This is a gigantic week for sports in Georgia, starting with the University of Georgia’s G-Day Game Saturday, and college basketball’s Final Four in Atlanta this weekend. The rest of the week? It’s all about Augusta and the Masters.
But there’s another sport that will be all too familiar to locals: Reading the various reviews of our community from visiting journalists.
The good news is that, because they’re typically published in those writers’ hometowns, we don’t always hear about them. The bad news is because of the Internet, we often do.
A hint of what’s ahead comes from the Syracuse Post-Standard, which published a guide this past week for Syracuse fans traveling to Atlanta for the Final Four. Former Augusta Chronicle reporter Ken Denney, now an editor with The Times-Georgian in Carrollton, passed along the link.
It’s pretty darn funny.
The article relies on Atlanta television reporter Donna Adamo as its source for information about Atlanta culture, based entirely on the fact that she previously lived in Syracuse and theoretically is able to translate.
If so, a lot gets lost in the process.
The reporter, thanks to Adamo’s advice, says “hardly anyone actually calls the city Atlanta,” instead calling it “The A,” “The A-T-L” or “A-Town.”
Huh? As an Atlanta resident scoffed on the story, “yes, people actually refer to their city as Atlanta – try ‘A-Town’ if you want to be shunned as a cross-eyed tourist.”
The guide also warns visitors that service everywhere, though delivered with a smile, is exceptionally slow – perhaps, it insinuates, because Southerners are all such dawdling, lazy porch-rockers. And we never call anyone by their first name – it’s always “sir” and “ma’am,” or “Miss Sally.”
If only. I know plenty of folks from out in the country who still call each other by their first name preceded by a courtesy title. (Jeb Bell, Columbia County’s Wildwood Park manager, always calls me “Mr. Barry.”)
But in Atlanta? Ha. No.
And slow service? If the folks from Syracuse visit the Varsity, as another Atlanta resident urges, they’ll find the opposite. I remember as a kid my first visit to the Varsity being so bewildered by the rapid-fire banter from the man trying to take my order that I had to step out of line and try again later.
It was like taking a verbal SAT from an auctioneer.
Oh, and the reporter said no one blows their horns around here, either. Good luck with that.
All in all, the “guide” wasn’t really negative toward Atlanta – just quaintly misinformed. So as those out-of-town reporters descend on our community, let’s be on our best behavior so that they have only nice things to tell their folks back home.
And be sure to call them “ma’am” and “sir” when they blow their horns at you.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-868-1222, ext. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/