Reminiscing on Atlanta – back when a city grew up

Perhaps with the passage of time events and memories grow in their significance into some type of almost mythical recollection of things that were better than they were. As southern historian, professor, and sociologist John Shelton Reed has warned us before, reminiscent southern history tends to suffer from a common pitfall – remember when. And remember when, of course, is in relation to “remember when things were better than they are now”. So as I sit down to pin this entry, I’ll do so heeding Reed’s advice.

Now with our disclaimer out of the way, I’d like you to take a walk with me down memory lane, albeit a fairly short memory lane for some of us who are approaching the comfortable confines of early middle age, back when the term “Hotlanta” was new on the scene, and the city herself was the shining star of a cosmopolitan, eccentric, electric, and finally accepted new South.

The 1990’s.

A time when Atlanta shed the trappings of old.

 An exciting decade filled with a lot of memories. Remember the original Underground Atlanta? The meatloaf at Mick’s? Remember when Houston’s was still kind of new and their “mustard honey” dressing wasn’t like anything you’d ever tasted? Did you ever taste Coca-Cola from Africa or Saudi Arabia at the original World of Coke? How about watching Neon Deion in a Falcons uniform, or seeing Georgia Tech win a national championship in the Citrus Bowl? Remember Garrison Hearst, the Dirty Birds, TLC, and the Hope Scholarship?

Yeah, all of it, the ’90’s.

The Braves, after decades of mediocrity with occasional slippage into the realm of putridity, stood up and backed up their claim to “America’s Team”, giving long suffering fans such as my father the long awaited taste of success and fulfillment only begot by ascension of a favored sports team. “Where were you when Sid slid?” and “Braves win, Braves win, Braves win” were fresh in our ears and the Tomahawk Chop became our rallying cry.

The Braves went from worst in 1990 to first in 1991 – in the NL West in those days. Though the Minnesota Twins would break our hearts and win the World Series in a classic 7 game duel that may or may not have been the best World Series ever, the loss probably pulled us together as a real fanbase more than anything else could have. We had lived, breathed, ate, slept, and cried together. Finally.

Though that magical ’91 season, and the subsequent successful years (Sid slid in the 1992 NLCS by the way – for anyone wondering) elevated Atlanta, or at least her most beloved sports team, into national prominence, there was an earlier event that set the tone for an unparalleled decade of growth that helped shape Atlanta into what she is now. On September 8, 1990, as a city, a state, and an entire region held their collective breath, in Tokyo, Japan the words “the International Olympic Committee has awarded the 1996 Olympic games…to the city of…Atlanta” rolled off a podium, through a crowd, across a world, and were instantly burned into the conscious of a city. Winning the games over Athens (Greece, not Georgia), Belgrade, Toronto, Melbourne, and Manchester touched off a flurry of emotions and a sense of final arrival after the long suffering days of red dirt poverty in the early 20th century, the buildup of a city in the middle part of the 1900’s, and rebirth in the late ’70’s and ’80’s. Slated as a dark horse and as a second-tier city by the American media, Atlanta’s bid had been successful. And the city’s identity was to forever be re-shaped as a result.

The infrastructure upgrades began immediately – then mayor Maynard Jackson brokered a deal that crafted Freedom Parkway out of Ponce de Leon to the north and Moreland Avenue to the south. New dorms to house athletes were constructed at Georgia Tech and Georgia State. Street and renewal projects spanned the city. And the University of Georgia’s venerable hedges were removed from Sanford Stadium to make room for soccer fields. Construction, destruction, and restructuring were the order of the day.

And as the world watched, an international city with a vibrant culture came to life.

Winning the Olympics meant $1.7 billion in private funded investment poured into the city. A sluggish downtown area became revitalized, and $5 billion poured into the metropolitan economy over the next decade. We were left with the $209 million Olympic stadium, now Turner Field, to finish our decade of baseball success. There were $500 million in new venues awarded to the city at no cost to the taxpayer, including the $57 million Centennial Olympic Park with her centerpiece fountain of rings. Georgia Tech got a new natatorium, Morehouse, Morris Brown, Spellman, and Clark Atlanta received major athletic facility upgrades.

But more than that, it left us, Atlantans, and as a byproduct citizens of the state of Georgia, with a sense of arrival. Billy Payne, who spearheaded the Atlanta effort to win the Olympics, and whose statue stands today in Centennial Park said it best, “winning the games is the most uplifting, prideful, beat on your chest moment Atlantans ever experienced”.

We all grew up in the ’90’s, but nothing like our city did.

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Get a grip!

I had the pleasure of taking a long time friend shooting with me yesterday. I had first taken him some years back for his introduction into the wonderful, not so scary, definitely manly world of firearms. Since that day he has been asking to go again, which until now has not been possible due to his unfortunate choice of being a yankee for the last couple years. Like going to Harvard is good enough reason to leave the land of sweet tea and southern women.

I made sure he remembered everything about gun safety, loaded the gun for him and then proceeded to try to hide my laughter as he missed the target with all ten rounds. After I regained my composure I decided that he needed a little work on his grip. I was sure that with just a couple minor tweaks he would be able to hit the target with no problem and regain his dignity and dreams of someday becoming a real life action hero.

Now I’m no master marksman, but since grip is probably one of the most neglected aspects of shooting I will share with you the same tips that ended up allowing my friend to go from missing all ten rounds at fifteen feet to hitting eight out of ten at twenty five yards…not too shabby.

First you need to press the gun right into the web between your fingers and your thumb, making sure that it aligns straight with your wrist. If it is not properly aligned then the gun will move after the first shot, making re-acquiring the target more difficult and most likely forcing you to readjust your grip, costing you both time and accuracy.  Then with the gun in place wrap your fingers around the grip. At this point a lot of people will just squeeze the grip with all fingers. However, you only want to squeeze it with your middle finger, and maybe your ring finger too if you feel that it is not secure enough with just your middle finger. Your little finger and thumb should apply not pressure to the grip. Lastly, put the tip of your index finger on the trigger. If you put more than just the tip on the trigger, the gun will almost always fire to left (for a right handed person) because pulling your finger back will move the gun slightly to the left. By placing just the tip of it on the trigger it will pull straight back. Finally, when pulling the trigger slowly keep applying pressure until the gun goes off, this should not be a quick pull or jerk.

Well there you have it. Next time you go out to the range try these tips and hopefully you’ll see some improvement in your shooting.  Remember, always keep the gun pointed down range and don’t put your trigger finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot the gun.  My uncle is a surgeon and I can’t even remember how many times he said he has seen people come into the ER with a bullet in their leg because they pulled the trigger when they were un-holstering their gun. So don’t be “that” guy.

It’s the start of a brand new day!

Welcome to 2 Southern Gents – a blog about all things manly and southern, with a special focus on the city of Atlanta!

I’ll take a moment here to introduce the humble bloggers behind the site. I’m Burt DeLoach and I’m a lifelong son of the rural south. World traveller? Check. Recent convert-ee to the land of steel and concrete? Check.  But also a humble devotee to Coca – Cola (preferably with a splash of good bourbon), barbeque, frat swoops, and all the genteel and not so genteel general and specified tomfoolery in which a young southern gent may engage in his dear motherland.

Manning the other oar here at our beloved blog is Gray Montgomery. Gray brings a bit of a different outlook as a native Atlantan with an endearing mongrel background combining elements of Spanish charm and flare with a sound, efficient, calculating Germanic intelligence and work ethic. Montgomery’s the guy you wanna call if you’re ever in a tight spot and need a quick way out. Besides being our resident Atlanta culture guru, he’ll bring expertise about random bits of awesometastical-ness such as firearms mastery and dutch oven cooking to the table to help create an eclectic and engaging front porch for the sharing of ideas, stories, and important social dates all proper (and improper) southern gents should know.

We’ll be blogging to you weekly from our beloved Atlanta. And live in it or out of it, love it or hate it, Atlanta enjoys a prominent place in southern lore and culture. We’ll be stepping out of our Peach State confines on a regular basis as well, and looking forward to sharing with you legends, lies, stories, steals, and deals.

So stay tuned, add us to your mix of blogs, enjoy our southern slant, and engage us and share your feedback, stories, comments, thoughts, and suggestions!

That’s all for now, but to steal a line – ya’ll come back and see us!

It’s going to be real good!