This Week’s Various

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As always, all images unless otherwise noted copyright Deep Fried Kudzu. Like to use one elsewhere? Kindly contact me here.

Old Scotland Church, Old Scotland AL

Old Scotland Church, Old Scotland AL, 2006

I guess because in part I’m thinking of how hard last year was on everyone, Faulkner’s 1950 Nobel banquet speech:

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.

Fred Sauceman in the Times News with The Chipburger: An Edible Reminder of a Town’s History

(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)

JW Marriott, Nashville TN

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.

K-Paul's, New Orleans

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

K-Paul’s is included in the NYT’s Remembering the Restaurants America Lost in 2020

Lunch at Swett's

from a visit to Swett’s in 2009

With the renovations at BNA, the Nashville International Airport, two nice food additions: Prince’s Hot Chicken, and Swett’s.

Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan’s, 2015

Brennan’s is making king cakes for the first time this year: Traditional ($20), Pink Parade ($24), and Chocolate ‘Black and Gold’ ($24).

The Pink Parade is obv a nod to the color of the façade; it’s filled with cream cheese and has Ponchatoula strawberry jam and pink cocoa powder. On top: white icing and pink sparkles and sprinkles.

Besides on Royal, it can also be picked up at Ralph’s on the Park, Cafe NOMA, and King Cake Hub (btw, they moved from the mortuary to the Broad Theater this year). Local delivery is via the D’livery app and nationwide ordering at

Brennan’s notes that they use the tangzhong technique to make the cakes stay fresh longer.

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.

From his obit:

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.'”

NPR interviews Annye C. Anderson, author of Brother Robert: Growing up with Robert Johnson (Bookshop, Amazon), and she has several things that she wants to set straight regarding the mythology around him.

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.”

Super Random Section:

The AJC critics name the 10 Best Southern Books of 2020 and among them, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers (via Square Books, via Amazon)

Alabama Indigenous Mound Trail

I have no idea who needs to know this but if you’re sick of straight taper candles, this is a thing. (hi, I mentioned this was the super random section)

Thinking of taking the NYT’s advice and pretending I’m in Quebec City tonight because that looks positively wonderful

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

Loving the Cow College tee at Standard Deluxe, too

There is a Buddhist Monastic institution in Batesville, Mississippi where one may go to practice mindfulness — Magnolia Grove

Fly TWA / New York poster via the LOC, free to print and use

If you need a good cry with a side of go-get-’em, here’s a mother’s letter, Live a Life Worth Living

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.

The Best Museum Gift Shops in NYC according to Conde Nast Traveler. I now want a Vestaboard from the MoMA shop.

Burger King’s new cheerful retro re-do is fun. And so are these.

At Bow & Arrow in Auburn, there’s the Alabama Tamale: sweet potato masa, venison jalapeño-cheddar sausage, Alabama white sauce, Hill Country hot sauce, wrapped in a collard leaf

We should be kind, kind, kind this year — and I’ve been thinking so much about this piece in the NYT about how instead of ‘canceling’ things and people, we should be bringing people closer in a loving way: What if Instead of Calling People Out, We Called them In?

This Ohio home on the market for $949k has the 80s turnt uuuupppp.

We DO have some pretty terrific themed drops in the south for the new year — from a taxidermied possum to a meteorite to a flea (Lawd, a ceramic flea) and others

Shipley’s has been bought by a private investment firm, but thankfully it’s Texas-based. Last month, the Texanist tackled the whole ‘how can Whataburger still claim it’s family-owned & operated’ when, you know…Chicago

Mansion Global is featuring a turnkey on 30A’s Seagrove Beach at $3.75M

Anybody else besides me (and Robin Brown of Magnolia Pearl) see this ~1850 $149k South Carolina Greek Revival and think that the only thing those walls need is a good (mold-eliminating) cleaning? I will keep the torn wallpaper and the mottled hues of paint. Gorgeous.

The American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) purchased the remaining known diary (the other was already in its collection) of Henry Darger

These Elretron typewriter-inspired keyboards are fun

(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.”

Nononononooooo: Good-bye to Sammy’s Roumanian and its Glorious Schmaltz, New York’s favorite “Jewish disco” has closed its doors

It’s the Biltmore, but in Colorado, and it’s $12M

Newsweek publishes Aimee Mayo’s piece about the letters she and Nelle Harper Lee wrote after Aimee’s dog died in Monroeville. BTW, Aimee wrote ‘Amazed‘ that Lonestar performed, and received the BMI Most Performed Country Song of the Year in 2000. If you’ve slow-danced to more than five country songs at wedding receptions in the last twenty years, rest assured you’ve slow-danced to Amazed

Love everything about the new restaurant, Best Quality Daughter, in San Antonio, and can’t get enough of this chinoiserie wallpaper with SA icons

Casamento's, New Orleans

Lunch at Casamento’s, 2014

Esquire with The 100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose— that if they were to close, it would be like losing a part of our culture — and among those in the south:

Arnold’s in Nashville
Bouquet in Covington KY
Brigtsen’s in New Orleans
Busy Bee in Atlanta
Casamento’s in New Orleans
Cochon in New Orleans
Cozy Corner in Memphis
Curate in Asheville
Dooky Chase in New Orleans
Franklin BBQ in Austin
Galatoire’s in New Orleans
Huynh in Houston
Lehja in Richmond
Louis Mueller in Taylor TX
Marcel’s in DC
Metzger Bar & Butchery in Richmond
Mosquito Supper Club in New Orleans
Seviche in Louisville
The Grey in Savannah

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.).

Clementine Hunter, Ogden Museum

Clementine Hunter at the Ogden, 2017

From Christie’s, Clementine Hunter: ‘Success was about direct encounters with the people who admired her art’ with a reminder that a nine-panel work of hers at Melrose Plantation’s African House can be seen via Google Street View

Ignatius J. Reilly Statue outside Hyatt French Quarter, New Orleans LA

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.

Crechale's Cafe, Jackson MS

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.

Birmingham = John’s slaw dressing
Jackson = comeback
Baton Rouge = Sensation

Kindly contact me with others. This is a thing, right?

Bell at Auburn

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 with Meringue, Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville TN

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.

The National Endowment for the Humanities grants have been announced, and one of the 213 sharing that $32.8M will be group supporting the creation of the Yoknapatawpha Humanities Center in Oxford, Mississippi


Abbeville, Alabama

from a visit to Abbeville, 2017

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.”

OG Arby's Hat Sign, Forestdale AL

original Arby’s sign, Forestdale AL, 2017

Nobody Loves Arby’s Like I Do, by Nathan Smith, in the NYT Magazine

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 gifted 114 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

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.”

Savannah riverfront

Savannah, 2019

Jessica Defino writes in Vogue about how Savannah could be the country’s new ‘clean beauty’ capital and especially how that’s thanks to the native yaupon plant, scientific name: Ilex Vomitoria. It’s actually a holly, and it’s incredibly popular all along the south

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

Thinking of Kate Medley’s Gas Station South series. I love it love it love it.

From America Magazine, The Jesuit Review: Americans Equate Beauty with Youth. That’s No Way to Build a Country, perhaps spurred by his stay at the Westin St Francis Hotel in San Francisco and considering the maxim ‘form follows function’ and further, what Pope Francis has called the “throwaway culture”:

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.

Tujague's, New Orleans

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.

A letter F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to a fan is being auctioned

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. 

This piece at Scroll about Hemingway includes his moving his family in 1926 when his son developed whooping cough to Villa Paquita at Juan-les-Pins.

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.

Also: US copyright on Gatsby expired January 1, 2021. Since it’s now in the public domain, it can be adapted. The Farris Smith prequel, Nick, was be published January 5. Short review in Town & Country here. (Publisher, Amazon)

And: from the NYT, Nearly a Century Later, We’re Still Reading — and Changing our Minds About — Gatsby

The Colonnade, Atlanta GA

Colonnade menu, 2018

There is a GoFundMe to help save Atlanta’s nearly 94yo The Colonnade. From Atlanta Eater:  “The perfect snapshot of Atlanta is a Friday night at the Colonnade. You have everyone and of all walks of life in there enjoying each other’s company and the food. It’s an experience. I just can’t imagine Atlanta without the Colonnade.”

The NYT on the documentary, The Last Blockbuster

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

National Gallery, 2019

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has received 40 works of art of 21 artists via the Souls Grown Deep Foundation based in Atlanta.

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!