Anyone who knows me knows that I love New Orleans. It's the most wonderful place on earth, but sort of complicated and a little too biblical for me, and so I live in New York and visit New Orleans whenever I have the opportunity. Since I was last there, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art has opened at the University of New Orleans, and it looks intriguing. Like the Folk Art Museum here in New York, it looks as though the museum may be too reliant on survey exhibitions that lean toward being too precious but there are a few potential gems, like this work: Bailey's Late Nite Spot, Rolling Fork, Mississippi by Birney Imes, part of his Juke Joint series.
While we're on the topic of Southern culture, it's worth taking a look at this online project about the First Monday tradition in Ripley, Mississippi:
The standard wisdom is that you can find anything you want at First Monday (and a lot you probably don’t want but might buy anyway). Items offered for sale or trade include sunglasses, guinea fowl, videotapes, baby strollers, sweet potatoes, bumper stickers, shotguns, porch swings, worn-out farm implements, dolls, microwave ovens, dogs, T-shirts, artificial floral arrangements, and just about everything in between.
I haven't been to Ripley, but my mother's family does live in the southern part of the state and I remember often going to a local junk shop when I was small and we used to visit my grandmother in Moselle. My father actually bought a samovar there, and if you have ever been to Mississippi, you can imagine what a strange and wonderful find that would be. Miraculously, I found a story online about Rudy and his shop, called Rudy's Old Hat.
My grandmother died earlier this year, and I hadn't seen her for a long time. I have wonderful memories of going on errands with her to Magnolia Bank and then grocery shopping at the local Jitney Jungle. Her name was Virginia, and she was a true original. She only called me by my middle name because she felt that it was a better Southern name than the one my father ("that Yankee") had given me. She could appreciate a good chapeau like all Southern ladies do, and let me keep her company while she listened to gospel records by Elvis and sometimes drink an RC cola from her stash.