Friday, February 28
In the two days before the shuttle Columbia disintegrated and traced that awful sparkling arc across the Texas sky, I'd already been thinking about space. On Thursday, I'd read a Harper's article about the unthinkable catastrophe a relatively small asteroid hitting the Earth would cause. On Friday, I'd finished a National Geographic piece about the incomprehensible mystery of countless galaxies speeding throughout an expanding universe. The asteroid essay warned of the unavoidability of humankind's eventual extinction. The galaxy story spoke of humankind's daily discovery of additional star systems out at the edges of infinity. And then …
Wednesday, February 26
I was taking a night off, lying in bed at 12:30 a.m listing to Muddy Waters when a thought occurred to me: It's time to bid farewell to the Subway Lounge—as we've known it. The world was about to be let in on Jackson's best-kept secret; it was going to witness our juke joint jewel for itself. Less than 24 hours later, "Last of the Mississippi Jukes," a documentary featuring the gritty basement blues club on Pearl Street, was going to debut on the Black STARZ network. I realized I was probably missing a magical Saturday night over at the Subway. I got up and got down to Pearl Street.
"Early music" in Mississippi really started with a birthday party. Dr. Ernst Borinski, a professor of sociology at Tougaloo College since 1947, threw elaborate annual birthday parties throughout the 1970s to bring together many of the progressive elements in Jackson. Until his death in 1982, Borinski inspired and helped train many social activists and attorneys, and hosted a forum series during the 1960s that brought many of the nation's leading thinkers and activists to Tougaloo and contributed to the college's leading role in the Civil Rights Movement. In the late '70s, at an ACLU auction, Borinski purchased an evening of music by organist John Paul and intended to have him perform at his annual party.
Eddie Cotton Jr. doesn't see any reason to leave Jackson. "Man, this town has been good to me," says the 32-year-old blues singer-guitarist. "They show appreciation. If you get to a place that's bigger, there's just more of nothing to do. Unless you have a big booking agent, the club scene doesn't get any better than this."
Those of us old enough to remember W.C. Don's, Midnight Sun, Inez's, The Mosquito and the University Pub recall these ground-breaking Jackson music establishments with a nostalgic sigh of passing. In Jackson over the years I've seen The Strokes, Smash Mouth, Unrest, Stereolab, The Flaming Lips, R.E.M., The B-52s, The Cult, Henry Rollins, Sebadoh, Social Distortion, Man Or Astroman, The Connells and thousands of amazing, virtually unknown indie talent. For the past several years, a lack of consistency and information, among other problems, has created a void in this once-thriving scene. International bands like American Analog Set, Of Montreal, The Field Mice and True Love Always played Martin's Lounge, and no one showed up. Crippled and unorganized, the masses of indie creed are beginning to feel for a pulse. The once-isolated efforts of a few frustrated individuals are now starting to band together to cross-promote and get the word out on what is happening. And that's a good thing.
"Sweetie, what do you think of all these corporate scandals?" "Well, management guru Charles Handy would posit that …" Uh-oh! The Wacky Professor strikes again!
Monday, February 24
It's another sultry Wednesday night on Northside Drive. Women dressed to the nines and men wearing slick suits and hats sit casually at bistro tables drinking fancy, colorful drinks. Red lights filtered through cigarette smoke create a ruby haze under which people eat, drink, dance, mingle and tap their toes to the sounds of Henry Rhodes and the Mo' Money Band.
Basketball fans, your time has come. The MHSAA Boys/Girls State Tournament begins its 2-week run at the Mississippi Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 24 (schedule). Sixty teams, 12 days of action at the Big Barn ... Dr. S says check it out ... There will be big games starting right on Day 1 when the Provine boys play Northeast Lauderdale. This is where you can see the stars of tomorrow on the boys and girls sides. But it's also about team and competition. You know, that "Hoosiers" stuff where the small town comes to the big city. Except it's more fun in real life. Over in Clinton, the MPSA Academy Overall tournament also starts Monday (schedule). The talent might not be quite as good, but the competition is just as fierce.
Remember Australian Rules Football? That was a staple on ESPN back in the early 1980s before the network got rich enough to show college football, college basketball, NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, etc., etc. 24/7 and had to expand to three channels to get it all in. The Australian game's rules seemed incomprehensible (Dr. S was probably drinking and not paying attention), but Dr. S found it fun to watch because of the violent collisions and frequent bloodshed. And Dr. S' roommate thought the referee's signals after a score were the funniest thing ever. His parents wasted a lot of money on a college education.
Saturday, February 22
You need to meet C.P. Ellis, a Klansman turned civil-rights activist. And Emma Knight, a jaded, feminist Miss USA. ("The only beauty queen in history that didn't cry when she won.") And a certain wise Puerto Rican bellhop. And a young black woman returning to college to make a better life for her family.
Friday, February 21
It was 1961 when my father, then 19, moved from Mound Bayou, Miss., to Milwaukee, Wis., to live with his older brother Willie. Mound Bayou was offering few if any jobs, and the last thing he wanted to do was to go to college. Milwaukee, on the other hand, was full of jobs and opportunity. Also, his oldest brother, Claude, had his own barbershop and was one of the founders of a new church, Faith Temple. During a time in the Delta that was heated with racial tension, Mound Bayou was a safe haven for civil-rights workers, being one of the only towns at the time with a black-owned hospital, post office, pharmacy and even a zoo. But the move seemed like the best choice; my father felt that he had experienced enough injustice and was thinking of what would be best for a family. I grew up in Milwaukee and returned to my father's home state to attend Jackson State University. I recently asked my father to talk about his life in Mississippi. Many of his memories surprised me.
<i>Jackson's Music Scene Struggles for Respect, Audience</i>
Here's the thing: Jackson actually has a thriving music scene, filled with phenomenal, under-appreciated musicians and people who are working hard to give them opportunities to play.
We sit on the concrete steps that protrude out of the grass on an empty lot near the corner of Pearl and Minerva, I on a white handkerchief that Jimmy King has put down and he on the cold concrete. I've known King, whom I call Mr. Jimmy, for almost 10 years. He is the proprietor of the Subway Lounge, in the basement of the abandoned Summer's Hotel, which opened Dec. 16, 1966. He is also the elegant presence in the documentary "Last of the Mississippi Jukes," which just debuted on the Black STARZ network.
Thursday, February 20
For many, seven is a lucky number, representing good fortune. In jazz, the seventh chords are one of the essential building blocks of improvisation. In downtown Jackson, Seven* is the latest urban jazz café. And for Seven*'s proud owner Ezra Brown (also a jazz musician), the seventh letter of the alphabet represents God—whom Brown credits as the inspiration behind his latest creation.
I've been on the gospel scene in Jackson for almost 10 years as a gospel announcer, writer and an event planner; as a result, I've seen the ebb and flow of the rich gospel scene here. I've witnessed the birth of crossover contemporary gospel as well as the passing of some of gospel's legends. I've also observed the multi-talented local gospel artists that we have here in the Jackson and surrounding areas.
Wednesday, February 19
Golden State Warriors center Erick Dampier, a former Mississippi State star, made headlines in the Bay Area when he blasted his coach after a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. The Sphinx-like Dampier made news as much for making a quoteworthy statement as for what he said. And the ex-Bulldog said plenty: Dampier criticized coach Eric Musselman's defensive strategy against Minnesota star Kevin Garnett (who scored 37 points), complained about frequently being benched during fourth quarters of games and ridiculed Musselman by referring to him as "Musselhead." Now if Dampier would just play like the All-Star so many predicted he would be coming out of college, people might pay more attention to what he says.
Tuesday, February 18
There's trouble coming to River City ... maybe. A day after saying Saturday's fight in Memphis was off, heavyweight has-been Mike Tyson changed his mind and said that facial tattoo or no, no training or no, he was going to fight. So call the prospects a definite maybe. Showtime will show the fight (maybe) along with a Jay-Z concert (for sure). And it's a free Showtime weekend. But there's nothing like seeing a freak show in person. (Did Dr. S mention that Tonya Harding is going to fight a woman from Mississippi, too? Maybe.)
Monday, February 17
Thurs., March 6 through Sat., March 8
For the first time ever basketball fans statewide can watch all ten state high school championship games as the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) and Mississippi Educational Broadcasting (MEB) team up in March to air the games live on the state*s television network.
We sent our roving photographer Jaro Vacek out into the night to find out what Jacksonians are wearing these days. Here are some of snapshots of fun, funky, sweet and elegant fashions he spied at the Harlem Dance Theater performance at Thalia Mara Hall and at the Jackson Free Press Best of Jackson 2003 party at the Ironworks Building on South Street. If you want to see more, see our new fashion gallery, coming soon at http://www.jacksonfreepress.com Enjoy.
Sunday, February 16
"Go see "The Quiet American" before the next war starts, if there's time, even if you have to leave Jackson in your gas-guzzling SUV to go where it's showing."
When is it my turn to plant my views all over the grounds of the state capitol? A group called Silent No More, a national anti-abortion organization, in conjunction with Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's declaring this past week a week of "prayer and remembrance of women and unborn children," was allowed to erect hundreds and hundreds of tiny white wooden crosses on the front of the capitol lawn.
After seeing the Columbia shuttle tragedy unfold on television, I walked out the door and felt the sun on my face, and smelled the warm winter air that only the South knows. I felt all the more grateful for everything I have. I decided to clear my head, and, remembering there was a Paint Horse show at the Fairgrounds, I hopped in my truck. I've been a horse lover ever since I paid my way through summer camp by feeding and saddling horses, cleaning the stables, and working the chuckwagon during overnight pack trips. I must say I was a bit overwhelmed when I arrived at the show.
Friday, February 14
Those two approaches would be:
There are two major common-sense approaches that could be taken in the short-term to help the United States come out of its current recession, while paying for a looming Iraqi invasion and the homeland security challenges that may result from what many are calling an "optional" war.
We would drizzle honey all over each other's bodies, then dangle strawberries between each other's lips. I would describe the whipped-cream and ice-cube part... but I can't stop snickering. Unfortunately, Luis and I are not exactly Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. When asked to write about what I would cook for my husband on Valentine's Day, I panicked. I had to be impressive; we're both chefs, for cryin' out loud.
Tuesday, February 11
It's February, and this is the best time of the year for college basketball fans. The ordeal of college football recruiting is past us (how did your favorite school do?), and the college fan can focus her/his attention on college hoops. It's about a month now until the national obsession we call March Madness gets underway.
Monday, February 10
Once the male praying mantis completes the mating process, his lover greedily eats him. As an expectant mother, she needs the nutrition. And she won't have to listen to him snore. Society demands human females take a gentler approach to the male of the species, but one similarity with our insect friends remains: If the man wants to mate, he had better provide the food.
John O'Neal will perform "Don't Start Me to Talking…" at Millsaps Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m., in Room 215 of the Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex.
Martin Luther King's birthday holiday made me think of the connection of religion with politics and the contradictions that so often result.
HeArts Against Aids, a fund-raiser, in its 11th year, that will be held at Hal & Mal's on Feb. 15.
"The Last of the Mississippi Jukes"—will debut on the Black STARZ! cable network Feb. 16 at 8 p.m.
The show was a wild mix. Act I: Afro-Hindu Caribbean Tribal Dance. Act II: Disco Grooves and Soul Train moves. Act III: Classic European ballet based on a Russian folktale. Watching the Dance Theatre of Harlem at Thalia Mara Hall on Thursday, Jan. 30, taught me, in vivid color, that to be American and to be human means that I am mixed. My family prides itself in not being "mixed." In the early '70s the members of the White Citizens Council hurriedly established a statewide private-school system. In fact, my 1976 diploma from a Council School contains the following words on the seal of the certificate: "States Rights and Racial Integrity."
You get 10 women together, and nine of them will have a story to tell about how a man has done them wrong. Give the tenth one a little time, and she'll have a story, too, says Anita Singleton-Prather over a dinner of bacon cheeseburgers, red beans and rice and crawfish etouffee at Que Sera Sera on N. State Street. Singleton-Prather—a large boisterous black woman who will tell you she loves her food—was in town Jan. 28 in all her glory showcasing her film, "My Man Done Me Wrong," which screened at Millsaps College as part of the Southern Film Circuit. It is a story of Singleton-Prather and six other black women recounting tales of cheating men—and of how those men got their due.
Belhaven residents are speaking out against First Presbyterian Church's proposed plan to close Pinehurst and Belhaven streets for 30 minutes twice a day to decrease traffic in its part of the 'hood. The mammoth church's idea is to close Belhaven Street from State to Jefferson, and Pinehurst Street from State to Hazel Street. This plan, if accepted by the city, would go into effect on March 17. No word on whether the church, fondly referred to as "First Pres," plans to ask its members to come to a complete stop at Stop signs along Jefferson Street as they vacate the neighborhood at noon on Sundays. Belhaven residents opposed to the closing can obtain a petition by calling 944-1390 or e-mailing [e-mail missing]
Sally Slavinski, 36, slides into a chair in Hal & Mal's 30 minutes before we open. She apologizes for being late, explaining that she just ran 11 miles in training for the Mardi Gras half-marathon on Feb. 16. Dressed in a gray Berkeley zip-up sweatshirt over gray sweatpants with a New Zealand All Blacks rugby cap over her straw-blond hair, she opens a container of strawberry Dannon yogurt and sips from an Aquafina bottled water. It would take 20 pages to list all that she's done in her short life, starting with a childhood in Long Island, N.Y., a biology degree from Michigan State, working summers in Yellowstone, veterinary school, working with the Heifer Project in Uganda, practicing small-animal medicine in Ohio, working with the World Health Organization for three months in India, working in Martha's Vineyard and acquiring a degree in public health from Berkeley. But what does she do now?
Dr. S' favorite sports-themed commercial (not involving brawling babes) is the Nike ad where the streaker runs wild at the English soccer game. Now Reebok's office linebacker "Terrible" Terry Tate is striking back.
Tuesday, February 4
Tickets to the Mississippi State-Ole Miss Mayor's Trophy baseball game go on sale today (Tuesday, Feb. 4) at 10 a.m. at Smith-Wills Stadium. The game is scheduled for April 2. It's almost always a sellout, so you'd better get them quick. Tickets are $16, $13 and $9, and a dollar from every ticket goes to the Jackson Parks and Recreation Department. For information, call 362-2294.