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International Museum Day — 90.1 WABE’s City Cafe Interviews Lain Shakespeare


Written on May 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm, by Lain

John Lemley, the famed voice of WABE’s City Cafe, stopped by the Wren’s Nest the other day to talk about memory in museums.

Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit Carved out of Wood

Because, as we surely all know by now, “memory” is the theme of this year’s International Museum Day. City Cafe is doing it up right — all this week they’ll interview plenty of other folks about memory in Atlanta’s museums.

John and I talked about my favorite artifact in the Wren’s Nest, pictured above and below. Brer Fox escorts Brer Rabbit to jail for stealing vegetables, and Brer Rabbit drops the evidence along the way. It’s an intricate Bavarian wood carving from the early 1880s. Plus, their heads pop off to better use as a humidor for tobacco.

The piece illustrates just how revolutionary these African American folktales really were. It was the first time animals walked, talked, dressed, and sassed like humans in American literature. Uncle Remus was like Aesop 2.0.

These stories were also the first serialized narrative in children’s fiction, where the animals exist in a kind of alternate universe. There’s no beginning, middle or end to the story. Brer Rabbit was like jumping from Turner and Hooch to The Wire overnight. It’s no wonder Harris had received this gift from Bavaria about 18 months after Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings debuted.

I’ll spare you more. That’s where City Cafe’s “A Visit to the Wren’s Nest” comes in.

Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox Headless

4 Comments to International Museum Day — 90.1 WABE’s City Cafe Interviews Lain Shakespeare

  1. HistoryJoe says:

    That thing rocks! Soooo cool

  2. You give such a great tour…I have to return with friends soon!

  3. [...] The above artifact is totally stupendous (and discussed at length in the interview if you skipped ahead). We got it from the Kingdom of Bavaria. And their heads pop off. Hey stop laughing, I’m serious. I’ve got pictures! [...]

  4. Lucy Hudson Stembridge says:

    Love the photos; especially the 2nd one, with the heads “popped off”. It looks like they rared back their heads and let loose with a song – or a howl – or both, simultaneously!
    -Lucy, the Soprano :)

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