Monday, June 28, 2010

lightning bugs

Lately, I've been crafting a non-fiction essay about bugs in the south to submit to southern magazines. Even if it just gives them an idea of my voice, it seems that bugs are rarely talked about and I needed a story idea. I understand the insect distaste as just recently watching the horrible Shutter Island (in the dark), something big and crunchy took a walk on my clavicle. In low light, the mind wanders and a shriek sounds. I'm not sure what it was but the imagination conjures a cockroach every time no matter where I am.

The south has all kind of weird bugs but lightning bugs are really pretty. Many a summer, I ran barefoot through the grass spitting watermelon seeds and catching the glow bugs in mason jars. In case you are wondering, lightning bugs and fireflies are no different and not all of them can produce light. This is a bummer as the male flashes light patterns to get the ladies attention and they flash back if they are into it or bored, who knows. The non-flashers are quite lonely. Summer is their time and during winter they burrow into trees or the soil. They feed on nectar and pollen. I am so grateful for the latter. The less pollen there is the better for me.

If you want to see some flash in unison and love sleepy towns, head to Elkmont, Tennessee in the Great Smokies or Congaree National Park in South Carolina. In the first weeks of June, they speed date in the woods. You can see hundreds flashing their colors. Funny, June is also the most popular month to get married for us human folk.

So, now that I've been learning about these guys, I kinda feel bad about bottling them in jars, even for an hour or two. I was seriously cutting in on their date night!

I'll let you know if any other critters have interesting stories to tell. I have a similar "snakes have no reason to live" approach as I do to flying cockroaches. Maybe, ladybugs are next...


"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

- Martin Luther King

Ain't that the truth MLK.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nancy Drew's Guide to Life

If the ceiling collapses, breathe through a handkerchief to avoid inhaling dust.
-- The Hidden Staircase

Moxie and a good sense of balance are essential when crawling on a roof.
-- The Hidden Staircase

Never sleuth on an empty stomach.
-- The Hidden Staircase

Don't force your date to go to a ballet or another activity that may not be to his liking if he was knocked unconscious earlier in the day.
-- The Double Jinx Mystery

After receiving electrical shock to the system, find as many men as possible to vigorously massage you.
--Mystery of the Glowing Eye

Making thugs turn on each other is always a delicious thing to watch.
-- The Whispering Statue

When trying to investigate a property that's off limits, consider putting your flying lessons to good use and fly over the area.
--The Clue in the Crumbling Wall

When forging a letter to nab a perp, be sure to use grammar and spelling appropriate to the education level of the person you're impersonating.
-- The Ghost of Blackwood Hall

Convertibles are swell but they sure do call attention to your comings and goings.
-- The Haunted Showboat

Don't say "well" all the time. It's far from well.
-- Nancy's Mysterious Letter

Beware the stranger on the plane who grills you for personal information.
-- The Message in the Hollow Oak

it's okay to accept free trips from your friends parents, but only if they are exceedingly rich.
-- The Clue in the Crossword Cipher

If grilling a salesperson or shop owner for information, it's only proper to buy a few articles from the establishment.
-- The Strange Message in the Parchment

If you see something resembling a shark in the river, don't fret. It's more likely to be a small submarine operated by thieves.
-- The Mystery of Lilac Inn

When the lights suddenly go out, hold onto your diamonds for dear life.
-- The Mystery of Lilac Inn

If you can at all prevent it, do not chase after thieves when you are clad only in a leotard. It's unseemly.
-- The Scarlet Slipper Mystery

I am a huge Nancy Drew fan. How wonderful it is to be reminded of words like moxie!

Growing up, I had the entire collection in hardback. Sadly, my mom donated them to Goodwill when I went off to college. I'm still trying to recover from that. It wasn't in malice though as she did save my rock collection which I hold onto these days. At any rate, these are funny, sometimes useful, and always good fun. It makes me want to revisit one of them some thundery afternoon this summer. While I keep a running tab of ND advice, these are from a darling little book of quotes and excerpts from the books called, "Nancy Drew's Guide to Life." I found this years ago but was thrilled to see it yesterday when birthday shopping for friend(s).

Monday, June 21, 2010

ross mcelwee - sherman's march

Brendan @ City Planning introduced me to this filmmaker. I believe Sherman's March remains my favorite but Time InDefinite is also quite wonderful. McElwee set out with the aspiration of literally trailing Sherman's march. His girlfriend breaks up with him at the films onset and this changes everything. Suddenly, the material is enlarged by self-reflection and his own reflexes to everyone who crosses his path. This documentary is funny, devastating, and moving because the artist is never in the foreground really. This trait makes it not for everyone but I find it honest and intriguing to adventure on with McElwee. One of my favorite scenes is when he sees a local band sing "Respect" in the parking lot of a Sears. Of course, the singer ends up a brief love interest. The women he meets are so evocative from Pam (in the video) to Charlene, a longtime friend.

snakes have fangs and people have pitchforks

I don't know if any of you actually mourn the lack of snakes in New York. I DON'T.

Either way, it's because of this:'D%20NEVER%20BELIEVE/Rattlesnake%20Creek/rattle.html

hidden new york cemeteries

This is for the goth that remains pumping in some of you, certainly me.

Want to see a photo of who you are standing over? Look out for Leonard Nimoy's schtick and go here:

Want to pay respects and see sunken ships:

At the NY Marble Cemetery, some graves are marked by lawn chairs. And people think the south is weird:

And if you just need to finish that mystery story or book somewhere spooky:

cafe gitane @ the jane hotel - nyc


I just reread Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (whom I miss so) recently and thought I'd share these favorites:

"Also I designed a pretty fascinating bracelet, where you put a rubber band around your favorite book of poems for a year, and then you take it off and wear it."

"I couldn't keep my hands to myself, the pastels in long boxes, the palette knives, the handmade papers hanging on rolls, I tested every sample, I wrote my name in blue pen and in green oil stick, in orange crayon and in charcoal, it felt like I was signing the contract of my life."

When the father is missing... "It makes me sick. Physical things Forty years of loving someone becomes staple and tape."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

r.e.m. - nightswimming

If you are feeling nostalgic for REM or just all things beautiful, this video for "Nightswimming" makes me drool. The frames are so interesting from a slurpee machine, closed dry cleaners, sticking a hand in a ceiling fan, broom pushing, and swimming (at night). I used to sing this ditty for the grown ups at childhood pool parties.

rem & soul food - weaver d's

SoLost: Automatic! (A Day at Weaver D's) from Oxford American on Vimeo.

Lucky for me, I just ate some blueberry pancakes so this video does not make me want to fry something. I still have my cassette tape of Automatic for the People in my old room in Bama (that is, if my brother hasn't pawned it). I had no idea the title was derived from an Athen's soul food joint but it makes sense as the boys started out there. This video is amazing and yes, I'm going to have to go visit once I'm in Georgia. I love the cling wrap that's been tossed on the ice tea dispenser. I love that the owner has a cookbook named Automatic Y'all. I also love how big they pile those plates. In the south, if you are skinny everyone thinks you're poor. This video comes from a post by the fresh and exciting journal Oxford American. I just got hooked to it and now I have a big ole crush. I cruise this website about as much as I check on houses in Savannah. I recommend subscribing, web stalking etc. Their recent food issue has a photo by my friend Eric Ogden and it has amazing essays on the lore behind making cakes and eating dirt. Yes. I want to write for them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

jordana zeldin - best neighbor & shutterbug

Jordana is the best neighbor I've ever had and a brilliant photographer. Her photographs are so moving and channel that spirit you see in Eggleston's work. Once you explore her website, the collection up now (Open 7 Days) will confirm this as they are stunning shots of the seemingly mundane--grocery carts, a hose, and the housekeeping touch at a Motel 6 (above). Her website is right here:

The image of the clothes in plastic remains my favorite. It is a bit like a memory body bag. I've always felt a story there and when it's on an exhibition wall you can really see all of the different price tags, handwriting, and the coloring is just so seductive. One day I will buy it!

This double panel shot is really lovely and reminds me of work David Hilliard does although the eye remains totally Jordana Zeldin.

Lastly, we are collaborating as I was asked to do a postcard issue for Abe's Penny. The editor was at my KGB reading. I will let you know what we decide but it's a micro-story by me accompanying four images by Jordana to make a postcard book. If you start crushing on Jordana's snaps, you can follow her blog as I do:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

william eggleston on shooting

I watched an awful documentary about William Eggleston recently called William Eggleston in the Real World. Apparently in the "real" world, you can't hear William talk! That element is just embarrassing for a documentary. In the more traditional route of complaints, It was poorly edited and shot but there were some moments that held me till the end like this one...

When asked by the documentary filmmaker why William only takes a shot or two per image instead of doing more coverage he says,

"Why would I take more than two? Any more than that just gets confusing."

malls of america

I have a new blog find that will make you want to find an old copy of the board game Mall Madness or just go to the sleepiest mega-store-complex in need of a fixer-upper and shoot till your camera's battery dies.

I don't even like malls all that much. I'm a big fan of outdoor shopping malls where you can park and leave. It's not lazy. I just don't want to have to pass all the other BS! And there's more--the wobbly-eyed dolls across from the piercing pagoda and wondering if it's safe to put your purse on the ground when you can see another person's feet three-hands away. Or, the fact that "Drops of Jupiter" will be in my head for lord knows how long thanks to a visit to Dillard's. I do like old arcade games particularly Skee-Ball.

Back on target though, I do weirdly enjoy the real folks of America people watching. There is something terribly beautiful and depressing watching elderly women in wind-suits power walk with their hair perfectly curled and blush dripping from sweat into the look of a skin-meringue. There is the opportunity to wonder if the Carousel is any fun at all or just exquisitely designed. What happened to those mannequin's dressed to the nines or even better live models pretending to be mannequins? I suppose the partial nudity at your local Abercombie & Fitch is the answer to that. Back in the day, we kids would bike to the food court to hang out. If you liked someone or they liked you, they were the last person you talked to. We practiced intense stares we mistook as sexy and none of us ever got anywhere. This was probably for the best. I stopped hanging out at malls when I was fourteen. I took up theatre instead.

So, at long last, here is a blog by Keith Milford that curates ghost town malls, closed malls, and on-their-way-out malls across America:


Thursday, June 10, 2010


"The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness."

- Andre Malraux