The Diaries: Grey Chattanooga, Atlanta on Coke
May 16th, 17th
Chattanooga. Have a most unpleasant time here. Remember me mentioning those two hot-dogs in Nashville? Anyway, since yesterday lunchtime in Lynchburg have had stomach cramps, lingering.
After truly nice drive through Tennessee’s hills and mountains (coming to southern tip of Appalachians), though I stuck to the highway for various reasons, including gas and car health, and had driven on smaller roads to and from Lynchburg), came to Walmart near Rock City, right before Chattanooga.
Bought some fruit in attempt to play off the pains. Also got an external hard drive, necessary because computer already jammed with pictures and videos. And especially, a propane burner. Slept in Walmart parking lot, under ceiling of misty rain, with strange inkling that I might want to try ‘report’ a bit on the WM machine. Indeed, a few video shots in the morning, nothing interesting, will have to think about this in more detail (have long had the feeling that WM is a paramountal microcosm (macro…) of American-ness, one can see nearly all social castes and behaviors in there – except for the ultra-Rs…).
Drove into Chattanooga. First impression scary, driving on Rosville Ave: a city of desolation and de-cession, reminiscent of Detroit. Then some posher areas, bridges, etc. Spent morning working in donut house on North Shore. Napped, walked around. City not very interesting on first impression. Would like to get some good views of mountains but they’re clouded up, and not very warm. Too bad. Maybe I’m getting tired. Stomach still an issue. Probably why I’m in no good mood to enjoy.
Terrible dinner at one of the local places. Waiters there, sorry to say, not too sharp. Few stories, few encounters.
Still grey and mid-fifties, again cold car nights in low 40s. First test of the propane burner, by the serene though windy Allatoona Lake. 2 cans of Chef Boyardee.
The ‘New York of the South’. Atlanta. (Apologies if some take offense) Return to an immense, beast-like city. (Too bad last taste of TN was unpleasant, really felt like the state deserved more attention and nature-bound outings. This is also the return to a more diverse, multi-cultural (predominantly African American?) area. Home of Coke and CNN, among other worldly brands.
Again poverty here is more obvious, especially in the downtown 5 Points Area, in blatant contrast with the glassy high rises and ‘Underground’-dubbed shopping malls. Was offered kush (what is it?…) by some gang-like group members near there.
Spoke to some workers at the World of Coca Cola Center, who advised me on some representative areas to visit outside of downtown and mid-town area. “Don’t go South of 20…” Hmmm…
The Capitol has a golden dome. Now who decided on that?
I’m taken aback by the size and complexity of Atlanta, will need some time to get a feel / angle.
Had a pizza slice near Underground and 5 Pts, first time since New York. Pizza joint was held by smiley Chinese lady, who bore a resemblance to my late grandma.
Why is it all guys who shop at Trader Joe’s have an ‘effeminate’ look? Oops, is it not PC?
May 18. Found it, keep it easy: the city of a lot of everything: scrapers, houses, mansions, ghettos, people (surprised to see the population is only 6 million, the city is so sprawled out, not densely built I suppose), hipsters, workers, oldies, mid-aged, kids, ties, boots, bricks, tar, woods, trees.
Slept in nice area by Trader Joe’s, residential, parks: people jogging and keeping fit at 5-6 in the morning.
Locked key for the first time in the car this morning. Especially ironic since another lady had done the same and strolled into the coffee house where I was (Starbucks, first time in here too since the beginning of trip, got a bagel, no coffee, because of stomach pains), and I had precisely thought: pff, woman, I check every time by now. Guess I don’t.
Checked out the much publicized Varsity, apparently famed for its dogs. Had iced tea, no food, stomach still off from the Nashville dogs.
Phenomenon of the gentlemanly homeless, loitering around the CNN Center and parks, using public restrooms (just as I do!). They’re clean-cut, sometimes suited, but their plastic bags and odd items give them away. A huge number of people beg for money. Unlike Detroit though, Atlanta and its suburbs (endless) seems rather well-off, save for a small chunk of downtown near the 5 Points.
Coca Cola visit: I have the strange feeling coming out of it that I’ve learned quite little apart from the name of the pharmacist (Pemberton) who first came up with it, and miraculously retaining the little publicized name of the true founder of the Coca Cola Company (empire), Candler. Also ‘learned’ about the 1985 New Coke debacle, which turned out to be a great marketing op for them (with 96% if Americans knowing about the change in the days that followed, presumably nearly as many who weren’t crazy about it, and certainly 100: of CC consumers who welcomed ecstatically the re-appearance of their favorite happy drink once it was reintroduced on the market in the manner of junkies who’ve been temporarily severed from their drug, and who return to it the more gleefully once it is available again.
Yeah, dropped the D-word (more eventually? Don’t forget how it all began). On that note, was taken aback by the strange taste of medicine, no exaggeration, of a wide variety of beverages in the famed (64?)-laden Tasting Room, especially so by the plain-labeled ‘Beverly’ drink, which had been repeatedly sold to us by our introductory tour guide.
I overhear a bar conversation where the attendees suggest the creation of a bumper sticker that says: “I suck my own cock.”