Quite unwittingly, the CL staff over the last few months produced something of a cultural marking point, a snapshot of Atlanta as it enters a new era. Most of this issue was prepared before the dark cloud of Sept. 11 swept over Manhattan. As our critics fanned out over the metro area to research Best Of Atlanta, we found a city in full pursuit of creativity and commerce, fun and prosperity. Classic post-Cold War America: the rich, diverse, creative and, yes, sometimes decadent culture that so infuriates extremists -- even our own extremists.
This issue reflects that Atlanta.
How will American culture change over the next year? Will our visual arts, our theater, our music, our movies, even our restaurants, take on a red-white-and-blue hue? Will they offer up a brooding sense of tragedy, frustration and dissent? Or will we simply hunker down in our homes more and have fewer reasons to party?
That's hard to say when we don't know yet the sort of loss or gain, violence or justice, the struggle ahead will bring us. One thing is likely: We expect that in next year's Best Of, the category "Best Local Hero no longer will recognize one of the city's leading anti-sprawl warriors; there are likely to be a whole new set of local heroes.
The Best Of issue wasn't entirely set in stone by Sept. 11. We did manage to squeeze a couple of winners into the issue after the attack. More significantly, when the attack occurred -- after we went to press last week -- Creative Loafing's news staff set out to examine how the nation's new mood and our military mobilization might change us. We asked difficult questions about how we, as a nation, must proceed in this dangerous endeavor. Our special section on the attack and its repercussions begins here.
-- Ken Edelstein