Relax, Atlanta: Manuel’s Tavern Isn’t Going Anywhere

In the video, spokesman Angelo Fuster clears up the confusion about Manuel’s. 

Manuel's Tavern, Atlanta, bar, institution

Manuel’s Tavern on the corner of North and Highland is an institution. People ask me where I live, and I say, “Near Manuel’s,” and they say, “Oh, yeah, I love that place.”

Facebook and Twitter were all abuzz this morning over news about beloved Manuel’s Tavern being closed to make room for a new development on the corner of Highland and North avenues.

I was confused by the articles (from Creative Loafing, the Business Chronicle and the AJC) as well as the response from people on social media. I saw responses slamming the “news” as just one more example of how we don’t value anything here in Atlanta, how we toss aside our institutions for something new and shiny.

Those reactions didn’t jibe with how I took it, as a reasonable approach to improving and preserving an old spot that’s on a prime corner of real estate — especially after reading owner Brian Maloof‘s Facebook statement.

So I walked the two blocks down to Manuel’s for chili and a grilled cheese, and to get it clear for myself.

“This building is going to be here. This place is going to be here just as you see it now,” spokesman and longtime Maloof family friend Angelo Fuster told me. “This bar is gonna be here. These booths are gonna be here. Those walls are gonna be here.”

Seems this is just another example of people reacting on social media to headlines, assuming the worst, and popping off emotional responses. (Scroll down this Twitter feed to see some examples. There were plenty more on Facebook — “sad,” “end of an era,” etc…)

Manuel's Tavern, Atlanta, bar, institution

Where everybody knows your name…

The business remains with Maloof, son of the late founder Manuel Maloof, Fuster said. The property was sold, from Manuel’s Properties to Green Street Properties. The plan allows for a four-story development on the 1.6 acres but doesn’t mandate one, Fuster said. The new buildings will go where the large parking lots are now.

In his statement, Maloof said,

The land sale is part of a partnership deal with Green Street Properties to renovate our building on North Ave. and North Highland Ave., refurbish the tavern and also develop a neighborhood-scale, mixed-use development on the immediately surrounding property.

Under the agreement, I will continue to be the sole owner of Manuel’s, Green Street will become our landlord, and the tavern will have a long-term lease at its present site.

The sale will allow much-needed structural updates to the building, which is about 100 years old and has been home to Manuel’s since 1956. The bar will be closed during renovations for about three months next year.


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15 Reasons We Love Dishing on the Oscars

Host Neil Patrick Harris is set.

Host Neil Patrick Harris is set.

We love talking and reading about the Oscars as much as we love going to the movies, it seems. And as Oscar Night has morphed into Awards Season, there’s more to read about the Academy Awards than ever.

Here’s a list of 15 fun or smart pieces I’ve come upon recently, broken up into categories – from storytelling to fashion, from diversity to travel and parties.

DIVERSITY

All 20 acting nominees are white, and many observers complain that “Selma” was the victim of the mostly white Academy’s tendency to ignore achievements by African-Americans.

1. Oscar spotlight draws attention to movie industry’s failure to reflect a diverse America, from The Associated Press.

The lack of nominations for “Selma” director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo were a particular flashpoint, viewed by many as unjust oversights not only because they merited honoring, but because their absences furthered an ignoble Oscar history.

2. Martyred genius Alan Turing of “The Imitation Game” spawned this piece: Why do gay characters have to die in order for actors to get Oscar nominations?

BRUTAL HONESTY FROM VOTERS

th-13. The Hollywood Reporter talked to a voter about “Selma,” who said, “There’s no art to it.”

4. And another who didn’t ‘get’ the movie “Birdman” and found  “Whiplash” offensive

MARKETING/STORYTELLING

5. How content marketers can learn from Hollywood’s menu of offerings, from the Spin Sucks column for marketing and PR pros.

Profits from big summer blockbusters and popcorn thrillers can help to offset smaller returns on indie films and niche documentaries.

Each type of movie content has its place in the overall scheme.

Just as production companies need to produce different types of movies, your content strategy needs to include different types of content.

6. How Marketers can win the Oscars.

No award show is bigger than the Oscars. Last year, 43 million people tuned in, earning it the largest nonsporting television audience since the finale of Friends. But the event isn’t just about a few hours on a TV screen. Through digital, audiences are engaging with the Academy Awards well before, during, and after the actual event. On Google alone, there were tens of millions of Oscar-related searches last year. It would likely take decades to watch the variety of Oscar-related content on YouTube. This all adds up to many new opportunities for brands to participate in these massive cultural moments beyond the telecast.

7. Do you trust your audience? Storytelling lessons from a great movie

JUST FOR FUN

Here's hoping for a bumpy night. (Notable loser: Bette Davis did not win for her greatest role, in "All About Eve.")

Here’s hoping for a bumpy night. (Notable loser: Bette Davis did not win for her greatest role, in “All About Eve.”)

8. How to throw an Oscar party — my piece on Coca-Cola’s Journey site.

9. From The New York Times, 8 trips inspired by Oscar-nominated films – including a visit to The Martin Luther king, Jr., National Historic Site in Atlanta.

10. How movie fans are voting on Twitter.

11. A look inside the swag bags worth $167,000 that even the losers get.

12. Download the nominated scripts for free.

13. From Groot to Godzilla, Visual Effects Oscar Hopefuls Reveal Their CG Secrets.

LOOKING BACK

14. Harper’s Bazaar has pictures of all the Best Actress dresses through the decades.

15. Oscar has had his regrets, particularly about ‘Crash’ — Academy members reassess past Oscar decisions.


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Oscars Get Personal with Sweet Support from the Academy

Jim Farmer, gay film festival, Out on Film, Atlanta, Oscars

Jim Farmer’s passion for movies drives Atlanta’s Out on Film.

Like millions of movie fans, Jim Farmer will be glued to the tube for Sunday’s Academy Awards.

But this year, Farmer — a lifelong Oscar fanatic — has an extra reason to be excited. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences gave his Out on Film festival its first-ever national grant for its most recent event. And more than just the money came the acknowledgement and exposure that only Hollywood’s biggest guns can provide.

Out on Film is Atlanta’s annual gay film festival, which Farmer has programmed since 2008. It’s grown every year since then, to a record attendance of 8,000 in 2014. Over the course of a week right before the annual gay Pride celebration, Out on Film presents more than 100 movies at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema.

Farmer’s focus from the start was on branding Out on Film as a vital, independent celebration — with consistent scheduling (year-round events, but with the festival always the first week in October) and high-quality programming.

“When it comes to marketing and putting butts in seats, you could get a ‘naked guy’ movie and sell out every time,” says Farmer, who has worked in theater marketing and entertainment journalism.  “But we focus on quality films that otherwise might not make it to Atlanta, and also on the diversity within the LGBT community.”

The Oscar grant helped secure last fall’s opening night, with a red carpet and appearances by the makers and some cast members of “Blackbird,” which stars Mo’Nique and will be released widely in April.

“We try to focus on our festival as an event,” Farmer says. “It’s not just seeing a movie. You can watch a movie on your iPhone these days. But there’s nothing quite like seeing a film that is a story about us, for us, told by our filmmakers and experienced together.”

Alec Mapa, Out on Film, Atlanta, gay film festival, Oscars, Jim Farmer

Guests have included actors like Alec Mapa, on the right.

Grants don’t come easy, of course. At the same time the Academy shared its gift, the state of Georgia declined to support the festival, although it had for two previous years.

“It gives us a lot of momentum,” Farmer says about the Oscar grant. “We reached a lot of people last year that we had never reached. The Academy put us on their website. The Academy issued a press release… It was tremendous in terms of the exposure and awareness that we got.”

And more personally, it was a shot of confidence for Farmer, who grew up watching the Oscars and hangs on every development of awards season.

He’ll be at home with his partner Sunday night, not at a party where people might talk over the broadcast. “I don’t care if it lasts four hours. I don’t care if the speeches are long and rambling. I want to see every moment and hear every word.”

And maybe offer up his own version of “I’d like to thank the Academy…”

Jim Farmer’s Oscar predictions

Farmer says it’s easier to call many top categories nowadays, with so many pre-Oscar awards.

But he agrees that three top categories are a lock for Julianne Moore (Best Actress in “Still Alice”), Patricia Arquette (Best Supporting Actress for “Boyhood”) and J.K. Simmons (Best Supporting Actor for “Whiplash”).

After that, thing’s get a little more exciting He sees tight races between “Boyhood” and “Birdman” for Best Picture and Best Director, and expects “Birdman” star Michael Keaton to edge out Eddie Redmayne from “The Theory of Everything” for Best Actor.


 

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Leonard Cohen Says It All for Valentine’s Day: ‘I’m Your Man’

If you want a lover
I’ll do anything you ask me to
And if you want another kind of love
I’ll wear a mask for you
If you want a partner
Take my hand
Or if you want to strike me down in anger
Here I stand
I’m your man (READ THE REST…) 

Are You an Instagram Cliche?

instagram, cliches, photos, snapshots, pictures, pets, dogs

I don’t even have a pet, but I couldn’t resist posting this pic of me with my friend’s little buddy, Dexter. Great dog.

Ever scroll through Instagram and notice that a lot of the photos seem familiar?

Your old roommate’s beautifully topped latte?

Your sister’s airplane-wing-through-the-window?

Well, the good people at Mashable did. And they’ve decided to help us all be more original, I suppose, by sharing their list of the 12 most clichéd Instagram pics. For me, Instagram is just a source of fun and another way to stay in touch with friends and see what interesting strangers and brands are doing.  I love the creative shots along with those that have a certain familiarity.

But as a writer and editor, I hate clichés. So I scrolled through my Instagram feed to see how many transgressions I’d committed there against Instagram’s dirty dozen.

1. Toes in the Sand. GUILTY

Instagram, cliche, photos, photography, snapshots, vacation, toes in the sand

On vacation in Barcelona. Lazy pic? Sure… lazy day.

 

2. Clouds. GUILTY

instagram, cliche, pictures, photos, images, how to take better pictures, miami, south beach, airplane, palm trees

Blue skies smiling at me in South Beach.

3. Food Porn. GUILTY

instagram, yeah burger, atlanta, cliche, food porn

Food porn? You bet! Can’t get enough of Yeah! Burger in Atlanta.

4. Nail Art (fingernails did up). INNOCENT! 

5. Inspiration Quotes. GUILTY

instagram, inspirational quote, putt-putt, cliche

Putt-putt wisdom, but wisdom nonetheless.

6. Tall Buildings Shot from the Ground. INNOCENT! (Surprisingly)

7. Latte Art. INNOCENT! (Surprisingly again…)

8. SMS Conversations. INNOCENT!

9. Airplane Wings. INNOCENT!

10. Bathroom Mirror Selfies. INNOCENT!

11. Circle of Feet. GUILTY

My sisters, nieces and I got our toenails painted. Nice family outing. (I'm the one with the hairy toes on the left.) Wait -- does this count as Nail Art, too?

My sisters, nieces and I got our toenails painted. Nice family outing. (I’m the one with the hairy toes on the left.) Wait — does this count as Nail Art, too?

12. Sunsets. GUILTY

Instagram, pics, photos, cliche, photographs, snapshots, Atlanta, sunset

Not your typical sunset pic, but a sunset pic all the same. Down North Avenue in Atlanta.

Six out of 12, maybe seven if you count the toenails thing twice. Is that good? Bad? I don’t know… But I’m not sure any of this is such a terrible thing, as suspicious as I remain of clichés in text. And I think Mashable missed a few. From my feed, I would add:

1. Blooming flowers.

Instagram-Cliche-Bloom

2. Geometric shapes of hallways, portals, etc.

photo 1

3. Completely pointless selfies.

photoAre they overused and lazy — or part of the point,  the sharing of sights that catch your eye, little moments of your life? It depends on why you use Instagram, I suppose. Are you simply sharing, or are you trying to attract people and motivate an audience toward some action?

It also depends on how much effort you’re willing to make to get a more distinctive image. My friend and professional photographer Ben Gray offers some easy tips here.

What do you think? Have any Instagram cliches your own? Let me hear from you, and follow my Instagram account here.

15 Sure-Fire Ways to Always Have Plenty to Write About

ideas to write about, blog, writing, inspiration, muse, writing techniques, content creation

Elmo, Katy Perry and Charles Dickens can help keep your ideas flowing.

How do you come up with ideas to write about?

It’s a question all writers hear – and sometimes struggle with. And it creates anxiety that keeps would-be writers from getting started.

But there’s no mystery to generating ideas – whether writing at your job, for personal reasons or even in artistic pursuits. And the same applies to creating content of all kinds. Anyone who’s done it for a while knows there’s  no mystery, no magic, no reliance on a muse.

So here are 15 sure-fire ways to keep the ideas coming, inspiration or not. Mix and match with your own to come up with reliable, proven techniques, and apply them as part of your ongoing process. (Even when you don’t want to. That’s why it’s called work, after all.)

  1. Jot them down. Good ideas can come at any time – while you’re driving, trying to sleep, watching TV. And, if you’re like me, you probably won’t remember them later unless you scribble them down on a notebook or make a recording on your smartphone. I compile them later on a Word doc and refer to it regularly.
  2. Tickle yourself. Keep a “tickler file” – either a literal file or something on your computer or phone – of articles, photos or links about things that are coming up that might yield good content. For instance, if your neighborhood organization is hosting a City Councilman, put that in your tickler file – and link it to your calendar for a reminder. This is especially helpful with events that repeat regularly, on a monthly or yearly basis.
  3. Follow the news. That includes niche sources about your topic, profession or industry. You should stay informed, of course, for other reasons. But events and headlines also are great sources of ideas.
  4. What's Tom got to do with it?

    What’s Tom got to do with it?

    That means pop culture and sports. We just had the Super Bowl – one of the biggest sports/cultural/media events ever. Even if you don’t care about football, you should know who played (and won), who performed at halftime, and which commercials blew up Twitter.

  5. Revisit your own content. You should periodically go through your existing content of all kinds, not just articles, and see what you can dust off. Chances are, readers won’t remember that you already covered a topic. And you can easily find a fresh way to top, update or present the information.
  6. Repurpose new stuff, too. Maybe you wrote a long article for your company website that can also be turned into a list for the e-newsletter. Did you have extra material from the Q&A with your CEO that you could put on your company’s internal social media channel?
  7. Read, read, read. Books, magazines, websites. All kinds of things — literature, trade publications, Stephen King, People magazine.
  8. Steal from the best. When you see something you like or find useful, see how you might apply it to your own situation. By the time you tailor it for your needs, you will have made it your own.
  9. timer-15-minutes-18884254Write for 15 minutes. And don’t stop or edit or second-guess. This is favored by a noted songwriting coach in Nashville. He tells students to sit down, with pen and paper (no electronics), and … just. Start. Writing. Let your mind and pen flow freely and, after 15 minutes, you go back and see if you haven’t inadvertently come up with a few good expressions or ideas. Even if you haven’t, it’s a great way to just Shut Up and DO IT. (Write, that is.)
  10. Curate content. We don’t have to write or create everything all the time. Sometimes, it’s best to share what others have written or produced and make a list to share. I did this over the weekend for the Super Bowl and got good traffic. So much content had already been created, and this was an easy way to join the conversation.
  11. Ask your friends and colleagues. You don’t have to say, “I have no idea – help me!” (Although you can do that sometimes.) But talk to people you like and respect, listen to what they’re saying, ask how they might write about a topic or present it in a video or a webinar or whatever.
  12. Get out of the office. Go to community events, conferences, speeches, ballgames – and pay attention. I get great ideas from the monthly luncheons of the Georgia chapter of the  Public Relations Society of America. The panels are interesting, the speakers diverse, and the audience smart and curious. Your topic, business and audience will present similar sources.
  13. Remember the basics. Always ask yourself: What am I trying to say? To whom? And why? That will help you focus, which will help you think of ideas.
  14. Find freedom in boundaries. Your boss or client wants the content delivered on time and on budget, and it has to include some key elements? Awesome. Within parameters, even those we set for ourselves, we can find great freedom to create. It forces us to focus on what is possible, not what might be ideal.
  15. Do one thing different. Try a different grocery store. Watch a different news program. Toss the football instead of a Frisbee with your kid. It doesn’t really matter what. But you’ll be amazed how even the smallest new experience can help you look at things in a new way.

A Super Bowl List of Lists: The Best Commercials, Booties and More

Idina Menzel, Adele Dazeem, Super Bowl, National Anthem

Let’s hope John Travolta doesn’t introduce her.

Remember when the Super Bowl was just the NFL’s championship?

Neither do I.

It’s long been one of those few remaining events that can still seize the national attention, like the Oscars or a presidential election. You don’t have to care about sports to be interested in the Super Bowl. It touches on everything — advertising, of course, but also pop culture, social media and just about anything else that any target audience might want to consume, purchase or discuss.

Gronk, Rob Gronkowski, Super Bowl, hot, hottest man in NFL, hottest football player, stud,

Aw, cute… the kitten, too. (Bah-dah-bing!)

Here’s a list of some of the more interesting lists about the Super Bowl out there, just to illustrate the obvious in a fun way. And to help give you a few juicy factoids to drop if you’re stuck at a party with people who actually want to talk about, you know: The Game.

  1. The most exciting Super Bowls of all time, according to stats stud Nate Silver.

Lots of lists on Super Bowl commercials, of course:

  1. The Wall Street Journal – tops online so far for 2015’s game.
  2. I Heart Radio – Top 26 ads ever
  3. Good Morning America – The top 10
  1. Remember Oreo? Check out the best-ever brand tweets during Super Bowls
  1. Every Super Bowl: winners and losers
  1. The hottest players, ranked by The Gaily Grind. Trust the gays on this one – Gronk, anyone? Much better judges than whoever …
  1. … compiled this ranking of all the rear ends in the game, from Buzzfeed
  1. Can’t make it to Vegas but want to bet? The best sports books here to put some money down…
  1. … and more to bet on, including how Idina Menzel might do in her National Anthem performance.

Second only to lists about commercials might be lists about food for your Super Bowl parties.

  1. Here are 50 from The Food Network
  1. Buzzfeed ranks more from worst to best
  1. Wardrobe malfunction – or Up with People? The best halftime shows
  1. The top Classic Rock commercials
  1. And finally, something from real life… The Best Super Bowl / Bucket List Headline: Wrongfully convicted man gets sent to the game with his dad.

Remembering the First Word in ‘Social Media’

Jason Dominy, social media, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Atlanta, 2Do3D, social media, communications, friends, how to make friends, how to meet people, meeting people in real life, IRL

Jason Dominy, right, posts pictures to Facebook after meeting people like Mark Tioxon.

I was at a party recently. I knew about half the folks there and was having a nice time going from chat to chat. At one point, I paused to look around for the next conversation and saw another man across the snack table doing the same thing. I decided to introduce myself, but before I could, he called my name.

“Hi,” I said, walking over. “How do you know who I am?”

He said his name, and I recognized it.

“That’s right! We follow each other on Twitter and Instagram,” I said, thus beginning the next nice round of cocktail party conversation. Turns out he’s dating an old friend of mine, who was also at the party, and I introduced them to friends I had brought.

It reminded me of Jason Dominy, a new friend who’s making it his mission to keep the “social” in “social media.”

Project 2Dto3D

Two years ago, Jason started reaching out to Twitter connections – people he’d never met IRL (In Real Life) — and asking them to meet for coffee or lunch.

Jason Dominy, 2Dto3D, meeting people in real life, IRL, social media, Twitter, Facebook, friends, dating, Instagram

Jason with yours truly. He wrote that he liked my blog and asked to meet for coffee.

“I thought I was kind of silly that we live in the same city, we have a lot in common, I like what they have to say – and we’d never even sat down and talked.”

He says his goal is to connect with people in “real and relevant ways.” He’s met about 75 so far, and some have led to lasting friendships or business connections. He calls his effort 2Dto3D and has posted a photo album from the meetings on his Facebook page.

“People are tired of the façade that social media can give,” says Jason, a social media manager at an Atlanta agency. “Anything that gives you a chance to break that down, well, people are interested in that.”

What about you? Have you had similar instances of expanding your real-life contacts via Twitter, Facebook or other social media?

Or do you think this is still a way to avoid contact with actual people? That online “relationships” are just a way of self-isolating?

I like Jason’s efforts. I was glad he reached out to me and I’ve enjoyed getting to know him. And at that party a few weeks ago, Twitter and Instagram helped paved the way for some fun introductions.

Would they have happened anyway? Maybe, but an icebreaker is as an icebreaker does, right?

‘We’re both stunned’

Now here’s an example of a different kind.

UnknownI have a buddy in Miami who noticed over time that he had developed a Twitter friendship with someone he’d never met – someone who didn’t have a name or face on her bio. After naturally tweeting to each other about common interests for several months, my friend asked her to get together for a drink.

That was last fall.

They’ve been dating ever since.

“We were meeting up just for a beer, just because we both seemed interesting to the other,” my pal said. “I’d never seen her until the day I walked into that bar. It was definitely not a date, and neither of us had any ideas about this becoming romantic. We’re both stunned that it did.”

He said not everybody wants to have a wide-open public persona on the Internet, but meeting some of the people you interact with online can have positive outcomes.

“If it wasn’t for Twitter, I never would have fallen for ‘that total stranger I met on the Internet.’”

Ain’t nothing wrong with that.


 

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM! @jaycroftatl 

‘Selma,’ Pride and History in the Flesh: ‘He’s My Congressman’

Selma, John Lewis, Oscar, Oscars, snub, controversy, LBJ, MLK, Martin Luther King, Lyndon Johnson, Edmund Pettis Bridge, Bloody Sunday, movie, Atlanta, Civil Rights

John Lewis was the youngest of the Big Six leaders, just 25 when the events of ‘Selma’ took place. He is portrayed in the film by Stephan James, right.

Oscar snubs and LBJ controversy aside, the movie “Selma” brims with examples of undeniable greatness. We Atlantans have special interest and pride, perhaps, with our singular connection to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Era.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis is portrayed in the film as the brave and smart young man he was. He led that infamous Bloody Sunday march depicted in the film and almost paid with his life. Lewis has long been a hero for me and countless others here in Atlanta, known in the ’60s as The City Too Busy to Hate.

My friend Will Alford shared the following account on Facebook this week.

Selma, MLK, Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Bloody Sunday, Oscar, LBJ, controversy

Will Alford

Saw Selma last night…. In my trips from Atlanta to DC, I often see John Lewis and other congressmen in the airport and/or on flights. (I always take note of which ones accept the inevitable/eventual upgrade to first class that frequent fliers get). The best encounter was one time en route back to Atlanta — just a random week. After most of the plane had boarded, Rep. Lewis was making his way down the aisle to his seat in the back, and every single row stood as he passed in respect for him. Nobody else gets that kind of reaction. He was humble, sweet, patient… and spoke to every single person who reached out to him (like all politicians do). He seemed like some kind of holy man that day where everyone just wanted a touch. History in the flesh. I couldn’t stop myself from obnoxiously turning to my seatmate and bragging, “He’s my congressman.”

I’ve had the pleasure a few times myself, and it is a powerfully humbling experience just to meet Lewis. Thanks, Will, for letting me share your story.


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5 Fast Facts: Atlanta BeltLine by the Numbers Infographic

I love the Atlanta BeltLine and I’ve been writing about it a lot lately, here and for Coca-Cola. I thought I’d share in a different way a few of the fun facts given by the project’s communications staff, so I put together this little infographic.

I included many more numbers in the two articles I wrote about the BeltLine for Coca-Cola’s Journey website. The second part is up now, examining the challenges ahead and highlighting the enthusiasm Atlantans have for the “emerald necklace.” I hope you’ll go there to read it, share it and comment on it.

Atlanta-BeltLine

EARLIER: Part One of Coca-Cola’s Look at the BeltLine

EARLIER: Building the ‘BeltLine Culture’ VIDEO

EARLIER:  Journalists offer advice for the BeltLine