Happy Pride Month #3
Happy Pride-ing at Lennox Mall in Atlanta.
My Saturday Evening Post: 5/14/22 “Above All”
With all that is going on in our world, this statement may be more aspirational than real time.
But I still so agree.
Seeing Race and Racism #3 “Look Up”
So HR (Husband Robert—you should know that by now!) and I ventured up to Atlanta this past weekend to see, believe it or not, the Atlanta Opera‘s rendition of “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.” Beyond fascinating, the opera focused not only on Jobs’ incredible technological accomplishments but even more on his nature as a flawed human, similar to all tragic heroes. And like each of us, I suppose.
Near the opera’s end, at Steve’s memorial service (you may remember that he died of pancreatic cancer), wife Laureen sang a cautionary song about the advice an evolved Jobs would perhaps give to the world: “Version 2.0 of Steve might say: ‘Look up (from your phones), look out, look around. Look at the stars. Look at the sky. Take in the light.’”
Of course, walking out of the Cobb Energy Center after the performance, many in the departing crowd were multitasking by seamlessly looking down at their “One Device” (including me, I must confess), while walking without falling.
While in Atlanta Robert and I stayed at the incredibly beautiful Georgian Terrace Hotel on famous Peachtree Street.
The grand old hotel, completed in 1911, has hosted Presidents and other luminaries over the decades. (Btw, we got a good deal, and an upgrade—we always request them everywhere we go. Try it.) And one morning we learned, after grabbing our morning coffee and chocolate croissants on the hotel’s terrace, that the stars of “Gone With The Wind”lodged at the Georgian Terrace for the 1939 World Premier of the iconic movie.
But hold on just a second. Our history lesson was about to take a somber turn. See the last sentence in the historical marker’s second paragraph? “Clark Cable, Vivian Leigh, and most of the ‘Gone with the Wind’ cast stayed here ….” Interpretation: the white actors stayed at the Georgian Terrace, not the black actors. The black professional actors did not stay at the Georgian Terrace because they were not allowed to attend the world premiere at nearby Loew’s Grand Theatre. The Grand was a segregated theatre in 1939.
Butterfly McQueen (“Prissy”) did not attend. Hattie McDaniel (“Mammy”) did not attend, even though she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Here’s Robert, in front of the hotel’s very cool multi-level marble staircase, which Clark Gable, “Rhett,” probably traversed.
And here’s Robert on the 17th story rooftop (we bypassed the fancy stairs for the elevator), beside the pool.
Do you see that little bump in the distance, to the left of HR’s head?
To the far left in the photo below.
It’s Stone Mountain.
Ever heard of it? Well, Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock (okay, that’s a mouthful). “The mountain is the world’s largest single piece of exposed granite. It weighs over a trillion pounds and covers 583 acres. Only about a third of it is visible above ground. It was formed completely underground and has been uncovered over millions of years of erosion.” (stonemountainguide.com)
It is also the home of Stone Mountain Park.
From the “Explore Georgia” website … “Stone Mountain Park is Georgia’s most visited attraction. With more than 3,200 acres, the park is a unique destination where guests can experience an exciting variety of attractions, entertainment, and recreation. Check out Sky Hike, the nation’s largest family adventure course in the treetops … The Lasershow Spectacular at Stone Mountain Park is the world’s longest-running laser show. Other attractions include Summit Skyride, Dinosaur Explore, Dinotorium, Historic Square, Farmyard, Camp Highland Outpost, Scenic Railroad, Great Locomotive Chase Adventure, Geyser Towers, golf, and museums.”
But there’s something else at Stone Mountain, something that’s kept pretty low in the advertising. “The largest high-relief sculpture in the world depicts hand-chiseled figures of the Civil War. At Memorial Hall, visitors can see the carving’s original designs, scale models, and an 11-minute feature film.”
The carving depicts three Confederate leaders: Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy), Robert E. Lee (a general and overall commander of the Confederate States Army) and Stonewall Jackson (another Confederate general and one of the best known commanders after Lee).
But that’s all in the past, right? Old history.
I SO agree with The Stone Mountain Action Coalition about the problem TODAY with the carving …
“Stone Mountain Park, a public park owned by the State of Georgia, is the world’s largest Confederate memorial and shrine to white supremacy. The Park is the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan and was established as an official Confederate memorial by the State in resistance to desegregation and the civil rights movement. To this day, the Park’s prominent hateful symbols continue to cause pain and attract hate groups and violence.” (stone mountain coalition.com)
And with ideas about what could be done …
“The Stone Mountain Action Coalition wants to reclaim Stone Mountain Park from the state-sponsored Confederacy. We are calling for immediate changes including removing Confederate flags, renaming Park streets and features currently honoring Confederate and Ku Klux Klan figures, and advocating for new legislation to address the restrictive Georgia laws that require the Park to serve as a Confederate memorial.”
Stacey Abrams says it best …
“Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state. Paid for by founders of the 2nd KKK, the monument had no purpose other than celebration of racism, terror & division.” (Fox 5 Atlanta)
I’m married to a black man.
And even though we talk about all of this, I can’t truly understand his feelings and responses to it all. The horror goes back, way back, to the founding of our nation, built on the backs of slave labor. When all men were created equal.
Well, except for black folks. And indigenous folks.
States (including my own) are now passing laws making it illegal to tell what truly happened in our past, “Gone with the Winding” our racist legacy. “Protecting our children” from … truth. Here in Georgia, less than a month ago, misguided Governor Brian Kemp signed into law House Bill 1084, unconstitutionally banning free-speech discussions of “divisive concepts.”
Note #1: The celebratory revelers are overwhelmingly lily white.
Note #2: The location of the signing is Cumming, Georgia. Here’s another historical marker, this one in downtown Cumming, remembering the city’s and Forsyth County’s incredibly violent and racist past.
Question #1: Brazen insensitivity or purposeful symbolism?
Question #2: Why are So Many So Afraid of recognizing the significance of the year 1619? The year 20-30 enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia?
Question #3: Why keep the stone mountain hidden, obscured underground? Some things need to be uncovered, exposed.
Maybe 2.0 Steve Jobs was right. We might be better off looking up, looking out, looking around, away from denial of what was, and in many ways, what still is.
Away from the racist carving near the base of the mountain. And up to the yellow daisies that occasionally appear on the summit.
Letting in the light.
One-Word Wednesday: 5/11//22
Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta
Monday Moaning or Monday Marveling?
Marveling, as Robert and I take a Monday morning jaunt through Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery
Seeing Ukraine in Atlanta
If you read my last Five Friday Happy Bringers post (and why on earth would you not?), you may remember that Robert and I left Savannah to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on its own and journeyed up to our favorite city, Atlanta, for a long weekend.
I don’t know about you, but when I travel, I tend to pay much less attention to the news (usually a blessing). And of course the headlines now are all about the horrors going on in Ukraine.
Robert is retired military, Army (thank you for your service) and gets wonderful free veteran tickets to The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The Alliance Theatre, The Atlanta Ballet, The Atlanta Opera, The High Museum of Art, and midtown Atlanta parking—to name some of the biggies. We very often take advantage of this blessing. (Again, why on earth would you not?)
For this St. Patrick’s trip, we were able to get terrific seats for three performances with the symphony orchestra, theatre and ballet.
What I did not expect was the Ukraine connection in Atlanta.
As I mentioned In Friday ‘s post, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus sang the very moving national anthem of Ukraine. And dedicated the evening to the war torn nation. Several members of the orchestra were Ukrainian.
What was even more surprising was the Ukrainian connection the next night at the Alliance Theatre’s production of Bina’s Six Apples. In the play, “a family must abruptly flee for safety as bombings and battles encroach upon their home. It’s an all too familiar sight right now, as daily images of Russia’s onslaught of Ukraine dominate global news, showing refugees fleeing towns under siege every day … The theme of senseless violence is a powerful and sadly eternal one, given the shattering conflicts that have continually riddled the world and the impact these clashes have on regular people with no direct stake in the conflict.” ArtsATL.
And the matinee of Atlanta Ballet’s Giselle was bittersweet, with the incredibly talented male lead, Denys Needak, being from Odessa, Ukraine.
He was remarkable.
Thank you, Atlanta, for helping me to see. And reminding me to pray.
“Peace. Peace. Peace. Please Peace.”
“Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.”
Five Friday Happy Bringers 3/18/22
1. Traveling to Atlanta for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Savannah’s Big Parade/Craziness was back this year, so we decided to abandon our parade route apartment and get outta Dodge.
2. Marveling at the gorgeous Atlanta Botanical Garden glory.
I felt bad for this sad and lonely little red tulip. I told her not to be embarrassed because she was different from the daffodils, to get right back up and stand proud. I hope she listened.
3. ￼Robert’s obsession with close ups of him and his camera.
4. Last night’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Chorus presentation of Mozart’s Requiem and Strauss’ Tod and Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration). The music was absolutely lush and lovely.
It was exciting to see and hear ASO’s new conductor/music director Nathalie Stutzmann. She was pretty amazing, “a consummate rock star on the podium,” according to ArtsATL. It is also cool that she is the only woman to head a top-25 American orchestra.
And it was especially moving when, after intermission, the orchestra and chorus performed The State Anthem of Ukraine—and dedicated Requiem to the war torn nation.
5. The ability to make choices, sometimes wise, sometimes unwise.
Happy Last Day of Winter & First Day of Spring Weekend Ahead!