The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton



Artist Spotlight: ATHRS

Punk Rock electronic artist, ATHRS, born Mike Torres, performed for his second time at Imagine Music Festival (IMF), this year in Hampton, Georgia. The Orlando, FL, native often performs in the Southeast and said Atlanta’s premier electronic music festival is one of his favorites. “I love performing in Atlanta, this is my second year at Imagine. Glen and Maddie (of IRIS Presents) throw one of the best festivals out here and it’s always so amazing to be a part of it,” he said.

Rock and EDM have been in an increasingly intertwined relationship ever since Skrillex burst onto the DJ circuit after leaving his post-hardcore band “From First to Last.” Steve Aoki was a singer and guitarist in the scream band “This Machine Kills,” EDM powerhouse, Zedd, was once a member of death core band Dioramic, and bass legend, Bassnectar, also was once in a metal band. Some acts leave the “rock sound” almost entirely, trading guitars for synthesizers and hard bass, at times only referencing their roots in mashups or remixes.

ATHRS has managed to evolve into EDM while keeping his pop punk influences intact. This has allowed him to create original music that melds the two genres in a genuine way. ATHRS played for an intimate show for a crowd at the Six Feathers stage, splitting the set between his laptop and DJ Controller, and grabbing his guitar to leave behind the booth and rock out on stage and right in front of his audience.

Growing up on pop and punk music, ATHRS says he is influenced by bands like All Time LowGreen Day, and blink-182. He also has a penchant for DJs like Kayzo and Borgore, and says Adventure Club, who played IMF this year, is one of his biggest influences: “I was super hyped to see them! They killed it; it was an ABSOLUTELY epic show!” The pioneers of vocal dubstep put on an epic show full of lights, lasers, and their signature sound, famous for attracting many fest-goers into the electronic scene in the first place.

ATHRS thinks the diversity of sound within EDM music has attracted more and more people to American EDM music and events. He uses his platform to produce a unique combo he calls “pop-punk electronic” with vocals characteristic of punk rock, interwoven with synths, energetic beats and high energy drops. His songs vary from highly rock influenced to more house influences like his single, “Shed My Skin.” During his performance of “Under My Skin,” a cut from his upcoming EP, ATHRScroons about not letting the world get to him before a crescendo of heavy, melodic guitar riffs, with a dance beat picking up to join the melange of sound

“People are hungry for real talent, drive and ambition, and that’s what I hope to bring them. They also get to see [my] vulnerability. I think it really comes through in the music,” he said. ATHRS’ fans, at Imagine or people who want to hear his unique brand of punk EDM, can catch him next at Uncle Lou’s entertainment hall in Orlando, FL, on October 14th.

ATHRS’ latest EP “Pop Punk is Dead” will be releasing soon and a music video for his single, “Rollercoaster” was recently released on Youtube. Fans can find more of ATHRS’ music on Soundcloud, and Spotify.

Celebrity Chef Alexis Hernandez celebrates 4-years in Chamblee



Chef Alexis Hernandez enjoys cooking New American cuisine in his quaint Chamblee restaurant.

Celebrity Chef celebrates 4-year anniversary in up-and-coming Chamblee

By Darris Pope

            Chef and reality-show winner, Alexis Hernandez, is thankful for all the little things that led him to owning a restaurant in Chamblee. Now celebrating it’s 4-year anniversary, Hernandez’s “Union Hill Kitchen,” pays homage to his old high school in New Jersey. The “New American” cuisine it serves inspired by his childhood and the many cultural tastes Hernandez was exposed to during his culinary journey.

“My parents fled Cuba during the Castro regime in the 60’s. I was born in Union Hill, New Jersey,” said Hernandez.

Born in a foreign land, Hernandez and his siblings had to teach each other English.

“My sister and I would watch old TV shows like Love Boat and learned from that. To this day, our parents still don’t speak English.”

Hernandez became more familiar with American food during high school. For his senior year, he took a Home Economics class giving him the chance to cook these “foreign foods.”

“Growing up I never heard of muffins or pancakes. I only knew about Cuban food. I would tell my mother to cook them. She would say, ‘I don’t know what that is,’ she only knew pan.

Hernandez recalls his teenage days eating Chef Boyardee Ravioli or ramen noodles with his sister.

“We cut the ravioli in half to try to make it last longer. We’d add chicken stock to ramen noodles,” he said. Today, Hernandez still enjoys these favorites and integrates them into his menu.

“We serve a strawberry salad with a ‘bread’ topping made of ramen noodles.”

Hernandez had different plans for himself after high school. Upon graduation, he attended Moody Bible Institute majoring in theology. As a gay man, he decided against joining the ministry using the time instead to“reinvent himself.”

“I started working in an art gallery, then went into retail. I became Regional Manager at T-Mobile, overseeing twenty-two stores,” he said.

Shortly after, his husband Marty’s mother grew ill and the two returned to her farm in Southern Indiana. Hernandez cooked occasionally, but hadn’t considered becoming a chef until Marty sent in an application, unknowingly to Hernandez, to Sullivan University’s Center for Hospitality Studies. That Christmas, Marty gave Hernandez a chef’s coat. Underneath the coat sat an acceptance letter to the school. Hernandez quit his job and began studying.

“I was coming in as an adult student. I was in class early and stayed late to shadow the head chefs. I know they were sick of me, but they opened up, seeing my desire to learn.”

After graduating, Hernandez beat thousands of applicants and became a finalist on “The Next Food Network Star.” His bold personality landed him a callback to compete on “Cutthroat Kitchen,” where he won the fifth season. “The experience was surreal,” said Hernandez.

“They give camera time to the people that are showy,” Hernandez says and laughs. “I would make problems or instigate situations and cameras would turn to me.”

After “Cutthroat Kitchen,” Hernandez wanted to open a restaurant. “Marty needed to relocate to a bigger city for work. We moved to Atlanta.”

Hernandez loved the city, but quickly learned owning a restaurant is expensive.

“We looked at Midtown and Buckhead. Too expensive,” said Hernandez. He accidentally got lost in the “sleepy town of Chamblee,” and never looked back.

“I had friends saying ‘you want to open a restaurant in Chambodia?” I replied, ‘I don’t know what that is.” “[Now] I love Chamblee. The people are sophisticated and  ask ‘how you’re doing,’ not like New York,” he jokes.

“I had this opportunity to cook and God gave it to me. It’s evident. I have this restaurant. We just finished our 4-year anniversary in Chamblee, where there was nothing. Now Whole Foods is here!”

Hernandez was in luck when he bought the small space on the corner of Pierce Drive and Peachtree Road. Chamblee has seen a wave of development as new housing and businesses see an uptick in construction. Chamblee’s newest shopping plaza houses a large Whole Foods, in the same town where a new Wal-Mart was once a big deal.

Hernandez resides in Atlanta and is the executive chef of Union Hill Kitchen in Chamblee, Georgia.

Millions across America join in unity to view solar eclipse

 ATLANTA – Aug. 21, 2017
Darris Pope, a Georgia State University student, happened to be at work at the Costco in Dunwoody when the 2017 solar eclipse happened. “I’ve never seen anything like it, it really is amazing,” said a shopper standing in front of the store. Customers and employees alike took a “short break” from shopping and working to gather in the parking lot together and witness the celestial phenomenon.

“It was wild. The whole parking lot got dark as if it were dusk, it looked like it was 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., not 2:30 in the afternoon,” said a manager who wished to remain anonymous.

“I got lucky. I stepped out from work for about five minutes, and in the crowd of people in front of the store, one lady had viewing glasses. She loaned me the glasses for a moment and I looked up at the sun. It was like when you see a waxing or waning moon, expect it was the sun and the area being blocked was golden, and on fire,” said Darris Pope, an employee at CDS Demo Services, which works with Costco stores.

Groups and even large scores of people took a “time out” from their busy lives to join in a moment of unity as the eclipse occurred over North America for roughly 20 minutes.

CNN Studio Tour – 9/22 Darris Pope

“The only thing we [journalists] have going for us is credibility, if we lose that — if get things wrong, doesn’t matter why or how we got them wrong, just that we screwed up — then we’re out of business.” -CNN Digital News Director, Monte Platt

ATLANTA – Students (including myself) of Prof. Etheridge’s Advanced Media Writing class were treated to a VIP Studio Tour of CNN’s studio news headquarters in Atlanta on Sept. 22nd. Led by the Digital News Editor of CNN, Monte Platt, we were able to get a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day operations at CNN. Luckily for us, it was a busy news day so we got to see what it’s like when breaking news is happening!

The day of the tour Mexico had just experienced a very large earthquake, in addition a hurricane storm front was also approaching the Eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Due to our large group size, Platt split our tour group up into two groups. I went with the second group and we were promptly shown around the studio, including the live studio areas. At the Atlanta CNN location the only studio which is truly live (and on location) is the HLN News/Weather Studio. During our tour no one was actually on air, but editors, writers, directors and several other staff members were hard at work preparing news stories, packages, and making sure everything was ideal for the news anchors.

At one point we entered into the Control Room, this looks exactly like it does in the movies, or when CNN will sometimes show video of their own control rooms during broadcast. One is a big open room with 30-50+ people, all sitting at computers. Many of them actually had two computers or two screens they were working on at the same time, some had standing desks, some were on the phones and others were writing or Googling like their life depended on it. Exciting, journalists never sleep!

The more traditional control room had a handful (about 10-15) directors with a wall of TV monitors and a few computer screens. On the wall, every major news network and all the local channels in Atlanta were being shown (FOX, CBS, ABC, Univision, etc.). Under the major wall of channels they had control knobs and gadgets (it looked like for the teleprompters) for the NY live broadcast. The computer screens, whose contents were in plain view, showed things like: NEXT UP, UPCOMING PACKAGE: FRED – If you look off to the side of your screen, you’ll notice our coverage of….

Just as briefly as we had entered into the studio, we were then preparing to exit. The tour probably lasted about 15-20 minutes, albeit short (explained as due to the busy news day) we got a real live look into what it would be like to work at CNN. It certainly looks like the type of news organization that every working journalist would strive to work for at some point in their career.