Talk of the Town - I'm out -- for now September 16 2000

Big Apple beckons

Last Friday, Sept. 8, I turned 27 years old. I lived in Atlanta for that entire time, and I love the ATL. It is my town. I know all the streets, all the restaurants, all the people. But last week, I moved to New York City to helm the website for Slam magazine, the coolest basketball magazine on the planet. (Shameless plug alert: The address is www.slamonline.com.) It was my choice to leave Atlanta, and it was the hardest choice I've ever had to make.

Atlanta is a town that's easy to be comfortable in. You have your cars and your friends and your haunts. And they don't change. Somehow, over the last 27 years, I was able to go from being a healthy baby born at Piedmont Hospital to being a weekly columnist in Georgia's second-largest newspaper. I was happy and fulfilled, and had no plans to leave.

And then came the offer from Slam, which came at the same time the love of my life, Isabel Gonzalez, got an offer to move to New York and work for Teen People. It took me months to make my choice, and it was the hardest decision I've ever had to make. But ultimately, I thought that I needed a challenge.

So now I get to start all over again in one of the biggest cities in the world. I'm in New York, and I don't know any streets, any restaurants or (hardly) any people. Although I have met a few random celebrities — Kyle McLachlan, Dominick Dunne, Ted Koppel — I don't foresee myself partying at Tavern on the Green with Koppel any time soon.

One of the toughest things about my adjustment to New York has been trying to understand the rhythms and patterns of the Big Apple. For example, in Atlanta I've never seen people who, while walking their dogs, trail the pooches with a plastic grocery sack in their hands. Then, once the dog craps, they pick it up. In their hands! Sure they have the grocery sack there, like some sort of cheap latex glove, but they are still holding dog crap. In their hands.

Transportation is another bizarre aspect of this town. I left my trusty Jeep Wrangler behind so now I'm forced to find alternate modes of transportation, namely a cab or the subway.

Though it is cost-efficient, riding the subway is a test of patience. The stations themselves are dank, underground, dungeon-like structures with no air circulation. The subway cars — well, most of them — do have air conditioning, but by the time I get to work, I've usually sweat through my shirt. I can also take a cab, which costs about $6 each way. The only problem is the Manhattan gridlock, which makes it take about 30 minutes to go 20 blocks.

Cab drivers are a breed of their own. They've tried to rip me off three times by going the wrong direction, but I've caught them each time. Then, last night, my cab driver tailed another car for several blocks, before our cab pulled alongside the guy so the cabbie could yell "Bitch!" out the window at the civilian.

But it's not all negative. A few nights ago I awoke at 4 a.m. with cottonmouth and walked across the street to the deli on the corner to grab a Coke. Amazingly, the streets are just as busy at 4 a.m. as they are at 4 p.m.

So, as I start trying to take my bite of the Big Apple, I'm grateful to the folk I'm leaving behind: my parents and family, my friends and everyone at CL. I'm planning to return to Atlanta one day because as much as I'm enjoying life in the city that never sleeps, I want to get my sleep on, too. Until I do return, all you people take care of each other. And me? I'll take Manhattan. For now, at least.

Hey Atlanta, thanks for everything. Let me know how you're doing. Call me at 404-688-5623 x. 1502, or e-mail me at lang@creativeloafing.com. I'm out.

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