The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Lockhart Barbecue, Franklin, and Round Rock

When a friend and I were talking about uber-Texas venues to have a wedding in Austin, I instantly thought of the Driskill. Our family has stayed there a couple of times before and it’s beautiful. I shared this room with a sweet friend of mine who lives in San Antonio now.

…but even prettier are the common areas at the hotel.

The pic below can be clicked through for an album of images from this and previous stays at the Driskill:

Driskill Hotel, Austin TX

The last time we made our annual Texas trip, Av did the big three in Lockhart, as usual.

BTW, Aaron Franklin was interviewed by Eater for where he’d go for a barbecue roadtrip (and what he’d get there) and the first stop on the list was Kreuz.

Kreuz Market:

We happened to get the same things Aaron suggested from his list — pork chop, prime rib, sausage — but we weren’t fans of the prime rib at all. Stick with the pork chop here.

My fave, Black’s (because they have those huge bronto-size beef ribs)

beef ribs at Black’s all day, every day.

and Smitty’s

hot ring yesssss

The boys and I watched a movie another day while Av survived the line at Franklin in Austin, and he felt as though his hours-long wait was worth it (plus it sounds like he made some friends). The brisket. The brissssketttttt yesssssss.

Notice no sides on any of the barbecue stops. That was enough meat to put anybody in everlasting ketosis, I think. Anyway, on our way out the next day, we did decide it was time to sneak some carbs so we made it to Round Rock Donuts which were a-maz-ing.

I guess we could have thought about splitting a Texas-sized one with six other families, but…

We tried some doughnut holes (yummm)

…and we each got a flavored one for later. Chocolate sprinkles for Shugie.

Calling Ex-Boyfriends

Earlier this year, I was invited to a wedding at The Driskill in Austin — I was one of the people who suggested the hotel as *the* perfect super-Texas venue, so I was really looking forward to seeing a bunch of friends…friends at the wedding, and friends I know from elsewhere.

Thinking about the trip one day, out of the blue, I messaged an ex-boyfriend who lives there now to see if he wanted to get together on the Friday I was flying in, for a late lunch before the rehearsal supper.


But that was so much harder than it sounds.

So much harder. During school, we’d spent a couple of just super-fun years of being together, but I realized that it wasn’t going to work out long term. I could-not-waitttt to get my degrees, start my career, move away and have a big life, and he didn’t have those kinds of aspirations — he trusted that college and career and those kinds of things were just going to come together without having to think or work too hard at it. He wasn’t religious and didn’t have fantasies about kids and fun trips, while I was literally filling notebooks with what I thought a beautiful life would look like. We were fun at 19 but I realized it wasn’t for keeps.

I wanted that guy I was dreaming about in my notebooks. The one who knew what ‘scattered, smothered, and covered’ meant *and* who knew Maimonides’ eight levels of charity. Well rounded, y’all.

So. One summer, my boyfriend and I broke up. We went our own directions. We weren’t upset at each other, just moving on.

But it got even more complicated.

At the end of the summer, he had a terrible accident and broke his neck. I was at a friend’s house when I got the news. It was just so casual. “Did you know he hit a tree and broke his neck?” and I remember a weird little yelp escaped from my throat. I had to get to the hospital.

It was terrible. He was alive, but paralyzed. His hands were all curled up, he couldn’t move anything, and he was in one of those metal halos.

I walked in the door and that was it: we were a team again. I canceled all my classes and my residence was a vinyl hospital chair. Time stood still for weeks, for months. We read the big red collection of Allen Ginsberg poems over and over (‘A Supermarket in California’ — our fave — maybe a million times), we listened to music, we told stories based on fact and made up others with fantastical endings.

More time went by as he was discharged to rehab, then was able to come back to our hometown. There was more rehab there.

As months went by, I saw our friends going back and forth to wherever their universities were. One day at his house, I admitted that while I didn’t want to leave him, I was scared. I needed to finish my last two years of college. I’d worked enough minimum-wage fast food and summer factory jobs while going to school (ohmygoooosh that summer I spent between freshman year and sophomore year at an un-airconditioned factory at which I was literally tethered by the wrists to metal-bending press machine the size of a small car) to know it wasn’t just going to fall into place if I didn’t get back on track.

It was weird, because after the wreck, we never ‘got back together’ or talked about being a couple, so it’s not like we had to break up again.

He told me it was okay.

(above: my dorm room with pics of him. Clements Hall obviously didn’t yet know the fab of the Ole Miss dorm makeover.)

Here’s what happened: I went back to school and felt guilty for leaving. So I put off calling. And then I felt even more guilty for going a few days without calling that I didn’t have the courage to call him then. And so on.

I knew he was going to be okay, but I was afraid just the fact that I had been doing things was going to be hurtful. He was stuck in a bed or at rehab, and I was running off to classes and trying to fake being a regular college kid. When I wasn’t cramming material for assignments or working a register somewhere, I was horseback riding and eating at Taco Bell at odd hours and spending time with other kids our age who hadn’t had anything crazy happen. We weren’t just two teens in a time capsule anymore. Guilt ate me alive. I felt like such a faker to everyone: everything’s awesome! while inside I have a hole in my heart the size of a teenage boy.

Years ago, we friended on FB but I had no idea what he was up to, other than he was living in Austin.

So I messaged him about lunch. And he offered to pick me up from the airport.

And oh. He parked, stood up, and walked (not perfectly, but ohmygosh he.can.walk!) over. It was like nothing ever happened. He even had some of our old music playing in the car. It was the 90s all over again. It was good having our team back.

There was a point, though, I told him how crazy sorry I was for leaving him so I could finish school, and for not knowing how to navigate both those worlds. He understood. He was still the person who figured things were just going to work out.

We had a great weekend. We had lunch at Lonesome Dove (okay I have to put some more pics in this post. Here’s the restaurant — you’ve probably seen owner Tim Love on telly):

elk -foie sliders with blueberry jam — yummmm

some of the best bread everrr

meatloaf — meh

brisket with Mexican street corn — the brisket was meh too but the corn was out of this world good.

He showed me some of Austin, then when it was time, dropped me off at the Driskill so I could get ready for the rehearsal party, which was fun.

The next day he texted and asked me if he could take me to Salt Lick, so we did that:

ribssssss were soooo goood (Av says since I’ve shown him these pics and told him about it, he’s totally ready to go to Salt Lick — we have a yearly Texas trip which of course includes a trip to Lockhart, but he’s ready to include Driftwood now)

…and I got shug the fab B R I S K E T tee there.

He’s super happy. He has a girlfriend, Austin suits him great, he has this big circle of friends, and he does what he enjoys. I called his mom when I got home and it was so good. So, so good.

And I didn’t realize then, but those notebooks I filled with ideas about the future with a beautiful family life…turns out I met that guy and married him (and yes, Av knows those eight levels *and* the way to order hashbrowns at Waffle House (even though he just likes them plain)).

So call your ex-boyfriends. ha! Not really. Okay, maybe. Alright, do it. If you do, I hope it turns out this great.

Oh, and:

We talked about what I could bring back for Av and the boys, and he suggested Voodoo Doughnuts which was just down from the Driskill. I think EVERYbody in the airports (AUS –> DFW –> BHM) who knew what that pink box meant was totally jealous.

A girlfriend and I stood in line to get them that Sunday morning — they’re open 24/7, even. Cash only.

This awesome Mona Superhero 8’x16′ duct tape masterpiece was on one wall

That’s a tribute doughnut — whenever someone famous passes away, they create a big doughnut with their likeness. They’re not for sale.

I had one of the plain ones once I got home, and it was fab. All the ones I got were yeast doughnuts, and everybody was super-happy with what I picked out. Voodoo puts fresh stuff on IG all the time.

Also on Sunday: another friend took me to Palvos where they have their own salsa bar, and to the Cathedral of Junk — I’ll post pics from that visit soon. Faaaab.

(from Supermarket in California:) Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?

“No Rain On Mary Jane” Graveshelter, And She Was Number One

Driving up to the Whitesboro Cemetery in Etowah County, the little paved path by the church was blocked by a pickup truck. I parked behind, and as a gentleman and another person were standing in front of another grave, I nodded as I walked by quietly to give them their privacy.

I was going further back, to document the grave shelter for the Jacobs family, James J. (1865-1939) and Mary Jane (1869-1934). Under their names, ‘Having finished life’s duty, they now sweetly rest’ is engraved.

Above, a wooden carport-style graveshelter decorated with zigzag wood edging and in front, a painted wooden monogram cutout that suggests this graveshelter is still being maintained by family currently.

Especially striking is what is handwritten inside the shelter — a family tree with 70+ names, one entry noting that Wilmer was KIA in 1944 in France, another note that there would be ‘no rain on Mary Jane‘ (thus, this graveshelter), and at the bottom, ‘for other descendants & (kin) just look around‘.

Walking back to my car, I waved goodbye to the people who were standing at the grave, still wishing to give them their space. They waved back, and I walked nearer, judging if they would be willing to talk a little. About thirty minutes later, we were still there talking about graveshelters, homemade monuments, and other folk practices.

The gentleman told me about one other cemetery closer to Attalla, the one at Noble Hill Missionary Baptist, that he thought either used to, or may still have a graveshelter, so after a while, I left to check on it. There wasn’t a graveshelter, but I did find this:

#1 Wife, Mother, and Grandmother

This Week’s Various 06.11.17

As always, all images unless otherwise noted are copyright DeepFriedKudzu. Like to use one? Contact me.

At the beta Google Arts & Culture site, one may view an exhibit of Bill Traylor works at the High.

From the Chicago Tribune: Hundreds attend dedication of a 10-story mural for bluesman Muddy Waters

Above: brisket from Franklin (Av survived the line last summer) and #spoileralert: of course they’re still on that top 10 list

Texas Monthly’s new list of the best barbecue joints in Texas is out

The only museum dedicated to telling the story of the prohibition era has opened in Savannah. And they have a speakeasy, too.

The Daily Tarheel with how Public arts investments revitalize N.C. and on how Vollis Simpson’s whirligig park has brought about development:

Since the start of the project, about $25 million in private and public development has sprung up within a two block radius of the park. Curran said Hi-Dollar, an old tobacco warehouse next to the park, is being renovated into about 90 apartments, four retail shops and a restaurant. The project costs about $12 million, and the building will be called the Whirligig Station.

“If that park were not here, we would not be here,” Curran said. “If that park were not here, I don’t know that other developments in downtown would be happening as quickly as they are now.”

Food & Wine visits Louie Mueller BBQ in Taylor, Texas and talks with Wayne about switching careers to come home to run the family business:

“I could sign an $8 million-dollar sponsorship deal with my owner, and his response would be ‘That’s great. What else are you working on?’ I can cut off an end piece of brisket for someone who’s never had it, and they have one of those epiphanies—eyes roll to the back of the head, speaking in tongues. It’s real, it’s right there. It’s true gratitude that I haven’t been able to find in many other aspects of life…It’s easy to lose track of who you are, where you came from, why you are what you are, what really means anything to you. In a place like this, all of those questions are answered almost immediately. You know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”

There’s a bungalow one may rent to spend the night at Finster’s Paradise Garden.

NPR’s Weekend Edition talks with Frank Stitt and Clayton Sherrod about Southern food and Birmingham but really the most powerful point here is Sherrod’s story about a family experience.

Yes to Epicurious’ 100 Greatest Home Chefs of All Time — a great list, though I wish they had included Eugene Walter.

EUGENE WALTER: LAST OF THE BOHEMIANS (APT version) from Robert Clem on Vimeo.

Only if you need a cry.

I don’t even *know* the last time I had any Rose’ but apparently it’s time to go to Aldi. And Krispy Kreme jelly beans are a thing.

Pinterest tells “what people in each state love proportionally more than people in the others” for brunch, and here you go.

From The Guardian: Brandon Thibodeaux spent eight years living with and photographing a number of families in the northern Mississippi delta, capturing their lives as they worked, played, attended church and provided for their children. Here is the photoessay they ran.

In art environment news, SPACES Archives is moving to Kohler:

We are thus truly excited to announce that SPACES has decided to partner with Kohler Foundation, Inc., and will transfer SPACES’ archives and the operation of the website to the only foundation in the country dedicated to the preservation of art environments. KFI is committing extensive resources to the present and future of SPACES mission and archives, and we will look forward, through this anticipated partnership, to maintaining the resources to continue to support SPACES’ mission for generations to come.

To Kill A Mockingbird comes out as graphic novel in November 2018.

Marriage License Into The Afterlife

In the Monroe, Louisiana Old City Cemetery, the most prominent monument is that of Sidney Saunders, whose likeness stands holding — of all things — his marriage license

After being born in 1846 in Mississippi, he grew up in Morehouse Parish when very young, and was orphaned as a teenager. He joined the CSA, and after being wounded during the siege of Vickburg, became a prisoner and was paroled home.

Later, he became a grocery and saloon keeper and in 1875, brought his wife and son Willie to Monroe, which apparently was a big surprise. There were rumors that Sidney’s business practices were suspect and that the circumstances around his marriage weren’t on the up-and-up. Bad things were said about his wife, Annie, and the nature of how she and Sidney actually became a couple.

Their son Willie died in 1886 at age 12.

In the span of about 20 years, three of Sidney Saunders’ properties caught fire, and the last one in the late 1890s cast him, at least in his own mind, as a suspect of the latest arson. Sidney bought a lot in the Monroe City Cemetery in January 1889 and less than two weeks later, he was found dead, believed to have been the fault of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

After his death, his wife Annie found herself in a situation to make full claim on his $83k estate. Relatives remembering the odd circumstances in which he found himself married could not find a legal marriage license and thus took the inheritance.

Annie fought back and the register (not license, but officiant statement) of their marriage had been found in St. Louis, dated back to 1875. Annie had this cemetery monument made, based on the likeness of someone who worked at the monument factory, holding a marriage license — which is what’s in the statue’s hand, below.

She had their son Willie moved to this crypt also. Inside the crypt, what’s believed to be a 10′ square room, Annie:

..hung curtains, moved in her husband’s desk and kept a sewing machine and her son’s velocipede (or tricycle).

Local history enthusiast Ron Downing said his grandfather talked about visiting with Annie Saunders on Sundays while she sat in the subterranean room in a rocking chair.

People said she went there daily to pray and sew, according to Peppers.

Annie was later buried in the crypt also.

Trail Of Scriptures

After visiting the grave shelter at Ballinger Cemetery in Morgan County, Alabama, I stopped when I saw the First Christian Church of Valhermoso Springs and its Trail of Scriptures as I love to document religious displays.

Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL
Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

Set up as a place at which people can simply get out and walk the trail, it is peppered with Christian verses and symbolism
Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

I needed to be home early that evening, so I didn’t have time to walk the trail (it’s actually a very good size), but enjoyed that this congregation put so much loving-kindness into developing something for the community here.
Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

Staying With Dolly, And Trying To See Bioluminescent Bugs In Parks

When in Rome…well, never mind. That won’t really work here.

But when in Sevierville, Tennessee with the intention of taking the kids to ride roller coasters at Dollywood…

Get a lodge if you’re feeling all mountain-ish, or stay at Dollywood (because generally otherwise, the options are Fairfield and lower).

We pick the Dollywood Dreammore Resort, and just as how it’s a plus to stay on-site at Disney (the last three times, we’ve stayed at WDW’s Coronado Springs Resort, and although I’ve dreamed about the Grand Floridian, the fact remains we are only at the hotel for a swim or sleep, so CS is really a great choice) for extended park hours, transportation, and other convenience factors, and the same is true here for the Dollywood amusement park. There’s the ‘TimeSaver’ which works as a scheduled line pass, a shuttle that has its own entry/exit point at the park, early park entrance on Saturdays, and package delivery.
Dollywood Dreammore Resort, Sevierville TN

And there’s a lot of Ms Parton here (which, especially after knowing about her Imagination Library which sends new books monthly to kids for free, I’m okay with an abundance of Dolly actually). Photographs, an encased bedazzled guitar…um, a whole hallway of backlit album covers…
Dollywood Dreammore Resort, Sevierville TN

There are other touches, like little Dolly messages in the elevators. Otherwise, though, it’s a (as Expedia classified it) 4*, 307-room hotel with valet, free self-parking, and free wifi.

Dollywood Dreammore Resort, Sevierville TN

There are activities the hotel puts on for children each day, but we mostly take advantage of the pools. There is a restaurant, a lounge, and a counter with things like sandwiches — but we mostly eat off-property. This area doesn’t have a great deal of non-chain, interesting restaurants, so while we’ve tried local pizza and local Thai and local whatever, we best like the little Chinatown Restaurant with weird parking and off-menu specials written in what I think is Mandarin (the chongqing chicken and war bar = excellent).

Dollywood Dreammore Resort, Sevierville TN

In the past, we’ve had rooms here wherein the bunk beds are in the same room as the larger bed. This time, though, ‘our’ bedroom was in its own space, and…

Dollywood Dreammore Resort, Sevierville TN

The bunkbeds were in their own area, separated from the main space by a wall. And this thrilled the boys more than sleeping in bunkbeds: they had their own tv.

Dollywood Dreammore Resort, Sevierville TN

I didn’t see a way to program the television to only show certain channels (in hotels, we only let HGTV or Food Network be on, unless some sports game is playing), so the boys kept it on HG until it was bedtime.

Knoxville is only 35 or 40 minutes away from Sevierville, and many times we choose to stay there instead (often at the downtown Marriott or Hilton), which is great because there is *so* much to do right in the middle of the city within walking distance.

Some time soon, I’d like us to think about going up in a hot air balloon ride over the GRSM.  We did not get a spot in this year’s park lottery to be able to get access to the viewing area for the synchronous fireflies (going on right now), but we’re going to try again next year. We also want to try to get over to see the dismalites at Dismals Canyon in NW Alabama.

Kara Walker’s Upcoming Installation For NOLA’s Prospect.4 Biennial, And Uncomfortable Art

The NYT had a feature on Kara Walker’s installation for New Orleans’ Prospect 4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp triennial later this year.

Ms. Walker’s contribution will be at Algiers Point, where a ferry will take visitors to an installation she created for a riverboat calliope — a pipe organ evocative of old circuses and steamboats — with the MacArthur-winning jazz pianist Jason Moran.

The piece only mentions four other works, those by Yoko Ono, the late Louis Armstrong (collages), Derrick Adams, and Mark Dion.

There will be a total of 73 artists taking part at 17 different venues around the city. Thirty of the works will be original for the triennial.

Here, a series of Kara’s works I photographed at the 21c Hotel Museum in Bentonville

and though her pieces are in the collections of several different museums, my favorite thus far is of her Freedom Fighters for the Society of Forgotten Knowledge, Northern Domestic Scene at the Menil in Houston.

At today’s NYT, Kara Walker is quoted on the Dana Schutz painting of Emmett Till’s coffin, “Open Casket” at the Whitney Biennial — actually the NYT article is on that and the Sam Durant “Scaffold” sculpture.

Kara Walker noted that “the history of painting is full of graphic violence and narratives that don’t necessarily belong to the artists own life,” but may inspire “deeper inquiries and better art. It can only do this when it is seen.”

(There are always things that will make people feel uncomfortable, and taking out all that juicy uncomfortable-ness would make a world full of…I don’t know…boring Thomas Kinkade in which we’re all just blankly staring slack-jawed at paintings of snow-capped mountain peaks. Pope.L’s “Claim”, at the Whitney Biennial in which he used slices of (real, stinky, pork maybe? prob?) bologna nailed to walls with b&w pictures of people atop to represent the percentage of Jews in New York (whyyyyyy?)makes me uncomfortable. And yet The Root thought it was pretty awesome. So what makes some of us cringe makes others applaud. Thus, art.)

Speaking of rotten food in an exhibit: Spencer Shoults “Cupcakes!” at Space One Eleven several years ago

Ingredients: acetic acid, acrylic tubing, baking powder, bolts, distilled water, eggs, eye bolts, flour, food coloring, glass, glue, grain alcohol, graphite, honey, hose clamps, hydrogen peroxide, icing, masonite, milk, motor oil, nails, paint, plastic caps, pvc tubing, salt, screws, shortening, silicone, silicone tape, sprinkles, sugar, teflon tape, valves, vanilla extract, white wine, wire, wood”