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Atlanta Sounds

Atlanta Sounds debuted on September 10, 2007 and is designed to show the texture of Atlanta. The stories are portraits, oral histories, anecdotes, memories and fragments of life overheard. All told by those who live, work, and visit metro Atlanta.


Stephannie Stokes / WABE


It can take some courage to exit the parking lot of McIntosh High School in Peachtree City just after the bell rings. Even after three years on her golf cart, senior Amelia Traylor isn’t always up for it.

“I hang out with my friends in the drama room for the traffic to clear because it’s terrifying.”

What’s terrifying? Picture several hundred golf carts, with teenagers in the driver’s seats, all headed in the direction of a single exit.

Retiree Jean El Guindi took to the Cobb County Senior Center stage to perform her comedy act.
Melissa Terry / WABE

What’s the one thing you always wanted to do but, for whatever reason, just never got around to doing?  Was it learn to play an instrument? Climb Stone Mountain? Learn a foreign language? However, as we get older, we recognize that at some point, it is now or never.

Well, for retiree Jean El Guindi, that thing was stand-up comedy.

Through the Cobb County Senior Center, she signed up for an acting class, and the rest is now a fun part of her storied history, as we hear in this Atlanta Sounds piece when she braved the stage for the very first time.   

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

If you haven't shopped at Underground Atlanta lately, you're not alone. The indoor mall has steadily declined over the years. And now the city, after struggling for years to revitalize it, is selling it off to a developer.

But that’s not to say all businesses in the subterranean shopping center have given up. One vendor named Jibril ​(That really is the name he goes by; we asked him three times.) still regularly operates the photo booth he started there 15 years ago.

Kodac Harrison has been the emcee of Java Monkey's weekly open mic poetry night for the past 15 years.
Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

There’s something about coffeehouses that brings people together besides the free wifi.  At Java Monkey in Decatur it seems to be the familiar faces and – on Sunday evenings at least – the amateur, uncensored poetry. 

In this Atlanta Sound we meet Kodac Harrison, the organizer of the coffeehouse's weekly open mic poetry night. He has been hosting the event since it began back in 2001.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

We’re often cautioned not to talk to strangers. It’s something that’s engrained in us as kids. 

And yet, here in Atlanta, there is a man, now 70 years old, who goes out of his way to do just that.

Neil Shulman strikes up conversations with strangers at bus stops, in restaurants and at Emory University, where he’s been a professor of medicine for many years, all in an effort to get to know the world better.