TAD to the Athens-Clarke Commission. Board members said they would consider it next month. The Clarke County Board of Education would have to approve it as well. The TAD would allow ACC to borrow $20 million for infrastructure improvements, then pay back the bonds in 13–17 years with revenue from new development without raising taxes. But the additional revenue would not be available for other government services like education. Campus Carry: Three ACC commissioners told state lawmakers last week to put the safety back on a bill that would allow carry permit holders to wield guns on the University of Georgia campus.
FLAGPOLE.COM ∙ APRIL 17, 2013
“It doesn’t look like it’s going away,” said Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville). Commissioner Jerry NeSmith said that pursuing the gun issue is a waste of time and a distraction. Commissioner Andy Herod, as usual, was blunter: “I think it’s about the worst idea anybody’s come up with in a long time,” he said.
Herod, a UGA geography professor, said the bill does nothing to make campus safer and will chill classroom discussion because students will fear angering classmates who might be packing. “As a school administrator, I don’t even want to be enabled to carry a gun on campus,” said Commissioner Kelly Girtz, the principal at Classic City High School. Ginn sponsored the original version of SB 101, before the House amended it, and said he was only interested in allowing South Carolina permit holders to carry guns in Georgia and vice versa. “The campus stuff, that’s outside any interest I had in it,” he said. Redistricting: Remember those new ACC commission districts that most of us didn’t want but were foisted upon us by certain members of our legislative delegation? Well, we fired those guys at the polls last year, but it looks like we’re stuck with the new lines, anyway. Superdistricts aren’t coming back. “I would just say there was definitely a lack of unanimity within the delegation to pursue that this session,” said Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville). Unnamed legislator(s) continued to have concerns about whether the old commission districts diluted the minority vote, Williams said. (Spoiler alert: They didn’t.) “I don’t think those issues have gone away, even though the delegation has changed,” he said. The delegation’s internal rules require all five members to agree before local legislation moves forward. So who’s the holdout? What happens in delegation meetings stays in delegation meetings, but my guess is Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens). Our representatives also failed to get elections for local nonpartisan offices moved back to November. The legislature shifted them to July in 2011, and turnout in last year’s commission races was abysmal. Williams said lawmakers from other cities with unified governments promised to fight him “tooth and nail” on moving election dates back to November. He wouldn’t specify why, but most likely the issue got tied up in the racial and partisan politics of Augusta and Macon. Economic Development: ACC Manager Alan Reddish recently hired Effingham County Industrial Development Authority project manager Ryan Moore to head the government’s new Department of Economic Development, which replaces the independent but publicly-funded Economic Development Foundation. So much for the EDF’s claims that no economic development professional would come work for a local government on a government salary ($80,000-$100,000 a year). Now that we’ve got our factory recruiter in place, let’s see if elected officials will shift their focus to sectors like small business and the arts, or if they were just paying lip service. Blake Aued email@example.com
capitol impact Georgiaâ€™s senators were caught in a political crossfire last week because of their vote on a gun control bill in the U.S. Senate. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson were not voting for passage of the bill, which would expand the system of background checks to try to keep firearms away from convicted felons and the mentally deranged. They were merely taking a procedural vote to allow senators to talk about the gun control bill during floor debate. â€œI think it deserves a vote up or down,â€? Isakson said in a TV interview. Because they voted for the piddling step of allowing debate on the bill, Chambliss and Isakson set off a firestorm of outrage among conservative Republicans who felt they had been betrayed by the senators. Hereâ€™s one of the milder comments from a conservative website: â€œSince the Democrats have a clear majority, senators like Johnny Isakson should just stay home... If youâ€™re not up to the task, then go back to Georgia and run for your county school board.â€? That anger among the Republican base wonâ€™t bother Chambliss, because he announced a while back he isnâ€™t running for reelection. It could cause some grief for Isakson, however, if he decides to run for another term in 2016. Isaksonâ€™s stand is an interesting one in a state where even talking about gun control will earn you not only criticism but threats on your life. It was just a year ago that state Rep. Ann Purcell (R-Rincon), as the chair of a legislative committee, would not let out of committee a bill allowing people to carry guns in public without having to obtain a permit. She received death threats from gun carry activists that were so severe the GBI was called in to investigate. Purcell also decided against running for another term in the Georgia House. I wondered if Isaksonâ€™s decision to allow debate on the current gun bill was an early
sign that he had decided not to run again in 2016. One of his top supporters quickly told me that was not the case. â€œJohnny has made it clear he intends to run in 2016,â€? said the Isakson supporter. â€œIâ€™m currently organizing a fundraiser for his 2016 campaign that will take place later this month. â€œThis far in advance of the 2016 primary and general election, I doubt seriously if his actions or his vote will make much difference when he stands for re-election. And, frankly, that may be a shame, because he is right.â€? Isakson is a savvy politician who knows when the electoral landscape is shifting. More and more of his Republican supporters live in suburban areas where parents worry about the dangers of random gun violence toward their kids. Fewer and fewer voters live in rural areas where guns and hunting are an ingrained part of the culture. Gov. Nathan Deal could face a choice similar to Isaksonâ€™s next year. The General Assembly considered but ultimately did not pass a bill in the recent session that would have opened up college campuses and K-12 schools to guns and would have made it easier for mentally ill persons to obtain firearms permits. Gun carry advocates will be back lobbying for that billâ€™s passage next year, and I strongly suspect it will pass. Deal, by then, will be in the middle of a vigorous reelection campaign. The governor will have to decide whether he wants to sign a bill that could bring on gun violence among school kids and college students, or whether he can survive the political damage that would result if he vetoes it. Isakson decided to stand up to that faction within his party. Letâ€™s see what the governor will do. Tom Crawford firstname.lastname@example.org
photo by coreywallart.com
Can We Even Talk About Guns?
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APRIL 17, 2013 Âˇ FLAGPOLE.COM
Downtown Grocery Store
Will a Beer and Wine Bill Pave the Way?
got a downtown grocery store yet?â€? state Sen. diverse mix of national, regional and local businesses. Frank Ginn quipped to open a meeting with Although Walmart backed out of Selig Enterpriseâ€™s proposed Athens-Clarke commissioners last week. Oconee Street development last year, a grocery store remains a Not yet. But a bill the Athens delegation pushed through possibility there as well. HB 517 â€œwill eliminate a major hurdle the legislature last month could make it significantly easier to to getting a grocery store downtown,â€? says Selig Vice President draw a long-awaited supermarket to downtown. Jo Ann Chitty. â€œWe continue to talk to a variety of prospecThe brainchild of freshman Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens), tive tenants, including those that sell groceries, food and beer who handed it off to Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville) and wine. Whether a grocery tenant ends up in our project or and Ginn (R-Danielsville) to finesse through the Republicanin another location in downtown Athens will be a positive for dominated legislature, House Bill 517 was awaiting Gov. everyone.â€? Nathan Dealâ€™s signature at press time. It would let local govChitty adds that â€œSelig continues to refine its design and ernments lift a prohibition on retail beer and wine sales within details of the project,â€? and she now anticipates a 2015 open100 feet of college campusesâ€”a ban that covers a wide swath ing date. of downtown Athens due to its proximity to the University of Georgia. â€œOur intown residents deserve an opportunity to grocery-shop in their local neighborhoods, if they so choose,â€? Williams says. â€œResidents who do not own automobiles face an extra challenge in shopping for food and getting that food back to their homes. And the presence of intown grocery shopping options should encourage intown living for those who desire that option.â€? Senators amended the bill so that it applies only to stores that devote less than 15 percent of their floor space to alcohol, in order to keep out package stores. The U.S. Department of Agriculture considers downtown Athens to be a food desertâ€”a place where fresh food isnâ€™t available within a mileâ€™s walkâ€” although its data doesnâ€™t take into The proposed development on the SunTrust Bank property downtown could include a small grocery store. account small, independent stores with limited selections like the Daily Groceries Co-op. Grocery chains often shy away from urban Stumbling blocks remain. With hundreds of downtown areas in general for many reasons, one of them locally being apartments under construction and more growth in surroundthe inability to sell high-margin beer and wine in downtown ing neighborhoods that are underserved by retail, Dwyer sees Athens. a market emerging for a downtown grocery storeâ€”even if the A grocery store is essential for a true urban lifestyle, says companies themselves donâ€™t realize it yet. David Dwyer, a real estate consultant who is working with a â€œWeâ€™re not going to have a traditional grocer there,â€? he group of Chicago investors on a mixed-use development that says. â€œThose folks want, wherever they can, to have a 50,000 would replace part of SunTrust Bank and a surface parking square foot box inside of 20 acres of parking.â€? lot on Broad Street between Lumpkin and Hull streets. Dwyer After all, unlike such areas as Chicago or New York City, defines that lifestyle as â€œthe ability to choose not to drive your most people in Athens can easily get out to the suburbs to car, rather than be a slave to your car like you are in a tradishop, even if they donâ€™t want to. Land is cheaper on the outtional suburb.â€? skirts of town, and the ability to copy the same model with the The bill would remove one major obstacle to a downtown same layout over and over improves efficiency and profits. grocery store. Plans call for apartments above two floors of â€œImplementing a 60,000 square-foot grocery store, of a retail, including spaces of 25,000 square feet, 15,000 square conventional type, within an urban context is not achievable, feet and several smaller ones that Dwyer envisions filled by a because it requires too large a site to accommodate parking
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