Louisville Magazine

JAN 2017

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 12.16 57 I walked across the sun-struck gravel to Emzara's Kitchen, a two-story roadhouse structure that resembled an amalgam of Cracker Barrel and an imitation Mo- roccan fortress. Inside, the first thing I saw was a hostess stand, and behind it a young woman in an Ark Encounter polo shirt tucked into black pants. She handed me a menu with items on it like "Noah's Chili with Cheese Soup du Jour," "Dou- ble Bacon and Cheeseburger — 'e Two by Two,'" and "Pepsi, Mtn. Dew, Mist Twist ($2.50 – no refills)." Along the perimeter was a dais on which stuffed nyalas and antelopes and bonteboks were positioned in attitudes of bounding. Mounted in one corner, a leopard pounced on a wildebeest. A stag commanded the middle of the room, crowned with antlers that almost grazed the ceiling. At the back, teenagers in those same polo shirts flitted behind a fast-food- style counter. Fluorescent panels buzzed, shining on shelves of burgers and patties wrapped in foil and signs that marked off a line of stations. After I placed my order — the jalapeño chipotle burger, with a side of Noah's soup du jour — the girl behind the register handed me a paper bag with my food in it. "Should I slide my card?" I said. "Yeah, it doesn't read chip. And I'm going to press this." Leaning forward, she tapped a box labeled "No" on a screen that asked what tip I wanted to leave. "You don't want a tip?" I said. "We can't accept tips." "Why not?" "We're a nonprofit. We work for God. He blesses us." "Hey, just curious," I said, "how much do you all get paid?" "I'm not sure, because I'm part-time, but I think most people get $9, $9.50," she said. "When they finish the whole Ark Park, it's supposed to be more like Disney, and then you'll be able to leave tips." e second level of Emzara's Kitchen was empty, and I ate my food and left again, wandering back to the grassy hillock in front of the Ark, inside which was a basin of water that reminded me of a fishing pond in a farmer's back pasture. Nightfall was hours away, but already dimness thickened the air. Scarves of blue mist unfurled in the pockets and hollows of the forest that dipped below the plateau. e woods appeared untrammeled, almost biblical. Yet the ground around me was upturned and soggy. e pond looked gray and flat as a tarmac. From this stance, I could see the Ark in its entirety, and it seemed slanted, as if one end was tipped up higher than the other. I stared at it. en, closing my eye, I stretched my arm out and cocked my finger against my thumb, and flicked — imagining that I sent it spinning across this latter-day Ararat like a dreidel. A few days later I drove to the Creation Museum, about 50 miles north of the Ark, in Petersburg, Ken- tucky, off I-275 and tucked behind the Cincinnati airport. Posters hanging in the front hall af- firmed what Snelling had told me — hu- man cultures have lived among dinosaurs in the form of dragons. A display with a warrior's helmet propped on a stand, the scrap of a scroll upon which had been scratched Tolkien-like runes, and a sword crusted with blood, was headed: "Beowulf and the Dragon": "Aided by a brave warrior, Beowulf vanquished the flying dragon and saved the land. Did these men or their ancestors actually fight dinosaurs and pterosaurs? is idea would be consistent with the Bible." I went into the museum, finding myself in a brick alley drowned in red light and splattered with magazine clippings ("Mass. Opens Doors…To Gay Marriages"; "e Fall of Christian "So you take Beowulf to be evidence of dinosaurs existing?" "Yes," Snelling said. "It was an eyewitness account." America"; "Is America Going to POT?"). en a re-created Garden of Eden, after which a sign proclaimed "Sin Changed Everything" in a room of posters — the Hiroshima mushroom cloud, an African child with his ribs stenciled out, a man shoving a needle into his arm. And then a gallery of Adam and Eve's world after they sinned: shacked up in a cobblestone bungalow, Adam with shaggy hair and a dad bod, Eve pregnant again, a couple of kids tugging carrots out of the ground. Twenty feet away, an animatronic velo- ciraptor emitted high-pitched calls of bloodlust. I kept walking, out of this gallery — and then I saw it, again: the Ark, or at least the Creation Museum's exhibit on it. e room before me soared like the set of a movie studio. e centerpiece was a multi-level matrix of platforms and railings buttressed in front of a wooden wall — one of the sides of the Ark under construction. A cacophony of saws and hammers churned the air. e stone floor I followed led past two animatronic fig- ures standing next to a table strewn with papyrus documents. Both were men. e older one was Noah. Rocking in place, with his arms emerging out of the folds of his sleeves, he was holding a tablet and what looked like a pencil and saying to the younger man: "You need to have a look at that new shipment of planks and make sure the treatment was done as we told them. By the way, my friend, have you thought about our conversation? God's Word is true." Suddenly he called toward the boat: "Hey, Zophar! Were those pegs checked by Shem before you sawed them off?" Back to the younger man, voice soft- ening: "Judgment is coming, my friend. But if you come along, you will be safe in the Ark." Below the railing where I stood, three other animatronic men in tunics and earthen-brown caps were sitting together cross-legged. One was saying: "What a fool! Why does he believe the Word of his God? We have been working on this boat for years and not a drop of water. is talk about the Flood is ridicu- lous! Every day, the same, same, same!" en the man spat: "He is a religious fanatic!"

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