June 10, 2007
10:48 am Sunday morning. Yesterday was busy. We worked in the studio in the morning and hit on something big. The flurry of energy gathered even more strength when Thomas Sevcik, an advisor, came.
We’ve been talking about assumptions, judgement, and the suspension of both. We talk about what we think about the residents here, and what we think they think about everything—what we think they need, what they want, what kind of help. Really problematic. Anyway, the idea we’re talking around is interesting. We’ll see.
We met Dinah “the tick lady” yesterday. Not too long ago, she had huge lumps all over her chest—they were ticks—hence, the nickname. The Rural Studio built a structure for her. She’s got all these blue tarp covered mounds on her property. Collections of stuff, of wood, of who knows what else. Her dogs agitated when we pulled up to her property, and she yelled at us from the back. “Who’s there? Who’s out there?...who is that came to see me and my dogs?”
I hesitated. John introduced himself, and then summoned the rest of us to come on back. She was striking. She talked and talked. The cadence of her speech made sense, was familiar, but its substance was scattered. She fixated a lot about dates. “They came and delivered that, I supposed to get that three weeks...let’s see...Sunday, it’d be three weeks since I was supposed to have got that.” She had a bunch of mail in her lap and was surrounded by her dogs. She talked about them, too. She had 32 puppies not too long ago, but they all went somewhere or another. I stood and listened to her for a while and then we went on. She thanked us for stopping by her jungle.
From there we went to Ca-John’s. We’d been by before and seen the Confederate flag outside—Ellen and I had explained how sometimes it’s a symbol of Southern pride, that it’s not a pro-slavery, anti-black symbol. That’s always a tenuous argument anyway, and in this case it didn’t hold at all. Inside, there were flags everywhere. There was a xerox copy in an acrylic box frame featuring various versions of the Confederate flag—all that was expected, but the more I looked, the more I found evidence of that thinking ran much deeper. A bumper sticker tacked up on the wall read “Don’t blame me, I voted for Jeff Davis,” as if that election were in 2002. A business card taped under the glass counter called for Confederate sons, a recruitment campaign of some sort.
The proprietor’s wife saw me taking pictures and invited me into the employees only section. It was a bar/music hall. Absolutely horrifying. I took my time looking around in there. The most disturbing thing was a framed cartoon of a white man standing up on a little raft that read “I used to be a badass, but now I’m a coon-ass.”