This Week’s Various

Holly Herndon grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee and the tradition of Sacred Harp music there inspired her…if you taught aliens to sing with us from the Denson book, you’d have something like her “Frontier.” It is magic.

Gee's Bend Collage from a visit to Boykin

Can Gee’s Bend—the Tiny Alabama Community Behind America’s Most Dazzling Quilts—Become an Art Destination to Rival Marfa? A series of initiatives spearheaded by the Souls Grown Deep foundation aims to transform Gee’s Bend into a tourist hub.

A series of initiatives, some of which have been in the works for years in collaboration with local residents, will be formally announced today. The first is a collaboration with Nest, a nonprofit that promotes handmade crafts, which will work to make Gee’s Bend quilts more accessible for purchase online and enable Gee’s Bend quiltmakers to license their work for reproduction. Additional projects may include the development of a cultural center, a hub for quilting workshops, a marketplace for locally sourced goods, walking trails, cottages for people to stay, and community-run Airbnbs. 

Vulcan Mural Project, Downtown Birmingham AL

Vulcan Mural Project, downtown Birmingham

The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development (UACED) is cataloging community murals to make a mural trail, and is accepting submissions now. wants to know about your community murals.

Roadside Bar-B-Que, Birmingham AL

Perfection Never Taste So Good at Roadside Bar-B-Que in Birmingham

So very confused by this going on in NYC, from the NYT — is it Dixie Stampede minus the horses, plus the Wagner?

…On Site Opera, a company that interprets operas in nontraditional venues, takes “The Ring” to Texas as a country-and-western tale, complete with Siegfried, the Rhinestone cowboy, in “Das Barbecü.” The production, with music by Scott Warrender riffing on Richard Wagner’s themes, lyrics by Jim Luigs and a cast that includes singers from New York City Opera and Broadway runs about 2 1/2 hours. It includes a family-style barbecue dinner of brisket, chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread and desserts.

Do you have to be in juuuust the right mood to listen to Daniel Johnston too? Far Out has come out with their list of his ten best songs of all time.

At Roadtrippers, As Slab City grows, the community of outcasts, squatters, and desert dwellers grapples with the cost of its unique freedoms

East Jesus’ main attraction is an elaborate outdoor “art museum” that’s open to the public year-round, featuring a wall of broken TVs covered with pithy messages, a car adorned with baby doll heads, and other oddities. Behind the museum is where East Jesus residents actually live, in an intricate maze of trailers surrounding a communal living area.

…and the pics are everything. Plus a weird part of me wants to text my friends “I’m literallllllyyyyyy texting you from East Jesus.”

Also, T ran this piece on intentional communities.

And After Culinary and Literary Acclaim, She’s Moving to the Woods: The chef Iliana Regan created a hit Chicago restaurant and wrote a tough, award-winning memoir. But her real dream lives in a cabin in northern Michigan. And, how crazy beautiful are the pics of food at Elizabeth, her restaurant.

Joe Minter's African Village in America, Birmingham AL

a pic I took of Joe last month

At artnet, What Art Defined the Civil Rights Era? We Asked 7 Museum Curators to Pick One Work That Crystallized the Moment and Carmen Hermo, associate curator, Brooklyn Museum chose Joe Minter’s 2013 ‘Children in Jail’.

I’m still struck by my memory of this work, five years after seeing it at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama.

Joe and Hilda were thrilled to be included. I contacted Carmen Hermo to let her know, and she was really glad to hear how happy it made them. xoxo!

In Texas, Gas Station Restaurants Serve Roast Duck and Momos at AO with mention of a ceviche place in a Dallas Shell station. Also: I really want to tell you about the really great gas station Indian food in Lexington, Alabama — Taste of India: Taste of India, Livingston AL

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery AL

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery

In Montgomery, the Lynching Memorial is expanding, with a gift shop, soul food restaurant, and shuttle service, plus:

The Legacy Pavilion will include a monument to women, men and children who were victims of racial terror lynchings in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and during Reconstruction. It will also honor civil rights figures including Martin Luther King Jr., Claudette Colvin, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Jonathan Daniels, Jo Ann Robinson, and E.D. Nixon and describe the role Montgomery played in fueling a civil rights movement.

Barbie Exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art

faux gelatin, part of the Barbie exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art

I catch this kind of thing on Instagram because I don’t do FB anymore, but at Salon, various aspic-loving groups are discussed

In the wake of such pro masterpieces, amateur jelly makers chime in with their own creations: raspberry suspended in a clear, prosecco-filled mold; algae jello with lychee and coconut milk; carbonated rose lemonade with strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry-infused rum. By and large it’s a surprisingly supportive group, wherein members really are just trying to push their culinary limits. 

One of NPR’s weekly emails a few days ago was on photography and mentioned a piece from last summer on Mobile’s Azalea Maids: The Dress Hasn’t Changed but the Girls Have. The photographer, Adair Freeman Rutledge, is on IG and waaaaaay sidenote: she has the Wagoneer of my dreams.

Here are the results of the Christie’s Outsider Art auction last week, and the estimates were low, low compared to what the sales realized in most part. A 1930s double-handled cup by William Edmondson had an est of $4-6k and went for $175k.

A Battle for the Soul of Marfa at Texas Monthly.

All went reasonably well until Judd died unexpectedly at just 65 in 1994, when Chinati had only $400 left in the bank. By the time the Crowleys took up permanent residence in 1997, Chinati was on life support. So was Marfa. Even the Dairy Queen was closed.


If there was a period that could be labeled Peak Marfa, it would have been around 2012 and 2013. That was when national publicity reached its zenith, with glowing if slightly confounded stories about this art oasis in the desert, in Texas of all places. Morley Safer of 60 Minutes did a feature called “Marfa, Texas: The Capital of Quirkiness.” Vanity Fair’s story was called “Lone Star Bohemia.” Vogue: “From Marfa to the Moon: A Weekend in West Texas,” written by Ballroom cofounder Fairfax Dorn. And so on. By then hotelier Liz Lambert had opened El Cosmico, her new inn close to Chinati, where guests could choose to stay in an Airstream trailer or a tepee or a yurt. There was a “hammock grove,” and guests could reserve, for $85, a soak in a wood-fired Dutch hot tub.

Barbie Exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art

Anyway, hi from the Barbie exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Finally got around to seeing it this week; it closes 1/26.

Have a great weekend, friends! xoxo!

Be Kind. Rewind.

I Luv Video.
Austin, yes. Thank you for this.

I LUV Video, Austin TX

This place is like some sort of weird restorative to my Gen X DNA.

I LUV Video, Austin TX

I LUV Video, Austin TX I LUV Video, Austin TX

I LUV Video, Austin TX I LUV Video, Austin TX

I LUV Video, Austin TX I LUV Video, Austin TX

I LUV Video, Austin TX

We stream Amazon and Netflix but I promise if we lived in Austin, this would be a weekly visit. I really wanted to get a t-shirt for the boys, but they didn’t sell any, so Shug got just a sticker instead.

PS: sigh, there’s only one Blockbuster left.



Ritz-Carlton, Dallas to Waco

The next stop on Winter Vacay 2019 was the Dallas Ritz-Carlton. The lobby was small but pretty, and had a really large gingerbread display — it was a house that had a giftshop inside!

Ritz-Carlton, Dallas Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

Ritz-Carlton, Dallas Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

Ritz-Carlton, Dallas Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

Our room was the usual size, and comfortable.

Ritz-Carlton, Dallas Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

…but the honor bar’s offerings were more Texas-sized than usual.

Ritz-Carlton, Dallas Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

Our room’s view

Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

Next stop: Czech Stop in West for breakfast kolaches.

Czech Stop, West TX Czech Stop, West TX

and what is the deal with these giant cupcakes?!

Czech Stop, West TX Czech Stop, West TX

answer: I guess that’s why they’re $5 cupcakes.

We had such a fun time last visit in Waco at Magnolia with the kids playing on their field, but this time it was so crazy busy that we didn’t even try. I’m not a huge HGTV person, but a stop in Waco makes the trip from Dallas to San Antonio better and getting to run around is a plus. I went through the shop and we got on the little free trolley that took us through town.

Magnolia, Waco TX Magnolia, Waco TX

Magnolia, Waco TX Magnolia, Waco TX

Magnolia, Waco TX Trolley, Waco TX

BTW, this mural is nearby the silos and is *made* for kid pics
My Greatest Find Mural, Waco TX

Also Waco: Mama and Papa B's  Bar-B-Que: If the Bears Kill It We'll Cook It, Waco TX

If the Bears Kill It, We’ll Cook It (and they even have their home # on the building in case the bear kills it after business hours, I guess)

Part Two of getting from Dallas to SA is so fab, it’s going to be its own post.

Be Kind

This Week’s Various

Oakman, Alabama Library Building

library in Oakman, Alabama

The New York Public Library has calculated its most-loaned books of all time, and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats comes in at number one. To Kill a Mockingbird is #5.  BTW, the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Miss houses the Ezra Jack Keats Papers and Archive, and includes …manuscripts, typescripts, sketches, dummies, illustrations, and proofs for 37 books written and/or illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. Also included are his personal papers, personal and professional correspondence, fan mail and artwork from children, photographs and childhood memorabilia. Complementing the artwork created for children’s books are numerous examples of his easel art, dating back to his high school years.

In April, the winners of the EJK Award travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to accept their prizes at a luncheon honoring Ezra Jack Keats. The event, part of the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, is hosted by the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi.

The NYPL is also issuing special ‘The Snowy Day’ library cards.

Vogue with Chicago’s upcoming Museum of Contemporary Art exhibit, Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, opening February 29, and gives mention of a Simone Leigh face jug — and here at Hyperallergic are pics of more of her pieces.

Caluda's King Cake

The first king cake of the season, from Caluda’s via our friends at King Cake Hub, and everybody loved

Two Lives in Photography: Maude Schuyler Clay & Langdon Clay at the University of Mississippi Museum, through February 15.

From Christie’s: ‘A new world in my view’: the art of Sister Gertrude Morgan (the video is fab and narrated by Ben Jaffe) — they’re presenting three of her pieces at their Outsider Art sale on January 17.

Rosa Parks' Home

a home Rosa Parks lived in, Henry County AL // a pic I took in 2011

Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words book available from the LOC and elsewhere in conjunction with the exhibition by the same name in the Library of Congress Jefferson Tower.

Until recently, Rosa Parks’s personal papers were unavailable to the public...the civil rights icon is revealed for the first time in print through her private manuscripts and handwritten notes. Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words illumines her inner thoughts, her ongoing struggles, and how she came to be the person who stood up by sitting down. 

E.V. Day – Divas Ascending is on view at the Memphis Brooks through July 5, 2020:

Artist E.V. Day has repurposed costumes from the New York City Opera archives to make Divas Ascending, a series of sculptures that transform familiar icons of women’s empowerment and entrapment into new objects that confound conventional readings of these clichés. Using tension to suspend, stretch, and shred garments and to create forms that the artist likens to futurist abstract paintings in three dimensions, Day has created work that transforms rigid symbols into a range of emotions: anxiety, ecstasy, liberation, and release.

Joe Minter's African Village in America Art Environment, Birmingham AL
Joe Minter’s African Village in America, Birmingham AL // a pic I took in 2006

There’s so much talk about why use one term or another, and in one of this week’s emails, the Outsider Art Fair in NYC describes why they continue to use use “Outsider” in their name:

4) OAF is unlike any other fair. While we appreciate all kinds of art, we make a distinction between works mainly informed by other art and art history from those made by self-taught artists with completely non-academic backgrounds. We use the term outsider art, coined in 1972 by British scholar Roger Cardinal, and the name bestowed upon our fair twenty-eight years ago by our founder. Other terms like self-taught, art brut, vernacular or visionary, all have their place, but we prefer outsider art because an overwhelming majority of people recognize the term and understand what it implies.

Museum of Visionary Art, Baltimore MD

The wall of the Museum of Visionary Art in Baltimore, from a visit in 2006

Her Spirit Made Concrete: Now celebrating 25 years in Baltimore, AVAM is a reflection fo the woman who created it in Baltimore Magazine.

“Even in the beginning, I never would have given so much of my heart and my mind to something that was just about hip, cool art,” Hoffberger says. “I want to share with people what gets you through life and inspires you, rather than, ‘This is by so-and-so and sold at Christie’s for whatever.’ I think it’s too late in the world to just be about visual stuff. A lot of people do that really well, but it was never my interest.

Stretch Mural, Warrior AL

found this week in Warrior, Alabama

The Chef Restoring Appalachia’s World-Class Food Culture: A coal fortune is fueling the revival of a cuisine it nearly destroyed and I was approx 99.9% sure this was going to be another article on Sean Brock (btw, did you know he’s a fab photographer too? Seriously.) but nothing against Sean, but fabulously… it’s on Travis Milton.

…he left, even shedding his accent. Countless Appalachians have done the same, creating a kind of diaspora, a brain drain. Milton and Nicewonder hope to reverse that, to redefine a region known for poverty, branded as hick, and defined by its dying coal industry as a thriving culinary destination. In truth, though, Milton says, it’s not so much a redefinition as a return to a past that went unappreciated and is almost lost.

Killer Cereal, Tupelo MS

In Tupelo, took the boys to Killer Cereal — a cereal-only restaurant. There are several in this genre around and it seems like a super-easy concept, too. Shugie went with the Bates’ Cuckoo Cocoa Bowl (Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, Krave Chocolate, whipped cream) but they also have a create-your-own with choice of two cereals, a mix-in, and a milk with option of a topping. PS are Cocoa Pebbles just brown Rice Krispies? They taste like nothing.

St. Andrew's, Sewanee TN

St Andrew’s, from a visit in 2013

Reading about James Agee this week, and never realized that after his dad died when James was 7 or so, his mom moved them to the campus of St Andrew’s School in Monteagle, and it was Father Flye there who mentored him and where he flourished in writing.

Below, Samuel Barber’s composition from Agee’s Knoxville: Summer 1915 in A Death in the Family which is **one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.**

Lyrics here.

This is Renee Fleming performing:

Anyway, hi from Alabama

My Boys

At the NYT: A Painter Resurrects Louisiana’s Vanished Creole Culture: Andrew LaMar Hopkins celebrates the rich contributions of 19th-Century New Orleans in his folk art style (and drag) on Andrew LaMar Hopkins, who also goes by Désirée Joséphine Duplantier. His folk art paintings depict in particular the lives of free Creoles of color in the 19th C. They’re available at Nadine Blake’s gallery on Royal Street and — among others — on view at Dooky Chase. A dozen of his pieces will be at the Winter Show at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC beginning January 24.

In 1830, the moment in time Mr. Hopkins is fond of using for many of his creations, free Creoles of color in New Orleans owned some $15 million of property in the city. Mostly French speaking, these artisans, shopkeepers and artists were in no small part responsible for the look of the French Quarter — its ironwork, decorative plaster, its architecture and fashionable shops. Like white Creoles, some owned slaves, and some later fought for the Confederacy. Despite many laws restricting their rights they played a significant role in civic life. It’s a big story rarely told.

Neither the New Orleans Museum of Art nor the well-heeled Historic New Orleans Collection has mounted an exhibition…

Andrew’s IG, Shop

Last Day Gospel of Christ Church, Akron AL

Last Day Gospel of Christ Church, Akron AL, from a visit in 2013

APT premieres Alabama Gospel Roots January 18 at 8:00p, with groups from around the state recording at APT’s Madison Avenue Studio in Montgomery.

Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock AR

a Dale Chihuly sculpture at the Clinton Museum and Library in Little Rock, from a visit in 2006

Chihuly at Cheekwood in Nashville from April 25 – Nov 1, 2020.

Amistad Mural, Talladega College, Talladega AL

one of the Amistad mural selections, pre-restoration, at Talladega College in 2007

Talladega College opens its new Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art on January 31, home to the restored Hale Woodruff Amistad murals.

From Architectural Digest: Photographer Douglas Friedman Makes His Home on the Range in Marfa, Texas


Pretty empty in the stands when we went to the Nov 23 Bama v WC game. Which, yeah, WC, but still.

At SI, Unexcused Absence: Why is College Football Attendance Dropping?

Florida isn’t alone—and plenty other schools have it much worse. From 2014 to ’18, attendance across the FBS fell by 7.6%. Last year, on average, 41,856 fans went to games. That’s the lowest turnout since 1996; even major programs like Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss suffered declines of greater than 5%. The NCAA has yet to release its full report on 2019’s numbers, but pictures of nearly-empty stadiums, from big to small programs, popped up every fall weekend on Twitter…

On this date in 1897 nothing happened. Austin TX

above, a pic I took last month in Austin

From KUT, an interview with John Langmore in Photographer Made It His Mission To Capture East Austin’s ‘Essence’ Before It Disappears

Best Stop, Scott LA

above, the Zapp’s scene last month when we were at Best Stop in Scott LA

Zapp’s has a new flavor, Evil Eye, “subtle with mild heat, yet bursting with flavor.” 

Hog Leg BBQ, Arab AL

above, the hoecake at Hog Leg Barbecue in Arab AL

Cornbread’s Connection to Barbecue from the Houston Chronicle

In a travelogue from 1853, “A Journey Through Texas,” New York-based writer and architect Frederick Law Olmsted lamented the ubiquity of cornbread as the main sustenance of Texas and the American South: “I made the first practical acquaintance with what shortly was to be the bane of my life, namely, cornbread and bacon.”

Temple Theater, Meridian MS

above, the Temple Theater in Meridian MS, where Jimmie Rodgers played, and where his funeral took place in 1933

At aeon: How an American country music pioneer entered African mythology

In 1933, the US country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers died of tuberculosis. Just 35 years old and at the peak of his career, his demise left a legacy of a life and career unfinished. This installment from the US animator Drew Christie’s Drawn & Recorded series, which tells little-known stories from the annals of modern music history, recounts the improbable story of how, in death, Rodgers would go on to inspire not just luminaries of American music, but also the Kipsigis peoples of the Rift Valley in Kenya – whose folk music found its way back to the US decades later.

Yes to They Like that Soft Bread at Bitter Southerner:

In the mountains of East Tennessee,  folks have a particular fondness for a sandwich that’s spent a few seconds in a Fresh-O-Matic steamer. Knoxvillians know that soft-bread love in their bones, but nobody seems to know exactly where it comes from. Chelsey Mae Johnson aimed to find out.

Outside Knoxville and environs, the Momma Goldberg’s chain that started in Auburn and is now… a lot of places… steams their sandwiches.

St. Cletus Catholic Church St. Joseph's Day Altar, Gretna Louisiana

above, St Lucy at a St Joseph’s Day altar at St Cletus Catholic Church in Gretna LA, from a visit in 2012

I’m Obsessed with Saint Lucy’s Extra Set of Eyes in this Renaissance Painting by Alexxa Gotthardt at artsy

Extra-Hot Chicken from Prince's Hot Chicken, Nashville TN

the extra-hot at the original Prince’s in Nashville

Kim Prince opened Hotville in in Los Angeles last December, after doing a hot chicken popup there the last couple of years. With that last name, you know where she got started. The NYT reports.

Bourbon, Missouri water tower

found in Bourbon, MO last month
Have a fun weekend, friends! xoxo!

Ritz-Carlton St Louis, and some Route 66

Our next overnight on winter break was St Louis — I think I’ve maybe been once but unsure, and I know the kids haven’t been. We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, which is technically in Clayton, Missouri. It was such a great stay, in most part to the hotel being decorated so beautifully for the holidays.

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

My fave R-C bathrooms are the ones in which they’ve done them in all white/grey marble like this one and the one in New Orleans. If I can ever line things up to renovate my bathrooms at home, at least one of them is going to be like this (there’s a part of me that also wants to do one of them as an ***all-red bathroom*** like my Aunt Helen had — the entrance to it was even long red beads. Also: she had an orange kitchen. She had indoor grass in one of the bedrooms. She kept the plastic on the furniture because it was soooo fiiiiiiine. She was, to child-me, a design goddess.). But back to that, um, bathroom, yes to timeless marble, though I’d rather they’d have done a marble facing on the bathtub:

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

There was a small balcony.

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

Elevator bank

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

We were there on Christmas Eve, and the main restaurant was serving a prix fixe holiday supper. We just wanted simple food, so we ate in the Lobby Lounge which was a terrific setting. There was living room type seating and it was just the right balance of comfortable and nice.

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

If I lived in St Louis and wanted to take my kids for holiday pics, I’d most certainly come to the R-C for lunch or supper and take advantage of all the decorations for a great setting.

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

It was all decorated beautifully — and the centerpiece was this fab gingerbread snowglobe

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

Ritz-Carlton, St Louis

St Louis Arch

We got to the arch too late in the day for a tour, and Ted Drewes closed early for the holiday, but the next day we got to see some pretty great Route 66 signs:

Gardenway Motel, Route 66 Gardenway Motel, Route 66

Gardenway Motel, Gray Summit MO

Sunset Motel, Route 66 Sunset Motel, Route 66

Sunset Motel, Villa Ridge MO

Bourbon, Missouri water tower

The Bourbon, MO water tower

Jesus, King of the Road, Cuba MO

Jesus, King of the Road in Cuba MO

Wagon Wheel Motel, Route 66

Wagon Wheel Motel, Route 66 Wagon Wheel Motel, Route 66

Wagon Wheel Motel, also on Route 66 in Cuba, Missouri