This Week’s Various

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At the Oxford American: On Being a Writer from Jackson:
When I tell people about Jackson, I swing between self-deprecation and boosterism. It’s essentially a small town, I say. Growing up, it felt like there was nothing to do. If I catch a hint of snobbery—or pity—in the listener, the pendulum swings back: But it was an incredible place to grow up. People looked out for each other, and we understood complexities of race and history that outsiders never could. Of course, both thoughts are true. My sensibility as a writer is permanently colored by the duality of what Jackson stands for, and it’s no wonder, given its twisted eras and its through-line of struggle, its lushness and its decay. Beneath every rose bush here is a bone.

Kudzu, Prattville AL

Also from OA: Singing from the Deep Woods, an interview with Alabama poet Ansel Elkins on her new book of poetry Blue Yodel (with mention of the Goat Man!). She says her poetry is for real people. She wants it sold at Cracker Barrel (though says her Yale U press may have issue).
The Alabama landscape is so completely saturated in my soul that it’s hard to gain perspective of just how much it’s in these poems. Because the land is so rooted in my work, trying to answer that question would be like trying to unearth barehanded one of those old shacks that’s been swallowed whole by kudzu. I could never know myself without these red clay hills, without the native music of saying the names of places like Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Tallapoosa. There’s such an intimate knowledge I feel with this landscape where I grew up, it feels like it’s not outside me but a part of me.

Zagat with ‘10 Obscure Southern Dishes that you Need to Know

Mount Holly Plantation near Greenville, Mississippi was destroyed by fire this week.

Texarkana Water Tower

As The Washingtonian put it, Everyone Still Hates the Planned Eisenhower Memorial (designed by Gehry) and now Congress is proposing to take away all its money.

New York Magazine on America’s Obsession with Perfecting Its Teeth with much of the piece on Dr. Ben Burris who owns — as of last year — the world’s largest privately owned orthodontics practice, who is quoted, after admitting his wife’s reaction to buying a practice in Arkansas was “Hell, no, I’m not going there.”:

“I mean, this is Arkansas,” he said. “You have to admit you’ve heard that Arkansas is barefoot and toothless. But people judge you. The baseline minimum for being acceptable has been raised.”

I’m guessing that first part is a regrettable quote on his part.
On the cost, and financing of braces:
“Think about cars,” Burris said, chewing his filet. “I mean, how much does a new car cost? Nobody knows, because the commercials are, How much down, how much a month.” Burris credits much of his success to this “revolution in orthodontic financing — we’re responsible for that, not just here but nationwide.” His practice saw 6,500 starts, or new patients, in 2014. (The national average is 245.)

Third graders who fail Mississippi’s statewide reading exam are now eligible for a free vision test.

The Nation’s Stash of Lost Luggage Finds a New Life in This Alabama Town at Smithsonian, on the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro. Thing is, there are two types of people who have shopped here: those who found some treasure for no money, and all the rest of us who never have.

Alexander Calder’s great-grandson will be putting together a sculpture/performance/sound exhibit in Marfa in autumn 2016.

La Fonda, Ft. Payne AL
above: images I took of La Fonda in Ft. Payne, Alabama

Megan G. King on her terrific photographs, Hispanic Appalachia (use bottom slider).  In her intro, she states:
Between the years 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population of Tennessee increased by 134%, making it the third highest growth rate of this cultural group in the country. These photographs focus on Latino culture in the changing social landscape of Southern Appalachia. By photographing businesses, people, churches, homes, and other aspects of the community, I am attempting to show the importance of emerging diversity in this historically conservative region of the United States.

Truly various:

How WalMart became the Town Square in Rural America

A piece in The New Yorker on the terribleness of reading comments: Clicking a “View All Comments” button is a mild manifestation, I suspect, of the Freudian death instinct.

From the Washington Post: How Theme Parks Like Disney World Left the Middle Class Behind

A series of food photographs created in homage to “The Shining” and its 35th anniversary.

The Greatest Good — Inspired to make a meaningful donation, I wondered: What is the best charitable cause in the world, and was it crazy to think I could find it? at The Atlantic

Nick Cave, Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville AR

above: a Nick Cave piece at Crystal Bridges

The Nick Cave Shreveport Common Residency will be going on this July – October
…to produce a performative work that reflects the “voices” of the residents of the four social service organizations in Shreveport Common: Providence House, Mercy Center, VOA McAdoo Center, and VOA Lighthouse. The work will be presented at the Municipal Auditorium November 14 and 15

The person who writes like this deserves some kind of award at Yelp (this, about the O’Charley’s in Tuscaloosa):
The prime rib was marvelous. No. It was flawless. Its marbling was an exquisite balance and the dark crimson color refracted onto my pleased and eager eyes as another great, although non-descript, 90s song played.
Let me just point you to his review on the KFC in Hattiesburg, and be *sure* to finish with the review of Dandy Dan’s truck stop. Save that one for last! It made me laugh so hard I cried.

Saw's Soul Kitchen, Avondale / Birmingham AL

From Brunswick Stew to Barbecue: The Cookbook as Cultural History” on exhibit in the North Carolina Collection Gallery at the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, now through October 4.

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