Dec 29, 2016


Yesterday was our Atlanta outing day. We caught a ride with Tim into his work and he dropped us off at a MARTA (Atlanta's subway system) station and we caught that into downtown to hit breakfast at Mia's Bluebird. 

Mia's is a small breakfast diner which must have been built in the 1950's, with wood paneling, big windows, and legendary pancakes. Legendary enough to be included in the NY Times "36 Hours in Atlanta" and described as the best pancakes in the world. We got there twenty minutes after it opened and still had to wait about 40 minutes to get seated, and though we had to join the crowd of people waiting outside in the cold, they sent out us out with mugs of hot coffee. Total hipster joint, but everyone wore their nicest knit sweaters and were cheerful and friendly to one another. 

Saori got pancakes topped with caramelized bananas, and I opted for pancakes with Georgian pecans. There were two kinds of bacon on the menu: when Saori asked the waiter about them, he said quite candidly "oh, this kind is local, so you get less of it. Order the normal one." So she did. I took the housemade pepper sausage patty. I have really missed breakfast shops like these. Delicious. Saori's banana pancakes were closer to bananas foster pancakes and my pancakes were also delicious, although I have to say the blueberry pancakes at Winslow's Home in University City, Missouri are better. 

From Mia's we took the metro a few stations to uptown. MARTA seems like a pretty strong backbone for public transportation in Atlanta. It runs fairly often, and spears through the sprawling metropolis north-south, and east-west. Crucially, it runs directly to the airport. It doesn't look like the white population, or white-collar professionals, use the system much. It's easy to buy tickets, simple to understand the system, it's not claustrophobic or crowded, and the trains run frequently. However, with the sprawl of the city, it could use some spurs and light rail branches to really make it effective. Maybe a ring line strung with park and rides to pull more of the suburbs in. The brutalist concrete stations are a little dirty but really not bad. 

The High Museum is right outside of a station. It is an architectural icon of Atlanta- the original Richard Meier 1980's building holding hands with the recently completed Renzo Piano structure. When I was introduced to the building way back in architecture undergrad, the author's position was that it was an early "Bilbao effect." Atlanta, having been razed and salted relatively recently, didn't have so much in the way of art collections, so they built an Icon from a capital A Architect. 

The museum looks like it is trying hard. There are signs encouraging photography, and they just reduced admission prices. The exhibitions are varied and interesting, and I can imagine that the Piano addition was not cheap. 

They did have a Eric Carle exhibition, which was worth the price of admission. Carle is the illustrator/author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and on display was a lot of the original collages from his books. Who hasn't read this book? And then to see the original paper collages which were photographed and put into it was special. He also wrote and illustrated a book about a pretzel baker, and my eye was caught by the distinctive shape of the pretzels. We were stunned to find out that he moved from the US to Stuttgart when he was six years old, and lived there until he was in his twenties, even graduating from the same Akademie where we know people who are teaching. The loneliness, of losing and making new friends, and his experiences hiking in the woods around Stuttgart growing up became strong themes in his books. Stuttgart, for that matter, seems to have forgotten him, although apparently he still returns occasionally. 

After the museum, we made a stop by the post office, where we mailed off some letters and packages. Next, we walked on to a liquor shop (naturally) where I picked up some special beers for the house, before we hit a Publix grocery store and then headed back to Sandy Springs at the far north end of Atlanta to be picked up by Ayumi. 

It's really hard to find camera film here. Supermarkets don't carry it, convenience stores don't carry it, and in the end I had to go to CVS to find a roll, and even there, there were only two types of 400 film. In the past five or six years, which is to say, the last time I was shooting and developing film in the US, film photography seems to have nearly disappeared. Which may explain why development is so expensive. In the US, the normal cost to develop and print a roll of 36 photos is around $18. In Germany, it's around $5. 

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