September 05, 2013
The first thing Brooks County lead investigator Danny Davila wants to know is whether I have a weak stomach. He shows me pages from “the Dead Book”—inside are dozens of laminated photographs of the remains of the thirty-four undocumented immigrants who have died in the county’s scrub brush so far that year. Then, a rancher called in a Code 500; the thirty-fifth body of the year has been discovered. If my stomach is up to it, I can accompany Davila on the retrieval.
February 02, 2017

When CeDell Davis was a boy, his mother told him he would go to hell if he kept on playing the guitar and messing around with the devil’s music. Davis was born in the Delta town of Helena in 1926, and there was no shortage of devilment. A bustling cotton port on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River, Helena was like a Chicago or Memphis in miniature, home to scores of white saloons and black juke joints where bootleggers, gamblers, and hustlers gathered. It was violent and wild and music was everywhere, from the clubs downtown to the street corners by the docks. “Back then, Helena was wide open,” Davis told me. “If you had the money, you could get whatever you want.” 

March 28, 2017

When it’s the end of the world as you know it, the qualities you look for in a leader begin to coalesce mainly around finding stuff to eat. 

April 18, 2017

But those are facts, and “facts” are exactly what I don’t want to know, inasmuch as they will inevitably get in the way of the little fictions I’ve enjoyed telling myself during my walks for most of the last twenty-five years. 

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.

October 05, 2016

This weekend is the annual tomato festival at the Bells Bend Neighborhood Farm, and the farmers lay out an all-you-can-eat buffet of the many varieties of heirloom tomatoes grown there: Cherokee greens, Cherokee purples, zebras, Japanese black trifeles, Ozark pinks, Pruden’s purples, and best of all, sungolds, which are small and firm tomatoes that taste warm and almost salty, like they were plucked from the vine on a hot afternoon just moments before they made it to this table. And amid all this sweet bounty: a square dance.

November 19, 2019

A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue.

Myrtle Beach has always capitalized on tourists’ desire to put a soundtrack to their vacations. Long before the days of the megachurch-style country music theaters, like the Carolina Opry and the Alabama Theatre, which would later dominate the north end of town, Myrtle Beach was a regular stop for the working musicians who toured the Southeast.

June 26, 2013

More than two months before opening arguments in the landmark same-sex marriage cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara stood in a limbo of sorts, between the Arlington County courthouse and the county jail. “Right now, we are second-class citizens in the South,” she said. “What’s happening today is about us telling our country a story that we hope can open people’s hearts and minds.”

September 05, 2013
We’ve been spotted by two of Houston’s finest. Not that spotting us was all that difficult, even at 2:00 A.M. We’re four white guys in a part of town where we obviously don’t belong, in a gated apartment complex beyond which are heavily fortified convenience stores, junk yards, and rundown beauty parlors advertising various styles of hair weaves. 
July 20, 2016

Short fiction from our Fall 2015 issue.

The most glamorous one said, “The things I’ve done that others would call sins”—she didn’t enumerate but we could guess—“weren’t, really.”