Next year, 2008, is the centennial of Joel Chandler Harris’ death.

Joel Chandler Harris' Grave

(Harris’ grave is in Westview Cemetery, beautiful and not far from the Wren’s Nest)

Here’s my responsibility–come up with something awesome to do.

Ideally a commemoration would be meaningful, fun, profitable, visible, and chock-full of celebrities.

Take, for example, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference celebrating its 50th anniversary held this weekend in Atlanta.

Barak Obama at the Marriot Marquis

(photo courtesy of M.K. Harris, AJC)

They’re unveiling a new building, celebrating Civil Rights stuff around town, and drawing big-time politicos and celebrities, like Bill Clinton and Barak Obama (on his birthday, no less). That’s big time.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far for the Wren’s Nest in 2008–_________.

Yikes.

100 year anniversaries don’t come around that often! It seems like such a tall order! And it’s not like we’re lacking tall orders around these here parts.

Here’s what we did for the 90 year celebration–

Joel Chandler Harris Dedication

(That’s me alright, being cool …like I am.)

A humble dedication at Joel Chandler Harris’ grave.

I’m no expert, but I think our 100 year celebration should be nestled somewhere between our 90 year dedication and the huge event the SCLC has going on this weekend.

Bright ideas are greatly appreciated.

What are those, you ask? Well, our design team has come up with four T-Shirts, and we’re debuting a new one over each of the next four months.

EDIT 3:47 PM–As usual, I’ve spoken too soon. Looks like Brer Fox will be the first month, not Brer Rabbit, but the color will still be blue. I’ll post the right picture as soon as I get my hands on it. In the mean time, feel free to use your imagination!

Here’s the front color of the first shirt:

Brer Rabbit Classic Critter Collection

And here’s a close-up of the back:

Brer Rabbit Classic Critter Collection, Backside

Normally these go for $15, but if you read five (5) Brer Rabbit stories (by any author), you’re entitled to come to the Wren’s Nest and pick up your free T-Shirt.

Also, you can have the very first one if you’re the first to identify either of the two girls in this picture–

Children at the Wren's Nest Years Ago

It’s easier than you think!

Amelia mentioned our Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. venture in this very blog not too long ago.

That’s all fine and good, but I think it’s worth stressing just how neat this program is.

It’s neat mostly because we get to think of cool things and then do them, like hang out with Hollis Gillespie.

Hollis Gillespie

(This picture, submitted by the author herself, is admittedly a little fuzzy …you know, like the morals of the Wren’s Nest Staff)

For those of you who don’t read Creative Loafing or Paste Magazine or listen to NPR from time to time, Hollis is a foul-mouthed humorist who’s seen some real, live success lately.

We thought it’d be cool to hang out with her, so we said, “Hollis, wanna hang out?” And she was all like, “Uh, yeah sure.”

Easy. Real easy!

Amelia already mentioned that we took a field trip of Paste Magazine, who taught us a little something about design.

Paste Magazine Logo

For you old folks, Paste Magazine is like Rolling Stone, except it’s about music.

Then tomorrow we get to go to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to take a tour of the place.

The Atlanta Constitution Building

(Not this one, where Joel Chandler Harris worked, but the newer one, which is less awesome.)

They’re going to teach us how to layout our magazine. And they’re going to print our magazine for free.

Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be like, “Hey Pulitzer Prize winners, can we interview you for our literary journal?” And then all the Pulitzer Prize winners in the building will stand up and be like, “Uh, yeah sure.”

It’s that easy!

It’s no secret that I’m into hip hop.

Working at the home of Joel Chandler Harris has only intensified my appreciation, what with issues of dialect, dual personalities, and stories deeply rooted in race, class, and region.

Plus, working on Saturdays has given me an opportunity to watch hip hop videos, especially when it’s quiet and I’m bitter about not having a traditional weekend.

Kanye West is one hip hop personality that I appreciate.

He’s as literate as he is brash (and boy is he brash!), and has a way of honestly framing his own contradictions that I don’t think many hip hop artists have been able to touch.

Recently Kanye has been in the news pretty much solely for being a brat, and just when you think he’s spoiled, stale, and maybe even a little washed up, he hits you with a video like this one. Wow.

Kanye West Can't Tell Me Nothing

(The staff at the Wren’s Nest can’t stop watching this one)

Zach Galifianakis, the ostensible star of this video, is a very funny comedian with an unwieldy last name. I love that this video is silly, but beautifully shot, seemingly earnest, and somehow poignant.

It’s not easy to overlook the fact that it’s a white guy giving voice to a song written by a black guy. Joel Chandler Harris, anyone?

[So, I wrote this post a few weeks back and promptly forgot about it. Yikes! Since Mercenary Amelia is on vacation and I’m currently immersed in techsoup.org, this seems an appropriate time as any.]

Mercenary Amelia and I caught a movie the other day–Hot Fuzz–at the local theater.

Hot Fuzz
It was both hilarious and explosive. See?

Not only that, but the film is really well done, surprisingly subtle, and thought provoking.

Here’s the rundown–a straight laced London cop is reassigned to a sleepy community because he’s making all the other officers look bad.

The town is notoriously peaceful, bucolic and historic, but there’s something sinister just beneath the surface. All of a sudden, members of the community start suffering from fatal and improbable “accidents.”

Without spoiling too much, I can tell you that one community member, whose home doesn’t match the community’s historic fabric, meets a brutal demise.

Hot Fuzz is a lot funnier now that I’ve attended my fair share of community meetings dealing with development and preservation. And the film really got me thinking about what is and isn’t historic preservation.

Take the Wren’s Nest–it’s a McMansion Original Gangsta. See the before:

Muse Home

And the after:

Muse House Renovated

Worth preserving? Of course! It’s a significant structure, one of only two of its kind remaining in Atlanta, and the home of one of the more significant authors of the 19th century. Plus, it was originally built by George Muse when he was 16. Muse, for those of you native Atlantans, went on to found Muse’s, a men’s clothing store downtown, now lofts.

Okay, now how about something like the Plaza Theater itself:

Plaza Theater

Worth preserving? Totally! It was built in 1939, maintains a sleek art-deco character, and that sign! Wow. It’s the only one of its kind in this town, and has some neat sordid history.

But just because something is old, does that make it worthy of preservation?

What about, say, for those of you in Atlanta, Emory Village in Historic Druid Hills? Or Buckhead’s East Village?

Or the rundown shack next to your house that’s about to be bulldozed to make way for a new three-story “craftsman bungalow”?

What about the Plaza in the 70s, when it was an adult theater and probably pretty decrepit-looking?

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