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Guide To Atlanta

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Saved by CoatHanger
on March 18, 2010 at 8:20:30 am





Most con-goers are acutely aware of the fact that Dragon*Con is held every year in the city of Atlanta, which is unfortunate. Natives of the area are likely reasonably familiar with the city as it's the closest thing to 'civilization' that exists south of Washington DC, but for outsiders who make the pilgrimage every year for the convention, it can be a mysterious labyrinth of poorly maintained roads, aggressive transients, violent public officials, and concentrated despair. With that in mind, this article is intended to serve as a tool to help non-natives prepare themselves for their dark journey into the urine-scented jewel of the South.



Atlanta was founded thousands of years ago when an ancient warlord known as Ted Turner rose up and united his tribe with rival tribes, the Coca-Colians and the Deltans. Their powers combined to form Voltron, a giant robot who built the city. Unfortunately, Voltron had no sense of civil engineering at all (as Sim City hadn't been invented yet), and the poorly planned road network was so choked with traffic that the city stagnated. Locals referred to the city as "UHLANNUH" which loosely translates into "I am stuck in traffic and am tired of this stench."


Atlanta became better known during the American Civil War when it was set on fire. Locals commonly blame the bitter, more civilized northerners for doing so, but this is largely only evidence of the poor education that Atlantans receive, as history shows that it was the retreating Confederate General John Bell Hood who ordered all public buildings and possible Union assets destroyed. SO HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT YOU UNEDUCATED REDNECK SONS OF B



Visitors to the city will often note that during the summertime (when Dragon*Con occurs), it is effectively impossible to respirate. Many blame a combination of the heat and the evaporated waste products of approximately three billion transients. Others will recognize that the city is in fact underwater, which is what 100% humidity probably actually means. Regardless of which explanation you suspect to be the case, you'll want to be prepared for this. Breathing exercises ahead of time can help prevent dizziness, and you can build lung strength by breathing underwater. It's cool, there's oxygen in water, you'll be fine. No, really. People drown because they're afraid to breathe when they're in the water. Trust me.


Temperature-wise, you can generally count on the heat to be in the mid to upper 80's. Normally that would sound perfectly reasonable, but you'll want to take into consideration the fact that you'll be downtown in a thoroughly paved city, where every surface will reflect every bit of heat directly at you, personally. The heat index will generally put the temperatures in downtown Atlanta at around 130. On rare occasions during the convention we will be blessed with rain, which brings the temperature down dramatically but will ruin those fairy wings you're wearing and may set off the 70% of attendees who are ablutophobic.



A more comprehensive guide to Travel has already been assembled, but it's worth taking a moment to give a higher-level overview of the travel into and out of the city for attendees. Moving around Atlanta can be a confusing experience: the city has gone to great lengths to make it easy to enter the city, but works hard to prevent travelers from having the opportunity to leave.


Air Travel

Visitors to the city who decide to brave the molestations of the TSA will find themselves arriving in the city at Hartsfield-Jackson United Football Club International Airport Bar and Grill and Bed and Breakfast, which is said to be the busiest airport in the world. Credit where credit is due: the layout of the airport is one of the easiest to understand in the nation. Above-ground the airport just appears to be several rows of ugly terminals, seemingly unconnected. Underground, however, is a passenger transit area to get passengers to their assigned terminal. The terminals are labeled A-E, with an extra T terminal for some reason (usually used for international travel).


To get to the underground system one must pass through the busiest security screening line in the world. It's worth pointing out to the shy, virginal travelers that a TSA inspection does not count as losing one's virginity. After you're out of surgery, you will descend a long escalator to the transit areas, viewing images of the city interspersed with odd, abstract neon signs that seem to be intended as artistic in nature. You can travel to your terminal by two methods.


First is the underground train system. As you step into the appropriate train, a voice will tell you which terminal is the next stop. Tragically, before the Olympics came to Atlanta in 1996, the old voice was replaced with a completely understandable one. The previous voice sounded like the train was an especially angry Cylon (for the old schoolers, here's a flashback: "PLEASE MOOOOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE VEHICLE AND AWAY FROM THE DOOORS"). Nevertheless, once you're packed into a crowded train and you've been groped repeatedly by friendly passerby, the train will accelerate from 0-300mph in about four seconds, letting you play a delightful game where you try not to hold onto the poles but still maintain your footing. Good luck!


Second is the moving walkways. You have the option of walking from one terminal to the next through the underground hallways. These are interesting areas where the airport will display works of local art that frequently enjoys depicting malnourished African children for some reason. You'll find that you can either walk unassisted, or walk quickly along the moving walkways to the sides. The latter is more fun and makes you feel like the Flash. Either way, it's a good way to get a bit of warm-up exercise prior to your impending weekend of walking all around downtown Atlanta.


Travel to and from the airport is generally accomplished via Marta, Atlanta's rapid transit system and the frequent butt of assorted jokes that often include racist overtones. Riding on Marta is a rich, cultural experience, and not just because of the many airborne pathogens you're likely to inhale.



Due to the expense of air travel, many convention attendees will prefer to drive to the host hotels. Many of these brave souls are lost every year in the attempt. It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous it is to do this, but given that many will be foolhardy enough to try regardless, we have a duty to try to prepare everyone as much as possible.


Driving in Atlanta takes an intricate blend of Patience, Intuition, and Aggression. You must have the patience to wait for the right opportunity to make a move, the intuition to recognize when it's the right opportunity (as in, not going to get you killed in a minute), and the aggression to seize the opportunity before some other bunghole does. Many locals have honed this sense over years of commuting on these, the roads of the Damned, but outsiders would not have had this experience, even though they might have a great deal of experience in other cities. Please trust me. It's different here.


The first and most important thing you need to know to prepare yourself is that you will be in very heavy traffic. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll be at a standstill: you may be moving along at a reasonable 35mph on the interstate, but there will be other cars surrounding you completely, and every one of them will have an angry, dangerous driver with no regard for your life. Some will honk at you for whatever arbitrary or imagined slight you've offered, some will look for every opportunity to cut you off, and some will offer small arms fire. You must steel yourself for these trials.


The second thing to know is that using blinkers will likely be your downfall. In other famously congested cities, even Los Angeles, using a turn signal will cause people to give pause and let you into traffic. This is not the case in Atlanta: a car signaling is seen as a sign of aggression and/or weakness, and will be met by other cars with aggressive attempts to prevent you from making the move. The correct order of events is:

  1. Watch for an opening.
  2. Accelerate as much as possible in the space you have.
  3. Flick on your blinker.
  4. Make the move into the lane in under a second after step 3.
  5. Slam on the brakes to not hit the car ahead, and to show dominance over the car behind you.
  6. Duck the resultant gunfire.
  7. (Optional) Raise your hand and extend the middle finger.


Those two items are the most important to comprehend, but below is a list of other items to be aware of to help smooth out any other rough edges.

  • Maps will be useless. Something is guaranteed to be under construction and will prevent you from taking any route you could plan.
  • Checking the Atlanta traffic website, Georgia Navigator, is also useless. Any items shown on that page will have been cleared by the time you can get to it, and if it looks clear, traffic will have become a problem by the time you get there.
  • Be aware of the weather. Even a light rain will turn a 45 minute journey into the city into a four hour ordeal. If you use this information for trips to Atlanta during the winter, do not make any journey into or near the city when any forecast for the next two weeks calls for snow, as the locals will be in a state of panic.
  • The major interstates in the Atlanta area are I-75, I-85 (north/south roads, and those two combine briefly through downtown to form a particularly traffic-plagued stretch referred to locally as "The Connector"), I-285 (or "the Perimeter), and I-20 (east/west road). If you take I-20, please note that I hate you and all that you stand for, because it's you jackasses on that stupid road with its poorly designed exits that cause all traffic on the Connector every day and every night and you should die because more important people than you need to go north and south and we don't give a crap about your meaningless existence, dammit.
  • It's recommended that you have the following in the car at all times.
    • Cash, for emergencies, to pay for parking, or bribes to the local police.
    • First aid kits for gunshot wounds.
    • Non-perishable foods and plenty of water.
    • Spare clothing (which I'd hope you have anyway for the convention).
    • A firearm with adequate ammunition.
    • A spare wagon tongue, wheel, and axle.
    • Cellular phone with a car charger or several backup batteries.
    • A female that can be prostituted for money in emergencies.
  • Hopefully you'll be carpooling with others, and this will allow you to use the HOV lane. There's an important caveat here though. Just because you have more than one passenger and are therefore HOV positive does not entitle you to drive in said HOV lane at any speed you want: the "slow traffic keep right" rule still applies.
  • Super Speeder Law: Be aware that Georgia recently began enforcing the super-speeder law, which is an additional $200 fine if you're caught speeding over 85mph on multi-lane roads, or over 75mph on single-land roads. This money is going to go towards "trauma care", in instances where "trauma care" is defined as "anything we want". Frankly, I wish them good f***ing luck with that, as no road in the state is ever empty enough to let someone get over 50 on a good day.


Train Travel

Hahahahahahaha. Yeah, sure. Amtrak does have a station in Atlanta, but currently there are only two routes in or out: one goes to New Orleans, the other goes to Charlotte, North Carolina. Really useful, isn't it? Yeah, skip it.



Atlanta is a richly diverse place, sort of. In it you can find remarkable fusions of assorted international cultures, such as a liquor store next to a Waffle House, or transients practicing some of their traditional bum dances outside a Waffle House. Or you may want to experience the majesty of our Urine Fountain (pictured), located conveniently next to a Waffle House.


When visiting, you'll undoubtedly want to avoid looking like a tourist and blend in with the crowd. Not only will it make the magical journey through the city more memorable, it will also help prevent you from looking like a douche.


Blending In: Local Customs

There are many customs to experience in the city, some of which you'll find come naturally to you. Others won't seem appropriate for most society, but we're a very open, friendly, and quirky city. There's nothing wrong with that, we're told. Regardless, remember that when in Rome, do as Romans do (not Rome, Georgia... they're weird). Here are some simple customs to try!


  • Greeting: in the city, wearing baggy pants and grabbing one's crotch is a casual method to greet someone you aren't acquainted with.
  • Crossing the Street: when downtown, it's best to ignore the street-crossing signs and step out into traffic. The drivers likely won't mind, in that they're rarely able to experience any  sort of velocity anyway.
  • Tobacco (ahem) consumption: when inhaling the byproducts of any sort of leafy substance, especially the distinctly acrid smelling ones, it's wise to be in the vicinity of a Waffle House. Of course, in Atlanta it's difficult not to be.
  • Transients: when walking down the street you will inevitably encounter some of our lovable unemployed who will perform the traditional "gimme a dolla" dance. Tip generously and you'll make a fast friend!
  • Odors: attendees at Dragon*Con are certainly no strangers to assorted foul odors. When passing a doorway on the street that's clearly been used as a makeshift toilet, it's tradition to announce the location with loud complaints and swearing, usually accompanied by taking the names of assorted deities in vain. IE: "JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST what in the f*** is that stench?"
  • Religion: Atlanta has a round religious heritage! It's a common custom to speak loudly of your religion to any and all you pass. If you encounter someone else doing the same, take a moment to argue with them at high volume, even if you share views.


Blending In: Attire

Local attire can very widely, so most attendees probably won't have too much difficulty with this. But there are a few things to be aware of.

  • Don't wear your costume outside of the convention area. It will make you look like a moron, but more importantly, it will make you look like a target.
  • Wife-beater shirts generally seem out of place unless stained.
  • The following may get you mocked:
    • Goth attire
    • Business casual attire
    • Jeans that do not droop below your knees
    • Fairy wings (which isn't just an Atlanta thing, to be honest)
    • An overabundance of leather and chains on a pale, skinny white boy
  • Women in skimpy clothing/costumes may get a great deal of inapporpriate attention both from con-attendees and locals... but then, that's what you really want, isn't it, Little Miss Daddy Issues?
  • Fedoras are a fashion faux pas anywhere and everywhere, and anywhen except for the 1950s and cosplayers thereof.



Like any major city, Atlanta has constructed dozens of attractions designed to lure the unwary visitor and surgically remove their money from their wallets. Since you're going to be in the area anyway, you may want to stop off at some of these to view assorted local wonders. 


Because it's not like you'll be spending time at the convention, right?


Georgia Aquarium

Visitors to the renowned Georgia Aquarium (pictured) can view fish. More fish will be on display once the fishing season begins in the spring. Be sure to check out the amazing new exhibit, Perch: Menace or Is Them Good Eatins, featuring four stunning specimens on loan from Ed's Fishorama™ in Tampa, Florida.


Stone Mountain Park

If your hotel has an eastward view, you may be able to spot a distant mound through the haze. This mound is a single, huge lump of granite, and is brilliantly named Stone Mountain.


Stone Mountain's fame is almost exclusively due to the fact that some nutter decided to carve a giant monument to dead Confederate generals on the side of it. The Stone Mountain Park also has historical attraction, including an old plantation house, complete with slave quarters. At night there is a laser show beamed onto the side of the mountain, which is viewed from a large lawn where thousands of drunken locals loudly sing "Proud To Be An American" out of tune.


The Varsity

There's nothing a Dragon*Con attendee enjoys like grease, and the Varsity has it in spades. No, literally, they use a snow shovel to clean the grease traps. This historic landmark sells the most heart-stoppingly delicious food you've probably ever had. The best experience here is to order by stammering slowly. The staff love it!


Waffle House

Nothing makes you feel better about the many mistakes you've made in your miserable life like dining at Waffle House. While the chain does have a reputation of being filthy, the fact is that this reputation isn't deserved: each restaurant is at least as clean as a McDonalds. Where it differs is in the staff. You'll meet all manner of individuals working as wait staff there, and every last one of them has had a worse life than you. The food is generally rather tasty, but do keep in mind that they don't offer no fancy pants nootrishunal info.


World of Coke™

BOW BEFORE THE CAFFIENE™ GODS. This attraction offers a look at history's most socially acceptable addiction. While the downsides of these addictions are downplayed, it's an interesting experience for those who just can't handle the refreshing™ taste of water™. At the end of the tour, you can sample Coke™ products from around the world™, and remark loudly at how completely nasty some of them taste™.


Note that it may be unwise to get directions from a befriended transient. They may send you to an altogether different (though admittedly equally entertaining) world of Coke. :sniff:


Atlanta: City Of Tomorrow

A bright future dawns for America. As we bask in the loving glow of our corporate overlords and say our daily prayers to the Debt Gods we feel secure in the knowledge that the great American dream lives on: a bigger TV than the next guy, a truck to make up for one's microscopically tiny genitals, and a warm ass when all other warmth seems to have gone from the world. Atlanta is at the forefront of new technologies and new social paradigms, and it offers its citizens bountiful opportunities, allegedly.


In spite of the common problems associated with the growth of a city such as this (crime, natural resource conservation and allocation, basic utilities, public safety, economic concerns, unemployment, anti-social behavior, rampant political and corporate corruption, aging infrastructure, poor education, lack of access to technology/communications, unchecked necrophilia, gang activity starting at a shockingly early age, teen pregnancy, inadequate access to health care even for the insured, open racial/religious bigotry, animal cruelty, traffic, lack of parking downtown, urban sprawl, panhandling, prostitution, child prostitution, illegal immigration, pollution, underpaid police/firefighters/teachers/IT people who edit wikis all day, race-based political partisanship, that constant stench of stale piss, obesity, a poorly planned road network, 'hipsters' who wear fedoras unironically, extreme foreclosure rates coupled with plummeting home values, neverending road construction, more Waffle Houses than Starbucks which a civilized city would have, white flight, police focused more on revenues from fines than serving the public, and Jeff Foxworthy), Atlanta is one of the few cities in the nation to... uh... be in the Atlanta area? Lets go with that. Location, location, location.


Ya'll come back now, but always remember, we don't kinder to your type here.

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