Hidden Memphis

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I visited the Woodruff Fontaine house the other day. It's one of those gorgeous mansions in "Victorian Village," a name that first seems like a misnomer but then seems sadly, strangely fitting; Dickensian clusters of children in breeches have been replaced by the cracked out residents of the projects across the street. Victorian Village was once known as Millionaire's Row, a collection of weekend retreat homes for the cotton and carriage entreprenuers who worked downtown. With little room for their kids to roam, these captains of industry and their families would load up their carriages and trek from Front Street to the edge of the city - Adams - so their kids could play in a yard and the women could ratchet themselves into gowns with 18 inch waists to throw elegant dinner parties. Few of these mansions have survived, and it is jarring to see all the apartment buildings and projects and businesses that hover on either side.

But then you step inside.

woodruff-fontaine house

I'll confess. I had ghosts on the brain. The last time I visited the W-F house I was a girl scout on the requisite history excursion (do you get a badge for that?), and while I was impressed by the house's grandeur, what had stuck with me all those years since was the story of their ghost, Mollie. Mollie was the daughter of the Fontaines who bought the home from the Woodruffs. She had a rough go of it. Just two years after she married and moved into the home across the street that was built as her wedding present (now known as the Mollie Fontaine Lounge), her husband died. If I have my history right, it was her son that was thrown overboard on a paddleboat excursion by a newly hired nanny. (Fortunately the baby had a mouth full of birthday cake and diaper that turned into a flotation device. He was safely retrieved from the Mississippi. Not sure what happened to the satanic nanny.) It is said that it is the sound of Mollie's weeping that can be heard in the bedrooms upstairs, that it is Mollie who sits down on the freshly made bed and leaves a clear impression behind. This is what I was thinking about as I went to knock on the door.

And it opened by itself.

I must have gone white as the two old ladies on the other side of the door apologized profusely for startling me. They thought I was the lady who was coming to deliver wallpaper samples.

That was about as ghostly as my tour would be. I was a little concerned about the health of my 90 year old tour guide, but she was game to take me all the way up to the third floor. The tower room was closed off as the fire department declared it a safety hazard, but she explained that it allowed Mr. Fontaine to climb up to the highest point of the house and see if the ships delivering supplies had docked, meaning it was time to go into work. I want to get me one of those.

The house is beautifully preserved as are the myriad quilts and the over 1000!! evening gowns potentially rotated on the display mannequins. There was a gold number in one of the upstairs bedrooms that easily would cause a sensation on the red carpet. I briefly considered tucking the mannequin under my arm and making a run for it, but my guide was so sweet that I dismissed the thought, instead curtseying in front of the petticoat mirror.

woodruff-fontaine house

Next time you think there's nothing to do in Memphis, head over to the Fontaine house for a tour. Nothing like exploring air conditioned luxury built for people who really had nothing to do.

Photo Bitch

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I had the opportunity on Monday to assist a friend who was doing a fashion/product shoot for a line of handbags. Because this is Memphis, I realized that I grew up with the designer who now lives just a stone's throw from my parents. It was a long, chilly day outside, but I learned a lot - especially to bring backup sunscreen for me and more Britney for nervous models.

cake

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I have a few more pics to offer up for our lovely Saturday night with the Hulseys, but I thought Alexa's cake deserved it's own post. It was a Nigella recipe, but it was a stunning Alexa original. I loved it so much it made me want to decorate it with hearts.
Look how pretty!

You know you wanna bite it.

cake

Pretty in Pink

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Leica point in shoot is on the fritz. Getting a little more fuzz, a little less magic. And a weird little line going though the middle.

Pink is still cute regardless. Especially when you look like her.

pretty in pink

pretty in pink

yum

Thursday, February 19, 2009

From a story I'm working on:

choc

Coralie Bickford-Smith

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I would like Coralie Bickford-Smith to art-design my dreams one night.

Look how pretty she made already extraordinary works of art. She designed these covers for Penguin Classics, and while I've seen them individually on different blogs, I hadn't seen them shelved together like this.

Don't you desperately want to hold The Picture of Dorian Gray in your hands? Sink into Jane Eyre?

So sad these sold out.

Beautiful things

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Valentine breakfast Caleb made for his family after only four hours of sleep (he was up assembling a paper house for me. More on that later.)




Harlow, caught at a surprisingly cool backdrop behind Boscos:

harlow


This watercolor of Harlow done by my amazingly talented friend Richard Bloom. He can make you one here.




These lovelies - originally $450, scored for $85


Harlow's response when her dad begged her to stop shrieking and "communicate." "mmmm...cake!"

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 13, 2009

balloon

Whether or not you wish to celebrate Darwin's birthday or the day of the Whitman Sampler, I hope it's a lovely one!

Kittens!

This may be the most brilliant thing I've ever seen.

FES News - Valentine's Edition

Moms are good for a lot of things. Unconditional love, laundry and something particularly valuable of late - free storage. It's not so much that I'm a freeloader but that my mom is an unrepentant pack rat. Over the years she's saved the report cards, the yearbook photos, the earnest short stories. And then there are the 3rd place ribbons, the Most Improved Swimmer trophy, the framed bad poetry, the items that didn't necessarily declare themselves save-able but there they are, a box of my mediocrity preserved for posterity.

Until she got the bug to start cleaning.

To give you an idea of the scale and scope of this project, she had to hire Two Men and a Truck to come help her haul out the sea of stuff, except it was more like three huge part-time bouncers* and a couple of 18 wheelers. The other day I came over to see what had made the cut, and I was thrilled to be presented with this mini-museum of me. There was my favorite doll, a gift from my dad when he was overseas. The ex-boyfriend boxes, the shoe boxes crammed with the folded love letters, movie tickets stubs and notes with little nicknames and in-jokes that no longer made any sense. And fortuitously, she had saved a copy of the FES News: Valentine's Day edition 1989. I was the co-editor of my elementary school paper, and I and my staff extensively polled the student body to get their thoughts on what was hot and so not. Sorry Target. Eighth Graders say you officially suck. You and the Judds.

3 great iPhotos

And then there is the Dr. Frankenstein-ish poll of your dream seventh or eighth grader. Happy Valentine's Day!

3 great iPhotos

3 great iPhotos



* How to be a bouncer:

1. Be an asshole
2. Stand next to a door.
3. I love Demetri Martin

Nerd Alert

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A very sleep-sounding Joss Whedon is on Fresh Air today.

And we (maybe?) learned the story behind the Smoke Monster?

And Let the Right One In is coming to Memphis tomorrow??

It's like a cornucopia of nerdy goodness.

The Hotties Issue

Wednesday, February 11, 2009



Whoo-hoo! The Memphis Flyer Hotties Issue - shot by Me! - is on stands now. Get em while they're, uh, hot. You know, cuz they are... hot.

I'm allowed one bad pun exemption, right?

Harlow: A Glossary

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In addition to growing more and more curls on what seems like a daily basis, Harlow is now using compete sentences. Like:

I WANT MAMA

(usually at 3:00 AM)

I WANT DADDY

(Usually at 3:00:02 AM)

I WANT TO GO POTTY.

(typically while dining at a restaurant, just as food as served)

I WANT A COOKIE

(shortly after mama has bribed her with one)

I WANT JUICE

(immediately following a request for milk)

I WANT MILK

(see above)

I WANNA GO UPSTAIRS AND COLOR

(pretty impressive, huh?)

I WANNA CHANGE

(an ardent Obama supporter, this is her daily affirmation; could also refer to wiping and changing her baby doll, a purple bear with a moonscape on its belly, so no, not at all creepy)

I WANT BABANOOSH

(yes, our kid lives for middle eastern food. That's my girl)

I WANNA DANCE

( she gets down. She'll usually start to movin to whatever is on the radio, except if it's Britney. That's daddy's girl.)

I LOVE YOU

(told to me yesterday for the first time, after throwing her arms around me and pulling back to study my face. I was a bit too teary to see what she did next)

Edible Memphis

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm kicking off self-promo week (that's right - 50% more ME) with a Valentine-themed post. The current issue of Edible Memphis has some fantastic stories and photos by this guy, and this guy and this chica here. Ooh and me too! Here's the appropriately pink and sweet layout for my story on cupcakes. It's on stands now! Go pick up a copy and a cupcake as a Valentine to your sweetheart.

And your sweet freelancers.

edible memphis

Memphis

Sunday, February 8, 2009

memphis


..or why I have a camera with me at all times.

I caught that shot as we were visiting the Game Stop, the video game store next to the fascinatingly named Massage Envy on Union. We finally got in on some Wii action thanks to a late Christmas present, so Saturday night was spent working through a bottle of wine and designing cruel "Miis" of each other. This is what constitutes date night for the babysitter-less, but honestly, after laughing so hard I couldn't breathe while watching Caleb designing my likeness - short, squat, basically troll-like - I was content to stay in.

Oh, and did you hear that we officially suck again? But not as bad as Stockton?

You know what doesn't suck? Crayons for the bath. Everybody wins!

bath time

Something Sweet

Friday, February 6, 2009

My creation

Need something sweet for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day?

I have an idea for some of you without!

You know that cup of coffee he makes you every morning?

What about her smile? You know the one.

That cookie you get at the bakery every Monday afternoon.

Your puppy dog.

The sweet things that make you and your loved one happy.

Let me take a photo of that sweet something. I'll put my special brand of fairy dust on it - even a sweet message in yummy font - and I'll have a 5x7 print ready for you for Valentine's Day.

$35 for a sweet treat. What do you think? Send an email to medusahead@mac.com if you are interested!

Hotties

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I had the most amazing dream last night.

I was at the Mollie Fontaine Lounge doing a photo shoot for the Memphis Flyer.

Not just any shoot - the Hotties issue.

And Michael and Mary were there. Oh look. A pic.



And I was having so much fun that it just seemed bizarre it was called work.

Isn't just awesome when dreams come true?

The Memphis Flyer Hotties issue comes out next week with my photos, and I am just so proud and honored I'm not sure I can stand it.

Whoo-hoo!!!

wren & mccool

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mary Allison is one of those people I admired from afar in college and am now having the unexpected pleasure of getting to know as a neighbor, fellow mama and friend. She has a son McCool, who if it isn't already obvious, has the most amazing name EVAH, and he has a brand new baby brother, Wren. We had a super fun shoot at their lovely home this morning, and I'm having trouble deciding which ones are my favorites. Right now I'm digging this one.


wren & mccool, originally uploaded by medusahead.



But what about this one?

mccool

wren & mccool

wren & mccool

See more pictures here

videos

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm not exactly sure how it started, but the other night we were up way too late watching favorite and forgotten music videos from our childhood. Well, my childhood. I spent, on average, about four hours a day watching MTV. Caleb grew up in the middle of a national forest with no cable. I can see a snippet of any video filmed in between 1984-1990 and correctly identify it. Caleb had never seen Bonnie Tyler's masterpiece "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Even for 80s standards, this one is a whole busload of wtf. Children with glowing eyes, beefy men in loin cloths dancing and...ninjas.





And then we have this, truly one of the most magical, inventive videos I've ever seen. A lovely beginning to a Monday, if you will.

Superbowl


superbowl pics, originally uploaded by medusahead.

Why just the commercials? I think they should have made the entire game in 3-D.