Friday, October 23, 2009

"The South Will Rise Again"

Nice article in today's CL (h/t to NMissCommentator) about the student government at the University of Mississippi and the new Chancellor, Dan Jones, working together to "encourage" the student body to stop yelling "The South will rise again!" at football games. Of course, articles like this bring out the crazies in Mississippi so read the comments section at your peril. Entire article below...

'Rise again' chant spurned by UM

Shelia Byrd
The Associated Press

The University of Mississippi has shortened one of its fight songs to discourage football fans from chanting "the South will rise again" during part of the tune, which critics say is an offensive reminder of the region's intolerant past.

However, some fans have continued to recite the chant at the end of the song, From Dixie With Love, despite the change made last week at the chancellor's request. The Ole Miss band performs the medley before and after games.

Earlier this month, the Ole Miss student government passed a resolution suggesting the chant be replaced by the phrase, "To hell with LSU."

Dan Jones, who became Ole Miss chancellor in July, said he asked the band director, David Wilson, to modify the song to support the efforts of the Associated Student Body. He said he has received complaints from alumni that the slogan is offensive.

"The fact is, the phrase 'The South Will Rise Again' is not part of our tradition or spirit, and it is inconsistent with the university's values and what Ole Miss stands for - a great public university with a focus on the future," Jones said in a phone interview Thursday from the campus in Oxford.

The modified version of the song ends abruptly before the chanting phase starts. It was first played Saturday at Ole Miss' homecoming game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but that didn't stop some fans from chanting.

Brian Ferguson, 26, head of the Colonel Reb Foundation, said he views the university actions as an attempt to silence students.

"I think it's a big to-do about nothing. There were very few people other than the students who knew to say it," said Ferguson, whose organization works to preserve traditions at Ole Miss. But Ferguson agreed that the chant really isn't a tradition.

"If the students get fired up and upset enough about it, they're going to continue to say it. Our biggest fear is that that's going to lead them to eliminate From Dixie With Love, altogether."

The song blends the Confederate Army's fight song, Dixie, with the Union Army's Battle Hymn of the Republic, according to Peter Frost, a visiting professor of history and international studies at Ole Miss.

The school has worked to erase its image as a bastion of the Old South, which was solidified in 1962 when James Meredith's admission as the first black student led to a bloody standoff.

The university six years ago decided not to have an on-field mascot during sporting events, getting rid of the long-standing Colonel Rebel, a white-haired old man who carries a cane and resembles a plantation owner. At the time, school officials had said they needed a more athletic-looking mascot. The teams are still called the Rebels.

Cortez Moss, director of communications for the ASB, said the organization is trying to explain to students why the phrase is offensive.

"You take back on that slave mentality," said Moss, who is black. "I know the South won't rise again and the South can't rise again."

Former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, who donated $100 million to the university in 2000, said the chant should be abandoned.

"I hope it will pass on quietly and the students will refrain from the chant, but I found out a long time ago it's hard to tell students what to say and what not to say," Barksdale said Thursday.

Roun McNeal, a former ASB president who is now in law school at Ole Miss, said his own decision to refrain from the chant was easily made.

"I said the chant one day and there was a black family sitting in front of me and they turned around and gave me this look like I hurt them," McNeal said.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Follow-Up

Ten Dollars an Hour, the short documentary I made in the spring about an African-American cook at a fraternity house on-campus at the University of Mississippi, has been viewed almost 2,000 times in the past four days. I'm flattered that people are responding to the film. I believe it started when the film was posted on metafilter and from there several blogs picked it up. There have been more than 80 comments on the metafilter post, including my own. Here is the film, of which I am quite proud, with some follow-up comments below:

Ten Dollars an Hour from Ben Guest on Vimeo.



Leasse Williams (and Janis Jones) still work at the Sigma Nu fraternity house.

The numbers the economist and I ran were wrong. At $15,000 a year, Ms. Williams is not below the government poverty line. Yesterday, I attempted to edit this part out of the film but my hard drive crashed. Once I get the hard drive fixed *fingers-crossed* I will cut the sentence from the film where the economist states that Ms. Williams is living below the poverty line. In ant event, it doesn't change the point that $10 an hour is not a livable wage.

Ms. Jones has twice contacted my professor (the film was originally completed as an assignment for a Southern Studies course in documentary filmmaking [side-note: at the end of the semester the "best film" was chosen by the professor from the five projects completed for the course. Here is the winner]) to express anger over the film. During the first phone call, which occurred over the summer while I was in Namibia, Ms. Jones, who had not yet seen the film, mentioned that she had been contacted by a Sigma Nu alumnus in New York who was looking into taking legal action against me for slander.

Brad Walsh, a lawyer here in Oxford and a former Sigma Nu financial advisor and House Corporation member, has left several comments on my vimeo page, to which I have responded.

Friday, September 25, 2009

University produced commercial for Ole Miss on ESPN last night said: "Nearly twice as many students are accepted into medical school" but never stated the comparison. Twice as many as what?
"We can't even agree to increase the minimum wage after ten years." David Simon is the man...
http://ping.fm/Epsuz

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I don't see why folks hatin' on Jordan's induction speech. I loved it. You got an unfiltered glimpse into what made MJ so competitive.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recent UM newsletter: "American students found that the Mexican culture does not necessarily encourage perseverance or responsibility."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"MDMA got you feelin like a champion/The city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambian."
Blueprint 3 has two instant classics: Empire and On to the Next One. Can't decide which is better.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's a shame the best pizza I've had in MS is at Newks. FYI: Sal and mookies in jackson is wack.
Wish newks had half-pizza and salad option.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pats win! What a finish. Brady says, "That's not the way we draw it up." Classic!
How do you call "roughing the passer" on a sack? Isn't a sack, by definition, roughing the passer?
My favorite Patriot of all-time? Troy Brown.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Making pasta with pesto, roasted red peppers, diced tomatoes, fresh basil, and grated parmigiana...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Capetown: sushi on the waterfront; Cuban cigars; beautiful people, beautiful conversations, and the city street lights glittering like jewels in dark sand.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Just finished a hike through the mountains in Winterberg. In South Africa son!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Just saw a woman with the vanity plate "I Am Bebe." Not a good look.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

So a tornado passed by my house, literally, and I was in the bed, sleep. This is the second tornado I've slept through...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

U heard it here first: Cavs will go on to win Game 6, Game 7, and then the NBA championship.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Leaving City Grocery with Kelly, Asia, Tahina, Shanika, and Melissa.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two-Stick Trivia = Fourth place (but it was just Amanda and me. Not bad for 2 people).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two-Stick Trivia: 4th place. But the audio portion was nice...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Profile of Austin Walker

Great profile/story put together by Tobie Baker and featuring second-year MTCer Austin Walker (and an interview with me):

Profile of Austin Walker from Ben Guest on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tortillas

The short film I posted yesterday was created as the final project for a (fantastic) Southern Studies course I took this spring. The class met for the final time this past Wednesday. Everyone screened their films. The next day the professor chose the best film from the class. Mine did not win (tear). Here is the winner:

Tortillas de Maiz from Andy Harper on Vimeo.



And here is mine:

Ten Dollars an Hour from Ben Guest on Vimeo.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ten Dollars an Hour

I've spent the last two months making a short (16 min.) documentary about Leasse Williams, a cook who works at the Sigma Nu fraternity house here at the University of Mississippi. Check it out (high quality version here and full HD 720p version here):

Ten Dollars an Hour from Ben Guest on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Simon on Moyers

Great interview (h/t to Michele Sabatier), as always, with David Simon:

BILL MOYERS: And yet, the drug war keeps getting crazier and crazier. From selling guns to Mexico's drug cartel, to cramming more people into prison, even though they haven't committed violent crimes. Why don't the policies change?

DAVID SIMON: Because there's no political capital in it. There really isn't. The fear of being called soft on crime, soft on drugs. The paranoia that's been induced.

Listen, if you could be Draconian and reduce drug use by locking people up, you might have an argument. But we are the jailing-est country on the planet right now. Two million people in prison. When I started as a police reporter, 33, 34 percent of the federal inmate population was violent offenders. Now it's like, seven to eight percent. So, we're locking up less violent people. More of them. The drugs are purer. They've not-- they haven't closed down a single drug corner that I know of in Baltimore for any length of time. It's not working. And by the way this is not a Republican/Democrat thing. Because a lot of the most Draconian stuff came out of the Clinton Administration. This guy trying to maneuver to the center, in order not to be perceived as Leftist by a Republican Congress.

...

The people most affected by this are black and brown and poor. It's the abandoned inner cores of our urban areas. And we don't, as we said before, economically, we don't need those people. The American economy doesn't need them. So, as long as they stay in their ghettos, and they only kill each other, we're willing to pay a police presence to keep them out of our America. And to let them fight over scraps, which is what the drug war, effectively, is. I don't think-- since we basically have become a market-based culture and it's what we know, and it's what's led us to this sad denouement, I think we're going to follow market-based logic, right to the bitter end.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

FYI: Documentary is about a cook who works on-campus at a fraternity house.
Documentary is just about done. Clocks in at 12 min. Final Cut is pretty cool.

Boy



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Tses, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This is one of my students.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Moved on to bolied peanuts and getting distracted.
At my first Rebels baseball game, eating chicken on a stick, and chilling with friends in left field.

Janeze and Pernaphia



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Tses, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This is Janeze and Pernaphia, two of my students.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Manassah and Libard



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Tses, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This is Manassah and Libard, two of my students.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Martha



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This is Martha Mukumangani, one of my students.

Pernaphia



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Tses, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This is Pernaphia Steenkamp, one of my students.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Mervin



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Tses, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This is Mevin McKay, one of my students.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Otiile



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This is Otiile, one of my students.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Church



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Tses, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Woman



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March, Part II



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. On this particular day the students were marching in support of SWAPO, the governing political party.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. On this particular day the students of Engela were marching in support of SWAPO, the governing political party.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Old Dan Tucker

Today's Bruce Springsteen song is a cover of the American folk classic "Old Dan Tucker," originally published in 1843.

Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man
Washed his face with a frying pan
Combed his hair with a wagon wheel
And died with a toothache in his heel

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Saigon, It Was All Gone...

Today's Bruce song is "Brothers Under the Bridge." A homeless Vietnam vet tells his story to his child:

I come home in '72
You were just a beautiul light
In your mama's dark eyes of blue
I stood down on the tarmac, I was just a kid
Me and the brothers under the bridge

Come Veterans' Day I sat in the stands in my dress blues
I held your mother's hand
When they passed with the red, white and blue
One minute you're right there ... and something slips...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Youngstown (and Twitter)

Note: You can keep up with my twitter feed here.

Drove to Indianapolis and back last week to visit some MTC friends. I listened to Bruce Springsteen for the entire drive there and back. The albums I listened to were:

Tracks (2 CD's)
Live (3 CD's)
Live in NYC (2 CD's)
Greatest Hits (1 CD)

Here is one of my favorite lyrics, from the song "Youngstown."

From the Mongahela Valley to the Wasabi Iron Range
To the coal mines of Appalachia, the story's always the same
700 tons of metal a day, now sir you tell me the world's done changed
Once I made you rich enough, rich enough to forget my name

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Girl



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Umbrella



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The umbrella is for the sun, not the rain.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kiki and Saloma



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The photo is of two of my favorite students, Kiki and Saloma.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kiki and Saloma



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The photo is of two of my favorite students, Kiki and Saloma.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Kiki



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The photo is of Kiki, one of my favorite students.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kiki and Saloma



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Engela, Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The photo is of two of my favorite students, Kiki and Saloma.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Grandmother




I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The photo is of the grandmother of Dennis Shikwamibi. Dennis was my best friend in Namibia.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Cloud

Great article in Wired (one of the only magazines I read cover to cover) about the rise of Netbooks, or compact, cheap laptop computers. One of the points the article makes is that virtually anything you want to do using traditional software on a computer is available online (in the "cloud" to use net-speak): Microsoft Office is now Google Docs, photos are on flickr, music at pandora, video at YouTube. Now that everything is in the cloud, why do we need a hard drive (or, for that matter, why do we need to pay a hundred bucks for Office)? Never mind that most people probably use computers for only three or four things: email, facebook, IMing, and twitter. All online. Here is an excerpt:

Netbooks are evidence that we now know what personal computers are for.Which is to say, a pretty small list of things that are conducted almost entirely online. This was Asustek's epiphany. It got laptop prices under $300 by crafting a device that makes absolutely no sense when it's not online. Consider: The Eee's original flash drive was only 4 gigs. That's so small you need to host all your pictures, videos, and files online—and install minimal native software—because there's simply no room inside your machine.

Netbooks prove that the "cloud" is no longer just hype. It is now reasonable to design computers that outsource the difficult work somewhere else. The cloud tail is wagging the hardware dog.

...

"But what about Photoshop?" It's the standard retort from those who dismiss netbooks as children's toys. Sure, a dinky 1.6-GHz chip and Linux are fine for email and silly things like YouTube. But what about when you need to do some real computing, like sophisticated photo editing? The cloud won't help you there, kid.

In the narrowest sense, this is true: A really powerful application like Adobe Photoshop demands a much faster processor. But consider my experience: This spring, after my regular Windows XP laptop began crashing twice a day, I reformatted the hard drive. As I went about reinstalling my software, I couldn't find my Photoshop disc. I forgot about it—until a week later, when I was blogging and needed to tweak a photo. Frustrated, I went online and discovered FotoFlexer, one of several free Web-based editing tools. I uploaded my picture, and in about one minute I'd cropped it, deepened the color saturation, and sharpened it.

I haven't used Photoshop since.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wall




I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Girl




I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1998 in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pernaphia




I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The photo is of Pernaphia, one of my students at St. Therese Junior Secondary School in Tses.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Manassah




I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in 1999 in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The photo is of Manassah, one of my favorite students.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mama Jo Interview-Audio

I am taking a Southern Studies course in "Documentary Fieldwork." For a recent assignment, we had to interview someone, not associated with the university, about food and culture. I interviewed "Mama" Jo Brassell, an African-American woman who cooks for, and owns, "Mama Jo's Restaurant." Mrs. Brassell serves what is traditionally called "soul food." I interviewed Mrs. Brassell twice. Here is the audio of both interviews along with an "Interview Log." Photos here. The man in the photo is Mrs. Brassell's husband, "Daddy" Bo Brassell.



"Mama" Jo Brassell-First Interview-3/4/09-Audio Only from Ben Guest on Vimeo.


"Mama" Jo Brassell-Second Interview-3/10/09-Audio Only from Ben Guest on Vimeo.

“Mama” Jo Brassell Interview Log
Interviewed by Ben Guest
SST 534
3/11/09


1st Interview
3/4/09

Brassell is the head cook and owner of “Mama Jo’s Restaurant” in Oxford, MS. She grew up in Taylor, MS. In this interview she talks about her various dishes she cooks and learning to cook from her mother.

The interview was conducted at “Mama Jo’s Restaurant during at about 3:00 PM. The sound of passing traffic from the street outside is audible. At several points, Mrs. Brassell asks her husband, “Daddy” Bo Brassell, a question. Mr. Brassell can also be heard talking on the phone for much of the interview. Used an M-Audio Microtrack 24/96 digital audio recorder and a Sennheiser MD 46 mic.

Brassell has several starts and stops and many run-on sentences throughout the interview.

0:00

Mrs. Brassell states her name and her hometown of Taylor, Mississippi.

0:20

Mrs. Brassell describes Taylor as a small town outside of Oxford.

0:50

Says that her mother was a cook for LaFayette High School in Oxford, Mississippi.

1:00

Talks about learning to cook from her mom.

1:40

States that she does not cook from recipes. Everything is in her head. She learned this from her mother.

2:05

States that the “Lord” gives her visions about food

Quote:

And then the Lord gives me vision about food. So I got- I has- Sometime I lay down in the bed at night and He’ll picture this recipe up on the wall and I put it in my mind and I get up the next day and do it.

2:37

Gives hamburger potato casserole as an example of a vision that has come to her.

Quote:

The hamburger potato casserole. It was- It came- It came through a vision through the night and it was like a rio potato, iced potato, and you slice it and you layer it with, uh, cheese and mushroom soup. Onions and bell peppers and celery. Then cream of mushroom soup. Then onions and bell peppers and cheese [makes a “layering” or smoothing motion with her hands]. Cream of mushroom soup and cheese. And then layer another potato. Hamburger meat. And then spread cheese over the top of it and then bake it for about thirty-five minutes. [Pause.] And that was my first recipe experience through a vision.

3:21

States that the visions come from the Lord.

3:46

States that religion plays a big part in her life.

4:10

Says that she cooks by taste and looks. States that this also comes from God.

4:30

Says that her mom was known for cooking: meatloaf; hamburger steak; fried chicken; country fried steak; beef stroganoff; and pork chops. Made desserts from scratch like: fried apple pie; fried peach pie; and lemon meringue pie.

5:22

Says that she has one brother and five sisters.

5:27

Says that she is the only sibling that cooks.

5:40

Says she learned to cook at seven years old, making a chocolate cake while her mom was fishing.

6:00

States the recipe for chocolate cake.

7:45

Says at nine she fried fish and made sweet potato yams.

8:11

Says she used to go to the school cafeteria to watch her mom cook.

8:41

Says she doesn’t have a favorite dish that her mom prepared.

8:56

Says that her mom is known for chicken and dressing and caramel cake at family gatherings.

9:40

Describes chicken and dressing with cornbread and seasoning.

10:10

Says she makes chicken and dressing every Thursday and Sunday at her restaurant.

10:31

Says her restaurant, “Mama Jo’s Restayurant,” has been open for three and a half years.

11:05

Describes “soul food cooking” as meals from scratch.

12:33

Describes chitterlings as hog guts.

13:22

Says that neckbones are the most popular dish at the restaurant.

13:30

Describes the preparing of neckbones.

Quote:

Neckbones is the- a part of the hog that- is a part of the hog that you cut out- out of the back of and you chop them up into pieces and I boil them down- I take them and boil them down real, real low with this different seasons and onions and bell peppers and jalapeƱo peppers and vinegar and I cook them down real low and then I serve them with black pepper and salt and they are one of my number one sellers.

15:35

Says that “Mama Jo’s” is the only restaurant in Oxford with the type of food she prepares.

15:58

Says that 75 to 100 people are served per day.

16:10

Says that business has been slow because of the economy.

16:58

Says that Tuesday and Friday are the busiest days of the week.

17:39

Says that Friday on a payday is crowded.

18:12

Describes the front and back parking lots and the heavy traffic in the parking lot.

18:57

Says that meatloaf is her favorite dish to make.

19:16

Was in a Holiday Inn cooking contest which she won with her meatloaf.

20:01

Describes the competition.

21:11

Describes how she prepares her meatloaf.

21:57

Says caramel cake is her favorite dessert to make.

22:11

Describes her recipe for caramel cake.

24:17

Describes compliments she has received about her cooking.

24:51

Says that keeps between 60 to 70 recipes in her head. She does not write recipes down.

25:29

Describes the iron skillet that was handed down from her mother.



2nd Interview
3/10/09

Brassell is the head cook and owner of “Mama Jo’s Restaurant” in Oxford, MS. She grew up in Taylor, MS. In this interview she talks about the impact of religion on her cooking and the relationship she has with her customers.

The interview was conducted at “Mama Jo’s Restaurant” at around 3:15 PM. The sound the television, tuned to a “Court TV” show, and the sound of passing traffic from the street outside, is audible. At one point, Mrs. Brassell has a long conversation with her husband, “Daddy” Bo Brassell. Used an M-Audio Microtrack 24/96 digital audio recorder and a Sennheiser MD 46 mic.

Brassell has several starts and stops and many run-on sentences throughout the interview.

Note: Although I had set aside 35 minutes for the interview, when I arrived, at about 3:15 PM, Mrs. Brassell informed me that she had an errand to run before 4:00 PM and would have to cut the interview short. The interview lasted 19:15.

0:00

Mrs. Brassell spells her name.

1:01

Mrs. Brassel talks about importance of religion in her life.

2:06

Mrs. Brassell describes her chicken spaghetti as a recipe that was given to her in a vision from God.

3:09

Talks about how, at the age of eight, she traveled to LaFayette High School to watch her mom cook at the school.

4:22

Says that her mother enjoyed cooking for children and enjoyed her job.

5:06

Discusses the meaning of “soul food.”

Quote:

Well, the meaning of those dishes to me are when you say country cooking you go back to the hogs and the cows and the fresh vegetables grown in the garden, um, that’s what I- that’s what I look at country being because canned goods are not country. They processed. And when you got the greens out of the garden, the purple hulled peas, the fried corn, the pigs feets, the chitterlings, and the neckbone, those are- that is country eating. The fried skillet, the fried corn and the black skillet, iron skillet, all that stuff is come from back years and years ago back when mom was in the kitchen, grandmom back in the kitchen cooking, with the iron skillet and stuff, and that’s what they usually cooked back in the days. And my customers, when they come in and when they see this and they eats it and this- this is the first thing they say, “This remind me of my grandmother.” So it goes back a long way.

6:45

Talks about the enjoyment of running a restaurant.

7:20

Describes her relationship with her customers as caring.

9:17

Talks about the various dishes that can be made with an iron skillet: fried corn; fried cabbage; fried chicken; pork chops.

9:51

Talks about cooking with an iron skillet and how an iron skillet will “hold” the seasonings from previous use as compared to a stainless steel skillet.

11:35

Lists her most important utensils: dish towels; butcher knife; forks; double oven.

12:36

Asks her husband, “Daddy” Bo Brassell, about the most interesting thing that has happened in the restaurant. Mr. Brassell says it was a man writing on the internet about how good the food tasted and then, the next weekend, 42 new customers came in because they had read about the restaurant on the internet. Mrs. Brassell describes the internet as “off the change.”

15:11

Says she has no plans to write a cookbook.

15:58

Talks about some of the compliments she has received. The best was, “You are going to make me fat.”

16:18

Talks about the $0.99 hamburgers and $1.19 cheeseburgers.

16:55

Describes her recipe for hamburgers: ground chuck; pepper; worcestershire sauce; Larry’s Seasoning Salt.

18:18

Describes the joy of owning a restaurant.

Quote:

I love it. I love it. I love it because I love helping people and that’s my way of helping people by blessing people through there- through my food and my cooking.

19:15

Mama Jo's

I am taking a Southern Studies course in "Documentary Fieldwork." For a recent assignment we had to interview a person, not associated with the university, about food and culture. I interviewed "Mama" Jo Brassell, an African-American woman who cooks for, and owns, "Mama Jo's Restaurant." Mrs. Brassell serves what is traditionally called "country cooking" or "soul food."













See more photos here.

Documentary

Working, with two other students, on a short documentary about food and culture for a Southern Studies class I am taking this semester. Here is the first interview:


from Andy Harper on Vimeo.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ndapewa



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in 1998. The photo is of Ndapewa, the daughter of a worker at the Andres Kurkuri Center, where we did our initial summer training.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Kandido



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in 1998. The photo is of Prudencio Kandido, one or our language trainers.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Eyes



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in 1998. The photo is of Prudencio Kandido, one or our language trainers.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Gap



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in 1998. The photo is of one or our language trainers.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Kandido



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. You can see all pics in this series here. This photo was taken in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in 1998. The photo is of Prudencio Kandido, one or our language trainers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Favorite



I recently used a service to clean and scan hundreds of negatives that I had lying around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of these reclaimed, and now digital, photos. This photo was taken in Namibia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in 1998. Of all the photos I've taken this one may be my favorite.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Fence



One of the language trainers during Peace Corps training in Namibia. The photo is a high-resolution digital scan from a black and white negative taken in 1998.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Smile



A worker at the Andreas Kurkuri Center in Namibia. The photo is a high-resolution digital scan from a black and white negative taken in 1998.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Texture



One of my favorite photos because of the texture Nangula's braids. Nangula was a fellow teacher at conference. The photo is a high-resolution digital scan from a black and white negative taken in 1998 in Namibia, where I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Me



Photo of me, taken by (I believe) Rob Cornfeld, a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia. The photo is a high-resolution digital scan from a black and white negative taken in 1998.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Nangula



Photo of a fellow teacher, Nangula, at a workshop in Namibia, where I was a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1998 to 2000. Photo was taken in 1998 and is a high-resolution scan of a black and white negative.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Brukkaros


Brukkaros, an extinct volano (actually, according to this site, the remains of a gigantic explosion 84 million years ago), viewed at sunset from just outside my house in Tses, Namibia in 1999.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Girl




Once again, three versions of the same photo. The first photo is a high-resolution scan of a color print I took in Namibia in 1998. The second is in black and white. The third is adjusted slightly. The subject is a random student (not one of mine) in Engela, a village in northern Namibia.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tangeni




Going along with yesterday's post, here are three versions of the same photo. The first photo is a high-resolution scan of a color print I took in Namibia in 1998. The second is adjusted with higher exposure and sharpness. The third is in black and white. My favorite is the second. The subject is Tangeni (I think, some of the names have faded from my memory). He was my neighbor in Engela, which is a tiny village in northern Namibia.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cameah




Photography has been a hobby of mine since high school when I took a course in the developing and printing of black and white photos. One of the amazing things about the "digital age" is how quickly you can adjust photos. What used to take an hour or two in the darkroom can now be done in, literally, one or two minutes. I use iPhoto which, from what I understand, is an entry-level photo program. Yet, I am continually amazed at how easy it is to adjust photos and, in this case (I think) change a mediocre photo into a good one. Here are three versions of the same photo. The third (they uploaded in reverse order) is a high-resolution digital scan of a color print from a photo I took in Namibia in 1998. The second is the first adjustment I made, keeping the color. It took about 60 seconds. The first is the second adjustment I made, changing the original from color to black and white and changing the exposure and contrast levels. This took less than 60 seconds. The second one is my favorite. The photo is of Cameah, one of my favorite students from Engela, where I taught during my first year in the Peace Corps.

Sunday, February 22, 2009