Atlanta is one of the major historic cities of the south but my first glimpse of it on Greyhound was of skyscrapers with blacked out windows that looked like missing teeth. It turned out two tornado's had run through the city center a day or two previously. The modern city is bit with some 6 million people living in the metropolitan area and at least the areas I saw had no resemblance to Gone with the Wind.
My bus had got in early for once and the people picking me up were running late (also a first) so I hung around the very crowded Greyhound station for a little over an hour. Then it was off to the apartment where I was staying, I never actually got my head around where that was in the city (well somewhere in the East) or indeed the city geography at all. The guy who was putting me up was fairly young and had just moved a few months back with the result that his coffee table had a rather impressive collection of empty beer cans and full ash trays taking up every available inch. As I was sleeping on the sofa right next to this collection task one was dumping them all in a rubbish sack before we headed out to a party.
I think I must have been somewhat exhausted by the time I hit Atlanta plus it was pretty hot as my memories of my time there are not so clear. I think on that first night we went to a party stopping off at a liquor store on the way - I have a photo of the outside of the store, inside I remember it as brightly lit and one of those places where the staff were sealed in behind a glass partition. The party was in another apartment, I remember standing out on the fire escape a few stories up and talking politics but not a lot else. And either that night or the next we then headed to a very busy brew pub where they knew one of the waitresses. I think that was a late night with a fair few beers which perhaps also explains why my memory is so hazy of my time there I do have a vague memory of going for a few of the strongest options.
The next day my host headed off to work and I stayed in the apartment working on the audio I had recorded in Gainesville. It soon got to hot for me so I headed off to where I'd been told there was an internet cafe, somewhere across a bridge across the highway to East Atlanta. Outside felt a bit like the edge of an industrial estate with a Burger King and set back from the road a bit a busy food place called Ghetto Burger. Stopping off for lunch on the way back I discovered this was a famous establishment, there was a huge que inside, so big in fact that after 30 minutes hunger drove me to the Burger King instead. This I suspect was a real tragedy.
I managed to work out where the bridge across the highway was, the other side of the highway was a leafy suburb but I was initially puzzled by the amount of roof construction in progress and uprooted trees. And then I remembered the tornado's, sure enough one of them had passed this way pulling many trees out by their roots to crash into the rather nice houses that lined the road on large well kept lots. I think that evening (I'm not sure if I spent two or three nights in Atlanta) I did a private talk with members of the CTC (below) and after that recorded the interview below.
The Atlanta talk was in a venue called the Tea House, in a large front room in a house near a overhead railway line. The turnout of 16 people in a city of 5 million was fairly poor but there is not much of a left never mind anarchist movement in Atlanta despite its important as a centre of the civil rights movement and a major LGBT migration destination. The Atlanta date had been organised by the Capital Terminus Collective which no longer exists. It was a small group that at the time had a loose affiliation with NEFAC as the 'nearest' class struggle anarchist organisation. I did get to meet a couple of people who I've 'known' onlline for quite some years, in one case right back to the organise list of the mid-1990's. While in Atlanta I interviewed three members of the Capital Terminus Collective, you'll find the interview at http://www.indymedia.ie/attachments/apr2008/ctc.mp3 The interview covers hospital privitizations, housing, police corruption, segregation of the working class and ends with the usual question about the US election.
After the meeting we headed off to some historic dinner which be my standards seemed a considerable drive away but was probably nearby by local standards. The one thing that sticks in my head from the conversation was that they had a venue cancelled for an anarchist bookfair at the last moment and at such short notice the only alternative they could get was a strip club. Atlanta is a major destination for conferences with the result that there are apparently lots of strip clubs and a couple of anarchists were working in the industry.
Next morning it was off to Atlanta airport via the overhead train I'd seen earlier. A plane was called for as the next stop was back up in the rust belt, all the way up to Pittsburgh in fact.
WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )