Archive | May, 2009

The umbrellas are back

29 May

I’ve decided to post New York items in the down-time from travelling.

Before there were lawn chairs in Times Square, there were umbrellas near the Flatiron Building. They’re out again, in the middle of the road where Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue. I walk across this island of blue umbrellas and sitting New Yorkers every day on the way home.

Times Square lawn chairs

27 May

Starting this week, a section of Times Square just across the street from my office has been shut to motor traffic. Lawn chairs have been set up for people to sit in, and when I went there just now at lunch I was one of dozens taking pictures of this strange sight.

This has happened very effectively in other parts of the city. Twenty-third and Fifth comes to mind, across from the Flatiron Building, where I cross every day on the way home. I’m still not sure what I think if it, but the landscape of Manhattan has been quietly changing for the last couple years and I must say it’s interesting, whether or not it helps the congestion.

Gay Mississippi

15 May

Something I mean to do but forget is look up any online gay resources in new places for this blog. I found Welcome to Gay Mississippi, worth a look.

From the site:

Welcome to Gay Mississippi Online, your one-stop access to the activities in and around the state of Mississippi. This is also your gateway to other organizations and people who can help you enjoy lifestyles of Mississippi. If you haven’t been here in a while, take a moment to look around and get familiar with our site. We now provide more information and are adding resources all the time. Use the handy e-mail form to drop us a line, and let us know how we’re doing! and always, please Let em’ know the Gay Mississippi Pages sent you!

Also on Surpringly little out there, but if you spend enough time on Google you’ll find more I’m sure.

I never got around to asking my sister if I’m the only gay person in such a large family. Not likely, but the closet door is still very shut down there. Still, I’m a Southerner and like to think I’ve got okra in my veins.

For full photo album of Mississipi trip click here.

Natchez, Mississippi

12 May

What is there to say about Natchez? No one in the family is quite sure how our mother ended up there – the explanations vary – but the many children followed (except for Patty who lives in New Jersey).

Natchez is a very old town. One of the plaques, in a small park in an area called Natchez-Under-the-Hill, states that it was founded by the Spanish. That part of the town, closest to the shore and where the Isle of Capri gambling boat floats by the bank of the Mississippi river, is the oldest.

We did a walking tour of downtown Natchez, where Frank and I spotted a rainbow flag flying next to an American one over an art gallery. We all ate at King’s Tavern, purported to be the oldest building in Natchez, and haunted. Our waitress gave us the scoop on the ghosts, including her own run-in with the dead bar maid and the crying baby who’d been slammed against a stair banister and wasn’t content to go quietly into baby heaven.

There are a number of antebellum homes, and we managed to tour Melrose House. I’d never visited one of these homes before. This one can’t be called a plantation. They only had twenty-five slaves, seven of whom served the house.

Most people, of course, did not own slaves, and I’ll leave that discussion for some other time, on some other blog. But it was fascinating.

My siblings complained that the local Historical Society runs the place and keeps anything interesting from happening. They also, I’m told, keep Mississippi from having casinos on land, selling lottery tickets, or otherwise introducing vice into the Mississippi culture. That’s too bad, really, since there’s no manufacturing. The economy of Mississippi seems to be based on nothing. The young people often leave. Most of the state remains rural, and in Mississippi that means poor for the most part. My sister said several times as we drove along the highway past small communities with little but churches to interrupt the landscape, “I don’t know how they survive.” I might say the same thing about the entire state. But it is where I came from, and some part of my heart still beats there.

Jackson, Mississippi

12 May

Frank and I went to Mississippi to visit my birth family. I hadn’t been there for nine years. Part of that was because my Mom died in 1999, and it was hard for me to still have a birth mother alive in Natchez, even though I’d visited her three times. I decided it had been long enough and I should visit her while there’s still time (she’s eighty-five). And this time I was going with a partner.

We landed in Jackson on Thursday and spent the day and night with my sister Joyce. She lives in Brandon and isn’t that fond of Jackson, but we went for a tour anyway, first to the dam, then around to a few sights.

We stopped at the Eudora Welty house (one of America’s and Truman Capote’s favorite writers). I’ve never read Welty, and when I searched for her in the Kindle store they only had biographies. I’ll have to try Amazon, since I would like to read her stories.

That night we had dinner at Tico’s, a comfortable steakhouse in Ridgeland. Then we drove to Vicksburg to play the slots at the Ameristar casino.

All in all I was glad to be back. My earliest roots are Southern – though I left when I was two years old. The dichotomy in Mississippi is still very black and white, but I think that’s because there aren’t a lot of other minorities there. Some Hispanics doing construction work and the like, but primarily the same dynamic of white and black that has existed for decades still does.

Next stop was Natchez, where most of my family is. It was unseasonably hot, so they all told us, but Frank likes the heat. It’s why I would only visit in the spring or fall, but that’s how I feel about New York, too.

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