Category Archives: Bored?

The Tower

On the corner of a bustling Virginia-Highland intersection lies a set of worn stone steps. Trees line either side, masking all that lies beyond. The sight is mysterious, yet inviting. At the summit is an open lot enveloped with overgrown vines. It’s shady, with sunbeams peeking in through the canopy. Peaceful and still, there is no one in sight. But just beyond the vines and the brush, walls of gray stone and a dark wooden roof tower over the tallest of trees.

The Tower is not a house, but an art piece and work in progress. Jack Harich, a Georgia native, bought the lot in 1973 and began building two years later. Inspired by his motto “make it perpetually inspiring to live in,” Harich has been building the structure for the past four decades. He calls it a “design-as-you-go, pay-as-you-go, have fun type of art piece” — not a house.

“I just wanted to build something — build a house. Who’s to say why, but a lot of people build houses,” Harich says, reflecting on his motivation for beginning the project.

Harich sees his work as a craft, and for him, The Tower is a form of self- expression. The Tower has 100 tons of Cherokee marble and includes sections of White Oak and Yellow Pine. Each piece has been carefully integrated into the house to reflect Harich’s personality and creativity. The Tower’s form evolves as he does.

Harich’s first accomplishment was what he calls the stone circle. He originally designed it to be an outdoor accessory, but when he realized that it was a livable space, he continued to build around it. The stone circle now serves as stone pillars holding up the structure of the house. The stone circle, which now sits in the center of the lowest floor, is constructed of white marble for eight feet before it switches to wood. The structure is three stories high, shooting through the center of the house. At the top, Harich built the Crow’s Nest, a haven nestled away just beneath the roof. A wooden ladder ascends to a skylight that opens to the rooftop.

The base of the stone circle is now the core of the first floor – a space that Harich envisions to be his indoor workshop. It’s one of the largest open spaces in The Tower. And despite the Atlanta heat, the first floor will not contain air conditioning. The marble walls insulate the floor naturally through thermal mass, maintaining an average temperature of 56 degrees. The room will also have natural warming in the winter, retaining the heat. “You hardly have to heat it at all if you just bundle up a little in the winter,” Harich says. On the left is a section of the wall made entirely of thick translucent glass, allowing the sunshine to pour into the otherwise-dark lower level. Harich’s modern style incorporates two moon gates, which invite even more natural light to flow in, illuminating the room.

A wooden ladder from the outside leads upstairs. At the top, the light radiates through the windows constituting each of the main room’s walls. Harich says this room is meant to energize and inspire. The ceiling is awe-inspiring with grand arches and intricate carved designs. The wooden facade, sawed and nailed together by hand, took two years to complete. In 1995, Harich had twenty friends over for a weekend to help raise the timber frame. Six months later, Harich finished the joinery and decorative ceiling. Harich’s love for his wife, Martha, is palpable through the wooden carvings of hearts that crown each spectacular arch.

While the arched room is the most meaningful for Harich, the next room over, the guest room, is the most unique. Harich calls it the Tree Room. Built out of tree trunks, branches wind their way toward the ceiling. The tree trunks serve as a base to support the ceiling. With trees gracing outside the windows, the Tree Room becomes one with its surroundings.

And the artist? Jack is a jack of all trades. He’s as interesting as The Tower — maybe more so.

Meet Harich and find out the story behind The Tower here.

See the progress of the Tower over time:[timeline src=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AsOi4UlBn_w0dDFYSlhYRmdPRVFsc0EteFdPT1M4Z1E&output=html” width=”100%” height=”650″ font=”Bevan-PotanoSans” maptype=”toner” lang=”en” ]

Coffee is going gourmet

Octane Grant Park's cappuccino
Octane Grant Park’s cappucino

A good old-fashioned cup of joe is a part of many people’s daily morning routine, but according to a report by the National Coffee Association, demand for coffee is now going gourmet.

In 2013, consumption of traditional coffee decreased by 7% while consumption of gourmet coffee, like espresso or specialty pour over, increased.  Although these numbers represent nationwide trends, they are backed up by increasing demand for local, speciality coffee shops here in Atlanta.

coffee charts big

With the rise in consumption of gourmet coffee, the role of the coffee shop in society also seems to be changing.  Rather than serving as a quick pit-stop for a caffeine fix, the coffee shop now is becoming a gathering place for conversation and intermingling.  One might even argue it is the new social hotspot.

Local coffee shops in Atlanta are not hard to find, they exist in almost every neighborhood these days.  With that in mind, the shops discussed in this piece are merely a sampling of the ever-growing coffee shop culture.  But, if you are looking for a good cup of gourmet pour-over coffee, a latte with perfect foam, or just a barista who knows so much about coffee that it verges on intimidating, they are a good place to start.

            In Decatur, the Dancing Goats Coffee Bar draws a unique mix of academics from Emory and Agnes Scott, families who live in the area, yogis from the studio next-door, and professionals utilizing the free internet connection.  With its airy interior and friendly baristas, Dancing Goats is arguably the most simple of the coffee shops on this list.  Its beverages are mostly ones that everyone recognizes, and while the baristas undoubtedly know a lot about coffee, they do not seem to possess any sense of superiority from that knowledge.

            Since its opening in 2007, the shop has continued to grow, opening another location across town in 2012.  It attracts a nearly constant stream of customers, who come mostly for  its espresso beverages (although the locally-made doughnuts it serves have their own following).  And, the baristas at the shop recognize that they have filled a sort of niche.

Across town at Octane Coffee in Grant Park, pour over seems to be the main attraction for the young, hip crowd that can be found chatting around the tables in its large warehouse-like space.  With the Little Tart Bakeshop’s headquarters also in the shop, customers can get both coffee and a meal like a granola and yogurt bowl or a warm quiche.  This seems to make the shop even more of a gathering place, a function that continues at night, when it becomes a cocktail bar.

Similarly, Condesa Coffee in the Old Fourth Ward attracts a young crowd, though it seems that many come to the shop to work rather than to socialize.  There are often meetings around the bigger tables while the bars by the windows are filled with people on laptops.  The food served is made with all local ingredients like Atlanta Fresh Yogurt and, like Octane, the bar serves cocktails instead of coffee at night.

For a different coffee shop experience in Atlanta, the Chattahoochee Coffee Company is located right alongside the Chattahoochee River about 20 minutes outside of downtown.  Hidden away in an apartment complex, the shop has some small food items as well as French press coffee and espresso drinks—more specifically, strong espresso drinks.  The environment is relaxed with some people working, but most socializing, oftentimes heading down to the Adirondack chairs that sit right by the river.

With all of these options for coffee shops in Atlanta, and more and more popping up all the time, it is easy to see that local coffee shops, at least in this city, really are flourishing.  And, while each shop has a different feel, one attribute they share is their dedication to gourmet coffee.

What do you do in a Basement?

            Rainbow-colored laser lights and theatrical fog scintillate through the thick throng of sweaty bodies. Two cobalt-clad girls pop their intertwined bodies in perfect synchronization, while one man in a wheelchair receives a lap dance from whom I surmise is a stranger. Unconventional electronic dance music vibrates from the powerful subs on the small stage to the enthralled audience.

“We do it for the love y’all,” one DJ alongside Amerigo Gazaway exclaims.

For $10 per ticket and free parking, the Binary EDM mini festival at The Basement was very reasonable for the customers, but probably not for the DJs or employees of the music venue.  While club scenes generally generate a large portion of their money from booze, and despite offering a full bar, water was mostly the only beverage consumed.

“It’s a great venue,” Nate Kieser, a professional photographer and venue promoter, says of The Basement, “very up and coming.”

Since its opening in 2011, The Basement has hosted alternative DJs and live bands several nights a week. The concert venue is located in East Atlanta, a few miles from the Bohemian enclave of Little Five Points.

The neighborhood of late-night bars and closely packed houses is gritty, but the people are very friendly. Immediately upon finding The Basement, which is literally the basement of the Graveyard Tavern, I was greeted by several members of the friendly staff. In fact, the majority of the people I met were working the mini festival at The Basement.

“It was even more dead earlier,” says Michael Straub, who operates an LED accessory vendor called Man Cave through Amazon. There were roughly 50 people in the venue by the end of the night. Straub adds, “This is the only kind of crowd I can sell this stuff to.”

The Basement may not be an overflowing, trendy Atlanta nightclub, but it is an up and coming Atlanta hippie music scene. There was mostly an alternative EDM crowd you might expect at Electric Forest. A few underage kids in matching striped tank tops and Wayfarer sunglasses trickled in, but none made it until the end of the night. The music enthusiasts meandered aimlessly around The Basement as if it were their own.

Lounge seating, pool tables, arcade machines, and a full bar are all scattered throughout the venue. Graffiti, like “you are beautiful” and “stop fucking musicians,” is written on almost all available spaces. Skeleton figurines sat among the many beer bottles behind the bar. The concrete floor is surprisingly clean, but the bathroom is nightmarish— it doesn’t even have a sink.

The center of gravity is the dance floor. Most of the people were exceptionally talented at breakdancing or twerking, while the other people were free and unpretentious with their movements. Both types of dancing are engaging to watch.

A 60-year old couple, a lesbian couple, and a bi-racial couple were among the diverse, and extremely welcoming, crowd. At least a third of the people approached me to actually initiate a conversation. At many club scenes in Atlanta people are too busy spilling their drinks and staring at their phones to dance or talk to new people.

In contrast to venues like Opera, The Basement isn’t well advertised. While the non-traditional spirit of the devotees of EDM suggests they wouldn’t want it to be too publicized, the venue would benefit from some additional attention.

“I found it on Facebook,” Straub says, “I’d never even heard of it before this event.”

The Basement deserves recognition simply because, besides the quirky vibe, it has an excellent sound stage. A variety of EDM culture was represented with bass, jam, dubstep, TRAP, glitch, hip-hop, live-electronics, and jam. The all-around atmosphere of The Basement is progressive.

“At least one more hour!” one fan yells in response to the ending show. The newly formed circle of friends appear sincerely saddened to leave.

 

 

Friday night at Church

It’s Friday in Atlanta, and you’re sick of dinner and a movie. Take a walk down Edgewood and you’ll see a sign for “Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium.”
Known to savvy, ATL locals as “Church”, this bar is known for its quirky features like church organ karaoke.

  1. “Church” was spontaneously founded in 2010 by a former divinity student named Grant Henry. (His alter ego is “Sister Louisa”, a fallen nun turned folk artist)
  2. The New York Times describes Church as a place that, “..plays with, and spoofs, church culture. Karaoke is
    performed in choir robes, and walls are decorated with faux-religious pop art.”
  3. Jesus was a hippie
    hanging out with the people at the Chapel Bar at CHURCH. pic.twitter.com/ifgdmwMywi
  4. His bar became so successful, it’s open on almost every holiday. So if you have been searching for a hiding place during Christmas/Thanksgiving/50th birthday parties, now you know about Church.
  5. CHURCH
    Open 365 days a year:
    That means Christmas Eve.
    That means Christmas.
    That means New Years Eve.
    That means New Years Day.
    GETCHER>
  6. I mean, if it’s good enough for Jessica Alba, it should be good enough for you.
  7. Artwork, religion, and booze, y’all.

    No,this is not the service entry way.
  8. One of my favorite #bars in #Atlanta @ Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium  http://instagram.com/p/jW76cUpyQZ/ 
  9. Have a hankering for harmonicas?
  10. Atlanta nightlife
  11. How about doing a little this?
  12. Monday Night Ping Pong Tournament @ Sister Louisa’s CHURCH
  13. And listening to this? …….It will sound a little better after you’ve had a few
  14. Krystal Woods singing karaoke at Sister Louisa’s Church. At
  15. Don’t let the title fool you. There is next to nothing holy about this place
  16. Earliest I’ve ever been to church on a Sunday #brodown @ Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and…  http://instagram.com/p/jV00tgKLLz/ 
  17. Not your cup of tea? Well, have a nice day, they aren’t changing for anyone.
  18. ADDEA Restaurant Winner
  19. So if you find Sunday services lackluster, try Jesus with a side of whiskey!