Author Archive

Not Mephobia, but Memephobia

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In addition to other creative pursuits, I truly enjoy writing, but writing about myself? Nope, not so much, must be a phobia.

Cooking: I cook whatever inspires me at the moment; I am not the type to create a menu for the next umpteen days. Currently, I am interested using different cider glazes on pork and variations for buttermilk squash. I like to experiment, but alas, it hasn’t all turned out so good – but that’s why God created microwaves.

Cookbook: I have been a reader of Cooks Illustrated for years and now use their iPad app. But I have also have collected cook books for the same number of years. Like many design geeks, I buy books primarily because of the design and marketing concept. But to offset this sad weakness, I love to experiment (see cooking above) and try whatever inspires me, generally from those well designed book covers. I am follower of Nigella Lawson, she captures the love of cooking and baking that my mother and grandmother had, it is a nostalgic thing. But honestly, they didn’t look like Nigella.



40s era kitchen utensils from Nashville Flea MarketShopping: When the budget permits, Whole Foods for meat and fish. For fruit and vegetables there is an Amish farm stand a block away from Whole Foods. And truth be told, I also like to check out Kroger’s Manager’s Specials in the meat counter for great deals. I like the Nashville Flea Market at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds on the fourth weekend of every month for some really amazing finds, but shoppers are best advised to go when it opens on Fridays. Found these 1940s era kitchen utensils in a wood box for $30.

Do Lunch: Mitchell’s Deli, has some of the ambiance of delis in Chicago’s German neighborhoods, but with a hipster feel, best BLTs anywhere. Best un-kept secret is Tennessee BBQ pork, so I have a weakness to stop at whatever BBQ place I am driving by during the noon hour. I avoid the cucumber sandwich type of establishment. I get a nose bleed every time, must be an allergy.

Evening Out: My wife Jan and I do not get out so much anymore; at night we enjoy sitting on our deck on Shy’s Hill and look out across Seven Hills. When we do go out to celebrate anniversaries or with out of town guests, I rely on recommendations from the other Buttermilkers (great term , Chris). Alternatively, we have always loved Rumours East in East Nashville, an early 1900s Victorian house with Argentinean chef Hernan Borda.

Gadget of the moment: Jan gave me an electric wine bottle opener for my birthday; don’t know what we did before it. And I am lost without my iPad, I often use it while watching TV.

Beverage: When I wake up it’s a very strong French Roast, then a breakfast tea around noon, Starbucks Refereshers later in the afternoon and finally a Merlot (Columbia Crest Grand Estates) in the evening. I use to love drinking beer, especially Labatt’s Blue, but I began gaining weight just looking at the label.

On My Tivo: The Good Wife and Nashville

On My Kindle: Cab Tales by Eric Muirhead, my recently deceased brother-in law: “Houston in the early 70s when a young cabby gives up a professional career and education and finds life in the raw.” And on my iPad, David Frum’s Why Romney Lost. I am way too impatient to read one book at a time.

Culinary Fixation: Jan gave me a starter set of Henckels knives for Christmas last year. She is, fortunately, a nurse practitioner who has had to utilize her skills on many nicks and cuts. This Christmas I think Santa is bring one of those stainless steel gloves I see butchers use at Publix. We will save a lot on not having to buy so much gauze, tape and bandages.

Seasonal Produce: This a great time of the year, so much available. Apples, apples and more apples, there are so many good recipes with apples. Same is true for butternut squash.

Road Trip: A couple of years ago when Jan to attended a continuing ed program on Cape Cod, we took the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Parkways on the way and discovered the Merit Parkway on the way back. Since then we always take the extra time to find the “long way” and see more of this great country. This spring we are going to Asheville and suggestions are always welcomed.

Mad Experiment: There is so much that can be done with red beans and rice; Cajun, vegetarian, Spanish – I could go on. My first attempt many years ago was a pot of red beans and rice with onions, bell peppers, sausage and chicken stock garnished with green onions, sour cream, or cheddar cheese. It goes great with spinach, mushroom, red onion salad and a Vidalia onion dressing.

Song(s): pop; Too Close by Alex Clare; techno, Labcraft, by Filterheadz; favorite guilty pleasure, Wang Chung is so 80s.

Pop Culture Fascination: Psy and Gangnam Style demonstrated how susceptible culture is with viral media. I am also delighted to see how imaginative people can be creating parodies. “Media is the Message” is still true. I am also so broken up over the Justin Bieber and Selina Gomez split. Who are these two people and can I get through life not knowing?

Coveting: Anything from Garden and Home from Terrain, might be a nice road trip to visit the brick and mortar store. Or except for the chicken coops which my neighbors probably would not be to keen about, Agrarian by Williams-Sonoma.





Southern Visionary Artist: Howard Finster

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Broadly, the term “Outside Art” is used to encompass any art created by an artist not trained, embraced or represented by traditional art institutions such as museums or art schools. Initially it was art from children or the insane, whom expressionists believed were not tainted by culture and civilization, it was “pure” art and referred to as art brut by the French artist Jean Dubuffet. Currently, the definition of “outsider art” is an ongoing controversy, but at a minimum it would include folk and visionary works. And with the American South’s deep fundamentalist religious beliefs, its artists create some of the most mesmerizing and entertaining art.

Baby Elvis by Howard Finster

Probably the best known artist in the folk/visionary category would be Howard Finster (1916-2001). The evangelical Baptist minister said he had his first vision when he was 3 years old, when he saw his deceased sister descending from the sky wearing a white gown. The vision that ultimately inspired him to paint sacred art occurred in 1976, “… one day I was workin’ on a patch job on a bicycle, and I was rubbin’ some white paint on that patch with this finger here, and I looked at the round tip o’ my finger, and there was a human face on it … then a warm feelin’ come over my body, and a voice spoke to me and said, ‘Paint sacred art.’” And paint he did, creating over 46,000 pieces in less than 26 years.

His paintings range from the spiritual to historical figures (such as George Washington) and pop (like Elvis, for example). His images are vividly colorful and detailed on a flat background with no perspective. They are often covered with Bible verses.

He gained real fame in 1983 when he created the cover for rock band REM’s second album Reckoning. In 1985, the Talking Heads commissioned Finster to create the album cover for Little Creatures, later selected by Rolling Stone as album cover of the year.

He said of the Talking Heads album, “I think there’s 26 religious verses on that first cover I done for them. They sold a million records in the first two and a half months after it come out, so that’s 26 million verses I got out into the world in two and a half months!” Spoken like a true Southern evangelical minister.

Notable events recommended:

Finster Fest 2013, May 18th and 19th

Kentuck Festival of the Arts in Northport, Alabama, third weekend of October 2013

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