2013 in words

It's been a busy 2013. I've written a whole bunch of stories along the way for Creative Loafing and some other lovely publications. There's been hundreds of articles that have allowed me to understand Atlanta far better than ever before. A few stories also gave me an excuse to travel throughout the South and back home to Chicago.

As the year winds down, I compiled a few of my favorite ones (in chronological order) just in case you missed 'em throughout the past year. Hope you enjoy a few. See you in 2014.

Longform:

-The Past, Present, and Future of Grady Memorial Hospital: A three-part series on Atlanta's largest hospital. (Creative Loafing)
-South By Southwest: Is It Worth It?: Artists, industry figures, and 40 Austin-bound musicians weigh in. (Consequence of Sound)
-Trying to Make It at SXSW: An Atlanta band, filmmaker, and entrepreneur hit up Austin's 2013 mega-conference. Was it worth it? (CL)
-The Fight For Wilcox County's First Integrated Prom: Last month, black and white students from a tiny south Georgia county attended prom together for first time. Was this a big step away from the past or a small aberration in a community doomed to repeat it? (Buzzfeed)
-Lauryn Hill’s Rise And Fall, 15 Years After The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill: Despite the tumultuous, and at times mysterious, struggles surrounding the former Fugees emcee and Grammy Award winner, it’s easy to forget how much she mattered at the height of her career. (Stereogum)
-Neko Case: Through the Woods: On her latest record, Neko Case provides listeners with a rare glimpse into her personal world that, in many ways, exemplifies why she’s one of today’s finest songwriters. (Consequence of Sound)
-Jeff Fuqua, Atlanta's Most Controversial Developer:  After 25 years, more than 8 million square feet, and lots of opposition, few have shaped the city like Fuqua. (CL)
-Atlanta chases its Silicon Valley dreams: Hundreds of new companies and dozens of co-working spaces are making Atlanta a Southern startup hot spot. (CL)
-How Spotify Engineered the New Music Economy: In a post-Napster music industry, Spotify seems to have concocted a winning monetization formula, but not all its participants are happy with the numbers. (Mashable)
-Braves New World: A tax-averse suburban county is clamoring to build a publicly funded stadium, a professional baseball team is fleeing a resurgent city, and the mayor seems cool with demolishing a 16-year-old former Olympic complex. Welcome to Bizarroville. (CL)

Other stories:

-Why Dualtone Matters: Despite Grammy-level success, tiny Nashville label Dualtone still remains under the radar. (Nashville Scene)
-A Farewell Transmission: Thoughts on Jason Molina's Passing. (Paste)
-Mayor Reed's 140-character evolution: @KasimReed's once-lonely tweets have become something greater. But what exactly? (CL)
-Step away from the trombone: Atlanta's panhandling ordinance snags street musicians. (CL)
-Robert Ellis Expands Beyond Country Roots: Nashville songwriter teams up with producer Jacquire King on forthcoming third LP. (Rolling Stone)
-This Georgia hospital shows why rejecting Medicaid isn’t easy: Grady may be forced to make service cuts in light of Georgia’s refusal to expand its Medicaid program. (Washington Post)
-Why Georgia can't kill Warren Lee Hill: The state's new lethal-injection law undermines its repeated attempts to kill one of its death row inmates. (CL)
-Man Man Tighten Up for On Oni Pond: Philly experimental rockers hope to shed preconceived notions with fifth LP. (Rolling Stone)
-Atlanta's largest nonprofit patrons: Few have shaped the city's philanthropic world like Robert Woodruff and Alicia Philipp. (CL/NPR affiliate WABE)
-Quitting Religion: At a certain point, God became god to me. (CL)

Quick Update

It's been a while since I've updated this blog. In recent months, I've written about Spotify, Neko Case, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, big-box developer Jeff Fuqua, Lauryn Hill, and many more. Below are some highlights.



Creative Loafing
Endorse Kasim? Yep: Reed has put the city on a great path - but there is much room for improvement.
Atlanta chases its Silicon Valley dreams: Hundreds of new companies and dozens of co-working spaces are making Atlanta a Southern startup hot spot.
Jeff Fuqua: Atlanta's Most Controversial Developer: After 25 years, more than 8 million square feet, and lots of opposition, few have shaped the city like Fuqua.
Atlanta's largest nonprofit patrons: Few have shaped the city's philanthropic world like Robert Woodruff and Alicia Philipp.
Georgia risks passing up millions of dollars in funding to stop foreclosures: Housing advocates say program requirements are too strict, state not on track to meet 2017 deadline. 
Why Georgia can't kill Warren Lee Hill: The state's new lethal-injection law undermines its repeated attempts to kill one of its death row inmates.
Chip Rogers' Golden Parachute Broadcast: The former state Senator finally goes on the air at GPB.


Elsewhere
MashableHow Spotify Engineered the New Music Economy.
Consequence of Sound: Neko Case's August cover story
Stereogum: Lauryn Hill’s Rise And Fall, 15 Years After The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.
Rolling Stone: Man Man Tighten Up for 'On Oni Pond.'
WABE (Atlanta's NPR affiliate): The Historical Heavy Hitters

Medicaid expansion story for The Washington Post

Remember all the reporting I did earlier this year on Grady Memorial Hospital for Creative Loafing? Well, it ended up turning into one more piece. The kind folks at The Washington Post ran my story, "This Georgia hospital shows why rejecting Medicaid isn’t easy."

Here's a snippet:

 The Affordable Care Act was originally written such that every state would have to accept a Medicaid expansion. But the Supreme Court struck down that part of the law last year. The result is an unexpected bind for safety-net hospitals in states that are refusing Medicaid. How bad of a bind? Just look at the choices facing Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital. 

 Grady, Georgia’s largest hospital, with more than 950 beds, has long been considered the backbone of metro Atlanta’s health-care system. It serves about 600,000 patients every year, trains one-quarter of Georgia’s physicians and provides medical care to more uninsured patients than any other hospital in the state. 

 But like a number of other safety-net hospitals nationwide that provide uncompensated care to uninsured patients, Grady may be forced to make service cuts in light of Georgia’s refusal to expand its Medicaid program. 

 The state’s leaders have steadfastly opposed expanding Medicaid since expansion became an option last summer. Because of that development, Grady officials say that the Affordable Care Act could now be the worst thing to happen to the hospital — an 121-year-old institution that’s all too familiar with financial struggles.

Check out the full story over at The Washington Post's Wonkblog.

Rolling Stone story on Robert Ellis

Photo by Max Blau
I recently traveled up to Nashville for RollingStone.com to report on songwriter Robert Ellis' forthcoming record. Here's an excerpt:

At first glance, singer-songwriter Robert Ellis' decision to move last November from Houston to Nashville didn't seem surprising.

The 24-year-old Texas native, who honed his chops as a younger artist during a weekly classic country showcase called "Whiskey Wednesday," had spent the better part of the last two years on the road with bands such as the Alabama Shakes, Old Crow Medicine Show and the Old 97's. With a rich croon and charismatic onstage persona, Ellis appeared to be songwriter who could follow in George Jones' or Kris Kristofferson's footsteps.

But Ellis didn't come to Nashville to pursue a mainstream country career. As the songwriter readies his third record, he says that he wants something beyond a traditional Nashville career path. For him, that starts by breaking past the strong country influences found in his early work.

"I wanted to break it down," Ellis says. "I don't want people to think of this record as coming from classic country influence. Obviously it's a part of who I am, but I want them to hear the other stuff."

You can read the full thing here.

An overdue update

It's been a minute since I've shared some stories here. Rather than create several individual posts, I've compiled them all for you to take a look at.

First, there's all the daily articles I write for Creative Loafing. You can read all of them here, but below are some of my favorites:

Why Atlanta is taking tiny bits of info very seriously: City Hall throws its arms around hackers and learns to love data
Mayor Reed's 140-character evolution@KasimReed's once-lonely tweets have become something greater. But what exactly?
Clean up Cheshire Bridge? Two ordinances threatening red-light district's adult shops would set a bad precedent for the city
Hero of Summer: Hannah Tarr, the Corn Dog Princess
2013 Golden Sleaze awards: Recognizing the Georgia's worst state lawmakers
Final Four players should strike: Without NCAA reform, drastic action is needed
An interview with a neighbor, Dave Blanchard: Brick Store Pub co-founder has big hopes for a revitalized Avondale Estates

Over the past few months, I've also started writing for some new websites:

Buzzfeed (longform section): The Fight For Wilcox County’s First Integrated Prom
Stereogum: Deconstructing: Daft Punk, Will Oldham, And Two Decades Of Mysterious Musicianship
Stereogum: Deconstructing: Jason Molina, Uninsured Musicians, And The Importance Of Health Care
The Huffington Post: Euphonia Director Danny Madden Explores How Technology Impacts Personal Relationships
L.A. Weekly: Eleanor Friedberger Comes Into Her Own
Under The Radar: Interviews with Marnie Stern and The Besnard Lakes

More to come, and until next time, enjoy.

Trying To Make It At SXSW

Over 10 days, I followed an Atlanta band, filmmaker, and startup through their SXSW experiences. I wrote about it all for this week's Creative Loafing cover and took plenty of photos along the way.



Every March, hundreds of thousands of musicians, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs from around the world descend on Austin, Texas, in hopes of being discovered at South by Southwest. Now in its 27th year, the once-local festival has swelled to a nearly $200 million economic behemoth for Texas' capital city — up from $113 million just three years ago. That money largely comes from corporations and industry giants that, in turn, plaster the city with their iconic logos. This year, concertgoers watched musicians perform on a stage erected inside a six-story Doritos vending machine. Web geeks waited in a four-block line to share an Instagram photo taken with Grumpy Cat, the real-life version of the Internet meme. The conference's interactive component has particularly grown over the past five years, creating opportunities for emerging social media startups such as Twitter and Foursquare to become industry titans.

But with each passing year, name-brand business's hold on the festival gets tighter, leaving dwindling opportunities for the independent artists SXSW originally set out to promote. Media companies rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars at the annual event, while individual creators usually leave with less in their pockets than when they arrived. Nevertheless, the allure of the breakout SXSW appearance compels legions of musicians, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs to make the trek.

This year, CL followed a group of Atlantans trying to make it at the 10-day festival: local band Dog Bite, euphonia director Danny Madden, and entrepreneur/N4MD co-founder James Harris. Everyone had the potential to make an impact in Austin, but even those with serious talent can get lost in the chaos. (Read the full story here)

Vulture debut

My first article for Vulture took a thorough look for what the most repetitive song on Justin Timberlake’s very repetitive album was:
Justin Timberlake has made his career off of being repetitive. This recurring tendency in his songs dates back to his earliest days as a teen sensation when tearing up N’SYNC fans’ hearts with earworm hooks. He’s continued this habit well into his solo career. Along the way, he’s told an ex to cry a river, brought sexy back, and implored that his love not be given away. It’s never once or twice, but rather dozens of times or more, just to make sure he’s been heard. And to a degree, it works. The former boy wonder turned Top 40 savant is up to his old tricks on his latest record, The 20/20 Experience. We brought out the abacus and went deep on the album, logging each word or phrase said ten times or more. (Two songs — "Spaceship Coupe" and "Blue Ocean Floor" — are fairly repetition free.)
See the full post here.
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