This Week’s Various 05.21.17

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Hi friends! Thanks for sticking with me this past week with the transition to WordPress. I found out (thanks Jacob!) that my Blogger template had some code that wasn’t 100% which needed cleaning up, and it was time to make the leap to a better platform anyway. I’ll keep streamlining and such, and have things in a really good place very soon. Now, back to ‘This Week’s Various’! xoxo!

The NYT reviews Wayne Flynt’s new book of letters between himself and Nelle Harper Lee, Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee. I was at a conference in Auburn last month, and got to ask him about the book. He said we’ll see her in this book ‘unfiltered’ and told me that if someone already liked her, they’d like her more. And the converse would also be true.

From the Times:

In her letters, Ms. Lee often mentioned books and writers. She praised a host of authors, from Frank McCourt to William Faulkner. She referred to Eudora Welty as “my goddess.”


Of Olek‘s plans to make 50 large-scale yarn creations of ‘strong female figures’ in each of the 50 states by 2020, the first is this fab one of Harriet Tubman in upstate NY. And it was a group effort: people crocheted 2’x2′ sections that were stitched together to make the mural.

(above: if you’ve never gotten the turkey — yes, the turkey — at BBG, there’s some exploring to do)

Big Bob Gibson‘s has won their 5th Grand Championship at Memphis in May.

Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Public Broadcast are doing a project called The Struggle to Stay

Just saying: there are a world of great hamburgers in the world, but two of the best happen to be at Chez FonFon in Birmingham, and Stamps Superburger in Jackson. 

So apparently every year, the UK McDonald’s franchises do a special ‘Great Tastes of America‘ promotion whereby they develop hamburgers that are supposedly representative of a certain region. This year, among those selected are the ‘South Carolina Stack’ with “two beef patties, beechwood-smoked bacon, smoky cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, and a “sweet ‘n’ tangy” South Carolina mustard sauce on a toasted corn meal-dusted bun” plus a ‘Louisiana Stack’ with “two beef patties, pepper jack cheese, red and yellow peppers, mayo, and spicy ketchup on a spicy sesame seed bun” (huh? you had all of Louisiana to go on and that’s what you went with?) and the ‘Tennessee Stack’ with “two beef patties, beechwood-smoked bacon, smoky cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, and “Tennessee-style” BBQ sauce on a toasted flour-topped bun.”

Via Via Hannah Raskin at the Post and Courier: Charleston is having a ‘Spririted Brunch’ on Sunday:

The menu for the event is terrifically diverse: Participating houses of worship were asked to serve whatever best represents them, so attendees will sample dates at the Central Mosque of Charleston and pound cake at The First Baptist Church of Charleston. Most of the congregations are offering something sweet, ranging from rugelach to ice cream. But there are savory reminders of the surrounding area, including pimento cheese sandwiches and okra rolls, which likely have little meaning to Episcopalians and Unitarians in Montana or Maine.

Tennessee Farm Table talks with Ronni Lundy on her new book, Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes, and greens, greens, greens.

A new exhibit at the Eudora Welty Education and Visitors Center in Jackson, “Dear Miss Welty: A Rotating Selection of Correspondence” is based around her fan mail.

At Lucky Peach, The Quest to Make a Super Tomato: Why do most tomatoes taste bad

Klee and his team of researchers based at the University of Florida have figured out what, precisely, makes a tomato taste like a tomato. Using one hundred and fifty tomato varietals, an extensive taste testing panel, chemical analyses, and genome sequencing, they describe with laser accuracy the alchemy of acid, sugar, and scent that yields the best tomato, and all the genes responsible. It’s a tomato instruction manual—and Klee thinks he can use that instruction manual to build a better tomato.

#spoileralert: the best tomato is always the one you grow in your backyard

…and Duke’s Mayonnaise had a celebration for their 100th year, and of all the items:

Still, as the market research promised, attendees weren’t especially interested in hopped-up mayo. They gravitated instead to the simplest mayonnaise presentation on offer: Duke’s smeared on white bread and topped with sliced tomatoes.

The winner of their 100th anniversary recipe contest was one for ‘Lolly’s Alabama White BBQ Sauce’ and online later this year, they’re making available (they verified for me these will not be available in stores) Duke’s jars in glass, one with a tomato graphic.

And as strange as it is, the glass jar made me think of the gentleman who in 2014 made his wishes known that when the time came, he wanted his cremated remains to be housed in a glass Duke’s jar:

The company obliged, contacting their label makers to help prepare two bespoke glass jars and labels printed with Clinton’s full name on them.

“They were custom all the way,” said Sauer. “We took the basis of the label and with the swirl on the bottom and put his name in there. His daughter said he was just delighted.”

From Texas Standard: Crawfish in Your Lawn? Hope You’re Okay with That

The family of Willie Seaberry plans to reopen Po’ Monkey’s in Merigold, Mississippi this summer.

Why Some Say It’s Past Time Texas Bans ‘Lunch Shaming’

And yes a million times to people paying off school lunch debts.

Oseola McCarty’s home in Hattiesburg will be turned into a museum. From the AP:

McCarty, a former washerwoman, revealed in 1995 that after her death she would leave a portion of her life’s savings for scholarships. Those savings, which totaled about $150,000, were donated to USM…

The person who runs the Smithsonian’s Sweet and Sour Project tells Munchies in Are We Wrong to Call Americanized Chinese Food ‘Inauthentic’? that Chop Suey probably has origins in China after all, and that

Chinese food has been in this country for about 160 years, and even from the beginning, immigrants were never accepted, but the food was. When the first immigrants arrived in the 1850s and they needed to feed themselves, they didn’t have access to recipes; they weren’t even cooks. Most of them were bachelors. It was all men who came over at first, and men didn’t cook; women cooked. So you were getting some strange versions of the quote-unquote traditional dishes to begin with.

Rosa Parks’ recipe for pancakes includes melted peanut butter.  Eudora Welty contributed this recipe for onion pie that Katherine Anne Porter gave her. Robert Penn Warren put together a ‘particularly insidious punch‘.

(above: inside Heirloom Barbecue)
Munchies on Heirloom Barbecue in Atlanta

Taylor and Lee, who are married, fuse American barbecue and Korean cuisine, but it is not “Korean barbecue,” which is meat cooked on a charcoal grill. Taylor even grimaces at the fusion label. “It’s just us being us,” he stresses. Certainly, Heirloom sounds like fusion, though. On offer are ribs marinated in gochujang—a sweet, fermented chili paste–cooked in a Texas smoker, and a smoky gochujang-marinated pork sandwich topped with kimchi slaw and collard greens in Korean miso. But one can see what Taylor means: There is nothing tacky, forced or unnatural about the menu, which is probably the secret to their success.

The second-most popular American opera after ‘Porgy and Bess’ is Southern Gothic ‘Susannah’, written by the son of a South Carolina Methodist minister:

Floyd based his story on the tale of Susanna and the Elders, included in the Book of Daniel by Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths, in which two lechers falsely accuse a righteous woman of adultery after she refuses to have a tryst with them. She is condemned to death, saved only when the prophet Daniel exposes the lies of her accusers. Floyd transplanted the plot to Tennessee, making Susannah a free-spirited outsider conspired against by members of her church. 

I’m #teampamplemousse & this is fab

Oh ya know, we just made a LA CROIX CAKE!!!!! NBD! (Full tutorial on the blog! 🎥: @sugarcoatedinsp)

A post shared by Kelly Mindell (@studiodiy) on

And no, Pepsi is not okay.

(above: the old Brotherhood Blues Lounge in Bessemer AL)
Via PopMatters: Contrary to Popular Belief, the Blues Were Not Born on the Mississippi Delta and much credit is given to Montgomery’s Butler “String Beans” May and black vaudeville.

His legacy, elusive and too little acknowledged, is preserved in the repertoire of country blues singer-guitarists and pianists of the ‘20s. (May neither recorded nor copyrighted any of his songs.) May was best-known for his song, “I’ve Got Elgin Movements in My Hip and Twenty Years Guaranteed”, which later “became entrenched in blues tradition”. Robert Johnson fans know the “Elgin movements” phrase from his song “Walkin’ Blues”, but it appeared in songs by many other artists, including Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Change My Luck Blues”, which actually preceded Johnson’s recording by eight years. 

(above: inside Lusco’s)
Wright Thompson writes Taste the Delta of Old at Lusco’s…on the magic of traveling to a Mississippi institution for G&G:

I’m writing about Lusco’s from memory, which makes sense. As long as it continues to exist, then those ghosts have a home…

Last month, a group of students from Colorado College came to Oxford on something of a Faulkner pilgrimage, but:

No students in the class hail from any cities traditionally considered “the South.” In fact, most of the students had never even visited it before. Other students commented on Oxford’s thriving bar scene, the stark difference in people’s clothing style, and of course, the humidity. One student even shaved his head because the heat and humidity was so overwhelming for him.

…heat and humidity was so overwhelming…and that was in April.


Elliston Place Greatness + Parthenon + 100 Layer Doughnut

We’ve been meaning to get back to the Parthenon (and Athena, inside) — both full-scale replicas — in Nashville’s Centennial Park for a while now, knowing the boys would get a kick out of it.
The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

From the city’s website:
Originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures, which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London.

The Parthenon also serves as Nashville’s art museum. The focus of the Parthenon’s permanent collection is a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. Additional gallery spaces provide a venue for a variety of temporary shows and exhibits.

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Athena project began in 1982, was unveiled in 1990, and was completely gilded and painted by the summer of 2002.
The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The gold leaf is 23.75 karat gold and three times thinner than cigarette paper. There’s nothing sealing the gold leaf as it would just dull the surface.
The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

To keep things easy, we decided before visiting the Parthenon to have lunch at Rotier’s — a Nashville institution, since 1945
Rotier's Restaurant, Nashville TN//

where they’re famous for their cheeseburger on french bread
French Bread Hamburger, Rotier's Restaurant, Nashville TN//
this hamburger has some serious adherents. I’m not one, but love that this place is still going. And where else can you go that has a Spuds McKenzie lamp and a poster from the 80s with ET telling you to ‘call home’ if you’ve had too much to drink? I don’t need to come back but feel good that they have their own crowd that will hopefully keep the place going even longer.

After we left the Parthenon, it was time to run back down the street, this time to the Elliston Place Soda Shop for a quickie milkshake. Which was great. Like…not like the greatest milkshake you’ve ever had in your life, but this is the kind of retro place that makes it all seem fabulous anyway.
Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN//

They’ve been in business since 1939 and are Nashville’s oldest continually operating restaurant in the original location.
Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN//

// Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN//

It looks pretty good, but we passed.
Pie, Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN//

A couple of days later when we were leaving, we decided to stop at the East Nashville Five Daughters for a snack for our trip. Four people, four things. Two got demolished, one barely touched (that choc vegan one), another just meh (the twist, kinda one note). Av’s doughnut with the chocolate icing got four thumbs up.
Five Daughters Bakery, East Nashville TN//

…but I was the genius who got the 100 layer doughnut and everybody declared it fab. It has a light cream on top and completely unnecessary sugar on the outside
100 Layer Doughnut, Five Daughters Bakery, East Nashville TN//

but the filling is on the inside too, which is pretty awesome, and all four of us liked that one too, so yeahhhhh
100 Layer Doughnut, Five Daughters Bakery, East Nashville TN

P.S. Dominique Ansel shops are celebrating the Cronut® four-year anniversary this week. Every month, they feature a different flavor: May’s is blush peach and elderflower ganache.

Graveshelters Froooommmm Spaaaaace, Another, And Curious Designs

I’ve been documenting graveshelters for a few years now, and there have been ones you literally can’t get to from here (private roads), others that were functional apiaries, some that have obviously been homes to other kinds of wildlife, and this one was — well, another you can’t get to from here, actually. It was gated off because the area around it serves as a cow pasture.
Graveshelters at Peck Cemetery, Falkville AL -- has two graveshelters behind fence//

It’s Peck Cemetery in Falkville, Alabama. I got the directions from FindAGrave (where there’s another pic of the grave shelters) so I could drive out this past winter. I did manage to get the phone number for the landowner, so I’ll call him sometime soon to ask for permission to go right up to it, but thanks to satellites…under that nice big tree, you can see — and a little tiny bit in the pic above — two nice graveshelters for a married couple:

John (the wonderful person who did the FindAGrave entry even included the local paper mention for them both: “He was the leading citizen of his vicinity in the respective walks of life.”) and Elizabeth Brown (“She has been a consistent member of the Methodist Church for eight years. She died leaving every evidence that her future was safe.”), who died in 1889 and 1890.

The other one I visited the same month was at Prudes Creek Cemetery in Adger, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. It’s for Martha and W.R. Gwin (and there are a *lot* of Gwins in this cemetery).
Graveshelter at Prudes Creek Cemetery, Adger AL//

Martha A. Gwin, March 14, 1852 – December 1932
W. R. Gwin, March 12, 1848 – November 10, 1946
Graveshelter at Prudes Creek Cemetery, Adger AL//

Graveshelter at Prudes Creek Cemetery, Adger AL//

This is a great cemetery. There’s a man nicknamed “Litebread” with a son nicknamed “Cornbread“. And behind this grave shelter, there’s this curious, wonderful design on a monument for Earley H. Gwin, who was born in 1899 and died in 1917:

Monument With Nice Scene, Earley H. Gwin, Prudes Creek Baptist Church Cemetery//

Monument With Nice Scene, Earley H. Gwin, Prudes Creek Baptist Church Cemetery//

Monument With Nice Scene, Earley H. Gwin, Prudes Creek Baptist Church Cemetery//

Derby Day

In honor of the Derby (which I never watch, but I have a new fab friend who does dressage (and I realize that has nothing to do with thoroughbreds other than, you know, horses) so maybe I will this year), a collection of Derby-ish pics

Derby cake
Kentucky Derby Cake//

Derby Lounge in Crowley, Louisiana
Derby Lounge, Crowley LA//

Emerson’s Ginger-Mint Julep mural in the Quarter
Ginger-Mint Julep//

and…you knew this was coming…

mint julep at SoBou
SoBou, New Orleans LA//

when the Veranda was Veranda and not what it is now
Mint Julep at Veranda//

at Giardina’s
Mint Julep, Giardina's, Greenville MS//

at Commander’s Palace
Mint Julep, Commander's Palace, New Orleans LA//

at Stanton Hall
Mint Julep and Tiny Biscuits at the Carriage House at Stanton Hall, Natchez MS//

May your Derby Day include cute biscuits and maybe some sweet little benedictine canapes, and whatever you’re calling the pie you don’t call ‘Derby Pie’, and bourbon in just almost everything else that sounds good too. xoxo!

La Provence: Supper And A Show, And Petanque — And The Possibility Of Leaving Nashville With Bespoke Jeans

John Besh sold his La Provence in Lacombe, Louisiana yesterday (as I’m writing this, I see that they haven’t yet updated the website to note the new owners, Eric Hunter and Jennifer Pittman, who are already living on the property)

“Our plans for La Provence is to preserve what La Provence is,” Hunter said. “For us, that’s an institution with memories of people for the last 40 years.”

La Provence, Lacombe LA

We were there last summer, and well, it wasn’t particularly busy. Granted we were there for an early supper because we had something later that evening, but still.

La Provence, Lacombe LA//

Carbs photobombing carbs.
Bread Service at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

Thiiiiiiis. Chicken liver pate.

Quail gumbo. And you know this is going to be right because John Besh and Chef Loos and whoever is in the kitchen would/could not get this wrong.
Quail Gumbo at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

So previously, the best gnocchi in my life came from John Besh’s August in the CBD but this came really close. It was a special this evening and they were considering adding it to be a regular item.
Gnocci at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

Mangalitsa blade steak
Mangalitsa Blade Steak at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

We enjoyed supper and were invited to visit the gardens behind the restaurant where much of the food they use is grown. One of the employees was back there (on his day off — he said he just wanted to check on it) and telling us all about it.
La Provence, Lacombe LA//

…and these little piggies were really friendly — there are a bunch of chickens in the back and we were having this whole conversation with the garden guy about chickens and raising them and broody hens and superior eggs and cleaning pens and varieties and their chickens and our chickens…
Mangalitsa Pigs at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

The manager came out and he was crazy friendly too and wanted to tell us all about the court they put in and had everything for us to play petanque and gosh even though we had something else to be at we must have stood out there for almost an hour because the guy was so great and nothing in the world mattered because our tummies were full of fabulous gnocchi and we’re playing petanque and this guy has these fabulous stories.

Petanque at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

And just like when we go to Chez FonFon in B’ham and Av beats me every single time at boule, he had no mercy and won at this too.

We’ll visit again this summer after the new owners have had a couple of months to settle in. The setting is fantastic, the food was fab, and I’m ready to revenge-win at petanque. And I hope they’ve kept everybody, because what a great experience.

Even minus La Provence (and the Luke in San Antonio that was shuttered a few months ago), John Besh still has a stable-full of restaurants:
Besh Steak
Pizza Domenica
Johnny Sanchez New Orleans and Baltimore
Willa Jean

We’ve been to all the above minus the Johnny Sanchez outpost in Baltimore, but we now need to get to his:
Caribbean Room — yes yes yes. And look at how gorgeous that is.
Bayou Bar — they’re also serving mile high pie here a la the Caribbean Room
Silver Whistle Cafe — breakfasty
Hot Tin — rooftop bar (this and the other three above are all at the Pontchartrain)
Pigeon and Price — this is the private events venue

John’s website mentions the ones above, but I didn’t see note of the new places in Nashville at the Thompson:
Marsh House, L.A. Jackson, and Killebrew

BTW, the Nashville Thompson has an imogene + willie jean package that includes a phone consultation (pre-visit) and in-room tailoring and styling session so you leave town with a new pair of custom jeans.

E.T. Wickham Headed For The West On His Completely Amazing Concrete Sculpture Ox

In December, we drove up to Palmyra, Tennessee to visit the concrete sculptures of E.T. Wickham.

From the Nashville Scene:
Using tin cans, coat hangers, stovepipes, bed rails, old auto parts, and whatever else he could find to create an armature, he went on to mold enormous, sometimes 800-pound figures out of a self-styled mix of masonry concrete. After meticulously painting them, he then added a wild assortment of riches: Blue light bulbs became the eyes of a bull; real eyeglasses rested on the nose of Estes Kefauver; a saber was placed in the hands of Gen. Jackson. Then Wickham would adorn each sculpture with messages. On one, in which Paul Bunyan sits atop a rearing bull, he etched the base with these words: “ET WICKHAM HEADED FOR THE WILD AND WOLEY WEST REMEMBER ME BOYS WHILE I AM GONE.”
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

Time/weather and vandals have damaged these works to a stunning amount. How they originally appeared can be viewed via this short video.
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

It seems as though the works were generally created in a twenty year span between the early 1950s and late 1969. This was Andrew Jackson on his horse, dedicated 1961
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham was born in 1883 grew up being known as ‘Tanner’ or ‘Tank’ in the family. His father passed away when Tanner was nine, and though his older brother, who had gone to Vanderbilt and was practicing as a country doctor tried to step in, Tanner resented it.

WWII memorial:
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

From this excellent biographical sketch, E.T. got married in 1906 and had a disagreement with the rural mail carrier that serviced his route, who said to E.T. “If I never have to see your face again, it’ll be too soon.” In turn, E.T. constructed, as the legend goes, his first concrete work, which was a mailbox with E.T.’s face on it.

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

A timeline here.

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN

This piece by Dan Price on the art environment (and others) is worthwhile as well.

Here: Estes Kefauver, Patrick Henry, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

The sculptures’ appearance in the mid-70s
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

A number of the pieces have been moved behind a fence to help further protect them
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

Religiously, E.T. Wickham converted to Catholicism in adulthood and his first piece had been the Virgin Mary. One piece I found on him noted that he had gained inspiration in his works from a visit to Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama. In fact, his daughter Nora (Sister Justine) resided at Sacred Heart Convent there.

Judge William D. Hudson
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

Sam Davis – Bill Marsh:
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

Doctor John Wickham — E.T.’s brother
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

Austin Peay:
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

Sgt Alvin York
E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

E.T. Wickham Stone Park, Palmyra TN//

The cabin Wickham built in the 1950s
Wickham Cabin, Palmyra TN//

Nearby, the Wickham Cemetery where E.T. Wickham constructed monuments for family members. He passed away in 1970.

Monuments by E.T. Wickham, Palmyra TN//

Monuments by E.T. Wickham, Palmyra TN//

Monuments by E.T. Wickham, Palmyra TN//

Monuments by E.T. Wickham, Palmyra TN//

Monuments by E.T. Wickham, Palmyra TN//

Monuments by E.T. Wickham, Palmyra TN//


Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) was a few days ago, and I was thinking this morning of the new glass sculptures at Beth Israel in Jackson, Mississippi at the Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial Garden. The sculptures were made by Pearl River Glass and dedicated at a ceremony last November.

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//