Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stormy Weather

misty blue by dorothy moore

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Amy V. Desexualizes Bidets, Persimmons

Amy Vanderbilt is a skilled technical writer. She makes the communication of arbitrary social protocol to the rising middle classes of post WW2 gringo populations seem effortless. Her style is as inoffensive as the white of a five minute egg.

Ms. Vanderbilt on Bidets:

"The initial use for the bidet is as an adjunct to personal hygiene after use of the toilet. If it is thought of as a minuscule bathtub it doesn't seem so outlandish. It may be sat upon forward and aft. It may be used for soaking the feet, giving a small child a sponge bath...Small boys like to float boats in it."

Ms. Vanderbilt on Persimmons:

"Grasping the persimmon with the left thumb and index finger, scoop out and eat a spoonful at a time, keeping the shell intact. Avoid the skin which, unless dead ripe, is puckery. The large pits are cleaned in the mouth, dropped into the spoon, and then deposited on the side of the plate. Persimmons...should be dead ripe and slightly spotted."

from Amy Vanderbilt's Etiquette: The Guide to Gracious Living. Doubleday: New York, 1952.

Oh Ms. Vanderbilt! What did you do, when you stepped away from your writing desk, with bidets and persimmons and words left unsaid?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pot Likker Fetishists

Mary Mac's Tea Room is located at 224 Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. This enterprise and its constituents appear to have mastered the sale of southern food folklore. Last week I listened to Tony, an employee of the tea room, agressively sell two tourists from the North crawdads and fried pork chops after offering them pot likker.

According to Michael Stern, who posts on, pot likker is a "spuce-green brew, known as pot likker for its intoxicating intense study in southern-style greens."

Tony described it as the vitaminous liquid rendered off in a pot of slow cooked greens and pork which people here in the South eat with cornbread and a spoon.

For me, it is that which cornbread sometimes sops up.

In the photo you can see a brown haired faker, a contemplative tourist, and the action portraits of women who work in a kitchen which hang on some of the Tea Room's walls. Who decided to document and display the labor behind the likker? Why? Is it to promote the restaurant's authenticity or to remind diners what it is they're eating?

Misty Blue by Dorothy Moore

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jefferson County Courthouse

The Jefferson County Courthouse is located at 716 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd North in Birmingham, Alabama on the southwest side of Linn Park.

If you ever have the chance to visit, please pay some attention to the murals on the walls of the lobby. These murals don't get enough attention; they're famished.

What were these images trying to say to the powerful functionaries of a recently erected, post Civil War Birmingham? Was it, "Don't worry men, industrial capitalism won't change much. Won't you stop behaving like women so we can have a smooth transition?"

Read the other way around, they might say, "Don't be fooled by this new plan. It is nothing but the old plan in disguise."