Thursday, July 23, 2015

... mad and MAD!!! & other Unhappy Hour Poe-woes...

“Men have called me mad;
but the question is not yet settled,
whether madness is or is not
the loftiest intelligence…”
~E. A. Poe

Yep, that is where MY spin landed.

I’m just getting home from The Poe Museum’s July Unhappy Hour. I’ve written about these events before including June’s “the truth behind the Unhappy hour” and May’s “an unhappy hour leads to a Death purse—literally”. They’re always a little different. 

Tonight’s theme was connected with mental illness to coincide with the new exhibit: Madness & Insanity in the work of Edgar Allan Poe. The piece that was the advertised focus was “The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether”; for each Unhappy Hour, I do my homework. This afternoon I read the piece in preparation for any theatrical events or exhibits. I haven’t read this piece in years and had forgotten how creepy some parts are, especially the part about the character thinking that he is a piece of cheese and walking around asking others *with a knife in hand* if they would care for a slice.

Tonight’s crowd was completely different from the May and June events and I think this has a bit to do with the featured bands. 

Tonight’s music was by Fool’s Errand. On their site, they describe themselves as “a Folk group from Richmond Va that blends elements of Gypsy, Americana and World Music.” I thought they sounded a bit like The Afghan Whigs but what do I know. Richmond has become a hipster town and the band drew a hipster crowd. No hate toward the hipsters though because they, too, help tip the balance in keeping Richmond further from the old South and closer to the progressive one. And the band did draw in a good amount of folks which is kind of where this post is leading so stick with me.

Unhappy Hour was almost feeling like a bust as I sat sipping my wine and contemplating heading out to get some dinner. But first, I wanted to see the exhibit. I headed in and was greeted by Kelly who simply announced that she was “the historian”. She was completely alone in the exhibit room and seemingly had been for a while so I struck up a conversation. After the two of us practically nerded out on what we love about Poe during a conversation which morphed into Poe’s sister Rosalie and graveyards in general, I was so grateful that I had had the chance to chat with her. She just felt like one of those kindred spirits and if I hadn’t felt so creepy I would have asked for her Facebook username or something. So even when the overall crowd seems different, you still can find your people. Kelly even comes up from North Carolina! How's that for extreme commuting for something you love. 

There's a cat in the garden!
Overall, it really was a successful event and the museum’s executive director, Jaime Fawcett has transformed the place into a modern, “happening” destination.

After the exhibit, I strolled down the street to eat and continue reading J. W. Ocker’s Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe (October 6, 2014). I’m currently reading chapter five which is focused on Maryland and how the Poe House in Baltimore, Maryland faced being closed back in 2010 and then finally closed its doors in 2013. I remember this being in the news and how upset everyone was. Unlike the Richmond Poe Museum, Poe actually lived in the Poe House in Baltimore. Thankfully the Poe House reopened for weekends last year and seems to remain open on weekends now. 

While I was reading Ocker’s book I was becoming steadily irritated that folks seemingly only miss things when they’re gone or close to being gone. I think of Field of Dreams’ line, “If you build it, he will come.” I guess I kind of feel that way about weird events. I try to frequent every possible Unhappy Hour (and every possible spooky exhibit in the region for that matter) even if I’m looking at the same artifacts in the museum (which this season, I am not thanks to their new exhibits!) I understand there are numerous factors for why the Richmond museum works and the Baltimore one struggles—different location, different surroundings, different people, etc. etc. But if we want places like this to stay open, shouldn’t we frequent them? Shouldn’t we support local? That being said, I appreciate the efforts of keeping the Richmond Poe Museum’s Unhappy Hours diverse. It takes all kinds of people, not just us spooky girls, to keep these museums going. I look forward to showing up to a future Unhappy Hour and discovering a Poe- Griswold Rap Battle! If it happens, remember you read it here first! ;D

Steps down off of her Poe soapbox. 

The cats are Edgar and Pluto by the way. They live at the museum. 


  1. Loved this post, you describe this unhappy event so that I really really wish I was there, even though it was more hipster oriented! :D And I agree with you totally, we should support local events and museums more. Have you watched Epic Rap Battles of History? They are on youtube and one of them features Poe with another horror writer! ERBs are hilarious. :D

    1. I think you would have loved last month's Unhappy Hour. The music was more our scene although the band last night did play a song about a haunted house :)

      I have seen them and I laughed myself out of the chair when I saw the Poe one!

    2. Poe vs. King is one of the best. :D

    3. Ha ha that's the one I had seen. I had to go back and watch it again this morning :)

  2. I agree completely. If you want something to continue then you definitely need to make an effort to frequent that place or event. When Ed and I ran the open, Pagan community in NYC, we had a great start. Lots of people came out and continued to come to our events. But after a while folks didn't make time for it and we were tired of being the only people in the diner or whatever, so we ended the group. This is the simple version, of course. Things were a whole lot more complicated then that, but you get the idea. When we ended the group, people complained. I couldn't help but say to them that the main reason we stopped the group was because they didn't come down.

    Anyway, you've inspired me ... I'm going to post on something similar today! :)

    1. Exactly! geez. You're not even asking people to put together an event; you've made one for them so that all they need to do is show up! I get that people are busy; we're all busy! But there also seems to be a consistent laziness or an assumption that if I miss the first 14 events there will be a 15th one I can attend sigh.

      I can't wait to read your post.

  3. I bet Kelly is bummed that she didn't get YOUR Facebook username!

  4. Not really sure how I lucked up today and ran across your blog! Love your blog and anything concerning Poe. Also have been blessed to have been able to visit the Hollywood Cemetery. My husband and I read the Mary Mitchell book, the "Hollywood Cemetery". Oh, and how we enjoyed the Valentine Museum. Keep up the great work, it is appreciated.

    1. Thanks,Cindy! I appreciate it. Welcome :D