Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another Roadside Attraction

Originally uploaded by skippytpe.
A quick bit of calculation tells me that I’ve driven in the neighborhood of 2800 miles since Christmas. Some of it was by choice and some of it not, but either way I’m getting a little tired of being on the road. I should only be out of town for one weekend in February. After that, who knows.

This last weekend brought a day trip down to Vicksburg for my grandmother’s 91st birthday; her name is Gladys. The last of her brothers died the week before (something she’s not in good enough health to know yet) and the family decided it’d be nice to convene in Vicksburg for something not depressing. For as good as it always is to see her, a stroke two years ago robbed her of the thing she was probably best known for: the ability to tell stories. Better writers than I have described the art that is the rambling southern narrative, but it’s worth saying here that she was a master at it.

My mom had this superstition that once you record someone’s stories, they pass on. I didn’t buy it, but I often let it stop me when I had the chance to make recordings of Gladys. As a result, I only managed to capture about five of the literally thousands of hours of oral history (her history) that she passed on to me over the years. What remains in my conscious recollections is but the tiniest sliver of an amazing life. The rest is locked away in my grey matter somewhere... hopefully it’ll come back one day.


Last night was the Lucy Lippard lecture at MCA. I know I recommended it here and it was a genuine recommendation (there is no discounting her importance as a voice in art criticism), but I actually tend toward a pretty unsympathetic reading of her work. Maybe it’s just me being catty because she’s made a career out of unsympathetic readings of other people, but listening to this New York intellectual waxing rhapsodic about her love of her (relatively) new found little New Mexican village I was struck by the thought that she was about one bad decision away from a pretty hypocritical bout of cultural imperialism. Or maybe I’m just being an ass.

Either way, she did spend a lot of time talking about place and how one develops a sense of it. Not particularly new ideas, but I think for me right now that’s a idea worth exploring. In the last month I’ve been to nearly all of the places I would have at one point or another called home, but I hardly feel like I’m “from” any of them anymore (or perhaps I’m from all of them, I’m not sure). Lippard quoted someone as saying that you learn about a place by listening to its stories. So much so that places can become so laden with stories that the name of the place comes to stand for the stories rather some location on a map.

I’ve come to believe that the same can be true of people.

Save the Dates: Thursday Night: Lantana Projects and Reuben Lorch-Miller

Copied from their respective press releases:

Lillian and Morrie Moss Endowment for the Visual Arts: Reuben Lorch-Miller
2/1/2007 | 7 p.m. | Blount Auditorium, Buckman Hall

Lorch-Miller integrates a variety of media -- text paintings, photography, sculpture, furniture, flags, video, sound, and landscapes -- to compose a cyclical and tangential visual narrative. The images and forms he uses in his installations are often inverted, reversed, reflected, looped or doubled. Themes explored include isolation, fear, power, redemption, and reinvention.
(Net)Working to Grow Something Good in Memphis
How do you start a personal or corporate art collection? Where are there opportunities for artists in Memphis? How can artists and businesses partner to improve our city's vibrancy and economy? Please join us on Thursday, February 1 from 7:00-9:00 pm at Tsunami Restaurant in historic Cooper-Young for the opportunity to discuss these questions and more as you mingle with respected guests from Memphis' cultural community.

Friday, January 19, 2007


The post holiday rush hasn’t slowed down one bit. I keep thinking things will calm down and I’ll have a chance to write, but it doesn’t look like things are going to settle any time soon.

We’ve been in the throws of a redesign at work. The project was supposed to be done by the first of the year but for an uneven mixture of technical and political reasons it didn’t get done in time and is now largely falling to me. It’s been a deeply frustrating process and one I’m very much looking forward to seeing the back of.

This afternoon on my drive home I put on Eric Dolphy’s Last Date. For whatever reason it tends to insinuate itself in time between me and the time that was. A sort of forced perspective that drives back the day. Worth a listen if you get the time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Save the Dates: Lucy Lippard and Charles Jordan

I found two upcoming dates on my calendar that I wanted to share just in case anybody else hadn’t heard but might be interested.

First, Lucy Lippard will be speaking at MCA on January 30 at 7pm. For those who don’t know her work, Wikipedia has a pretty good biography of her. The short version is that she’s been an fairly important voice in Post-Modern Feminism and art criticism for going on thirty years now. Definitely worth your time to go have a listen.

Second, Friends for Our Riverfront announced this morning that Charles Jordan, Directory of Parks in Portland, is coming to MCA to speak on improving the quality of life in our cities through the better use of our public spaces. The lecture is at 10am on Saturday, February 10. With all of the renewed interest in Memphis’ urban design here recently, this should prove to be a good opportunity to get perspective from someone who’s helped a city get it right.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Where's Kitty?

Where's Kitty?
Originally uploaded by skippytpe.
The author Douglas Adams once said that he absolutely loved deadlines, “I love the wooshing sound they make as the go by.” My return from my all too short holiday vacation (most of which was spent in a Land Without Internet), was greeted with a series of twelve hour work days brought on by just such a deadline. In honor of my being just about fed up with work, however, I’m forcing a break into my morning so that I can write a little:

  • This year marked the first time we’ve hosted my in-laws (or any family for that matter) at our house for the holidays. The experience was a good one, though (or perhaps because) we couldn’t talk them into actually staying with us; they insisted on renting a room. They did so ostensibly for privacy, but I began to suspect it’s because one of them has a cat allergy and just didn’t want to say anything. We really don’t get to see enough of them, especially now that they are scattered all over the Southeastern US because of Katrina.

  • We had to cut our post Christmas trip to Vicksburg short to come back and feed our animals. Our return was fortuitous in one regard, in that we got to meet up with Tim, Liz, and Brooke for a little pre-New Years dinner shindig. I didn’t ask them about their actual New Years plans (and probably should have) but since we had nothing else happening, Amber and I headed back to the Land Without Internet again to stock up on fireworks and make entirely too much noise for that time of night.

  • One of my ropefish committed suicide two nights ago. We’re not sure exactly why he jumped (though the species is known for it), but sometime between 2 in the afternoon and 8 at night, Flotsam made a break for it. A good friend of mine consoled me with the notion that surely it couldn’t have been that bad being one of my fish and I hope she’s right; I’ve resigned myself to the idea that he was just trying to evolve. His tank-mate (the predictably named Jetsam) spent all of yesterday moping near the back of the tank.

  • Warning Geekpost: I updated the Memphis OPML while waiting on my computer to do something else in the background the other day. A few notable additions include Friends for our Riverfront and the Playhouse on the Square. There was a good post on the need for RSS over on Gates of Memphis the other day that’s worth checking out if you’re not already a regular reader (and you should be… good stuff that). He also points out that Live From Memphis finally has an RSS feed (though it’s apparently not quite ready for prime time). As a technology, RSS itself may not be particularly whiz-bang-sexy, but I have to sound a small note of solidarity with the Gates on this: Memphis could definitely use more of it.

After work tonight I’m headed back to Mississippi to take care of some stuff. I’m going to try to swing by the Twin show at DLG before I bail, but we’ll have to see how I feel after getting home and loading up the truck.