Archive for June, 2009
Fresh Loaf, an excellent Creative Loafing blog, published a fascinating story last week about the implosion of Inman Park Properties, a real estate company that owns quite a few historic properties around Atlanta.
After years of sitting on many otherwise abandoned properties, Inman Park Properties is facing a number of foreclosures. Quoth Boyd Coons, director of the Atlanta Preservation Center —
“His buildings may have been in terrible condition, but at least they were still there. We now have real fears about what’s going to happen with all these properties.”
I can only echo Boyd’s concerns.
I hope these properties will fall in the laps a few preservation-minded developers. It’s a shame so many are rotting and empty, but it’d be awful if we lost these buildings for good. So often developers will see the bottom line, but fail to consider the irreparable (and admittedly less visible) costs of tearing down a neighborhood landmark or rending the urban fabric.
Related: The Georgia Trust’s Places in Peril (2008) included “The Castle” on 15th Street, home of Uncle Remus-inspired gardens and woodwork.
On Tuesday the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. and I (henceforth: “the gang”) visited the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a tour and an InDesign tutorial.
We were lucky enough to meet all sorts of important people. Our tour guide was one such important person — Daily Lifestyle Reporter and all-around champion, Jamie Gumbrecht. She’s peeking out below on the left.
While I do not have any more pictures, I can and will regale you with a few stories. Ready? I hope so.
Asking the Tough Questions
Jamie and the gang walked in on a meeting between Julia Wallace, Editor-in-Chief, and James Mallory, Senior Managing Editor. Mallory introduced himself by saying (in essence), “This woman is in charge and currently stomping all over my suggestions.”
Wallace asked the gang if they had any questions. Here’s how it went:
WREN’S NEST EDITOR: So, what do you think of the AJC redesign?
AJC EDITOR: What do you think about it?
WREN’S NEST EDITOR: It reminds me of USA Today.
AJC EDITOR: Is that a good thing?
WREN’S NEST EDITOR: (pregnant pause) No.
It’s a tad surreal to see the Editor of one of the most respected newspapers in the country defending her decisions to a high school junior. Apparently the AJC editors should consult the Wren’s Nest Publishing Company editors before moving forward with anything else.
We settled in to learn all about InDesign from the lovely Melissa Angle, Senior Designer, who was nothing short of amazing. I know this because even I could follow what she was demonstrating. That, my friends, is saying something. She was kind, generous (instructional packets!), funny, and patient.
On our way out we caught Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Luckovich in the midst of satirizing Jon and Kate, pen in hand and everything. Half-finished illustrations are tops!
Here’s the finished product.
Finally, Managing Editor Bert Roughton asked the gang if they had read any good submissions yet. One answered, “No. The one I read was REALLY bad.” I think he offered her a job on the spot.
Can I just take a moment to appreciate the generosity of the (very important) folks who took time to hang out? Good golly. Melissa and Jamie, y’all have a box of cookies coming your way. The rest of you can mooch off of them.
Thank you all again!
Unfortunately, our hosts at the AJC weren’t the only jaw-dropping element of our time there.
I know that my concept of manners and good social graces are different than those of a 16-year-old, and I have to judge appropriately. On the other hand, would you walk into the AJC while eating french fries? Would you think nothing of arriving 20 minutes late? Of picking at your nails while the Editor-in-Chief spoke to you? Sadly, I could go on.
I have no question that each and every one of our editors knows how to behave themselves when it’s called for. So why didn’t they think this was one of those times? It makes me uneasy about cashing in all of our favors for a gang that will appear not only disinterested, but ungrateful.
Sticky as Brer Rabbit Molasses, this situation. Any advice, other than prolonged yelling and/or foot stomping?
This thing somehow crawled inside our window. I really and truly hurt myself running away from it.
Lain and I debated whether it should meet its maker via shoe, but decided no for two reasons:
- I’m not sure we have enough paper towels to clean up the carcass
- Are you kidding me?! We need to do everything we can to stay on its good side.
Lain safely (and bravely) re-released it into the wild.
I need to go lie down.
Today marks the one-week anniversary of the Wren’s Nest Publishing Company’s annual tour of Paste, a music and culture magazine of international renown.
As always, the editors in our high school literary journal program said (over and over) it was the best thing ever. As always, I agreed.
Josh Jackson, editor-in-chief at Paste, showed us around and answered the (truly outstanding) questions he received from our high school editors. Turns out he knows a thing or two about the magazine he created.
Throughout the tour, the editors were reminded that Josh would neither bite nor scratch.
Nevertheless, they kept their distance — just to play it safe — as you can see above. I think this is hilarious.
Our editors got the chance to meet Paste’s professional, real-life editors and ask more questions.
Later, our editors enviously applauded the Paste’s staff’s ability to do work with their feet up while eating cookies. Now they all want internships. Go figure.
Josh showed us Paste’s CD and DVD room, which is… a room full of CDs and DVDs they receive at the magazine. There were also bins of “garbage CDs” just outside of the picture, but those seemed too sad to show. Though don’t let me keep you from taking a moment to use your imagination.
In the recording studio Josh dropped a major bomb — Paste is featured in Guitar Hero 3. This was not taken lightly. The ladies above made eager vows to play and confirm upon returning home.
Just outside the recording studio there’s a wall with signatures from artists who have visited. The editors spent not a small amount of time poring over the signatures.
Here our editors take delight in all of the awards Paste has won. They’re real team players. If you look closely, you can see that Paste was in Atlanta Magazine’s Best of Atlanta for 2007, just like The Wren’s Nest.
In the end, after an amazing tour and approximately 1,100 questions, it was time to leave. I think you can tell from our editors’ faces what an awful time they had.
Thanks again, Josh! And thanks to Rachael for helping us set it up — you guys can tour our (one room) office anytime.
Way back in February we presented a contest — name a Wren’s Nest themed adult beverage and win a bag of… things. To say the very least, it went well.
And now — well, tomorrow from 5:30pm – 8pm to be exact — the inspiration for this contest is upon us: the Wren’s Nest fundraiser hosted by the Ravinia Club. All proceeds from the (cash) bar on the evening’s featured specialty drink benefit the Wren’s Nest. Heard of it?
Now, before I get to the drink-christening, allow me to convince you to join us at the Ravinia Club:
- Everyone is welcome! What a nice sentiment!
- Usually when you toast the Wren’s Nest, people have no idea what you’re talking about. Tomorrow you’ll be in knowing company.
- I bet you love prizes. You’ll find tomorrow’s raffle — fine wines, tickets to sporting events, massage gift certificates and more — so delightful.
- Wren’s Nest Rambler Akbar Imhotep will be spinning yarns throughout the evening. If you haven’t seen Akbar yet, now is the time to hang your head in shame.
- Complimentary hors d’oeuvres mean you can stuff your face while pretending to be super classy. At least that’s what I’ll be doing.
Are you sold yet? I hope so. You don’t even need to buy tickets; you can just show up and enjoy a…
You may also enjoy 3 – 8 of them.
Yep, it’s a margarita, which our inside sources tell us the club makes deliciously. It also has “Remus” in the name, which makes it themed and super clever.
So, we’ll see you there, right? Here’s a map to the Ravinia Club. Join us at 5:30 – 8 pm.
Any questions? Leave ’em in the comments.
Laurel Snyder, a local children’s author, has a great discussion on her blog about updating literature to correspond with our current views on racial stereotyping and language. Bowdlerizing, if you will.
For a museum like ours — literature-driven, historically preserved, and familiar with comments like “I was shocked to hear Mr. Harris wasn’t a racist” (thanks, visitor yesterday) — this hits pretty close to home.
Using modern standards to judge consciences of yore is a tricky business, and there are no shortage of opinons on the matter. Some argue that if the change doesn’t affect content, it’s a-okay. For others, myself included (methinks), the idea of making something “appropriate” for the present by erasing its record of the past is a big no-no.
A little guy called “Mark Twain” (maybe you’ve heard of him) sums up my perspective well:
To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his own time, not ours.
– translator’s preface of Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, 1897
This topic has come up at the Wren’s Nest many times before, mainly surrounding things like Harris’ use of dialect or even the character of Uncle Remus. For example, would it be crazy to remove Uncle Remus altogether from new versions and just present the stories?
So what do you think? Is preserving history worth the cost of upholding possible prejudices?
We hosted Wren’s Nest Fest on Friday, and it was a great success. Over 500 kids attended, and I didn’t see anyone crying. Please, check out the pictures.
Why should you take a look? Two words — miniature animals. This rooster was the only normal-sized thing in attendance.
I’d like to thank Amelia for organizing Wren’s Nest Fest. I’d also like to thank our fantastic volunteers for outstanding performances in cookie decorating, face painting, and moonbounce monitoring. I’d also like to thank myself for taking the pictures — they are exquisite.
We couldn’t have done it without your help.
I was reading this post on historic window repair from Villa Finale, a National Trust Historic Site in Texas, and it reminded me that I hadn’t shared anything about our own window conservation.
Most of the windows in the Wren’s Nest are original. There’s one, however, that’s been boarded up for as long as I’ve been here.
The window is at the top of the stairwell, but it isn’t within easy reach at the top of the stairs. The best way to get to it is actually through the secret hatch in the roof. We’re keen on hatches.
I wanted to make sure we repaired the window as accurately as possible, but I didn’t know who to call.
That is, not until I met Tom Bretherton at the Decatur Old House Fair. Tom kicks it so old school that he spells it ‘ye olde school’ and nobody laughs, not even the English majors. He’s meticulous about historic preservation, and to be honest many of the details of what he did went way over my head.
Very basically, Tom removed and repaired the sash. Then he reinstalled it, replacing a few rotten parts.
He even busted out his sewing kit. Tom was explaining what he was doing exactly, but then the doorbell started ringing and I had to fetch it. My guess is: sewing the rope to the rope.
When I came back we had a new window!
The glass isn’t original the to the Wren’s Nest, but it is contemporary to our glass. There are striations and bubbles and everything.
The staff of the Wren’s Nest neglected to mention National Preservation Month during, uh, National Preservation Month. Luckily, historic preservation cannot possibly be contained within the month of May, much like the NBA playoffs. Here’s what’s going on ’round these here parts —
- Maria Saporta updates us on the threatened Crum and Forster building. Here’s more information on how you can help (note: the date for the hearing has been changed to sometime in July).
- The AJC covers the unveiling of the handsome Noguchi Playscapes restoration at Piedmont Park. Check out some before and after pictures. The picture above is from 2006, courtesy of Tom from Docomomo/US-GA.
- Several buildings in Plains, GA might become a National Historical Park thanks to Jimmy Carter.
- This month the Atlanta Preservation Center is offering four Twilight Tours of Atlanta. The tour of historic Midtown is tonight.
- And, the Atlanta Preservation Center’s summer camp — City Sleuths: Exploring the Mysteries of the City — is open for registration. I chaperoned this camp a few years ago, and it is delightful. Atlanta INtown has the details.
- Finally, the Buckhead Heritage Society is fighting to keep developers from removing the graves at Mt. Olive Cemetery, one of the oldest African American cemeteries around.
Over the weekend, the New York Times published an article about Disney’s upcoming movie, The Princess and the Frog. It will be Disney’s first ever animated film to feature an African American princess. A big deal, to say the least.
Walt Disney Pictures
Naturally, the film is being viewed under a social microscope, and not necessarily for the better.
Everything from the film’s locale (New Orleans) to its characters’ screen-time percentage as frogs has been called out as racially problematic. Hoo boy.
Critics have used examples from Dumbo and The Jungle Book (both available on DVD) to fuel racism charges. According to Disney in the article:
The company responds that criticism of such well-worn examples — particularly of films from the ’60s and earlier — applies a 21st-century morality to movies made in sharply different times.
Yes, I thought that was worthy of bolding. Probably because it sounds exactly like the logic we apply to Song of the South. Disney, don’t play favorites!
I haven’t seen The Princess and the Frog though I sure do plan to when it comes out. I am awfully interested in how all of this develops, and not just as a casual observer.
What do y’all think of the criticsm? Can Disney do right with ethnic characters? Does criticism just come with the territory? Is a cooling of the jets called for? Do tell!
Update (9/18/09): Here’s an excellent article on, essentially, the trouble Disney may be getting itself into in trying to please too many critics with The Princess and the Frog and how that mirrors the path of Song of the South. Enjoy!