Saturday, May 24, 2014

Anthony Bourdain Discovers The "MUCH MORE TO MISSISSIPPI" In Parts Unknown Documentary

Recently, Mississippi was the point of interest for a CNN documentary in Anthony' Bourdain's Parts Unknown series.  I was thrilled !.  I was thinking, "Good!!! Maybe someone ELSE will shed some positive light into the darkness in the minds of most people, regarding my beloved Mississippi...and MAYBE they will listen !
"Of course, I had no idea if it would turn out to be more positive than negative...

But, I was hopeful."

Anthony Bourdain is an American chef, author, and television personality.  He is known for his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and in 2005 he began hosting the Travel Channel's culinary and cultural adventure programs Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover. 
In 2013, he joined CNN to host Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

One of the preview ads reads: 
What does a world traveler like Anthony Bourdain think of Mississippi? Besides the fact he never did consider stepping foot in the state, but then discovered some of the last truly great American institutions. WATCH Bourdain's show "Parts Unknown" TONIGHT on CNN at 8pm (CST)

Anthony is from New York City and in a blog post he acknowledged the fact that most of what he thought, had heard or knew about Mississippi was negative. 
He wrote: "Let me be honest about this right up front: before I started traveling the world extensively, seeing many foreign countries and cultures very different than my own, I would never even have considered visiting Mississippi. As a New Yorker, with the drearily predictable worldview of my tribe, I took a dim view of Mississippi. Mississippi was the deep South. It was where they shot Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in “Easy Rider”, wasn' t it? The history was not pretty—a fact reinforced by just about every film ever set in the state. It’s near the poorest performer on every metric of a state’s health: income, education, healthcare. " 

Mr. Bourdain was SO correct in stating that the negative, ugly images are the ones that are reinforced by just about every film ever set in the state. Actually, almost everything that anyone hears in the media is overwhelmingly negative, negative and more negative. 

At the beginning of the documentary, many disturbing images of Mississippi's past were flashed on the screen.  Sadly, these images are burned into the collective psyche of the world and are all that most Americans and outsiders hold on to about Mississippi. 
It almost seems that there is a belief that there is no room left for discussion or consideration of anything else on the subject. 

About the negatives, he states: "That's all I knew about Mississippi...and it never occurred to me to look further"  Anthony wrote in a promotional entry: I have long since learned to find myself comfortable in as “foreign” an environment as Saudi Arabia, Liberia, or Cambodia. Why can’t I get to know and love this part of my own country?  Particularly when what we love about our country—what is undeniably great about America, its most powerful and persuasive export and gift to the world—comes from the state of Mississippi. It changed the world like nothing else American. ( the music: blues and rock and roll ) As the journey begins, he asks, "Why can't I love this place" ?

I understand the question. It is generally, SUCH an unpopular stance to show love for Mississippi.

He begins in Jackson, the capitol of Mississippi,  with a walk down Farish Street. 
He spent much of the time in various parts of the Delta and in Oxford.  Some of the topics that he explores throughout the documentary were: Soul Food ...Southern Food....Country Cooking, Juke Joints, Blues, The Delta Sense of Community The strong literary legacy Oxford..Faulkner..Writers..The Square .

All throughout , there was a strong emphasis on our music and our food.  Being a chef and a food, connoisseur he was definitely in the right place. Traveling in Mississippi, you KNOW he did a lot of eating ! He loved the hot tamales and even ventures to eat a pig ear sandwich ! and said: It’s everything...we love about bacon, the texture...mix of fatty, lean...Oh that’s good!"- 

Of course, he only scratched the surface of all that Mississippi has to offer Overall, I enjoyed the show and said so. I definitely thought that it was more positive than negative. One of my Facebook friends commented on one of my posts: I personally was a little offended by the "negativism". He could have done a better show being more positive about MISSISSIPPI! It's no wonder we can't get out of the past, no one lets us! 
My reply:| I know what you mean . Overall, I was pretty pleased. It could have been MUCH MUCH worse it usually is!!! I guess we can be thankful for small favors because he did highlight some good things!  Few do ! So you see EXACTLY why I do what I do ..and am SO passionate about it.

As soon as it ended my husband said, "How can you cover Mississippi without covering Tupelo...Elvis" ? (Proud wife moment ) I smiled and thought to myself: "He has been taught so well..and knows just what to say !"  

PND: You know the story of how we had a heart to heart talk a few weeks into our marriage where I told him ..if our relationship was going to stay on track there were two things he had to KNOW/REMEMBER... 
#1 I'm a STAR (Yes, Me...PND) 
#2 Elvis is still the King Of course, Elvis was not left out when they were discussing the music. And, near the end of the documentary when he was in Oxford talking to a group of writers,  he asked..If there were a statue or monument erected to represent and symbolize Mississippi...who or what would it be . They all said in unison: Elvis ! 

Following the show, in a post on his blog Anthony wrote: We sure as Hell didn’t “explain” Mississippi in this episode. I doubt I left the state much smarter than I entered it. It’s not a representative overview of “what you should know or see while in Mississippi”. But I hope that viewers will get a taste of a uniquely beautiful place –where some of the last of some truly great American institutions are still alive. Where you can hear the blues performed where it was born—in exactly the same surroundings, the same kind of bar, as when it all began. Where you can have an irony free pigs ear sandwich that will make you weep for joy.


Monday, May 12, 2014

There's MORE to the the "Mississippi Story"

People are always talking about how 'ignorant', 'uneducated', 'depressed' and 'deprived'
people (especially black people) in Mississippi are/were.

But there is MORE to the "Mississippi Story" than people know or want to hear.

My grandfather (my mother's father ) from little Mantee , Mississippi attended and graduated from a private high school in Arkansas . He went on to attend and graduate from prestigious Tuskegee Institute (May 1930).   He came back to Mississippi where he taught and was the principal of a school.  His mother, my great grandmother, was a teacher.   She and her husband owned 100 acres of land ( which is still in the family -heir property of my Mom and her siblings)  His aunt owned a store in Mantee.  My father (from West Point,MS ) graduated from Kentucky State with a dual major of Chemistry and French then graduated from Meharry Medical School in Nashville , TN . He was a captain in the Air Force and Air Force surgeon. He returned to Mississippi and practiced medicine for 35 years in Tupelo.

My aunt (my father's sister) says that at one time there were 4 (black) doctors who lived on their street when they were growing up.   My mother graduated from Tennessee State University and was a teacher ...her mother was a teacher ...and her mother's mother was a teacher.

I repeat: 'There is MUCH MORE to the 
"Mississippi Story" than people 
know or want to hear.'

Guess what???!! I tell those stories...
through my poems ! 

NOTE: I was recently thrilled to find my grandfather's college diploma. May 29, 1930 Tuskegee Institute.   It is VERY tattered and torn...but still a GEM

Monday, May 5, 2014

THANKS, MATT LAUHBAN!!!! Tupelo, Mississippi Appreciates You !

There is a story in the Clarion Ledger about how our weatherman Matt Lauhban helped to save so many lives in the Tupelo tornado ! 

Let me tell you, this is absolutely true. It is coming from one..namely me...who ignores the HECK out of storm warnings ! 

Schools let out early, I am sure mainly due to his warnings.  Even then, as the time got closer to when he said the storm would strike, I was still on the computer (as usual)..
Very casually listening to warnings (as usual)..passing them on to my Facebook friends 
(as usual ) I turned away from the station looking at some stupid reality show. 
My son Henry was playing games on the computer ( as usual) 
Then...I saw a Facebook post about a how a tornado had been spotted about 8 miles from the Barnes Crossing Mall (which is a couple of miles from me) So, I switched back to watching Matt. OMG! He was talking updates at a feverish pace..
He was spouting out directions for us..and the staff at WTVA. 
Then, he started telling them that he was going to be telling them very soon to go to the basement. Then he told all of the non-essential staff to go to the basement. 
He has gotten my attention...I was up telling my son we might need to go to the basement be ready. I was getting the candles and flashlight all rounded up that I had readily available ..because of Matt. 
Our power went I didn't get to see Matt tell them on the air to hit the basement...or didn't see when he ran off himself...but he had done his job. Later, after the storm was over and our internet finally came back up, I overheard my son telling one of his friends on Skype about the storm...about how his Mom was going crazy! He called me just telling him several times that this might get bad..I didn't raise my voice..or yell ...or anything like that ...but he is SOO ....unused to me saying ANYTHING AT ALL during a storm.. I barely raise an eyebrow...even during the two bad windstorms that we had several months before which damaged the roof, uprooted huge pine trees in our yard and knocked over a neighbors wood fence!!! One very good friend told me that he is definitely alive because of Matt's warnings. He said that he was out in the streets on Gloster when he was receiving warnings. He sped up to get to his father's house right off of Gloster. He said that he grabbed his father (who is bed- ridden) dragged him in the hall and the storm hit all around them in less than a minute. We know that God is ultimately in control, but our weatherman went above and beyond the call of duty. He says that he was only doing his job, but he started Thursday really giving urgent warning about this storm. He was telling us how to prepare and kept saying not to ignore these warnings! My Facebook feed was filled with his updates! So many people did not hear any type of warning sirens ....and out of all of the destruction (THERE WAS A LOT) there was only one death! 
This man was on it...and he wouldn't let us ignore it !!!!! Thanks, Matt Laubhan WTVA


 To see the video of Matt Laubhan as the newsroom evacuates during tornado that hit Tupelo, Miss., on April 28, 2014.  GO TO THIS LINK ......

The Storm 

Keep Mississippi in your thoughts and prayers!