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Accurate, But Misleading

Maybe I coulda rope-a-doped Formosa, but I skipped it

Last Friday, I was invited onto Studio 512 to discuss Titanic on 43rd Street. I had some stinky bait, but I decided to leave it in the cooler. I was ready to juxtapose accurate statements about Elisabet Ney and Elizabeth Nye to maybe stir up confusion and draw a reaction.

Elisabet Ney

At a time when Austin's arts impressarios were fighting an uphill battle to un-podunk the popular entertainments and culture-up the hayseeds, sculptor Elisabet Ney was Austin's least podunk resident. Well, she was a resident and she wasn't.

Self-styled impressario Mint Reed wrote about the uphill battle to culture-up Austin in her book Music in Austin: 1900 -- 1956

Ney's Formosa studio occupied land in the northeast corner of Hyde Park. Ney's plot included most of Waller Creek's bend through Hyde Park. Ney left her body behind at Formosa in 1907.

Elizabeth Nye

Elizabeth Nye survived Titanic. On April 14, 1912, Nye had the opportunity to step out onto the decks of the legendary luxury liner to take in Titanic's last sunset. Roughly 2/3 of Titanic's passengers and crew would never see the sun rise again. Nye was among the survivors who made it to a lifeboat and shivered minute-by-minute through the coldest night of her life, unsure if she would ever see dawn.

Nope to the Formosa Rope-a-Dope

The event is already titled Titanic on 43rd Street: A Folk Walking Tour Through Hyde Park. If ever there were an opportunity to intentionally confuse Ney and Nye, this was it. I could have said accurate things with correct name pronunciation in such a way as to give the impression that Elisabet Ney survived Titanic. I mean, it'd be a lot cooler if she did, alright?

But I couldn't bring myself to do it. What would have happened? In terms of Austin's cultural archeology, Formosa is a shrine of incubation that transformed itself into a shrine of curation. Most of Austin's places of incubation get razed, parking lotted (Armadillo World Headquarters), or Starbucked (Les Amis). So a place of incubation transforming itself into a place of curation is a rare Austin story.

As for the staff and volunteers of Formosa, I suppose they gently correct the pronunciation of Elisabet -- no h at the end -- dozens of times every week. And there's dozens of other times where they probably let it slide. But if some dude went on TV to suggest that Ney survived Titanic, maybe they would have had to respond to clarify. So instead of giving Formosa another pronunciation headache as they approach Ney Day, this Saturday (4/16), I skipped it.

It was gonna be a cheap trick. So I felt a little bad that I almost tried to rope-a-dope Formosa. So I wrote an aside to Formosa docents into this evening's walking tour.

If Ney Day was gonna be anything like Dre Day, I didn't want to make myself an eazy target.

Thursday (4/14/22)

7:00 PM

NE corner of 43rd Street & Speedway

This will be a free outdoor event. The walking tour will weave together elements of Hyde Park history, Titanic anecdotes, homebuilding, shipbuilding, Tudor London, Texas trees, and nautical lore into a brand new story spanning centuries and oceans.

April 14 will mark the 110-year anniversary of Titanic’s final sunset. The ocean liner would sink beneath the surface of the North Atlantic in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. Austin Aloha has developed a novel way to commemorate the legendary ocean liner’s maiden voyage and her final sunset at sea.

"History is this kind of consensus hallucination." James Cameron
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