My Darling Atlanta is losing one of its writers for another city that he may call his “darling.” We here at HQ figured we would ask him for his last honest take on Atlanta as he exits the stage.
by Thomas Donoghue
I never thought I would leave this city—if only for the sake that I despise moving, let alone moving to another state. However, I recently decided to take on another adventure, another job and start another life. My final decision to leave wasn’t for a new job; the offer I accepted didn’t pay more, in fact, it pays slightly less. In honesty, I’m through with Atlanta.
It’s not that this city chewed me up and spit me out. I’ve lived in tougher, more cutthroat towns. The reason that I am leaving is that I’m tired of glorified mediocrity being pawned off as culture on those who know better.
“There’s culture here! You’re just too-cool-for-school!” some may tell me, and that may be. But I don’t consider hipster irony in place of responsibility culture. Perhaps in the elusive anthropological sense of the word I may find a glimmer of hope, but not really.
“It’s festival season! There’s culture for you,” I ‘ve been told from acquaintances as I meet for drinks on my local farewell tour. But going to the same Etsy festival in a different neighborhood each week is not culture. Watching former coeds attempting to keep it classy clutching their plastic cups of 420 milling about staring at each other and overhearing conversations conjuring emotions of college years gone by is boring. The festival people hire movie stars to walk around so they are able to convince you that the festival is even worth going to.
“Atlanta has a tremendous amount of artistic talent.” That may be true, but the minute the artist determines that he or she can monetize their talent, they jump ship and head for a town where art is truly recognized and not expected for free—you know, for sake of art, man. Ridiculous self-proclaimed “art” co-op outfits want to plant a stick in the mud, embroider a catchy phrase under it and call it avante garde. It’s not avante garde, it’s a stick in a pile of shit.
“There’s so much opportunity here for work!” Georgia has the worst unemployment rate in the country, and if the politicians think that cutting taxes and contemplating Indiana-like fanatical religious legislation will bring better business, they’ve got another thing coming. I was once in a conversation with a State house representative from Cairo, GA, when I asked him how he intends to vote on a MARTA bill he responded “MARTA?! I don’t take MARTA to work, son!” It was a shame his intelligence couldn’t even grasp the reality that transportation provides economic opportunity for the economic powerhouse of his state. I’m tired of Atlanta allowing hillbilly red-faced fathead legislators to hijack the city’s ability to provide for this state.
“Georgia has the best infrastructure in the country!” Yes, it’s true that the state provides all the highways you could hope for to drive anywhere you want. But the fact is that the Georgia Department of Transportation has destroyed more land than General William T. Sherman did on his March to the Sea. Perhaps they should think about that during their next Confederate Memorial Day off.
In my more honest moments I’ll admit that through my eight years here Atlanta has been good to me. I have wonderful friends with whom I will never lose contact, albeit that not a single one of them is actually from Atlanta. I have laughed hard here, I fell in love with my wife here and I had my child here, but it’s time to move on. The evidence for the reasons why I should leave far outweigh the reasons to stay.
Though in the twilight of my departure, I must admit that I lack sentimental nostalgia. Nothing. Not even an “I’ll miss…” because I feel I won’t miss a damn thing that I can’t find elsewhere, and perhaps a bit less contrived. As I move through my remaining days in this town I’m seeing the city through a similar lens as one may view New Jersey; just a large junction to pass though before landing in the final location of choice. And for those who may shake their fist and feel offended at my words and if it’s this City they want to defend, I have to tell you, I could find the same city in Houston, Dallas, Charlotte, Orlando, Nashville et cetera.
Therefore, I bid you adieu.