Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dahsua's Diary From Dixie

Don't miss this wonderful blog by a childhood friend of mine, Dorothy Fowles Kendall, from Columbia, SC. Doro, as she goes by now, was always a raging stand-out, given her fiery intellect (something that runs in her family) her beauty and her sheer audaciousness.

Keep in mind as you read about her reminiscences of Columbia that we were the hippies on the wrong side of the RR tracks, just down from Senate Street and a couple of blocks over on Green Street, quite close to the University, close enough for the National Guard's gas-fest to get into the apartment, but I have no recollection of my eyes ever chemically tearing-up.

We got packed up and stashed away to Gumby Farm (Kershaw, SC) shortly thereafter anyway, thus ending a childhood of urban delight, and commencing my still-lingering, though mostly dormant now, disdain of all-things-rural.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Professional Ops

Just found out there is a video available online that I worked on as field producer last year, with Lip Flap Productions out of Alanta. We shot the Atlanta portions you will see here:

Warning: This is very wonky stuff, but one of the most interesting shoots I've worked in a while. It is all about the people who have been impacted by the Olmstead Ruling, a Supreme Court ruling that requires states to provide for the mentally disabled in home, community-based settings, rather than trap them indefinitely in (often terrifying) institutional care.

Many mentally disabled people are desperate to be out of institutions, but often have no way of getting beyond the bureaucracy of it all. Here in Georgia, Atlanta Legal Aid has fought to bring our state into compliance with The Olmstead Ruling, in ways you can see on the video.

June Forever

A fine a Southerner as there ever was, Shelby Foote, has passed on to the big Moon Pie in the sky. I'll never forget his response to a journalist's question about his writing routine: Mr. Foote said he liked to work in the morning for a few hours, then watch a little As The World Turns. ('Least I think that was his story. Of course mine's All My Children.) Maybe "take a little whiskey" later on in the evening. Not only could the dude write like a freakin' prince, he knew how to live like one. Raise a glass to his greatness when you can. Or at least have the guts to admit you wouldn't mind just watching "stories" every now and then than participating in our C-F of a rat race all day long.

There are plenty of new summertime pics on The Ava Chronicles. Please visit when you can, although the site only supports high-speeds. Blame He Who Must Not Be Named (Bill Gates) though, as I think this particular photo album site is a Microsoft-sellout.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Unbearable Stupidness of My Inner Being

Good grief. That last post, The Unbearable Lightness of Summertime, was just way too heavy. Honestly, my inner self typically inhabits a much flimsier realm, something along the lines of this quote, found on Dave Barry's band's, Big T and The Oaktones, fanclub page:

Yoko Ono - "I can break this band up too. Just watch me."

Yoko is just about the only person who hasn't "come back" lately. I always thought she was one freaky-ass, trippy lady. (To hell with Nicole Kidman, I should have dated Lenny Kravitz.)

And to prove the point, I once referenced her in something I wrote long ago for Creative Loafing, Atlanta's alt-weekly. See for yourself, but if you techno-morons, "technorons," can't access the .pdf file to read it, then don't whine back at me about your personal computer illiteracy issues. Get the help you need. (Your 6 year old will do fine if you're just spazzing out totally.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Unbearable Lightness of Summertime

I am greedy for summertime. Even in the midst of the hottest, most humid Southern day, when all desire seems tangled in the lushness of a grove of overrun Palmetto trees and magnolias set alive with the whine of afternoon cicadas I bicycle slowly by on the way to visit with ghosts wandering the fiery batteries of Ft. Moultrie, I am consumed with the inevitable - summer will come to an end. There is nothing I can do about this.

And so I throw myself into another summer. Or wish to, rather, when waking every morning to any day promising to be a really hot one. I want to feel baked concrete on the soles of my feet as I moreorless fall from the lounge chair into a heavily chlorinated pool. I sniff Coppertone like it was glue, high from the beach-as-a-child memory surge it powers in my nostalgia-ridden head.

I wish I was a painter so that I could paint the drops that rise up in my head that once rose up on the aqua-striped Tom Collins glasses with the little frayed wicker cozies around the bottom portion my grandfather would present to the guests, remarkable only for their dullness, who invariably stopped by the beachhouse late afternoons all through June, circa 1968. The country was on fire; Isle of Palms was not.

So I steal gardenias to fill the house with Eau De Blanche (DuBois), and to place in Ava's braids, from untended bushes laden with blossoms along Volberg Street in the city, no longer at the beach. This has been a prime year for gardenias; ignored, lovely shrubs of blooms just beckoning to be plundered, just like the purple, not blue, hydrangeas I covet from people's yards who never seem to gather them for themselves. Why not me.

So much wickedness just waiting to rise to the surface in summer, all in a state of air-conditioned arrestedness. I loath air conditioning. It forces Southerners to do way too much, to multi-task for instance. Southerners should never be forced to multi-task. That's not in our blood. What is in our blood is a desire to exist under huge rotating fans outdoors on porches near oceans, with mere ice-ridden glasses to cool our heated tendencies. We are hot blooded people. If only we could live that way.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Gratification Delayed No More

I read somewhere recently that being able to delay gratification is a sign of maturity. Tell that to The Princess who lives in the condo, excuse me, castle with me. I could get this blog updated every now and then, but typically I'm kept hustling about the estate keeping up with her innumerable commands to refill her glass of Pelligrino water, but only with three, NOT five ice cubes, or orders to "call Tech Support NOW, because I can't download the trailer for Racing Stripes FAST enough."

The Princess doesn't even talk the way I do. For instance, I'd say, "Git me uh glass a iiice waader right now hon." However, using perfectly uninflected English, The Princess haughtily remarks, "I'm thirsty." In French sometimes. I get ordered around so much, I'd swear that instead of my usual double-wide drawl, I now have a Cockney accent and really big bazooms, just like all those robust scullery maids in Merchant-Ivory movies.

But as long as delaying gratification doesn't bring on senility or the impulse to hoard 20K back issues of National Geographic, then I guess I'm ok with it as I am a chronic late bloomer. It's taken me over twenty years to realize about 99% of my hopes and dreams, etc. But damn, they sure are good when you get 'em at this advanced age!

My mother always said if children were given too much at an early age then they would never have anything to look forward to. It sure was great when we could put away the sticks and move on to the lovely stones, Mom. I'm up to two-by-fours now.

Astonishingly, the dream-realizations are coming along fast and furious of late. My head's all awhirl with possibility. Surely a Marc Jacobs dress, the Rapture and that indoor lap pool are close at hand. Two lifelong ones in just this one week alone.

I have officially become - a STAGE MOTHER! There was no prouder mom walking the planet when, today, I registered my child for lessons this fall with The Atlanta Ballet. I feel like a real mom now. I'm already counting her twirl-around thingees in my head when she does the pas-duh-der solo during Dance of the Rabid Squirrel at the Fox In The Theater.

So much to learn. So many things to shop for. Seriously, in my girly-girl head, there is no finer pinnacle of Ultimate Womanhood than that of ballet dancer. I couldn't be happier knowing that my daughter dances like a fairy princess already. And I'm not just saying this - I have the videotapes. And I'll SHOW you if you're not carefull.

So what if she's only five and the dancing looks, occasionally, like the fairy princess got pulled over after hours and is now taking a DUI test on the side of I-285, but hey, did I mention she's only five? And I've longed to walk into a real ballet school since I was five too, and now I've got all the reason in the world to do so. Luckily, The Princess can't get there fast enough on her own two wide little feet.

In other dream-realization news, I performed stand-up at the Punchline. Uh of the premier comedy clubs in the country, and there I was. It was my graduation from the Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe.

Only wish I'd been doing it for the last twenty years or so. It was like crack, being up there on the stage with the spotlight and everyone looking at me to say something funny. Apparently I did, because folks really laughed and clapped, or they said they did.

I was so nerve-racked up there, in a good way, that I couldn't really tell what was going on out there in the audience. Sounded like people responding though. Nothing hit the stage or me. Then again, the audience was made up of people who were, more or less, required to make us feel great for that three minutes - friends and family of the graduates.

Gotta tell you, those big 'ol spot lights sure are bright. Hope I had enough eye makeup on, although I'm confident you could see me in New Jersey from the amount of Clinique I eagerly slapped on beforehand. The Princess was mightily impressed by the glare of the purple eyeshadow alone. Her only remark though was, "I'd be SOOO good at that." Typical.

I'll surely make all of you watch the DVD when I get it, as most of you bums never made it to the show. But my heart and thanks really goes out to those who did: Doug, Amanda, Jonathon, David, Travis, and Kimberly. On a dark and stormy Monday night too.

Only Tom and Cheryl got a special Get Out Of The Obligation/What Was It You Said You Were Going To Do? pass as Elise, their beautiful, sweet nine-year old fell seriously ill that evening, and thus they couldn't be there. Elise is doing much, much better - whew. You go Elise! And Tom and Cheryl too.

Believe me, there's no place scarier for a parent to have to be on this planet than Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. But if you gotta go, that's the place you want your kid to be in. The Roches are the finest, most beautiful example of a VERY close, loving and strong family, those wacky guys, and they'll all make it through this I know.

Cheerio for now my lovies.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Meta and Cierra scout for rogue developers.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Stop High Density Development - and Scientology While You're At It

While America sits on its ass contemplating the idiotic behavior of pointless Scientologists, some folks are fighting a lonely, uphill battle to preserve nothing less than our national heritage. One such "preservation activist" is my aunt, Meta Carter, a truly remarkable woman one could blog about for days and never, ever scratch the surface of her astonishing character and life. She's done everything from horse wrangling on movie sets to founding Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding.

I know that anyone who has ever had the pleasure of knowing Meta would say she's probably the most loyal friend a person could hope to have. I know she is undoubtedly the most devoted aunty any niece could ever hope for. There is virutally nothing I know or say or do on a daily basis that is not relevant to the immeasurable influence she's had on me.

I also know Meta can be extremely shy, reserved and quite dignified, not at all comfortable in public settings, unless horses are somehow involved that is. But she's done something remarkable lately, likely struggling fiercely with her shyness to do so too, and transformed herself into a passionate, outspoken critic and opponent of irresponsible land development in the Charleston, SC Ashley River Historic District. Below is the text from a recent editorial she wrote for the Charleston Post and Courier that will give you an idea of what she's been up to lately.

If your family is still pondering a summer vacation spot, I urge you to consider visiting the South Carolina Lowcountry area - while you still can. There is an insidious, deplorable race being run right now to greedily grab, destroy and develop what is left of this critical portion of our nation's land, culture and history.

Thank goodness for people like my aunt Meta, her brother Heyward Carter and others who are willing to give virtually every resource at their disposal to a critical conservaton effort so that we can possible keep, as Southerners and as Americans, a vital and a stunningly beautiful part of the planet to treasure and enjoy.

If we stop giving a shit about development-run-amuck, then all we're ever going to get is written-up in the New York Times - just like Atlanta.

I grew up in the Ashley River Corridor and returned here 20 years ago because of all the beautiful places around the world where I have lived and visited, this landscape is the one that moves me the most.

I have just returned from another deferred meeting concerning the Watson Hill development. I'm angry and incredulous, like many other opponents of this development who drove to this mid-afternoon meeting only to be met with a sign on the door that signified that our efforts were in vain. Again. The Watson Hill development crisis has blindsided the community. We should have seen this coming and begun work a decade ago on a plan to preserve the Ashley River Corridor.

Approval of the Watson Hill development means a bleak future for the Ashley River Corridor; it means that there never will be a plan for preservation here … it will be too late.

Future generations of residents will regret that their predecessors did not have a vision for the way things should be, or did not make that vision into a plan. Future residents will not have a choice, because once a rural environment is changed so drastically, the damage is irreversible; once natural resources are gone, they are not coming back.

This type of high density development, the consequent huge increase in traffic, the Glenn McConnell Highway extension that will have to be built through what is now forest land is destructive.

Poplar Grove is an example of how a good, well planned development in a rural community can balance preservation of natural resources with very high profit for developers. Why can't Watson Hill follow this example?

Approval of Watson Hill will be a disaster. Refusal of this plan will be a triumph.