Merge 25K Training Report: Patrick Hill, Word Productions Atlanta, GA

Merge 25K Training Report: Patrick Hill, Word Productions Atlanta, GA

Merge staffers and friends from all over are taking part in the Merge 25K race on March 22 and will be sharing their training stories. Register here & visit our race page for a custom training plan from our friends at Bull City Running Co. and yoga from Sage Rountree.

If you would like to share your training story with us, please email

And here's a little video of The Rock*A*Teens to go along with Patrick's story:

Running with R*A*T*s through Cabbagetown.

It’s three miles up and down Boulevard from my home near the federal pen to the entrance to Atlanta’s Rockabilly Ghetto, Cabbagetown, home of our finest rock group  The Rock*A*Teens.  I’ve been in a running rut lately. The combination of the holidays, some brutal cold spells in Atlanta and the fact I put off  running the marathon I’m just not quite ready to complete have taken a toll on my motivation and my weekly accumulation of miles. But Monday was such a glorious day here. MLK day was blessed with sunny skies and temps nearing the 60s so I pointed my New Balance toward the Beltline’s Eastside trail for a pretty great 11 mile loop I’ve been doing.

In an effort not to go out too fast and sap my endurance, my running mixes usually gravitate toward the slower part of my iTunes library. I’ll usually listen to Magnolia Electric Co. or the early, slower Reigning Sound stuff, or maybe Deerhunter if I don’t want to go the bumout route.  But this day I had just confirmed the first Rock*a*Teens shows in nearly 12 years at the club I book, The EARL! The June shows will be the culmination of many years of unrequited flirtations trying to get Lopez to re-unite the group. I was ecstatic, so I put my R*A*T*s collection on shuffle and headed out.

What I like best about The Rock*A*Teens is that they sound exactly like Atlanta to me (or, at least, the Atlanta where I live). It’s not just being able to point out the references in Chris Lopez’s lyrics, but the overall sound and aesthetic of the group that meshes so well with this place.  I described one of the later records, “Sweet Bird of Youth,” as having a humidity to it. There is an undeniable thickness that goes through all of their recordings. It’s like the ridiculous amounts of reverb piled on to every bit of their mixes mimics the oppressive humidity of our lengthy summers.  Yeah, there is a beauty and truth and light in these dark songs, but you’ll have to peel your way past layers and layers of caked on reverb to find it. Yeah, there is beauty in Atlanta, but you’ll have to look past our dirty, crime-ridden streets. There is most certainly beauty and truth and light in running. Running while listening to the Rock*A*Teens is an affirmation of who I am and where I choose to be.

Three miles in, I turn onto Carroll Street and into the Cabbagetown neighborhood.  It’s a nice place to run, though you do have to weave past outdoor patios and I-could-give-a-fuck smokers. At the top of the hill heading toward the Krog tunnel you pass Esther Peachey Lefevre Park.  I can’t run here without thinking of the gaggle of disheveled school children riding dirtbikes in the 2000 Jem Cohen documentary  “Benjamin Smoke” (most of which was filmed in the years around my 1995 move to the city) . If I could make one ordinance for our music scene it would be mandatory viewing of this film for bands and band managers and such. The Cabbagetown captured here is so radically different than the not quite yet gentrified neighborhood where I’m running. The Atlanta of the era that produced the Rock*A*Teens is radically different than the one that welcomes them back so enthusiastically.

From the impending loss of our baseball team to the devastating and unexpected death of one our community’s icons, Ria Pell, our city has suffered in recent months. These events have galvanized, but divided us. Cabbagetown endures, though. And so do the songs of The Rock*A*Teens.  Their reunion seems like a moment we can all experience joyously together. A fractured town will collectively hoist their beers in the air and sing along.

This is what I think about when I run. This, and girls. 

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