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Back in my old hippie days, in midtown Atlanta, on the strip between 10th and 14th street, flew the Great Speckled Bird. In the late '60's, early 70's, it was our underground newspaper. It even had its blue vendor boxes, but the price was cheap (fifteen cents , if I remember correctly). And, it gave us the news we needed to know; although its tag line was, the news you're not supposed to know. Where were the concerts, the cops, the dope (grass was 15 bucks an oz), the NARCs, the girls, the guys, the action. Who was getting ripped off and what we could do about it. Who you could believe and who you should avoid. When the Allman Brothers would be appearing for free in Piedmont Park. It was Atlanta's only ethical and investigative print medium of the time. But it pleased only us.

Segregationist and one time mayor Lester Maddox tried to sweep the bird off the street, just as the cops swept the birdsellers off the strip. But Atlantans who wanted opinionated journalism that was right 95% of the time, counted on the bird. It did so well that it had to apologize to its readers for its prosperity and "capitalist enrichment" in a message that ran full page.

But eventually, just as the strip died and hippiedom died with it, so went the bird. Some of its less politically oriented Birdstaffers split off and founded the Atlanta Gazette, a more politically correct paper. But the spirit and liberalism lives on today on the bird's web site at http://thebird.org.

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