“There are those who know and those who don't know. And for every ten thousand who don't know there's only one who knows. That's the miracle of all time--the fact that these millions know so much but don't know this.”
From 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter'
The last time we were in Columbus, Georgia, we stopped by Carson McCullers' childhood home:
The historic marker reads:
The family of Carson McCullers moved to this house in 1927. Here Lula Carson McCullers spent her formative years 10-17 and here she began to write, putting on shows in the two sitting rooms, using the sliding doors as curtains and drafting brother Lamar and sister Rita as actors. Shows grew into plays, stories into novels. She left to study writing in New York in 1934. When a teacher told her that the best stories can be found in one's own back yard, her "green arcade" of trees drew her home again. In the summer of 1935 she met James Reeves McCullers, Jr., whom she married in the garden here in Sept. 1937. They moved to North Carolina where the young author completed her first novel 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter'. During World War II, with Reeves overseas, Carson lived in New York but often returned home to work and rest. She liked to sit in the kitchen, absorbing its warmth, the aroma of food cooking and the conversations of the cook. In her front bedroom she kept her piano and the typewriter where she worked on her novel and later prize-winning play, 'The Member of the Wedding'. After the death of her father in 1944, Carson and her mother made their home in Nyack, NY.
As always, all images here copyright Deep Fried Kudzu unless otherwise noted.
The NYT runs a tiny piece about the new Bill Traylor shows that open this coming week: “Traylor in Motion: Wonders From New York Collections” and "Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts" both through September 22 at the Folk Art Museum.
The self-taught Alabama artist Bill Traylor is known for his flat, simple shapes. But in chronicling memories and observations from African-American life, his work also had complexity and depth. The New York Times critic Roberta Smith has called Traylor “the American master of taut silhouettes,” yet some of his work is literally about movement, evoking dances of his era like the Lindy Hop and the Cakewalk, with women in hoop skirts and men in high hats.
Above: The Flora-Bama -- been there once, when Av did a New Year's Day Polar Bear Dip
CNN Travel does a list of the World's 50 Best Beach Bars, and #24 is Margaritaville at Pensacola Beach ('Love it or hate it, there's no denying that this familiar chain bar is close to the heart of millions in America.') and #17 is the Flora-Bama ('What makes Flora-Bama truly legendary, however, is the fact that it hosts the annual Interstate Mullet Toss. Flora-Bama straddles the state line of Florida and Alabama, and each April, thousands gather at the bar to party and watch intoxicated competitors throw slippery fish like a discus back and forth across the state line.').
Above: not sure if this one was ever red...
Smithsonian Magazine tells us why most barns are red: because of the physics of dying stars. Really:
Red ochre—Fe2O3—is a simple compound of iron and oxygen that absorbs yellow, green and blue light and appears red. It’s what makes red paint red. It’s really cheap because it’s really plentiful. And it’s really plentiful because of nuclear fusion in dying stars. Zunger explains:
The only thing holding the star up was the energy of the fusion reactions, so as power levels go down, the star starts to shrink. And as it shrinks, the pressure goes up, and the temperature goes up, until suddenly it hits a temperature where a new reaction can get started. These new reactions give it a big burst of energy, but start to form heavier elements still, and so the cycle gradually repeats, with the star reacting further and further up the periodic table, producing more and more heavy elements as it goes. Until it hits 56. At that point, the reactions simply stop producing energy at all; the star shuts down and collapses without stopping.
56 protons and neutrons = iron, and iron makes red paint.
'Miss Peaches Soul Food Kitchen', opened this week in Newtown, NSW (Sydney):
Chicken, crawfish, chicken fried steak, hushpuppies, black eyed peas (the delicious food, not the Fergie-fronted band that used to be good), catfish and fried chicken, all washed down with a chilled glass of lemonade or ice cold beer. It's food just like Momma used to make, if your Momma was a food queen of the Deep South.
2MississippiMuseums is the website for the Mississippi Museum of History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum (both of which will be under the same roof) and according to USA Today, they need to raise $30MM to finish the inside of the building before they're slated to open in 2017.
Pimento cheese bacon burger at The Grill, at The Club in Birmingham.
The Los Angeles Review of Books on Lives Nurtured in Disadvantage: James Agee and Walker Evans's "Cotton Tenants"
If the contemporary reader of nonfiction knows anything about the universe of American literature — or just its prose galaxies — she knows that James Agee and Walker Evans’s 1941 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is our greatest nonfictional failure and the finest book-length lyric essay ever written. Five years in the making, Agee’s book was published by Houghton Mifflin (after Harper’s dumped it as unwieldy) to scorn, praise, and sales of 600 copies before it went out of print.
...Agee’s 471-page magnum opus languished for 20 years until it was republished in 1960 and heralded as a new literary form, a kind of hyper-confessional personal journalism that forged intimacies with poverty via the author’s uncharted lyricism. Agee’s journey from the journalistic to the essayistic, from reportorial profiling to magisterial self-indulgence, is now filled out by Melville’s House’s publication of Cotton Tenants, believed to be Famous Men’s first attempt.
...When it was published, Lionel Trilling called the book “the most realistic and most important moral effort of our American generation.”
...Cotton Tenants was discovered in 2005 after Agee’s daughter donated boxes of his archive to the University of Tennessee Special Collections Library. The undated manuscript may be the piece Fortune killed. It’s a document enthrallingly multi-level: a “failed” magazine piece too lapidary and too anti-capitalist for Fortune’s prejudices, a graphic tour de force in which Agee begins experimenting with stream-of-consciousness and a polyphonic style, a précis for Famous Men.
On exhibit at MoMA: Walker Evans American Photographs, July 19, 2013–January 26, 2014
This installation celebrates the 75th anniversary of the first one-person photography exhibition in MoMA’s history, and the accompanying landmark publication, which established the potential of the photographer’s book as an indivisible work of art.
David Ivey of Huntsville AL, has been named a 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellow for his Sacred Harp singing/teaching. David was one of my teachers at the singing school I attended (Jewish girls sacred harp too!), and I hope to see you at the 34th annual Sacred Harp Singing Convention June 13-15 in Birmingham (seriously, look for me on Friday).
This isn't David Ivey standing, but my most popular Sacred Harp video on YouTube with over 30k views:
Carol Fran, a swamp blues singer and pianist from Lafayette LA, was also named 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellow.
Sotheby's June 11 'Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana' includes (from the AFP):
..."the largest and most important group of William Faulkner material ever to appear at auction," ahead of a second event in London the following month.
The New York auction includes the Nobel Prize for Literature scroll and medal awarded to Faulkner in 1949 for "his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel," as well as his acceptance speech.
The price tag for the Faulkner lots, discovered by a grandson who was cleaning out a building to make space for chickens on the family farm in Virginia, is estimated at $2 million, sparking interest from universities.
Listen: Jason Isbell's Southeastern
The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is slated to open November 2013.
From the NYT book reviews:
Just as some plants send taproots deep into the soil for nourishment, some writers thrive in a profound attachment to their own patch of earth. As Eudora Welty put it in a “Firing Line” conversation with Walker Percy and William F. Buckley in 1972 (ah, the good old days), “Place does endow.” We feel this vivid, passionate connection throughout a collection of Welty’s letters about gardening, from 1940 to 1949. 'Tell About Night Flowers' (University Press of Mississippi, $45) is a book I’ll keep on my bedside table all year. Its editor, Julia Eichelberger, has done an intelligent, sensitive job of collecting previously unpublished letters from a woman who had splendid dreams about camellias and irises.
These magical letters capture a time in the Deep South when itinerant souls like the sassafras man would arrive early in the year, “with the gold roots strung on him,” and sit on the church steps to sell them in bundles tied with strips of old inner tubes...
From The Economist: Scratching a living, A shocking rate of depopulation in the rural South and the first paragraph:
THE imposing synagogue on Main Street in Greenville, with its classical portico, raised cupola and shimmering stained glass, was built in 1906 to accommodate several hundred worshippers. In a good week these days, a custodian says, 12 people show up for Friday service, and several of them are in their 90s. The four classrooms for religious instruction now cater to just three children. The rest of the Jewish community has died or drifted away to other, richer parts of the country.
It is not just Jews who have left the Delta, a fertile alluvial plain in Mississippi and adjacent parts of Arkansas and Louisiana. Since 1940, the region’s population has fallen by almost half...
What this doesn't say is that Shabbos attendance of 12 proportionally isn't bad for the numbers Greenville has; it probably is better, again proportionally, than the crowd we get for a regular, non-event service at my 550+ family synagogue. Av and I have been to services at the Greenville synagogue many times and they are very active, including a very popular corned beef lunch every year that the whole city shows up for, and we once attended a function of theirs at the Country Club and you couldn't have gotten another soul inside it was so packed.
SoFAB's first 'Farm to Table International Symposium' will be August 2-4 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
SoFAB's library -- the largest culinary book collection in the South -- will be open in about three months.
On June 4, Rep. Terri Sewell sponsored H.R. 2254: To establish the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area, and for other purposes.
This is the 80th anniversary of the first drive-in theater opening.
Pif Magazine interviews Atlanta's Tom Haney on his automata.
Science World Report on the 'crazy ants' invading the Southeast:
Crazy ants may be even worse than fire ants, though. The ants go everywhere. They invade homes, nest in crawl spaces and walls and can even damage electrical equipment. They're also much harder to control than fire ants since they don't consume most of the poison baits that are used to kill fire ant mounds. In addition, they don't have the same kinds of colony boundaries that fire ants do; this means that even if they're killed in a certain area, the supercolony survives and can swarm back over the area.
Someone has a toilet paper-rolled tree tattooed on their back. From the War Eagle Reader, an Auburn grad memorializes the late Toomer's Oaks.
The Reader also reports that according to growth rings, professors believe the oaks are between 83-85 years old.
No news report of this, but I understand that Lonney Holley is working with the Sylacauga marble removed from Vulcan Tower at the Vulcan Park and Museum in B'ham so that he can sell smaller art pieces in the gift shop and exhibit some of the larger pieces he does.
Lonnie has work included in the 'When You're Lost, Everything's a Sign' exhibit at the House of Blues in New Orleans through July 21 (also included: Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Rev. Howard Finster, Sybil Gibson, Mr. Imagination, Baltimore Glass Man, BF Perkins, Mose Tolliver, James “Son Ford” Thomas, Mary T. Smith, and others).
Longhorns at Lazy M Farms outside Springville, Alabama
Above: contestants at a Col. Sanders look-alike contest at the Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival
Think Col. Sanders and you're thinking of that white suit -- one is offered on June 22 at Heritage Auctions Signature Americana and Political Signature Auction, with an opening bid of $5k and an estimate of $10k+. In college when I was crazy-poor, I worked at a KFC and the owner would actually dress up like Colonel Sanders, white suit and all. He had the beard-thing going, too.
I took a look at the James K. Polk dessert plate that's also in the auction (opening bid $9500) since he's mishpocha, and it said that it had been gifted by Lincoln because his wife had ordered a new service and they were getting rid of the previous china.
Fried chicken will be there.
The 34th Annual Mississippi Picnic in NYC is this weekend.
There's a campaign going on to raise funds for the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation to purchase 3614 Jackson Highway (Muscle Shoals Sound Studio) to turn it into a museum. Why's this important?
Above: from a previous Commander's-at-Bright-Star supper
The Bright Star's (Bessemer AL) annual 'Taste of New Orleans' featuring Tory McPhail of Commander's is August 15-17.
Civil Rights leader, Rev. Will Campbell, passed away this week. Pulitzer-winner Robert D. McFadden wrote his obit:
A knot of contradictions himself, he was a civil rights advocate who drank whiskey with Klansmen, a writer who layered fact and fiction, and a preacher without a church who presided at weddings, baptisms and funerals in homes, hospitals and graveyards for a flock of like-minded rebels that included Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dick Gregory, Jules Feiffer and Studs Terkel.
Most of his scattered “congregation,” however, were poor whites and blacks, plain people alienated from mainstream Christianity and wary of institutions, churches and governments that stood for progress but that in their view achieved little. He once conducted a funeral for a ghost town, Golden Pond, Ky., where the residents had been removed in the late 1960s to make way for a Tennessee Valley Authority project.
...The son of Mississippi cotton farmers, Mr. Campbell grew up in a backwater of segregated schools, churches and cracker-barrel country stores where men chewed tobacco and spat bigotry.
He was ordained a Baptist minister at 17 and attended three colleges and Yale Divinity School before embarking on an unsatisfying life as a small-town pastor and then chaplain at the University of Mississippi. He left Ole Miss amid death threats over his integrationist views. As a race-relations troubleshooter for the National Council of Churches from 1956 to 1963, he joined the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, James Farmer, Bayard Rustin, John Lewis and other civil rights luminaries in historic confrontations across the South.
...Later in the 1960s, after appeals to Christian churches in the South to end segregation in their own ranks and actively fight discrimination, Mr. Campbell abandoned organized religion, though not his faith. He accused Southern Protestant churches in particular of standing silent in the face of bigotry.
...His belief that Christ died for bigots as well as devout people prompted his contacts with the Ku Klux Klan, and he visited James Earl Ray in prison after the 1968 assassination of Mr. Campbell’s friend Dr. King. He was widely criticized for both actions.
Mostly very good comments at The Atlantic, too.
God's Will from The Center for Public Television on Vimeo.
Above: Morning Call in Metairie
If you're keeping up with Brennan's, it's been busy. The property was sold at auction to Leggo/4 for $6.85MM who had been pressing for foreclosure anyway since they already held some Brennan's mortgages. They have to now negotiate with the new property owners for a lease to keep the restaurant going.
For those of us who love Dick and Jenny's, they've been bought. The new owners promise to keep everything the same...
The excitement over Morning Call coming back to the Quarter was nothing.
And the crazy honeybees behind St. Louis Cathedral are gone -- relocated to somewhere more appropriate for their happiness and well-being. Whew.
Reading this week:
The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South by Bruce C. Levine
Happy Home by Rebecca Winward
The Remembered Gate: Memoirs by Alabama Writers
If each state doesn't already have one, their tourism office could probably come up with a 'beer trail' now that so many breweries have popped up. Didn't this start getting serious in the '90s and it's really taking off now? I've heard of some of these, but the other day when I was at Whole Foods, there was Monkeynaut IPA from Straight to Ale in Huntsville -- which is appropriate since Huntsville = NASA and there's even a monument to the rhesus monkey astronaut Miss Baker at Marshall Space Flight Center there (I've got a picture of it somewhere! People leave bananas.).
At the same display was Lily Flag Milk Stout -- another Huntsville-themed beer as Lily Flagg was a jersey cow owned by a couple of men there, and she was famous for producing the most milk-to-butter in the world. There's even a part of town named after her.
Straight to Ale also makes Brother Joseph's Belgian Dubbel, named after the monk in Cullman who made Ave Maria Grotto:
Not a big surprise that they also have an ale named after Wernher Von Braun.
Elsewhere in Alabama:
Avondale Brewing and Cahaba Brewing in Birmingham, Blue Pants Brewery in Madison, Fairhope Brewing Company, Folklore Brewing in Dothan, Old Black Bear and Yellowhammer Brewing and Salty Nut Brewery in Huntsville, Beer Engineers in Gadsden, Black Warrior Brewing and Rocket Republic in Huntsville, Patriot Joe's Ales and Cheaha Brewing in Annison...
Chattahoochee Brewing in Phenix City's flagship beer is the 'Little Yuchi' -- and if you're remembering that Yuchi is a tribe, that's the tribe of Tom Henrix's g-g-grandmother...he's the gentleman who built Teh-Lah-Nay's Wall off the Natchez Trace in the NW corner of Alabama, the largest monument to a woman in the US:
Back Forty in Gadsden has Truck Stop Honey, Kudzu, Naked Pig, and Freckle Belly. They call their beers 'liquid folk art'.
Druid City Brewing in Tuscaloosa -- their logo's familiar:
Good People in Bham has Snake Handler (which...really should be serpent handler, right?):
Railyard Brewing Company in Montgomery is a place I want to go for lunch! Not only do they brew beer, they are serving fried Wickles pickles (I've met those brothers, they are nice!), scotch egg with Conecuh sausage, pimento cheese with charred jalapenos, a burger called 'All Hail the Pig' with cracklins, and for dessert a fried Moon Pie with vanilla ice cream.
When our family hosted the brunch after each of our sons' bris -- the meal is called 'seudat mitzvah' -- I advised the caterer what to serve, and while he was eager to leave those details to me, there were two things Av wanted to make sure we had on hand: Texas Jewboy cigars from Kinky Friedman, and He'Brew Beer. He got his wish.
Breweries in Mississippi (as close to a complete list as I can get right now):
Lazy Magnolia in Kiln
Southern Prohibition Brewery in Hattiesburg
Gordon Creek in Hattiesburg
Old Abbeville Brewing Company
Crooked Letter Brewing in Ocean Springs
Lucky Town in Gluckstadt
Georgia breweries listed here. Louisiana here. Tennessee here.
The New Yorker just came out with maps on growth of craft breweries as their 'Idea of the Week' feature, and Alabama is first in fastest-growing producers.
But such statistics and anecdotes fail to communicate a fascinating aspect of the craft-beer boom. The beverage is colonizing what one might call the craft-beer frontier: the parts of the country that are far from the major craft breweries of the West Coast and the Northeast.
Earlier this year, Av had a function in Tuscaloosa, so we made it a nice weekend and spent some time in the area -- of course took the boys to campus so they could have their pictures made with the statues outside the stadium:
...had lunch at what has to be my new favorite restaurant there -- Shiraz International Grill:
...and tried Priceline for the first time. We had a couple of ideas as to where to stay, but I opened the Priceline app to see what they had as options, and they had one of those 'secret' deals where they tell you what general location the hotel is, how many stars it has, etc but not exactly which hotel it is (until you book it) in exchange for a super-good rate. I could tell from the details it gave that there was only one property it could possibly be -- the Yellowhammer Inn and Conference Center. The most surprising part was that the room was only $39! How could this be? I consulted with Av and sure that we had guessed the only place it could possibly be, we got it right and booked into a room at the Yellowhammer that I think otherwise was going for about $120 that evening.
The grounds are beautiful and you can take a fantastic walk around the neighborhood, even to Lake Tuscaloosa. This was the view from our window:
Photograph in the public domain, courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, MS-1-1
and Rosemont in Columbus MS:
Photograph in the public domain, courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, MISS,44-COLUM,2-1
So we drove up -- 'new' Bryce is actually the older one, and 'old' Bryce is the newer one, but you can definitely see which is in better condition.
Bryce has its own security, so when we drove by this building (this one not designed by Sloan) below, we were pulled over. The very nice gentleman asked what we were up to, and when I explained that I was interested in architecture and just wanted to take some pictures from the car, that I thought it was okay since we were on campus, he explained that the university hasn't yet taken over so it's still technically private property. Oops. He was still really nice though.
Another reason why they are so careful about people on the property is that they occasionally have people go inside and vandalize. People who have gone in with a camera I think do it because of this, this, this, and this.
This is Guinea Church outside Moundville, Alabama. After we visited the first time several years ago, it occurred to me that this church was also photographed by William Christenberry -- this is how he photographed it in 1972. Today, this is how it's found:
Birmingham is blessed with our country's oldest ballpark: the 1910 Rickwood Field, and it was home to the Birmingham Barons and the Black Barons of the Negro Leagues. Our minor league team has been gone from here for a long time but Miles College still uses it as do some high school teams. Since 1996, they've hosted a 'throwback' game in which our current team leaves their more modern facility and plays a regular game here at Rickwood, which is super-fun and I've been to most of them. They honor a certain team or decade every year (one year the souvenir tees were tie-dye).
The newest ballpark is Regions Field, downtown Birmingham. I think Av took some of these pics when he was on a Leadership Birmingham visit and another at a different visit: