Monday, April 21, 2014

Glade of the Shiloh Mounds

Check out the Shiloh Mounds on the Tennessee River edge of the Shiloh battlefield. Click on this image (taken April 12, 2014) to see the whole photo above.

This site was occupied by pre-Columbian people for several hundred years. To quote the US National Park Service: 

'The Residents of the Shiloh site were farmers. Corn (maize) was their most important food. They also grew squash and sunflowers, as well as less familiar crops such as goosefoot, marshelder, and maygrass. In addition to their cultivated crops, they also ate a wide variety of wild plants and animals. The most important wild plant foods were hickory nuts and acorns. Most of their meat came from deer, fish, turkey, and small animals such as raccoon, rabbit, and squirrel. . . .' 
'The early inclusion of the mounds area within the boundary of the national military park has protected the site from any modern use. Because the Shiloh site has never been disturbed by the plow, the daub of collapsed walls still stands as low rings or mounds. Shiloh is one of the very few places in the eastern United States where remains of prehistoric houses are still visible on the ground’s surface.'

For more, here's a link.
Edge of the Shiloh Mounds area, overlooking the Tennessee (from Cherokee, Tanasi, but known by other names before that) River.
Speaking of maize and corn . . .
 Q: What did Tennessee? 
 A: What Arkansas.

Yes, Virginia, 
way before us -- 
in "the Before Time" -- 
many people lived 
all across 
these lands
& waterways.

A thousand years from now
What will be found 
of us? 

Today's Rune: Gateway. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pilgrimage to Memphis: Done Gone to Graceland

O seasons, O castles, 
What soul is without flaws? 

(Arthur Rimbaud, circa 1871)

Life is the farce we are all forced to endure.

(Rimbaud, A Season in Hell, 1873).
I believe I am in Hell, and so I am there.

(Rimbaud, A Season in Hell, 1873).
"I say one must be a seer, make oneself a visionary. The poet makes himself a seer by an immense, long, deliberate derangement of all the senses."

(Rimbaud letter, 1871)
Once, I remember well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed.

(Rimbaud, 1873).

Elvis Presley (1935-1977), RIP.

Today's Rune: Movement.  

Note: English translations of Rimbaud (1854-1891) derived from Wikiquote (open source). I changed a translated word in one instance, from "seer" to "visionary."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pilgrimage to Memphis: Buildings and Food

Sun Studio (1950). Recording artists have included Ike Turner, Howlin' Wolf, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, B. B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis and so on. 
The Eugene Magevny house (1836) at 198 Adams Avenue, one of the oldest surviving buildings in Memphis. Magevny was Catholic, born in Ireland. Memphis has had a Catholic presence since the beginning. Saint Peter's is to the left. 

The Dominican Order has served continuously at St. Peter since 1846. . .  Construction of the present church began in 1852 around the intact older original sanctuary [dating to 1842-1843] and was completed in 1855. Once built, parts of the original church were dismantled and carried out the doors, piece by piece.  

For more information, here's a link. 

Elsewhere in Memphis, there's a structure that dates back to 1832 -- the Hunt-Phelan House at 533 Beale Street.
Peabody Hotel (1925). Main lobby. Ducks were there, cavorting in the center fountain.
Kress Building (1927).  S. H. Kress & Co. 5-10-25 Cent Store. Around the USA, many such impressive Kress buildings have been sensibly preserved and "repurposed." 
Beale Street at night. Here, fashion statements have devolved into slovenly casual. That's off-the-rack global capitalism at work. Support your local tailors! Compare with the natty attire worn in a 1968 protest march here. 

Today's Rune: Fertility. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pilgrimage to Memphis

Pilgrimage to Memphis: National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel (aka Motel). Side approach. Just reopened with extensive renovations on April 5, 2014. This image was frozen in time on April 11, 2014.  
The front of the Lorraine. Wreath marks the area where Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on April  4, 1968. The National Civil Rights Museum is powerful, and goes perfectly well with the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

Last year at this time, also with friends I checked out the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock, Arkansas, equally worth the pilgrimage. They are all sobering places of universal merit.    
Here's an eccentric Catholic-themed altar-like display on Beale Street in a shop front. It includes the latest three popes and various snippets of related text such as:

And, quoting Pope Francis: 'WHO AM I TO JUDGE?'

Other bits include: "Francis credited with exorcism." Let's not forget this airy claim: "Memphis is the center of the spiritual universe."

Pilgrimage to Memphis. Closeup of a sign for Shirley's Beauty Salon, near Stax grounds. Can you dig?

Today's Rune: Partnership.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Soulsville USA

Here's the front of Stax Museum of American Soul Music at 926 East McLemore Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. Can you dig? It's been up and running for a little more than a decade. Soulsville USA has clear lines of connection, in its engaging spirit of music and energy, with Hitsville USA (Motown Museum) in Detroit city, Michigan.
"The mission of the Soulsville Foundation is to preserve, promote, and celebrate the many unique cultural assets of the Soulsville, USA neighborhood in Memphis, while supporting the development of new educational and community-building opportunities." Here's a link for more details.

Right on the same grounds as the museum are The Soulsville Charter School (between 500 and 600 students, grades 6-12) and Stax Music Academy. How cool is that?
Stax-related artists include Booker T. & the MGs, Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Staples Singers, Elvis (in the 1970s), Isaac Hayes and so on. Stax Museum covers all of soul music, from Memphis and Detroit to around the world.

Today's Rune: Fertility. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Whatever Subject

I'm happy, pleased and proud to have fulfilled another long-standing goal in my life's quest: reading the complete essays of Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), a beautiful set, 1045 pages in Frame's translation, very rooted in Montaigne's times but also in classical Greco-Roman antiquity, a double bonus.

Montaigne has a very contemporary feel. One can easily imagine having a conversation with him in the 21st century; nor would he be surprised by much today even though more than 400 years have passed since he completed his life's work. Montaigne is the epitome of humanity in our most thoughtful and self-reflective moments.

"Any topic is equally fertile for me . . . Let me begin with whatever subject I please, for all subjects are linked with one another."  

-- Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Works: Essays, Travel Journals, Letters. Translated by Donald M. Frame. New York, London, Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. Everyman's Library 259. Pages 810-811.  

My philosophy exactly, the primary rationale behind "Erik's Choice."

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Freedom Riders

Stanley Nelson, Jr.'s Freedom Riders (2010) does excellent work bringing the Freedom Rides of 1961 -- and the harsh resistance to them -- into perspective and full, open view. Drawing from the work of Raymond Arsnenault and others, Freedom Riders weaves throughout the tales of several key players -- Freedom Riders, other civil rights leaders, politicians and officials with different perspectives, witnesses and Good Samaritans. Like the Freedom Rides themselves, Nelson's documentary starts out smoothly and then picks up momentum, driving right into the brutal resistance of white segregationists in Alabama and Mississippi. 

At about two hours, Freedom Riders (PBS, American Experience) takes us on a mesmerizing and sometimes horrific journey through fresh, still resonant American history.

The music is gripping, too. I was delighted to hear in the background (near the end of the film) Detroit-born Barbara Dane's version of "I'm On My Way," which is a very cool one, indeed, as are various other interpretations of this great traditional gospel song, usually referred to in full as "I'm On My Way (and I Won't Turn Back)." Check out, for instance, recorded performances by Odetta, The Carter Family,* Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone and Mavis Staples.

Full disclosure: I'll be co-discussing Freedom Riders at a local college next week. Glad I watched the film ahead of time, certainly. 

Today's Rune: Fertility.

*"I'm On My Way To Canaan's Land," by Alvin "A. P." Carter.