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    Clarksdale Triptych

    July 14, 2016

    I awoke refreshed just after 8 a.m.  (Late for me.)

     

    I made coffee (french press style) and journaled.

     

    Hearing thunder, I looked outside to dark swirling clouds.

     

    I didn't care. 

     

    In the comforts of a cabin, nature could not touch me; plus, I had plenty to write about.  I could have stayed inside all day and been perfectly content.

     

    I covered my bike with my tent (remember it doubles as a tarp).

     

    It rained hard for nearly two-hours. 

     

    Then, it became very cool and crisp.  

     

    Blue skies appeared, and so off I went -- back into town. 

     

    Eric had sent a text to have lunch, so we ate together at a place called Stone Pony Pizza.  We had a delicious BBQ-style pie and a salad. 

     

    Afterwards I headed to the library. 

     

    Here's where the Clarksdale stories begin...

    Story 1:  Bad Blood  

     

    A man who asked to remain anonymous heard me typing away.  He asked me what I was doing, and I told him.  Moments later, he passes me a composition book and asks me to autograph it.  I laugh. 

     

    We chatted for a bit, and he shared this story.

     

    He's an owner-operator of his personal tractor trailer. 

     

    While driving through a neighboring state (he asked that I keep that anonymous, too), his vehicle got stuck. 

     

    It was such a big deal for this small town that the local police chief came out to assess the situation.  They called the wrecker service, too.  Ultimately, they (not him) came up with the bright idea of sawing the trailer in half to get him out of this pickle. 

     

     

    He had other ideas on how to get his truck out, but, no, they had it all under control.  Because his situation was being handled by the local authorities, he headed back into Mississippi. 

     

    To make a long story short, when he returned, the dog food he was hauling was gone, and the sawed off trailer sat -- EMPTY. 

     

    Total damage about $20,000. 

     

    His question? 

     

    "What is America coming to when hardworking citizens get robbed by elected officials and their service providers?"

     

    Of course, his insurance company does not want to pay for the damages/losses because he left the scene, yet he left the scene because the authorities were handling it. 

     

    He calls this an example of "Bad Blood."

     

    Paraphrasing here, he acknowledges all the shootings and deaths and back and forth between the black community and the police.  Ultimately, for him, it all comes back to the bad blood that runs between them. 

     

    In his case, he was not able to trust the authorities to prevent his haul (the dog food) from being stolen.  In fact, he tells me that many black truck drivers (especially owner operators) drive at night to avoid unnecessary searches and seizures. 

     

    It's all unprovoked. 

     

    It's all bad blood. 

    Story 2:  Creative Space

     

    When I left the library and my anonymous truck driver friend, I ran into the Crossroads Cultural Arts Center

     

    I passed by the building, looked at the hours, thought it was closed and walked away. 

     

    A pleasant woman opened the door and asked me if I wished to come inside.  She explained to me the mission of the organization.  The director, Chandra Williams, was in a meeting; however, she was more than happy to meet and speak to me in just a bit. 

     

    I asked what kind of projects were happening right now, and learned that young students were making planters/flower boxes in the back.  I asked if I could watch and take some pictures. 

     

    Without hesitation, I was walked into the back where a gentlemen was instructing about eight children on measuring, wood selection, and wood working. 

     

    On the left, nearly all the pieces of wood are ready to go.  Two small pieces remain.  The young boy still needs to sand the wood.

     

    Later, he will paint and design his planter however he wishes.  Moreover, he will sell his functional art work for whatever price he sees fit.  

     

    In this Clarksdale story, a creative space has been actualized to help young people imagine art's possibilities.  

    Story 3:  Rising Musician 

     

    Larry, the minister I met earlier this week, suggested I go to Hambone. 

     

    (Stage below.) 

     

    I invite Eric.  We arrive just before set two begins from this very casual trio.

     

    Little did we know what awaited us from this country/folk ensemble with instruments consisting of a guitar, a drum box, and an electric violin.  

     

    Alice Hasen played the violin. 

     

    Watching her fingers jump, bounce, and spring all over that instrument, I am in complete awe.

     

    Dumbstruck. 

     

    You wouldn't know she hails from Vermont, or that she graduated from Yale, or that she worked for Teach for America, either.

     

    Just a rising musician... risking and creating.     

    I walk into Hambone.

     

    I pay $5.00 to see Alice slay it on stage. 

     

    This is how it goes when you wander around Clarksdale. 

     

    The Thursday Clarksdale triptych.

    Until we meet again, my friend.

     

     

     

     

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