August 25, 2020

An essay from the Place Issue

At almost sixty miles in length, the Chattooga is one of the longest and last free-flowing rivers in the eastern United States, and mile for mile, it covers a steeper vertical drop than the Colorado River. Yet growing up in nearby Walhalla, South Carolina, Mark admitted he barely knew it was here. Few did until the film version of Deliverance landed in 1972 like a psychic explosion within the collective consciousness of this country.

November 10, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue

If my dad’s career trajectory seemed unlikely, that paled in comparison to the odds of such a thing occurring at all in a small dry county in the Bible Belt. That so many of the most beloved soul hits of the civil rights era came from an integrated group of players just two hours north of Birmingham, where firehoses and police dogs were used against King’s marchers, is the kind of plot that’s too far-fetched for fiction and too unbelievable to be told without corresponding proof.

March 01, 2014
Deer snorts, dog snarls—that’s all I hear. Then I see brown and white fur, clumps of it floating in water, the stream pinking with blood. Deer and dogs in water. Jake, ninety pounds of shepherd, taking the doe’s hooves and teeth. Becca and Little B, smaller but still good-sized, at the rear biting fur and flesh, getting kicked, holding on.
March 01, 2019

On the architecture of white supremacy

Let us look again, now, at this beautiful house, read it this time as a series of universally legible signs for white supremacy. You arrive on horseback and wait outside a gate—the first of several barriers, both physical and human, that must be passed through to reach the master—and enter onto a private road that takes you through a cathedral-like apse of oaks, arranged to express the planter’s dominion over the natural world. From this road, you do not see the functional buildings—kitchen, smithy, stables—nor the quarters for the people the planter enslaves; those are small, unpainted, off to the side. The planter’s house stands alone at the end of this archway of boughs, a telos and a temple. Great white columns rise two stories from their plinths, supporting a pediment that drags its tip against the sky. It looks for all the world like a Roman temple. And who lives in temples but the gods?

 

September 03, 2019

The pieces of Johnny Greene, an Omnivore essay from the Fall 2019 issue.

Johnny used place as a recurrent theme, along with displacement. As a journalist, he was fascinated by communities, by groups of people and the environments which shaped them. As a person, his roads always led back to Alabama.

August 25, 2020

An essay from the Place Issue

When the locals are asked about the island’s history, they talk of pirates and Victorian-era seaside resorts, of fish, oaks, and oleander trees, and of storms and disappearing land. They never talk about surfers.

November 10, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue

She traveled the world and left it scorched with her fearlessness and musical originality, inspired fierce devotion from an audience who thrilled to her enormous gifts and her personal excesses, and shook the celestial rafters with the force of her artistic character. She was also my dad’s favorite singer.

September 03, 2019

Could Lucy Negro Redux beckon a new era for ballet?—an Omnivore essay from the Fall 2019 issue.

I believe artwork is more interesting—and will invite new audiences—when a wide swath of people are allowed to tell a variety of stories. There’s just one issue here: most ballet audiences don’t come to the theater to think about representation. Ballet is a form of escapist entertainment that celebrates the athletic prowess of the human body, and the fact is, the bodies on stage are usually white.

November 20, 2018

A feature essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. 

I wanted to start with the wild weeds and the creaking wood on the front porch, walking up to Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina. I wanted to start where she started, imagining her daddy playing jazz standards on the piano, her mama cooking something good and greasy in the cramped kitchen with siblings zooming around. I envisioned myself, like Alice Walker looking for Zora Neale Hurston’s unmarked grave, shouting Nina in the derelict home, hoping somehow she would appear, gloriously phantasmagoric, and answer all of my incessant probing questions.

August 21, 2020

An essay from the Place Issue

There was a time when I would have given anything for this quiet space to reflect. As it is, I’m tired of thinking about God, and maybe the reason I can’t figure out how to talk to anyone here is because I don’t want to. What I want is to be at the Led Zeppelin tribute concert with my family. I want noise and color and sweaty human bodies crammed together. Maybe the embodiment I crave is something I’ve had all along and I simply haven’t been paying attention.