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Still life with Lane Cake and Fridge, my home, 2010: from the original Emma Rylander Lane recipe
Yewande Komolafe presents a new interpretation of Lane Cake in the NYT, “… takes all of fruitcake’s best elements — bourbon-soaked dried fruit, toasty pecans and shredded coconut — and weaves them into a rich, custardy filling set between three layers of tender vanilla cake” and does that Christina Tosi thing with it being devoid of icing on the outside.
The Bill Traylor ‘4 Figures & Basket in Blue’ in the last Slotin Folk Art Auction blew through the estimate of $40-60k — it sold at $105k.
San Antonio’s Riverwalk, from a visit in 2016
The San Antonio River Walk Association (SARWA) was granted permission from the city for canoers and kayakers to paddle the downtown section during weekends through November, via an outfitter (so it seems one may not just slip into the water). Maybe this can become an ongoing thing.
“Collard liquor and cornbread to mush it in,” just as Truman Capote spoke of, from a visit to Mary Mac’s in Atlanta, 2005
Of course, the story begins with that high-ceilinged old house on the edge of town, living with his much-older maiden cousins and their bachelor brother, a necessity due to the drama with his mother and her situation. He makes sure to note that it was some of the happiest times of his childhood, mainly due to his relationship with the youngest of the cousins who was herself in her 60s:
As she was a child herself (many people thought her less than that, and murmured about her as though she were the twin of poor nice Lester Tucker, who roamed the streets in a sweet daze), she understood children, and understood me absolutely.
That’s Sook, and if that has you thinking it’s time to get the fruitcake going, same.
And I have to go back to his beautiful description of the first meal of the day, described in abundance:
Breakfast was our principal meal; midday dinner, except on Sundays, and supper were casual menus, often composed of leftovers from the morning. These breakfasts, served promptly at 5:30 A.M., were regular stomach swellers. To the present day I retain a nostalgic hunger for those cockcrow repasts of ham and fried chicken, fried pork chops, fried catfish, fried squirrel (in season), fried eggs, hominy grits with gravy, black-eyed peas, collards with collard liquor and cornbread to mush it in, biscuits, pound cake, pancakes and molasses, honey in the comb, homemade jams and jellies, sweet milk, buttermilk, coffee chicory-flavored and hot as Hades.
The Capote historic marker in Monroeville, Alabama, 2006
If we can stay with Truman Capote for just a moment more, there’s this piece in the LA Times from 2006, It was the Joanne and Truman Show, about the the great friendship between him and Joanne Carson; the space in her house post-Johnny that she made for him; her support of him after he was made a social pariah after parts of his ‘Answered Prayers’ came out, and his of her after the divorce and the friends stayed by Johnny; the auction of his items by her at Bonhams, much of it going to pet-centered charities.
The ‘centerpiece’ of that auction? The unfinished short story Joanne asked him to write, about his chance meeting with Willa Cather one snowy day in New York. Vanity Fair published it in 2006.
I was still amazed to think that Willa Cather wore sable coats and occupied a Park Avenue apartment. (I had always imagined her as living on a quiet street in Red Cloud, Nebraska.)
And back to the LA Times story, including mention of items on the block:
In addition to knickknacks such as embroidered pillows, pens and many Baccarat decanters, there are Polaroid photos, some taken by Carson, of Capote cavorting in her pool after a face-lift and 80-pound weight loss at a Florida spa. (He gained it all back, she said with a sigh.)…
“the baby blanket made by his Aunt Sook, who raised him; the Courreges jacket he wore to Studio 54; the tuxedo he wore to his famous Black and White Ball; his dancing slippers; and little notes he’d leave around the house, including one that simply reads, “I am a genuis.”
“Truman never could spell that word,” said Carson.”
original Holy Cross School in the Lower 9th Ward, St. Alphonsus in the Lower Garden District, the B.W. Cooper buildings along Earhart Boulevard and the Bolden home in Central City, plus an 1860s era cottage on St. Andrew Street in Central City, and the French Benevolent Society tomb in Lafayette No. 2 Cemetery on Washington Avenue
Country Music Tue & Fri Night, Gordo AL, from a visit in 2011 (sign since removed)
I emailed Jack Lewis years ago and asked him to please please please give the world more Olde Surber Station Radio: A Bluegrass and Old Time Music Radio Show but said he didn’t have time as he was was off doing other things. It was perfection and here’s the first episode. Friends: I’d like to make a Google map of old-time and bluegrass live shows. I’m talking corner-of-a-convenience-store-Friday-night-performances, private houses that open up for this kind of thing weekly or monthly, and opera houses, even though we’re not talking the opera or The Opry. Contact me, please, if you know of one, even if it’s not doing anything right now.
Hotel Talisi keys, 2005
The founder of Bookshop, a website utilized to order books from local-indie shops across the country (though I don’t see Square Books in Oxford, I do see Thank You in Birmingham): “I’m trying to un-disrupt the industry. Most Silicon Valley companies are trying to disrupt the industry, which means that all the old players go out of business and they create a new way of doing it,” he said. “We’re trying to bring in force all the dinosaurs. We’re trying to keep all the dinosaurs alive.”
Robb Report on 10 Great Bakeries Delivering… and this: (Domique Ansel): Christmas Morning Cereal. This is no simple box of Cheerios. Every year, Ansel sells cartons packed with puffed rice that’s covered in caramelized milk chocolate and mixed with smoked cinnamon miniature meringues and candied hazelnuts. It’s crunchy and sweet with just the right amount of spice from the cinnamon. It’s not quite on sale yet, but you can get notified on his site about when you can buy this addictive snack.
Black Bottom Pecan Pie recipe from Erin McDowell
So interesting to see what architecture Australians are critical of
Here’s The Ultimate Texas Tacopedia from Texas Monthly, which — unless I missed something, only mentioned the Panhandle once, with a place in Amarillo that does one with tofu
James Meredith has plans to open a museum in Jackson that will “chronicle his life’s accomplishments, house an archival library and provide a sanctuary for those wanting to study the Bible”
Austin’s Sand Dollar House is on the market, and just took a big price drop. That kitchen island, though…
In the National Review, Joseph Epstein with Our Literary Drought reaches back to Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities (one of my favorite, favorite books) in answering ‘What is the last novel you can think of that caused a genuine stir?‘ — and laments that The Atlantic, Harper’s, and “most sadly” The New Yorker have given incredible space “to politics, to the detriment of their former cultural and literary interests.” And here’s the NYT’s 100 Notable Books of 2020.
On the market in Jarreau, Louisiana: ‘This is the world’s premier collection of Louisiana French Creole and Acadian architecture, art, decorative arts and furniture…4 houses, 3 auxiliary buildings, 75+/- acres on 4 parcels of property…Maison Chanel bears witness to Louisiana’s unique cultural heritage and constitutes the single most comprehensive repository of architectural elements, decorative arts, and material culture from the region before 1830.’
There is an indigenous horse sanctuary, Sacred Way, in the Florence, Alabama area that also includes an interpretive center/museum.
Hotel Talisi (Tallassee, Alabama) is on the cusp of being declared a public nuisance. It’s gone from a fab, unique small-town hotel experience with a restaurant serving some of the world’s great fried chicken to a guy setting it on fire (by accident, kinda-sorta), to insurance drama and a rebuild, to it becoming a, well, hostel for feral cats with fleas
Ah, Florida’s The Villages, in this new Some Kind of Heaven:
Watched Hillbilly Elegy on Netflix last week. At this point, not sure why so much weight was put on this being a story set in Appalachia.
This review at KUNC mentions: “there is no culture, there’s only the strife. This family may be JD Vance’s home, but nothing of the beauty of Appalachian life pokes through.”
— and indeed, it’s just filled with misery. People behaving badly generally, profanity throughout, and bad parenting that would probably generationally necessitate therapy. Have you ever been in a social setting (ball game, grocery store) and witnessed people talking to each other in an unnecessary yell? There’s just so much underpinned angst that the person’s voice modulates that way? These people’s default setting is…that. If I hadn’t known this was set where it was, with those accents, it might as well have been set in some poor community probably anywhere else in this country.
Other reviews: Cassie Chambers Armstrong in The Atlantic with Hillbilly Elegy Doesn’t Reflect the Appalachia I Know; A.O. Scott’s I Remember MaMaw in the NYT; Searching for the Real Appalachia in the Washington Post; some reactions from the local press where the movie was set; and particularly stinging, WBUR’s Sean Burns’ Films ‘Uncle Frank’ And ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Are Two Cluelessly Condescending Hollywood Trips To The Heartland:
It’s amusing to note that Howard grew up in front of the cameras on “The Andy Griffith Show,” as the blighted Ohio of his “Hillbilly Elegy” is like Mayberry’s oxy-addled inverse, full of boarded-up small businesses and junk cars in the yard. Yet, it feels as false as any sitcom set, a Hollywood vision of poverty…
which ends with “Devoid of politics or insight, “Hillbilly Elegy” is just the story of how some jerk from Yale got a fancy job at a law firm.”
Also: the bottom of the NYT review gives these details:
Rated R. Fussing, fighting, cussing, smoking. Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes.
“Fussing, fighting, cussing, smoking”
Well, yeah. That’s about right.
The Alluvian, 2018
The Local Palate with 12 Historic Southern Hotels and they must be going by some weird interpretation of the word ‘historic’ (just in an older 20th C building?) because The Alluvian in Greenwood (est 2003) is there, along with the Redmont in Birmingham — nothing against the Redmont (I’ve stayed there too) but there’s not much about it even whispering ‘historic’ albeit the operation has been in existence since 1925…just look at the pics on their site. They include the Watergate Hotel in DC, but not the Greenbrier? No love for the St Anthony or the Driskill? Granted, the 21c in Louisville is in a cool downtown building, but I’ve stayed there and there’s not a whole lot lending a particularly historic vibe to one’s stay.
Mt Ararat Cemetery Nashville, where several Edmondson monuments had been installed, 2011
On Historic Nashville’s 2020 listing of the Nashville Nine endangered properties:
Tennessee State Prison – 6410 Centennial Boulevard
The Henry Allen and Georgia Bradford Boyd House — 1601 Meharry Boulevard
Z. Alexander Looby House — 2012 Meharry Boulevard
Eldorado Motel Sign — 2806 Buchanan Street
Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church — 908 Monroe Street
Chaffin’s Barn — 8204 TN-100
The Barbizon Apartments — 2006 Broadway
The Firestone Building — 2416-2418 West End Avenue
William Edmondson Headstones — Located in various Davidson County cemeteries
Advice at the Irondale Cafe, Irondale AL, 2017
This review in the AJC for the Magnolia Room Cafeteria ” a temple to trout amandine, congealed salad and yeast rolls” in Tucker: