Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Montgomery & Crosses

I arrived in Montgomery in time to get a tour of the city with Martin McCaffery, whose encyclopedic knowledge of the place and his deft driving abilities could not keep small gray rocks from falling out of the sky at the site of Hank Williams' eternal resting place. No manna from Heaven for Hank...just rocks. (Two cemeteries in two days...I wonder whose grave I might visit in Jackson?)
As for the rocks that were falling out of the sky, I have no idea, and neither did Martin. We just hurried back into his car and headed back to the Capri Theater - which he's been running for a quarter century. (He must've started the job when he was 20.) The Capri is a fantastic old one screen movie house where, incidentally, my buddy Scott Teems' highly lauded film That Evening Sun (starring Hal Holbrook) will play April 9-15. If you have the chance to see this movie, do, in any theater, wherever.
The Cross Garden
I had the chance to talk with a number of Montgomerians who watched God's Architects last night, and again and again they recommended I visit W.C Rice's Cross Garden (plenty of fine pictures at this link...check it out) a divinely inspired collection of crosses made from scrap wood and telephone poles and a garden of air conditioning husks that each tell, in hand-painted lettering, of the horrors that lie in wait for the unrepentant.

It is quite a place...less structural and architectural and more of a spiritual-yard-art-garden. Rice was apparently a sweet guy who cared deeply for the unrepentant. He didn't hate or condemn his neighbors...he just had a lot of pity for hellbent types, so much pity that he felt compelled to remind them again and again and again, in semi-ironic and heartfelt fashion, of just how hot it would be down there. (In my opinion, it's rare that one labors over such things out of hatred for others, and though I didn't have the chance to meet him, I don't think Rice did all that work out of spite or anger.)

If you're in the neck of the Prattville woods, make a pilgrimage out to the cross garden and bear witness to the result of what must have been years of work.

Recently arrived in Mississippi's capital...that's two capitals in two days. No cemeteries yet, but I've still got 2 hours before the show, which is playing over at Millsaps College at 7:30pm.

Tomorrow I head east to South Carolina for a show at Clemson. I don't know a soul there, but when in Nashville, I did meet the siblings of a fella named Kerr (pronounced "car"). We'll see if I see him.