Stories for April 2003


Wednesday, April 30

Whatever Happened To ... ?

Remember Mississippi State quarterback Wayne Madkin, the guy who set all the school passing records before his career crashed and burned, just like every other quarterback Jackie Sherrill has coached in Starkville? Wayne has recovered from his injuries and found work in the CFL. Dr. S predicts that Wayne Madkin will have a job in football this fall and the Jackal won't.

Tuesday, April 29

David Banner, Native Son, by J. Bingo Holman

Also read the JFP "Tough Questions for David Banner" interview here

Wednesday, April 23

Culture Clash

Dr. Margaret Drake lives in two worlds. An occupational therapist, art therapist and associate professor in the Graduate Program in Clinical Health Sciences at University Medical Center, Drake is also a 25-year student and practitioner of alternative therapies. She is a member of the Wellness Circle, a loose association of local practitioners and people who just want to learn about alternative therapies.

Gibbs, Green Remembered

Homecoming Street Jam. Face painting. Student government elections. Mayfest. International Week. The list for activities that occur annually on Gibbs-Green Plaza in the heart of Jackson State University's campus could go on and on. Students hang out on the "plaza" day in and out discussing everything from what happened in their last class to the game next week. But many of those students are uninformed of the catastrophic events that occurred nearly 33 years ago, unaware of the reason we call it Gibbs-Green Plaza.

Hedonism Is Good for You

Three books on how to eat, and live, hedonisticly healthy.

Vegans like food, too! A recent release from animal-free fetishists Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer called "The Garden of Vegan: How It All Vegan Again!" (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2002, $17.95) is a romp in the kitchen for anyone desiring an animal-free meal. With recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, party fare and facial masques, this book could be Bust magazine meets "The Joy of Cooking." There's even a small section on microwavable foods (yes!).

ART: Les Is More

Les Green does more with less. Sparks of color deftly arranged in colored pencil or oil define his Impressionistic miniatures. Pastoral scenes with a figure, human or canine are favorites of the Meridian-born artist. Just as his paintings are compact and concise packages, Green himself takes up little space, yet seems larger than life, sporting a big white beard and his signature red shirt. Glenn Sanford, owner of Southern Breeze Gallery in Highland Village where Green's work hangs, calls him a "skinny Santa Claus."

Thanks, But No Thanks

I'm no feminist, and I definitely wear a bra most days of the week, but I am fed up with men giving me their unsolicited advice or trying to force me into liberation. It happened on the track one day at the YMCA on Fortification Street. I was plodding along at my 5.5 mph pace minding my own business. Suddenly some jerk … oops, I mean strange man … ran up beside me and said, "You should lengthen out your stride," then ran on ahead. Look, buddy, I'm training for a marathon and being coached by a nationally ranked triathlon athlete; I don't need your advice. Needless to say, I didn't see the fellow again that evening. Why? After one measly mile, he headed inside to lift weights. I finished my six miles in record time while fuming over this meathead's comment.

Saturday, April 19

DRIVE: Tennis, er ... Golf, Anyone?

"Oh, they have an orange one!" cried Ms. D, the delight in her voice crackling through the early evening air. "I've never seen that color of orange driving around, have you?" I told her that I hadn't. I also mentioned, for the second time, that we weren't here to look at a VW Beetle. "Well, which one are we supposed to look at?" she asked, irritated at the interruption of her reverie. I pointed to the model in question and told her I wanted her opinion on the Volkswagen Golf.

Thursday, April 17

Grilled Green Tomatoes

All across the state, grandmamas are rolling over in their graves at the gross perversion: Kinfolks are cooking heart-healthy Southern food. Traditionally loaded with salt, fat, sugar and pork products galore, Dixie victuals are gettin' lean and mean with some creative cooking. No movie has been made about grilled green tomatoes, but they do make for a happy belly.

Red Velvet Bingle, Anyone?

Occasionally we all have an urge to snack, no matter how health-conscious we may be. Recently, hit by a persistent sugar craving, I found myself nowhere near a health-food store, so I did what any other red-blooded American would do and stopped at a convenience store. The snack-food sections of stores these days are piled high with the grab-and-go, individually wrapped, calorie-packed, eat-it-at-the-steering-wheel foods that smell so yummy. Cruising past the chips, nuts and cookies, I found the stash of cakes, doughnuts and pastries that I knew were there. Yes! The end shelf was chock full of cellophane-wrapped yellow pound-cake slices, honey buns, bear claws and apple pastries, each with tiny beads of oil clinging to the inside of the wrapper indicating the contents would be moist and sweet like Mom's homemade cake. Just what I was looking for.

It's About You

<b>Can Young Voters Change Mississippi?</b>

If you're under 25, you don't count, at least not for much. Now, before you get huffy, let me explain. Only 42 percent of you voted in the last Mississippi election (compared to 70 percent of voters over 25). I've heard your reasons why, and I tend to agree with most of them. The candidates suck. The system is screwed up. The process mystifies you. Nobody's speaking your language. I feel the same way, but I still vote. Maybe you are all smarter than I and have just decided to turn a collective back to the whole thing, cranking up your music and changing the channel. But maybe it's time to accept the invitation to the dance (or party). Use it or lose it, baby, it's up to you.

Give It to Me Straight

Is it OK with you that only about a third of Mississippians are making decisions for all of us? Are you tired of not having anyone you want to vote for, who addresses your concerns? Do you want to be heard? Then, speak up, sweetheart, and change the world while you're at it—one vote at a time. Here's how (and, get this, it's fun). Who knew?

We're Not Clueless

When we consider activism of the '60s and '70s, we think of the war on Vietnam with thousands of citizens flocking to the street with "Peace Not War" signs. Or we recall the Civil Rights Movement that snaked through the southern states. Seldom discussed these days was a call for a right not granted to many U.S. citizens, and the very ones dying in Vietnam: the right for 18-year-olds to vote.

Reading from the Same Page

Back in 1961, during the dark days of Jim Crow when local African-Americans had to stage read-ins to get to the books in the public library, it would have been hard to imagine the entire city of Jackson reading the same book. Not only that, but reading the same book by an African-American man. A book about the trial of a young black man in Louisiana facing the electric chair for killing a white shopkeeper. During the botched robbery in "A Lesson Before Dying," the young man was not armed, and he had not pulled the trigger (sound eerily like a recent Mississippi death-penalty case?). This is still a difficult topic; in the 1960s it would have been near forbidden.

Knol Aust

Although Knol Aust, 27, has never met Lenny Kravitz, Queen Latifah, or Sting, he works side-by-side with them each day as each helps motivate young American voters. Aust, a Web designer who grew up in Raymond, is leading the way to raise awareness of the importance of voting by starting a Rock the Vote chapter in Jackson. "Young people are not always given a voice in politics," he said. "Sitting around without action will not promote or provoke change. It will take a unified movement and a strong system of support. Rock the Vote is completely non-partisan and believes that voting is one of the simplest actions a young American can do to make change."

Going ‘Round in Circles

What's the toughest thing to get people to talk about? Crime? Race? How about commercial development? Funding city services? These are the types of social topics that are being tackled around the country in "study circles," an approach to community-building and public forums championed by the Topsfield Foundation of Pomfriet, Conn., which created the Study Circles Resource Center in 1989.

CRIME: Playing the Numbers

The question of whether Jackson is "safe" has become about as polarizing as "Ford vs. Chevy" or "fats vs. carbohydrates." It depends on whom you ask. Crime is up 15 percent. Crime is down this month. Crime skyrocketed in February. Crime is way down over the last decade. We're drowning in crime. We're safer than ever. Just look at the numbers. It seems this spring has been open season on crime statistics. Everyone says the numbers don't say enough, even as they try to use the statistics to their advantage, whether to push an ideology, build a political campaign, raise ratings, sell newspapers, bash the city—and sometimes even to try to prevent crime. Which brings us to the central questions. One, is crime completely under control or out of control? Two, do the statistics matter?

Wednesday, April 16

In Search of Veggie Dining

I became a vegetarian a little while after my first visit to Kansas. Outside of Dodge City, out on the highway, is a special turnout with an overlook sign. The sign intrigued me, because a cursory glance didn't reveal any particular natural phenomenon worthy of a special viewing. As I guided the convertible to a stop, I noticed the odor. Then I read the sign. For reasons that still escape me—but that must have made sense to some sort of municipal committee at some point in time—this was a special highway overlook … of a cattle feedlot. It didn't put me off meat quite yet, but it started me down a certain road.

Friday, April 11

Not Once Ever Heard

Who's to say Jackson teens never speak up? On Friday, March 28, at New Stage Theatre, the public ear was allowed to hear that voice. Their objective: to spread their word and raise money to support their Annual Migration Tour in April. A group of high school students will follow the trail of many African Americans from Mississippi to Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York, from the field to the factories.

TEST DRIVE: A Utility Vehicle, Thank You

"Well, in a way, a boring truck sort of appeals to me," said Mr. K, on our way to the Toyota dealership. We were headed out there to see a Toyota Highlander, which I thought he might appreciate, as he'd been complaining about gas prices and the mileage he gets from his 10-year-old 4Runner.

Protesting Protest

Over a hundred thousand protesters took to the streets across the country the week the war started—but not to protest the war. They were protesting the protest of the war. They chanted, carried signs and held banners proclaiming "God Bless the U.S.A." and "Boycott France." In an attempt to convey feelings of solidarity with the U.S. troops in the Middle East, a movement called Rally for America has organized demonstrations nationwide. That movement is supported by San Antonio radio behemoth Clear Channel Communications, which owns more than 1,200 stations in the U.S. (four in Jackson) and wishes to control more.

Blame Game: Who's At Fault for the City's Crime?

Editor's Note: Links to all of the JFP's crime stories to date are archived below this story.

Thursday, April 10

Dance the Fondren Electric

Dana Reed's voice lilts up at the end of each phrase as she describes her upcoming, April 10th dance performance entitled "Inside Herself/Cell." A 23-year-old student teacher in the Power APAC program in Jackson, Reed teaches modern dance under her mentor teacher, Lisa Brown. The young Meridian native is inspired by dance icons Trisha Brown, Isadora Duncan and Doris Humphrey. "Inside Herself/Cell" can also be described as performance art, except dancers will explore the space in the parking garage at 2906 North State St. rather than a more traditional theater space.

AVANT GARDENS: Gardening for Dummies

Jerry Palmer won our immediate respect when he pointed up at the 100-foot pine tree in our yard, and a good-sized limb from the top cracked and landed with a thud at our feet. Jerry was volunteering his time and expertise to a couple of gardening amateurs (my husband and me) ready to get out in the dirt but not knowing where to start. Although the errant limb was probably some cosmic fluke, the moment certainly highlighted Jerry's outdoor prowess (and it gave us all cause to be a little more reverent when discussing tree removal, especially when it is leaning toward our house).

Proud to be an American

We only lost three distribution spots due to our last issue, which offered dissenting views to the Iraqi War. We knew when we switched last issue's cover story at the last minute from the state of the crime debate in Jackson (which is now this issue's cover story) to the war, which was in its opening moments as we went to press, that we were courting controversy. But we also knew that we would not be true to our mission and our promise to our readers to be thought-provoking if we failed to take a more critical look at the build-up to the war as it was developing into the most important issue that most of us would be facing over these weeks—both intellectually and emotionally. We simply do not know how not to analyze the news, question dogma and exercise our right to free expression at every turn.

Tuesday, April 8

Running Of The Bull

yers have had a lot of trouble with the law in the past year, but the school is thinking of changing its fight song to "Jailhouse Rock." ... You can't blame Jerry Krause for quitting as Chicago Bulls GM due to health problems. Watching that team is enough to make anybody sick. ... Dr. S is still surprised that Jackson State didn't select Lanier High coach Thomas Billups to be the Tigers new men's basketball coach. After all, Billups has extensive recruiting experience. ... The Iraqi high command calls a secret meeting of Saddam Hussein's doubles. "Men," one official says, "I have good news and bad news. The good news: Saddam is alive. The bad news: He's lost an arm." .... Overheard on Jackson sports talk radio: "The State Fair Commission doesn't care about having anything in the Coliseum that doesn't crap on the floor."

Monday, April 7

WINE: L'Affaire du Vin

Norm Rush will never forget his first. In the most soulful baritone voice this side of Barry White, he imparts every detail. Rush positively glows as he recounts that one sacred moment of passion when the light came on and the world made sense. He was 19, working at the well-regarded Lily Marlene's Restaurant at Church Street Station in Orlando, Fla., when renowned sommelier and wine expert Reid Rapport introduced him to a luscious, leggy 1966 Haut-Brion. "I can still smell it and taste it after all these years," he said in a voice as luscious as that Bordeaux beauty. (My friends say he's "dishy," the tall, dark and handsome type, but I'm a married woman. I don't notice that kind of thing.)

WAR: In the Faces of the Children

April 3, 2003 Marking the spot where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet is an apple tree with a double trunk. This gnarled tree bears a bronzed plaque: "Here the holy tree of our ancestors Adam and Eve grew." For some Iraqi scholars this place, near the outskirts of Qurnan in southeastern Iraq, is the Garden of Eden. In spring 1991, as a part of a humanitarian aid team, I took medical supplies to the pediatric hospitals in Iraq. A broken tree on the Euphrates banks heralded, for me, a far different reality: not of Eden, but of death.

Sunday, April 6

No more hockey in Jackson

The Jackson Bandits announced on Friday that they would be suspending operations for the 2002-03 season. They say there will be no more hockey in Jackson unless a new stadium is built to meet their scheduling needs. And lawmakers are reluctent to build the stadium because there is no guarantee that attendence would pick up. Attendence has stedily dropped since the Jackson Bandits first season.

Friday, April 4

FILM: Soul Sisters

The following featured films are screening at the Crossroads Film Festival April 3-6. Call 948-3531 for tickets; see their Web site for schedule.

Ouida Couch

A menacing polar bear stalks two 5-year-old girls, doggedly chasing them through the backyard. The polar bear's name is King, Ouida Couch's 85-pound white German Shepherd, and this is their favorite game. Ouida is indomitable, delighting in the frolicsome chase. I'm the cowardly candy-ass shrieking atop the picnic table. Ouida and I are cracking ourselves up as we reminisce. We sit in her Belhaven home of 10 years with her wooly-headed American Eskimo, Mogi (with whom she plays a grown-up version of "polar bear") and Mogi's black cat, Mustang.

Dear Tougaloo

Five years ago, Dr. Roy L. Irons and an acquaintance attended a fund-raising gala in Memphis to benefit LeMoyne-Owens College, and got an idea. One year ago, the Tougaloo alumnist started garnering support from other Tougalooians, friends, and a cavalcade of metro businesses to hold the same benefit event for his alma mater. In conjunction with TRUST Marketing, Inc., the same company involved with the LeMoyne-Owens College event, Irons soon put his dream of helping his college into action. The first Two Rivers Gala will be held at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center on April 5 at 7 p.m.

WAR: If Duty Calls

I managed to get through the weekend without watching any news coverage of the war or any television for that matter. Instead, I worked on my research proposal for class, and enjoyed a hike with my dogs and some good quality time with friends. It was good to "cleanse" my brain for awhile. The media covers the war minute by minute, and it seems as if this war has been going on for months. I wonder if Americans will grow to be disinterested and forget why we are fighting in the first place.

SPANN: The War Roller Coaster

Driving to work the day after Dubya officially declared war on Iraq, I was struck by a feeling of patriotism coupled with sadness. I noted the American flags plastered on bumpers and the ribbons on antennas swaying in the March wind as I sat in traffic along I-55 South. The morning had a surreal, bittersweet quality as I pondered whether everyone else was also listening to war updates on PRM. Call me callous, but until Monday, March 17, 2003, I hadn't really felt much one way or the other about Dubya's little war. I remember milling around the kitchen preparing dinner that evening while I listened to the president's address and the subsequent over-analysis. Suddenly, I felt a pang of recognition in my chest. Those afternoons spent sitting in the grill at Millsaps College watching Operation Desert Storm updates came flooding back to me. And for a moment, I even imagined my poor dad being pulled out of retirement to serve just one more tour with the 101st Airborne from Fort Campbell, Ky.