Thursday, July 29, 2004

Chillin in Sylacauga, Alabama.
I've been watching the Democratic Convention - thank goodness my Aunt has cable I'm able to watch the convention on C-Span without commercials and commentaries. Why?? Well I listened to CNN on the road while not horrible it still has a heavy dose of pseudo-news. If the analysis isn't good why waste time listening to it. I did check out Democracy Now website they mentioned something I hadn't noticed that the Patriot Act wasn't mentioned at the Convention. Ah my Democrats so much talk of War and God, hopefully privacy rights won't be forgotten.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Back in Sylacauga, drove about 7 1/2 hours today from Charleston, we used a map plus the car's GPS system/software. I was a little nervous about using GPS it made a few errors but it was basically correct, it had some trouble on rural roads. During the drive traveling from Charleston through Georgia to Alabama - the floral changed from oak covered with Spanish Moss to forest covered with Kudzu. The smaller two lane roads could be charming in many ways - with small towns and abundant greenery dotting the roads.
One interesting town we drove through was Aiken South Carolina right on the Georgia border. The City is visually more affluent than all the towns we have driven through, it turned out Aikens is an old resort town known for its' horse breeding and polo.

My only trauma was handling a Southern rainstorm in Atlanta, this was no fun on a freeway (I-20), full of aggressive trucks. I was actually blinded by a truck which sprayed the car.....but we survived and in the tradition of southern rainstorms after a few miles the rain just went away.

Earlier today visited the Middleton Plantation,
Middleton Place is a plantation that survived the Civil War. The Middleton Plantation is a National Historic Landmark and has America's oldest landscape garden. Middleton did lose several of it's buildings during the civil war and also sustained damage from the 1886 Earthquake. Middleton isn't the cheapest place to visit, it cost $20.00 to see the gardens and stables we started with the carriage ride which was an extra $13.00 bucks. Regarding the earthquake, our carriage guide told us the quake lasted 8 minutes and was between 7.9 - 9.0. She was correct about the later, the quake was estimated at 7.9 but a course nothing would survive a 8 minute earthquake. Charleston with it's brick buildings would have been completely demolish.

The reason I picked the Middleton plantation was its' African-American focus tour. The Plantation was primarily a show plantation but had rice cultivation. The tour focuses on how the enslaved Africans cultivated the rice and how they lived. The plantation has only one slave quarter, this was disappointing, a slave cemetery, rice mill - where people worked, and slave chapel.

The tour was given by a Yankee, a New Yorker who unlike our Beaufort tour guide had no sympathy for slavery. She scoffed at one question about the slave house being built as an reward for a slave couple staying on the plantation. This was implied by the 8 minute earthquake carriage driver. She wasn't impressed with the idea of a slave cabin as gift. It reminded me of the freedom and slavery tour in Charleston were the tour guide mentioned the free room and board the slaves had hence an advantage to save money. He slightly corrected himself by mentioning that the slave's owner had complete control over this transaction and many times took a portion of the money slaves earned on the side.

The lady at Middleton was the only tour guide that presented slavery completely as a brutal-perverse scam I wondered if she was given the assignment because she was a Yankee. It's a difficult tour physically on a hot humid July day, we were soaked after the tour. But she was obliviously interested in the material and did a good job presenting it.

Again I was surrounded by beauty that was created by exploiting humans. Is it really beauty or just the facade of Greek columns and large gardens to hide primitive ostentation and gross greed by people whose only interest was to make money?


Sunday, July 25, 2004

Charleston, South Carolina we really need another day or two to checkout the Historical District and Charleston's sites. Today we did a general tour - saw many of the homes and buildings with their myriad of architectural styles. Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Colonial, etc. We also went on a Freedom and Slavery tour. I wanted to go on the Gullah Tour but it doesn't run on Sundays. This tour was a walking tour there were only three of us on the tour. Our guide provided a lot information regarding slavery in the Charleston area, the free African Americans, The Brown Society - mix race elite and the political/economic climate in Charleston and how this affected slavery.

The tour guide took us on a gingerly and leisurely pace but the heat was too much, my traveller partners were pooping out. We did make it to Charleston's Market aka - tourist row to buy typical tourist stuff but to also checkout out the sweet basket weavers.

Tomorrow we head back, 7 hours plus of driving, to Alabama, if we wake up on time we're going to the Middleton Plantation.

We'll see how it works out, South Carolina has been a different experience than the other States we have visited. I was really struck with the citizens of Savannah, the folks who lived in the historical district were so helpful and proud. They seemed charmed by their our community. I haven't felt that in Charleston, the city feels tougher and the citizens while polite are not warm. Even the soul folks feel a little cold to me - unlike most places in the South we're friendliness is the norm.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Beaufort, South Carolina - I hadn't planned to visit Beaufort when I first thought of going on this trip. Actually Beaufort wasn't on the radar. A friend informed me about the Penn Center, the first educational facility established for freed Africans American after the Civil War and after reading about Penn I became interested in Beaufort South Carolina. The primary filming location of Forest Gump (which I've never seen) and the location where the South decided to secede from the Union.

The oblivious old wealth of Beaufort - it's tabby buildings designed with beauty and creativity portraits for me how beauty and evil can flourish together. Our tour guide tried hard to convince us that the level of slavery at Beaufort was more civil than other places. The slaves could own land, many were educated, not overworked, and some even missed the old days of slavery after emancipation. But on the same tour we were told about Robert Small an enslaved man who disguised himself as a boat Captain and commandeer the ship The Planter, with it's crew and their families to freedom and the Union Army. If slavery was so good why didn't Small stay and fight for the Confederates? Small's feeling matched the majority of the enslaved in Beaufort who desired freedom and control over their lives rather than a comfortable hell.

After we toured Beaufort we drove to St. Helena Island to the Penn Center. The Penn Center has a museum with permanent displays dedicated to Gullah Culture and the history of the Penn Center. The located of the Center is very charming with it's oak trees raining Spanish Moss. While there I was able to hear a lecture about Gullah culture by luck - I crashed a lecture by accident. I had seen Daughters of the Dust and always had a romantic vision of the Gullah people.

But theGullah's struggle to protect their culture and way of life is not just romantic fancy but a real issue to support.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

We headed out late today but we've finally on our way to Savannah and Hilton Head, our route from Sylacauga was I-280 East until we reach Columbus then I-80 East which was the loneliest southern road I've been on. There were no towns, livestock or traffic only the burden of a 55-mile speed limit. I could have easily driven 100 MPH but with prodding, I mean guidance from my car partners I kept my speed down.

Fort Valley, Georgia we're spending the night, our first day driving was a little short. Fort Valley is a predominately Black College town, Fort Valley State University is a Historical Black College a Land Grant College started in 1895

(Wednesday)We stayed at the towns' Days Inn, the room was clean but yuk!!! The pool was gross, the buffet had the coffee from hell and the parking lot had source-less water, which was starting to breed mosquitoes. Day Inns are not great, closer to OK when you're being cheap, but they could at least serve a decent cup of java. After checking out the campus/town - we headed out to Savannah, the drive between Fort Valley and Savannah on I-96 was much more scenic, colorful peach groves graced our view. Fort Valley is located in Peach County - The Georgia peaches brings up memories of delicious fruit and warm peach cobbler hopefully on the way back home we can stop at a roadside farm and enjoy.

We arrived in Savannah around 1:30 PM headed straight to the visitors Center on Martin Luther King Blvd and trolley around Savannah. I'm not one to usually shuttle about town when you can walk but today this was a good choice. Our time was short, it gave us an introduction to the City and what we would like to see later this week. Savannah, my first impression was very good. The town's early architecture is very beautiful and the City has so much history. It was my first visit to an American Colonial City. Savannah also has the first African-American church in America, It was amazing how that little area where the church was located was run-down compare to the other areas visited in the tour. No matter where you travel some things stay the same. On the other-hand, if they redeveloped the area it would probably become completely gentrified - I hope the people of Savannah are diligent about protecting their - our heritage. Enough of my mini rant I'm hoping to visit Savannah at least one more time during these 3 - 4 days. I understand how people fall in love with this town.

After the tour we headed to Hilton Head, my first impression of the island was lukewarm. Hilton Head reminds me of Lake Tahoe on steroids. It's crowded and full of tourist stuff. The beaches better be the bomb - I didn't drive 300+ miles just to shop at another outlet mall. We did had a decent dinner tonight so I'll leave my final judgment for the end of the trip.


Sunday, July 18, 2004

Yesterday I had the chance to visit Fisk University. It was really exciting to walk on the campus with so much history! A place where the Jubilee Singers, John Hope Franklin and W.E DuBois treaded. The campus has an academic and quaint vibe like a classic liberal arts campus. We visited the Carl Van Vechten Gallery on campus and to my surprise, I was able to see original works by Aaron Douglas. I had no idea he taught at Fisk.

One of my favorite pieces was there for viewing.

Aaron Douglas's - Building More Stately Mansions

I wanted to cruise Jefferson Street, which is the Black commercial center of Nashville but in the process we forgot to see Tennessee State another Historically Black College...next time. I promised my Aunt we would return to Opry Mills for outlet shopping. I was able to listen to the outdoor music program at the Grand Old Opry but my time in Nashville has run out. Next visit I'll delved more into the Country and Western scene.

Drove today from Nashville to Sylacauga, Alabama where my Aunt lives. The drive took around 5 hours. Most of the drive consisted of viewing small southern roadside towns and very lush green woods. It is visually difference from California, I'll have to add a picture soon. On our drive we passed through Huntsville Alabama home of the Redstone Arsenal.

Afterward we drove through Alabama A & M University a predominately Black State college that many of my cousins attended.
It is a nice campus red brick campus with a huge football stadium.
The campus was quiet school is out - I would love to see the campus in full throttle packed with students.

Spent the evening having a home cooked meal from my Aunt and cleaning her computer. She has a cable connection, no functioning virus software or firewall. Still after running Mcafee Stinger, MicroTrend Housecall, Adware 6 and checking her registry she didn't have any major virus just spyware and a Russian Joke program joke_train.a.

I'm impress but I believe it's just a matter of time.


Saturday, July 17, 2004

Spent the morning at the timeshare, picked up the folks in the afternoon and we made our way to Downtown Nashville. I have never driven on such crazy freeways! You have to constantly switch lanes to stay on your Interstate, construction is happening everywhere and some of the offramps just freaked me out.(But a course I kept my cool) Also having family members giving you bad directions doesn't help. But the drivers in Nashville were cool......I take off my hat to the people of Nashville everybody just slowed down a little it really made the difference.

We made it to Downtown Nashville, found parking and strolled on Broadway with its' Cowboy clothing and souvenirs shops. My favorite shop was the Neon
Peanut Cowboy.

On Second street we turned left and entered an entertainment zone. This is the spot everyone goes after the Titan Games for dinner and beer. I believe hardrock was on the corner. I stopped and had lunch at BB Kings Blues Club. Please note if you're looking for a Down Home Blues Club this isn't the place. It's very similar to House of Blues - lunch was fine.

We found the Visitors Center afterward and I was headed toward the Country Music Hall of Fame but we had less than an hour - so we decided to pass. Now it was time to visit with relatives, which was a lot of fun. One of the disadvantages of living in California was not growing up near my relatives. I really enjoy spending an evening with family who grew up with my parents and learning those old stories.


Friday, July 16, 2004

Hi everyone, I'm in Nashville Tennessee, County Music USA. I survived my 11-hour transit from the Bay Area. Why such a long flight? Well nothing is free, I had a frequent flyer with United and I had to fly from Oakland to Chicago switch planes and fly to Birmingham (this portion was free). Then I took a Southwest Airline flight from Birmingham to Nashville. My complaint was with Southwest Airlines. I'm not a fan of discount airlines, this is my second flight in a row where I had a bad experience. This time the plane was leaking water or something from the overhead compartment area. It makes you feel nervous to see the ceiling dripping in your plane. With napkins and paper towels sticking into crevices in the overhead compartment nil a word was mentioned by the crew.
Nashville, the weather is a nice change from San Francisco, it's warm but not too humid. I've been very lucky no rain since I arrived. We've staying at a timeshare called theFairfield about half a mile from the Grand Old Opry. We've staying in an area called Opryland Music City. It's a complex with convention center, mall, and resort hotel built around the Grand Old Opry. We're not here for County Music but the AKA National convention. I'm not in the sorority but all my women folks are - it was a sea of pink and green at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel which is impressive since the place is huge. Yesterday, I had the chance to see Yolanda Adams, I'm becoming a fan of gospel/inspiration music in my old age. The concert was very good it's interesting to hear a gospel singer with so much jazz influence. She was preaching, expressing her religious philosophy during the concert... and it worked. I pride myself on my rationalist leanings but her words did make me refect on my spirtuality. Another comment on the concert, she did something I hadn't seen in another concert, all of Yolanda Adams background singers had solos. It was very cool, Yolanda, her band and background singers were kicking it. 


Sunday, July 11, 2004

Hey folks I'm in Las Vegas spending the weekend with my dad. The temperature is a hot and breezy 103 degrees, where's my San Francisco fog? Actually, the desert in Las Vegas is quite beautiful and warm nights are rare and far between in San Francisco.

Dad and I have spent the last two days chatting, gambling and checking out the buffets. Hanging out with a local keeps you off the strip. Today we went to JW Marriott Hotel & Rampart Casino Resort at Summerlin I'm not a gambling/casino woman but the Casino is pleasant and the Sunday Brunch buffet was tasty.

Sunday morning my father and I went to the theatre and saw Michael Moore Fahrenheit 9/11. It was the first theatre movie my dad and I have seen together in 20 years. He rarely goes to the movies, my mom usually waits for me.

Moore's movie is powerful, I wish everyone would see the film, even if they don't agree with the politics, the voices within the film need to be heard. Who can forget Lila Lipscomb from Flint Michigan.

I really find it amazing that the film was released so close to the election even with the "R" Rating. Considering the number of negative books published about this administration and films like Control Room being released you have to wonder if debate and discussion is occurring or is this all Preaching to the Choir. I guess the worst case scenario is historians will have a field day with us or pity us.


Thursday, July 08, 2004

Thursday night, well I'm leaving for Las Vegas Friday evening and I should have been at home packing but after French tonight I headed over to The Great American Music Hall to see Maria de Barros. The God daughter of Cesaria Evora. I've seen Cesaria Evora and I wanted to listen to her God Daughters' songs.

The American Music Hall is one of my favorite places to hear music in San Francisco. Located in the Tenderloin neighborhood. It's not too large and has a good dance floor, the acoustics are good, and the architecture is ornate with the feel of old elegance.

Fortunately a friend had comp tickets for tonight show, Maria de Barros set was nice but short (or it felt short) She sung songs from Cape Verde, Latin Ballads and Brazilian standards.

My party buddy was present at the show and he was in a high octane mood, which was very,very good for me! It was great to be dancing on Thursday night. He's a smooth dancer and working on my salsa moves with a cutie was nice. Another nice fact of the evening, for a change a healthy amount of sisters were present and representing.

Love getting those weekends started early...............


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Tuesday night, just struggled through French again. When phonetics isn't your strength and memory is short - studying a foreign language is tough. I didn't have lunch today and my brain was drained for class. I survived............

Ah! the 4th of July weekend seems so far away, Saturday I went to the Fillmore Jazz Festival (Street Faire) There was a good assembly of local artists. I heard - with difficulty Paula West, Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers and The Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra. Fillmore street was packed with noisy drinkers and socializers. A lot of folks were more interested in drinking beers than listening to jazz, it was a pleasant hangout but not the best outdoor venue for music. But we know the old saying nothing for free.

That evening I checked out a Tennessee Wiliiams play, Orpheus Descending at the Actors Theatre First a note about the Theatre, its' comfortable seating left my knees happy. The Actors Theatre also has a lobby/waiting area which has seating, before the show, we brought in coffee and chatted with no problems before ascending upstairs to our stage.

Orpheus Descending, well I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Southern Gothic melodrama. Some of the writing I loved, some made me chuckle by accident. I'll be back to see Cat on A Hot Tin Roof.


Saturday, July 03, 2004

Friday night - Saturday morning, ok it's Saturday......haven't slept but it feels like a new day. Well, Friday was a busy day for me- workwise but work didn't prevent me from heading out to the Legion of Honor, a classically design museum with beautiful views, to see the Art Deco 1910- 1939 exhibit. The had a Friday evening theme A night in Havanna the evening included Art, music and Mojitos.

The exhibit is a collection of Art Deco items from various disciplines including industrial design, Art Deco influenced cars, cameras, dishes, buildings to Art Deco influence in fashion desigh paintings, music, and graphic design.

Josephine Baker in film and posters was presented within the exhibit. Hence the banana skirt. I have mixed feeling about seeing Josephine Baker performing her

Le Danse de Sauvage
(Dance of the Savage).

Josephine Baker was an activist in her own right but I wonder if my fellow museum goers know anything about her life and accomplishments.


Friday, July 02, 2004

Thursday night - Friday morning, my guest are gone and I'm still recovering, it's funny how having a child in the home changes so many things. It's amazing that anyone with young children can continue school. My niece requires so much attention that I found studying impossible, I don't know how single parents can do it! You really need a village to raise a child.

Monday after work, we went to the San Francisco Zoo, it was my first visit to the zoo. I have mixed feeling about zoos I'm not convince they are morally correct facilities. I wouldn't want to live on display in a zoo - even to save the species. I think about Ota Benga, the turn of the century African man placed on display in the Bronx Zoo and Saartjie Baartman known as the Venus Hottentot who was displayed in Europe.

Just looking at our primate cousins and seeing their sad faces - I wonder how does this benefit these poor animals. But acourse it's great for my niece to see animals in their pseudo- natural environments, she enjoys it and the play ground in the zoo was a big hit for her. Even with my angst I know - one day I'll return again.

On Tuesday we went to the Randall Museum. It's a nice child friendly museum. They have a small petting zoo with rabbits and chickens, my niece has yet to pet a living animal. Actually, she was terrorize by a chicken. Oh well....we'll keep exposing her ........

After the museum we went to Golden Gate Park to Sharon Meadow's play ground. The children's Play Ground is nirvana for her. She enjoys socializing with her peers and testing all the equipment I also enjoy having an excuse to checkout the slides. We ended the evening in Chevys margaritas for my sister and I - Wednesday to the airport and my guest were gone.

Well, back to normal with some relief and already desiring another family visit.


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