FISHTRAP HOLLOW -- I walked out to the little house in the yard that stores my books. From my personal library that techie friends keep telling me is silly and superfluous, I found with no trouble my battered old copy of "Of Mice and Men." Taped and raggedy and dog-eared, it feels in my hands like life.
If Martha Stewart were in charge of heaven, it might look something like Ocean Springs, Miss., on Peter Anderson Festival days. Traffic is blocked on the main downtown streets, the smell of boudin and barbecue is in the air, clever people hold sway.
And that's a good thing.
It's been a beautiful fall day. I am healthy, reasonably intelligent, have good friends and a roof, albeit rusty, over my head. But I burrow, downcast, on my denim couch beneath a tiger throw, wondering why I feel so terrible about two football games.
FISHTRAP HOLLOW -- From the barn come the boards that serve as underpinning for my old house. They are brought to its high side and screwed into the battened cedar for the season. Warnings here are for a freeze.
McCLELLANVILLE, S.C. -- Highway 17 heading north from Charleston is the kind of funky, low-country trail I love. Roadside vendors sell sweetgrass baskets made in Gullah tradition, and late-summer flora is profuse and aquarium green.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- While thousands were touring Graceland during Elvis Week last month, a retired English professor from Baton Rouge sat at legendary Sun Studio and signed copies of her quiet but fascinating book.
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.
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