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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ode to the Street Preacher

Well, the Mayan apocalypse has come and gone and we are all inexplicably still alive.  Its a major disappointment for doomsday fanatics.  After last year's apocalyptic no-show this must seem like this world is never going to end.

I wanted to take a few minutes to shine the spotlight on those of use who enjoy letting us know when the next apocalypse is around the corner:  The Street Preacher.  He is always there to remind us what we are doing wrong and to scare us with the consequences.   Next time you find yourself uncomfortably walking past one trying not to make eye contact, take a moment to nod and thank them for making life a little more interesting.

 The large cross they carry is a very popular accessory, and there is no reason to be impractical about it either.  A simple hinge can make it much easier to carry.

Not all of them are as friendly as this young fellow.......When I was in college this guy was a recurring sight on our campus.........

This guy really really hated gay people.....and he wasn't a very big fan of catholics, darwinists or anyone else for that matter.

Its not a purely Southern thing either......check out this guy from Time Square in New York.

That's much more crazy and confusing then any of these other guys....

The problem is that what these guys have in message they lack in presentation.  Which brings me to my personal favorite street preacher:  Brother Obidiah Franklin.

Obidiah posses as a human statue in all red.  When he draws curious on-lookers he is happy to talk to them and has a very warm demeanor.  He uses donations from churches to travel around the country spreading his word.  He was happy to pose for pictures.  His only request is that his face not be photographed.  He says it takes away from his message.  He assured me the sign and arrow above him were pure coincidence.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Strange and Unusual Nativities

Christmas season is upon us and amongst the Santa Clauses and Snowmen we always have one of the stables of the holiday season:  The Nativity Scene.  The classic tableaux of baby Jesus and his entourage.

Stealing the baby Jesus has been one of the biggest goals of hooligans over the years, in fact the problem is so widespread that they have begun the practice of planting GPS trackers inside of baby Jesus.

I wanted to take some time to show some of the more unusual and off-beat Nativity Scenes I have seen over the years.

Gingerbread Jesus

Jesus appears to be a pig in the blanket and Mary and Joseph kinda look like painted Twinkies, but its a sweet sentiment.  Now one would think that gingerbread and Nativity would be as a natural combination as peanut butter and Jelly, but one must remember that the structural integrity of gingerbread houses can at times be questionable.  Ginberbread Manger collapse is a serious concern.

Court House Nativity Scene

Every year in Macon County, NC they put a Nativity scene in front of the court house.  This angered some people as they felt it was a violation of the separation between church and state.  The county decided to circumnavigate this concern by designating the front of the court house as a "free speech" zone and encouraging others to place their holiday displays.  A Wiccan Coven actually placed a display for a short time.  However any sort of consistent non-Christian display failed to materialize and the Nativity stands to this day.

The Confounding

Some nativity scenes are just a little "off"....Take a look....

or this.....

I don't even know what to say about that one......

Now this probably has some religious connotations, but all I can think about is how that Mary and Joseph should be more careful and not leave Baby Jesus alone with a lion.

Permanent Nativity Scene in Christmas, FL

The town of Christmas, FL was named after Fort Christmas, but the locals obviously felt the need to add some spice to their town to play up the name.

One of the these enhancements is their year long Nativity Scene.

These are not blow-mold figures.  They are sturdy concrete.  Well except little Jesus.

Although, touchingly, no one has stole little Jesus.  Either that or they have a big box of Baby Jesuses around back.

Charlie Daniel's Nativity Guitar

Previously found in the now defunct Charlie Daniels Museum in Nashville, TN.

Inflatable Mangers

Beary Christmas

Here in the Smoky Mountains we are dedicated to to putting black bears on everything to sell to tourists.

Apparently, nothing is sacred.

Man, if Jesus was actually a bear, the Bible would be WAY different.

Parade Float Nativity

At the Gatlinburg, TN Christmas parade the local religous attraction "Christ in the Smokies" ran this parade float.

Yes, they are mannequins.  What made is scary was when the truck whizzed past us at 60 MPH before the parade, scarying the hell out of my wife, who mistook them for real people.

The Living Nativity

The living Nativity scene can be a charming event and a pleasant part of the Christmas festivities.  They give people a chance to see first hand what the first Christmas would have looked like.

And it gives little kids a chance to put their dirty little hands all over Baby Jesus.

However, not all live Nativities are the same.  Me and my family were passing a church and saw that they had a live Nativity.  We decided to pull in and check it out.  For some reason it was a drive-through Nativity.  We pulled up and saw little baby Jesus in his manager.  But it didn't end there.  As we trouble through the church parking lots there were different scenes depicting Jesus' life.  Including a scene were Jesus was being beaten by roman soldiers.  Keep in mind this took place in a dark parking lot and from what we could make out was Jesus being mugged and beaten with chains while he shrieked in pain.  My daughter started crying.  It started getting even more uncomfortable as we drove past a bloody guy strapped to a cross.  Luckily, Easter Jesus showed up to shine a little bit of light on the parking lot version of "Passion of the Christ".

Baby Jesus and the Crucifiction 

I know, I know....Baby Jesus and grown up Jesus are the same person, but it there is something unsettling about seeing the two together.

Poor kid.......

A local preacher set up a display for Christmas known as "Cradle to the Cross."

He took this lovely local monument....

Wrapped it in Christmas trees and placed a Wooden Nativity Scene in front of it. 

The idea was that the tree would wilt and fade away and leave the cross exposed.  Leaving this imagery.

That may be a powerful image to some people, but it makes me feel bad for poor little Jesus.

Of course he's just a log painted blue, so maybe I should relax.

Santa Loves Jesus

Awhile back I found this interesting display.

That is Santa Claus praying to Jesus.  Interesting mixture of the religous and secular aspects of Christmas.  And interesting that Santa appears to be some sort of giant.

This was not alone display either, apparently this image has become a popular one.

Everyone have a Merry Christmas...............

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream

Monday, December 10, 2012

Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum

Way back in 2009 I had the honor of visiting the "The Aluminum Tree and Aesthetically Challenged Ornament Museum and Research Center" or ATOM for short.  ATOM was a nomadic museum display that appeared for several years in the late 2000s.  It was dedicated to preserving the Aluminum Christmas Tree.

For the uninitiated: Aluminum Christmas Trees were a trend in mid-century America.  Americans grew sick of the "natural" Christmas Tree.  They needed something much more shiny, loud and quasi-futuristic.  Complete with foil needles and topped of with a mysterious lighting device know as the "color wheel" that basks the tree in flashing lights.

ATOM was born out of the personal collection of enthusiast Stephen Jackson.  In 2009 the trees were inexplicably displayed in the remote mountain community of Brevard, NC, whose other claims to fame include being the home Steve Martin and White Squirrels.

But we will talk about that some other time......

The Trees at ATOM where all designed with their own theme.  For some reason most were female country singers.

The Crystal Gale Tree.....

The Dolly Parton Tree.........

The Brenda Lee Tree.....

The Tammy Fay Baker Tree..........

And the obligatory Elvis Tree.........

The Museum even had some oddball variants such as this Aluminum Bonzai Tree......

They included some displays to honor other religions as well, such as this Hanukkah Tree.....

And an Aluminum Buddha.....

And then they took things to the next level and featured exhibits on the life cycle of Aluminum Trees.

 And some fossilized examples.....

And of course it contained the one thing that all Southern Museums contain...............

A Moonshine Still!

Sadly, ATOM has disappeared and even its website has gone dead.  But like the Mighty Aluminum Tree re-emerged I am sure ATOM will rise from the ashes as well.

Merry Kitschmas one and all........

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream