Bonfires on the Levee for Papa Noel

The locals of St. James Parish, Louisiana have their own unique, long-standing tradition of lighting teepee style pyres on fire for Christmas Eve, some of which are packed with fireworks as kindling. Throughout the entire month of December, local families work together to build the pyres. The pyres themselves traditionally take pyramid …

White Rabbits : True Crime in the Pet Cemetery

John Thompson, an influential man, was able to get Grace declared “insane”. Soon after entering the asylum she escaped to New Orleans. Being a suspicious death, police turned to Grace. She claimed she never made it there and he was killed for his $500,000 gambling treasure. Grace was a gifted …

Elvis Week

Elvis is alive. When I walked away, I heard you say If you need me, you know what to do I knew it then, I’d be back again. Thirty-six years after Elvis’s death, he sang this low tune in front of Graceland while thousands held up candles at his annual …

Bull Riding

Every Tuesday night for several months in the winter, the Washington County Fairgrounds’ largest building is warmed by giant space heaters so that a crowd of hundreds can root for their favorite bull rider. In the front of the building, the crowd sits in the bleachers laughing at the clown …

Joy Prom

“Young man, there’s no need to feel down. Young man, get yourself off the ground” — pumps from the speakers, the trumpets blare and then — “It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.” — and hundreds of arms extend into the sky while red and blue lights flash from the …

Mule Days

Two outstanding yearly events are the Memphis Cotton Carnival with its Mardi-Gras revelry and Mule Day at Columbia, an all-day celebration in honor of the “orneriest and workingest work-critter living.” —Tennessee: A Guide to the State (WPA, 1939) Horse is a horse, of course, of course. And then there are donkeys, …

Oak Ridge

Today, if you drive through Oak Ridge, Tennessee, you can see some things that seem out of place. Old guard towers frame the city’s corners, certain exit roads are restricted access, and a large contemporary billboard reads “Y-12’s trash can be an enemy’s treasure!” with a stock photo woman haphazardly …

In Praise of the Handmade Sign

Self expression is everywhere in the rural Southeast. People express themselves with t-shirts, tattoos, front license plates and lawn decorations. There is a fierce independence in the area. And you see that spirit everyday in the handmade sign. The signs are made for a plethora of reasons: to delight, to …

Land Of Oz

As I step off of Dorothy’s back porch, I see the withered twitching legs of the Wicked Witch of the East under the house. The yellow brick road is before me and brighter and more magical than I ever imagined. Hidden among the twisty roads of Beech Mountain, NC, the …

One Photo Story: Richard

Richard had all his fingers when I met him the year before. He volunteers at the Alligator Farm and gets a genuine kick out of the prehistoric creatures. He lures them closer for me by dangling the rancid chicken collected from nearby grocery stores. His eyes twinkle when he describes …