Thursday, March 30, 2017

These meal companions would be long remembered...

 We all know there usually is a crowd of people milling around in front of Hyman's Seafood on Meeting Street.

Having to stand in line - or sit and bounce on a Charleston joggling board - seems to attract tourists as our season gets underway.

But there are loyal locals mingling in that crowd. I go there and often take my visitors there.

Staff members roam among the patient patrons, offering a mini-menu to study while one waits or handing out an appetizing crunchy and sweet-tasting hushpuppy.

I've stood there, munching on the deep-fried treat as I wait for my name to be called. I just don't wait as long.

I am a designated VIP.

A laminated card in my wallet is shown discreetly when I arrive and my party and I are seated as quickly as possible.

My first special access treatment started about 20 years ago when Eli Hyman handed the special pass to me.

Eli explained he wanted to thank - and encourage - locals to dine there.

It was a bright blue key chain that had a photo of staffers posed out front.

It stated that it was a special local "insider" opportunity to enjoy the food without waiting and hanging around out front - like a tourist!

Oh, Eli loves these out-of-town visitors. And us.

 He is the 4th or 5th generation of owners and, along with other managers, they wander among the diners, stopping at each table to say thank you and to solicit feedback.

Banners proudly are displayed inside that says the place runs on two rules:

1. The customer is alway right and
2.  if there is a problem, see rule #1.

I was downtown early a few days ago after a dental appointment at MUSC and thought I'd stop in and see if they served a breakfast meal.

It was about 11:20 and I walked right in and was seated near a window on the first floor.

I was able to watch the lunch crowd gather outside as I enjoyed some sumptuous Shrimp & Grits - Carolina Delight. Grits is traditionally a breakfast food in the South and the added treat was a topping of bacon and cheese. Mmmmm.

One quirk I like is the brass plaque that states who had dined there.

Well, maybe not at THAT particular chair at that table.

But, records indicate that those named had indeed dined there.

Even Oprah who used a fake name when she signed up to run the annual Bridge Run years ago.

I looked around to see who else would be my companions if the seating was possible.

Well, he would bring some humor to the table and some diversity for Senator Thurman.

Reached over with my camera to snap a shot of the plaque that would indicate who would fill the 4th seat.

Not proud of the shaky shot but I was laughing and made sure the last of the foursome would be identified.

Comedy. government and "The Blues."

Lively conversation indeed! Filibuster and other stand-up comedy.

The Sisters would put down their wooden rulers and applaud Jake and Elwood for a change.

I had a good meal, chatted with Eli some left a good tip.

Grits for breakfast - the most important meal of the day, especially in the South.

(Click on the images and the links for more details.)

Contact Eli to get YOUR VIP discreet seating pass. Proof of residency required.

And,  appreciated.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

DIGNITY on stage, above all else...

OK. I understand showmanship.

It's "all part of the act."

It demonstrates a side of the performer not quite perceived at first.

A well-rounded person has many aspects.

Performers "do what hits them" at the moment.

Unconventional often is entertaining.

All of this describes St. Paul and the Broken Bones..

He opened on a darkened stage and a spotlight showed him wearing a priestly cape.

The rest of the soul-searing sextet were arrayed behind him in this very dramatic start to a curious evening

There were songs from Paul Janeway's first album Half Of The City and the newest SEA OF NOISE.

But, I was waiting for the Zany to start.

I first saw St. Paul at the relatively small club The Pour House,  just a few years after they had formed in 2011.

Impressed by the raw energy of this smiling/grinning young version of James Brown, I enjoyed the Southern-fried Soul and Gospel-soaked goodness of his vocals.

I planned to keep an eye on this guy.

Next thing I knew he was opening for the Rolling Stones in Atlanta!

I was there in the audience and saw how well-received he was as he reminded the huge crowd they were from Birmingham, Alabama.

I also enjoyed Mick and the Stones.

This was night number two at the sold out Charleston Music Hall.

Previously I had seen him there and he threw his shoes into the aisle and crawled on his hands and knees to retrieve them. Then, he walked atop arm rests back to the stage.

That was quirky.

This night he threw one gold shoe back over his shoulder, dropped to
his knees and crawled backward under the draped space beneath the drummer's riser.

There he found a stash of fresh fruit and a red apple shot out toward the front of the stage.

That was followed by a yellow banana that he peeled as he emerged, taking a bite and squishing the rest in his hand.


He was already prone as he crawled out, so no chance of slipping on the peel.

It was dangling from his hand as he dragged his right knee through the mushy mess.

A lady in the audience offered him a t-shirt to clean his slippery hands and face as he began to sing again.

(Frankly, I don't recall if he was singing during the previous backward crawl and fruit-tossing action.The visuals filled my consciousness.)

He finished the show and came out for an encore

"I won't sing one song...I'll do FOUR," he announced.

The crowd had stood for most of the show and applauded his intent to give a little bit more of his shake and sweat evening.

No other fruit was introduced and Paul joked that some crew or band members had surprised him with the fruit when he did his crawl.

I had kept my camera ready for any more surprises.

And I was rewarded when he finished his last song, stooped down and started ripping up the gold-colored carpet that had been taped down before the show started.

He thanked us for coming as he fashioned a "cape" and wrapped it around him as he exited stage right to an appreciative -though startled - crowd.

I am so glad there were no restrictions on photography that night!

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

The CMH has exploded with hundreds of shows the last few years under the guidance of Executive Director Charles Carmody.

Thanks, Charles, this evening had a lot of a peell

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Picture This.........

 "Never On Sunday" was a 1960 movie starring Oscar Winner Melina Mercouri.

I flashed on that movie title last weekend as I braved a chilly, dreary, misting, gray day on King Street.

I parked in the Francis Marion garage and quickly checked the hotel lobby for any members of my photography group.

Nope, just me at the 2:00 pm meetup time.

My camera in hand, I wanted to see if anyone else ventured out on this 2nd Sunday on our downtown's main street.

Quick answer - it was not crowded but it wasn't deserted either.

Musicians showed up to entertain, dogs wore snappy-looking sweaters and one fellow quickly adapted to not remembering to bring his gloves.

I complimented him and asked if I could snap a picture of him reacting to a sunless afternoon.

He laughed and said his friends wanted to show him a regular specific Sunday event and he forgot his gloves.

Did not get his name so I have no idea where Saint Joseph might be.

In street photography, you usually do not speak to the person who often is totally unaware you are taking their picture.

A good single shot should tell a story but I often add a caption to make sure the message is sent/received. This young man was glove-less but not a "shoelesss Joe."

These two young ladies braved the late Winter blast of cold air to remind passersby that Spoleto Festival happens in the "real warm Spring."

In April & May, usually fur-lined parkas, scarves and yes - even gloves - are seldom required.

When they realized I might show their picture, the identification was cautiously given as L-R: Jessie R. and Niki D. Or, vice versa.

Tucked into a storefront, out of the wind, was Lauren Swann who fiddled as people briskly walked by.

The talented busker violinist told me she also liked the acoustic effect of stepping back from the sidewalk into a recessed doorway.

I too enjoyed being out of the blustery weather and asked a few more questions.

Lauren said she played with the Summerville Orchestra and the Southcoast Symphony.

I thought of an apt caption for this photo of signage at the small grocery store, not far from the College of Charleston, would be "Bare necessities."

There also was a small notice sign on the door cautioning that there was a resident cat named Sandy inside.

It added that the owner was not responsible for any possible injury and ended with a stipulation that dogs were not allowed inside.

I saw that the skinny dip, Charleston Edition was using 2nd Sunday to offer a sampling of a Nantucket company opening  April 1. A preview pre-opening.

Click on the link and see the Charleston City Paper's story that has plenty of details.

Jennifer, the local nice lady working for the store, answered my questions and quelled my curiosity.

The printed flyer she handed me said one will be able to shop fashion, discover brands and savor a wine or a coffee on the patio.

Seeing her standing at a table of imprinted t-shirts, set up in front of a building obviously still being renovated, made me stop to hear the story. Glad I did and I wish the ladies from Nantucket well.

Several store windows featured mannequins still being attired.

My caption for this would be "An Unarming Outfit."

I am sure they continued assembling the dress display as I moved along.

Other stores were still in the process of window dressing and more than a few smiles were seen as people passed by.

I had seen a sign advising that bicycles should be walked along blocked-off King Street and skateboarders were to carry their conveyance, not ride it.

Good advice for public safety. And, common courtesy.

This sign was in front of a cookie store, close to Calhoun Street, not further down King Street near a Starbucks.

Keeping a safe distance from a Corporate Behemoth is good advice.

But does this shop write your name on the cup?
Or, any name you want to give them?

I have had fun doing this to baristas.

No caption needed for this photo. It is really a cleverly-worded sign...once I figured out the Seattle connection.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

I try to participate in 2nd Sunday several times a year.

This time it was not raining and I try to dress appropriately.

I try to blend in and capture some candid moments.

One new store I saw simply had JAMES painted on the front.

I was tempted to go in and ask if they sold Jammies.

Fortunately for me, they were closed.

Remember, this event happens every month.

Go check it out.

On a designated Sunday.

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Thursday, March 02, 2017

A Blooming Problem....

My yard and neighborhood have some beautiful azaleas.

Multi-colored beauties. A real treat of Springtime!

Er, but it's still Winter. According to the calendar.

That famous Groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of cold winter on his big Day.

Tell that to the azaleas. They are blooming mad this year.

We all are enjoying an early Spring now that Winter has been downgraded.

We've had early blooms before and it didn't cause any "problems" but this year it is going to affect Summerville's Flowertown in the Pines.

And, to a much lesser degree, members of my 21st Century Photography Group.

Charles Giet, a member, and long-time Summerville resident has put together an annual azalea photo walk for the last 3 years.

He cleverly times it a week BEFORE the official gathering that draws thousands of visitors.

We roam around with our cameras and take stunning photos of bushes in bloom and avoid any parking problems to see the same flowers others will see 7 days later.

This year he announced it would be Saturday, March 25. Like before ahead of the hordes of people.

Yesterday Charles changed it to this coming Saturday, March 4.

The "Y" in Summerville, the long-time sponsor of the 45th annual flowering event, has yet to announce any changes.

I don't envy them.

We simply sent out an email to our 130+ members and said the date has been moved up. A lot!

We plan to wander around and snap away at the array of colors Mother Nature provides.

(All if these photos were taken - literally - in my back yard in Hanahan.)

I don't know if a Farmers Market can be moved forward a few weekends.

The Taste will force restaurants to quickly rearrange schedules of staff and food preparations.I have no idea if a Jump Castle has to be reserved far in advance. Yikes. The logistics.

The signup for our annual azalea outing looks good.

Most had no problem moving things toward the first of the month instead of the end.

Flexibility comes easier to artists who enjoy the walk, the comradery, the beauty and the challenge to get a great photo.

I'm afraid the scene will be drab by comparison in just a few weeks.

I wish the "Y" well as it scrambles to match its needs with what the weather makes happen.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for taking a sneak preview of our shortened azalea "season" here.

There's always next year!

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