Archive for November, 2009

Holiday Offerings from Atlanta Historic Homes over at Inside Access


Written on November 23, 2009 at 11:54 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Martin Luther King's Auburn Avenue Boyhood Home in Atlanta, GA

The Atlanta Journal-Constitutions’s intrepid “fun stuff” reporter Jamie Gumbrecht has rounded up profiles of historic homes in Atlanta just in time for the holidays.

Fret not: Gumbrecht doesn’t fail to mention our neighbor the Herndon Home — it’s just that its had trouble keeping its doors open lately.

Note: while the our staff is excited about media coverage of house museums, the Wren’s Nest itself only begrudgingly shared the spotlight:

The Wren's Nest House Museum on Twitter

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home Photo: AJC file photo

Wren’s Nest Conservation Update — Bathroom Construction Is ON


Written on November 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm, by Amelia

With 11 months of conservation work behind us, the entire project finally is coming to a close.  It’s been a long, rewarding road, and naturally, we wanted to end on a high note — the bathroom.

Wren's Nest Bathroom: Under Construction

Did you ever visit our bathroom?

If so, you might have found yourself saying things like, “I think the toilet has been running for the last 14 hours.  Also, the wall is falling off.  And is the sink supposed to shoot cold, frigid water at you?  Gah!  Something just crawled in where the window pane doesn’t meet the frame.”

The good folks at Blalock Construction are overhauling everything, and boy are we keen.  Being that this is the non-historic part of the house, the possibilities are endless.  Why, this may even mean that by next week my regular responsibilities will no longer include “fixing the toilet all the damn time.”

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a downside to this.  You know how if, in your building, they’re working on the bathrooms you have to go down to another floor?  Meet our other floor:

Our Brave Director Exiting the Port-a-let from Pit Stop

Nothing but the high life over here, folks.

Song of the South Anniversary on WABE’s City Cafe


Written on November 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Our local NPR affiliate WABE invited me to stutter speak on City Cafe the other day in light of the recent anniversary of Song of the South.

I sat down to speak with the indefatigable John Lemley about the controversy surrounding the film and its relationship with Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories.  Listen to the podcast here.

Unfortunately, while at WABE I did not see Lois Reitzes and thus could not challenge her to a rap battle.

Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2009 40 Under 40 — Lain Made the Cut!


Written on November 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm, by Amelia

For some reason, people really like Lain.  Last night the Atlanta Business Chronicle even gave him an award, just for being younger than 40.  I think.  I wasn’t really paying attention.

Atlanta Business Chronicle Up & Comers 40 Under 40 2009 -- Lain Shakespeare of the Wren's Nest

Really, Lain won one of the coveted 40 Under 40 Up and Comers awards.  There were over 400 submissions.  I think it’s fairly obvious how many folks made the cut.   The winners weren’t ranked, though Lain did win the award for “Only Person to Submit a Head Shot in Which They Are Wearing a T-Shirt.”  Highly coveted.

This is especially noteworthy because Lain, former English major, got a C- in Economics.  Hopefully that factoid made the print edition, which is on newsstands today.  Sidenote: Lain was also probably the only winner when, speaking about buying the paper, remarked, “It’s really expensive — like, $2.00 a copy.”

Now, while it’s certainly special that Lain was inducted into a select group of Atlanta business types “to watch,” the real achievement of the evening was the gift bag.  For real, check out the main prize:

Photo 12

IT’S A PADDED CALCULATOR!  No more bruising your fingers on the tough plastic of lesser models, no sir!  That’s what I look like full of love, for the record.

But lo, that’s not all.  Let’s take a look inside, shall we?

Photo 6

Post-its!  In colors!  And in the shape of arrows!  I am going to point to more stuff in the next month than anyone ever thought possible, so help me JCH.  Yay to Lain and yay to gift bags!

1946 Promotional Program for Song of the South


Written on November 12, 2009 at 10:36 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the release of Song of the South.

Weirdly enough, Disney first chose to market the film as an “Old South Romance.”  Here’s the cover from its 1946 program:

Song of the South 1946 Program from the Walt Disney Company and RKO Radio Pictures, Inc

Bizarre, right?  It’s less Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and much more Gone with the Wind.

The program — 16 pages in all — gets a lot more relevant once you get past the cover. I’ve included it in its entirety below.  You’re welcome.

Uncle Remus, Brer Frog, and Brer Terrapin Fishing

I dig this illustration that’s on the inside of the cover.  With this one exception, I’ve tried not to crop much out (as much as our almost-large-enough scanner allowed).

Remember, you can click on the pictures to zoom in and read the (quite lucid and informative, though sometimes not so factually accurate) text.  Enjoy!

Song of the South 1946 Program from the Walt Disney Company and RKO Radio Pictures, Inc (page 3)

Song of the South Promotional Narrative (page 1)

Song of the South Promotional Narrative (page 2)

Song of the South Promotional Narrative featuring Brer Fox and Brer Bear

Song of the South Promotional Narrative featuring Brer Rabbit

Song of the South Promotional Material Featuring Brer Rabbit

Song of the South Promotional Material Featuring Walt Disney

Song of the South Promotional Material -- Credits

Song of the South Promotional Material featuring Uncle Remus

Song of the South Promotional Material featuring Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear

Song of the South Promotional Material featuring Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten

Song of the South Promotional Material featuring Ruth Warrick and the Annoying Dad

Song of the South Promotional Material Featuring Hattie McDaniel, Glenn Leedy, and Lucille Watson

Song of the South Promotional Material Featuring the Music Credits

Song of the South Promotional Material Featuring Uncle Remus Statue

Song of the South Promotional Material Featuring Brer Rabbit

Tracy Morgan on Saturday Night Live: Uncle Jemima’s Mash Liquor


Written on November 6, 2009 at 3:02 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Back before Tracy Morgan hit the big time on 30 Rock, he was consistently bizarre and hilarious on Saturday Night Live.

Here he is in a sendup of Aunt Jemima and Song of the South:

I can’t believe it’s taken me until today to post this clip.

You might think I’d have something to say here about dialect, stereotypes, or the conflation of Uncle Remus and Aunt Jemima.  Normally, you’d be right, but it’s Friday so I’ll leave that part up to esteemed journalist Reese Cleghorn:

“[Joel Chandler] Harris did not like the confusion between his authentic use of dialect and the minstrel-variety use of it, which usually simply amounted to the telling of racist jokes. He said he once intended “to apologize for the plantation dialect,” but then he realized that some of the greatest of English literature–in Chaucer, for example–is in the form of authentic dialect.”

That said, I think Tracy Jordan is so, so funny.  You might not.  If that’s the case, consider us broken up.  Seriously, did you not hear this nugget from last week’s episode of 30 Rock?

I will eat a bowl of cherries and some ghost meat in his honor sound bite

Trouble with the Herndon Home on WABE


Written on November 5, 2009 at 11:46 am, by Lain Shakespeare

This morning Atlanta’s NPR affiliate WABE covered the recent plight of the Herndon Home.

The Herndon Home is the historic home of Alonzo Herndon, the one-time slave who became the first African-American millionaire in Atlanta.  The house doesn’t have much funding, doesn’t offer many tours, and doesn’t employ an executive director at the moment.

Hey, that sounds like the Wren’s Nest in 2006!

I’m happy our neighbor two miles north is getting some press.  A few months back, and the AJC blog Inside Access asked for ideas on how to revitalize the place.  It got one response.  From me.

Surely there are more ideas out there!  Do you have any bright ones for the Herndon Home?  Ever visited the place?

Photo: Johnny Crawford for the AJC

Assassination Vacation — My Kind of Book


Written on November 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm, by Amelia

I just finished Sarah Vowell’s book Assassination Vacation, and let me tell you, it’s a trip.  (Pun intended.  Always.)  The book follows Vowell as she travels around the U.S., her path determined by presidential assassinations and the history surrounding them.

Assassination Vacation

Naturally, our delightful narrator is visiting a ton of monuments, landmarks, and — you guessed it — house museums!

Vowell’s perspective is hilarious and, frankly, super, super spot on.  Her take on all the different styles of her tour guides — like the one who quizzes middle school girls on every obscure historical figure who relates to Lincoln, resulting resounding silence — is a delight.

I also appreciated how well Vowell uses specific, often trivial, elements of history to really paint a picture of the era.  For example, when she’s talking about the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo (where McKinley was shot) she notes all the new technologies that were on display, including… a room full of preemie babies “demonstrating” incubators.  Imagine asking a new mother now if you can borrow her underweight, premature infant to put on display.

I bring this up because we often try to emphasize the sensitivity (or huge, tremendous lack thereof) of Joel Chandler Harris’s time.  It can be hard to illustrate the fact that we’re judging Harris with our current sensibilities — until you show them the piece of an elephant he received for being famous.  Something makes me think PETA might try to get in the way of resurrecting that tradition.  History is a whole lot of context, and Vowell uses it so, so well.

History geeks, non-fiction fans, slightly morbid folks, and those who appreciate the funny — this book’s for you.  Thanks to my dear chum Rebecca for insisting that I read it (and not just because I fall into all of those categories).

Sidenote: I recently read “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” and let me tell you, these two pieces complement each other like you wouldn’t believe.

Previously: Inserting Modern Standards into Classic Literature — Cool?