Sep 01, 2008
Nov 19, 2008
We have now witnessed our second massacre. This time it is not death by mosquito, but death by Starbucks, McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Dunkin' Donuts. Macon (rhymes with bacon) has an enchanting town centre, with majestic, historic buildings and a warm feel to it. At least it did, until every person and business moved out to the suburbs, to the concrete strips of malls and uninspiring fast-food joints. Now downtown Macon is dead. Building after beautiful building is empty, with smashed windows and boarded-up doors. The streets are deserted, apart from the handful of people at the bus-stop, waiting to be taken back to their homes, their TVs and their microwave meals. There is also a small scattering of old people who have clearly been left behind in what was once a proud and lively city centre and now appear to wander the streets with a slightly sour expression on their faces, perhaps pining for the good old days. We feel very much as if we have witnessed a crime, as if modern American life has sucked the spirit out of this place. We can only hope that one day someone will start a political campaign to resurrect the town or a multi-millionaire will inject enough money to restart the downtown economy. It so obviously was a great city once. In fact, Macon and many of the other towns around Georgia have a very clear and impressive heritage, a musical one. That is why Macon is home to the enjoyable Georgia Music Hall of Fame where all of the great names in music to eminate from the state are honoured. It is an impressive list, even to us two, largely musically naive, Europeans. Otis Redding, Little Richard, Ray Charles and James Brown exported their grooves from Georgia to the rest of the country and the globe. So did the B-52s, REM and Usher. What a shame that there is no more music in the streets of Macon - but still, it was a fascinating place to stop for the night.