ATL confidential

Okay, so, here’s the thing: we’re going to Atlanta for the ASAs this year. We all know that. And, as with any ASA, there are all kinds of reasons either to go or not to go. I get that. Heck, I often look for good excuses to skip the ASAs. The thing is, though, why do so many of us seem so annoyed about the fact that the ASAs are in Atlanta specifically? Seriously, I’ve lost track of the number of sociologists I’ve heard refer to the city with a sneer in their voice, as though Atlanta is somehow beneath their dignity. But why?

Is it because it’s going to be hot and muggy in August? Nah, that can’t be it. I mean, doesn’t anyone remember the last ASA in Philadelphia? It was hot as anything and large segments of the city smelled like raw sewage to boot. Is it the expense? Because I didn’t hear this magnitude of complaining about New York and that place nearly broke the bank for some of us. Is it the lack of good public transportation? Okay, that’s fair, but I’m hearing this complaining from people who routinely stay at the conference hotel itself. Is it the hotels? They look fine to me and anything has to be better than that Washington D.C. ASA when the hotels were so far apart that we had to get shuttle buses to move people between them.

So, really and truly, I just don’t get it: what’s so darned bad about Atlanta?

As a side note: I should disclose that I lived in Atlanta for a while and do, actually, like the city. I'm also originally from the south, which may or may not matter to some folks. Additionally, I fully recognize that we've been to Atlanta for the ASAs recently but you could say the same thing about San Francisco, and nobody seems to mind that too much. I do, however, agree with Jeremy that it would be nice to get a southern city besides Atlanta into the rotation once in a while.

9 thoughts on “ATL confidential”

  1. I dislike being stuck in a financial district on the weekend, with restaurant choices limited to big chains, hotel food and mall food courts, no good parks or pretty walks to take, with the only sign of any actual people living in the neighbourhood being a collection of grimy liquor stores. Mine is no complaint whatsoever about the South or the weather; it is about the city or really, about the way the conference is cut off from whatever real city life is in Atlanta.


    1. Oh, and I should add that the only ASA I have skipped in a decade was the Anaheim conference, which I anticipated would have the exact same set of problems. How did that one go, anyway?


      1. Anaheim was seriously bad for the reasons you might guess. Convention site itself was very convenient: all the hotels clustered together in a cul de sac. But outside the cul de sac there was nothing but suburban strip malls, and it was a completely unwalkable area. Also that was the first year they compressed the convention from five days to four and everything overlapped with everything: there were even people who had been assigned to overlapping sessions!


  2. It’s easy to access MARTA from the financial district of Atlanta, and easily get to interesting historical sites and/or park-like areas. In San Francisco, on foot Union Square is quite far from Golden Gate Park and North Beach (the only other park I’m familiar with right in the city). I was in Atlanta a couple weeks ago, and I was impressed with the changes made in the MARTA announcements (I haven’t been on MARTA for quite a few years) – before every stop an automated message listed all the relevant sites for that stop. I think that Atlanta is trying to spruce up it’s image a bit. And don’t forget that there’s now the aquarium to visit, which wasn’t there during the last ASA!!!


  3. Amen on finding other cities in the South (and Mountain West for that matter) other than Atlanta; however, I cannot recommend having a conference in a Dallas especially if the hotel is cut off from the city (which is already difficult to navigate because of sprawl and lack of transportation) by an Amtrak station.


  4. As a lifelong (sort of) Southerner, I have to say Tina has it nailed. I’m going to SSS in a few weeks in Atlanta, and I’m not looking forward to it (except that I’m skipping aside to Athens to race the Twilight Criterium). You’re stuck in a downtown area far from anything worth seeing or doing. I’ve HEARD that it has improved, but we always hear that, don’t we? Dallas and Houston make Atlanta look really nice!

    NASHVILLE is the place to go. It has exceptional convention facilities, a very cool downtown and surrounding area, and a real airport (as opposed to a surreal airport—-I once walked around for over an hour in Atlanta searching for my baggage claim area). And, has ASA ever been to New Orleans?


    1. Hmm, Nashville would be fun! I grew up there but haven’t been back in over 20 years. New Orleans would too, but there are reasonable political concerns with the state. My memory is that Atlanta had similar concerns, which is why we never met there for years and years, but that something changed to enable our last meeting there – anybody have more specifics?


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