Talk of the Town - Forces of nature April 15 2000

If a tree falls in the park...

The weird week that was last week here in Atlanta came crashing to an end Saturday, April 8, in Piedmont Park at the Dogwood Festival, when a 60-foot-tall tree snapped, crushing three festival tents and a golf cart.

Like most of the crowd at the festival Saturday, I was bundled against the cold and had my back turned when I heard a series of pops that sounded like firecrackers. I spun and saw the enormous tree on the ground, its limbs and leaves trembling. Though my journalistic instincts told me to run to the accident and get the stories of those trapped under the tree, my human instincts told me to pray and stay out of the way while the medical staff did their thing. Thankfully, aside from a few broken bones, there turned out to be no serious injuries.

Providing a counterpoint to those chilling events was FunkJazzKafe, which went down Saturday night at the Tabernacle. Once again, local promoter Jason Orr managed to create an inclusive, eclectic atmosphere - reflective of the diversity that is Atlanta. Though the event was not as jam-packed as usual, having less people actually made for a more intimate affair: It was easier to mingle, meet and prattle.

The surprises of the evening were performances by soul diva Erykah Badu and rapper Common. Though Common's appearance was basically just that - a quick appearance - Badu showcased an extended set of tunes from her forthcoming record. With her hair hanging down to her shoulders, instead of hiding in her usual mile-high hair wrap, Badu appeared confident and assured. Probably because there were no 60-foot-tall trees around.

Chop Notes: Seriously though, it did remain clear enough for the Atlanta Braves to get it on at Turner Field all week. A few random notes from Opening Day Y2K: We can all rest peacefully now that Turner Beach is finally open for business. There's nothing like modern-day baseball. ... Nineteen-year-old rookie infielder Rafael Furcal makes me feel old. The Dominican speedster is going to be incredible, maybe sooner than later. ... Even though I was at the Braves classic game six against the Mets in last year's playoffs, the loudest ovation I've ever heard in Turner Field came when Andres Galarraga hit the game-winning home run against the Colorado Rockies, capping his return from his bout with cancer. The smile on Cat's face as he emerged from the dugout for his curtain call was worth every penny of my ticket price.

Adios, mi amigo: Atlanta's Hispanic business community is reeling from the loss of Dayton Hedges, who died last Monday after a Cessna he was piloting crashed shortly after take-off. The Hedges Construction Co. is one of the nation's largest minority-owned contracting firms. A former board member of the Atlanta Hipanic Chamber of Commerce, Hedges was responsible for helping Atlanta secure the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce national convention, to be held here September 2001. Mayoral candidate Robb Pitts and former board chairwoman Anna Cablik were among those mourning the loss at a moving funeral service last Thursday in Peachtree City. Hedges was 35.

This and That: Mike Malloy, the former Atlanta radio host who most recently was on air in Chicago at WLS-AM, mentioned during his last Chi-town broadcast that he was planning on coming to Atlanta to campaign for a slot on air at WCNN, which is converting to an African-American-based talk format. ... Former LaFace Records executive Daryl Simmons wed the former Ms. Fitness America, Cindy Ludy, last Saturday at the couple's Alpharetta home. ... The former Hedgerose in Buckhead has been transformed into Aria by We're Cookin' Inc., owners of Canoe and Fishbone Piranha Bar. The transformation was overseen by the Johnson Studio, led by popular local architect Bill Johnson. ... Word is that the Domus International furniture store on Piedmont is going to add a coffee bar to help attract a hipper, younger audience. ... The Atlantis Music Conference has extended its deadline for urban music acts interested in being a part of Atlantis 2000. The new final deadline is April 30. For more information, call the Atlantis office at 770-499-8600, or visit www.atlantismusic.com. ... I'm out.

What's up, Atlanta? Let me know what you want to read and hear about. Hit me up at 404-688-5623, fax me at 404-420-1402, or e-mail me at lang@creativeloafing.com.

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