An essay from the Place Issue
Today, I venture proudly and safely into the straight world outside the confines of bars and clubs once designated specifically as “gay” spaces. I can be free. This wouldn’t have been the case a generation ago. Within my lifetime, queer behavior has put people in jail, in exile, and in danger. For many who faced their truth in the decade before Stonewall, often the only safe choice was to leave the small towns where they were shamed and muted and to run away to cities—though even in Atlanta, a town with well over a half million people in 1960, the year Frank arrived, gay bars were dangerous and illicit places.
Johnny Mercer drew from the same black musical traditions as Elvis would a generation later and made, if not quite a billion dollars, certainly an inexhaustible fortune, and left behind a half-dozen of America’s most indelible melodies besides.
A Points South essay from the Place Issue
As of today’s journey, our family has been in quarantine for more than a hundred days. Summer camp plans have fallen by the wayside, much like those color-coded home-school schedules parents passed around at the top of the pandemic. In their place are daily, valiant, sometimes pitiful, efforts to educate our kid, get our work done, love each other, and stay alive. The shelter-in-place sameness was beginning to feel a little like Groundhog Day—that is until late winter, early spring when death came in threes.
The Rock*A*Teens came along in the early nineties, after a string of tragedies rocked the Cabbagetown community. As Atlanta-based journalist Doug Deloach told me: “To tell the story of the Rock*A*Teens is to also tell the story of Cabbagetown and all the bands that came before them.”
MC Shy D brought hip-hop to Atlanta. Or anyway, he brought Atlanta to hip-hop—in the mid-eighties, he was the first rapper from the city to break out of it, to tour the country and make a name for himself. He became an object of adulation to the whole region.
I think the best that we can do as songwriters is try to document and try to record something about the time that we’re living in. If you want to connect with people who are alive now—unless you’re singing to ghosts—you better talk about things that are happening in the present.
Bessie Jones nurtured a prodigious repertoire of songs—hundreds of them, for work, play, worship, instruction—as both a rite and as a vocation. Her vision was one of radical egalitarianism, inspired by the enduring collective, expressive folk traditions—occupational, recreational, spiritual—of the black rural South and her ardent faith in a kind of ecstatic liberation theology, which found activist application in the civil rights movement.
An installment in our weekly series, The By and By.
The problem of pain is one that has long troubled humans in general, but dentists, perhaps, in particular. The issue has vexed the field for centuries. By the late 1950s, general anesthesia in the dentistry community had come under intense scrutiny, given the widely reported numbers of unnecessary deaths. There was the sense that something else—something safer, less toxic, simpler—could be the answer.
An Omnivore essay from the Summer/Fall 2020 issue.
Photographer Maury Gortemiller explores moments similar to this one in his series Do the Priest in Different Voices. I was startled to find my strange memories of this time reflected within his novel images, which seem to radiate with the command from the Book of Revelation to “write what you have seen, what is now.”