Monday, February 11, 2013
While perusing the treasures at Myopic Books in Chicago one afternoon, a certain title jumped out at me like a wild animal- “The Foxfire Book; Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining and other affairs of plain living.” My inner Ron Swanson could not pass a book like this by.
As I opened the hardback, my interest was peaked even further. This collection of tales and how-to’s was initiated in the 60’s by high school teacher Eliot Wigginton in an attempt to engage his students in experiential learning as well as preserve the local mountain culture in Georgia through journalism. Students armed with cameras and tape recorders were sent to the Appalachian Mountains by their instructor to record these American traditions and write about them as an English assignment.
However, the Foxfire project developed into much more than an English assignment as today it is viewed as a method of teaching. In fact, Wigginton was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 1989 for the project. There is even a Foxfire museum and you can purchase a version of the 2012 Foxfire magazine produced by today’s students.
But beyond the magnificence of how this book came to fruition, I am amazed by the quality of recipes and instructions included. It is such a comprehensive manual for living off of the land. The beauty of the photographs is also quite striking. It is incredible to experience life without modern conveniences portrayed in this book.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
One of the best things to grace our air waves is Backwoods, a weekly radio show hosted by the loquacious yet bodacious prankster named John Funke. Funke shares gems from his rare, vintage albums of the rock n' roll, country and rhythm & blues varieties. The show is broadcasted at MIT yet is magically available to listen to from anywhere for free if you go to-
"Let's make like mint jelly and take it on the lamb."
Thank you for making me smile John Funke!
(Images from "The Foxfire Book" ... more to come)
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Roaming Beatniks
While roaming a flea market the other weekend, I discovered these Holiday magazines from 1959 that offered some evocative imagery from that time era. To my excitement, hiding in the October issue was an article about the beat night life written by Jack Kerouac, featuring photographs by Burt Glinn. I imagine the photographs being taken all in one Benzedrine-driven evening. The Kerouac article is fascinating, as it is clearly written for a paycheck from this travel magazine, but nevertheless manages to maintain it's beatnik quality.
It begins, "the beat night life of New York strangely has nothing to do with night clubs or spending money and yet it is a complete night life in the truest sense." It continues to describe street corners to find hookers and drugs by, places where you can get a plate of fried clams and fries for 65 cents, and haunts for experiencing spoken poetry, music and dancing. The article laments that the jazz scene was going more commercial and that "jazz (was) killing itself there, because jazz belongs to open, joyful ten-cent beer joints, as in the beginning." Overall, it is an historically captivating article and I wish I could share the whole thing.
"Ten-cent cheese sandwiches, two liquor bars for the Apocalypse, oh yeah and great indifferent bartenders- and cops that stand in the back getting free meals- drunken saxophone players on the nod-lonely, dignified rag-pickers from Hudson Street supping soup without a word to anybody, with black fingers, woe. Twenty thousand customers a day- fifty thousand on rainy days- one hundred thousand on snowy days. Operation twenty-four hours a night. Privacy: Supreme under a glory red light full of conversation. Toulouse-Lautrec, with his deformity and cane, sketching in the corner. You can stay there for five minutes and gobble up your food, or else stay there for hours having insane philosophical conversation with your buddy and wondering about the people. 'Let's have a hot dog before we go to the movie!' and you get so high in there you never get to the movies, because it's better than a show about Doris Day on a holiday in the Caribbean." -Jack Kerouac on New York