Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Trail of Spears

Saturday we drove north from New Orleans to a small town near the Mississippi border called Kentwood. In better years Kentwood was called the Dairy Capital of the South, but its recent claims to fame include a brick factory and a bottled water that goes by the brand name Kentwood Springs. Oh, Kentwood is also the hometown of Britney Spears and the reason for our trip, the Kentwood Britney Spears and Military Museum. Now, I am not a fan of Britney Spears or military action, but put the two together and you have a recipe for a kitsch pie that I want to eat with an oversized novelty fork.

Museum curator, Hannah M. Schwartz, does a wonderful job of setting a dynamic tone for the tour. She escorts you into a dark room and asks you to wait near a white wall. Don't move away from the wall or Hannah will bristle you back in place to maximize the dazzling impact of what's to come. She disappears into the dark and then with the flip of a switch the first beats of "Oops!...I Did It Again" drop as the lights of a small-scale replica of the stage Britney performed on for her HBO Concert Special come on. The story behind the making of the stage is more fantastic than the stage itself and I urge you to read about it if you can't make your way to Kentwood to hear it in person. After the stage and light show you are lead through a hall of gold and platinum records, autographed posters, Hummel figurines, and some of Britney's lesser awards to a very special place. Kid you not, they have transported Britney Spears' childhood bedroom to the museum and lovingly reinstalled every dirty stuffed animal and doll and every overly sexed junior high school photograph tacked to her full-length mirror. Tragically, Hannah does not allow you to take pictures inside the museum, so Dave LaChapelle's photo of Britney in her bedroom will have to suffice.

© David LaChapelle
We stayed and soaked up the greatness for a while and then headed over to the military wing of the museum. Somehow the images of Kentwood’s war dead wasn't exactly a fitting digestif after the three course sugar fest that was the Britney wing. We decided to grab the RZ and the 5D and explore Kentwood in the hopes of capturing a little bit of the local flavor that spawned America's favorite pop tart. Sadly, most of Kentwood looks like an open casket funeral for William Eggleston's south.

Photos to come soon...
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