Saturday, December 21, 2013

'Round Town Christmas

Picture this: Atlanta -- 1940s -- Rich's Department Store (the Macy's of Atlanta). The Great Tree was a huge decorated pine tree atop the store, lit on Thanksgiving night. And last but not least, The Pink Pig.

Children from all over town would head to Rich's to ride Priscilla. Priscilla was a miniature suspended piggie monorail sized just for kids. The ride would begin under the Great Tree at the rooftop Christmas Village, and would "fly" indoors over the toy department. It would then land in "Santa's Secret Shop" where elves (high schoolers) would check a child's list, collect a few dollars and help the kids pick out small presents for their families -- away from Mom & Dad. They would then load back up into Pricilla and head back to their parents, who were probably snacking on chicken salad in a nearby cafe. This event became so popular, a second pig, Percival, was added to the mix.

These days, and probably many lawyers' opinions later, the monorail was deemed unsafe and too expensive to maintain it's proper safety. The Pink Pigs retired for a while in the Atlanta History Center while Rich's Department Store was purchased by Macy's. The monorail is now replaced with a bright pink shiny new piggy train under a giant pink tent located on top of a parking deck at Macy's at Lenox Square Mall. There is also a Giant Tree is displayed at the Lenox Macy's every year.

It used to cost a quarter to ride Priscilla/Percival, now it costs $3 -- with a portion of the proceeds going to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Every rider receives a sticker, "I Rode The Pink Pig" as did their parents, and grandparents. . .

Atlanta is also the home of Coca~Cola who owns the most easily recognized Santa face.

Does anyone know the name of this elf in the above advertisement?

With Coke's headquarters here, we have a few Santa Coke billboards popping up this time of year. Santa also pops up unexpectedly at the Georgia Aquarium -- and I'm thinking the kids may be a little freaked out.

Sometimes our weather here doesn't "feel" like Christmas to those of us who are transplants here in the south. However, the beautiful tree in Atlantic Station (one of our work-live-play communities) . . .

. . . and downtown office buildings . . .

. . . keep us in touch with the holiday season.

I work in the area of Buckhead, and am in within 4 - 6 blocks of Phipps Plaza and Lenox Mall (now home of the Great Tree at Macy's) - which are two shopping malls practically across the street from each other. Needless to say, if anyone has visited Atlanta, it takes more than a little while to fight traffic after work in this area at this time of year.

However, I am very lucky to have a "living room" away from home that looks like this, where I can gather my thoughts, blog to the world, and work on my Christmas/shopping lists after work. . . .

all the while gazing at this sculpture, which is pretty much equal in height to Misty.

Palapala'ainaDeborah Butterfield
San Diego, California 1949

Deborah Butterfield's sculptural forms are based on her unique subject, horses. Building her sculptures with no preliminary sketches or maquettes, Butterfield constructs works directly with wood pieces or found metal scraps. The freestanding sculptures are created in both life size works and smaller bronzes.

"My work is not so overtly about movement. My horses' gestures are realy quite quiet, because real horses move so much better than I could pretend to make things move. For the pieces I make, the gesture is really more within the body, it's like an internalized gesture, which is more about the content, the state of mind or of being at a given instant. And so it's more like a painting ...the gesture and the movement is all pretty much contained within the body."

"Butterfield builds her horses from the inside out. Though quietly reflective, her works -- all horses -- are vital, spirited, ultimately grand. The artist finds in the arch and curve of muscle and bone the essence of equine elegance." William U. Eiland, Director, Georgia Museum of Art

I wish I could find a translation for "Palapala'aina."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sunset Celebrations

A landmark in Ocean City, Maryland is Fager's Restaurant & Bar.   Every evening, tradition calls for bayview sunsets to be accompanied by Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture piped over the sound system, while patrons relax, discussing their events of the day.

Until Hurricane Sandy tracked its way up the coast in October of 2012, Fager's had a large gazebo at the end of their pier.  This gazebo, years ago, sported a fake deer with antlers on its rooftop  accompanied by an American flag.  The deer was replaced at some point with an angel with raised arms -- the flag remained a constant. 

Fager's staff had the Overture timed perfectly when the sun touched the antlers to start the music.  The timing allowed for the final notes of the Overture to coincide with the sun disappearing below the horizon.  This sunset celebration was a moving moment enjoyed by many -- the final minute of the "Overture experience" can be seen in the video below (post-Sandy). 

The setting . . . slight sunburn on the nose, accompanying best friend, icy cold adult beverages, sand, wind, thundering cymbal crashes and a casual beach bar crowd . . .  all fueled the appreciation for this sunset memorial.  As the final note sounded and the sun disappeared, there was always thunderous applause and cheers as the birth of the evening began.   

Recently, photojournalist friend, Judy Brodland, captured a sunset in Iowa that rocketed us right back on that bayside patio on the Maryland shore with friends in a single blink of an eye.

One second:  Iowa farmland, dusty earth smell, buck and doe in a cornfield, silence.  
The next second:  Maryland shore bayside bar, saltwater breezes, blue crab, thundering drums and unmistakable dialects. 

These days, it is reassuring to experience a moment from some 28 years past (given all the stresses through time) proving there ARE STILL cubbyholes of memory left -- released in a single hyper-second -- bringing us surprising, simple joy of days and fiery deer-antler-sunsets gone by.