Atlanta Day 3: Cyclorama, World of Coca Cola, CNN Center, and Downtown in General

These pictures accompany the day's narrative.

We started the day eating a breakfast of Dekalb Market leftovers in our hotel room. We had: focaccia, a chocolate-coconut macaroon, a cheese danish, tiramisu, an almond date cake, and some grapes. Everything we had yesterday tasted the same as I described yesterday; the only notable difference was the focaccia, which smelled strongly yet still tasted the same. The almond date cake was new: it was sticky and had a fun liveliness like a slab of dried fruit formed into a bar, then with added nuts.

Grant Park & Cyclorama
After breakfast, we headed to Grant Park. Along the way, we passed through another area of nice houses. Once in Grant Park, we walked this route to the Civil War Museum and its cyclorama, the centerpiece of the museum. A cyclorama is a large cylindrical painting. (The paint is on the inside; people stand in the middle.)

Due to a recent change of policy, the museum wasn't supposed to be open on Mondays. However, the museum staff specially opened the museum for a class field trip. Even though the students never showed (!), the staff decided to be nice and keep the museum open for us few tourists who happened to be around.

Before seeing the cyclorama, we examined the tiny museum, filled with photographs, diagrams of battle plans (Grant Park was a battlefield!), and the train from the great locomotive chase (the actual event, not the movie).

Then we entered the platform in the center of the cyclorama.

Seeing the cyclorama, The Battle of Atlanta, was quite a theatrical experience. The room began entirely dark. As a narrator (actually James Earl Jones) told the story of the history of the cyclorama, parts of the painting were lit up. The audio used surround sound well: for instance, in discussing a battle portrayed in the painting, I could hear the sounds of horses and gunshots from behind us.

I learned some interesting facts about the painting:

  • It's a big oil painting on linen, standing 42' high and 356' around the circumference. It's supposedly the world's largest painting.
  • Although a fad in the nineteenth century, only three cycloramas survive in the country. There's only twenty left in the world. I was in Quebec last year. It turns out one of the few remaining cycloramas, the Cyclorama of Jerusalem, in North America was nearby.
  • It appears 3-d because of a 30' deep diorama in front of the painting, including model figures, dirt, and railroads. The diorama blends well with the painting. The diorama used to be made of dirt, tree stumps, and so on, but they had problems with rodents and insects so it was redone with fiberglass.
  • The cyclorama was commissioned by a military officer who participated in the battle as part of his political campaign. It portrays how Atlanta burned in the Civil War ("War Between The States") during Sherman's March to the Sea. He wanted to show the role he played in the battle.
  • Since it's a circular painting, an entrance was needed to get the public inside and out. To solve this problem, the painters painted a wagon door in one segment of the painting and cut out the canvas from inside the door. We, however, didn't get to enter through the door; rather, we walked beneath the painting and climbed some stairs up into the center.
  • The landscape, horses, and people were all done by separate artists. Perhaps this division of labor--in which each person does only and exactly what he or she is good at--should be tried with modern pieces of art, whether large or small. It might improve the quality (not that I'm claiming art not done in this way is bad quality). We might live in a too individualistic time, however, for artists to be willing to share the task of producing art.
We then drove downtown and strolled, walking this route. Sometime while walking we spotted a piece of art made in the pointillist style using fragments of newsprint. Neat. This might've been in the lobby of the Atlanta Insurance building: it displayed some artwork.

We walked through the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, a historic district. Although it had some plaques, I was generally disappointed with it. In general it doesn't look very historic--in fact, it looks pretty shoddy. The old Cocoa Cola old plant, seemingly located in a house, wasn't worth photographing. Later I learned the important, historic, pleasant section of Sweet Auburn was further east. I visited it on day five.

Our walking took us to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market in time for a late lunch. It's a little market with some freshly cooked and some prepared foods. It's certainly no Dekalb, but it's still decent.

We gathered food from a variety of stalls.
  • Roasted chicken: very good, moist.
  • Collard greens: very good. Puts the ones from last night's visit to Colonnade to shame.
  • Cabbage: fine. Di Yin likes.
  • Flattened corn bread (johnny cake) - more like a corn muffin.
  • Crab cake: good, though a bit fatty.
  • Berry smoothie.
We passed up on the Afro-Cuban stall serving oxtail and goat stews. The weather was too hot for such heavy food.

We walked past the Capitol, but didn't have time to explore the museum inside.

In front of the capitol was a solitary man wearing a noose and shackles. It wasn't obvious to me what statement he was making. Later in the week, I saw the local news interview him. Apparently Georgia legislators are considering a bill to apologize for slavery. He was lobbying in favor of the bill.

Coca-Cola Museum
The Coca-Cola Museum was neat: a comprehensive history of the evolution of the drink, the company, the brand, the advertising strategy, and more. I particularly enjoyed the exhibits showing how the brand's colors and advertising artwork have changed over time. Supplementing this exhibit was a theater showing television ads. It's interesting to see how Coke advertises itself differently in different countries, and how those ads have changed over the previous several decades.

They had various tasting rooms. One room included many of the drinks the Coca-Cola company sells all over the world: dozens upon dozens of these specialized drinks for particular tastes. I had no conception of the sheer number of such products. Some I spotted and decided to write down: ginger beer, krest ginger ale, fanta tropical, smart watermelon (sold in China) (I tried), fanta passion fruit (I tried), smart apple (sold in China) (I tried: good, not too sweet; wish I could get it around here), and lift apple (sold in Mexico) (I tried: more cidery than China's version).

Sometimes it's interesting to see the sorts of objects for sale in a museum shop. This museum's offerings included sprite, tab, and hi-c t-shirts (all reasonable product ideas, though I've never seen anybody wearing one), and coca-cola shot glasses (huh).

From the Coca-Cola Museum, we walked through a sketchy area with people hawking electronics (this is an adjunct to Atlanta Underground, which I'd formally visit later in the week), passed the Atlanta Journal-Constitution building (wholly unremarkable), passed the State Bar of Georgia building (with an unusual monument out front--what does it signify?), and arrived at the CNN Center. Next to the CNN Center was a restaurant, Golden Buddha, which advertised Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Sushi. I guess people in Atlanta aren't usually any more specific when they go out to eat than simply saying they want Asian food. I'd be surprised if this place were any good.

CNN Center
The CNN Center, world headquarters of CNN, offered tours. Cameras weren't allowed. After going through a metal detector and bag inspection, we got to see one news room (usually used for weather reports) with a green screen. I learned that the teleprompter displays 150-175 words per minute, with only three or four words per line in order to minimize eye movement. The prompts are read via a mirror so the telecaster's face isn't directly lit by the teleprompter. The teleprompter uses symbols to direct the telecaster to make dramatic gestures. For instance, a circle means push, as in push the clouds away for a weather forecaster.

We were shown the newsroom. It's a big room with no walls. Everyone works there: producers, directors, affiliate processors (i.e., they read the newswire), writers, copy editors, main desk, weather. Normally there's 75-100 people in the room. During major breaking news, the number can grow to three times that.

During the tour, we walked by a memento from Saddam's Airport. (I think it was the "M" from the airport sign.) It felt somehow wrong for a news organization to collect pieces of the news (i.e., items owned by a foreign, fallen government).

Something else on the tour also made me think: the televisions showing competitors' channels. While it's good to keep track of the competition, the guide said the monitoring is partially to "keep the news in line", which I take to mean both in line with what stories they're choosing to report and in line with the facts they're reporting. It feels almost like implicit convergence/consolidation of the media.

Turner Broadcasting owns not only the large CNN family such as CNN Espanol (whose newsroom we saw), CNN Money, and CNN International, but also channels I never associated with it such as the Cartoon Network and Court TV.

Some questions answered during the tour were clearly dodges, such as the third frequently asked anchor question. Also, I found it interesting to hear about the jargon that's evolved in the control room.

This time, the attached gift shop had shirts with important messages worth remembering: "find the facts" and "hold people in power accountable."

Leaving the CNN Center, we walked through Centennial Olympic Square/Park. There were many strange numbers embedded in the ground; I wonder what they mean. Regardless, the site would make a good Game clue.

In the evening, we returned to one pleasant district, Ponce de Leon, to go running among all the unique houses. We jogged this route.

For dinner, we revisited the Dekalb market for supplies. We then headed to our new hotel room in the Best Western in College Park and ended up eating:
  • tomato basil soup: thick, with whole leaves of basil
  • pasta and artichoke salad: standard)
  • woodstock water buffalo vermont black currant yogurt: weird; solid like cake frosting though not as sweet
  • redwood hill farm cranberry orange goat milk yogurt: quite good
  • tomatoes
  • nectarines
  • seaweed salad
  • smoked turkey leg: fine
  • focaccia: still the same leftovers
We had chocolate mandarin orange peels that Di Yin had brought from Cambridge for dessert.

Our new hotel had a microwave and living room, yet was cheaper than our previous one. If only we had known about the microwave, we would've bought different food.

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