We spent part of Thanksgiving Day in Mobile; downtown was just absolutely deserted. We dropped by the A-frame Whataburger — there aren’t too many of this design left any more. As of right now, there are ~850 locations, and only a very small percentage of those — a dozen or so? — are still the A-frame. Even the original in Odessa has been updated to a new look. This is the latest concept.
Government Street UMC:
Besides downtown, we went out to Ahavas Chesed cemetery, where we have family. One monument from another family made me just spontaneously burst into tears. So sad and romantic at the same time:
Tell Ruth I Love Her
Then, to walk downtown Fairhope, which was decorated so pretty, and kitty showed us around
Well, we’d already had a great beach time in Orange Beach, so I wasn’t too concerned about the balcony view at this hotel since it was just going to be one night and I chiefly wanted a balcony so I could leave a door to the outside open for an hour to give the room good fresh air circulation.
When the room description noted that the balcony view was essentially no view, there was truth in advertising 😂😂😂
This Hampton (above, squatty, in the middle) was positively dinky but we didn’t care — it felt free (since I was using points), we’d already had a great balcony at the previous hotel, and we were there to be outside the room anyway, on the beach. It was fine.
Leaving, there was a drive on 30A, then time to go home. We came back new people, fine with lots more home nesting. A fab trip.
Talking about those Doubletree cookies in the earlier post this week from the Island House got me thinking…
We decided to take a quick trip to the beach over Thanksgiving holiday. We purposefully weren’t getting together with any family, and I felt as though we’d surely go batty if we stayed here at home rather than driving down to the water for something fun that we haven’t done in months. This is the first time we’ve spent the night in a hotel since…Feb? I’ve been so full of paranoia that I know I haven’t been in a dozen buildings counting our house and the homes of the two other households in our ‘pod’ since March. We needed this.
I was careful to clean, we wore masks for the first hour or so that we were in the hotel room, and each time I left the balcony door for an hour or so when we first got there for lots of good fresh air circulation.
I paid for the room with Hilton points, and they all have beach-front balconies, so it was perfect. Because Hilton has keyless room entry, I didn’t even have to visit the front desk to get in the room.
Anyway, the beach was terrific as always. The boys got in the water a little too (it was late-November cool but not crazy cold)
All the food we ate was either from a drive-thru or some that I had packed in a cooler (saddest Thanksgiving meal ever that we made the best of (and I think we were filled with so much gratitude of being somewhere fun that we didn’t even think about it at the time) was the turkey sandwiches on white bread straight from the Igloo from home that was our Thanksgiving supper. May that forever be our last Thanksgiving from a Ziploc bag. Amen and amen.).
We played outside, we walked quiet downtowns, we positively frolicked on the beach. It was terrific. Tomorrow, I’ll post part two of this trip: Mobile, Fairhope’s downtown and its kitty welcoming committee, our balcony without a view in Ft Walton Beach, some 30A, and more. xoxo!
I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
Holiday Inn sign, Gatlinburg TN. John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. No copyright restriction.
(Greenville, Tennessee, 1960s:) In this lost world, The Blue Circle served hundreds of sliders a day. Ham’s Drive-In accompanied every sandwich order with “free” fries, served on paper plates that looked like wood grain. The Brumley Hotel downtown served ethereal rolls and chicken gravy. The Friday night fish fry at the local Holiday Inn was a social event.
Spent the last couple of days listening to Ruby Dee (wow she’s great!) narrate the audiobook for Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching G-d, which is now in a new paperback, Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, from Amistad / Harper Collins (Amazon, Bookshop)
The Frist, 2018
The Frist in Nashville is going to be the only stop for the Musée National Picasso-Paris exhibit of 75 pieces, Picasso, Figures. It will be on from February 5 – May 2.
collage, from a visit in 2012
The space previously home to the late Paul Prudhomme’s now-shuttered K-Paul’s at 416 Chartres is on the market at $6.5M
Artist Philip Morsberger passed away in Augusta earlier this month. He was the Morris Eminent Scholar in the Visual Arts at Augusta State University, and the Morris Museum of Art there announced his passing.
My favorite memory with Philip was a lazy summer evening in his Augusta studio listening to chamber music and talking about poets, specifically Robert Frost. This line from A Servant to Servants came to mind upon learning of Philip’s passing: ‘He says that the best way out is always through. And I agree to that, or in so far As that I can see no way out but through.'”
Greil Marcus, who reviewed the book for the New York Review of Books, said he went through the list of popular American music that was going through the household: “And the list just grew and grew until there were maybe 20, 30, 40 different examples. And I realized no one could have a richer, broader, more mainstream American cultural life than the one that Robert Johnson lived out”
The author, Johnson’s step-sister, mentions:
“Brother Robert is the one that got me into country music,” she says. “‘Course, Jimmie Rodgers was his favorite. I will never forget ‘Waiting for a Train’ and doing it with Brother Robert.”
The two would bust up laughing at the line “Get off, get off, you railroad bums.” And then came Rogers’ famous yodel.
“I tried to yodel,” Anderson says. “But brother Robert could yodel. He could mimic anything.”
One of the winners of a 2020 ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Award was the team behind the Learning Garden Installation at Galloway Elementary in Jackson, Mississippi. Associated, the Fertile Ground Jackson website with facts & figures about this project, as well as the state of food scarcity & abundance in Jackson. There are workshops and other projects. Also: their tomato shirt is fab
The Vatican’s Nativity scene is more interesting each year than one might have otherwise considered (it’s donated by a different Italian town or artist); here is this past year’s. The St Peter’s Diocese (which has much better images): “The teachers and students wanted to immortalize important events of the contemporary world…within the work we find eccentric statutes compared to the traditional figures of the nativity, such as the astronaut, which is a reference to the conquest of the moon.”
I misread a piece on Damien Hurst’s Mental Escapology as “Mental Landscaping” and I’m going to remember that with mindfulness — smoothing over rough patches, planting and nurturing what’s native and easy to grow.
(pls remember this is the super random section) Now that someone mentioned that the BMW iX has beaver teeth for a front grill, I can’t unsee it. Just to add: I had a X3 for a few years when the boys were little (love this story: their double stroller wouldn’t fit in my Volvo S40’s trunk so it was the perfect excuse to get a SUV) and once it reached 80k miles, I could have just kept a standing appointment at the dealer because there was seemingly every single month some little annoyance that needed to be fixed (well, the air went out once and that was a quite large, quite expensive annoyance). Kinda done with BMW, plus their new subscription plan and warranty shaming is not something I want to deal with. One other addition: I drive a Lexus now and happiness, happiness, happiness. Last addition: I had a series of truly awful cars in college (Buick, Buick, Chrysler, Mercury — one of them sported bondo and primer) and the Chrysler, besides having a serious head gasket problem, had this gorgeous digital dash that ***caught on fire*** one day and the everlasting PTSD of that carbecue got triggered this week when I saw the new hyperscreen on the upcoming Mercedes EQS EV
It’s Peak Season for Tamales in Los Angeles in the NYT: “Yes, you can buy a tamal on the street for two bucks, but it’s not street food,” said Ms. Serrato. “It’s a portal, it’s a storyteller, it’s a carrier of ancestral memory, and it’s gone through a lot of hands.”
Was reminded of this earlier this week: former Alabama AG Bill Baxley’s 1976 letter to a “grand dragon” — give this a listen (and bless bless bless Bill Baxley for being so polite he didn’t want to repeat it in public. I grew up to think that kind of thing is everythingggggg. It is.).
Ignatius Reilly statue outside the Hyatt French Quarter, 2015
In The New Yorker, Tom Bissell’s The Uneasy Afterlife of “A Confederacy of Dunces” and how it’s aging; I think we have to be careful to — wow, this is a leap, but — read it keeping in mind the time/place it was set as we would, say, Shakespeare or anything else. That shouldn’t take away the merits of the book (though Bissell himself said he was surprised how much he enjoyed the book, reading it again).
Sidenote: did you also notice the typo “a shoddy, lost-cost affair held in the basement of some dubious funeral parlor” in the piece? That should be “low-cost,” obv. Tweeted them so maybe they’ll fix it (hoping to balance annoying with helpful, but read it three times thinking “why is Ignatius calling it a lost-cost affair? Surely he didn’t” and sho ’nuff…).
Also, in Bissell’s piece, this part of the book was quoted:
“I dust a bit,” Ignatius told the policeman. “In addition, I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.”
“Ignatius makes delicious cheese dips,” Mrs. Reilly said.
…which reminded me about the Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook (Amazon, Bookshop) published by LSU Press a few years ago. And of course, there’s an “occasional cheese dip” recipe (it’s chipotle goat cheese) and interestingly, cookbook author Cynthia LeJeune Nobles imagines Ignatius including a stop at Bob and Jake’s in Baton Rouge, and she includes the recipe for Sensation Salad, which though they closed long ago, is still a popular dish in town. Here’s apparently Ruffino’s and City Club’s version of the salad recipe, as well as the original from Jack Staples.
The comeback at Crechale’s in 2019
This all has me thinking about cities and specific salad dressings tied to them, e.g. you could go in ten restaurants and order this location-specific dressing and get pretty much the same thing — I go to Niki’s and order John’s slaw, same thing at Bright Star, same thing at (ha) John’s, they all put their version of the same dressing on.
Kindly contact me with others. This is a thing, right?
Samford Hall Tower bell at Auburn, from a tour in 2017
Nicolette Polek in The Paris Review with Fear is a Three-Thousand-Pound Bell on her experience learning to play the bells at the National Cathedral in Washington. It’s a practice one of the author’s friends described as “religious adjacent” — “historically, those who didn’t care for Sunday mass would ascend the tower to ring and drink.” Among famous ringers, John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress; the silversmith Paul Revere; Jon Shanklin, who discovered the hole in the ozone.
There are stories of inexperienced ringers getting knocked out of towers, the rope launching them into the air, lacerations, near hangings. A sign in the bell chamber reads: A STANDING BELL IS LIKE A LOADED GUN. IT ONLY TAKES ONE JERK TO KILL YOU.
…and I’m especially fond of the variation she does on an analogy her mother would tell about fear.
Chess pie at Arnold’s, 2016
Arnold’s Country Kitchen in Nashville is shipping pies — chess, chocolate chess, pecan, and spicy chocolate — via Goldbelly
And only on Goldbelly, GooGoo is shipping a ‘3rd Avenue Heartache’ *cake* — with both “buttermilk chocolate cake and old-fashioned peanut butter cake, a thick layer of peanut butter buttercream, chocolate buttercream, and a hefty portion of chopped Peanut Butter Goo Goo Clusters”
One item included in the fall 2020 auction of American stoneware & redware pottery at Crocker Farm was a Ernest H. Galloway (Paducah KY) face jug, signed, and featuring a distinctive hairstyle, described here. It sold at $24k.
One visit to Abbeville, we had lunch at Huggin’ Molly’s and were told that a Coca-Cola sign we were admiring was very valuable due to the scarcity of its form. Sure enough, as I was reviewing the results from a Morphy’s October auction, I found the very same sign, “triangular double-sided porcelain Coca-Cola sign, 1935, marked for Tennessee Enamel Manufacturing Co., Nashville, had its original porcelain wall bracket and fetched $21,600 against an estimate of $9/15,000.”
My childhood was defined by two rituals: three hours of Mormon Church service on Sundays and a trip to Arby’s almost as regularly. The Arby’s location in my Texas hometown possessed all the visual splendor that the church I was raised in did not: stained glass and smoky wood paneling, sauce packets stored in a long buffet under heat lamps.
The official UK trailer for Ebs Burnough’s documentary, The Capote Tapes
The High has been gifted114 wood-carved sculptures by self-taught artists from collectors Anne and Robert Levine. Incredibly impressed with violin maker Moise Potvin’s diorama of FDR and his 1933 cabinet.
Mound Bayou, Mississippi, from a visit in 2011
The NYT writes of the passing of H. Jack Geiger. He used medicine to take on poverty, racism and the threat of nuclear destruction. Two groups he helped start won Nobel Peace Prizes.
With a sponsorship by Tufts University and grants from the Office of Economic Opportunity in DC, he along with two other doctors and others set up in Mound Bayou, Mississippi a health center, a copy of the Pholela project he had been a part of in a Zulu reserve in South Africa. It opened in 1967 and the monies were utilized to “dig wells and privies and set up a library, farm cooperative, office of education, high-school equivalency program and other social services.
The clinic “prescribed” food for families with malnourished children — to be purchased from Black-owned groceries — and the bills were paid out of the center’s pharmacy budget.”
After the governor found fault with these disbursements, a government official came down to remind Geiger that pharmacy money was to cover drugs for treatment of disease.
“Yeah,” Dr. Geiger replied, “well, the last time I looked in my medical textbooks, they said the specific therapy for malnutrition was food.”
The official, he said, “shut up and went back to Washington.”
Posted by the National African American Museum of Music, opening January ’21 in Nashville: Michael Harriot’s G-d Lives in a Juke Joint based largely around the now-closed Gip’s Place in Bessemer, Alabama
In this country, we value youth but we don’t value beauty, mainly because we think they are the same thing. But beauty is related to memory in a way youth cannot be. Memory is the soul of conscience, but it is also the muse of art and culture. The persistent desire to create beautiful things stems in large measure from the wonderful memory of what it felt like to first encounter someone or something beautiful.
The sign in 2016
164yo Tujague’s has reopened in its new space on 429 Decatur, and if you’re visualizing…that’s where Bubba Gump used to be. My friend Tom Robey is still chef so we’re all still in great hands. Only bad thing: the neon sign didn’t make the move.
Except for Benediction, The Ice Palace, & The Cut Glass Bowl my collection of stories is trash—to tickle the yokelry of Kansas and get enough money to live well. I doubt if I shall ever do such stuff again.
By evening, everyone gathered for socially-distanced cocktails with the Murphys and Fitzgeralds, who stayed outside the garden fence. Empty bottles, drained and upended, were mounted like heads on the spiked fence. Each one marked another day of quarantine for the Hemingway child.
BTW, that home was on the market in 2013 at $35.5M. The view from the building’s tower and those terraces is the same one that appears on the cover of some editions of “Tender is the Night,” which Fitzgerald wrote on and off for more than a decade.
Some highlights of this important acquisition are nine quilts by the artists of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, including Mary Lee Bendolph and Irene Williams; three paintings, three drawings, and one sculpture by Thornton Dial; works on paper by Nellie Mae Rowe, Henry Speller, Georgia Speller, and “Prophet” Royal Robertson; four sculpted heads by James “Son Ford” Thomas, which were featured in the National Gallery’s Outliers and American Vanguard Art exhibition (January 28–May 13, 2018); and three sculptures by Lonnie Holley.
We’re grateful to have had a fun, safe holiday season and hope you did too. Looking hopefully to a wonderful new year for us all. xoxo!