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Finally Friday

December 17 — Amy, Collin, and Chad here with your weekend Draft.

☁️ Overcast with a high of 64° today. Mostly the same, but with some rain this weekend.

🛻 Just as the state announced record low unemployment, electric car maker Rivian and Georgia made it official that the company would build a plant east of Atlanta, bringing 7,500 new jobs.  

🥐 After six years, Proof Bakeshop is closing on Dec. 26. Owners Billy and Kristin Allin (who also own Bread & Butterfly) announced the closure via Instagram.

🚴 Several Georgia cities are on the League of American Bicyclists' 2021 list of 55 places with a Bicycle Friendly Community. Decatur takes a silver award, while Atlanta, Athens, and nine others got a bronze. Read more here.

🏃 Atlanta is also for runners, as incoming City Council President Doug Shipman told Collin in a recent interview. Shipman also dishes about Buckhead cityhood and his favorite local bars and restaurants.

Don't miss his groovy "In the Mix" playlist featuring deep cuts by everyone from Nina Simone and Stevie Wonder to Jamiroquai and the Roots.

🍑 The New Year’s Eve Peach Drop returns to Underground Atlanta with performances by Goodie Mob, Ashanti, and Blanco Brown to welcome 2022.

🕖 Today's Rough Draft is ⑤ stories ➼

• Nonprofit revisit: Solidarity Sandy Springs
• Brettne Bloom's Atlanta book picks
• Friday Sports: Prime Time returns
• Film review: ‘Wolf’ lacks focused storytelling

Christmas dinner on Buford Hwy.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday!
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1. Nonprofit revisit: Solidarity Sandy Springs 

🧥 In July, we checked in with food pantry Solidarity Sandy Springs, which had recently moved into the Parkside Shops shopping center.

The organization began in March 2020 to help feed families during the pandemic. Since then, Solidarity has expanded its reach to help families that are overlooked and in need feel uplifted, supported, and food secure.

The group plans to open a food pantry at a new branch of the Community Assistance Center (CAC) on Northwood Drive.

➡ On Dec. 10, CAC learned it had been awarded a $100,000 grant from the James H. Cox Foundation, and the buildout is expected to be completed in 12 weeks.

➡ On Sun., Dec. 19, Solidarity is hosting a kids holiday pop-up market. They’re also accepting “gently used” winter clothing and housewares today and tomorrow.

✨ Revisit the Reporter's Solidarity Sandy Springs story here. And learn more about how to support their ongoing efforts here. ✨
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2. Brettne Bloom's bookish Atlanta

Brettne Bloom is a literary agent who divides her time between Atlanta, where she moved with her husband and two teenage daughters last December, and New York City, where she is a founding partner of The Book Group.

“After living full-time in New York for nearly 20 years I’m excited to get to explore all the bookish corners of Atlanta,” Bloom says, “I’ve been thrilled to see how much vibrancy there is here in the literary community—and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface.”

Here are her Top 5 favorite spots so far.

Virginia Highland Books is the bookstore of my dreams, with its perfectly curated selection of new releases and beloved classics, all in a stylish, airy space. There’s also a rotating collection of art (I’ve had my eye on one of their giant typewriter pieces for a while now) and a charming children’s section.
My older daughter loves this store almost as much as she loves Sally Rooney, so I’ll be stopping in to buy her a copy of "Beautiful World, Where Are You," this year’s bestselling novel about moody millennials searching for love and the meaning of life. [See what other books Brettne will be getting here.]

 The Atlanta History Center: I spend at least one or two days a week reading and editing manuscripts at BRASH Coffee in the Atlanta History Center. The café has such a great vibe, and I’m addicted to their oat milk cappuccinos. Before I leave, I like to pop into the museum shop tucked in the back, with its great selection of books by local and regional writers, cookbooks, and works on history, antiracism, and social justice.
 I’m going to buy a copy of Amanda Gorman’s new poetry collection "Call Us What We Carry." [See what other books Brettne will be getting here.] 

 H Mart Extravaganza: For the foodie in your life, head over to the nearest outpost of the famed Asian grocery store chain and load up with an armful of goodies. Rice cakes, Wagyu beef slices, maybe even a Cuckoo rice cooker. Then, pick up a copy of Michelle Zauner’s celebrated memoir “Crying in H Mart.” Present this bounty along with a Spotify link to the new album from Michelle’s band Japanese Breakfast, which is nominated for two Grammy Awards. [See what songs Brettne likes the most.]

 I went to Emory, so I love to support the writers in their English and Creative Writing department. Jericho Brown, Tiphanie Yanique, and Tayari Jones are three of my current favorites—Tiphanie’s third novel, "Monster in the Middle," just came out to rave reviews. I’ll be purchasing copies at For Keeps Books, a remarkable bookstore + boutique + reading room + oasis founded by artist Rosa Duffy.

Ⓔ A gift certificate to dinner at Lucian Books and Wine merges three of my favorite things: books, wine, and French fries with horseradish mayonnaise (actually, I’m sure everything on the menu is delicious). What could’ve come off as a tad pretentious is instead a space that you’ll want to linger in for… eternity.

➡ Read more about Brettne's Top Five 

Former President Barack Obama released a list of his favorite books of 2021 on Instagram. Like Brettne, he includes Ann Patchett and Michelle Zauner. Obama also likes these movies.
3. The Sports Section

Each Friday, we give you a sports update. Now that bowl season is upon us, there are games every day (save for Sundays, which are owned by the NFL) between today and Jan. 1.

🏈 From 1989-1993, Deion Sanders (above via his Twitter) electrified Atlanta football fans as a cornerback and punt returner. In his first game with the Falcons, “Prime Time” fumbled two punts before returning one for a touchdown (skip to 2:47) 

This weekend, Sanders returns to town as head coach of Jackson State, who faces South Carolina State in Saturday’s sold-out Celebration Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Noon (TV:ABC)

In his second season at the historically Black university, “Neon Deion” is being widely praised for bringing more attention to football at HBCUs. This week, Sanders stunned the recruiting world when he snagged the nation’s top recruit who had previously committed to Florida State. 

🏐 Georgia Tech’s women’s volleyball team had an amazing season, making it to the Elite Eight before losing to Louisville last weekend. Wisconsin and Nebraska play in the finals tomorrow.  

⚽ Atlanta United released their 2022 schedule this week. The season begins the last Saturday in February when the Five Stripes host Sporting Kansas City. 

🏀 The Hawks, who continue to invest in parks around town, are home tonight against Denver at 7:30 p.m. (TV: BSS)

🤞 The Falcons, who continue to keep hope aliveplay at San Francisco on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. (TV: Fox)
4. Film review: ‘Wolf’ 

🎥 Despite a committed performance from Geoge MacKay (above, right), “Wolf’s” storytelling is unfocused and dull, muddling its way through its central metaphor.

Jacob, played by MacKay, believes that he is a wolf trapped within a human’s body. The film picks up when he’s sent to a specialized clinic, where he lives with others who also believe they are animals. 

As his doctors’ methods become increasingly barbaric, he connects more with his inner wolf. MacKay’s performance is the film’s bright spot, but “Wolf” doesn’t show much interest in how Jacob’s self-acceptance physically manifests.

The unfocused quality extends from the filmmaking to the film’s central metaphor around the clinic’s specialty in a form of conversion therapy. While species dysphoria – an experience where someone believes they are the wrong species – is real, conversion therapy has had detrimental effects on the LGBTQ+ community for decades, with proponents falsely claiming it can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Wolf'' is interested in identity and what sort of structures exist to keep people from being their authentic selves, but the film ignores societal norms and pressures in favor of individual motivations.

Read Sammie Purcell's full review.
5. Christmas dinner on Buford Highway

After our Wednesday guide to eating out on Christmas, several readers wondered if we'd lost our collective minds as we completely missed Buford Highway with its endless landscape of delicious ethnic foods from around the world.

For many of these eateries, Christmas is just another regular day, and a family outing there every Dec. 25 is something of a yearly tradition for many Atlantans.

Here are  of our favorite Christmas dinner spots.

🍜 Canton House: Try to control your urges when the cart rolls by your table stacked with shrimp, rice noodles, and fried tofu skins. Your eyes are definitely bigger than your stomach.

🥡 Yummy Spicy: The name says it all, as the menu is packed with gourmet Szechuan with a kick! The dried string beans, spicy fried eggplant, and the braised fish with tofu in chili oil will light up your holiday! 

🥟 Gu's Kitchen (above): Come here for the casual ambiance and a menu offering new Sichuan street food, including Chengdu cold noodles, a Szechuan chicken or tofu po-boy, and of course, Gu's iconic dumplings. 

🦀 Oriental Pearl Seafood Restaurant: The menu sports modern interpretations of classic Chinese dishes, including Peking duck, salt & pepper squid, spring rolls, and egg drop soup. 

🇰🇷 Sokongdong Tofu House: Offers a variety of high-quality Korean fare, including bibimbap, tofu, Korean BBQ, and bulgogi.
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And if you're out on the streets looking for some pop-up or food truck action, check out Punk Foodie's Underground Dining Guide for Dec. 17-19 to find out what’s in the neighborhood. 🚚🍽️

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