June 11, 2019

Zora Neale Hurston’s lessons in writing a love story

At one point, sitting in the Beinecke Library, I closed my eyes and let my fingers fall on random sentences of Hurston’s masterwork. Word for word, sentence for sentence, Their Eyes Were Watching God was damn near flawless. 

 

June 11, 2019

Mike Frolich’s artistic legacy in the Saturn Bar

One of my many justifications for keeping the devil was Frolich’s claim that his paintings were created in part for the children of the Ninth Ward, more of whom run through our house than the Saturn Bar. Kids need a relationship with their devils as much as adults do. Instead of renouncing or banishing them, children should know their features and particular hues, their habitats and gestures. Keeping them in steady sight, they’re easier to manage.

 

June 11, 2019

A featured short story from the Summer 2019 issue.

You’ve always wished your mother, who is so deft with the cards, would learn to read fortunes. You want her to tell your future, holding nothing back. You want all of it confirmed, your luck and your losses. You haven’t asked her, though. You can imagine her shaking her head, incredulous again that you, superstitious girl, are her daughter. That you long to convert each game into a prophesy.

 

June 11, 2019

Thomas Jefferson, Pharrell, and more notes on the state of Virginia 

Now, when strangers ask me where I’m from, I say, “Virginia Beach. We gave the world Pharrell. You’re welcome.” Pharrell was the black cosmopolitan force that proved my home wasn’t country. He was a living rebuke of what Thomas Jefferson wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia, his only book, in which he says you would “never . . . find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture.”
June 11, 2019

A featured short story from the Summer 2019 issue.

Mother had no shortage of repulsive qualities, but the most disturbing was her laugh. Otherworldly. Piercing. A stranger would fall on the ice or a double-crossing cop would get his comeuppance from a mobster on television and this wretched, menacing cackle would emerge as though she kept a raven on a choke-chain between her gargantuan breasts.

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

Lenny did all he could to hang around it over the next couple of years, cleaning lines, fetching balls, brushing the clay to maintain a smooth surface. Eventually, after cocktail hour ended and the guests went home, Gibson set him in front of a backboard and showed him how to rotate his back foot and drive the ball. She even imparted a few life lessons, foremost among them, he remembers now: “Every time you come to this gate, you better be ready to go.” 

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

He began the letter by asking Larry to cremate him and scatter his ashes next to his second wife’s ashes at Johnson Beach in Perdido Key, Florida, “approximately 75 yards from end of road, then straight out to the beach . . . where lovey’s ashes were scattered.” Then, Tom addressed the business of his art. “Now Larry,” the letter read. “I know you don’t know shit about art but DO NOT destroy my work.”

May 23, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

Today we think of the fight for educational equality as being a national story, one involving a progressive Supreme Court, a reluctant president, and a recalcitrant governor in Arkansas, but the struggle was fueled by black parents and teachers and students across the country. It depended upon women like Laura and teachers like Carl and patriarchs like Isaac who labored across generations to reset their children’s future.

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

In the Tampa exurbs, splashed across the side of a half-occupied strip mall, is a vast mural depicting the Victorian art critic-cum-philosopher-cum-political economist-cum-painter-cum-social reformer John Ruskin. He gazes out at an expanse of concrete and asphalt, most of his jaw coated in white paint to conceal an underlying scrawl of graffiti. It seems like a high-brow joke, to paint one of the nineteenth century’s leading critics of capitalism and industrialization to preside over a hollowed-out commercial landscape of accountants’ offices, pet grooming businesses, and laundromats.

June 11, 2019

An installment in John T. Edge’s Points South column, Local Fare.

Costumes transform their bar into a theatrical production, Feizal said to me that day in the jungle room. “You watch someone put on a Big Bird suit and then you ask, what will the Big Bird do? You give two banana costumes to two guys and then stand back to watch what happens. Pretty soon the dude at the bar in the banana costume sees the dude in the booth in the banana costume. They hug. And they start buying each other drinks.”

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