Month: June 2009

Fresh Loaf, an excellent Creative Loafing blog, published a fascinating story last week about the implosion of Inman Park Properties, a real estate company that owns quite a few historic properties around Atlanta.

After years of sitting on many otherwise abandoned properties, Inman Park Properties is facing a number of foreclosures.  Quoth Boyd Coons, director of the Atlanta Preservation Center

“His buildings may have been in terrible condition, but at least they were still there.  We now have real fears about what’s going to happen with all these properties.”

I can only echo Boyd’s concerns.

I hope these properties will fall in the laps a few preservation-minded developers.  It’s a shame so many are rotting and empty, but it’d be awful if we lost these buildings for good.  So often developers will see the bottom line, but fail to consider the irreparable (and admittedly less visible) costs of tearing down a neighborhood landmark or rending the urban fabric.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also weighed in on the situation.  Be sure to read the posts by Terminal Station and Atlanta Unsheltered, too.

Related: The Georgia Trust’s Places in Peril (2008) included “The Castle” on 15th Street, home of Uncle Remus-inspired gardens and woodwork.

On Tuesday the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. and I (henceforth: “the gang”) visited the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a tour and an InDesign tutorial.

The Wren's Nest Publishing Company at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

We were lucky enough to meet all sorts of important people.  Our tour guide was one such important person — Daily Lifestyle Reporter and all-around champion, Jamie Gumbrecht.  She’s peeking out below on the left.

Jamie Gumbrecht and the Wren's Nest Publishing Company

While I do not have any more pictures, I can and will regale you with a few stories.  Ready?  I hope so.

Asking the Tough Questions

Jamie and the gang walked in on a meeting between Julia Wallace, Editor-in-Chief, and James Mallory, Senior Managing Editor.  Mallory introduced himself by saying (in essence), “This woman is in charge and currently stomping all over my suggestions.”

Wallace asked the gang if they had any questions.  Here’s how it went:

WREN’S NEST EDITOR: So, what do you think of the AJC redesign?

AJC EDITOR: What do you think about it?

WREN’S NEST EDITOR: It reminds me of USA Today.

AJC EDITOR: Is that a good thing?

WREN’S NEST EDITOR: (pregnant pause) No.

It’s a tad surreal to see the Editor of one of the most respected newspapers in the country defending her decisions to a high school junior.  Apparently the AJC editors should consult the Wren’s Nest Publishing Company editors before moving forward with anything else.

Auspicious Encounters

We settled in to learn all about InDesign from the lovely Melissa Angle, Senior Designer, who was nothing short of amazing.  I know this because even I could follow what she was demonstrating.  That, my friends, is saying something.  She was kind, generous (instructional packets!), funny, and patient.

On our way out we caught Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Luckovich in the midst of satirizing Jon and Kate, pen in hand and everything.  Half-finished illustrations are tops!

Mike Luckovich on the Jon and Kate Separation

Here’s the finished product.

Finally, Managing Editor Bert Roughton asked the gang if they had read any good submissions yet.  One answered, “No.  The one I read was REALLY bad.”  I think he offered her a job on the spot.

Thank You

Can I just take a moment to appreciate the generosity of the (very important) folks who took time to hang out?  Good golly.  Melissa and Jamie, y’all have a box of cookies coming your way.  The rest of you can mooch off of them.

Thank you all again!

Behavior Problems

Unfortunately, our hosts at the AJC weren’t the only jaw-dropping element of our time there.

I know that my concept of manners and good social graces are different than those of a 16-year-old, and I have to judge appropriately.  On the other hand, would you walk into the AJC while eating french fries?  Would you think nothing of arriving 20 minutes late?  Of picking at your nails while the Editor-in-Chief spoke to you?  Sadly, I could go on.

I have no question that each and every one of our editors knows how to behave themselves when it’s called for.  So why didn’t they think this was one of those times?  It makes me uneasy about cashing in all of our favors for a gang that will appear not only disinterested, but ungrateful.

Sticky as Brer Rabbit Molasses, this situation.  Any advice, other than prolonged yelling and/or foot stomping?

Wren's Nest Bug Plotting Our Demise

This thing somehow crawled inside our window.  I really and truly hurt myself running away from it.

Lain and I debated whether it should meet its maker via shoe, but decided no for two reasons:

  1. I’m not sure we have enough paper towels to clean up the carcass
  2. Are you kidding me?!  We need to do everything we can to stay on its good side.

Lain safely (and bravely) re-released it into the wild.

Wren's Nest Bug Scaling the Walls

I need to go lie down.

Today marks the one-week anniversary of the Wren’s Nest Publishing Company’s annual tour of Paste, a music and culture magazine of international renown.

Paste Magazine Home Office

As always, the editors in our high school literary journal program said (over and over) it was the best thing ever.  As always, I agreed.

Josh Jackson, editor-in-chief at Paste, showed us around and answered the (truly outstanding) questions he received from our high school editors.  Turns out he knows a thing or two about the magazine he created.

Josh Jackson, Editor of Paste, taking the Wren's Nest Publishing Co. on a tour

Throughout the tour, the editors were reminded that Josh would neither bite nor scratch.

Wren's Nest Publishing Co. members are afraid of Paste Magazine's Editor, Josh Jackson

Nevertheless, they kept their distance — just to play it safe — as you can see above.  I think this is hilarious.

Our editors got the chance to meet Paste’s professional, real-life editors and ask more questions.

Listening intently to the Editors of Paste Magazine

Later, our editors enviously applauded the Paste’s staff’s ability to do work with their feet up while eating cookies.  Now they all want internships.  Go figure.

Josh Jackson in Paste Magazine's CD and DVD room

Josh showed us Paste’s CD and DVD room, which is… a room full of CDs and DVDs they receive at the magazine.  There were also bins of “garbage CDs” just outside of the picture, but those seemed too sad to show.  Though don’t let me keep you from taking a moment to use your imagination.

Paste Magazine is in Guitar Hero 3!

In the recording studio Josh dropped a major bomb — Paste is featured in Guitar Hero 3.  This was not taken lightly.  The ladies above made eager vows to play and confirm upon returning home.

Paste Magazine's signature and poster wall

Just outside the recording studio there’s a wall with signatures from artists who have visited.  The editors spent not a small amount of time poring over the signatures.

Three Wren's Nest Publishing Co. Editors and all of Paste's Awards

Here our editors take delight in all of the awards Paste has won.  They’re real team players.  If you look closely, you can see that Paste was in Atlanta Magazine’s Best of Atlanta for 2007, just like The Wren’s Nest.

Thanks for letting us visit, Paste!

In the end, after an amazing tour and approximately 1,100 questions, it was time to leave.  I think you can tell from our editors’ faces what an awful time they had.

Thanks again, Josh!  And thanks to Rachael for helping us set it up — you guys can tour our (one room) office anytime.

Way back in February we presented a contest — name a Wren’s Nest themed adult beverage and win a bag of… things. To say the very least, it went well.

And now — well, tomorrow from 5:30pm – 8pm to be exact — the inspiration for this contest is upon us: the Wren’s Nest fundraiser hosted by the Ravinia Club.  All proceeds from the (cash) bar on the evening’s featured specialty drink benefit the Wren’s Nest.  Heard of it?

Now, before I get to the drink-christening, allow me to convince you to join us at the Ravinia Club:

  • Everyone is welcome!  What a nice sentiment!
  • Usually when you toast the Wren’s Nest, people have no idea what you’re talking about.  Tomorrow you’ll be in knowing company.
  • I bet you love prizes.  You’ll find tomorrow’s raffle — fine wines, tickets to sporting events, massage gift certificates and more — so delightful.
  • Wren’s Nest Rambler Akbar Imhotep will be spinning yarns throughout the evening.  If you haven’t seen Akbar yet, now is the time to hang your head in shame.
  • Complimentary hors d’oeuvres mean you can stuff your face while pretending to be super classy.  At least that’s what I’ll be doing.

Are you sold yet?  I hope so.  You don’t even need to buy tickets; you can just show up and enjoy a…


You may also enjoy 3 – 8 of them.

Yep, it’s a margarita, which our inside sources tell us the club makes deliciously.  It also has “Remus” in the name, which makes it themed and super clever.

So, we’ll see you there, right?  Here’s a map to the Ravinia ClubJoin us at 5:30 – 8 pm.

Any questions?  Leave ’em in the comments.

Laurel Snyder, a local children’s author, has a great discussion on her blog about updating literature to correspond with our current views on racial stereotyping and language.  Bowdlerizing, if you will.

For a museum like ours — literature-driven, historically preserved, and familiar with comments like “I was shocked to hear Mr. Harris wasn’t a racist” (thanks, visitor yesterday) — this hits pretty close to home.

Using modern standards to judge consciences of yore is a tricky business, and there are no shortage of opinons on the matter.  Some argue that if the change doesn’t affect content, it’s a-okay.  For others, myself included (methinks), the idea of making something “appropriate” for the present by erasing its record of the past is a big no-no.

A little guy called “Mark Twain” (maybe you’ve heard of him) sums up my perspective well:

To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his own time, not ours.

translator’s preface of Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, 1897

This topic has come up at the Wren’s Nest many times before, mainly surrounding things like Harris’ use of dialect or even the character of Uncle Remus.  For example, would it be crazy to remove Uncle Remus altogether from new versions and just present the stories?

So what do you think?  Is preserving history worth the cost of upholding possible prejudices?

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