Month: June 2007

On Celebrity

Though Intern Amelia and I are terribly famous ourselves, we had a real brush with fame the other day at lunch.

Young Jeezy

Running some errands in the neighborhood we stopped into Chanterelle’s and headed straight for the cafeteria-style line. I already knew what I wanted, so I was glancing around in line and did a double-take.

Sitting nearby was none other than Young Jeezy.

Some of you old folks may not be familiar with this thing called hip hop, but let me tell you, the kids love it. While it may not be particularly relevant to the Wren’s Nest, hip hop is terribly relevant to West End.

Plus, as I’ve touched on a little bit here before, many hip hop artists are inextricably linked with the trickster hero. For the most obvious homage, look no further than Eminem’s character in 8 Mile: B. Rabbit.

Or, really, look no further than Brer Rabbit’s big road on the plantation and B. Rabbit’s 8 Mile Road in Detroit.

While running into Young Jeezy at lunch may not be as relevant a celebrity encounter as, say, having Sir Salman Rushdie ask to have his picture taken with Brer Rabbit, it’s pretty sweet nonetheless.

By the way, who is the celebrity here?

Rushdie and Brer Rabbit

Rushdie is great, but I’m pretty sure Brer Rabbit is the original gangsta in this case. Thanks to Steve Enniss for the photo.

Hey ProfessSir Rushdie, wanna hang out at the Wren’s Nest when you get back in town?

A group of youngsters on a tour of the museum were just brought to the door of the office. Lain, being the only living in-house relic of Joel Chandler Harris, is often a stop on the tour.

Lain and Amy

(Lain and Mercenary Amelia Trace (me) in happier times.)

“And there’s Lain, Mr. Harris’ great-great-great grandson!” said Jeri, bringing the children to the door.

“Is that a boy?” asked one interested young party.

“What does he look like to you?” replied an incredulous Jeri.

“A GIRL!” screamed another boy.

Pouting, Lain replied “… what? Oh.”

“He doesn’t look like a girl! You need to get some glasses.” Jeri loyally countered.

“He looks like a boy!” replied another (possibly brown-nosing) scamp.

“He looks like a MAN.” said Lain’s new best friend, authoritatively.

Lain smiled. And then another child replied, “But he needs to comb his hair.”

I could be heard laughing in the background through the entire exchange.

The final word according to Jeri, after this inquisitive and opinionated party left: “Honey, those children were a MESS.”

Yesterday I was talking to a writer from the New York Times, and she asked, “Why do you have a blog?”

I thought about it for a second, and I mumbled something about getting folks to think about the Wren’s Nest in a different context, connecting with the kids, something like that–blah blah blah.

I wasn’t really satisfied with my answer. What I should have done is point her to this:
Rock Paper Scissors

Now don’t think I’m comparing my blog to the coolest marketing trick I’ve ever seen–I’m not.

As the almost always astute Seth Godin points out, California Tortilla is not only supremely clever, but they’re also putting a distinctly human touch on fast food, and spicing it up with a little competition.

Suddenly, getting a burrito has become an exchange between two people who share an intimate knowledge of how to play rock-paper-scissors. It’s not just cashier and customer anymore.

You can’t get much more boring than the idea of a house museum, kinda like how you can’t get much more routine than ordering at the burrito line.

So, why do I have a blog? Probably the same reason I wish I got to play rock-paper-scissors every time I go out for a burrito.

P.S. Who calls it Rochambeau anyway? Is that a northern thing?

Mocha Mysteries

Setting: Wren’s Nest Office

Players: Imani “Ice Cream Trunk” Harris (age 3), J. Lain Shakespeare (24), Mercenary Amelia Trace (24), Shorty Amanda (23)

Destiny and Imani

(That’s Imani on the right, hanging out with Destiny at Wren’s Nest Fest. Imani insists on being called “Ice Cream Trunk.” Probably because she’s so sweet and confused.)

The Scene: Lain, MAT, and Shorty enter the Wren’s Nest to be greeted–at full sprint–by Imani, who is yelping and leaping, presumably with joy.

Shorty, meeting Imani for the first time, is taken aback. Though having heard the lore surrounding the legend that is “Ice Cream Trunk,” she is prepared to believe anything. Imani is in rare form.

The plot thickens when Imani’s enthusiasm not only refuses to wane, but also turns to rambling tales of ducks, cakes, and lost grandmamas with some dancing sprinkled in for good measure.

Lain, Shorty, and MAT’s mouths remain agape for the good part of 20 minutes. Where did this energy come from? How is she maintaining it? Why is everyone’s favorite three-year-old wearing lipstick?

But then, just as suddenly as our questions arose, they are answered.

On the windowsill, with the lipstick-marked straw: an empty cup of delicious iced coffee.

Jeri, one of our fine docents, had left it unattended, and Imani had stolen a sip or five, leaving evidence–her lipstick–all over the straw.

Imani denies any involvement with the coffee. But we know better.

Shorty is currently running Imani around in circles in the yard.

We expect Imani to fall into a gentle slumber sometime Tuesday.

Miss Nannie gave a tour yesterday to a bunch of kids from the Boys and Girls club.

Miss Nannie

As usual, there were a few asking all the questions, answering all the questions, and being curious in general. Most were just along for the ride.

When Nannie got to Lillian and Mildred’s room, Joel Chandler Harris’ two daughters, one little girl who had been quiet all along piped up.

“Miss Nannie, I just want to know one thing!” she said.

Nannie looked her way and said, “What’s that, honey?”

“How in the world did Mrs. Harris get pregnant!?!”

Since Nannie is indeed our wisest tour guide, she suggested that the little girl ask her teacher same that question on the bus ride home.

I don’t think we can pay Nannie enough. Which is why she accepts tips!

One of the greatest perks of what I like to think of as the Wren’s Nest Revival are all the neat literary connections that are being made and reaffirmed around town.

Connecting with the local literary community is loads of fun, and promoting education and literacy is like, a good cause or something. Joel Chandler Harris would have approved heartily!

It’s also a great way for Lain and I to get free food. So now, in chronological order, The Last Week and a Half in Literary (and Free Food) Pursuits:

1. The Duck and Herring Co. Radio Hour Beach Party (Habanero Key Lime Cheesecake)

Lain and Jamie

(Ever wonder what a podcast looks like?  Here’s Lain and Say, Sport in action.)

Not only did we hear short stories, sing songs about being broke at Atlantic Station, and officiate (well, Lain, anyways) a breath holding contest, but we sampled one of the highlights of the DHCo.’s Warm Weather Field Guide, the Habanero Key Lime Cheesecake. Let me tell you something, folks: you haven’t lived until you’ve felt your mouth actually taste confusion.

2. Roy Blount Jr. at the Margaret Mitchell House (Fruit and mini-sandwiches)

Long Time Leaving By Roy Blount Jr

Roy Blount Jr. is a funny guy. If you have the chance to see him do, well, anything, I suggest it. After reading from his new book, Mr. Blount fielded questions from the audience, most of which focused on his move to the cold, cold North. In fact, the amount of interest in the differences between living in the North and South led Lain and I to believe that the next Wren’s Nest fundraiser could simply be us sitting somewhere and talking about where we’ve lived. Any takers?

3. Wordsmith’s Grand Opening Weekend Extravaganza (Pastries and Coffee from Pastries A Go Go)

Wordsmiths Opening

Wordsmith’s is a brand-spanking-new bookstore in Decatur that is, to use to words of their articulate emcee, “awesomerest”. Great atmosphere, neat book selection, and a full table of delicious treats. What more could a (practically fainting with excitement) MAT ask for?

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