Making the Good Times Roll, Mobile Mask, Mobile, Alabama

The Mardi Gras season is just around the corner and soon our streets will be filled with revelers celebrating Carnival I had the pleasure of speaking with Steve Joynt, the editor of the Mobile Mask, the foremost magazine for Mobile’s Mardi Gras season about his unique and treasured piece of Mobile’s Carnival Season. 

Though Steve was not born under an azalea bush, he has spent a lot of time in Alabama. First, working for the Birmingham News and then for the Mobile Press Register. He was first introduced to Mardi Gras when he visited New Orleans. It was there he discovered a whole new holiday, one that lasts two and half weeks and isn’t just all about kids.

While working at the old Mobile Press building, Steve always appreciated that you could go see a parade then go back to work. He served as the Assistant City Editor at the Mobile Press and as the Mardi Gras coverage reporter.  As the Mardi Gras reporter, he eventually run out of ideas about the season. The running out of ideas was Steve’s spark of an idea. He began researching the history of the carnival season from the ground up.  He wanted to try and answer all the unanswered questions about our Mardi Gras.  “There are a lot of them.” Steve told me.

2019 Mobile Mask

THE BEGININGS OF THE MASK

When Steve went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, he used the Arthur Hardy guides to steer his adventures. He discovered there was nothing like the Hardy guide for Mobile’s carnival season. He had in mind as a similar guide for Mobile when he began to create the Mobile Mask.  He worked on the magazine at night and soon he had a decision to make, either do it or not.

In September of 2011, Steve took medical leave from the Mobile Press Register. He returned at a time of upheaval at Press Register. He took the buyout offered from the newspaper in 2012.  Then during the 2012 carnival season, he took lots of pictures of the parades for what would be included in the magazines’ debut issue in 2013. “Why I thought one person could put out a magazine, I don’t know. It seemed doable.”  He told me. 

GETTING THE MASK ON ITS FEET

What Steve didn’t know at the beginning of the adventure was how difficult it would be to sell ads for the magazine. He is very grateful for his first customers and that they have continued to be customers through the ensuing years. “I can’t talk people into advertising but I can sell an ad for the magazine.” He decided against coupons in the magazine because “The Mask” is considered a keepsake publication. 

Mr. Mardi Gras
Steve Joynt

MR. MARDI GRAS

The Mask has now become the “go to” guy for everything Mardi Gras, the media now calls Steve to see if parade is going instead of checking with the local police.  The Mask’s Facebook page is very active during the season and it is now become the source of all Mobile Mardi Gras information.  Steve admits he doesn’t know it all but he does dedicate himself to the topic all year long.  He attends all the association meetings in order to get the inside scope on what will be happening for all the parades for the carnival season.  He was there when a new Saraland organization’s members showed up in costume, all so that the organization would get its parading permit.  

Steve’s main objective with The Mask is to “Make it a Happy Place”.  In a twist on his journalist roots, Steve has the organization’s review the articles before their stories are printed in the magazine.  There are no ‘got ya’ stories. He wants people to be pleased with the articles. He wants people to enjoy the article and to “cut them out, put it in a frame and hang it in their den.”

The 2018 Mobile Mask

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MOBILE AND NEW ORLEANS CARNIVAL CELEBRATION

What’s the biggest difference between New Orleans and Mobile Carnival celebration, “If you want a good seat for a New Orleans parade, it’s pretty much an all day affair.  In Mobile, you can set your watch by the parade and go have dinner afterwards.”  Mobile has more days of parading than New Orleans and Mobile has more mystic societies. New Orleans organizations don’t rent their floats and Mobile does.

An interesting fact is that in Mobile, fire truck drivers do most of the float driving.  There is also only one man in Mobile who pulls the floats in and out of the float barns. This is a highly specialized skill.

MOBILE’S BEST KEPT MARDI GRAS SECRET

“Nobody is in Charge.” Steve told me. Everyone thinks someone oversees but it’s a myth.

This year, over ten thousand copies of The Mask will be printed.  Be sure to get your hands on this unique, Mobile original keepsake. The Mask is here to “enhance people’s fun.” Steve said. It will lead you to understand and enjoy of the Carnival Season when it hits the streets of Mobile.

Be sure to have your copy handy for all the festivities and remember to Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll) on Mardi Gras Day, Tuesday, March 5, 2019!

http://www.mobilemask.com/

Three Places Not To Missed in “The coolest small town in America”, Hammondsport, New York

A half day in the the Finger Lakes region is not enough time to dive into the many treasures of the area but you can make touch the surface of its riches.

Glenn H. Curtiss Museum

Curtiss Museum

Located near the heart of Hammondsport, New York, the Curtiss Museum celebrates all things that can be navigated, be it in air, on land or at sea.  Glenn Curtiss began his career by building bicycles and moved on to motorcycles.  He attained early notoriety as the ‘fastest man on earth” in 1907 on a V8 motorcycle. 

1911 Indian Motorcycle

 

 

 

 

Curtiss Jenny

Curtiss was one of the pioneers in aviation, who developed the sea plane as well as many other aircraft designs. The museum also houses a restoration shop which is in the process of the restoration of a 1940’s P-40 that was recovered in Gainesville, Florida in the 1980’s.

Restoration

The breath of items housed in the museum will leave you amazed.  You will find items displayed from Curtiss’s family residences, civil war weapons, bicycles and motorcycles designed by Curtiss and others.  Planes, cars and boats fill every nook and cranny of the space.  

Early flying boat

 

 

 

 

You need to take time here to digest the impressive contribution that Curtiss made to aviation.   

Cradle of Aviation

https://www.glennhcurtissmuseum.org/the-jenny.php

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes Boating Museum

Finger Lakes Boating Museum

A short drive from the Curtiss museum, housed in the former Taylor winery, is the Finger Lakes Boating Museum.  

Sleek boats of the Lake

Dedicated to the Finger Lakes boating culture, the museum walks you through boating on the lakes from canoes and paddle wheelers to sleek hand crafted antique boats.  

 

Canoes

Founded in 1996, the museum was founded to preserve the boating heritage of the regions.

https://www.flbm.org/about

 

Domaine LeSeurre winery

Domaine LeSeurre Winery

This charming French inspired winery overlooks Keuka Lake.  I turned into the parking area, thinking I would just get a quick photograph of Keuka Lake but I ended up staying for a full tasting.  Jennifer, my tasting hostess, told me the story of Sebastian and Celine LeSeurre. The two French trained winemakers who settled in the Finger Lakes to unite their French heritage to Finger Lakes wine region.  The oval tasting table looks out onto the Keuka Lake and can host a large amount of guests.  The LeSeurres’ brought the land in 2012 and opened the tasting room in October of 2013.  The winery is in the progress of adding on two larger spaces to expand their tasting experience.  

Selection of LeSuerre Wines

LeSeurre offered twelve wines for tasting as well as a recommended paired tasting.  The cost of a selection of five tastings is five dollars and a well enjoyed five dollars, it is.  I tried a host of the wines; from Chardonnays (both Oaked and Unoaked), Dry and Semi Dry Resilsings, Gewurztaminer and Cabernet Franc. The crisp and clean flavor Unoaked Chardonnay was so enjoyable, I brought a bottle.  

LaSuerre Cav Franc

Chatting with the other guests and exchanging stories of our travels to the winery was a treat. This first class winery was an unexpected encounter during my brief adventure in Hammondsport. 

http://dlwinery.com/
 

The Finger Lakes is a lovely region of New York State. I cannot wait to return and discover more of the gems that surround its many lakes.   

Five Not to Missed Museums in Rochester, New York

Visiting Rochester, New York in early November was as treat for a week-long visit to the Finger Lakes region. Rochester’s history offered much to do and see.  While I was only able to scratch the surface during my short visit, I had the pleasure of visiting five exciting and inspiring area museums.

EASTMAN MUSEUM 

Eastman House

The Eastman Museum is located in the residence built by George Eastman in early 1900’s. The museum which opened in 1949, houses the Eastman collection of some twenty-six thousand items, the Technicolor film archive and exhibit areas;

Levinthal

the David Levinthal exhibit on his career and in the contemporary exhibit area and Gale Albert Halaban’s “Out My Window” is a unique look at neighbors. During the Holiday season, the Eastman sponsors organizations and individuals to create the Sweet Creations Gingerbread displays which are auctioned to raise funds for the museum. One gingerbread house was created by David Levinthal’s wife, Kate Sullivan honoring Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. The thirty-five thousand square foot Eastman residence is a National Historic Landmark and houses the only residential pipe organ in the world.  And interesting fact, Eastman enlarged the residence by nine feet to achieve better acoustics for the organ.

Eastman Organ

This is impressive teaching museum serves its community and preserves photographic history.

https://www.eastman.org/

SUSAN B. ANTHONY HOUSE  

Susan B. Anthony Home

The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House is located in the home that Anthony occupied during her lifetime. Ms. Anthony began her work for women’s rights with the temperance movement. She was the mover and shaker in Rochester for both the temperance movement and most notably for the suffragette movement that would ultimately win women the right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony Gravesite

Anthony had a good friend and fellow activist in Frederick Douglas.  Together they worked to achieve the 14th amendment. Although Anthony thought the Amendment needed to include women, Douglas knew it was important to do one thing at a time.  She was arrested in Rochester in 1872 after registering to vote and then voting in the Presidential election. She was tried, found guilty and fined.  Her fine remains unpaid today.  Without the struggle of Susan B. Anthony on behalf of women, we would not have the rights we have today. Her story is inspiring and timely today as women around the world continue to fight for their rights.

http://susanbanthonyhouse.org/index.php

STRONG MUSEUM OF PLAY  

Strong Museum quote by Emerson

Strong Museum of Play is Rochester’s #1 attraction. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the “museum of play”. What I discovered was toys of all shapes and sizes. The Strong owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys: from Mr. Potato Head to the latest x-box game were represented. The museum was founded by Margaret Woodbury Strong in 1968. Mrs. Strong was an avid collector of all things.

Margaret Strong

The mission of the Strong is “to explore play and the ways in which it encourages learning, creativity, and discovery and illuminates cultural history”. The Strong continued its preservation collection in 2002 with the acquisition of the National Toy Hall of Fame and the Toy Industry Association’s Toy Industry Hall of Fame.  Quotes adorn the hallways of the Strong:  “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” Diane Ackerman, American Author.  The Strong is a natural attraction for children but adults will enjoy it has well, if only to rediscover their own childhood favorite toys and what it is to ‘play’.

http://www.museumofplay.org/

ROCHESTER MUSUEM AND SCIENCE CENTER 

Underground Railroad

At the Rochester Museum and Science Center, I was treated to a personal tour of a portion of the exhibit area by two long-time docents, Diane and Marie. These ladies know the history of the Underground Railroad and its importance in the Absolutist movement. During school visits they educate the children about empathy and the risks taken by those who used the railroad as well as the roll of the Absolutists to the cause. Other exhibits included the Native Peoples of the Americas and Expedition Earth which featured early mammals of the region.

Mastodon

The Museum and Science Center also hosts the Strasenburgh Planetarium.

http://www.rmsc.org/

ROCHESTER MEMORIAL ART MUSEUM 

Rochester Memorial Art Museum

Rochester’s Memorial Art Museum, located just around the corner from the Rochester Museum and Science Center, currently holds in its collection, some twelve thousand works.  The current exhibit of Monet’s Waterloo Bridge is a blockbuster hit. This was a particular exhibit I was excited to see.

Waterloo Bridge

Fabric of Survival

I was also struck by the story of The Fabric of Survival which features the embroidered fabric collages of Ester Nisenthal Krintz, who was twelve when the Nazis entered her Polish village. Through the collages her art is an eyewitness to both tragedy and healing.

The Memorial Art Museum collection offers its visitors pieces from Ancient Greece, Italy, Asia, as well as artworks from the 17th through 20th centuries. The massive Grand Italian Baroque Organ that dominates one wall of the second floor exhibit hall.

Italian Organ

I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the pieces at the Memorial Art Museum.  It offered a quiet place to reflect on my travels throughout Rochester.

https://mag.rochester.edu/

Duringy my visit to Rochester, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown. The hotel is situated not far from High Falls and the Genoese River. A fine establishment that is well located for visitor and business travelers alike. Walking around the downtown area one morning, I found the impressive Rochester City Hall and one of the statutes of Frederick Douglas near the hotel.  Rochester was easy to navigate and its newly renovated airport was pleasure to fly into even on a midnight flight.

https://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/rochester/rocny/hoteldetail?cm_mmc=GoogleMaps-_-HI-_-US-_-ROCNY

My lunch at Jines Restaurant was a treat. Family run since 1971, it has a large menu and top notch service. The line of customers waiting to get in was my first indication that the community truly enjoys the restaurant as much as did I.

http://www.jinesrestaurant.com/

I dined at Pane Vino on my final night in Rochester. The restaurant was a brief walk over the Genoese River on a brisk night.  The Italian restaurant was crowded with patrons who were attending a nearby concert.  Finding a seat at the bar, I treated myself to a plate of pasta and a glass of wine after a long day of driving and wrapping up my tour of the area. It was a welcomed delicious end to my delightful Rochester visit.

https://www.panevinoontheriver175.com/

My grateful thanks to both Rachel Pulvino and Chelsea Metzger at http://www.visitrochester.com/ for arranging such an in depth and wonderful tour of the area. There is so much to discover in Rochester.  I hope that I can return to and enjoy more of its rich history.

Four Not to be Missed Museums in Cooperstown, New York

In early November, I had the pleasure of visiting Cooperstown, New York during a week-long driving tour. From the pleasant vistas of the fall colors, the comfortable accommodations and the informative museums of the area, Cooperstown is a HIT.  These four museums in and around Cooperstown are not to be missed when visiting the area!

HYDE HALL 

Hyde Hall

Hyde Hall is a 19th century residence outside of Cooperstown designed by architect Phillip Hooker. The residence was built between 1817 and 1834 by George Clarke. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1986.  The magnificent house is perched high on hill overlooking Otsego Lake.  If you stand on the lakefront in Cooperstown, you can just make out the shape of a sleeping lion on the hill, Hyde Hall.  The drive up the long drive to the house is reminiscent of the drive to Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame.

Hyde Hall Dining Room

In fact, the entire house brings image of Downton Abby to mind.  When you enter the formal dining room with its extraordinarily ornate vapor light chandeliers and massive painting of ‘Jenny’ that towers above the table, you think the family will enter the room and sit down to dinner.

 

The property was acquired by New York State in 1963 and since 1988, great care has been taken with the restoration of the property by the Friends of Hyde Hall, the organization charged with the care and restoration of massive house.  Due to the excellent records kept over the life of the property by the Clarke family, there is plentiful documentation regarding the building and purchasing for the residence. Much of the furniture, most of which was made in New York State, is original to house.  The house now is part of the Glimmerglass State Park which is a short drive outside of Cooperstown.

https://hydehall.org/plan-your-visit/

FARMER’S MUSEUM 

Farmer’s Muesum

The Farmer’s Museum was founded in 1943. This turned out to be one of the most interesting stops during my week-long tour the Finger Lakes region. The museum was closed but one employee, a nice young man, Patrick, was generous and gave me a brief tour of this captivating village and life in 19th Century America. All the buildings in this living museum were relocated to the museum space in the 1950’s from a radius of one hundred miles of Cooperstown. The museum features a hand carved carousal.

Carousal

It was carved by one thousand volunteer carvers and it is truly a work of art. We visited the Blacksmith’s shop, the print shop, the pharmacy and the tavern.  This was one of the most unique teaching museums I have visited and it is well worth the trip.

Typeface in the Printshop

http://m.farmersmuseum.org/ https://www.farmersmuseum.org/farmers/collections/historic_structures

 

 

 

 

FENIMORE ART MUSEUM

Fenimore Art Museum is located just across the street from the Farmer’s Museum, provided me with a nice retreat from the snow and cold. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits at the Fenimore from the Letters from Alexander Hamilton’s Final Act, the works of David Levinthal, Puzzles of the Brain, the Coopers of Cooperstown and the Native American art.  It proved to be a pleasant, quiet refuge in the middle of a hectic day.

Hamilton’s Final Act

 

 

 

 

 

Levinthal
James Fenimore Cooper

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/

 

 

NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME

Baseball Hall of Fame

The National Basehall Hall of Fame lies at the heart of Cooperstown. Baseball may not be my favorite sport but I certainly appreciate our National pastime, especially as it relates to my hometown. Mobile, Alabama has made an enormous contribution to baseball throughout the years. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered a large exhibit about Mobile native, Hank Aaron at the Hall of Fame.  Mobile has produced five Baseball Hall of Famers; Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith and Billy Williams. That is more Hall of Famer’s than any other city than New York and Los Angeles.  The Hall of Fame provides visitors with an in depth look at the game and its players from its beginnings to the most recent World Series game.

Diamond Dreams

Exhibits range from the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, the African American pioneers in baseball and Viva Baseball about the Latin American baseball players to the record breaking moments in the game’s history.  All the artifacts and memorabilia throughout the museum have been donated by fans of the game and are truly amazing.

 

 

Babe Ruth’s Uniform

From Babe Ruth’s Yankee uniform to Hank Aaron’s bat and glove, the artifacts help in telling the story of our National Pastime.  The Hall of Fame itself is a meaningful tribute to the men and women who play and have played this game as a testament to their hard work and talent.  Mariano Rivera is eligible in 2019 and Derek Jeter is eligible for induction in 2020.  I am sure the ceremonies on July 21, 2019 and July 26, 2020 will be record breakers for Cooperstown.

https://baseballhall.org/

 

 

Inn At Coopertown

I had the pleasure of staying at the Inn at Cooperstown during my visit to Otsego County. This charming and comfortable B&B is located on Chestnut Street.  I arrived a bit later than intended and the Inn’s location made it easy to dash out to grab a bite of dinner on Cooperstown’s main street.  Breakfast at the Inn was delicious and effortlessly presented to the guests .  My room was nicely appointed with a comfortable king bed, large television and cozy bath.  B&B’s are a big draw in the Cooperstown area and I would recommend the Inn at Cooperstown when visiting. Parking was also provided directly behind the Inn.

https://www.innatcooperstown.com/

My grateful thanks to Cassandra Harrington and Jacqueline White at https://www.thisiscooperstown.com/ in arranging such an in depth and wonderful visit to Otsego County.  There is so much to enjoy and discover in Cooperstown and Otsego County!  I hope that I can return to enjoy more of its rich history.

Rene Culler, Glass Artist, Mobile, Alabama

Rene Culler

Professional glass artist Rene Culler relocated to Mobile from Cleveland, Ohio in 2010 to lead the glass program at the University of South Alabama. Rene received her Master’s in Fine Arts from Kent State, is a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar and was also voted one of the 50 top researchers in past 50 years for her knowledge of Kiln work.  Kiln glass work is formed colored glass that has been created is a new art form.  Rene also taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art and recently opened her studio here in Mobile where she teaches classes in kiln glass work.

I became aware of Rene’s artistry in 2017 when she presented “The Delta” at the Southern Abstraction show at the Mobile Museum of Art.  Comprised multiple styles of glass, the piece took her a year to create.  She remembers flying into Mobile and was fascinated by the colors and shapes of Delta from the plane window and she knew she wanted to recreate it in glass.

THE MOBILE DELTA: Glass & Light

BUILDING THE STUDIO

The Studio

In her studio in Mobile, which is housed in a former engineering office, she recently designed and built a large Kiln, a furnace used for heating the glass to temperatures of nineteen hundred degrees.  She is a woman of many talents, which includes welding.  She learned the trade while in school. It was expensive to buy a furnace so the students learned to build the tools needed to work the glass.  She also has a sandblaster, for blasting glass as well several smaller kilns which are lined with fire brick.  Her wall of Frit, or colored glass, in the studio is not only functional but attractive. She explained that, “Kiln glass work can be done on your own, but blowing glass, you need help to do.”

Kiln

With blowing glass, she explained, “Your body can only put up with so much.  There’s a rush when working, you want the opportunity to create something.”  I asked her how did decided what to charge for a piece. “You can’t charge what it’s worth. Two hours and thirty years,”  She laughed.

Blown Glass

Magic Square

She is very interested in pattern tile and created a magic square which is based squares she has seen in Asia.  The squares are based on the phases of the moon. In the 1400’s astronomer’s assigned numbers to the stars, if you add the numbers on the diagonal, you get the same number. She said,   “We can’t survive without numbers. The future is all about numbers.”

HISTORY OF THE ART

She told me about Dale Chihuly, perhaps one of the most recognized names in the glass world, when he had received a grant to teach people how to blow glass in 1971. With the assistance of sixteen students the group built shelters and a glass blowing furnace at an old tree farm in Washington State. When there was no money to do a second year, Chihuly found a sponsor who owned the tree farm in order to continue the program.  This is now the Pilchuck Glass School, which is one of the world’s top schools for glass artists.

INSTALLATIONS AROUND THE GLOBE

Rene has created many installations for hospitals and libraries across the county. She has been told that people “Like her work because they see different things in it.”  She has pieces in both of the Cleveland’s teaching hospitals.  One San Diego hospital told her not use too much red in the installation, they wanted calm colors because the color and shape affects each individuals emotions.

Art for Sale

She has travelled throughout the world and did her Fulbright scholar work in 2012 in Korea. “Art is a big deal there.” She blew a lot of glass while in Korea and was able to show her work in Seoul. “I really enjoy learning about other cultures, Learning about the philosophy behind what they do what they do.”  While there her husband began to learn and read Korean which was not an easy task.

AUTHOR, AUTHOR

Rene is also an accomplished author with “Glass Art from the Kiln” and the forthcoming “Imagery in Glass.”

https://www.amazon.com/Glass-Art-Kiln-Rene-Culler/dp/0764335421/ref=asc_df_0764335421/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312172766117&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=17624136912040013281&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9012995&hvtargid=pla-597604742844&psc=1

What does the artist love about glass?  “It’s a great experience, magical stuff.  To take something from the earth is opaque and make it transparent.”  Transforming glass is just “Another idea of a common material that is taken for granted.” She said.

Mosaic

WHERE TO FIND RENE

Seek out Rene’s work or experience one of her workshops at her studio at 2468 Commercial Park Drive, Mobile Al 36606.  On December 1, 2018, Rene will host a Holiday Open Studio and Sale event from 11-4.

http://www.reneculler.com/wp/

https://www.facebook.com/ReneCullerGlass/

Max Morey, Man behind the Crescent Theater, Mobile, Alabama

 

Crescent Theater in Downtown Mobile

 

On November 1, 2018, the Crescent celebrated its 10 year anniversary with a party for the Crescent supporters with a showing of Bottle Shock. This was the first movie that debuted for the reopening of the theater on October 31, 2008.  I recently spoke with Max Morey about the history of the theater and what lies ahead for this popular downtown Mobile movie venue.

 

Max Morey

 

 

Max, who is originally from Atlantic City, New Jersey, was working in the casino business in Biloxi when he came to the Mobile for a college basketball game and was immediately drawn to the City .  He soon relocated here and began working with business partner, John Switzer, developing residential properties in downtown Mobile. When the City approached them with the idea of reopening a downtown movie theater, they jumped into the project, researching the buildings’ history at the University of South Alabama archives, so they could be true to the Crescent’s past.

THEATER HISTORY

The original Crescent Theater opened in 1885 as a vaudeville theater then was updated in 1912 to show silent films. In 1937, the name was changed to the Century Theater which closed in the 1970’s.  In 2008, after a renovation, the Crescent Theater reopened its doors to its Mobile patrons.

“We call it an art house,” Max told me as we discussed the films coming soon to the Crescent. “There’s no plan. I try and get what I can.”  He selects films he likes and knows the patrons will like them too. “I’m trying to get happy films.”  Though at times working with the film studios can prove to be a challenge.

“A single-screen theater is a recipe for disaster.” Max said.   “It can’t be a successful business in and of itself, it needs community support and the community has rallied around the Crescent.”  Max explained.  When the theater faced closure a few years ago, he told the city of the situation.  He is very thankful for the individuals that got together and had a fundraiser to keep the theater open. He said he didn’t see that coming. “The Crescent Film Society is very important to the theater and keeping it going.”

Max says there is always dip in ticket sales in both the summer and the fall when the weather is good and everyone wants to be outside.  But the Crescent’s ticket sales have shown a gradual increase in these past 10 years.  In fact, he has as many new customers as he does regulars.

DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT

Community engagement is important to Max and the Crescent. Charles Morgan, of Chuck’s Fish sought out Max to tell him that the Crescent was the reason he was building restaurants in Mobile.  “Every progressive city in America has a single screen theater in its heart.”  Charles told him.

Max also lavished praise on the Mobile Downtown Alliance, “I’m the President of their fan club. They work quietly behind the scenes for every positive thing we have. Without them, we’d be back in the 1970’s.  Nobody has given them an award, the city ought to.”

Crescent Theater

You can find Max at the Crescent daily, interacting with local business people that stop by to check on his stock of beer and wine for his customers or local patrons in search of a good afternoon movie and a brief chat.  Max is enjoying life. “I’d rather have people’s friendship than money in my pocket.” He told me.

 

 

Come downtown to the Crescent and see a movie in this unique part of Mobile’s movie past and future. You are sure to enjoy a fine film and good conversation.

UPCOMING FILMS

The upcoming films for the Crescent are: Green Book, The Return of Mary Poppins and Mary, Queen of Scots.  Get those tickets now!

https://www.crescenttheater.com/

 

The Culinary Academy Pastry Class, The Grand Hotel, Point Clear, Alabama

 

Grand Hotel

Kimberly Lyons, the pastry chef at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama is a talented 29 year-old.  She thinks about her dishes “constantly” she told me, usually about how to improve them.  She attended Culinard at Virginia College and she was hired by the Grand Hotel five and half years ago. She worked her way up in the kitchen to head pastry chef and is grateful to the chefs there who have trained her. Kimberly is invested in the culinary career.  “I love what I do.” she said.

Chef Kimberly Lyons

Our group of dessert hungry guests assembled in the Lagoon Room.  With the tables adorned in white table clothes, we sat engrossed as Kimberly melted chocolate, whipped cream, beat eggs until they were frothy and combined them into three tasty classic desserts, Bourbon Chocolate Mousse, Crème Brulee and Crepe Suzette.

Chocolate Mousse

Creme Brulee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crepe Suzette

As each dish was completed, we were treated to tasting of the dishes.  While this was not a hands-on class, the guests were encouraged to ask questions about the recipes. Kimberly took us through each step of the recipes and provided plenty of suggestions to modify the creations to everyone’s particular taste or occasion.

After class, I asked Kimberly what her favorite dessert was, she pulled up her sleeve.  “Macaron’s” she said, showing off her forearm tattoo of the French treat. She is truly invested and loves what she does.

Macaron’s

 

We purchased a few house made macarons at the Local Market before leaving the Grand for the ride home. They were definitely worth the price.

Macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

The iconic Fairhope hotel recently completed a thirty-two million dollar renovation and part of that transformation took place in the kitchen.  “I could order whatever I wanted.” Kimberly said.  She was thrilled that there is now a hot and cold kitchen, which means she can make every kind of dessert at any time.  This is especially important to a chef in humidity prone South Alabama.

Boardwalk

The Culinary Academy is a big draw for Saturday’s at the Grand, along with the Beverage Academy on Friday evenings. The trick is to come to the Beverage Academy on Friday night and stay over for the Saturday class. For the November 17 class, the chefs will be preparing Thanksgiving side dishes and in December, its make your own Gingerbread House.  The December event is so popular that two classes are offered.  It will surely be a family fun sellout!  The Grand Hotel’s 2019 Culinary Academy should delight as Kimberly has the pastry classes laid out. Whether they are cooking savory or sweet, do not miss a chance to enjoy the southern charm of this historic hotel that overlooks Mobile Bay.

Mobile Bay

https://www.grand1847.com/Culinary-Academy-65.html

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ptlak-the-grand-hotel-golf-resort-and-spa-autograph-collection/

Victory Teaching Farm, Down to Earth Farmraiser, Mobile, AL

Victory Teaching Farm

I wasn’t sure what to expect at the 4th Annual Down to Earth Farmraiser but I discovered on this pleasant October evening, that farming is alive and well in mid town Mobile.

Planting beds

 

 

Farmraiser

 

 

Local chefs from twelve area restaurants and businesses wowed the crowd of hungry guests with their bite sized delectable creations.  The thirty-five dollar tax deductable ticket admitted me to the event along with two glasses of wine and multiple samples of the various chefs’ bounty.

THE RESTAURANTS

Roosters!

The restaurants included Noble South, Nourish, Haberdasher, Red and White, Pour Baby, Bay Gourmet and Old Dutch.

Pour Baby

Nourish

 

Guncles

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FARM

Overlooking the plants

Victory Teaching Farm is all about sustainable, clean locally sourced food.  It is South Alabama’s first and only teaching farm located in mid town Mobile on Rickarby Street. While the farm provides ample produce each year for the local area, it also provides internships, volunteer opportunities and fresh pick produce markets for locals.

This event gets bigger and better each year.  Mark your calendars for early October, 2019. You will not want to miss this locally sourced food event. Come hungry, you will not be disappointed!

http://victoryteachingfarm.org/

Barber Motor Sports Museum, Birmingham, AL -A walk in the fast lane

Barber Motorsports

“Oh, wow!” I exclaimed upon entering the Barber Motor Sports museum. It is gigantic! Five towering floors filled with the world’s largest motorcycle collection.  It also contains racing automobiles and bikes which adorn every nook and cranny.

Wall Art

There is even a race car on top of the elevator!

The Chase

A massive sculpture, “The Chase”, commissioned from California sculptor Ted Gall, greets visitors at the entrance of the museum. These three enormous statues of men with masked faces riding large wheels weigh between 3,500 to 3,800 pounds and fits in well with this vast complex.

Inside Barber

Birmingham native, George Barber, Jr., son of Barber Dairies founder, George H. Barber is the founder of the Motor Sports Museum. Barber Jr. who ran the dairy was also a real estate developer.  Barber had raced Porsches in the 1960’s and began collecting motorcycles in the 1970’s. In 1994, his collection of motorcycles was established as the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum. In 1998, Barber Jr. sold the dairy. In 2003 the museum moved to its present Birmingham location.  Barber himself was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2014.

The nine hundred and thirty acre sports complex contains the museum and a 2.38 mile sixteen turn world class road racetrack. The track serves as site of Indy Car Series Grand Prix of Alabama races.

Race Track

 

 

 

 

Of the fourteen hundred motorcycles in Barber collection, some nine hundred are on display at any one time. The museum welcomes some three hundred thousand visitors yearly including some three thousand foreign visitors.

Motorcycles stacked high

Some two hundred different manufactures’ from twenty counties over the past one hundred years are represented in the museum.  The Lotus 21 is featured in the world’s most extensive collection of Lotus cars.

Lotus cars

 

 

 

 

Jim Roger’s motorcycle that circled the globe

One display drew particular interest, that of Jim Rogers, a thirty-seven year old investment banker who in 1990, with his girlfriend motorcycled around the world.  They traveled some six-five thousand miles and setting the world record for land travel. He wrote a book “Investment Biker” about the journey.

Track

A lucrative part of the Motor sports arena is the North American Porsche Driving School where individuals can experience Porsche racing cars on the track. Prices there can range from $1800 for a day to $9600 for four days depending on what level of experience you care to have.

The facility hosts the 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival in October which will feature the American Historical Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA).

Easy Rider

This unique automotive museum should not to be missed in Birmingham. Individuals who admire motorcycles and cars will flock to this bastion of automotive bliss.

http://www.barbermuseum.org/