Sunday, October 21, 2007

HOMECOMING

The Homecoming parade in York is a huge event. Kinda like the Macy's parade in New York or, more accurately, St. Patrick's day and the Caribbean Parade without the public drunkeness and shootings. The whole town comes out. There's barbeque and fish frys everywhere. Everybody is jovial and relaxed. But things are always jovial and relaxed in York.

A guy at the hardware store suggested I put the car in the parade. I called the high school and they were excited to include me, especially when I said I'd be representing the Coleman Center. The CC doesn't usually participate. So I get over to the line-up. Had an hour to spare. Walked around and took a bunch of shots of people getting ready and settling in for the ride.

There's not just one Homecoming Queen but a slew of them. Queens were everywhere. There's a Queen for each grade, 7th thru 12th, Queens from neighboring counties, Queens from community clubs, church group Queens, and family shelter Queens.

Every Queen gets two "Attendants" so there's tons of dressed-up little girls. Add the entourages of mothers, grandmothers , sisters and cousins tending to them all and you have quite a scene. Took about ten people to get this Queen and her "Attendants" into the back of this truck. The dress was extra puffy.

There's lots of other groups and performers as well. A little kiddy dance troupe and sorority sisters riding fancy ATV's

A truckload of supercute preschoolers showing off some Halloween attire.

The family of a local guy killed in Iraq. I think the kid with the flag (see above) is his nephew.


They placed me behind Miss Sophomore. Despite all the serious preparation and the dressing up and the royal display, no one takes this Queen stuff that seriously. We're going along and schoolmates are cracking on the Queens from the sidewalk. The Queens are yelling back. There's melodramatic gestures and outright mockery. Everybody has a good laugh.

Candy starts flying out from every float and car. Young people enthusiastically scramble and grab for it and some old people too. You can see a couple of teenagers above picking it up. Problem was, I didn't know about this tradition. Despite the vintage car, I got the evil eye from a good number of people because I wasn't throwing candy. I started throwing imaginary invisible candy and shouting,"MAGIC CANDY!". No one found that too funny. One lady shouted back,"Hey! We ain't havin' that fantasy candy!"

Again, just about everybody comes out for the parade. I was shocked to see these Asian folks. First time i saw Asians in York. They seemed quite thrilled but I wonder what the hell they're doing here? Then there's Anna Wintour. What the hell is Anna Wintour doing in York?

The dancers really got down. Much more bumping and grinding than the drum majorettes of my youth though. Both girls and boys really shake their behinds. A little weird, but I'm just a crusty old-timer.
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KENTUCK ARTS FESTIVAL

Went to Tuscaloosa for the Annual Kentuck Arts Festival. Met Jackie and Sylvea there. Tuscaloosa's about halfway between Birmingham and York. The festival is a big huge super-hyped regional affair. Artists and crafts people come from far and wide to hawk their goods and to celebrate this whole Southern folksy thing. I found it to be just an overblown crafts fair and kinda corny with expensive not-so-good food and NO barbeque. How can you have a cultural affair in Alabama without barbeque? But it was a fine beautiful day and we enjoyed just walking around.

Between the cheesy lamps, homemade bird houses and clown puppet booths were a smattering of really great artists. Mostly elderly. Mostly black.

Mose Tolliver's daughter, Annie, comes every year. She's a painter as well. Her work is just about as popular as her dad's. She chose to sorta carry on a tradition, painting in a very similar style as her father and even using many of the same themes as Mose T.

I was most psyched to hear Fife and Drum music. I love this music. I have a few rare recordings of it. It's an old old tradition straight from West Africa. Little changed over the centuries, It is now practiced only in a very small part of Mississippi where these people are from. The girl singing is 14 years old. Her Great Grandfather passed it down to her. I sat and talked to the grandmother. When I looked at her face I was shocked to see my father's family. I mean, it was striking. Totally unexpected. I've been looking at plenty of folks here in Alabama and nothing's hit me as so familiar. She looked like Uncle Sonny and cousin Stephanie. I heard that our roots are somewhere in Mississippi. My father's coming down here next week with my mother and sister. I think we should take a drive to Mississippi.

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Unfortunately my camera batteries were dying so I could only record bits and pieces. I'll try to get some footage from Sylvea and post it later.

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