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This Week's Various

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Call Me
Sign we found in rural Mississippi in 2013

The Land that the Internet Era Forgot at Wired:

Gallardo is affiliated with something called the Extension Service, an institution that dates back to the days when America was a nation of farmers. Its original purpose was to disseminate the latest agricultural know-how to all the homesteads scattered across the interior. Using land grant universities as bases of operations, each state’s extension service would deploy a network of experts and “county agents” to set up 4-H Clubs or instruct farmers in cultivation science or demonstrate how to can and freeze vegetables without poisoning yourself in your own kitchen.

State extension services still do all this, but Gallardo’s mission is a bit of an update. Rather than teach modern techniques of crop rotation, his job—as an extension professor at Mississippi State University—is to drive around the state in his silver 2013 Nissan Sentra and teach rural Mississippians the value of the Internet.


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What if all of I-10 -- 2400 miles from Florida to California -- was a giant art project? YES. The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project:



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At the Willie Nelson Concert
Willie Nelson concert at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham, 2012

On the Road Again: Mapping All the Cities in Willie Nelson's Songs

also: this month, he received the Library of Congress' seventh Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

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Louise, Mississippi, a town of ~200 people, passes a resolution in support of Syrian refugees, which I'm only bringing up (I don't do politics here) because Channel 15 went to Belzoni to speak with Ethel Wright Mohamed's daughter (if you've ever heard of 'Mama's Dream World' -- that's the house in Belzoni that serves as a museum for Ethel Wright Mohamed's memory pictures that she stitched), Carol Mohamed Ivy, on her take, as Mr. Mohamed was a Syrian refugee who came to this country in 1911.



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Zagat with five Thanksgiving-in-one-bite opportunities:

Turducken Sausage at Dog Haus: Created by Dog Haus' culinary team and mastermind sausagemaker Adam Gertler, the flavorful holiday link is made with turkey, chicken, duck, fresh herbs, whiskey soaked cranberries and yams. It's then grilled and topped with sage gravy, a Brussels sprouts and bacon slaw, and crispy onions.

Anyway, you can buy a turducken in Cape Town, South Africa, even.

And: David Burke exec pastry chef Zac Young at Fabrick put this on IG:

I'm resisting this idea.

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Something I Thought I'd Never See

HarperCollins managed to have (you know, here I am a bit lost in how to say this as the whole idea is so contrary to what we've all believed for years about Nelle Harper Lee's philosophy on signing books, which has grown more and more closed) -- 500 editions of the new 'Go Set A Watchman' autographed, and they're going to sell them. For $1500 each.

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In Vanity Fair: Does William Eggleston Love Women? "You're Damn Right!"

Then he sportingly offered to take a cell-phone shot of me, although he confessed he didn’t know how. After a little explanation, he figured out my cell phone’s push button and took one picture, scarcely glancing through the lens.

The difference was laughable. Mine were just the usual snapshots, while his was a single, masterly composition of someone seated amid the day-for-night kitsch of El Quijote.


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Leah Chase on what she likes for Thanksgiving.
and not: "Please don't cook red beans on Thanksgiving."
And beautiful Leah talks about gratitude too:



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Yes to 'Cabin in the Sky' by Benny Andews at the Birmingham Museum of Art:

Cabin in the Sky by Benny Andrews at Birmingham Museum of Art

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From Eater: Prepare to Witness Jimmy Red Corn Reach Cult Status on Charleston Menus an endangered species:

Now, Geechie Boy Mill farmer Greg Johnsman brings a crop that industry insiders think could install just as much fervor — Jimmy Red Corn, also know as James Island Corn. Johnsman spent the past eight years cultivating the almost-extinct variety of kernels on Edisto Island. Slow Food USA calls the crop, "... one of the most interesting and talked about Southern heirloom corn varieties ..."

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"Twixt Cup and Lip," a one-act play Faulkner wrote just after WWI that was recently found has just appeared in The Strand magazine.

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From Fox10 in Biloxi on Thanksgiving:

“Crab claws. Crab meat. And shrimp and oysters,” he recited, “We don't do much turkey.”

Though turkey may still be the star for many Thanksgiving feasts, shrimp and crab and oysters will play strong supporting roles on local holiday tables.

“Everybody's making their fresh gumbo. Peeled shrimp and head on shrimp and crab meat,” said Andrew Gunkel, with Quality Seafood. “Oh yeah, and don't forget your oyster dressing. Everybody loves their oyster dressing."


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Newbern Library, Newbern AL

The official grand opening and dedication of the Rural Studio project Newbern Library happened last month. The 17th Rural Studio 20k house, Geraldine's House in Newbern has been completed.

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Had double date supper with best friends at Hot and Hot (Hot and Hot Fish Club) this month, and while it was good I still stand by the maxim that you really only eat there if you can confirm that Chris Hastings is there. But he wasn't.

I had the lionfish. Meh:
Lionfish, Hot and Hot Fish Club
Appreciative they are putting this invasive species on the menu, though.

Have been thinking of visiting Chris' newest, Ovenbird, but while Yelp gives me pause (and yes...I know...Yelp...), Yelp on Ovenbird gives me serious pause.

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Hubert Richter Chapel, Cullman AL
Here, the tiny Hubert Richter Chapel in Cullman, Alabama

The smallest church in America, in Townsend, Georgia, was destroyed by fire this week.  There were seats for 12 (the same number as the disciples) and was deeded to Jesus by the woman who had it built in the 1950s.

A list of tiny churches here.

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This sentence in the new Rick Bragg book, My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South:

I love the mountain churches along the Georgia-Alabama line, love the hard-rock preachers in their Conway Twitty sideburns who fling scripture with the force of a flying horseshoe at congregations who all but levitate in the grasp of the Holy Ghost, and every old woman's purse in every pew smells like a fresh stick of Juicy Fruit.

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My Idea: Matzah Ball Soup Bar
Some of the makings of my matzah ball soup bar

Favorite sentence this week, though, is the last in this paragraph on Jewish life in Jackson, Tennessee:

These two amazing women, Janice Axelrad Rosenbloom Riddler and Gertrude Kisber, were the inspiration for a cookbook celebrating the congregation’s 130th anniversary — along with many of the other women who cooked up Jewish life, commerce, and cooking in Jackson, Tennessee. The stories of the dishes these women prepared live on today in the cookbook our congregation now shares. A former rabbi paid one of the women featured in the cookbook, Mrs. Gold, quite a special tribute by saying, “her soup was beyond compare as her secret seasoning was to ‘sigh into the pot,’ flavoring its golden droplets with two thousand years of Jewish hopes and dreams.”

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According to the 2014 Social Security Administration's records, the 6th most popular newborn girls name in Mississippi is Brooklyn.

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Munchies' BBQ Road Trip Part Two is here (part one was London) and this time they visited Tennessee, going Nashville to Memphis. At Scott's Parker's (think: Ruth's Chris) in Lexington, the host meets Zach Parker who is still cooking whole hog, a 23-24 hour process.

"That's what my dad strived on. And I do a lot of things based on the way he would do them. He tried to keep it old-fashioned. That's what this area grew up on. And that's the way I want to keep it. If I had to quit doing whole hogs, I'd quit in general. It's whole hog or nothing. It's not a job to me. It's an art. I get to pour all of my love and heart and blood and sweat into it."

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Kara Walker
Kara Walker works, at Hotel 21C in Bentonville

Via Hyperallergenic: An Encounter with Kara Walker’s Poignantly American Work in the UK. Her 'Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First' was at Victoria Miro Gallery in London.

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Bill Murray, Sean Brock, and Anthony Bourdain sit down at Husk in Charleston, and Bill Murray apparently likes CHS so much, "the standard of food here is so high," he doesn't want anybody else to move there.


Complete aside, though, the presentation of the last dish in this clip -- with the server touching half the meat with his hand -- needs to be thoroughly reworked.

A big deal was made of Bourdain's new appreciation of Waffle House. What I thought more interesting was that Sean Brock mentioned he was obsessed with Waffle House as a child because it was the only place at which he could actually see people cook, how the atmosphere of it all really helped him fall in love with cooking.

It's really American teppanyaki with fascinating precision (including the square that the server stands on and how to call orders),

When I was old enough to think seriously about what kind of man I wanted to marry, what character traits and so on, I knew I wanted someone who could recite Maimonides' Eight Levels of Charity as well as the entire heirarchy of ordering hashbrowns at WH: scattered, smothered, covered...

At the end of the WH segment, Sean says, "you don't come here expecting The French Laundry. You come here expecting something *amazing*."

To which, Bourdain answers (mouthful of pecan waffle): "This is better than French Laundry, man."

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CBS This Morning visits Aaron Franklin:




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I found out that next month I'm going to an event with Sara McDaris of Grunches and Grins which ran on Alabama Public Television from the mid-70s to mid-90s. This intro was my 3-year-old jam:


I wanted Miss Sara and Mister Rogers to get married.

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Front Dining Room, Antoine's, New Orleans LA
The front dining room at Antoine's

Bless Mrs. Sanders in Hartsville, South Carolina for the etiquette class she gives at the high school there, from the NYT:

First period Monday morning this week was no different. Desks had been pushed together to make tables. Her family silver, including her late mother’s silver goblets in the Francis I pattern, was laid out in proper formation. Place cards were read. Napkins fluttered to laps. The 29 students spent the next hour eating turkey and making polite conversation.

“It’s a lost art we must carry on,” Mrs. Sanders said as she made last-minute adjustments to butter knives and plate chargers. “There’s got to be civility.”


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The Advertiser reports that 39 of the first Acadians, who were buried from July to November 1765 along along the Bayou Teche (now Loreauville) will be exhumed as part of the New Acadia Project, a 'multidisciplinary research effort designed to systematically locate, identify and investigate the 18th century homesteads and unmarked gravesites of Acadian exiles — the first Cajuns.'

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Pie Lab, Greensboro AL
Pecan pie at Pie Lab

Yahoo Travel decided to tackle who made the best pie in each state, and for Alabama, Pie Lab was chosen. Shugaree's in New Albany (and their pretty chocolate meringue) won Mississippi.

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Ole Miss is slated to destroy the Old Power Plant, where Faulkner wrote 'As I Lay Dying'.

"I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force," Faulkner wrote later. "Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first words, I knew what the last word would be. ... Before I began I said I am going to write a book by which, at a pinch, I can stand or fall if I never touch ink again."

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My Refrigerator
My refrigerator right now: That Green Sauce from HEB. BTW, yes all those things are on a lazy susan, and yes one day I will license the idea to some huge appliance company and make a zillion dollors because yes, it is a great idea (and I'm sure a zillion other people are doing it too!)

And GLO-ree Hallelujah, HEB is shipping online orders! That means my Texas-shaped chips, Whataburger ketchup, and 'That Green Sauce' (oooooh the green sauce) is a click away. YESSSSS.  Now if Buc-ee's would just send me some fresh Beaver Nuggets...

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A Secret House of Curiosities: This Art Couple’s Wonderfully Weird Lair Deserves Attention of Julie and Bruce Lee Webb (Webb Gallery) in Waxahatchie, Texas -- interview slideshow a *must*:

STANDOUT SHOW.
BLW/JW: We once curated a show here in the gallery of the late blind sculptor Hawkins Borden of Memphis, Tennessee. We draped the gallery with black plastic to create total darkness, filled the space with Bolden’s haunting masks composed of hole-pierced pan sculptures and allowed people to feel the sculptures before seeing them.

ON THE IMMORTAL BEAT WRITER WILLIAM BURROUGHS.
BLW/JW: Yes, we first did an exhibit of William Burroughs’ artwork in 1994 as our inaugural exhibition in our current building … William’s paintings and Bill Daniel’s photos of train-car graffiti. We met William and asked him what he thought of having a show in Waxahachie, Texas. He said, “It’s as good a place as any.”


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A short film called 'Central Texas Barbecue' was published on Vimeo this week, featuring Kreuz, Louie Miller, Davis Grocery, Taylor, and Black's.


Central Texas Barbecue from Urtext Films on Vimeo.

"...our family, we say barbecue, but that's family, that's what that means. And for someone who's not from around here may kinda, that's kinda weird, put religion, politics, and barbecue up there, but barbecue's family, I mean everyone knows that."

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NPR visits J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works in West Virginia.

Bruns uses a wooden rake to gather finished salt crystals into a pile. Her company will produce about 10,000 pounds this year to be dried, sorted, put in small jars and shipped out to top restaurants like The French Laundry in northern California, Husk in Charleston, S.C., and Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore.

"I think of salt as like wine, so the minerality of our salt is different from the minerality of any other salt, kind of like a pinot noir grown in California is different from a pinot noir grown in France. Could be exactly the same vine but because of the earth that it's grown in it gives you a different flavor," Bruns says.


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Ninfa's, Houston
At Ninfa's on Navigation (the original and the best)

When is Tex-Mex No Longer Tex-Mex: Could the answer lie in a puddle of chili gravy? at Houstonia:

And it occurred to me then: could good chili gravy be the lynchpin of “real” Tex-Mex? I scanned my memories for all the terrible Tex-Mex meals past, eaten in places like Rochester, New York and Manchester, England. What did all of those meals have in common? A distinct lack of chili gravy.

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And:
The New Art World Math: What It Really Costs to Be an Art Dealer from The Observer
Fear is Boring and Other Tips for Living a Creative Life
I guess this is proof we really don't need our Lululemon and UnderArmour

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