I Survived Thanksgiving 1991 (But barely): Part One

By Shannon Scott


Dostoevsky St Petersburg

No, this won’t be the usual Thanksgiving story. Not at all. Its not about foodstuff memories or family ones really, but crime. We hear a lot about crime don’t we? One of my favorite books is “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoesvsky. Its so brilliant and such a peek into “the criminal mind,” I think it should be standard reading for every police department in the world. If anything it shows how good people can do bad things and how human nature can be corrupted and free will has much to do with everything, even if one’s “environment” has an influence.

The Young Fyodor

The Young Fyodor

Dostoesvsky was also a criminal. Or at least in the eyes of the state. Condemned to die for “anti-government activities” in Russia in 1849. And talk about a close one and a “Thanksgiving,” — literally as he was bound to a post in front of a firing squad and after the words, “Ready” and “Aim” had been said? Before the word “Fire” could be shouted to forever dispatch him, he was suddenly reprieved. Can we say “WOW” enough here?

I mention this to make the reader curious about his life, but really because I too have had some very close brushes with mortality. And not through agents of the state motivated by political ends, but street level thugs with weapons in search of their next fix. Its also true that far worse stories can be told than my own. Mine are probably an average day in Chicago these days so apologies to them in advance. But with crime in the headlines all of the time, if just because it keeps the sheeple in a state of chaos for the media & government’s sake, I thought I would tell you my stories to show you that in spite of it all, I see crime as the exception to life and not the rule. I bear no grudges, do not live in a state of paranoia and fear. I live my life in spite of the headlines and all of the chatter about “crime.” I don’t walk around blind but I have common sense on my side and am not obsessed with the word “safety” like so much of our ridiculous society is. Safety is a tool of the social engineers to control society and good people have fallen into the trappings of this mentality. There are no guarantees in this life on a rock spinning around in space and NONE of the politicos and neo-cons can ever cure crime or make you 100% infallibly “Safe.” But you bet, they’re happy to take all of your freedoms and your income as they sell you on the idea. But I digress.


Worst of Human Spirit, Rep Peter King


In 1991, Savannah had the highest murder rate per-capita in the USA. That too is somewhat of a convoluted idea to drive fear or create shock, but in general, a gang called The Jivens Gang had merited some of the atmosphere by making the rule of joining their gang, to kill a white person. You could cut the tension in town with a knife. Now, not all 59 people murdered that year were white for sure, but it was an alarming number of dead people considering the small size of the city and yes, was not an ordinary context of random killings, but many (some say 21 or more), were part of a club’s initiation as it were. Making things further difficult for the authorities was the fact that the gang’s leader? Was a 16 year old named Ricky Jivens, Jr and he had perfect attendance in school. He came from a well known Savannah family with a lot of good people inside of it, but he was without question, it’s blackest sheep. Small time compared to a bigger underworld operation, but relative to Savannah’s size, a true operator with the usual guns, drugs, boats, cars and all of the rest. Although unknown to me at the time, I was co-workers and friends with one of his captains, and through him I got the sense that Jivens was a born leader, his crew very loyal and he paid them well. He liked the fact that he could keep the authorities guessing with his “good guy” position, and surrounded himself with others who shared this appearance. It was great deception and at the same time, made it all more duplicitous and culpable. Its one thing if you’re a cold blooded killer and you wear it. Which Jivens could be depending on the situation. Its another thing if you play a kind of Hip Hop school boy, go to church, buy your momma nice things, and then use all of that to disguise the evils. I would say less the youth thing, Ricky Jivens knew what he was doing. He was cunning and he incited murder between gym class and Sophomore chemistry.

Ricky Jivens, Jr

Ricky Jivens, Jr

As many know, I grew up in rural Illinois. I’m still thankful that I knew a time when you could leave doors unlocked and walk your streets unmolested. I pray that is still true in places. Yet, I realize today that it made me naive. Moving to Savannah was criminal culture shock but I didn’t know it yet. When my parents and I first visited this town to explore The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), I remember we stayed at The DeSoto Hilton downtown. It was Spring, balmy, azaleas everywhere. I’ve always been a voyeur, day dreamer and excitement of new places usually transfers to my legs needing to go places. So one night while they slept, I awoke and not even bothering to put my contact lenses in, I started walking in a direction. In today’s city, I’d be on Savannah’s Westside in the “burgeoning” or “revitalization” areas, i.e, the hood of recent past. But in 1988? It was still very much Da’Hood. I’m sure I got a lot of looksies from the locals but I wasn’t thinking. I was just “feeling” my way around and mixing it up with the night. I’m pretty sure I thought I was invisible and yes, its a wonder I wasn’t hurt or killed. Eventually a very confused policeman drove up to me as to make matters worse, I was walking in the street and he said, “What are you doing here?” I told him I was just out for a walk and why was he asking? He said, “Well there was a robbery nearby and you kind of matched the description…anyway, you shouldn’t be on this side of town.” I took the hint, I was unconscious human bait so headed back to the hotel, parents none-the-wiser. Little did I know that in a year’s time, this was the very same area someone would take a good stab at me.

To present date in Savannah, I’ve had 6 bikes stolen and have been mugged twice by gunpoint. I’ve also foiled a criminal plot or two but more on that later. Thankfully most of my victim hours are past me by 15 years or more and less a bullet from a 9MM coming through my bedroom window a month or so back, life has been pretty peaceful. I can say with some earned legitimacy, yeah, I’ve been “lucky.” Not special, just lucky.


My Love Nest Violated by 9MM

My first year of SCAD, student of fine arts, I was living the Bohemian dream. I lived in a building called Drayton Towers which today is sold as a hipster condo palace, but then was half SCAD dorm and half Georgia Regional Outlet Patient Program Housing. So yes, the newly arrived suburban insane meets the recently released regulars. We all rode the same elevator and did our laundry together in the laundry room. It was perfect.


Drayton Towers The Insanity Hotel

I lived in apartment 500 looking off to the East towards Colonial Park Cemetery and the turret dome of the 1860’s Old City Jail. The sunsets were incredible. Eventually I met Theresa at the C&S bank machine in the atrium of the DeSoto Hotel. She lived in Drayton Towers as well and was a Pittsburgh girl who looked more like a Coppertone model than art student. I wasn’t fooled by her supposed love for The Grateful Dead. But I wasn’t complaining. Our courtship started with her doing nude modeling in my dorm room for Life Drawing class and she’d be my off and on gal for the next few years.


Me (at 19) & Theresa, Drayton Towers before a dinner date

At the time, surrounding downtown in a kind of horseshoe shape on a map, was Section 8 and other HUD housing. Crack cocaine was at a fever pitch, the Jivens Gang was on the move to make social pell-mell. That was the reality of downtown and here Theresa and I were like so many art students, “We’re at art school — Weeeee!” So gullible just minding our own business enjoying hazy youth and college life. A few cares but not many. We still thought we had forever and that time was at our beckon call.

Art students are prone to get the munchies. We were no different. One night it was decided that the Daybreak Cafe at The Day’s Inn was too far to walk and Theresa liked Burger King. God knows why. I didn’t care for fast food at all but she was determined and so we started walking there around 11PM. They closed at 1AM on MLK, Jr. Blvd. Even though a stone’s throw from the Historic District, to get there you had to walk by abandoned buildings, cross Jefferson St or “Happy Hooker Blvd”, and then mosey over a large dimly lit lot before reaching MLK. Some part of me instinctively didn’t like it but Theresa’s bravado exceeded my own at times and in spite of my misgivings, we went there without much thought to the time of night or surroundings. I remember it like it was last night. We had some laughs and maybe an hour later began to amble back home. People think downtown is “quiet” now for the most part. But it was REAL quiet in the late 1980s and early 1990s on a weeknight. As Theresa and I walked around The Thrifty Hardware store through the dimly lit lot and crossed Montgomery St to W. Charlton and made our way into the middle of the intersection at Charlton and Tattnall, I remember it being incredibly dark there. It was like light couldn’t reach this intersection. Or sound. This spot had us. Our light feet suddenly leadened and we were dead in the middle where the dark hole was the darkest and street lights looked far away. Something startled us. That’s when the figure started moving towards us. It was like a shadow darting out of the shadows and we were in its way.


Before you could scream “HELP!”

Part Two….Soon.

A Customer’s Special Gift

By Shannon Scott
One of the reasons I love my job and show up most days, is because of the interesting people I meet.

Ever now and again, one really reaches out and touches your heart and gives you something beyond the general patronage of my tour. Which I’m always honored by. After all, they could spend their money LOTS of places, but are spending it with you on that day.

One of the bigger story presentations I do in Bonaventure is at the songwriter/singer (poet in his world), Johnny Mercer’s grave for all of the reasons he deserves as such an accomplished artistic and business spirit. Cole Porter once said, “Johnny Mercer is beyond category.” He wrote over 1500 songs, won 4 Oscars with 19 nominations and founded the biggest record company in the world, Capitol Records.

I grew up with my mother always having a piano & organ in the living room and teaching music in our house. I learned to play to some degree even though it never took really, but other than singing out of The Elvis 101 Songbook, my brother and I sang occasionally out of the Johnny Mercer books too. And nothing improves the mood for me than putting on some Johnny Mercer. Living in Savannah of course gives it something “extra”, and it reminds me of a simpler human feeling of living. The world is always chaos but its good to escape for awhile and feel more lovely about it inside of such songs.

Through the years, I’ve had people who worked with Johnny Mercer at Capitol who have taken my tour and not too many months back, had a woman on the tour that had a memory of him on Regency Street in London around 1970 or so (he died 1976). She was all of 21 and was in a sandwich shop near her home and while in the busy place she heard more than one person chattering “Thank you Mr. Mercer” and “You’re welcome Mr. Mercer.” She looked over and saw him eating and naturally, being a fan of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” she went up to him and said, “Excuse me Mr. Mercer, I just wanted to say I’m such a big fan.” He looked up from his sandwich and with a big smile, piped, “So am I!” Classic Johnny. Always “On.” The tour had a good laugh over that and how interesting to have met him, had such a moment, and then finding yourself at a person’s grave so many years later to share such a story? It left me envious quite honestly. I’ve met my share of Savannah characters but the closest I will ever get is next to his grave. I did meet his wife, Ginger, an amazing woman before she died in 1994 but that’s another story for another time.

Elizabeth “Ginger” Meltzer as Broadway Show Girl & Later As V.P. Founder of Capitol Records and yes, Mrs. Mercer!


So couple of weeks ago, on one of those Savannah days in November where — well you can’t believe its so perfectly warm and sunny in November — I had a pitch perfect combination of the weather, a group of tourists and some level of good feeling that seemed too good to be true but so wonderful when you know its there and you ride the wave of it all. Attending that day was an older couple and the wife, Terry, had a khaki satchel over her shoulder which at first glance sort of fit their “safari” look as a couple. I paid it no real mind but it would have such special relevance after awhile..
Johnny Mercer Gravesite-LBonaventure Cemetery_047

So about 90 minutes in to what at times is a 3 hour story extravaganza, we arrived to the Johnny Mercer family plot on the Johnny Mercer Aisle and I did the big story show at this plot per usual. There’s truly something very spiritual about this plot too. It has this gorgeous live oak and its branches seem like a parasol spreading out protecting the family plot, giving it shade but just enough sun too. And I’ll share with you one of the mysteries of Bonaventure here. The cemetery has 27 miles of azaleas that bloom in March and April. The azaleas around this one patch of cemetery blooms all year long. Rarely do I see them without flowers, even in colder months. I can’t figure it out but I don’t try to either. To me the explanation is in the Mercer plot itself and all of the love and legacy that lives here and that so many people come here adoringly and as they stand there together, pour over their minds remembering all of the life moments they shared around Mercer’s music. Humans feel free to open all of their heart’s chambers there. Their minds too. That’s what fertilizes those flowers. I’m sure of it.

As I went on to tell my version of Johnny’s tale, it was then this lovely couple revealed their true purpose. They announced that they’d brought something to give to me personally. At first I was kind of speechless because I’m so “giving” in my story mode, that I’m not used to having someone present me with gifts in the middle of it! Hah! I kind of felt like someone was talking to me in a dream and that’s the best way I can explain it. Which yes, this is symptomatic of being both in the storytelling zone and the Bonaventure one at the same time.

So once I sort of shifted mental gears, the woman, Terry, started again and said, “Well, when we heard that you were so into Johnny Mercer, we knew we had to bring you these things for your collection.” While the tour looked on also surprised and intrigued, they pulled from their bag a collection of photographs and papers and Terry went onto explain the following living memory of Johnny Mercer and in a very distinct, elegant, Scottish accent I might add.

“When I was a younger woman, in my teens, I lived in Edinburgh and my mother worked at a very grand hotel there where lots of famous people stayed so I was used to my mother (Molly), telling me about seeing Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and lots of different celebrities in movies and music. I’d gone into the lobby one day and was waiting for my mother to take a break and suddenly I hear a man say, “Hey there Molly,” and I turned to see this short man walking through the lobby and really he was nothing to look at, but my mother replied, “Hello Mr. Mercer,” and they began talking to each other. It was then I realized it was Johnny Mercer. My mother knew that I was fan and when she took a moment to introduce me, and I expressed myself as much, he was legitimately surprised that someone so young knew who he was and took great interest in this fact. He told me he was in Europe to record an album with Bobby Darin and that when he finished it he would send me an autographed copy. He took all of my information and to my great surprise he sent my mother and I an autographed photograph(See Images) and then later some correspondence from his hotel in Paris, a couple of letters from California, a Christmas card, and of course, an autographed copy of the album, “Two of A Kind” with Bobby Darin.”

As Terry handed me all of this, I wanted more than anything to sit down with her and just talk but knowing I had a tour to finish, I was very fumbly and felt that having to just move along was somehow an insult to this lovely gesture so did all that I could to show my appreciation as we continued to walk onto the the last few grave sites of the day. Sometimes you just feel so blessed by the actions of others that you kind of want to cry with happiness and this for me was one of those times. I’m not sure if it will make sense to others, but it was like two angels had given me such treasures and then just walked back into the clouds. I wanted more time with them for such thoughtfulness.

Which is the thing. Even now as I’ve been typing this and scanning the images I’ve come to realize that I’m holding these very personal items 2nd hand. 3 hands ago? They were in his. Its 3 degrees of separation in my world. Johnny Mercer took the hotel’s stationery in Paris, probably smoking and a drink nearby, inserted into the typewriter and typed it up reflecting on the meeting with the young girl who was the woman on my tour. And yes, as you’ll read, flirting openly with them both. Perhaps he was just being “Johnny,” but maybe as he typed, it wasn’t a far cry from the feeling of a piano and as he thought himself the poet first, songman after, such letters may have seen more close to the heart of himself and his craft. Perhaps he whistled while he did and maybe flashes of song lyrics came to his lips, words for a future song. Who knows, maybe he even thought, “that’s witty” and jotted a note to the side. Surely there was music playing nearby? Yes, its fun to romance such things. And as I said earlier. I can’t bring him back to life. I’ll never get to really meet him. I can just be inspired in my stories by his spirit and conjure him up for audiences graveside. No, he doesn’t need me to do this but I love doing it. Johnny was known to be very personal with his fans. We’re a lot a like that way too. Mike Douglas once reflected to Tom Waits that he was the most personal, down to earth guy you could ever hope to run into in Hollywood. I don’t doubt it. He was from Savannah after all. He was everyone’s huckleberry friend.

Even now, Johnny Mercer is making magic happen through moments like this in Bonaventure…



Autograph To Molly & Terry

Mercer Family Christmas Card

Johnny, Ginger & their son, John (Dog Name?)

Christmas Card Interior

Not sure if this is an original writing or poem by Mercer but I would like to assume that it is as that was his style!

Paris Letter To Terry

California Letter To Molly & Terry

California Letter To Terry


My Appearance On Travel Channel’s “REAL” w/Kinga Philipps

I was really glad to be invited to participate in the taping of this program. Some of the most beautiful camera work to every grace Savannah or vise versa is in this episode. I’ve not seen one done better about Savannah so major kudos to the crew. Naturally they wanted someone who was brainy and eloquent about cemeteries and Savannah strangeness. Oh, and who looked great on camera. Which is why they hired Kinga Philipps who is probably the hottest brainy woman on TV. Oh you thought I was talking about myself? Generally you’re right but now and again you’ve got to defer to another beauty and I’ve got nothing on Kinga. And she likes to surf in Malibu so I can relate to this human dolphin better than the average. The show’s name truly is complimentary to the vibe of the show. Kinga feels really REAL when she addresses you or interacts and asks you questions. And isn’t trying to necessarily “put on” for TV. And Savannah needs more of that. Which is why, in what turned out to be my longest interview on TV, the whole thing really worked. At the start of the program, it may not be clear but I thought it was cool they used a silhouette shot of me and a quote somewhat setting the tone of the show, “You can’t just do what you want in Savannah. Savannah does what it wants to do to you.” Hope you enjoy. She’s promised me that she’ll come back to talk about Root Doctors & Witch Doctors one day so I hope we can do that episode too!

Kinga-sitcom_00295BeachPhotoShoot09 731.2

WATCH VIDEO! http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/real/video/real-savannah

Kinga’s Website! http://kingaphilipps.com/Kinga_Philipps/Kinga_Philipps.html

Oryol i Reshka (“Heads Or Tails) My appearance on Russia’s Biggest TV Show

I love Russian history, film, art, people & especially many of the women who clearly are the offspring of The Nephilim that mated with humans long ago. Although I’ve been told by Russians themselves that if I marry one I should sleep with one eye open. Anyway….I don’t speak Russian so the enjoyment of this episode is that they filmed Savannah with such greatness and during a beautiful week to film it apparently. Savannah’s founder, Oglethorpe even fought along side of Peter The Great, so its great that Savannah is honing its Russian connections. The show has 35 million viewers a week, and was created by 4 friends that originally just wanted to figure out a way to travel the world and ended up with this monster hit. The premise is that one Russian film or TV celebrity and then one of the show’s “regular” hosts, flips a coin. Depending on the flip, one person gets to have an unlimited budget while in town, and the other gets to do the place on $100.00 basically. Which is cool I think because Savannah can really be done that way and keeps places appealing to a wide variety of people. Naturally I and the hostess from Kiev, had some fun in a nearby cemetery. And yes, we had our clothes on! Oh the minds of you people! I don’t appear until about 20 or so minutes in and kind of briefly but enough to make it fun.

Quasimoda of Forsyth Park

by Shannon Scott (C) 2015
Click Here To Listen To Shannon Recite This Poem

There goes the lumpy woman.
The one with the plum, polyester knee shorts.
Brand new Reeboks and bruises dark.
She doesn’t walk or run, but rather hobbles.
Nature’s lark.
A disintegrating machine.
Getting back into her shape of nothing.
She is something new somewhere else.
She is something new here.
She is all she has.
More noticed from a balcony than on a street.
The shoes fit better than her feet.
I watch her from here but we will never meet.
When the moneys gone, love and luck have run out.
She may become you, she may become I.
No doubt, no doubt.

The Day I WOWED Webster’s.

By Shannon Scott (C) 2015

Its probably apparent to most who know me, and for even those who hear me speak for just a few moments, that I love words. I count myself as a wordsmythe and or wordist. On occasion, I believe I add some to the human vernacular like “Storyist.” Which for the record, is my word and have been using that one to refer to myself for several years now. Basically it means I’m “more than” a storyteller, and much more than a tour guide. In fact, I came up with it to add something more chic sounding to the concept of tour guide. And another thing for the record, I loathe each and every time I have to kowtow to the system and get my “tour guide” license renewed of have to go to a “tour guide” meeting at City Hall where we can be corralled or talked down to. Savannah doesn’t even realize what it could do to change the world of perception by just calling us “Storyists” or “Storytellers.” It would be yet another way the City of Savannah could set itself apart and show that it can think for itself as a place. It would elevate us into the realm of the artists that we are or that many of us can be, with our words. Can you imagine a town full of people saying to other, “No, no, no. We don’t use the word tour guide. That’s for other towns. We call them storyists.” Now that’s a city I could happily be a part of. But at the very least give us the option to check a different box on a government form. “Are you a tour guide or a Storyist? Check the box that applies.” But I digress. The point is, sometimes terms need to grow or there need to be new ones to apply to a new level of something. Taphophile for example, is one stirring around that one day may see the likes of being officially in the dictionary but for now, is a groundling word used in the backstreets and mean streets of unofficial lingo tossed around by word anarchists, lip terming hipsters and wordy wannabees. The Urban Dictionary defines it as a person with an “abnormal love of funerals, graves and cemeteries.” Obviously those who know me know that I fit the bill.

But then there’s “foodie,” and that’s what I’m really here to speak of. Long before I was a government licensed story doorman, I was a free thinking foodie. Especially in my early life, I cooked quite a bit and had jobs around restaurants. My career basically started in my hometown’s Country Kitchen as head breakfast and lunch cook, extended to sous chef work in a private club, later running a high end deli for a few years, and my last chapter was a 3 day stint at the prestigious Elizabeth’s On 37th as a night saute’. It was then that I decided my heart, mind and body belonged in something beyond making food for people. It became publishing and for 7 years, my company Jones Street Productions, Inc (as I lived on Jones Street), turned out four publications. And although it had a short run of 3 years, “The Foodies’ Guide — Where Area Foodies Really Do Eat,” was my pet favorite and was coveted by people in the hospitality trade to the point that even a few years after it was gone, some concierges harbored copies of it in their desks at work. I had to give it up because Savannah’s restaurant scene was far too small and I was more in love with providing information than I was selling ads to print it. But I’ll never forget that it was due to print the week of 9/11 and even though life stopped for the world that day, I paid out of pocket to get it over the hump of the printing press so that it would be proof that life goes on and it was my way of keeping something about fun, happiness, prosperity and American, very much alive. It in fact, was the least and biggest thing that I could do that week actually. You know, still go out and plant a tree kind of message.

First City Club

First City Club

Elizabeth's On 37th

Elizabeth’s On 37th

The first time I really heard the word “foodie” was in 1991 while working under Executive Chef Chris Barnett and Night Sous Chef, Tony Kelly at Savannah’s First City Club. Or at least where I paid it attention because it came so casually out of a classically trained chef’s mouth. And said so definitively of one member in particular who was a high power Savannah lawyer that prided himself on knowledge of cuisine, French food in particular and was not shy about sending things back to the kitchen. Especially as he was Jewish and if it wasn’t fully cooked, it would be returned and I’d hear Chef Barnett exclaim with some amusement, “KILL IT” as he returned it to the flattop or sometimes fryer to ensure it was dead enough for Mr. Levy.

It was then of course, that I decided this is what I must be too. A foodie. I felt part of a special league in knowing this word, using this word, and yes, by my position cooking in a private club, that I was truly one of the privileged to crown others with this term should I see fit. Even if one’s paycheck barely paid the bills, having entitlement to such words made you feel like you were going places. I was now a foodie on my way to being an expert in the young, burgeoning science of foodieism.

But yes, it became a real measure for me and was critical in the spirit of me developing a character called “Foodie Agent008” for my publication The Foodies’Guide. Sometime in 2000, I conceived of him as a mix of James Beard meets James Bond and with a comic streak of a 1950’s “Bob” character that was wholesome in appeal. I drew him out one night for my graphic design neighbor, Chris M, and off we went to constructing the complete look. I was ecstatic with the end result.


Which by this time in history, “foodie” as a word was more commonplace for sure, but in my vision of carrying it further into mankind, I was determined to “define” it with my definition and style. Literally. Because at that sitting, it didn’t exist in Webster’s. Which before the internet was a big thing or things like “The Urban Dictionary” even yet existed, meant in so many ways, that it wasn’t really a word. I mean, need we evoke what I now look back and call “The Great Ain’t Debate of The 20th Century”? Thank you, let’s not. Those were dark times between people.

So, I sat down and defined it. And yes, I borrowed the dictionary to make sure it looked right, sounded right, felt right and could easily convince any onlooker, even the folks at Webster’s, that it belonged. Especially foodies right? And so when I was done, I put it right on the front cover of every issue I printed over those 3 years.

Ok, so it passed Grey Poupon in the general sense, but would it pass mustard at Webster’s? So I decided to try and phone the Word Gods and see. But yeah, how does one do that even? I mean is Webster’s in the phone book or is the phone book in Webster’s? Luckily, the internet was a tad more than an infant in 2000, but barely, and I found what appeared to be some rudimentary contact information for them. But could a lowly member of the English speaking public, albeit one of their biggest unconscious promoters, just dial them up? Let alone, be given access to the Department of Word Creationists? I imagined these people to have body guards and carried “WIPs” in briefcases handcuffed to their wrists. Oh, WIPS are Words In Progress BTW. Yeah, just made that up. Pass it along.

And aren’t we all a little curious about how words get into the dictionary? And when I say “the dictonary,” of course I mean The Dictionary — Webster’s. I mean Collier’s? I don’t think so. The Oxford? Who has time for all of those volumes and the space to boot! It’s Webster’s Jack. Everybody else, take a number. Step aside! But is there a committee? Surely. Are there word agents representing a word or for that matter, words? Or people that invented the word and are now peddling it to Webster’s? Do words get rejected and keep having to beef up their street cred for years before making the cut? Are there power trippers at Webster’s who sneer and laugh and say, “Maybe you should try the folks down at Roget’s,” and then go stonefaced and shout, “And where do you think Roget’s gets permission huh? Us! Now take your measly word back to the uneducated hovel it was borne from and call us when you’ve really got something for us to define!” And do those Webster’s cronies have signs behind their desks that read = “Ain’t is a word, but it isn’t a good one” — I don’t know, these are the things my mind had been asking itself for years.

Can you then imagine my delight, my thrill when they passed me back to the office of the ultimate wordsmiths? While on hold I was felt like glittering gilt on a Webster’s leather bound! It was as if I was standing on top of a 1000 dictionaries as I prepared to drop a definition on someone who made The Definitions! Finally, a very nice sounding man picked up the other end. I expected some high brow tone but instead here was this easy going gentleman, who was very welcoming to my inquiry. I should’ve known that he’d be so kindly to a fellow wordist! I got the feeling that wherever he was, that it was very quiet. Like a library you know? To this day I wonder was just a plain old office or was it in fact, a library? And did this guy go undercover to listen for new words? Put on disguises to be here and there in order to catch a rare new sound? Something just manifesting in the language and if it sounded musical enough, he jotted down where he was at the exact moment? During our talk, I could hear his brainy glasses hitting the phone receiver. I could tell he took a distinct pleasure in the nature of my call, as well the timing. He happily noted, even flattering me, that on his desk was an official piece of paper bearing the word and that it was a solid go for the 2002 Webster’s Edition. I’m not sure if the reader can appreciate what I’m fully saying here. I was in on the conversation about a word that wasn’t officially a word and was made privy to the fact that it soon would be before any kind of word was given to the public! I mean that literally and rhetorically! I can think of few things more awesome personally! And yes, you may now call me a word nerd. I realize how nerdy this is but you’ve got to admit, its the best kind! Although I can’t really tell you that a word is added with any real ceremony. I’m sure when “ain’t” made it, it made the news. But not sure foodie did oddly enough. But for me, it was kind of cause to celebrate even if I did like the Pre-Word period of the word foodie. It had more street cool then.


All the same, the Webster’s wordist and I got to the subject of my publication and my definition for it. It was kind of a unique moment of, “you show me your word, and I’ll show you mine.” Hah! And I think we both knew that we were holding some cards here. His greater perhaps than my own since he was the one who rubber-stamped the official definition in the end. So he read me the Official One, and then I read him mine. Upon reading it, I could hear him laugh and smile with delight and he said, “yours is definitely better.” And I asked him, was there any chance he could use my input to improve it or change it? He sincerely expressed regret that in the early phases, they take input from the public but even with that, in the end, its a very internal decision and their think tank has final say and that they were past the process for any revisions. And I could tell he wasn’t just saying that because its policy. What I knew, because it was in his voice, and what we both knew, was that my word was better. I don’t mean “definition” either. Because a word is only as good as it is defined and then used as such. What I mean is that in the whole sense, I had the better WORD. And so was the day that I like to think I left Webster’s with word envy.

Rose Ellen Scott & Goth

Rose Ellen Scott & Goth Me

I realize this sounds all self aggrandizing, and it is but I mean it in good fun. But you know who I really give the credit to inside of this silly story? My mom. She made me this word nerd by hovering over me with everything I wrote or typed up and made sure I used proper structure and punctuation. She inexhaustibly tested me for grammar and English exams when we were both beyond bleary eyed at the kitchen table late at night. And I didn’t always make A’s and not saying I’m perfect at it now. But it made me great in my ambition to express myself and to love words like she loves math. She loves words for their meanings to but a little more for their math as she’s the mathematician and chemist. She made me this mad scientist for words and passionate for prose. Who else calls up Webster’s to talk about words right and to brag on their own defintions? Nobody I know. You gotta be a crazy person to be someone like that and a little strange if you know one too.




The Warmest Cold

By Shannon Scott (C) 2015

I still covet this work as one of the best I’ve ever done. Long ago I met a person on my road to a higher self and learned much about visiting a world where I did not belong but fell for their Siren call. She was all 3 of them in one body. 

Click To Hear Shannon Recite This Poem


She was the ice queen.
A boreal beauty.
Bearing love formed by tiny crystals,
shimmering silver, red and gold.
Fracturing light into rays spectacular.
Storing the warmth of the sun in all her parts.

But only to a specific degree.
For ice is ice.
And some goddesses are frosty indeed.

Her ardent smile could freeze you solid,
but left your blood running lukewarm.
Her febrile words were a fireside invitation,
but to the inside of a frigid room.
Her burning eyes could melt you to a puddle,
but found you bathed by gelid water.
Her pyretic touch invigorated cold skin,
but leaves your love frostbitten.

Yes, the ice queen can only be warmly admired and never handled.
Her wintery land does see the sun pass and set, but there?
Spring and Summer are but seconds and not seasons.
Only what is born there can inhabit her artic domain.
Her kingdom is enchanting, but for warmer creatures life there only promises pain.

Travelers like thee will always be her curious.
Opposites attract as opposites will be.
Momentary fools maybe, but in the end, her destiny divides.
For she must find someone as cold as she.

For ice is ice.
And some goddesses are frosty indeed.


Heartlight by Shannon Scott

Click To Hear Shannon Read This Poem

Beating below the twilight,
not far from my nitelight…
– is the heartlight
I carry for you.
“It shines in the guise
of Egyptian sparkling
Its glow, waking me for the
Its beam my esteem’s
Its cast, carrying me
through the dim.
Its ember my kiss before I sleep.
The sun inside of my dreams.
The moon inside of my night.
This is the song of my heartlight.

My Huckleberry Friend…

By Shannon Scott

Some of my fans and friends out there have already read this but wanted to add it to my blog as its been a popular request. Really looking forward to the expanded version of this story one day so people can really appreciate what a great friendship I shared with Paul Blatner and what a great man he was to this life!


So I have a theory on why I saw the ghosts two days ago. It was today that I learned that on the same day, one of my very good friends, mentors, teachers, Paul Blatner died. He was an amazing man who I will never in my life forget and he was just 58. He was one of the most amazing collectors I have ever met and very distinguished in his accomplishments. He started The Savannah History Museum, was an archivist at The Smithsonian and some of the objects on permanent loan there in the black studies collection, are considered priceless and the most valuable in the museum itself. He was funny, like a brother and I just talked to him less than two weeks ago for the last time and we shared some laughs. I am currently writing a story to honor his memory and our friendship and will be sharing it with everyone soon. A funny moment occurred this morning. I did not know his funeral was in Bonaventure at 10:30am but as I walked my tour to the map board there, I see the red funeral arrow bearing his name. I briefly mentioned him to my crowd, and first person to drive in and up to me was Professor John Duncan (Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil character) and naturally he asks me for directions. So for about 5 minutes I stood there and directed everyone towards Paul’s plot. I believe this was the universe operating yet again and Paul was smiling on this. Our friendship was about stories and ribald and while he was being sent to the Great Beyond, I was peppering the grounds shaman style with the energy of my storytelling. Naturally I intend to make him a stop on my tours in the future. Yes, later I went back to have a word with him and wanted to take him something personal that was “of me” and “of us.” As he was one of the great bottle colllector’s of Savannah, and almost literally, “The Father Of,” I placed a broken 19th century Savannah made Ginger Beer bottle at his grave as a flower vase. I found this in Bonaventure awhile ago and to me, the broken aspect, symbolic of the end of our earthly friendship and that yes, an earthly gesture that there will never be another like him. Bottles can be seen as the foundation collection of real collectors and shows humbleness and the ability to see beauty in simple things, which too are often very valuable as objects. At core bottles show others that you’re willing to really get dirty and dig to find something great and that you’re more than high brow academic or snooty antiques’ dealer. I kid the reader not, but I could bring Paul a pile of mixed glass out of a hole in the ground and Paul could tell me where and when every piece if it was made! The other object is a miniature of the statue to the Unknown Confederate Dead that you find in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. Paul was a Reb through an’ through and had one of the most amazing Confederate collections in America, including the rifle surrendered to Sherman by the Savannah Mayor. Interestingly, Paul was also buried with his father today. Howard Lee Blatner who died in 2009. I also knew him and he was a great man who grew up in the orphanage, Bethesda, America’s oldest orphanage begun by Ben Franklin in 1740. His father had been cremated and Paul had his ashes in a closet the whole time so Paul’s sister interred both of them together and as they were really a team for so many years in so many things, it was only right. I am grateful that Paul doted some amazing story objects on me as collector and that these things are now part of my storytelling. I consider it a blessing that I will always be evoking his name with the ways that I continue to inspire people. In that sense, we too will always be a team. And to some degree, this is why I believe I saw the two children spirits with their Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn hats. We were two friends that like children, delighted in the world around us and made one another giddy without any thought paid to who was watching. Long live Paul Blatner. The South mourns you fine sir.



My Song Dedication To My Friend Paul Blatner

The Bird Girl Guy…A Reflection

By Shannon Scott

This writing is a little something I’ve read at Jack’s grave during my tours of Bonaventure. Its fitting he’s buried near the entrance of the place that his photograph immortalized for the rest of time. I avoided telling his story grave side because it was too emotional. In fact the first time I read this, a group of 30 people basically saw me cry, pause and then cry some more. I didn’t see it coming but it was like I could process his loss doing that there. I’m sure I’ll cry again there some night. I don’t mind. I think it adds to the storytelling and is fitting of his memory to show people how he was admired and loved. I think this is the role of story teller at times. You become a vessel for such spiritual feeling and its personal but more than that too. With the recent passing of another friend and recent burial in Bonaventure, I was reminded of this writing and wanted to share it.


I lived on Jones & Abercorn for 14 years, and Jack Leigh’s studio & home was at the corner of Oglethorpe & Abercorn Street. We shared more conversations in that stretch of city life than I can count. He was a sage soul. Quiet & reserved so it was hard to “know him.” He spoke worlds in a chuckle, nod or smile and not sure if he was conscious of that or that was just “him.” Me, I just talk a lot. His ex wife, Susan Patrice spoke to that in regard to his taking the famous photo of “The Bird Girl” for the dust jacket of “The Book.” She told me that Jack told her he “courted the fog” in order to get this shot. Yes, perhaps in his quiet reserve, he could siphon such moments with the energy he didn’t spend speaking. Anyway, Jack always showed real appreciation for other artists and people doing their thing and always wore black jeans, black shoes and a black t-shirt like some college kid in art school. Its been weird, following his death, to have watched his prolific studio go from convenience store to Thai take-out. His ex-wife, mother of his children, one aptly named Gracie and you can guess why, is a dear friend of mine & photographer too. As Jack was dying of colon cancer, the theory being the exposure to dark room chemicals, he turned very yellow and Susan, his ex, my friend, would walk with him up and down Abercorn. Of course he was dying and so the looks we all exchanged were what they were, but he seemed like same old Jack, not bothered by too much, even dying. But his eyes also said to me he didn’t want to leave the world, especially for his children. Even so, The Bird Girl became their angel and my guess set them up for life financially and has helped them go to college and much more. The memory of him evokes a big sigh from me as I sit here…. I know Bonaventure Cemetery was famous before him, but how famous would it be now without that photo? The book was good, but the photo was what sold it all the way around and everyone kind of knew that. It made Bonaventure famous in the way Jim Morrison made Pere Lachaise a worldwide, household name. I mean only so many know Jean Paul Sartre right? Anyway, Jack would appreciate us thinking of him and me bringing him back to life a little here today. I’ll tell you something that I don’t always share with folks. The magic of Savannah is that even if you don’t know the local characters in depth, like you grew up with them, or sat at their dinner tables or shared a beer with them? Doesn’t matter. What you do know of them, makes you love them like they were your dearest, and when they pass on, it tugs at you just the same as if you had done all of that and more with them. And THAT is what makes Savannah so magical. Visiting Bonaventure is kind of like getting a free moment inside of Heaven. You get to visit old friends for a minute. Sure you have to go after a bit, but its like having a pass to the place that you can use time and time again.

Jack Leigh November 8, 1948 to May 19, 2004. My friend.