Category Archives: Travel

Modern Fairy Story Reveals Social Commentary

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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

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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.

Lament of the Images–My MoMa experience

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On a recent trip to New York, I finally got to visit the Museum of Modern Art. For a small town Alabama girl who still has big dreams, this is a pretty big deal. I have been teaching a lot of Modernism, so I was looking forward to being in the same fucking room as Picasso’s, Matisse’s and Van Gogh’s work. However, it was the contemporary that got me.

Many times in this small town, I keep my mouth shut about politics because no one listens and not many people care. But, for some reason, I feel very strongly about the conflicts that we are facing at this moment in time, and I strongly believe that we never get the full story. Everything is watered down, and I often try to discover why. People think I’m crazy, or maybe I just assume that people think I’m crazy because I go on rants about Donald Trump or the Syrian refugees and my opinions are most often different from theirs. The contemporary pieces at MoMa spoke to me because they showed me a connection that I don’t get otherwise. Alisa, my partner, –I’ve wanted to write that for a long time–partner because she’s with me, but also partner because we are kindred souls and I know that she will go to the end of the world with me–often allows my points of view, and sometimes she even agrees with me, but I expect that of her because we have these things in common. But, to see some of my passions and feelings visualized, well it was quite moving to say the least.

One display that really spoke to me was the Lament of the Images by Alfredo Jaar.

Jaar explained in an interview,

The work is a metaphor for the blindness in our society. I think we live in a great paradox today. On the one hand we are bombarded by thousands of images, but on the other hand it has never before been so controlled, be it by the government or by a certain part of the private sector. Therefore, I believe that we have lost the ability to see and be moved by images. Nothing moves us anymore, nothing has any meaning. My work is a kind of poetic meditation about the power of images.

In the first room there are 3 stories to read, then you go through a labyrinth and reach another hall with a glistening light that blinds you. In another sense it is like the request “let there be light”, like an appeal to clarify this situation.

This was taken from http://universes-in-universe.de/car/documenta/11/frid/e-jaar-2.htm.

In the wake of terrorism, political debates, threats of war, and mass shootings, I say to you, think of what you don’t see.

Small Town Festival Opens the Door to History and Art

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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.

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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.

 

 

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Atmore resident Lloyd Albritton displays his publication, Baby Blue.

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

 

 

 

 

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

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Some vendors even send their proceeds to benefit different causes!

 

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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.

Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

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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.