Wednesday, February 10, 2010


For about six months after I got married (and the three months before, shhh, don't tell my parents), my wife and I lived in the delightful Atlanta suburb of Doraville which was immortalized in song by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Truer words have never been spoken than "New York's fine, but it ain't Doraville."

In Tom Wolfe's overwrought sprawling 1998 novel A Man In Full the Stoic (literally, he reads Epictetus) hero finds himself working as a dishwasher in a Vietnamese restaurant in Doraville. Wolfe goes into his trademarked level of detail about this Asian-American enclave. This came as a great shock to me since when I lived in Atlanta the only Vietnamese restaurant was a lonely outpost in Midtown. During the interim a thriving multi-ethnic corridor had erupted along Buford Highway.

Also, when I lived in Atlanta, the MARTA rail system had two lines, the East-West line and the North-South line which then ended at Brookhaven. Since then the North-South Line has been expanded and split to include a line north along the Georgia 400 corridor to Sandy Springs causing the original North Line ending in Doraville to be renamed the Northeast Branch. With there being another spur on the East-West Line, MARTA decided to ease the confusion with the compass point names and go with color coded lines similar to those used by Washington DC's Metro system or the Bay Area's BART.

Only when they picked the colors, they called the route ending in Doraville the Yellow Line, causing Asian-American advocacy groups to howl in umbrage. It seems the Powers That Be Were tone-deaf to the racial implications of the color. Other places haven't had this problem. For example D.C.'s vestigial and shrinking Chinatown is served by the Yellow, Red, and Green lines. But under a hail of bad publicity, the City Too Busy Too Hate has renamed it the Gold Line.

It's just funny to find my former little sleepy burb engulfed in such controversy. All I know is that when I am trudging down I-85 towards the Tom Moreland Interchange, aka Spaghetti Junction, I just can't keep myself from humming:
Doraville, touch of country in the city
Doraville, it ain't much, but it's home

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