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 …

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 …

The Dollhouse

I had been in New Orleans for two days when I met the woman with the great eyelashes. After years of photographing strangers, my approach had been honed to telling people directly what I am doing and why I like them. I had seen her walk into the Hotel Monteleone, …

Flora-bama

“Sitting here at the Flora-Bama Bout to open up a big old can of good times, unwind Fall in and out of love in the same night Can’t say I got a whole lot of cares I’m in the redneck riviera It’s getting crazy, getting hammered Sitting right here at …

Who Dat: Saints Super Fans

Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? From the Aints era to a Superbowl winning season, fans are in it through thick and thin. Once inside the Superdome, the fans keep the noise level loud, interrupting visiting teams communication especially on third down.

Bristol TN/VA, On the Occasion of my Departure

The city is split down the middle. You can stand on State Street with one foot in Virginia and one foot in Tennessee and look up at the giant glowing sign that reads modestly, “Bristol: A Good Place to Live.” From 1910 to 1921, the sign read, “PUSH!- That’s Bristol,” …

Shrine of Saint Amico

In the quiet town of Donaldsonville, Louisiana, a tiny chapel sits at the end of a short road of houses. The one room with a steeple was built around 1907. Surprisingly, the chapel sits unlocked. A simple wooden stop keeps the doors from swinging wide. The room smells damp and …