August 17, 2020

An essay from the Place Issue

Much has changed in Stone Mountain since that piece was published in 1999, and much has not. The Confederate heroes still perch proudly on the mountainside, defacing the granite, mocking its full potential for glory. And yet the city surrounding the mountain keeps getting blacker and browner, fueled by a surge of immigrants from such countries as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Somalia, and Burma.

November 10, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue

A better South, the Up South, insists that Black artistry and industry be recognized for their excellence, and that the measure of Black art be located in the pleasure of Black audience.

Nobody knew this better than LaVern Baker and no place provided a more significant Black audience than the Up South metropolis that was the Motor City

June 12, 2018

Reading Florida. 

You see one thing when you look at the state from a distance, but if you come closer, dig deeper, you always find something else. This probably has something to do with Disney World, but it also relates to the entire construct of Florida—the mythology of the state as a paradise preserved in time just for you.

January 14, 2019

A lyric essay supplement to our 2018 North Carolina Music Issue—plus H. C. McEntire covers Led Zeppelin.

God is right there, in the brier. Turn the rows, change the tires, bow the heads, feed the mouths. Only the rhythm will yield the harvest. Go on, now. Shoot the hog between the eyes. It’s easiest that way.

Serve them all.

November 20, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.

In Ryan Adams, the mythic memory of Thomas Wolfe is reincarnate in a contemporary host: an emotional kid from a marginal city in North Carolina with a precocious—underlined—and prolific—triple underlined—talent for transmuting the cramped circumstances of his childhood into dramatic, heartbreaking art of a rarefied sort. Hailing from opposite ends of the state, they each ended up in New York City as young men by way of a crucial teenage education in the Triangle—Wolfe at Chapel Hill during World War I and Adams in the bars of nineties Raleigh. As creators, the unfathomable volume of each man’s output clouds the artistic legacy.

September 03, 2019

Paddling to Walter Inglis Anderson’s Horn Island—a feature essay from the Fall 2019 issue.

As we paddled, my awareness inverted, a shift in perspective that would continue for the entire journey. Though we were headed south, the world was tilted, and as on Anderson’s map, Horn Island was the North Star.
August 25, 2020

An essay from the Place Issue

My dad wanted his death, like his life, to be a work of art—a tomb he designed and filled with ceramics—and one that would allow him to define death on his own terms. My mom, for her part, said, “I never planned to put anything in the tomb, but heck, who knows.”

November 10, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue

To say they’re singing doesn’t do justice to the noise they’re making; they sound like pilgrims in distress. Ely, a former coal miner, sounds like he’s hollering from the bottom of a cave.

March 19, 2019

An Omnivore essay from the Spring 2019 issue. 

Due to his health, Leon Redbone can no longer be interviewed. In a way, he’s become a version of the old-time musicians he so admired, about whom little is known: You can only reach them through recordings, archival materials, and the accounts of other people. Longtime friends and band members tell me they knew never to ask about his past. Others say they were sworn to secrecy, and intend to keep the secrets. His own family members say they know little about his early life.

September 03, 2019

Male romantic friendships in art and life

Everything about my reading and living felt belated. I’d missed by one hundred fifty years the cultural context that somehow explained my intimacy with Luke Henry better than I could, and my education in nineteenth-century romantic friendship came too late.