Some Ways We are Different from Some Other People

we don’t use the dishwasher we don’t use the clothes dryer we leave the windows open we drink tap water, we drink almond milk, we eat barley we build fires in the fireplace we keep a compost bucket on the kitchen counter we travel with a bonsai tree, Mr. Tree we hang out on Beale Street we let Tom be our everyday cook we say “runned,” as in “I...

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I am Afraid of McDonald’s Chicken

It’s spreading. Once I saw that pink slime, I would never, ever again eat a McNugget. Didn’t matter if the ammonia claim wasn’t true. A distinction, as they say, without a difference. Then I saw the blender video—hack, hack, whirl, whirl—and every piece of chicken that wasn’t immediately recognizable as a bird became suspect. (Several weeks ago...

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Mississippi in Mexico in Mississippi

An Interview with Carlos Fuentes by Lois Parkinson Zamora Hotel Amerika 2011 LPZ: Just one last thing: what about Faulkner? CF: Well, you know for us, Latin American literature begins with the Mississippi, with Faulkner . . . We read his novels and felt that our Latin American territory began in Mississippi. Q: I, a girl sprawled on her uncle’s...

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Wildly Improbable Goals

The Advocate began with a grant. One of our stated goals was: “Use the arts to change perceptions of people who have experienced homelessness.” How, the application asked, will you evaluate whether you’ve been a success? In a moment of honesty, I said to June Averyt, who was the Executive Director, “I want them to read our work and appoint one...

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Because I am a Woman

Before I was a liberal, I was a woman. Back then, in the 1980s and ’90s, when I was apolitical, when I could care less about Democrat or Republican, except sometimes I went out of my way to vote Republican because I wanted a two-party system in Mississippi. During those years, when I had little understanding of who was running for what,...

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STAX via Motown

The introductory film at STAX is brilliant. Before they take you to STAX music, they play some Motown. A little Temptations, some other choreographed groups. You’re sitting there thinking, this is fun, bopping along to the tunes. If you’re uninitiated, you may even be thinking, okay, Black groups—I get that. Then Rufus Thomas says, “But once...

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God, the Devil, and Popcorn

I put myself to sleep last night thinking about the worst pain I’ve ever felt. This cogitation was triggered by popcorn. Saturday, I was making a batch, fully aware that water droplets were in the pan. You know that bit about oil and water—so true. When I threw in the popcorn, grease shot up like a hellcat coming out of a burlap sack. I jerked...

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Bruce and Jesus – or God and the Big Man

I’ve written a book with no redeeming social value whatsoever except for one: it’s funny. I think of Trouble at Big Daddy’s Chicken Palace Emporium and Museum as my Bruce Springsteen novel. You see, I have this image of Bruce arriving at the Pearly Gates. Jesus is standing there, talking to him. Do you think Jesus is saying, “So, Bruce, what’d...

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When They Say Birth Control, They’re Talking about Me

Why every time I hear them say “birth control” do I erupt like a geyser? Because. For decades of my life the given was that strangers could control my sexuality. Legislators. Doctors. Health insurance companies. Employers. To be specific: male legislators—there were no females legislators back then. Male OB-Gyns, too, who would ask whether...

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