November 22, 2012

Pardon Me

While a number of birds had been spared the knife over the years at the annual turkey presentation on the lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania, it was GHWB who granted the first official presidential pardon of ol' tom. Here, his predecessor at the helm of one of those unofficial clemency ceremonies; and below, the Gipper leading the carving of another, not quite as lucky.

Lots to be thankful for this year. A growing and loving family, geographically dispersed though we are. Great friends - the family we choose - on whom I lean in times good and bad. My health. And for all who do the work they do, allowing us to live the lives we live.

MZ/TS and I are in Houston for Thanksgiving weekend. Aroma from the oven is enough to keep me sticking too close to the kitchen for my own good... might get assigned a task. So far all I've done is popped the champagne and sat on the couch and that's about enough for me. This year we feast on Turducken from Hebert's ("home of deboned chickens"). That's on the box, no shit. Every time, every time, I see boneless chickens I think of the Far Side Boneless Chicken Ranch and laugh to myself. Probably look like a crazy person. Good thing is... crazy don't know crazy, so with my family everyone fits just right.

Photos via: U.S. National Archives.

November 11, 2012

America's Finest

Dad didn't talk of his time in the Navy often, though when he did, when asked, it was with fond remembrance. One of my great regrets will forever be not taking pen to page during the occasional conversations we'd have about his service, which gave some needed structure to the life of an 18 y.o. kid. The specifics are gone but not the sentiment: it provided a sense of purpose, showed him the world and made him a man. 

He and my mom were married between deployments. Young and in love since high school. They moved to Sanford, FL and lived in a garage apartment. Rent was $40/mo, nearly a third of his take-home pay but they made it work because that's what you did. That's what you do. And somehow I'm sure it brought them closer, even when he was so far away. They made it work as families must, particularly those who shoulder the burden of sacrifice for the sake of security... for us all. 

drawings via: Vincent Valdez (Excerpts for John). His exhibition, America's Finest, is on display at the McNay Art Museum through January 2013. 

November 2, 2012

A Passionate Pursuit

Whole Hog from Joe York on Vimeo.

I was first introduced to Stewart Voegtlin and his fine writing on the now retired Blood & Grits by The Trad, John Tinseth’s unvarnished running commentary on a personal past and present that’ll make you question what you’re doing with your days and nights. And maybe go get a few shots (the preventative kind). Stewart inked a story there called Old Fashioned Christmas about two years ago and I’ve been a devotee ever since. With a clear passion for writing, he has a unique way of putting the reader in the room. An invisible participant in an unfolding narrative that’s so raw it reads in analog.

He recently penned a piece in the Oxford American about Joe York, Oxford, MS-based documentarian of Southern culture realized through its food; barbeque and squirrel hunting and hog killing as the prism that reflects broader issues of race and gender and history and progress. No stranger to passion he, it seems, York articulates here the personal rewards that come from doing what you love… 

“I’ve made films exclusively of people who are passionate beyond measure about whatever it is that they do, and the great thing about passionate people is that they want you to be passionate about what they’re passionate about. And they want to talk about it, and they get you excited about it, and then when you get excited about it they get even more excited about it, and then you talk and talk and talk. Before you know it, you’ve been with them for days and you’re like old friends and you’re drinking beers together and wine out of the bottle and pork straight from the hog and oysters on the boat and tomatoes off the vine…”

Nothing quite so inspiring as a little time spent in orbit around those who are driven by what they do. Read the whole article here.

Thanks for turning me on to this, GSV. And for the guidance/inspiration on interviews.