Yeah, I know, a day late, but it’s here! I’m on a tight schedule this week. I fell a chapter behind last week with John’s funeral and all the prep for that, so I have two chapters to do this week, plus getting ready for Halloween and a few other odds and ends. Busy, busy, busy!
So without further ado, here’s this week’s Mug Shot!
I’ve been to Underground Atlanta many times. It’s a mall in the heart of downtown at Five Points, where five main streets meet or cross. The underground mall is built over underground “streets” that were part of Atlanta’s passenger train station before they went underground. In the 1920s, the streets were built up with viaducts to level the roads for better flow and the merchants moved up to the new street level, creating an underground level. Merchants used the storefronts on the underground level for storage and moved their businesses up to the main streets. In 1968, the whole section was reopened as an underground center for retail and entertainment. Underground was closed in 1980 for the construction of the MARTA rapid transit lone, but it reopened in 1989, having been out on the National List of Historic Places for the significant infrastructure and railroad historic past. I went to Underground Atlanta for the first time in October, 19898.
But the first story this mug brings to mind with a huge smile, is from 1996, well, 1995 THEN 1996.
The Olympics were coming to Atlanta. That had been such a huge deal every time I visited the city since being awarded the Olympics. On the top level of Underground The Olympic Experience had opened up where visitors could purchase commemorative everything for the Olympics. There are a few other mugs to tell about that! But the significance of the Olympics now, is that’s why we were there at the end of 1995. I thought it would be fun to welcome the Olympic year in the Olympic city!
I started planning in the beginning of October. We’d stay at The Suites Hotel at Underground. It was the only hotel that was actually at Underground Atlanta and we could just walk from our rooms to the giant party at Underground that went all day and culminated in the big Peach Drop at the center of Underground. I made the plan, figured the ballpark total cost and the prices for plane and hotel and made the flyers. It ended up being John, Heather H, Tracy, Rich, Jeff T, Jeff’s then girlfriend, Jeanne, who is now Mrs. T and Me!
It turned out a good thing that we were staying at Underground for several reasons. First off, once the New Years Eve festivities officially started, Underground was roped off with ID checkpoints. For the evening, it was a party you had to have an official wristband for and 21 and over mall! But we started sampling the fruits of the mall’s entertainment before that!
Tracy, Heather and I met Dave and Dee and their just over year-old twins for lunch a MARTA stop away while Jeanne and the guys went to Hooters at Underground. They were craving football and hot wings. I know the guys were not going there to drool. There are just no other good restaurants at Underground. (And I’m making it clear that’s sarcasm because there are FABULOUS restaurants at Underground!) When we all met back up after lunch, we discovered Fat Tuesdays.
Fat Tuesdays is basically a long counter of slushie machines – alcoholic slushies! We all tried some. Very good! By the end of New Years Eve, I think we’d tried all the flavors! We’d stocked the bathtub beer wine coolers and a couple bottles of champagne for toasting at midnight. There’s another good reason we were staying at Underground. The crowds at the MARTA station not withstanding, although no one got sloppy drunk, I don’t know that any pf us were in trustworthy shape for navigation!
We had dinner at Dante’s Down The Hatch. Dante’s is a Jazz-Fondue restaurant that is built to look like you’re dining on an old ship. I don’t think the one in Underground is open anymore, but the one in Buckhead is! We had a really nice dinner and I think most of us too home souvenir glasses! Then we went back up to the guys’ room, where we’d stocked the tub. Jeff’s brother, who lived in Atlanta joined us for the evening too and we all had a few drinks in the room before returning to the party.
Once the party was really going, it was loud and festive and CROWDED! After a trip back to Fat Tuesdays for more slushies, we agreed that we’d all meet near the Peach Drop site before midnight and ventured off into the party atmosphere. Tracy, Heather and I went into the center of Kenny’s Alley, where all the bars and restaurants were and where a crowd made up almost a mosh pit of dancing to Devo’s Whip It. We were thinking we’d cross over to the other end and ventured in. We got caught up in the dance and totally lost each other. I figured we’d all find each other again on the other side and danced along moving in that direction. When the song was over, we did find ourselves all together again, in front of Fat Tuesdays. The crowd dancing had turned us all in circles and we ended up right back where we started! We decided we didn’t need to go to the other side and bought more slushies!
When our group reconvened in at the spot we’d watch the Peach Drop from, Rich shrieked, “THE CHAMPAGNE!” He said he’d run up to the room to get it.
Now, the Suites Hotel had one elevator, lots of guests there for the New Years Eve party and our champagne was on the tenth floor. That one elevator was moving VERY slow! Rich waited for a while, nervously looking at his watch as it ticked on to midnight. He ran to the stairs, up to the 10th floor and grabbed the champagne. Then he ran down 10 floors of stairs and back across the walkway and down to where we all were with 2 minutes to spare before the each fell! He panted until 1996, but had caught his breath back in time to open that champagne and toast the New Year as the peach fell and the fireworks started.
Once back in the hotel, we looked out the window at the stopped traffic on Peachtree Street and the huge crowd of people waiting to get into the MARTA station and were glad we were staying at Five Points. We also, as we sat sipping from the beer, wine coolers and another bottle of Asti Spumante from the bathtub, realized that we’d had an early dinner at Dante’s and were somewhat picked and hungry. Jeff grabbed the phone and called for pizza.
If you’re painting the picture of this scene in your head, you know the streets are a parking lot and there is still barely room to move in the line into the subway. There are some great restaurants that have now all closed, at Underground and there is NO pizza place at Underground. Dominos Pizza told Jeff that they couldn’t deliver to The Suites hotel at Underground.
This became a “Let me talk to your manager,” issue with Jeff, who insisted on having him paged when he was told the manager wasn’t in. Jeff explained that there was a roomful of drunk people who needed food to sober up and it was their fault if we never sobered up. He went on to inform the poor manager that we were from Michigan and could easily report him to the owner of the franchise in Ann Arbor. You just can’t deny people from Michigan Detroit-style pizza when they travel! The manager asked for his address and said he’d send some coupons for free pizza. Jeff gave him his address and seemed satisfied. Honestly, no one was THAT drunk and Jeff was just being mischievous, but it was a fun prank for everyone, even, I think, the Dominos manager. He might still tell the story about the insane Michiganders to his friends.
We ended up emptying the mini bars in both rooms and crunching candy, chips and macadamia nuts and boy we went to town at the complimentary breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant that went with our stay! We had a great time and learned a valuable lesson this trip – when you buy the New Years Eve booze, BUY MUCHIES!!