Bonaventure Cemetery Poster Now For Sale!

I’ve done a number of incredibly cool posters for Bonaventure After Hours & my event, Dinner & A Cemetery, but this is the first poster I’ve created for Bonaventure as itself. While I art directed, the very gifted artist, Matt Duplessie helped me once again create something great for the artistry of my business! Matt Duplessie One of the things I’m constantly making people aware of, is how every detail of Victorian cemeteries, not matter how slight, has powerful symbolic meaning to spirituality and the many disciplines. Cemeteries are full of secrets. The poster you see here was derived from a 19th century image devoted to the fraternal order of The Odd Fellows. Their credo as an order — “Visit the Sick & Dying. Educate The Orphan. Bury The Stranger.” Sounds like a real party right? Actually there were known as the fun lodge among the many “friendly societies” of the 19th Century. In the poster we find many symbols hidden in cemeteries both literal, and via the flowers you see. The Calla Lily (Resurrection, Love), the Clasping Hands (Goodbye to your earthly home, hello to your heavenly & also Masonic handshake), The Beehive (Industriousness, Community), the Heart In Open Hand (Charity), the All Seeing Eye (God Watching Over All) and The Three Links (Friendship, Love & Truth) of The Three Link Fraternity. There’s also one surprise in the poster that I’ll leave particular people to discover and when they do, it will hold very special meaning but I shan’t tell. The poster is 12 x 18 on high gloss, acid free paper and is just stunning. You can order one here on Amazon for just $10.00, $4.95 regular shipping or can upgrade expedited. I’m happy to sign them if requested. Mailed in a sturdy tube! Bonaventure Love & Truth Poster
shannon-bonaventure12x18

To Dance For A Vampyre (Feat. Shannon Scott)

WARNING: Contains Adult Subjects, Some Profanity & Sexual Situations)

In 2005 I was invited to read for film about vampyres. I didn’t care much about them or for them, but the film paid, had some talented people involved, and after a test kiss with my female co-star, Tara Rinko who had stunning eyes, I was in for the 12 weeks of shooting. It also conincided strangely with my own time spent with a vampyre house, which was more like a group of tragically deluded children. I’ll write about them at a later date as they were a true, sanguine, or blood drinking house (I did not participate). The film became a strange allegory for my own life and sorting out its demons. I was always a person tortured by lusts and passions and it was only until shooting the film that I realized this was the crux of the vampyre personality and all the more reason it was in my life as a project. I was confronting my own darknesses and torments. We filmed this in an unoccupied house in downtown Savannah, a strip club called The Gold Club, along with Bonaventure Cemetery. My life ran a regular pattern for those 12 weeks. I would film the vampyre film all day, doing one or two ghost tours, then go back to the set to do more filming. It was like while confronting my own demons, while making art, I was becoming even more like a vampyre in my own life.

The story is basically about Francis the vampyre who has been alive since The Civil War, if not before, and long before the 21st century, he had lost his lover, Bathory to the war itself. After a century and more for searching for her, he finds her working at a modern day strip club, although its from sketching her in a random way, that he begins to realize this is indeed Bathory. He becomes decided in his mission to seduce and kidnap her, realizing that she is not “awake” to her former self and that he must resurrect her unconscious vampyre mind to once more join him in their journey. She eventually does, but only after staking him in the heart (Spoiler Alert!) and he dies in her arms. Strangely, but I could relate to that actually.

One interesting character note was that instead of having my character sleeping in a coffin, they decide to use a bed that I own that is made entirely of cemetery gates from Laurel Grove Cemetery here in Savannah. The gates probably date from the 1850s but the “headboard,” are these arching acanthus vines that would have been the entrance arch to a family plot and then the “footboard” is part of the fence from the plot with running boards coming from another part of the fence’s original foundation. The bed once reposed insde of the Hamilton-Turner House of Savannah and believe it or not, was in their wedding suite! Oddly its the only time the bed was really used by me or since and is just sitting in my garage in pieces. For a time, I had it on disply in my house for ghost tours and you can see it there in the photograph in this article in a picture that was taken for ESQUIRE Japan. That’s also my dog Mina in the bed with me who ironically, I named for Wynona Ryder’s character in the film “Bram Stoker’s DRACULA.” And she was my Mina for 16 years passing on in 2007.

The Victorian House in the middle of summer was beastly hot which to some degree was fine as I knew I would be doing a sex scene and that I wanted to lose some weight before filming it. The day we shot the sex scene was beyond surreal and interesting. Probably 10 crew members in a tiny little room, all hovering around the bed, camera lights and a rather larger 35MM film camera with crane, creening down and hovering over the action. Not trying to sound too cheeky but it did give you some empathy for your every day erotic film players. I’m pretty sure we spent somewhere around 8 hours or more, filming that scene. I had decided that since I was a regular walk-around-the-house-in-the-buff type, and frequently sunbathed in the nude, that I was going to take the whole thing in stride. I just pretty much walked around in ala birthday suit and did the scene unapologetically. You pretty much have to either cast any doubt to the winds or as I did, I just told myself, “Man, you look GOOD.” And I did so there. Plus my sexy costar made it easy and I was actually shocked, but she was much more nervous than I and at times it was really tough for her to be the object of focus. Thankfully there were some libations on the set that day!

So that’s that really. The 21 minute film, which is not on video, but actually shot on 35mm celluloid, was a fun little project. It showed at the one of the Savannah College of Art & Design Film Festival events and funny, but at one of the after parties where the crowd was dominated by many Spanish girls, I got recognized and they all kept saying suspiciously, “Vampiro! Vampiro!” Sadly, they did not ask for my autograph, nor a date. I believe the test film later sold in Hollyweird for a bigger project but do not believe that it was or has been made into a longer film. I had lots of fun doing it and learned a lot about myself too. It became part of the story of self, and shaking off my spiritual darkness and am glad I have the memory…

Rose Hill Runabout!

by Shannon Scott (C) 2015

(Click to Hear Shannon Read This Poem In Character)

I don’t care about anything out there!
I don’t care about the pitch fever traffic or the unkindly stares!
I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care, Don’t care, Don’t care, Don’t care!
I’m happy right here where the dead people sleep!

Rose Hill is my pasture and I’m its happy sheep!
There are slopes to run & stone bridges to leap!
Wildflowers growing and grass beneath my feet feet feet!
Grave markers to read and new dead people I need to meet!

I don’t have time for you old world of the living!
You might be driven but you sure ain’t livin!
There’s no peace out there or rest for the wicked!
Stress is your game and your spirits are constricted!
You won’t be my misery and I won’t be your convicted!
Here in this place I’m one with me and stay uplifted!

What’s that you say? You say you laughing at me?
That’s okay because in here you’ll soon be.
Away from all of that out there where you ain’t free.
You just can’t see, can’t see, can’t see.

So you go about your business, hustle and dread.
I’ma roam round here awhile, where you think its dead.
Might even move in, I’m so partial to this stead.
Lie down awhile, take in the cool earth ‘neath my head.
Listen to the river roll by and the train on the tracks too.
I’m home in here with the breeze and the quiet.
Not out there with you in that life laugh riot.

The Church, A Cemetery & My Not So Religious Weekend

 

 

thechurch_hirespressshot_september20141

By Shannon Scott (C) 2015

NOTE: Having just seen The Church in concert recently for what is probably the 4th time, I decided to scratch up this review I wrote for their 30th Anniversary Tour in 2010. I think it says something about the force that music is and also why this band is so enduring.

There’s the church, and then there’s The Church. There are cemeteries, and then there is Rose Hill. Both have been my passion and love for quite some time. I spent a little time with them both this past weekend. Saturday night in Atlanta marked the last night of the 30th Anniversary Tour for the band The Church and then Sunday marked another day in the 170th year of Rose Hill Cemetery.

Rose Hill - Macon 041

The Church as some may know, are best known in the states for their 1988 hit, “Under The Milky Way Tonight,” a haunting, melancholy and cerebral love song of sorts. I remember being 17 and lying on the hood of my 1978 Trans Am inside of an Illinois cemetery surrounded by corn fields, staring at the stars with a girl I loved and the song reverberating off of headstones as it played from the car, moving around the cemetery and night air like some singing wraith. The song and the band became a part of my consciousness and lead singer, Steve Kilbey, a part of my hero base. The man feels art and makes it. He draws and paints, writes and sings, and in the same way some people eat. No lie. And unlike most rock stars who just go around spending money and doing interviews and carry around a kind of glam approach to their craft, Kilbey and crew remain humble honorees to their art.

The.Church-band-1982

Ah but the show. It was a nice crowd of maybe 1000 or a spread out 750. One of those places where there isn’t a bad seat in the house really. Since most reading this aren’t fans per say, I’ll spare you the whole play-by-play. But what I will share that I was reminded what tactile musicians they all were and one other significant thing. A revelation that I will say may at first sound like stating an obvious, but for me it was a kind of revelation that gave me new appreciation as a music lover and as fellow artist. That as a band, they are all telling a story with each song and that each of their contributions is a voice that they add to the story whole. And that without the setting of the band, they could not tell the same story. A story yes, but it would not be of the same scale or meaning. Anyhow, this thought prompted me to see them more as storytellers than just musicians and I began to observe and listen through the rest of the show in an unexpected way. I began to see them more as 4 primordial neolithic beings gathered around some fire and making this sound or that one as they searched for the sound that would shape the story they were trying to tell or perhaps already existed and had found them to help it be told. Some bands strike one as exacting a will, and then other bands, like The Church, are like a will exacting on them. Even so, what gets fashioned in the end, with such cool, loving and even jaded narration by their spirit guides-man, Kilbey, is something very special to behold indeed. I’m not quite sure why they officially chose the name The Church, but I’d have to say that they are love of their own unique organization. Without going to hippie with it, I mean they are a “love organization.” Even in their most dispirited or even cynical songs, they never just remain inside of that one vein and always have some note of benevolence undercurrenting the messages and all is about four good-natured fellows. Like introspective advisers that you would turn to for learning and healing, but less of titles or of an institution. What hey offer you isn’t dogma in repeat but more about vibrations that will in turn do something for you that is meaningful to you and for you. The Church really are some lovely human beings mostly. Relatable magicians amongst the spirits.

The.Church

Unfortunately the next day I woke up from my little dream space inside of the in-love-with-itself, City of Atlanta. Albeit in a very comfortable bed which I did not want to leave. Don’t get me wrong, because my loathing of Atlanta is much akin to those who say, “I don’t support the war but I support the troops.” I like some of the individual things there and some of the individuals themselves but like Oscar Wilde said on his death bed, “Either that wallpaper goes or I do.” So I did and apparently Atlanta is still standing doing its thing.

Greetings From Atlanta by R.Land

Greetings From Atlanta by R.Land

Yuppie Shitholes by R.Land

On my way home down I-16 from Atlanta to Savannah I couldn’t quite shake the overall loneliness of my brief time in Atlanta. I think I relate more to the homeless people stammering around or marching purposefully with their empires stacked high in grocery carts than I do the rest of the population. So  I decided I needed to get grounded in one of my favorite cemeteries, Rose Hill. So after a quick stop for some coffee, I made my way around to the steep hill entrance of the 1840 cemetery. I knew right away that I was going to find a high perch overlooking the river and would soon puff away on one of my favorite cigars. After that the universe would just kick in and take effect. It was a pretty hot day but a decent breeze and big puffy clouds rolled across the sky like ghostly zeppelins in a parade. Anyway, the cemetery is a masterpiece of Italian styled terracing and reminds me that at one time Macon was truly a great city of great business, minds, statecraft and the arts. And you know what? I’m convinced that for all of our corporate commercialized surroundings & techie gadgetry, that our world is actually so much less than civilization was at one time. Rose Hill and other cemeteries are like “today’s” dirty secret in that they reveal the past in brilliant respects and show the present for all of its weaknesses.

Rose Hill Monument by Jennifer Anne Sparatore

Macon today is a fairly rough around the edges & very poor looking town. I mean sure if you’re only measure of quality is by the number of drive-thrus and gas stations that a town has, then yeah, Macon and many other cities are virtual Renaissance Romes. But if your measure is deeper and more complex than that? Say involves literature, poetry, painting, art, stone masonry, sculpting, hand-craft, philosophy, work, effort and valuing what you possess and taking care of it all to make it last? Than cemeteries like Rose Hill once again expose us for the frivolity of the times and the soul sucking of human kind’s individuality going on all around us. Or at least if you believe that the greatness of a time can be and ought to be defined in that place’s architecture, city scape or yes, its cemeteries. In fact to look at Rose Hill, one might even doubt that the place of today and the cemetery in those places have anything to do with each other. That’s how shocking in contrast places like this can seem. As one wanders through one almost in a daze asks, “where did the culture go that belonged to this?”

Rose Hill - Macon 040

But civilization philosophy aside, I just wanted to get grounded by the transporting energy there. So as planned, I found my perch and eventually lit my cigar and then after some puffs decided that I might just take some pictures with my little phone camera, not knowing if it would do the place justice or not. I began to wander and would wait at times for the sun to come out to catch the very contrasty light. I wanted to share some of the scenery with everyone. While I was sitting up on this grave plot above the river that right below has some train tracks, a poem came to mind that I knew I kind of wanted to express in some kind of way. I just got a few beats of it and just put it together below. I think my inner poet sometimes takes on the voice of a Southern black woman and I accept this just fine really. I mean if that’s the voice speaking through, it’s the voice that you accept and borrow you know?

I don’t care about anything out there!
I don’t care about the pitch fever traffic or the unkindly stares!
I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care, Don’t care, Don’t care, Don’t care!
I’m happy right here where the dead people sleep!

Rose Hill is my pasture and I’m its happy sheep!
There are slopes to run & stone bridges to leap!
Wildflowers growing and grass beneath my feet feet feet!
Grave markers to read and new dead people I need to meet!

I don’t have time for you old world of the living!
You might be driven but you sure ain’t livin!
There’s no peace out there or rest for the wicked!
Stress is your game and your spirits are constricted!
You won’t be my misery and I won’t be your convicted!
Here in this place I’m one with me and stay uplifted!

What’s that you say? You say you laughing at me?
That’s okay because in here you’ll soon be.
Away from all of that out there where you ain’t free.
You just can’t see, can’t see, can’t see.

So you go about your business, hustle and dread.
I’ma roam round here awhile, where you think its dead.
Might even move in, I’m so partial to this stead.
Lie down awhile, take in the cool earth ‘neath my head.
Listen to the river roll by and the train on the tracks too.
I’m home in here with the breeze and the quiet.
Not out there with you in that life laugh riot.

Some of the photos need a little explaining. Probably the most interesting and quite possibly, one-of-a-kind, burial aspect to the cemetery is this man-made but very nature grown in, “valley” between what I’ll call the  two main sections of the terraced cemetery. Which is where I spent the bulk of my time taking photos so when you see the shots of the stream, this is running through that area. There are graves here that were constructed to be resemblance of the purported Christ tomb of the bible and in fact a few of them have large rocks in front of their doorways that are the spitting image. There is one shot where you see a small enclosure in the hill which has some bricks around it and it looks like an open mouth. This is one that either fell apart or was dismantled by the family or vandalized, etc. I’ve actually crawled into before in past visits and there were 4-5 bed like graves going back that used to hold the caskets or what have you and one of the neat things about being in there is that the tree roots from the e hill above are growing out of the ceiling so are kind of dangling in the air here and there and it’s really quite strange. It’s a little damp and slimy in there and you can tell kids hang out in it from time to time so there’s a bit of an uneasy feeling about what might crawl over you or who you might bump into but with a little cleaning up it would make a fine little vagabond abode.

In the end, my visit really did achieve the hopeful effect. I won’t lie, I’m rarely happier then when I’m in a cemetery. I feel more connected and abundant with thought and feeling and some part of wholeness kicks in for me that I can’t quite get anywhere else. While in Rose Hill, it took mere seconds, for me to feel “at home” and happy and at ease and at peace. But if I think about it further, certain historic cemeteries are full of everything I love in life – scupltures, wrought & cast iron, flowers, birds, trees, fresh air, history, symbols, and all of those things combined into different compositions at every turn and so many different ways to spend your time looking at them and revisiting them. For someone like me who can be easily pleased (or disturbed) by my esthetic surroundings, the right cemetery can be the definition of absolute beauty to the senses. Its uplifting and peace instilling all at once. There’s also some unconscious knowing built-in to those feelings that one day I to will be a part of one permanently and may my resting place be just as affecting as is Rose Hill, which on this Sunday, for a time, was my church.

Memory Maker

Copyright Shannon Scott (C) 2015
(Listen To Shannon Recite This Poem)

Oh Memory Maker…
Won’t you come take her?
Far, far from the memories we’ve made?
For then I might forget her
And we’d be all the better.
Once more resting in the shade.

For a half finished city was built towards a life of fun.
We stood together and named it “LUMUKU”* and life there had begun.
Scholars, artists and scribes ready to make art of it in the sun.

Then one day it all went away.
I woke up and found the city had been closed.
For repair or a lifetime of delay?
I do not know Memory Maker
For the sign she made did not say.
It just read, “Go Away Go Away!”
Leaving me wondering was it for real or had it all been a play?
I do not know Memory Maker for she has yet to say.

So I sit here idle, outside this shut down town of two hearts.
Oh worry not — Love is here with me, our old friend in these arts.
No truer two had been nor since found
Now awaiting the return of she their three.

Love spies me mumbling,
“We can all live together Memory Maker..”
“We were such good company..”
“You’ll see.. you’ll see.”

(Funny, all I wanted was to lay down beside her like some lazy spider and laugh for a lifetime flicking rubberbands at the trees.)
*LUMUKU = Love U Miss U Kiss U
601218_353762488059001_645442968_n

Untitled: 20 Years In Bidness

 

savannahstr2

You know its weird, I’m going to a Mayoral event today where I’ll be identified as one of 14 businesses that have been around for 20 years. Which I see as surviving mostly. And sure, that’s something, but as I’ve told people, I really don’t tell anyone anymore about how they should come to do business in Savannah anymore. Not unless you’re rich, have someone else’s money to set aflame or are just a gambler by nature. And in some sense, I don’t even encounter those people much anymore to direct them either way. There’s a REASON massive homeless camps now protrude from the offramp into Savannah from the Savannah bridge. Have you seen rent prices? Real estate? Savannah is being marginalized or has been into some weird artificial reality where most of the “homes” are vacation houses. Most of the people are here temporarily as tourist, student or retiree. Start up enterprisers are not just being priced out of Savannah, they can’t even get their foot in the door. Not unless you can get the city to mail you a business license to a homeless camp. If there were far less stringent rules, red tape & bureacracy that would allow “free enterprise” to truly be free, you might see a more relative boomtown than just a town with some Boom Boom for those that can afford it. But the controllers don’t want to see anything that isn’t “pretty” and structured and ordered. They don’t want to see the American Dream in action or struggling. They just want to perpetuate the fantasy that its just always here doing well and that those who are involved with it must wear a certain fashion, have a certain look and only one process (that they dictate), for getting it. That’s because those who already have it, gained fairly or not, are part of a club that believes that because they live behind the gates of some community and that they drive a Mercedes, that unless you come into the game with those things or only aspire for those same things, that you are not worthy of the club. They don’t want to see your dirt, your grime, your less than, perfect, albeit wholly original way of finding success. Those controllers either sold their souls to the club, were given the tools without earning them, or have become so cynical in their success, that they’ve lost all memory of the road and are like Mad Kings with an invented sense of themselves and a deluded reality. Have you ever seen pictures of Savannah’s streets in the 19th Century? There were amazing neon signs but there was also grime and peddlers everywhere and people on the corner selling things. Commerce was in every air molecule of this place. Even though the elite may have sneered here and there, the driving force were those people on their way up. They were the engine, the motor of the American Dream. You couldn’t red tape them to death because they’d have burned your office down and tarred and feathered you. And I’m here to tell you as war veteran, that atmosphere, that original American arena. its been hijacked. Subverted. Subjugated. Granted there will always be individualists like me who break the sound barrier, but I want to see an America full of pilots. Not just the occasional stunt flyer like myself with war stories. And you know, thank God for the optimistic Americans who say, “don’t let’em get you down” or “keep on doing what you’re doing!” I get that. And I know you’re not supposed to talk about things like this because when you do some people feel let down by you or they think you’re just bitter and like a crazy person are talking about ghosts that don’t exist. I’m not really here doing that. I count my blessings. I realize we all have good days and bad. I’m just telling you what I know which is the truth of the experiences I’ve had in 20 years and more. Trust me, I’m trying to keep it all alive in the way I know it should be, can be and as Ayn Rand favorably said, “ought to be.” And I don’t just mean for me, but for everyone who wants the American Dream for themselves. Anyway, here’s to 20 years of something and thank you to those who helped me get here. I’ll keep pushing this boulder up the hill till it rolls down or back on me one.

dore-canto-vii

Daufuskie: The Lost Island & Joe

NOTE: Years ago I had two tours primed to begin on South Carolina’s mysterious and “cursed” island, Daufuskie. A ghost tour and a history tour. All was in place until a resort had its golf carts repossessed and a boat captain couldn’t keep his business of years afloat from the sheer collapse of things on the island economically. Life is still a struggle there but some say getting better. Jimmy Buffet wrote his “Prince of Tides” poem-song about his fears of development threatening this special place. This is my peek at the island through one of its characters and for a time, a man who was to be partners in the endeavor. Meeting him was the best thing that came out of it all really. If you like Part One, encourage me to write Part Two in the comments section. You never know, I just might.

daufuskie-map14PSqq.AuSt.9

Daufuskie is only lost to those who don’t have a good guide. As is it goes for any in a strange new land who wish to journey it. But that’s the trick if you want to uncover Daufuskie. Unlike some other coastal vestiges with at least the random historical marker or friendly local, on Daufuskie, without the right hired guide, it’s a place that you can explore for hours and literally come away missing her soul beyond the visual obvious. Many like myself, found advance intrigue through Pat Conroy’s autobiographical novel, The Water Is Wide which recounts his time as a teacher to the Gullah children of the island and all of its cultural and political peculiarities. John Voight in one of his earliest film roles took on the role of Conroy in the 1974 film version, “Conrack,” which is how the Gullah children pronounced Conroy’s name.  Conroy’s book over time has certainly become Daufuskie’s most sacred, if not controversial text. But beyond Conroy’s tales, most of the info on Daufuskie is scattered in history book footnotes and one or two obscure books. There is great lore in those kinds of passages, but in most respects, that lore is limited to inside the pages of such books. To be on the island itself, it is once more silent on those subjects and gives no real clues to finding any tangible objects pertaining to such stories.

MPW-38425Conrack_Cult7 copylarge_conrack_07_blu-ray_

As abstract as Daufuskie remains, a surprising many indirectly know of the island through Jimmy Buffett’s song The Prince of Tides which also became a Conroy novel title and subsequent film. Buffett’s beautiful 1988 poem turned song, is his own lamenting cry to the island and warns of Daufuskie becoming exploited for its beauty by elitist land developers. Today, over 20 years later, the song’s fore-shadowing has been proven all too true. The private neighborhoods and clubs across the island have a feeling of oblivious existence in contrast to the island’s older defining cultures and more integral historical identifiers.

jimmy-buffett4593345-Gullah_house_wfading_haint_blue_shutters_Daufuskie_Island4593346-Fallen_comrade_Gullah_oyster_house_meets_its_end_Daufuskie_Island

There seems to be an unspoken rule that if you are visiting Hilton Head, “you must go to Daufuskie.” It’s seen as a proverbial “Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200” type of thing. To the outsider this recreational advisement  resembles something unconsciously embedded in minds of coastal residents. Much akin to asking directions to City Hall somewhere, you either get an autonomic like directing nod or a plethora of stories. Some can explain Daufuskie to you and some cannot. Most simply tell you that you must go and most listeners nod back that this must be unfailingly done!  On the simplest level to the simplest mindset, it’s a nice boat ride and you can rent 4-wheeler type golf carts and drive around for 6 hours with Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers. Of which as an activity, I have confessedly partaken. I won’t make excuse for that type of fun, but will say that when I did this almost 20 years ago, there was no Plan B for more soulful gain. Alas, to only go Plan Golf Cart will leave you with the sense that you aren’t really very welcome on the island as a whole and by the end you will be abandoned to an empty feeling that you missed out on something that might have been truly great. But yes, most in the end content themselves that the island lunch was good, shrugging  that their momentary hollow must be due to the long day and leave no worse for their lack of exploration.  But to the Daufuskie pious?  This missed chance for island enlightenment cuts a note like news of an unforgivable crime! To the reverent, the island is natural holy ground consecrated by a long history of unique tribes, food, music, artisans, plant & animal life and more. Daufuskie to many is the Low Country equivalent of Mecca! One goes to Daufuskie to commune with all of it’s beauty and inspiration and for those that understand this they might cry, “Put down thy golf clubs and pick up thy divining rods!”

Daufuskie-Island-Oyster-House-a-10

But yes, for those who lack divining rods and don’t already speak Daufuskie’s very spiritual language, one must find themselves the company of a great spirit guide. Permit me then to speak of Daufuskie’s storytelling minister. A man with a calling on Daufuskie known as Low Country Joe. Depending on who you ask, he’s like other mythical, many sided things found on Daufuskie. The meaning is all determined by the degree of light and shadow occurring when you encountered said thing or as in this case, man.  Much like the time cured stones from which Joe crafts and wire wraps jewelry, Joe is a composite figure. With Joe, you’re not getting delicate, unobservable crystals. By the time he’s gotten to you, he’s already a complete piece ready for application. Simple to observe and hold, but much the same of other gems, there was a long complex process went into making him. Joe in fact might as well be Daufuskie. By all counts he’s considered the living face and voice of the island, and like the island, Joe has as many faces as he does voices.

4593343-The_Man_The_Myth_The_Low_Country_Joe_Daufuskie_IslandDaufuskie-Island-LighthouseGullah_-Gullah_-Ghost_Tour

Like all those trying to survive on a complicated land mass like Daufuskie, Joe walks in multiple worlds in order to thrive and to live creatively.  When Joe is on Hilton Head Island, he works as a realtor and is greatly admired by his peers for his track record.  But for Joe, Hilton Head is the physical world and Daufuskie is the spirit one.  One gets the sense that Joe sees going to Hilton Head as the place where he does good earthly work, but that crossing back over the water to Daufuskie is a return to a place more sanctuary like for himself. Yes, Daufuskie is home for Joe, but it’s also a bit of his own personal heaven.  Yet for Joe it’s not the Heaven of eternal rest. No, Joe is more than just another celestial resident. He’s more like like an angel on call and his duty it would seem is to explain the place’s surroundings.

4593344-Misty_mysticism_surrounds_you_at_every_turn_Daufuskie_Island

He often tells the tourists that he’s a “tweener.” Meaning that he lives and lavishes in between the two cultures on Daufuskie.  There are the fore mentioned rich, living in the Haig Point community, and then there are those who are rich only in culture and family called “Gullah.” They are descendants of the first quarter of a million slaves to enter the colonies, stolen from their native African nation of Angola.  Interestingly, if you were to ever visit there, you’d find that those Africans refer to themselves as Golla. When slaves were emancipated, there were many freedmen who trekked Northward to the cities for real work and to begin fresh. In contrast, the Gullah (and the Georgia Geechee), for reasons of home affinity and economics,  opted to move themselves to the islands of the Southern coastline. Understandably, this move was basically the perfect situation for those that had mistrust of their former white detractors. The Gullah came to harvest the islands and the sea and traded with the mainland but generally speaking, their culture became an isolationist one.  Yet even in those early days of the post war Gullah, there were people who acted as tweeners.  People who had need of the Gullah and they had need of them for one reason or the other. Well in the modern sense of Daufuskie, this is the position from which Joe works. Joe cannot be Low Country Joe without the Gullah and whether the Gullah know it or not, they have need of Joe. There aren’t very many people trying to bring positive energy directly to the island in terms of presenting the Gullah’s life and times.  But even amongst those who are, Joe is clearly unique.

SilverDewOld

As a member of Haig Point, Joe is certainly not poor, but he is neither extraordinarily rich. It should be noted that when living on Daufuskie, there isn’t much middle of a middle class and of what there is, it’s so far removed from those in the upper crust that they are living more towards the fiscally poor. Low Country Joe’s riches have more to do with quality of life measures. There are other very interesting “tweeners” on the island (some parcel to his tours), but none respectfully seem so much a captain or island dignitary as does Joe. What truly sets him apart is his role as champion storyteller. Of which Daufuskie has more than one bard to count. But Joe through guts, passion and even the occasional act of folly, has landed himself as ringmaster and his guided tours serve as center stage.

AShrimperandhissonSweetGrass11

The ferry ride from Hilton Head to Daufuskie is as perfect  a 45 minutes that one could ever possibly spend. The unhurried waterways are full of breathtaking scenery of islands, boats, coastal houses, birds, dolphins, clouds, and other sensory delight that only add to the emotional  mythos  of the journey. In the case of the tour that day, there were a handful of friends with me and Low Country Joe met us earthly side for the ride over to the spiritual sands of Daufuskie. One of the first things you notice about Joe is that he’s very gentle in appearance.  His eyes are very soft and he has a very distinguished alabaster white beard and head of hair. He wears a long white, oversized and very finely made safari shirt with lots of pockets and buttons. His wrists and neckline bore wire jewelry that he crafts and with its simple wire, crystals and arrow flint, his whole wardrobe made him feel very much like some holy man escort. There’s a quality to him that is very light and at first, very under spoken. Before we boarded the ferry and were walking through the parking lot, it was almost as if he floated and I had to force myself to catch his sound. This nature I would come to understand is his style as a storyteller.  Going from underwhelming to then overwhelming is more his trick you could say.  Joe was quietly preparing to run us up a storytelling mountain.

Img16172011_92722images

While on the ferry, Joe began to talk to us about “root.” Offering that there was good root operating in the world and bad root. The concept was not unfamiliar to me having lived in Savannah for so long and for having called some Gullah friends and neighbors. I’ve even known a few root doctors in my own time.  Root inside the Gullah world and in the most basic sense, is a reference to natural energy in the world that can be used for good and evil. But probably even more primordial than that, it stems from the long history of using roots for the improvement of health, or sometimes to the detriment of an enemy. The belief is that it can be channeled into an object and offered for protection or presented to harm or it can even be instrumented through words. One of the most serious things you could ever say inside of the Gullah culture or even just in some southern neighborhoods would be, “I’m going to root you!” At one time when root doctors were more the medicine people (and a bit like lawyers), of neighborhoods, this kind of a statement was a declaration of war. It would have typically resulted in all parties enlisting their own root doctor to help them do battle.

 

The phrase and suggestions of root can still be quite affecting. Root isn’t unlike Voodoo or aspects of Macumba or Santeria. Depending on who you ask about the subject, and I might argue that authority in the subject is as subjective as the craft itself, you’re going to get varying claims on it being more good or more evil. Most Gullah are and have been either Christian or Muslim so they tend to stave off the importance or value of root. The mention either gets you scoffs because their churches have taught them its anti-faith or they will simply do their best to avoid getting into its discussion. But make no mistake, root still thrives in this region and those who worship one way or the other in their churches or mosques, still seek out its purpose and practice if they feel it will benefit them in certain situations. If just as a back up measure to prayer and regular legal or medical counsel.

Harry-Roseland-Palm-Reader-1898

Joe extended his hand to me to show that he held a piece of good root. It was a very old piece of Indian pottery and looked like black obsidian. He handed it to me so that I might consider its energy or powers. I could tell that it was not just old but ancient. It had ridges that reminded me of the way bakers pinch certain pastries at their edges. Its known that Daufuskie was home to what they call the “Woodland” tribes that date about 9000 years ago and Joe estimated that it was somewhere from that time. He’d said he’d found it on “Fuskie” and considered it his personal charm. Which at first I thought it was a gift for me and when he requested it back I made him laugh a little when I called him an Indian artifact giver.

drbuzzardjars

We arrived not far from the historic Haig Point Lighthouse and walked up a winding tabby path towards the Strachan Mansion.  Joe marveled to explain that this historic house had been built in the 18th century and in a very fancy move, one of the developers had moved the mansion onto the island flatboat style as a show piece to accent the nearby golf courses and other resort aspects. Somehow the mansion no longer felt antique with its highly manicured surroundings and buzzing golf carts. It looked less historic and more historic “like.” As we stepped into the mansion foyer, or what was once a very grand porch, for all of the many tables and other seating niches, it was devoid of people. Joe began to explain that since one of the resorts went bankrupt that it wasn’t quite what it used to be. I must explain that my interest in Daufuskie is much more about the Gullah and antique for its own sake and my lifestyle isn’t much akin to the life and times of gated communities and resort life. So frankly I was indifferent to the news and for this part of the tour I found myself feeling less convinced about it being that compelling or material. One resort is but another cut of the same cookie in these parts really. Old house out front or not. But besides this, I remained patient because I knew that the “good stuff” was just around the corner.

69249618mansion1

As we went out the back door to what would have been an area for horses, we found instead a stable of golf carts. Some privately owned, some rentals and there were a variety of 57’ Chevy designed ones, those of limo length and off road ATV looking types. On a side note, I would recommend if at all possible, getting one with the fat tires if you’re going to voyage beyond the resort as we did. The sandy, unkempt roads of the historic neighborhoods and other areas aren’t much for the small tread wheels of the one we ended up securing. But I suppose that was a part of the fun too so take it or leave it. Joe made his introductions to the garage staff and we found one that sat all 8 of us and mounted up. What I came to admire about Joe that day was he isn’t one to really color inside of the lines all of the time. He didn’t much bother with golf course, golf cart etiquette and if there was something he felt dire to show us, by God he was going to drive across a yard or some boundary implied border to get us there! Which is also a rank he’s kind of earned but walks finely too. It became clear to me that day by looks and comments of resort members, that he’s revered for his character by some who are worldly and accepting enough, but that he’s also snubbed now as a distasteful entity among the elite. So goes his life as the tweener and for now, he pays his membership dues just like the rest of them.

marshside-mama-s-cafeimages (1)

At this point I want to impress that if you have ever wanted to satisfy your childhood or perhaps even adult fantasy of riding shotgun to Willy Wonka inside of his factory, less the immaculate chocolate part of that idea, spending a day with Low Country Joe is a very close equivalent! He is all at once the island mystic and tour guide guru but it comes with personality streaks of a mad hatter alright! He’s going to show you all of the special and secret rooms with much dramatic annunciation, but yes, he’s quick to remind you to have the proper respect of this mechanic or that facet to the island. It would be easy to convince yourself that the island is just his factory with some of his libertine stories and off color takes on the place, but he truly manages to evoke and maintain the appropriate respect for the place while he’s dazzling you. He’s truly a master at balancing this like any great performer. Which I might add is another virtue of Joe’s kind of touring and its importance to the island by contrast to the general offerings of the “get a golf cart and go” routines. As you pass by those “other types” doing that, it’s basically comes off as out of control and bears no resemblance to having any respect for where they actually are.

As we sputtered off across a path or two, our first stop was to a series of tabby ruin buildings. If you’re ever in the South and you want to show off your regional knowledge and even one-up some of the locals, just expound on the subject of tabby ruins and you’ll gain instant respectability. It’s a statement that you’ve put some time in the area and have quite possibly sought them out like an ancient shrine, as many a tabby ruin are only found in obscure places and some even more obscure than Daufuskie. Tabby is a “lost” building art and the substance is comprised of oyster shells, limestone, sand and water. It took 8 men an entire work day to build a section a foot high and 10 ft long. Some of the sturdiest stuff every manufactured in its time and the chemical moment that made all of the ingredients bind is gone from memory. So yes, they’re iconic structures that to the unfamiliar eye look quite primitive and almost like natural formations rather than manmade.  According to Joe, these ruins were some of the early slave quarters for the no longer extant Haig Point Plantation of the mid 19th century. But as these ruins sat somewhere between the tee green and the clubhouse, we stayed but a minute and then went ambling back down the road.

A moment or two later we set our sights on the very curious and very beautiful Haig Point Lighthouse built in 1872.  It stands so close to the bluff that it very much looks ready to jump into the water! The structure is very much the definition of “light” and “house.” Unlike the rising cylinder or needle styled light houses, it looks like a home that was built around a tower containing a look out deck and housing for the lens. Haig Point Lighthouse was built on top of the foundation for one of the largest tabby homes ever built and when the lighthouse was restored in the 1980s, instead of covering up the foundation, they left the tops of its walls exposed and marks an impressive outline that at first glance appears to be an unusual sidewalk. Joe drove us up close to the house and around it and described that it was now a 2 bedroom B&B situation for guests of Haig Point. Low Country Joe is also known as “Lighthouse Joe” and anything lighthouse is very dear to Joe’s heart since he lives in his own, The Bloody Point Lighthouse on the other end of the island. So if you want to endear yourself to Joe forever, brush up on your lighthouse history and you’ll be fast friends.

daufuskieRear haig-point-lighthouse1

Pre-Order Your Haunted Savannah Illustrated Map! (March 1st Release!)

Having been one of the principal founders and builders of Savannah’s ghost touring trade, I can tell you this product has been long over due for explorers in the market. Friend & fellow map making colleague Michael Karpovage has succeeded in bringing this wonderful guide to satisfy. Over a year ago we discussed its prospect and I did all to encourage and offer some wisdom towards its creation and he has far exceeded even what I thought possible. One can take ghost tours all day and read all of the ghost books, but to have everything at a glance in such a devoted map guide, is really the icing in this kind of interest in Savannah. We wish to thank Michael Karpovage for not only all of his passion, skill and energies, but my personal appreciation for including my After Hours Cemetery Tours in his listings and for promoting the Haunted Savannah App on the map itself. We look forward to more to come from the talent pool of Michael Karpovage who is also a novelist -and hope you’ll check out his website! KarpovageCreative Pre-order your copy by clicking here Haunted Savannah Map Illustrated 

Cover Art9780985653231.IN02

9780985653231.IN03

America’s Most Haunted City DVD/CD Back On Amazon For Sale!

Fan of the paranormal? Hauntings? Family or friends who just can’t get enough of it? Shannon Scott’s film, “America’s Most Haunted City” a perfect buy for those seeking an intelligent narrative about Savannah’s social heritage and all told through the voice of Savannah’s most respected and long standing journalist of Savannah mythos and mysteries. Nearly 2 Hours in length and comes with soundtrack by composer Edwin Brown and his 12 Original Tracks. Can be purchased on Amazon.

AMHC-DVDcover front AMHC_JPG

VTS_01_1_02 VTS_01_1_06 VTS_01_1_18 VTS_02_1_00 VTS_03_1_00 VTS_03_1_01 VTS_04_1_00 VTS_04_1_01 VTS_06_1_00 VTS_08_1_00