Village Vitals


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Rivergator #008: Third Letter to Blackwell


You can't just photograph everything in Clarksdale, Miss. It's been done. Or has it? Certainly feels like it has. If you're a visual artist, this city is a playground. 64 vacant buildings in the downtown alone. All for sale, mind you. Middle-aged men sit outside their place of work, charm, grit, and seriousness bounce between bass-walking fingertips and vintage guitar necks glued to inner palm.

I met Deak outside of his shop (appropriate, "Deak's") today. So I took his picture. How many times has that happened?

At Grandma's House of Pancakes, I asked Robin about this phenomenon, she asserted the folks in Clarksdale have been so photographed that they are blasé about it.

A mindset like this begs the question: how does a newcomer photograph and videograph in new and unique ways? Back to the beginning: you can't capture everything. How Lena and Robin sit on the sidewalk for a daily ritual of Marlboro Reds and coffees. They both say they'll meet us for breakfast, and walk into the restaurant with their own coffee in mugs! Exhilarating.

Or the Flophouse! It's a multi-year renovating project, whose roof has caved in, and the bowels of this building are in poor shape. But so much potential! As I am with much of Clarksdale's character, I am entranced.

The pink building, suited for a Bed & Breakfast cum restaurant next-door. Perfect for Amanda and me, perfect for our next project. Well, not in the foreseeable future, anyway.

But the idea of moving to Portland, Me, two years ago, with her moving the following year - that prevents any thoughts of relocating from truly surfacing. I have told you I am always hooked by the "next best thing" and I think there is true goodness in Clarksdale.

Maybe it's because Wolfie lived her, and people are so ingrained in supporting/developing the community (like Mark River, John Driftwood, Lena, et al). There are cities through which I move through that trigger my id.

For now, I am grateful that Amanda has been able to come down to visit, for merely three nights (one in Clarksdale, two on the River). Because seven weeks away from your partner, loved ones: it's challenging.

Everyone is packing up now, I have to go. Amanda is laughing with the crew members. The driftwood coals from the morning are smoking into their sweet, soft, demise.

I haven't cooked your pancakes yet, but I surely will, soon. Also! Did you notice how I mentioned the entire town of Clarksdale is littered with fiber optic cable and the highest speed internet possible. You now know the secret to this little Blues town's revival: tech and the millennial startup!