ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. -- I've met some brave people in my life: survivors of war, politics, natural disasters -- and one heroic woman in the Mississippi Delta who lived most of her life in an iron lung.
I'm not sure I've ever met anyone braver than the beautiful and elegant Anne Butler of this enchanting Louisiana river town.
NEAR PORT GIBSON -- You can waste a lot of time trying to get others to appreciate what you see in certain people, certain places. If the beauty is less than obvious, and more of the haunting variety, it's often a fool's pastime even to try.
GREENVILLE -- The skinny teenager holds his telephone in one hand and uses the other to hitch up low-riding jeans.
"I want to tell you right," he insists. I had asked directions. We are only blocks from my intended location, he knows the place, but an opportunity to strut out a phone's high-tech features should not be wasted.
MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. -- Imagine if your life were highlighted in a short, moving ceremony and condensed to its essence. What would they say about you?
They say that the Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends at Vicksburg, Mississippi's, Catfish Row.
Artist Christopher Wool must be really good at texting. His stencil sign paintings, according to the Guggenheim Museum, "freely stripped out punctuation, disrupted conventional spacing and removed letters."
My hair stylist, Joyce, is at the beach on holiday, and I want to stick my head in the sand. I should have made an appointment last week.
I never figured on feeling sorry for Monica Lewinsky. She was too much like an Atlanta Hooters waitress I once interviewed who wanted to file a sex discrimination lawsuit. You asked for it, I thought.
In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, there's a story about popular novels versus serious novels. It asks the question: Can they be one and the same?
In the course of not reaching any conclusions, the article quotes a critic who complains: "Doesn't anyone care how something is written anymore?"
I wanted to phone my father from Southern Utah. When recently we drove through the national park everyone calls "Arches," its red rocks carved by millions of erosive years into magnificent sculpture, I almost reached for the phone.
It was the kind of natural scene he liked to hear about.
Moderates in the Deep South are disenfranchised. So are the young, the impoverished, blacks, gays, women who want to control their own bodies, Latinos and unapologetic liberals of both races and genders. Which, in the South, rolls us right back to the 1950s, at least in statewide elections.
SALT LAKE CITY -- Everybody talks about religion here, though people come at it a couple of ways. Nobody seems to shy from the subject, though only about half the city is Mormon.
Mel Rosen is a liberal Jewish Democrat from Brighton Beach, New York, who in 1955 arrived at conservative, football-obsessed Auburn University in the segregated Deep South. He was hired to teach gymnastics and assigned seven daily classes. His dream was to coach track.
Luke Hall had a name like a hero in an old Western -- simple, strong and uncompromising. It was fitting.
Mississippi, my adopted home state, place that I love, is reverting to its old ways, which many of us who live here had believed and hoped to be in the distant past.
Six inches of snow out the window where the azaleas ought to be. I am in Colorado for a few weeks, and my dogs are back home in Mississippi. My work computer has taken on a life of its own, with so-called "pop-ups" pestering me like door-to-door hawkers.
FISHTRAP HOLLOW-- I work in a corner of my bedroom. My desk is an old, dark wicker one, about three feet wide and two feet deep. Its small size keeps mess at a minimum.
There is a window to my right, and I try not to look out when I'm supposed to be writing. When I part the curtains to stare, I see yellow daffodils on a drab March landscape, yellow butter on dry toast.
Somewhere in a shoebox beneath a bed, I have photographs of the Mentone Springs Hotel, a Victorian lodging built 130 years ago on the western brow of Lookout Mountain in Northeast Alabama.
NEW ORLEANS -- A security guard and a lawyer walked into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. It's bad, all right, but no joke.
Everyone in this town, including two drinking buddies, was talking about the federal public corruption trial of former mayor Ray Nagin.
WAVELAND -- I got to walk right past the shiny, new, Christmas-ornament-red hook and ladder truck at the fire department here to see one of my heroes, radio personality Felder Rushing. One recent Saturday morning he was speaking upstairs at the firehouse.
I couldn't help but think about how many of the boys of my generation wanted to be firemen when they grew up. Never knew a single one who wanted to become "a gestalt gardener," which is how Felder describes himself.
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