Texas inmate Michael Lee Ford's spectacular and heartbreaking autobiographical drawing, "Ten Minutes of Stupidity," tells the story of a haunted puppy, a dead chicken, and the painful repercussions of a single choice. This piece, shot by Dave Anderson and guest-directed by multi-talented filmmaker/musician Amman Abbasi, is a first for the Oxford American: a short film inspired by and based upon a piece of folk art.
Spanning over 6,000 square miles, the alluvial plain that is the Mississippi Delta birthed the rhythmic backbone of the American South—the Mississippi Delta Blues. It was born from a mergence of black and white cultures and speaks to the hardships of Southern life. From the hellhounds to the heat, the imagery that this music projects is as dense as the soil that haunts its farmland. But what is it about the landscape that drives this music? Historically, when people think or talk about the blues genre the focus is primarily on the individual musician; very rarely is the discussion about the influence. Bluesland is a series of photographs that investigates the often neglected elements of the Mississippi Delta Blues—locations, people, landscape–that continually influence this music.
As the Internet got going, in the early 1980s, futurological professionals liked to speak of “dead platforms,” archaic media rendered silent and/or invisible by the advent and ascendance of subsequent media. My own most poignant experience of a dead media platform, at that time, had been my discovery, at a swap meet in the early 1970s, of several reels of very thin, oddly brittle steel wire, the precursor to magnetic recording tape. The seller had no idea what might be recorded there, nor indeed whether the wire had ever been used. Neither the seller nor I had any idea where we might find a machine capable of playing them.