A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue.
I am again driving through the moon-flecked summer night, the hot dead bugs against my windshield summer night, the benzene-sulfur-streaked chemical stacks streaming into the gleaming Gulf summer night. It is so damn hot down here, so sultry, but I don’t want to turn the air-conditioning on in my little red fuel-efficient rental vehicle; I want to breathe in the heat, bathe in the heat, dance with it! And I happen to find a watering hole where I can do just that, in the belly of the belly of the belly of the beast. The Neon Moon Saloon, a cement-floor biker bar in industrial Houston. There’s a lively game at the billiard table, rough red-faced men at the wooden bar, a glowing neon cabinet of booze. It is an end-of-the-world type of place, and this is the end of the world.
At that time, I hadn’t driven this road in well over a decade, but as I wrenched the car into the left lane, I made up my mind to revisit the highway at least once per year, preferably in late summer to early fall, when the average temperature in South Louisiana falls to the mid-90s and those imposing lizards come crawling out of their swamps and jungly environs to sun themselves on the steaming pavement.
A Louisiana tribe’s long fight against the American tide—feature reportage from the Fall 2019 issue.Today, the island has a spare and haphazard beauty. Almost every day, fishermen stand in clusters along the island road, casting their nets into the ever-widening water. Where the island begins, the road curves left; here, it’s dense with trees before these give way, gradually, and the sky grows wider. On the right side of the road, to the west, runs the bayou, lined with wood-plank bridges that lead to the homes. To the east there is an oil canal, its size becoming apparent as the forest thins.
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.
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.
Ben Depp’s Bayou’s End is the result of three years “flying above the bayous and wetlands of southern Louisiana in a powered paraglider,” taking aerial photographs from thousands of feet above the ground. Depp spends hours at a time in the air, waiting for just the right moment to capture the “spaces where the geometric patterns of human enterprise—canals, oil platforms, pipelines and roads—collide with nature’s organic forms.”
Elijah Barrett’s collection, Rockport, chronicles the weeks and months following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. His photographs reveal the devastation enacted upon the landscape, and give insight into the lives of those who are now suspended in a state of wondering what comes next, and who are left to make sense of what happened.
New Orleans is known as the impossible and inevitable city, due to its complex geography that tests the boundaries of human engineering. In her latest project, Virginia Hanusik examines “how a distinct sense of place is perpetuated through the built environment,” in a city whose uniqueness and aesthetic beauty is tied to the uncertainty of rising waters outside of the levee walls.
Taken in moments of tranquil cohabitation rather than scenes of flooding and disaster, Virginia Hanusik’s photographs interrogate the commonplace existence of communities touched by South Louisiana’s struggle with sea-level rise. “Despite the uncertainty that rising seas and coastal erosion bring to the region,” Hanusik writes, “there is hope found in the history of building practices and land migration patterns that are responses to environmental change.”