Archive for October, 2008

The Howard School Brings the Adorable and the Brer Rabbit Stories

Written on October 31, 2008 at 2:46 pm, by Amelia

First of all, Happy Halloween!  I hope you’re having a spooktacular day.  We totally are.

The Howard School visited today, and brought a hearty amount of awesomeness in the form of 21 second graders (we think).  They were a hoot.

Howard School students in their Protect the Nest shirts

Nannie and Jeri gave them a tour of the Wren’s Nest, Donald gave them a performance of the Brer Rabbit stories, and I provided them with a mess of Brer Lion t-shirts.  Lain sat around and put his feet up.

In return, the kids performed their own versions of the Brer Rabbit stories on our stage.

The Howard School show goes on!

The children had crafted papier-mâché masks of various characters and “acted along” as their teachers read from The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit.

Here’s one of the masks, up close and personal.

Howard School Papier Mache mask of Brer Rabbit

Below is Brer Rabbit (and family–you can understand the need for poetic license when you have 21 fidgety players) stumbling upon the tar baby.

Brer Rabbit (and family) stumble across the tar baby

Pretty convincing, if I do say so.

My favorite part of the performances were when the students, instructed to repeat after their teacher, would boisterously yell stage directions.  For example:

TEACHER: (with repeat-after-me emphasis) And then Brer Fox said, puffing up his chest, “I’m–”

2-3 CHILDREN: (with passion) PUFFING UP HIS CHEST!

TEACHER: (chuckling) I’m going to cook you in a stew!

1 CHILD: (timidly) I’m going to cook you in a stew?

I loved it.  Thanks for a great day, Howard School!

Wren’s Nest Rambler Donald Griffin is a Fellow! A Lunt-Fontanne Fellow, That Is

Written on October 30, 2008 at 2:28 pm, by Amelia

One of our esteemed storytellers, Donald Griffin, has been chosen for a totally prestigious fellowship.  Not to brag or anything.

Donald was chosen amongst actors from all over the country to be part of the Ten-Chimney Foundation’s Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program.  In order to be considered, you must be nominated, which Donald was by the Alliance Theatre.

Here’s his blurb:

Donald Griffin Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program

Well said, Susan Booth.  Here’s Donald doing his Wren’s Nest thing–

The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story

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He’s not just Susan’s secret weapon!

Help us congratulate Donald on his achievement.  He gets to go to Wisconsin with a stipend, for goodness sake!

Steve Harvey and The Wren’s Nest — Confused Yet Again

Written on October 29, 2008 at 11:24 am, by Amelia

Remember that time that the Wren’s Nest received mail for the one and only Mr. Steve Harvey, care of Grown Folks Radio?

We do.  Because IT JUST HAPPENED!

Steve Harvey's Mail Arrives at the Wren's Nest

You’ll note that the address is ours, but neither Steve Harvey nor Grown Folks Radio reside here.  Well, at least not today.

To our knowledge, Mr. Harvey has not requested that all of his mail be sent here.  Which is not to say that we’re not up for it, by the way.  I bet he gets all sorts of promotional mugs.

In the meantime, to our undoubtedly huge readership at 102.5fm: want to come pick this up?

Rudy Ray Moore — Dolemite, The Signifying Monkey, and Brer Rabbit

Written on October 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Rudy Ray Moore–comedian, actor, singer, and the “godfather of rap”–passed away last week.  He was 81.

Remember Dolemite?

Dolemite Starring Rudy Ray Moore the Godfather of Rap

That’s Rudy Ray Moore.

On Friday, the New York Times published his obituary.  After chronicling some of his more foul-mouthed and explicit exploits, the obit points out–

Mr. Moore could be said to represent a profound strand of African-American folk art. One of his standard stories concerns a monkey who uses his wiles and an accommodating elephant to fool a lion. The tale, which originated in West Africa, became a basis for an influential study by the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., “The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism.”

In one of his few brushes with a national audience, Mr. Moore, in a startlingly cleaned-up version, told the story on “The Arsenio Hall Show” in the early 1990s. Other characters he described were new, almost always dirtier renderings in the tradition of trickster stories represented by Brer Rabbit and the cunning slave John, who outwitted his master to win freedom. (emphasis mine)

If we ever become museum with a curator and extra space, maybe we could develop an exhibit that explores Brer Rabbit’s influence in blaxploitation films and hip hop.

There’s quite a bit, really.  From Brer Rabbit of Coonskin to B-Rabbit of 8 Mile, the influence of the trickster using his wits and his words is hard to underestimate in hip hop and its forbears.

And though Rudy Ray Moore may have been a little more vulgar than the folktales he updated, let’s not forget that Brer Rabbit himself was no saint.
For example, consider Brer Rabbit’s frequent visits to the house of “Miss Meadows and de gals.”

Miss Meadows and de Gals

Miss Meadows and the gals live together in one house, have no visible means of support, and are often courted by Brer Rabbit, despite the Misses and Little Rabs at home. Smoking cigars and playing piano weren’t the only things they were doing, I’m sure.

Road Trip — House Museums from Atlanta to Salt Lake City

Written on October 24, 2008 at 10:06 am, by Lain Shakespeare

When my mom asked me to help my sister drive to Salt Lake City in November, I took it as an opportunity to geek out like whoa.

While I’m happy to help Susie and her dog Hazel get to Salt Lake City, I’m mostly excited to see as many house museums as possible along the way.  I even mapped some out.

House Museums from Atlanta to Salt Lake City

You can

find the full map here with descriptions and pictures of each museum.

The basic plan is to visit house museums in and around Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver.

If I can find cool house museums in Topeka, Lawrence, and Manhattan, Kansas, we’ll cut across that way.  Otherwise, I have not been to Iowa or Nebraska, so we’ll stop in Omaha and Lincoln.

Here are the burning questions at this point–

  1. Which are the best house museums along the way?  The worst?
  2. How can we best document our story–blogging, podcasting, twittering, video recording, what?
  3. Will this be the single lamest road trip ever undertaken?
  4. What do we do with the dog when visiting house museums?

Racist Visitors at the Wren’s Nest — What Would You Do?

Written on October 23, 2008 at 11:01 am, by Amelia

Jeri just came into the office, immediately after seeing her tour out, and announced, “That man was a real asshole!”

Now, Jeri has no shortage of sass and opinions, but to earn a label like that from her–well, that takes some doing.  Naturally, Lain and I asked why.  Jeri said,

“When that man came in, the first thing he said was, ‘Oh… I thought a white person was going to give us a tour.  I didn’t realize black people stayed here.’  He was not happy about it, either.”

Jeri pointed out that no one lives in the museum (which comes as a surprise to many people, actually) and asked if he and his wife had a problem with her giving them the tour.  They said no, but kept an odd distance throughout.

The rest of the tour was conducted under tense, truce-like conditions, though this did not stop the man from asking things like, “Why do black people hate white people?”

Jeri handles herself in situations like these with a frankness and calm I really admire.  Though, to tell you the truth, I don’t think I would be able to do the same.

On the other hand, these people clearly would have been fine with lil’ ol’ (lily white) Amelia giving the tour.  You have to wonder what kind of comments they would have made to Lain or me.

Anyhow, I suppose this is today’s reminder that outwardly prejudiced people exist.  Do you think we can put a sign on our door that reads “No Racists Allowed”?

P.S.  Ta da!  This marks the first instance of cursing within our blog!  Exciting times.

The Wendy’s Across the Street and Amelia Make a Great Team

Written on October 21, 2008 at 3:53 pm, by Amelia

Time for a Wren’s Nest Current Events quiz!


Today Amelia went to the Wendy’s across the street to use the restroom because:

  • a) without a change of scenery every two hours, she gets testy
  • b) she needed a convincing ruse in order to fetch a Frosty, and saying the bathroom was “occupied” here seemed like just the thing
  • c) our water was briefly turned off due to a wee misunderstanding surrounding two dollars and forty-six cents
  • d) she likes to keep up on current Wendy’s menu events, and figured she might as well take care of business while at it


Categories: Challenges! |

Wren’s Nest Conservation Update

Written on October 17, 2008 at 11:34 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Lately I’ve been busy talking with architects and engineers and contractors about fixing up the Wren’s Nest.  Sometimes I even know what they’re talking about.

Other times I just kinda nod my head and smile.

To give you an idea of the repairs we’re making, below are the architectural drawings of the basement and main floors complete with instructions.

Here’s the basement–

Wren's Nest Basement Architectural Drawings

(Here’s a legible version)

And here’s the main floor–

Wren's Nest Main Floors Architectural Drawings

(Yet another legible version)

These plans don’t include painting, roof repair, or structural repairs.  If only it were that simple!

Things We Missed During Our Brief Blogging Hiatus

Written on October 16, 2008 at 4:31 pm, by Amelia

Hi folks.  Apologies to all one of you who have been waiting with baited breath for our return.

Here are a few items we would have mentioned, in depth, in a timely manner, had we been here.  Instead, let’s glance, late!

1.  The Grant Mansion in nearby Grant Park is undergoing a much-needed restoration.

The pre-Civil War mansion (where Bobby Jones was born and the home of the Atlanta Preservation Center) is being restored …slowly.  Artifacts still need to be identified, and the architects are struggling to be true to original building plans, and on and on.  We feel you.

Grant Mansion in Grant Park, Atlanta

I especially like the note about the craftsmanship evident in these old homes, the levels of which are pretty much unseen today.  There's something to be said for a century old home that suffered years of negligence and is still standing *cough cough*.

2.  The Atlanta Cyclorama needs some attention too.

How much, Bo Emerson writes, is up for contention. Ignore me for a few minutes and read the article about a gigantic painting's upkeep.  Somehow, it's riveting.  Go on--I'll wait.

Now that you've read it, you should know this: I love the Cyclorama.  Seriously, it is the craziest and most bizarre relic in town, and you should go see it right now.  I'll wait again.

Cyclorama in the AJC

See?!  Awesome.  If it induces vertigo, it's a success. 

The article also touches on an issue we experience ourselves--what to do about ill-advised additions over the years. When historical accuracy is the goal, there's no such thing as a good addition, and the best 1980 has to offer is often 2008's problem.  Tricky!

3.  Remember the Crum and Forster building?

The Georgia Historic Trust's "Places in Peril" list did, much like they remembered the Wren's Nest in 2007. This is good news for historic preservation enthusiasts like us, and for Atlanta overall.

Crum and Foster Building

Preserving history > parking lot.

Anything else we missed?  Let me know.

Save #7 — Fire Station Benefit Concert at the Wren’s Nest

Written on October 9, 2008 at 3:45 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Today marks the five day anniversary of the benefit concert we hosted in honor of Fire Station #7.

Fire Station #7 Benefit at the Wren's Nest - The Fire Station Reimagined

Sorry about the delay — the blogging half of the Wren’s Nest Staff is out of town.

Quite frankly, I had mixed feelings about this benefit.  After all, it directly competed with our own fundraiser, just one week prior.  Given a choice between saving their local Fire Station and preserving their local museum, folks are going to support the Fire Station every time, especially when tickets are cheaper.  The timing could have been better, for sure.

On the other hand, the Fire Station #7 benefit rallied the community and drew plenty of attention.

Fire Station #7 Benefit at the Wren's Nest - WGCL and FOX 5 were there

Here’s the hard-hitting report from WAGA.

Too bad they never mentioned the Wren’s Nest by name.  Maybe I just didn’t get friendly enough with the reporters.  I feel like Live Apartment Fire should set up an advice booth on etiquette with TV reporters.

The evening was also an opportunity for the Wren’s Nest to showcase our support for the community and host influential citizens at an important event.  Influential citizens like Kwabena, the chairman of our Neighborhood Planning Unit–

Kwabena Nkromo and a friend at the Fire Station#7 Benefit Concert

And Vonda, West End Neighborhood Development Secretary–

Vonda Henry and a friend at the Fire Station#7 Benefit Concert

And John, contractor and West End Neighborhood Development something something–

John Pavlin and friends at the Fire Station#7 Benefit Concert

And not to mention a few of the firefighters, formally of Station #7–

Fire Station #7 Benefit at the Wren's Nest - The Fire Firefighters

Ultimately, we had a great time for an excellent cause, my concerns notwithstanding.  Though let’s hope next time camera crews come to the Wren’s Nest they at least muster the strength for a shout out.


Categories: Atlanta, West End |