Category Archives: Travel

Modern Fairy Story Reveals Social Commentary

Standard

a1ffac38-681f-48ff-8992-986c22d2c028-large16x9_PLT_Shrek_HeroLast night my wife and I took my kids and her niece to see Shrek: The Musical at the Pensacola Little Theater, and it was a treat! The costumes were fantastic, the setting was amazing, but what I loved the most were the hidden meanings that made me like this modern fairy story in the first place.

My favorite song was “Let Your Freak Flag Fly.” In the play, most of the characters are “outsiders”–the “Big Bad Wolf” is dressed in drag, witches are “not so wicked,” and many of the others are part of the B list fairy stories. What do they tell us? That we should celebrate our differences, and that being divided makes us weak and vulnerable to tyrants and society.

Of course, these characters are the side story, and Shrek and Fiona are the main protagonists. Shrek is definitely not the prince charming, although he rescues Fiona. He does so without violence. He is actually very logical. His whole analogy that ogres are like onions is hilarious yet meaningful. Fiona, as we soon find out, is also an ogre on the inside. She tries to be the typical princess. She shows us that little girls are given expectations based on fairy tales that do not come true. Shrek and Fiona are real life: reality.

One of the most evocative parts that I wish I could have recorded even though I know that’s not cool was when Shrek was mad and hurt and retreated to his swamp to build a wall. A giant green ogre dancing around on stage singing about how a wall was a solution to his problems was just too reminiscent of Donald Trump to go unnoticed.

However, the best example of irony was636053273925510881-Shrek-The-Musical-Farquaad-3 Lord Farquaad–the tyrant who wants to kick out all of the “freaks” so that he can have his perfect kingdom. His size is a realistic portrayal of his brain more than his body.

I appreciated this play, performed mostly for children, so much that I felt compelled to share. Please share your thoughts as well. 636053273954059064-Shrek-The-Musical-Shrek-Fiona-2

 

 

 

 

Everything Else Has Failed by Sharon Hayes; My MoMa Experience CoNtInUeD

Standard

As we emerged from the Jaar exhibit, tears streamed down my face. Alisa, realizing I was crying, stopped me, astounded and asked if I was okay. All I could do was smile at her. These were not sad tears, though I was feeling pain for the thoughts of war and destruction brought to life by my realization, but they were tears of verisimilitude–my thoughts and feelings were realized by another–they were truth for me. This art was my truth.

As I stood with my lover, my partner, my girlfriend, my fiance, and she wiped my tears, the sounds of Sharon Hayes’ voice emerged from a set of speakers. I listened to the words. They spoke to my heart. Tears are in my eyes now as I write.

Here’s an explanation:

Everything Else has Failed! Don’t you Think It’s Time for Love (2007), a sound installation with framed posters, documents the period from September 17 to 21, 2007, when Hayes emerged each day at lunchtime from the corporate headquarters of UBS in midtown Manhattan to speak to an anonymous lover. Beginning “My dear lover” or “My sweet lover,” the texts Hayes spoke were addressed to an unnamed “you” from whom the speaker was separated for some unexplained reason. Woven in between comments on and about personal longing and desire were observations about politics and the trauma and dislocation of living in a time of war. By inserting “private correspondence” into a scene of public speech, Everything Else Has Failed! Don’t You Think It’s Time for Love? provokes questions about the territory of the space of the “political“ and the “unspeakable” as it relates to love and the notion of “free speech.”

This was taken from: http://whitney.org/file_columns/0003/1662/sharon_hayes_press_release.pdf.

I cannot remember the words. I cannot find them online. I wish I could. All I know is that I need this connection in my life. I need to stop being silenced from the lack of understanding.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Small Town Festival Opens the Door to History and Art

Standard

 

IMG_2816

William Station’s Day takes place on Pensacola Avenue in Atmore, Alabama, in early October. Half of the street closes, and vendors bring their best goods to display. You might think that this is another one of those festivals where if you’ve been once, you’ve seen it all. I used to think that, but when I began taking a folk-lorish lens, I discovered the unique history and array of art that this small town has to offer.

Here is a bit of the history behind the founding and the naming of the town from http://www.cityofatmore.com:

Long before settlers came to the area that is now Atmore, The Creek Indians inhabited the virgin forests of longleaf pines settling along the creeks and rivers. The development of this area began in the 1860’s following the Civil War as the Mobile and Great Northern railroad extended its line south to the Tensaw River near Mobile.

Workers who moved through the area laying track for the railroad were drawn by the rich farmland and abundance of timber. Agriculture and timber are still major factors in Atmore’s economy.

The first structure in what is Atmore was a small shed built along the railroad at which supplies were left for William Larkin Williams who had a logging operation ten miles down in Florida. In 1866 the site was first called Williams Station, just a supply stop along the railroad.

By the 1870’s there were several buildings; a railroad station, a store containing the post office, and one dwelling. Late in 1870 the first sawmill was put into operation. However, it was the sawmill built by William Marshall Carney in 1876 that sparked the growth of the community. Recognizing the potential of this area which abounded in cypress ponds and virgin forests, legend says Carney hitched a mule to a boat and set claim to most of the area. Because of his many contributions to the growth of the community Mr. Carney is often called “the father of Atmore”.

Many people often overlook the importance of Atmore’s agricultural economy as part of its foundation, but those “virgin forests” are possibly the only reason the town succeeded. Descendants of the sap-collectors have held on to some of the equipment, and they proudly display it at William Station’s Day. Below are some pictures of their display.

 IMG_2805IMG_2806IMG_2807IMG_2809IMG_2810  IMG_2811 IMG_2812IMG_2813 IMG_2814IMG_2815 

In addition to the agricultural history, storyteller and historian Robert Thrower tells great tales of Indian folklore. He also brings artifacts that he has collected to demonstrate the history of the natives of Atmore and the surrounding area.

 

Soaking in all of the history is fun, but discovering the art of various vendors can be intriguing as well.  I was fortunate in meeting Ikna Smith, creator of these unique pieces of jewelry. I asked her what inspires her, and she answered, “Life inspires me. I like to work with metal and discover all the different ways to shape it. And, I like to play with fire!” IMG_2818IMG_2819IMG_2820IMG_2821

The Gulf Coast Authors also take the stage with their display of their published works ranging from historical fiction to collections of stories originating in the Gulf Coast.

 

 

IMG_2822IMG_2823IMG_2824IMG_2825

Atmore resident Lloyd Albritton displays his publication, Baby Blue.

IMG_2826

Many vendors have a theme that appeals to Southerners and Rednecks, which are in abundance here!

 

 

 

 

IMG_2827 IMG_2831IMG_2828IMG_2829IMG_2830 

 

 

 

 

 

  IMG_2837IMG_2838

A friend of mine and his wife make these awesome jewelry hangers and pieces that have an artsy flare:

IMG_2834

 

 IMG_2835 IMG_2836  

Some vendors even send their proceeds to benefit different causes!

 

IMG_2839IMG_2840IMG_2841IMG_2842IMG_2843

 

Sometimes we take the small stuff for granted. I often hear people complain that there is nothing to do in this small town, but these vendors prove that wrong. This town is full of creativity and a rich history: it just takes a different perspective to find it.

My New York City

Standard

Small-town girl’s subway rants while visiting a friend for the first time in New York City

The city quakes with life. It calls to you the minute your feet hit the pavement. The blind man beckons for your change. The man in the suit reads his paper. Neither of them notice each other.  The subway stops. A middle-aged black man gets on with his toddler son in a stroller. The boy feeds his father a Cheerio.
Down the street the noise is endless. You look up. The buildings seem to lean in to each other.  Their size is overwhelming. The music booms and we order a Bronx Pale Ale. Our food comes out sizzling,  and it’s delicious. Back on the street the city swells with a mixture of tourists and locals. In some places the lights are so bright it’s difficult to discern whether it’s night or day.
The next morning I wake with an  excitement that it wasn’t a dream. The city exists, and we are in it. The streets are fresh and the atmosphere changes from one block to the next.  We emerge from the subway to romantic music played by an Asian woman on an accordion. The walls are covered in colorful murals of animals and sky scenes in blue, gold and green. The museum is booming with people of all ages and nationalities. The exhibits map our fascinating history.  The hot dog stand serves us up a juicy New York dog. On the way to the subway, a runway model struts her stuff for all her friends.
The doors open to the another section of the city–home to the World Trade Center. The history floods into my veins as I remember these streets from 9/11. The news clips of the twin towers flash before my eyes; it is all too real. The people crying and falling from windows; the stories of children who would be orphaned because both of their parents worked there; the rescue workers crushed by the debris. These streets scream remembrance.
Returning to the subway we grab a slice of pizza that is like no other–thin, cheesy and with a sauce that’s not too sweet and not too spicy–perfection.  The numbers get blurred, and we end up in Brooklyn. Every section of this city has a different story to tell. The kindness of a woman who can tell we’re lost touches me beyond belief.  This day has been full of emotion–the city is touching my soul. After this long ride on the dragon in the dungeon of the AC train, we emerge in Harlem once again, and it’s a relief.
Asian fusion calls our names as we make our way to Broadway. The crowd floods into the theatre with the excitement of the stage surrounding us. As the munchkins fill the stage,  the atmosphere becomes Wicked. Drama and comedy join together for the next few hours. My exhaustion hits me, and the city carries me to 137th.
We join the speed again in the morning at Lenny’s for bagels and coffee. Dropping off at Steps for ballet feels like throwing my daughter to the wolves. Competition surrounds the little ballerina from small town Alabama.  We trek over to Central Park and find the woods booming with bikers and runners and the yoga groups and couples with picnics. We discover Bellevedere’s Castle and sit on the steps to enjoy the view.
Our feet hit the street on our way to soak up our last day in the city. The shops on Fifth Avenue burst with consumers searching for the products to complete their lives. We pass Lincoln Center and I envision the thousands of dancers who have stepped out chasing their dreams on that stage. My guide discovers the key to my heart when he suggests that we go to the New York City Library. Over 6 billion books live on those shelves. We pass the familiar sites of our favorite shows–30 Rock and the hotel from Bass Industries of Gossip Girl and visions of stars behind cameras dance before my eyes. As we cross the street from one borough to the next, it is like entering a completely different city. The Upper East Side ends and we venture into the busy and mysterious streets of Chinatown. I immediately decide that this is my least favorite section and hope to hurry out. We purchase our souvenirs and move on to a pub for drinks and a place to rest our weary feet. The sun begins to set as we stroll into Little Italy and again we leave one city to enter another. The atmosphere is filled with romance from the music and the smells of pasta.  Tables lines the streets. We make our way into a cozy little restaurant and order wine and four different Italian dishes to delight in together.
We board the Staten Island ferry for our final destination.  The air is brisk coming off the water. Our nation’s symbol of peace is illuminated in the distance. As we make our way back to the island, I envision our ancestors arriving for the first time. On the dragon again our exhaustion reveals itself. As I drift in and out I notice the other passengers.  The man with an odd green stamp on his hand glares at me from behind a pole. A group of deaf girls sign to each other and laugh. We disembark and head down to Harlem for the last night’s rest before the trip home. As I close my eyes, I soak up the moments that have now become My New York City.

Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

Image

Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”–Audrey Hepburn

<<<Taylor, Preston, Perry and I soaking up the stardom of one of my favorite actresses…loved her in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!

Last summer, we loaded up the Nissan and headed off for Orlando–me, my kids (Taylor and Preston) and one of my favorite people in the world…Perry Jones. Being the huge Harry Potter fans that we are, we were craving some theme park experience of the wizarding world. The eight hour drive took us from our small town in Alabama through Tallahassee straight down the Turnpike into Orlando. Nothing really interesting happened on our way although we did go to Starbucks to promote gay marriage and we boycotted Chik Fil A all day due to the rage against gay marriage that they had started at the time. We were also tempted by Club Risque–a nude restaurant advertised for by at least 13 signs, but we decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea with the kids and all.

Our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, was only one and a half miles from the park. Right after we checked in, we went down to enjoy some $6 big girl drinks and let the kids take a dip in the pool before heading out to Emeril’s in Downtown Universal. Emeril’s had the hugest wine rack I’ve ever seen, so we of course had some to pair with our delicious pizza. A little walk around, and we were exhausted.

The next morning we all headed out bright and early to Harry Potter Wizarding World at the Islands of Adventure. Little did we know that everyone else had the same idea. It was so crowded, we could barely move! However, it was still awesome! Walking into HogsMeade with the theme music playing made me feel like we were walking into the movie! My favorite ride was Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey where you walk through the castle and then get into a flying cart and follow Ron, Harry and Hermione through an adventure. We also went and ate at the Three Broomsticks and drank Butterbeer–fun, fun. We waited at Ollivander’s for our wands for an hour, and we were disappointed to find that the choosing was only for one lucky person in the crowd. After we’d had our fill of the crowd, we ventured out into the rest of the park to find more thrilling roller coasters such as The Hulk and Jurassic Park’s Adventure Ride. Once again, we were exhausted by the end of the day and went back and crashed in our room.

Luckily, we’d paid the extra bucks for the park hopper passes and we had the choice to go back to Harry Potter Wizarding World after our tour of Universal Studios. Our favorite ride hands down was the Mummy. We rode it at least five times. Perry and I were amused at the test seats at the beginning of the rides–don’t ride if you are at risk of getting stuck, but just in case you don’t use your common sense, here’s a seat to test before you get stuck and cause everyone else to have to wait. The kids liked the Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It, but it jerked my neck around too much. Perry and I waited forever on them to ride it, and I thought they’d been kidnapped until they finally came running out. My theme park experience is never complete until I lose a kid or two!

We ended up back at HogsMeade for dinner and shopping that night. I spent $75 on candy–chocolate frogs, every flavor jelly bean, tongue tongue toffee–totally worth it. Preston got Dumbledore’s wand, and Taylor and I bought tee-shirts. Of course you can’t spend a summer’s day in South Florida without a torrential downpour, which we got stuck in for a good hour while we were trying to make our way to the gate.

Unfortunately, all vacations must end. On our way home we stopped at a truck stop to purchase one of the best travel necessities I’ve ever found…the Pastor Brown series of mysteries on audio CD. (Complete sarcasm)

This will definitely be a revisit when they complete the rumored renovations to Harry Potter Wizarding World.