Good Neighbor Prima Luke
11/2013 Newsletter -
Dawn Ruth Wilson launches her debut novel The Night Walker’s Song with a book signing from 7-9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at Bay Books, 131 Main Street, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
Wilson transfers her deep love of New Orleans, gained by two decades of writing for the Times-Picayune, into a suspenseful tale about how the dead can endanger the living. As an award-winning journalist, she currently writes about education, politics and culture under the byline of Dawn Ruth for New Orleans Magazine.
The Night Walker’s Song interweaves the voices of three characters whose lives intersect through the needless deaths of yellow fever victims in New Orleans’ final outbreak in 1905.
Jo Nell James, a young woman looking for a new start; Archibald Carrier, a crime reporter whose career is on the skids; and Mother Edna Williams, a housekeeper turned spiritualist minister, all must face the consequences of their own secrets as they reveal the shocking truth of a long-dead family’s past.
For more information on this event or to reserve your copy of The Night Walker’s Song, please call Bay Books at 228.463.2688 or go to www.DawnRuthWilson.com
11/2013 Newsletter - Fedora on Fiction
Felines, of course, have been written about for centuries. We are, after all, infinitely interesting. It did not take long for word to travel among the feline community that Stephen King’s latest novel, Doctor Sleep, features a clairvoyant cat. None of us were surprised. Put a cat in a novel and sales soar. I should certainly think that is the case, anyhow.
I reminisce about my fascination with a sleek cat named Pywacket. She was forced by Hollywood to play the role of a cat that lived with a witch, and helped the witch when the witch (played by a stunningly cat-like Kim Novak) cast spells. The movie-- Bell, Book and Candle --unfortunately reinforces the false notion that cats are full of the devil, which could not be further from the truth. Admittedly, I enjoyed watching a young Jack Lemmon as the witch’s hipster brother, a role that did inject some comic relief. I hear Pywacket decided to stay in California after filming, having become accustomed to having her coat brushed and her nails polished by minions assigned to take care of her and who begged Pywacket never to leave them. They had fallen in love, understandably.
Humans' belief that felines embody the devil has had serious consequences for felines and has brought great harm to so many of us. While some humans have realized how preposterous this belief is, others will hunt us down to torture or kill us. Take Halloween night. Especially my ebony friends take care to stay hidden, for fear of entrapment, injury or death.
Superstitions about cats are alive in many cultures. The Irish, for instance, imbued us cats with the devil. I found a collection of stories told among the Irish that William Butler Yeats edited in 1888. Titled Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, that had a story in it called “The Demon Cat.”
According to this ancient tale, a wicked black cat came to a fisherman’s house, attacked anyone who tried to stop him, and proceeded to eat the bounty of beautiful fish that were laid out on the kitchen table. The fisherman’s wife grabbed a bottle of holy water and poured it on the cat. Dense smoke filled the air and before long, nothing was left of the cat except black shriveled remains. The story ends thusly: “And from that time the fish remained untouched and safe from harm, for the power of the evil one was broken, and the demon cat was seen no more.”
The story is sheer nonsense, of course. But it is stories like these that keep alive the terrible discrimination against cats that some humans practice.
Listen up humans. Cats are not evil. Cats are not the devil in disguise. Cats are cats. Some may not like us because we are independent, with minds of our own. But do not confuse independence with wickedness. I must close now, for I have said my peace for the time being.
And by the way, if you have a favorite cat in literature, tell me about it! I am always looking to expand my knowledge. E-mail me here.
11/2013 Newsletter - "Tears of Joy"
Bay Waveland Habitat for Humanity volunteers rebuilt a deck and back porch for 100 year old Waveland resident, Oreader Singleton Richardson. This team included members from Michigan and Seminole, Florida (Seminole Lake Rotary), with most having volunteered for Bay-Waveland Habitat in previous years. Volunteers from United Way (from Elliott Homes) also participated in the project. Ms. Richardson, wept as she watched the team members finishing up her new deck, insisting, "These are not tears of sadness, they're tears of joy."
Oct. 30th, 2013
In many ways, my life here in Marrakech is much the same as my life in Mississippi. I still rise most days before dawn, and enjoy my first cup of coffee while listening to the birdsong outside my window. I go to work on the computer for several hours, tackling the unpleasant (business) side of making a living as an artist while my brain is functioning at its best, and when I can't take another minute of staring at the monitor or keyboarding I switch to my passion, the creating of art. Sometime in there I have a second cup of coffee and make breakfast. I try and break away to do housekeeping tasks at regular intervals over the course of the day, and wind down work about 12 hours after I have started. I enjoy spending my day alone here as I do in the states, and usually only venture out when the sun has lost its strength.
There are significant differences in the details of this life. The first thing I hear every morning is the haunting Muslim call to prayer. It is beautiful, slow and melodic and hypnotizing. There is a mosque directly across the street from my apartment and the loudspeaker used by the muezzin is pointed at my window. I can also hear the muted calls of two other nearby mosques, and they seem to echo off of each other in an exotic game of hide and seek. The first of the five daily calls reaches me before it is light, and I look forward to be awakened by it every morning.
My apartment is spacious, with tile walls and floors, and beautiful decorative relief designs on the plaster ceilings. Housework is housework no matter where you are and most things are the same here except for the time it takes to wash clothes. My washing machine consists of a 5 gallon bucket I place in the kitchen sink, and I am developing good muscles in my forearms, acting as a human agitator. (Funny how the meaning of a word can change over the course of a human life; my “agitating” used to have a distinct political dimension.) Disposing of the trash also has its own unique profile; a dumpster magically appears outside my apartment door sometime before the first call to prayer and disappears again by 8 AM. I have seen the man in the green and blue uniform wheel it away around the corner and assume that it takes up its station at various locations in the neighborhood over the course of the day. I have also watched this man sweep the cobblestone street from my favorite perch at the kitchen window; his broom is made of a cane handle and the 2' stems of a local plant the ends of which taper to a point. It has, I imagine, as elegant a shape as a broom can possess. Later in the morning when the shops open, I listen as the craftsmen and merchants wash the streets in front of their shops by splashing water from jugs on to the bricks.
Three of the windows in my apartment look down upon the street, and two more give me a view of the courtyard in the center of the building. This is a traditional Moroccan design for a home and the view of the courtyard is pleasant, but it is the street scenes that fire my imagination and have given me hours of pleasure. From these windows I have watched mothers walking their children to school or market, and men gathering outside the door to the mosque. Shoppers hurry by, their bags laden with foodstuffs and household items and vendors wander past, pushing their carts filled with laundry soap or piled high with sheepskins, and calling out their particular offering of goods. Several nights ago I listened for hours as a small group of young men gathered around two musicians who were coaxing melodies out of their stringed instruments and the next night, the same street erupted with a fight when a young man made an inappropriate advance towards a girl. For the past week, a group of boys has been gathering in the afternoons, setting off firecrackers. With every sharp report the smell of sulfur drifts upward and mixed in with the cries of delight uttered in Arabic are the words of one boy who has mastered a bit of English. Every time I hear the “oh my God” that pours from his lips I have to smile.
My daily excursions consist primarily of walks to buy food and household items, or exploratory strolls around the medina. I am becoming familiar with some of the merchants nearby and judging by the lessening instances of attempts to lure me into their shops, I am becoming known as someone who lives here and is not likely to be buying tourist items. On my way to Aswak Assalam, the supermarket a 20 minute walk north, I often stop and have a glass of tea at the tiny cafe run by Mustapha. He is a short little guy with glasses and a big smile, and he serves the best tea I have tasted. One day I spotted a couple of little girls in the street and took out the bag of balloons that I keep in my purse and before I knew it, word had spread like wildfire and I was surrounded by a dozen kids. Mustapha helped me blow up the balloons and pass them out, and pocketed a few extra to bring home to his children. Since then, we have felt like friends. There is another small shop that sells grains and pasta in large barrels all lined up in the small stall, run by another friendly man whose name I have yet to learn and I buy from him whenever I can. At still another I buy my coffee, eggs and drinking water. I don't know this man's name either but he is so helpful and patient with my faltering attempts to speak his language that he has won my loyalty as well. I am still intimidated by the fruit and vegetable vendors that line up next to the medina walls; I would rather buy from them than the supermarket but they do not post their prices, and I know that I will be overcharged so until I make more progress with the language, I pass them by.
I am beginning to get a better feel for the layout of the medina but I have yet to make my way through the main section of souks without getting lost. I usually have a pretty good sense of direction but it fails me completely when I enter the labyrinth. The last time I was here I abandoned my maps and relied on a compass app to get me across town but I am determined to conquer the maze during this stay. I actually enjoy being lost in the medina and the opportunities it affords for discovery but I also want to be able to get from point A to point B at times. Promptness is not a valued trait here in Morocco like it is in western cultures, but I can't seem to leave behind my Midwestern compulsion to be on time for an appointment. It is pretty silly really; for instance, a few days ago I was to meet Rachid and Abdellah in Djemma el Fna at 6 PM and I found myself becoming stressed when I became lost, worried that I would be late. I made it to the meeting place on time, barely, only to wait another 30 minutes before they came strolling up, completely unconcerned with being late. I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain. He wrote “I am an old man and I have had many troubles, most of which never happened.” Perhaps living in the medina will help me to leave some of those imagined troubles behind.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Arts, Hancock County, the non-profit organization is putting on a 1920’s style vaudeville costume ball. The Tarts and Tramps Ball will be held on Saturday, November 16th, from 7pm – 11pm at the historic 100 Men Hall in Bay St. Louis (303 Union Street).
The event will feature food by the Silver Slipper Casino, a cash bar and a vaudeville style variety show. The entertainment line-up includes Rochelle Harper’s Sista Jazz, Ivory Bill, 10 North Frederick, Kat and Ellis and more. Tickets for the benefit are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
“The purpose of The Arts is to foster creativity in Hancock County,” explains president Cynthia Mahner. “So, it’s only natural that the group’s birthday party would reflect the creative spirit of our community.”
Attendees are requested to costume for the first annual ball. Mahner points out that both men and women should have a great time dressing for the occasion.
“Every woman has a glitzy dress hanging somewhere deep in her closet that she never had the occasion to wear. This is the time to pull it out, along with the rhinestones, hats and heels that may only see the light of day in Mardi Gras season.”
“Even men are going to have fun costuming for this event,” says Mahner. “Think Charlie Chaplin in ‘The Tramp.’ They’ll get to wear all those old shoes and hats and jackets they love that their wives can’t get them to throw out. How fun is that?”
The evening will finish with a parody of a choregraphed burlesque number from the movie “Chicago,” performed by local artists and featuring a surprise star. Other surprises are planned throughout the evening. There will also be a 50/50 raffle and commemorative ornaments for sale.
Advance tickets are available locally at Bay Books (131 Main Street), The French Potager (213 Main Street), The Mockingbird Café (110 S. Second Street) and 100 Men Hall (303 Union Street). They can also be purchased on-line securely and easily at www.BrownPaperTickets.com (simply go to the site and type in “The Arts Hancock County”). Tickets will also be available at the door.
All proceeds go to help support various programs of The Arts, like gallery openings, the popular Imagination Station for children and the annual Arts Alive event, which will take place March 22nd, 2014.
For more information on The Arts, Hancock County, go to:
The Lawson Studio has opened a studio 406 Blaize Ave. in Bay St. Louis (just past the Little Theatre) - giving it two locations in Mississippi. The other studio location is in Raymond, Mississippi outside of Jackson.
Al Lawson is the president of The Lawson Studio and a licensed interior designer. He graduated from Mississippi State University's Fifth Year architecture program in 1985 but quickly recognized interiors were his passion. With a career that has included client work in New York City, Greenwich, Connecticut, Seaside, Florida and Charleston, SC Al decided Bay St. Louis was an opportunity to cast a broader net and start to develop a business that provides design services along with local access to furniture, accessories and upholstery.
According to Mr. Lawson,"It's a great model I have seen work well - where a designer develops retail, products and services that support a wide range of client needs - including the needs of other interior designers. I'm excited to be a part of a design community that is diverse and vibrant. I think we are all going to have a lot of fun together."
The studio provides a broad range of designer fabrics suitable for residential and commercial upholstery. It also has furniture, drapery, window coverings and accessories that are finds from Al's travels and trips to the Atlanta, Houston and Las Vegas markets. "My wife studied at NYU in Venice so our family has a strong connection with Italy and we go there as often as we can. "I'm a sucker for Fortuny and Murano glass light sculptures."
Right now The Lawson Studio is open Monday through Wednesday by appointment. Al is in the Bay studio every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The Hancock Chamber has just launched a series of videos shorts - eleven guided tours that take visitors and locals alike along the Hancock County Scenic Byways System. Local celeb Michelle Lady is the tour's host (the video series was written, photographed, directed, and produced by Clever contributor Ellis Anderson, with Corey Hudson as videographer and editor and Carole McKellar and Cleaver Contributor Larry Jaubert as production assistants).
If you're new to the area, you're going to LOVE this fun introduction to our community. And even if you've been living here your whole life, we're betting that you learn some extraordinary things about this beautiful place we call home.
The video tour is divided into two sections: The Beach Blvd Byways (which runs from Cedar Point to Bayou Cadet) and the Byways to Space, more than 30 miles of county roads that run through the Stennis Space Center buffer zone and include the sites of former communities, including Logtown, Napoleon and Possum Walk. The Beach Blvd. Tour includes segments highlighting North Beach Blvd., Old Town, the Depot District and the Washington Street area.
The videos will soon be available on a phone app that will allow them to be used with GPS technology as well. Check out the new Scenic Byways website and view the videos by clicking here!
Don't Miss 4th Sunday at 4 on November 24th at Christ Church (912 S Beach Blvd., Bay Saint Louis). A local art icon herself, Kat Fitzpatrick is presenting a new show of her encaustic wax paintings - "Icons for Believers and Skeptics." You'll also be treated to a concert by Coast Chorale! It's a perfect kick-off to the holiday season and the event is free (although, happily, the icons will be for sale!).
The new series by Fitzpatrick is rich and mysterious, with opulent colors and depth. Here are a few comments from her about the series:
"This is the image (from 2002) that began my questioning of "What is sacred…and what is not?" In traditional iconography, there is a penetrating gaze, sometimes accompanied by gold or jeweled surfaces. The viewer is transported through the eyes of the icon into a place of deep spiritual nourishment and stillness. Artists use a similar kind of penetrating gaze when we study the natural world (both inner and outer) for inspiration. It can feel like a holy communion. The earth and our experience of it is perhaps our most ancient sacred text. In this show I have assembled what I hope will be a celebration of the sacred wearing many hats."
The Webb School, at 300 Third Street (corner of Citizen and Third), was built in 1913 and is one of the few designated Mississippi Landmarks in Hancock County! Celebrate its Centennial on Saturday, December 7th, from 11-5pm! The owners are teaming with USM to help preserve its history, so if you have memories to share about the building, we want to record them!
They'll also have a scanner on site, so you can bring any Webb School pictures or memorabilia you may have and have them scanned on the spot! You take your original home and the digital copy will safely reside in state archives forever!