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February 15 - 21, 2012



February 15 - 21, 2012



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6 Love is Strange The story of trusty Joseph Ozment’s romance asks, “Can a murderer and an engineer find true love?” VIRGINIA SCHREIBER

Cover design by Kristin Brenemen


THIS ISSUE: Speaker’s Shade

House Speaker Philip Gunn pushes for a “sunshine” bill. Some wonder what’s in his shadows. SAMUEL MCCAIN

christine ‘chrissy’ wilson gested a lecture series, and History Is Lunch developed from his suggestion. The weekly talks focus on Mississippi history, culture and art. “Even having weekly programs, we barely scrape the surface of the talent and accomplishments of individuals in this community and state,” Wilson says. “I do have a hard time reading all the books that are featured during the year.” Wilson, a Rome, Ga., native, has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in comparative literature (French and Spanish) from the University of Georgia. She moved to the Jackson area in the mid-1970s when her former husband became a professor at Millsaps College, where she taught composition and grammar for a year. She raised her two children, Geoffrey and Laura, in the Belhaven area, and they now reside with their spouses and her grandchildren in the San Francisco Bay area. The 65-year-old also enjoys exploring the state, reading and staying in contact with her children and grandchildren. She still lives in the Belhaven area and loves it. “I have lived in Jackson for more than 30 years,” Wilson says, “and continue to be amazed at the number of visionary people here—writing, painting, songwriting and playing music.” —Richard Coupe

24 Prisms of Color Artist Samuel McCain draws inspiration from the love of his family and the music of the blues.

36 Tasty Turnips Substituting turnips for potatoes in au gratin lightens the dish for spring. Plus, the cake of kings.

Mississippi has no bigger cheerleader when discussing the art, history and culture of Mississippi than Christine “Chrissy” Wilson. She has edited many of the markers on the Mississippi Freedom Trail commemorating the state’s civil-rights heritage as well as the Mississippi Blues Trail and the Country Music Trail markers. “They are all interesting,” she says. “But working on the Medgar Evers Home marker was awe-inspiring.” Her favorites, though, were the Blues Trails markers like Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf because she grew up listening to them. Wilson co-curated an award-winning exhibit called “All Shook Up: Mississippi roots of American Popular Music,” which included a video for schools and an exhibit catalog based on the premise that Mississippi produced the top artists in many genres of music. In addition, she edited several newsletters and journals while at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History about Mississippi history, arts and culture, as well as books such as “Ethel Wright Mohamed” in 1984. Wilson retired in 2008 after 30 years with MDAH and now has fun working part-time on the “History Is Lunch” series. When Gov. William Winter was president of the Board of Trustees of MDAH, he sug-


4 ..............Editor’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 ..................... Stiggers 13 ................. Opinion 24 .............. Diversions 26 ........................ Film 28 ...................... Books 29 .................... 8 Days 30 ............. JFP Events 31 ...................... Music 32 ......... Music Listing 34 ..................... Sports 36 ....................... Food 39 ................ Astrology 39 .................... Puzzles 41 .............. Body/Soul 42 ... Girl About Town



Elizabeth Waibel Reporter Elizabeth Waibel grew up in Clinton. In May, she received her journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tenn. She likes coffee and trying new cake recipes. She wrote the cover story.

Virginia Schreiber Staff photographer Virginia Schreiber is a recent graduate of Millsaps College. When she’s not working, she spends her time watching films of the Peter Pan genre. She took many of the photos in this issue.

Jacob Fuller New reporter Jacob Fuller attended Ole Miss. When not reporting, he splits his time between playing music and photographing anything in sight. He now covers the city for the JFP. Send him story ideas at jacob@

Sharon Dunten Sharon Dunten came to Mississippi as a journalist to cover Hurricane Katrina. She visits Mississippi often to write and photograph the state and its distinctive culture, which captured her heart. She wrote an arts feature for this issue.

Roxanne Wallis Roxanne Wallis, a native Jacksonian and self-proclaimed Renaissance woman, exemplifies the nature of those born under the Aquarian zodiac sign: unconventional, creative and taking the road less traveled. She wrote a food feature.

Sam R. Hall Sam R. Hall is a journalist turned political/media consultant. He blogs about tech and general geekery at and at He, his wife and three kids live in Florence with cat Hemingway. He wrote a book review.

Tam Curley Editorial intern Tam Curley loves telling about her move from liberal California to begin a new life with her hubby and daughter in conservative Mississippi. She is an Arkansas native and enjoys time with her two lab puppies. She wrote the Body Soul feature.

February 15 - 21, 2012

Morgan Bares


Originally from Lafayette, La., marketing intern Morgan Bares is a junior at Millsaps College. She is a Communications major and is actively involved in the Greek community. Morgan enjoys traveling, cooking, exercising, and being with family and friends.

by Ronni Mott, Managing Editor

Evolve My Mind


have always measured the quality of my education against what my father taught me. School bored me mostly, but having a conversation with Papa rarely did. He was a natural teacher of philosophy, political science and history. He peppered his lectures with anthropology, science and economics. Papa fueled my burn for knowledge. He taught me to question the status quo (and just about everything else), to listen deeply and never to be afraid of voicing a considered opinion. As I came into adulthood, his nightly dinnertime lectures evolved into hours-long explorations into politics, civil rights and current events. Eventually, no subject was taboo. I got a thrill each time I presented a point of view he hadn’t considered. He would pause, chewing the information in his big brain, weighing it, spinning it and looking at it from all angles. At those times, Papa had no ego. He could dismiss any opinion—even one he was energetically defending just a moment ago— in favor of another with more merit. He was one of the most authentic, clearest thinkers I have ever known, and I was blessed to have him as a teacher. One lesson I learned from Papa was to be open to, yet wary of, what I heard and read. Never take anything at face value, he taught. But second-guessing everything is a hard road. It tends to piss people off, especially those who would rather I not ask questions such as “why?” “according to whom?” or simply, “really?” It drives me to challenge my foregone conclusions. Sometimes, that’s painful. I recently followed a Facebook post to an editorial in the National Review. I was fairly certain from the title (“The Liberal Enforcers”) that I wouldn’t like what I found, but I read the piece from start to finish, anyway. In it, author Mark Steyn presented, in an overheated and hyperbolic screed, his case that liberals will gang up on anything (in this case, the Susan G. Komen Foundation) to ram “Big Tolerance” down our collective throats. He’s clever. Steyn uses lots of $10 words and citations coupled with a copious application of teeth-gnashing over liberalism in general. You could find yourself nodding in agreement, caught up in the drama. I could just see Steyn raising his hands to put air quotes around the left’s faults: “women’s health” organization Planned Parenthood; “reproductive rights” correspondent Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones; “the 1 percent”; “poor women.” I imagined the accompanying wink-wink, nudge-nudge mannerisms. I wanted to smack the smirk off his headshot. Even if I agreed with his thesis, I couldn’t give a pass to any information presented with such disdain and downright nastiness. (I wouldn’t give one to Barack Obama, either, if you’re wondering, or to the myriad progressive organizations with which I agree for the most part.) No one gets to rewrite the story simply because they don’t like it. Show me the research—primary research, please. No opinion blogs allowed. Turns out, Steyn wasn’t as

scrupulous in compiling all of his “facts.” Of all forms of tyranny, perhaps the worst is convincing people that they are powerless to effect change. The tool to convince us is easy to generate: fear. Smart operatives use fear to maneuver us to do exactly the wrong thing, even act in opposition to our best interests. They know that fearful people—afraid of losing liberties, money, position or life—are easily outraged. Angry and defensive, we stop thinking. That’s the point. Papa came of age in one of the most authoritarian environments imaginable: The Nazi party dominated every nuance of thought and life in its sphere. It wasn’t simply that the party bombarded people with its twisted rhetoric; they literally risked their lives and the lives of loved ones to speak out, much less fight against its absolute repression. Afraid, most people went along with it all, regardless of how horrible things got. Maybe that’s the biggest failure of education: not teaching us to recognize our weakness for security and the easy path; not teaching us we have other options. Never learning to lean into our innate boldness leaves us with tolerance for ineptitude and dishonesty. It serves no one. What’s left is a quivering bundle of low expectations—for our leaders, schools and our daily failures to rise above our personal status quos. Instead, we embrace solutions for problems that don’t exist anywhere but between our ears. Teaching a child to push beyond comfort and convention has to begin early. It’s a learned skill, like grasping the power of reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s not enough to memorize the words and equations; without understanding why and how to use what we learn, knowledge loses its significance. Without sig-

nificance, things become irrelevant, and I can’t think of any reason to respect irrelevance. And isn’t that where we’ve landed on education? Instead of respecting knowledge and those who impart it, we pay teachers a pittance (as befits those who give little of value) and turn our kids into mindless test-stressed drones, eager to be done with it all. It’s not surprising that we grasp at any alternative that promises to make things even a little better. But that doesn’t get to the root of the cancer. We’re fond of moving the pieces without changing the rules, but we have a self-defeating bias for the illusion of stability that keeps us in an endless loop of educational failures. We have the power to make fundamental, systemic change, but exercising our power is never easy. In confronting our prejudices and distortions, we will run into our own brick wall of resistance, powerless at times to even see them, much less rise above them. Spiritual author Marianne Williamson wrote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” That light is our fuel for growth, change and making a difference. We all have it. “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others,” she continues, and that may be the scariest part of all. Look, change is as inevitable as February. We can resist it, or we can grab hold and ride that bucking bronc, flailing and falling and getting back on. Change my mind. Please. I welcome evolving, precisely because it’s not easy. Don’t expect me to go along just to get along. That’s not a horse worth riding. Papa taught me that, too.

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news, culture & irreverence

Friday, Feb. 10 GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. ‌ Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn reintroduces “Sunshine Actâ€? legislation to authorize agency heads to hire lawyers to represent the agencies in litigation instead of the state attorney general’s office. An earlier version of the bill died Thursday after it was ruled improperly before the House. Saturday, Feb. 11 Grammy Award-winning singer Whitney Houston, 48, dies at a hotel in Beverly Hills. ‌ The Ole Miss basketball team beats Auburn 61-54, but the Mississippi State Bulldogs lose to the Georgia Bulldogs 70-68.


Monday, Feb. 13 Washington becomes the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage. ‌ State Sen. Joey Fillingane introduces a bill in the Legislature “to protect the life of every unborn child from conception to birth, to the extent permitted by the federal Constitution.â€? Mississippians defeated a similar ballot initiative last November. Tuesday, Feb. 14 The hit game Angry Birds comes to Facebook. ‌ Ward 3 residents vote in a new City Council member to replace former Councilman Kenneth Stokes. Get news updates at



he committed in 1990. LaChina Tillman and Ozment became friends, and then more. Tillman wasn’t the only person who found Ozment charming. Ozment apparently thought of himself as a good catch. An old web page for Mississippi Prison Pals carries a personals ad for Ozment in which he describes himself as a “interesting, fun, imaginative, confined body, caring heart, free soul, open mind, single, white male...light brown eyes, collegiate student, athlete; open, honest, sincere, and affectionate—sensitive, happy, loving, and desiring attraction—educated, intellectual, vast variety of interests, unlimited.� Ozment and Tillman maintained their relationship throughout his incarceration. A Bay St. Louis native, Tillman went on to finish her engineering degree and secure a job with Northrop Grumman, a Fortune 500 company that specializes in aerospace and military contract work. Her LinkedIn profile lists her job title as lead surface system architect with the company. In fact, her credentials are so impressive that Women of Color magazine named her a 2008 Rising Star in the category of science, technology, engineering and math. Ozment’s jailhouse jobs, according to the resume Memphis television station WMCTV obtained, included working as a teacher’s aide and recreational orderly, and as a “cook� at the governor’s mansion for Marsha and ODD COUPLE, see page 7

Stupid Excuses for Skipping School




February 15 - 21, 2012

Sunday, Feb. 12 Singer-songwriter Adele takes home six awards at the 54th annual Grammys. ‌ Three houses catch fire in Jackson. Authorities say there were no reported injuries.

State Sen. John Horhn talks business and development. p 10

by R.L Nave

to identify him, delivered two more bullets to the head of the 40-year-old clerk, who was begging for help. An anonymous caller, who’d been at the store shortly before 11 p.m., told police had seen three suspicious black men leave the store and speed off in a gray Chevrolet. Ten days later, DeSoto County sheriff’s deputies arrested three black men—Shinault Young, Tracy Blackburn and Kelvin Earl Todd—and Ozment, who is white. All were students at Northwest Mississippi Community College, and each was charged with armed robbery and murder. Ozment, who at 21 was the oldest member of the gang, turned state’s Joseph Ozment, a pardoned governor’s mansion evidence on the others and pleaded trusty, and LaChina Tillman, an engineer for a guilty to simple murder, armed robFortune 500 company, are planning a life together. bery and conspiracy to commit armed That’s assuming that the Mississippi Supreme Court doesn’t invalidate Ozment’s pardon. robbery to avoid the death penalty. In 1993, he received a life sentence with parole eligibility after 10 years and was n the night of Dec. 7, 1992, Joseph sent to the state penitentiary at Parchman. Ozment and three friends arrived to It was around that time that he met a rob J & R’s Old Store in Hernando young college student named LaChina Tilland found Ricky A. Montgomery man. Tillman, who was a little younger than there, working alone. During the robbery, Ozment when they met, was studying comone of Ozment’s accomplices shot Mont- puter engineering at Mississippi State Unigomery three times, though not fatally. Oz- versity and visiting her older brother, Geno, ment, fearing Montgomery would be able who was serving a life sentence for a murder


Thursday, Feb. 9 The state Supreme Court hears arguments over former Gov. Haley Barbour’s more than 200 end-of-term pardons. ‌ State Rep. Steve Holland’s satirical bill to rename the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of America goes viral, gaining national attention and punking America.

The Odd Couple


Wednesday, Feb. 8 U.S. House Speaker John Boehner threatens that if President Barack Obama will not reverse his administration’s policy requiring religious organizations to cover birth control in their health-insurance policies, Congress will. ... Mississippi executes mentally ill Edwin Hart Turner after a federal appeals court lifts a stay of execution issued earlier in the week.

In 2009, the average high-school dropout rate in Mississippi was 16.8 percent, more than twice the national average. For Hinds County, the rate was 18.6 percent, and Madison County’s was 9.6 percent; Rankin County’s rate was 12.2 percent. Amite County’s dropout rate was 44.1 percent. SOURCES: KIDSCOUNT.ORG; NCES.ED.GOV

K, OK. We know some of you have good reasons for skipping school, maybe. Sometimes you have to get creative, right? We asked readers for some of the excuses that probably didn’t get them a hall pass.

• They won’t let me wear pajamas to class. • I broke a nail. • I got an F for turning in my essay on toilet paper. • The dog ate my common sense. • All the teachers made me sit in the back, because of my weave. • I couldn’t make out with my boyfriend/girlfriend. • I got a job at McDonald’s. • Bill Gates dropped out—now look at him! • Ninth grade isn’t for everybody. • Reading Chaucer in the original Middle English seemed less appealing than gorging on Cheetos and playing WoW all day. • Why go to school when we have Wikipedia? • My parents grounded me from school. Don’t you believe me?


Send Jacktown news tips to:

news, culture & irreverence









ODD COUPLE, from page 6

tially lashed out at Hood, saying he was “disappointed� in Hood for characterizing Ozment as a white supremacist when his bride-to-be is African American. “He does have a tattoo on his back, but it’s not a white supremacist gang tattoo,� Moxley told the Jackson Free Press recently. But when asked what the tattoo is, Moxley said: “I’ll be damned if I know. It’s not a gang tattoo; it’s innocuous.� Moxley said officials at Marshall County Correctional Facility, who said Ozment wasn’t a “gangbanger.� “They say they know darn well he never had any kind of gang affiliation,� Moxley said last week. He called Ozment and Tillman’s tale “a love story.� Moxley confirmed they met years ago when Tillman was visiting someone in prison—he was not “legally positive� that person was her brother—and became friends. The relationship blossomed from there, Moxley said: “They have been planning a life together. It’s a legitimate romance.� Mary McAbee, Ricky Montgomery’s sister, is less enchanted with Ozment even if he is 1,300 miles away. She spoke briefly with reporters after the Supreme Court hearing on the pardons’ constitutionality. “I’m a little nervous about that because you never know,� she said of Ozment’s living out west. “He has his full freedom. He can go anywhere he wants and do anything he wants to do.� Comment at

Pardongate: Continuum by R.L. Nave




Haley Barbour, both of whom Ozment lists as employment references. The relationship between Tillman and Ozment came into focus in January when Attorney General Jim Hood circulated the couple’s wedding save-the-date announcement. Ozment had been the target of a weeks-long hunt by investigators after he received a pardon Jan. 6 for the 18-year-old crime. Hood’s officers tracked Ozment to Colorado, where they believed Tillman was living, and then to Laramie, Wyo. Property records show that Tillman purchased a $305,000 home in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Ozment’s resume listed his address as Olive Branch). “It’s unfortunate how things have occurred at the mansion and how these prisoners were handled,� Hood said at a January press conference, noting that Ozment was dressed in street clothes in the photos rather than the striped green-and-white jumpsuit that minimum-security inmates are required to wear. “This guy’s got a tattoo with Aryan Brotherhood on his back, and this lady—who has a college degree and is an engineer and is doing very well—has taken up with him.� Tillman visited Ozment at the mansion more than a dozen times, and the two even took photographs for their wedding announcement there, according to Hood. Robert Moxley, Ozment’s attorney ini-



by R.L. Nave

Drilling the Front Lines

Céilí and Workshop with Patrick O’Dea

Sunday, February 19th at Fenian’s Céilí (Irish social dancing) 2:00 - 5:00 PM

Free. Donations accepted. Beginner-friendly and fun for all ages.

Sean-nós (old-style) Solo Dancing Workshop 5:00 - 6:30 PM

$15 per person, $10 for members of Jackson Irish Dancers and CHS for intermediate/advanced dancers To join our e-mail list or for more information:


Benjamin Bradley

February 15 - 21, 2012

Congratulations to Benjamin Bradley for picking the Super Bowl score EXACTLY right! He wins $100 in gift certificates to Sportman’s Lodge. Thanks to everyone who played JFP Football Pick’em in 2011-12... Look for more Pick’em contests coming soon! sponsored by:




aptain Louis Skrmetta is on the front lines. So far, Skrmetta, whose family has operated tour boats between the mainland and Mississippi’s barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico since 1926, is fighting a winning battle to rebuild his business to pre-Hurricane Katrina levels. Before the 2005 storm, Skrmetta’s Ship Island Excursions ferried 65,000 people per year on average. Last year, it shuttled 43,000 people. “It grows every year,” he said of his recovering business. “It’s just very confusing as to why the state would push an activity that would hurt cash flows (of tourism business owners).” Skrmetta’s voice is one among a growing chorus of Coast residents opposed to a state plan to potenSome business owners worry that tourists, drawn to sites like Fort Massachusetts on West Ship Island in the Gulf tially ramp up mineral exploration of Mexico, will be put off by industrial drilling activity near the islands. Under a proposed plan, drillers would be able to operate as close as one mile from the islands—and this doesn’t please everyone. and drilling. In mid-December, former Gov. Haley Barbour directed the Mississippi Development Authority to start the process of opening up state waters to drilling. the reserve diminishes also depends on the gas board. Dan Turner, spokesman for the MDA, market—the higher the price, the more inDuring the most recent sale for federal explained that energy companies would centive energy companies have to draw and waters in the western Gulf, 20 companies bid on blocks the Legislature established in sell it quickly. paid $712 million for 191 leasable plots. 2004 and, if lawmakers choose to accept The U.S. Energy Information Admin- Among the big players in the auction that the bids, would also pay a royalty on what- istration bolstered Bounds’ claim about the took place in New Orleans Dec. 14 were ever minerals are extracted. smallness of Mississippi’s gas resources, ConocoPhillips Co., BP Exploration and Before leaving the post in January, concluding in its more recent energy profile Production Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp. Leland Speed, former MDA executive di- of Mississippi that the state is a “minimal” Despite the potential for a windfall for rector, wrote an open letter estimating the producer of natural gas and electric power the state, Bounds’ report makes the point state could collect between $241 million given its high per-capita consumption. that the biggest loser in the deal will be and $523 million in royalties alone, with “We understand the economy is bad, people like Skrmetta who depend on tourmore than 97.5 percent going to the state’s and everyone wants a free lunch. And we’d ist activities. education trust fund. Turner added that like to believe that elected officials supportIf one in 20 visitors—5 percent—stay the actual royalty amount would depend ing drilling are just not paying attention to away from the Gulf Coast, Bounds eson market conditions. the beat of the market drum, or are simply timates, the loss of state tourism revenue But Skrmetta and other critics won- so desperate and panicked that they are over the life of the reserve would amount der whether the benefits of the gas royalties making bad choices,” Bounds wrote. to $168.5 million dollars, gobbling up the outweigh the long-term damage that could “But, in this case, the facts are plain state’s anticipated revenues. MDA refutes be done to tourism and the environment. enough that we believe citizens need to start this argument, saying on its website that Jeffrey K. Bounds, an MIT- asking state officials at least this simple ques- tourism remains robust in Alabama. trained engineer who has family ties to tion: Why now? Who profits? It is clear that Andrew Whitehurst, assistant direcMississippi’s Gulf Coast region, drilled it will not be residents of the state.” tor of science and water policy for the Gulf down to the numbers in a report published Looking at companies that operate or Restoration Network, worries about conin January 2012. have recently purchased oil and gas leases in tamination resulting in the event of drillIn “Drilling by the Numbers, Again: the Gulf of Mexico answers the question of ing-fluids spillage or pipeline ruptures such The Economic Impact of as Exploration who profits. In Alabama, which ranks 14th as the BP disaster of 2010. He also took Offshore of Mississippi,” Bounds picks in U.S. gas production, just three operators issue with what he characterized as MDA’s apart several of the state’s assumptions, produced 240 billion cubic feet in 2010, hurried public comment process. including the size of the state’s natural gas which is almost the size of Mississippi’s to“The way that they’ve done this, putreserve and how much in royalties the state tal estimated reserve. ting out their notice during the Christmas might collect based on price trends. ExxonMobil Corp., Legacy Oil + Gas holidays, was unfair,” he said. Even accepting the MDA’s claim that Ltd. and W&T Offshore Inc., which re“When you’re a state agency consid350 billion cubic feet of natural gas lies cently acquired a gas field in Mobile Bay ering something this big and this controunder the seabed, Bounds finds that the from Shell Offshore. Alabama’s oil and gas versial, and you choose that time of year figure is one-seventeenth of neighboring revenue totaled $311.2 million in fiscal to publish your rules, you’re trying to hide Alabama’s 6.5 trillion cubic feet. How fast year 2010, according to the state oil and from controversy.”

Legislature: Week 6

by R.L. Nave


agency directors would still have to work within their budgets. “It’s about giving agencies greater flexibility and independence,� said state Auditor Stacey Pickering, a Republican, who also attended the meeting. State Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello, produced a letter that Democrats say demonstrates how the bill’s passage could lead to conflicts of interest. In the letter, from Russell Latino of Wells, Marble and Hurst to former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, Latino wants to represent the state Division of Medicaid in a fraud suit. Speaker Phillip Gunn also works for Wells, Marble and Hurst. “This letter corroborates our concern that this bill is and always has been about members of the Legislature profiting off of the state,� Evans said of the letter. Hood has claimed all along that his office already posts contracts with outside firms online. Roughly 5 percent of the some 3,000 cases the AG’s office deals with are contracted out and, an even smaller number of outside law firms are hired on a contingency fee basis. His office’s webpage lists 33 active contingency fee contracts, including a fraud suit against WorldCom and accounting firm KPMG. View a full list of contingency fee cases on the attorney general’s website ( Active hourly fee cases being handled by outside firms include a $1.2 million contract to Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell

& Berkowitz, PC for the Olivia Y v. Haley Barbour case, filed in 2004 on behalf of six children whom the suit alleges suffered physical and psychological harm while in the state’s custody. Meanwhile, the Senate is clicking on all cylinders, too. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves made it plain when he announced his legislative agenda Feb. 1 that he wanted to consolidate the Drew and Indianola county school districts into a new Sunflower County School District. Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, introduced a bill on Monday, Feb. 6 and two days later, the Senate passed the measure 43 to 4 and sent it to the House. Comment at

Personhood Redux E\(OL]DEHWK:DLEHO





egislative Republicans are setting ’em Wiseman said, Republicans want to “neuterâ€? and knockin’ ’em down. After a clumsy Hood, nonetheless. first month In its reincarwhen the nated form the act House didn’t even went a step further to have committee scale back the powers assignments, bills of the attorney genare starting to soar eral by incorporating through the coma process whereby the mittee process and state Personal Service going to the floor. Contract Review Case in point: Board must approve the thunderstorm certain contracts. caused by the SunThe previous bill shine Act proposal. called for the board The bill, which to serve as a clearingultimately failed house for contracts on a technicality over $100,000. but was resurrected At Monday’s later, would let state 45-minute-longhearagency directors hire ing, members gave outside legal help Hood the chance to if they think a conargue against the bill. flict of interest exists With filing deadlines approaching, state He estimates an adwith the state at- legislators are moving legislation swiftly ditional cost of $11 torney general, who through the committee process and onto the million to the state normally represents floor for consideration. based on the $65 per the state. hour rate his office Speaker Philip Gunn introduced the bill bills state agencies compared to the $130 per late on Monday, Feb. 6. It was taken up in the hour that private firms charge. Judiciary A Committee the following mornRepublicans dismissed Hood’s argument ing and on the floor by Thursday when At- that the state would incur higher costs because torney General Jim Hood was arguing his case in the ongoing Pardongate matter. Democrats have framed the issue as a Republican attempt to slap back at Hood, for XVWWKUHHPRQWKVDIWHUYRWHUVWXUQHGGRZQD3HUVRQ repeatedly getting under the skin of the GOP KRRG,QLWLDWLYHDWOHDVWRQHOHJLVODWRULVWU\LQJWRJHW power establishment. Marty Wiseman, direcLWEDFNRQWKHEDOORW tor of the John C. Stennis Institute on Gov 6HQ-RH\)LOOLQJDQH56XPUDOOLQWURGXFHGD FRQFXUUHQWUHVROXWLRQ0RQGD\LQDQHIIRUWWRDPHQGWKH ernment, said it’s deeper than that. VWDWHFRQVWLWXWLRQWRÂłSURWHFWWKHOLIHRIHYHU\XQERUQ Wiseman explained that the 1890 MisFKLOGIURPFRQFHSWLRQWRELUWK´ sissippi Constitution created a weak executive  :KLOH)LOOLQJDQHÂśVSURSRVHGDPHQGPHQWVSHFLÂżHV because whites feared that with their numbers, WKDW0LVVLVVLSSLÂśV&RQVWLWXWLRQGRHVQRWVHFXUHDQ\ ULJKWVUHODWLQJWRDERUWLRQLWVD\VLWZRXOGRQO\SURWHFW blacks might have been able to elect the state’s XQERUQFKLOGUHQÂłWRWKHH[WHQWSHUPLWWHGE\WKHIHGHUDO governor. As a result, Hood, the only statewide &RQVWLWXWLRQ´ Democratic officeholder, “is the statutorily  $VWKHFRXUWVFXUUHQWO\LQWHUSUHWLWWKHIHGHUDO &RQVWLWXWLRQJLYHVZRPHQDULJKWWRJHWDERUWLRQV most powerful person in the state.â€?  7KHUHVROXWLRQÂśVQRGWRIHGHUDODERUWLRQODZĂ€LHV Even though Hood has been largely nonpartisan in the way his office pursues cases,






by R.L. Nave

More than Factories


member of the Screen Actors’ Guild, state Sen. John Horhn has some ideas on keeping the state’s economy from sagging. Tapped by Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves to chair the Senate’s Economic Development Committee, the Jackson Democrat says state officials should broaden their thinking about business development beyond building manufacturing facilities. “We talk about how proud we are of the blues and our touristic offerings in the state but compared to what we do for manufacturing, we do a paltry amount when it comes to promoting our history and culture as an economic development tool,” he said. Aside from cashing in on recreation dollars and the state’s creative economy, Horhn argues that small and minority businesses in Jackson, the Delta, and other parts of the state that need a leg up. “As far as Jackson is concerned, if you look at certain census tracts, we have a problem that’s very similar to what’s going on in the Delta,” Horhn said. “If you look at southwest Mississippi, there’s a lot of poverty and joblessness and lack of industry. There are a lot of natural resources but they’re not being marshaled to their highest and best use. Of course the same is true in the Delta. We’ve got all these natural resources and yet industry isn’t coming there.” Were you surprised that you got a chairmanship, or that the lieutenant governor was so even-handed in appointing committee chairs? I’m pleased and encouraged by the lieutenant governor’s appointment process. Eighteen Democrats received chairmanships. Of that, 12 were African Americans. I think he meant what he said when he made the appointments, that he wanted his chairmanships and the leadership of the Senate to reflect the Senate and the state of Mississippi. Was I surprised? I felt that he would reach across the aisle for some appointments but I did not think that they would be as significant as some of them were.

Have you heard from local officials— mayors and county supervisors—in terms of what they need for that kind of development? Not just yet. But I think it would be very wise on our part if we were to set up some hearings so we could get some input from folks. One of the first things I’m going to do is meet with the interim director of the Mississippi Development Authority, Jim Barksdale, to see what his perspectives are and where he wants to take things. He could have a tremendous influence on where the state needs to go and start to change the infrastructure for what we consider economic development. Mississippi is broke like every state. People are fighting over a smaller pie. How do manage all those competing interests throughout the state? Very delicately (laughs). One of the areas I’m really excited about is ramping up our location film production. I’m a past director of the (Mississippi Film Commission). I know the impact, short term, that filming can have on a community. Our challenge is how do we create a long-term impact, where we turn it into a legitimate industry that has some staying power. Worker training has to figure into that prominently. I believe that there will be some backswing for manufacturing in America. The cost of labor is starting to rise in places like China and other parts of the Far East. We will begin benefiting from those increased costs in the United States. The question is: Is Mississippi going to be ready? And that has everything to do with whether we have a trainable workforce, a workforce that has marketable skills, and it will be determined by how well our students are doing in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs. Gov. Bryant has talked about taking a hard look at some of state regulations that might hurt business development. Do you think that we have too much

regulation in some industries? No, that’s not the problem when it comes to what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is that we have to put special attention on these areas to make it attractive to locate a business in Jackson or in Claiborne County. Maybe what we’re talking about is tax breaks and tax credits, financial incentives based on job creation. We have done some things that Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, consults with a fellow legislator have been industry-specif- before the swearing in of statewide officers Jan. 5. Hohrn is ic: Toyota, Nissan, KiOR, one of 18 Democrats to receive committee chairmanships from Lt. Gov.Tate Reeves. Scion and Ingalls Shipbuilding. We also need to How do you make that call to create incentives for regions of the state that are under-represented determine what’s good legislation? when it comes to those large industries. There are going to be three tests: Is this going to help create jobs; is it going to Talk about the effect the passage spur the economy; and does it make good of Initiative 31 might have on local business sense. I’m interested in doing more economic development efforts. with regard to our creative economy, small In the city of Jackson for example, let’s business development and minority busisay the city cannot work out a deal with TCI ness development and thinking outside the on this convention-center hotel. You’ve got box with regard to non-traditional economthis key piece of property that is right across ic development. We tend to be focused on from the convention center and everyone has manufacturing, which is good, but there’s a agreed that this is where a hotel ought to go whole other economy out there as it relates but because the guys who were sold the land to tourism, particularly taking advantage are at odds with the city, they’re able to tie that of our musical legacy within the state. We land up for the foreseeable future if no deal is need to focus on how we develop and supcut. It portends a future problem for a place port minority owned businesses. Forty perlike the city of Jackson. cent of our population is African American, There are all kinds of property that is yet we are woefully underrepresented when in need of restoration, and the city has ev- it comes to the business class. If we’re going ery right to go after property owners who to get Mississippi off the bottom we need maintain blighted property. If it were to file to change how we look at minority-owned eminent domain, the only thing it could use businesses. Likewise, small businesses catch that property for was for public purposes or a lot of grief when it comes to doing busiit would have to hold on to that land for 10 ness with the state of Mississippi. Some of years before it can be conveyed to a private the large companies tend to out-compete developer. With the new law, we took some- those small businesses, and I think it creates thing that wasn’t broken and tried to fix it. an unhealthy imbalance in our economy.

Congratulations to Our Staff Award Winners January 11 - February 22

Kick Ass Award

February 15 - 21, 2012

[Chosen by the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief]


Matt Heindl

Distribution Manager

Falcon Award

[Chosen by the Jackson Free Press Staff]

R.L. Nave Reporter



by Valerie Wells

Truth Troops


readership: the military members who rely on the objective news that affects all aspects of their lives, from family policies to promotion schedules to debunking rumors in the ranks. Pentagon publicity doesn’t like news of disgruntled soldiers. Romenesko writes on his blog that he contacted publisher Max Lederer about this particular rumor. Lederer wrote back confirming that the paper got orders to move its headquarters’ operations in Washington, D.C., to Fort Meade, Md. He also told Romenesko that “some staff have expressed their belief that this is an attempt at censorship by the Pentagon and damages Stripes’ credibility as an independent voice.” Truth Vigilante Not all, but some small-town publications worry about giving candidates a hard time during election seasons. If you ask hard questions now, you might not get access later.

That’s a reality that stymies a lot of great reporting. In communities where a small group of individuals might hold many leadership positions and wear many hats, it can get touchy. That shouldn’t stop reporters from asking hard questions. National media might seem tougher and relentless—and when they use that power they are formidable—but they also hem and haw about being too tough and losing access. The New York Times has a public editor, Arthur S. Brisbane, who recently blogged about whether reporters were too hard on political candidates. “Should the Times be a Truth Vigilante?” was the headline. Well, is the south still gothic? Brisbane’s seemingly rhetorical question didn’t need asking. But he directed it at readers, asking them what they wanted to see. Were they interested in factchecking? Did they want reporters to out candidates who lie? Maybe it was an example of an editor trying to be Socratic and get the readers thinking about the role of journalism. We hope. Candidates say things that need checking. When Newt Gingrich said, “Gov. Romney cut off kosher meals for Jewish senior citizens who were on Medicaid to save $5 a day,” uncovered that wasn’t true. And when Mitt Romney said that the


U.S. military is at risk of losing its military superiority because “our Navy is smaller than it’s been since 1917. Our Air Force is smaller and older than any time since 1947,” the same news site posted the (liar, liar) Pants On Fire Truth-O-Meter icon. Soon after The New York Times posted Brisbane’s blog, Juan Williams of Fox News asked Newt Gingrich questions about racial parity during one of the ad nauseum Republican debates this January. Then, at yet another Republican debate, John King of CNN asked Gingrich about his supposed open marriage. “I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that,” Gingrich said. “I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.” Depending on how you define “decent people,” the factchecking on that one is fairly straightforward. As far as “elite media,” it seems asking journalists not to ask uncomfortable questions is assuming some sort of privilege for these candidates. By the way, if you were still wondering, the answer is yes; the south is still gothic. Comment at


ave you had your fourth meal yet? No? How about your second…third? Hungry yet? Let Taco Bell satisfy your every craving. Taco Bell was founded by Glen Bell who first opened a hot dog stand called Bell’s Drive-In in San Bernardino, California, in 1946, when he was just 23 years old. Over the next few years, Bell owned and operated a number of restaurants in southern California, including four called El Taco. Today Taco Bell serves more than 2 billion consumers each year in more than 5,800 restaurants in the U.S. and across the globe. Taco Bell serves up lots of tasty choices like the Crunchy Taco Supreme—a crunchy, corn taco shell filled with seasoned ground beef, reduced fat sour cream, crisp shredded lettuce, real cheddar cheese, and diced ripe tomatoes. Feeling like a chip or two? Give the Nachos BellGrande—a large platter of crisp, freshly prepared tortilla chips covered with hearty beans, seasoned ground beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, diced ripe tomatoes, and reduced-fat sour cream—a try for a super crunchy lunch. Maybe you’re looking to lighten your load; if so, try one of the seven items on Taco Bell’s “Drive Thru Diet” menu. With options such as the Fresco Bean Burrito—a warm, soft flour tortilla wrapped around hearty beans, tangy red sauce, diced onions, and Fiesta Salsa—you’ll never guess all the items on this menu are under 9 grams of fat! Did you save room for dessert? Cinnamon Twists—crispy, puffed corn twists, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar—are ready and waiting for you! Coming soon to a Taco Bell near you is “First Meal,” a.k.a. breakfast. The menu includes burritos stuffed with eggs and either sausage, bacon or steak; sausage and egg wraps; hash browns; hot or iced coffee, and orange juice. Taco Bell isn’t just dedicated to providing great food at a great value; they strive to be a good neighbor too. The Taco Bell Foundation, also known as the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, is committed to inspiring teenagers to graduate from high school and become caring, educated, and productive adults. Taco Bell teams with other companies and other affiliates to help provide over 90 million meals to hungry families through programs such as the United Nations World Food Programme. So whether it’s first, second, third, or fourth meal, make Taco Bell top of your list.


ome people—including some journalists I’ve worked with over the years—assume Stars and Stripes is a propaganda arm of the Department of Defense. It’s not. It’s an all-American institution that is in danger. The Stars and Stripes, an independent newspaper that the U.S. military funds, has reported things no mainstream media outlet would bother with, such as investigating high rates of low troop morale. Reporters have pushed generals to answer questions while the mainstream reporters played the game and went along with the officer’s wishes in order to keep their easy access to a source. Jim Romenesko, a media critic many journalists trust, reports that staffers at the Stars and Stripes contacted him recently about a plan to move the newspaper to a space with Pentagon publicity officers. That would be disastrous to the paper’s journalistic independence and its primary


jfp op/ed

opining, grousing & pontificating


Time to Swim, not Sink, Together


ith evidence everywhere that good public education is key to our city and our state’s economic future, not to mention public safety, it is time that to slay the dinosaurs of the past who don’t want to fund or reform education in a way that makes sense for the most children. OK, we don’t mean to literally slay them, but it is time for legislators and votes to get unstuck from the time warp that says that tax dollars should not help “the other.” In his posthumously published book “My Mississippi,” Willie Morris warned in no uncertain terms that the biggest challenge facing the state is that, due to our ugly history, too many Mississippians do not understand that we sink or swim together. He specifically talked about the unequal public-education system, a leftover from the days of segregated schools and counties, and the tragedy that is the people who don’t want their taxes to help pay for others to have a good education. (Many of the same people, or their grandparents, were fine with this tax expenditure back when the schools were segregated, remember.) Morris quoted his friend, the historian Patti Carr-Black: “It’s curious,” she said, “but Mississippi lacks a sense of community. We have a deep sense of place, but no sense of ‘we’re in this together, let’s make life better for everyone.” Then Morris continued: “Segregation dominated the 20th century, and, although it was outlawed 30 years ago, it lives in our spirit. White society has been in power throughout our history, and it has lacked the will to deal with social problems because it has wrongly perceived the main beneficiaries to be black. We’ve not comprehended that we sink or swim together.” And even if you don’t give a damn about your neighbor, the truth is that the selfish thing to do is to support quality public education for all. If we don’t, then the entire community suffers—from crime, from shrinking tax bases, brain drain to other state of our smartest young people, increasing health-care costs, bad roads (because all that tax base moved elsewhere), and so on. We “bleeding hearts” aren’t the only bearers of these facts these days. We are happy to see the business community join us on this podium. Read Blake Wilson’s interview (on page 19) about why Mississippi’s work force (and thus all of our economic futures) depends on a good education system. And he’s not talking about passing out vouchers; he means funding public education as well as early childhood education. The next-generation business community in Mississippi is starting to wise up about education and how it affects all of us. Wilson’s point that you can’t run public schools like businesses. But you sure can run them in a way that benefits businesses and, thus, our economic strength. No matter your ethnicity or economic situation, please join the widening chorus in our state calling for strong, fully funded public education that benefits us all. Playing politics on the backs of children, and our future, must end here.


Gainful Employment


February 15 - 21, 2012

oneqweesha Jones: “It’s me on the scene, reporting live from the Black History Job Fair held at the Clubb Chicken Wing Multi-Purpose Complex. Despite the unemployment rate dropping from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent in January, a lot of jobless folk have come to the Black History Job Fair to apply for gainful employment during this Great Recession. With me is the honorable Congressman Smokey ‘Robinson’ McBride, the organizer of this event. “What is the Black History Job Fair all about, Congressman Smokey?” Congressman Smokey ‘Robinson’ McBride: “’Qweesha, it’s nice to see the unemployment rate down a little. I’m sure it’s good news for my fellow politicians, our president and those who are employed. “But, still, many mid-career, long-term unemployed and unskilled workers, plus recent college graduates, are left behind. Some folk will feel like the lone player who didn’t make the team. Other folk will believe they have failed in life. “My purpose is to celebrate and make history by encouraging the workers who remain jobless in 2012. I will not condescend or criticize people who feel betrayed by the government, politicians, corporations, etc. Instead, I will use the stories of people like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells Barnett, and Ella Baker to motivate the despondent and defeated masses still looking for a job with health-care benefits. “The party is not over until everyone gets a job. And without any struggle in this matter, there is no progress.” 12 Boneqweesha Jones: “Congressman, you’ve said a mouthful.”


Year of the Underdog


’m drawn to stories of the underdog—the little guy or gal triumphant against seemingly insurmountable odds. Of course, I was interested (as most of us were) in the saga of Tim Tebow this past football season. You either liked him or you hated him, but either way, he sparked passions in football fans everywhere. Even the non-conventional fan couldn’t get enough of the week-to-week melodrama that was Tebow. Here’s a guy who, despite conventional football wisdom, despite seemingly “bad mechanics,” was able to win football games. Each week was supposed to be the week that “Tebowmania” ended, but no one sent Tim the memo. Or maybe you’re more familiar with Jeremy Lin, the Asian American basketball player from Harvard. Two NBA teams cut Lin this year, and he languished at the end of the New York Knicks bench. Word is, he was about to be cut again until two Knick starters got hurt and he was forced into action. Four games and a scoring record in tow, Lin is poised to start for the wayward Knicks squad, and folks are again wondering when the “magic” will wear off. No Harvard-educated Asian who sleeps on his brother’s couch is supposed to be any good at basketball, right? This past Sunday, singer Adele grabbed six Grammy Awards. Thing is, she did it with just her voice and her powerful words. No dancing,

no fluff, no size-4 body in a tight suit—just singing. For all intents and purposes, Adele shouldn’t be so successful in this day of Auto-tune, lip syncing and cookie-cutter pop tunes. All that kind of reminds me of Jackson. In this very city there are several Tim Tebows and Jeremy Lins languishing on the proverbial “bench” waiting for an opportunity to contribute to this city, asking for their number to be called. But the pundits overlook them. They don’t have the right pedigree, belong to the right clique or have the right amount of money. These underdogs defy conventional wisdom but can be useful, I’m sure, if our city’s “coaches” and “general managers” start thinking outside of the box. Hell, Jackson is an underdog itself and, though our naysayers have counted us out, we continue to fight, we live another day, and we fight some more. 2012 is the year of the underdog, the year we can make the impossible plausible. It’s the year we tell all these folks what they can do with their stats and figures. Remember, it was some producer somewhere that took one look at Adele and said, “You can never be a star.” Sunday night, that guy was somewhere kicking himself in his own arse for making that mistake. And that’s the truth ... shonuff.

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ecent legislative action indicates that Mississippi will soon have a strong charter-school law on the books. Unlike previous charter laws, which only allowed for the conversion of existing public schools, this new law will also allow for newly created (“new start�) charter schools. Because the vast majority of the nation’s charter schools—including the majority of successful ones—are new starts, this broader bill is far more likely than previous legislation to produce charter schools in the state. With the right policies in place, charter schools have the potential to be a boon for children in our state’s education system. This is particularly true for children in under-performing schools and districts, who often lack access to better public schools in their district or the means to move to better districts. While we must continue our efforts to turn around under-performing schools and districts, charter schools can provide an immediate alternative for children. The future success of charter schools in Mississippi rests on the legislative decisions that will be made this year. One of the benefits of creating a charterschool sector later than so many other states is that we can learn from the experiences of others. As many national studies have indicated, a wide variance of success exists among charter schools. These studies also indicate that state policies make a huge difference. Several states are currently working to fix the flaws in their charter policies that have led to poor performance in their charter sectors. These states have less rigorous processes for approving charters and fail to provide proper oversight once charters are granted. Leniency at the outset also makes it difficult for states to close charter schools that fail to meet their contractual obligations. We have a chance to get it right from the start. We should model our charter sector after those of high-performing states, where rigorous authorization and monitoring processes prevent weak applicants from ever opening schools. Legislators must commit to requiring these rigorous, evidence-based processes for managing our charter-school sector. Any charter applicant in Mississippi must be able to articulate a well-designed school plan that explains how the school will heighten academic expectations and close achievement gaps. Our law must also clearly state how charter schools will be monitored and held accountable. These processes will increase the likelihood that our charter sector will be limited to those with the greatest potential for success.

Mississippi’s charter-school law should promote the replication of successful charter schools and their practices. Along with providing an alternative for children, advocates often state that charter schools can serve as a “model of success� for public schools as a whole. The idea is that the flexibility charter-school leaders have in managing personnel, budget, instructional methods and school time could spark innovative practices that can produce positive results in public schools across the state. This is an outcome we must achieve. By partnering with education research and advocacy groups, we can identify the innovative practices used by successful charter schools, while also recommending ways to replicate these practices in a traditional school setting. Commitment to this task could lead to statewide support for a longer school day or school year. It could also lead to changes in how principals recruit, manage and compensate their teachers. If charter schools are to be a true “models of success,� we must begin discussing how best practices are brought to scale. Finally, policymakers must make a sustained commitment to education reform and show equal passion for other, much-needed education-reform initiatives. Many lawmakers and advocates may want to compare the passage of a new charter-school law to scoring a touchdown. The concern is that they will celebrate the accomplishment and then hustle back to the sideline. In reality, we should compare the passage of a new charter law to making a first down. Legislators should follow this vote by staying on the field, ready to make another big play toward improving education, such as an equally strong effort to establish state-funded pre-K or increase access to college-prep courses. Improving the quality of our state’s education system is the most important challenge facing Mississippi policymakers. No significant improvements in our economy, public health and overall quality of life can happen until we first improve our schools. Charter schools can indeed be a part of that effort but only if we commit to establishing rigorous processes, to replicating best practices and to continuing forward progress in education reform. Let’s get this done right, and then let’s keep moving. Starkville native Sanford Johnson is a 2003 Teach For America corps member, and currently serves as the deputy director of Mississippi First. He lives in Clarksdale with his wife Amanda, a KIPP elementary-school teacher in Arkansas, and their 8-month-old daughter Lorelei.

Charter schools have the potential to be a boon for children in our state’s education system.

CORRECTIONS: In Natalie’s Notes “The Man Behind The Music� (Volume 10, Issue 22), we inadvertently misspelled the band names Goolosh and Kitty Foyl. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for the errors.


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anice Parker was 15 when she had her daughter, to 63.6 percent. Adrianna. She had a supportive family and teachResearch shows that ers at Lanier High School, but she dropped out of struggling schools and low school anyway due to â&#x20AC;&#x153;lack of motivation,â&#x20AC;? she says. education levels hurt indiWhen Adrianna was 3 years old, she went with her viduals as well as the state as mother to the restaurant where she worked, and an- a whole, bringing economic nounced she wanted to work there, too. Janice Park- and social challenges. For- Adrianna Parker, left, attends a dropout prevention town hall meeting at Lanier High school er realized at about that time that her daughter was tunately, people outside the with her mother Janice, center, as another parent looks on. paying attention to everything she did or said. educational community are â&#x20AC;&#x153;I looked up, and I was 18, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m just looking at this starting to talk about how little person, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m just like, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got to be able to tell her one Mississippi can make its schoolsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and work forceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;better. the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy and work force in relation to states with day, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;You know what, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got to go to school, even if you comparable economies. The Mississippi Economic Council donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel like going to school today,â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? Parker said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I had to â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Human Capitalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Needed coordinated the project. get to the point where I was Business leaders from The report says the Blueprint research is â&#x20AC;&#x153;a starting point leading by example.â&#x20AC;? across the state and around for what will be an ongoing dialogue for improving the ecoParker studied to get her the country now say that a nomic future of the state,â&#x20AC;? and it is full of recommendations Better Schools, Safer Cities GED, writing the required modern work force cannot for how Mississippi can improve its economic standing and essay about her daughter and be undereducated, even in quality of life. 2008 study by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids found her experiences as a teen paran economy like MississipBlueprint Mississippi calls for a better, more accessible that high-school dropouts are three and one-half ent. Her hard work paid off, piâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that trends heavily to- educational system, but not just for philosophical reasons or times more likely than high-school graduates to in her own life, and also in ward agriculture and manu- learning for learningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sake; in a state with high poverty, more be arrested, and more than eight times more likely to her daughterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. facturing. In a recent survey education could pay off in concreteâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and criticalâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;ways. be incarcerated. On average, a 10-percent increase in â&#x20AC;&#x153;I went on to get an of more than 2,000 business In Mississippi, the median annual earnings for someone the graduation rate has historically reduced murder associateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree, and now, and community leaders with a high-school diploma or GED are more than $7,000 and assault rates by 20 percent. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what the report in May, Lord willing, sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s across the state, increasing higher than for someone who did not finish high school. For estimates that would mean for Mississippi: getting ready to graduate Mississippiansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; educational those with some college education or an associateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree, that high school and go to college achievement ranked as the number rises to almost $12,000. Â&#x2021; $SHUFHQWLQFUHDVHLQWKHVWDWHÂśVJUDGXDWLRQ herself,â&#x20AC;? she said. top priority for the state. A bachelorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree makes a $21,000 difference, and a UDWHFRXOGSUHYHQWPXUGHUVHDFK\HDU Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just teenage The survey comes graduate degree means an extra $32,000 or more each year. Â&#x2021; ,WFRXOGDOVRPHDQIHZHUDJJUDYDWHGDVVDXOWV mothers like Parker who set from the Blueprint MissisDespite the economic benefits that often come with HDFK\HDU classes aside to raise children; sippi 2011 report, released higher levels of education, Mississippi has a level of educaÂ&#x2021; 5DLVLQJWKHPDOHJUDGXDWLRQUDWHE\SHUFHQW Jackson Public Schools has about the same time as the tional attainment far below the national averageâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and lower ZRXOGVDYHWD[SD\HUVPLOOLRQRQFULPHUHODWHG a problem with dropouts in beginning of this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legis- salaries to match it. The Mississippi Economic Policy Center FRVWVDQQXDOO\ general. In 2009, JPS had a lative session. found that 13.5 percent of Mississippiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work force lacks a Â&#x2021; 7KRVHH[WUDJUDGXDWHVZRXOGHDUQPLOOLRQ graduation rate of 74.1 perTo produce the re- high-school diploma. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a higher percentage than in the PRUHHDFK\HDU cent. This year, however, the port, agencies, universities United States as a whole, where 10.5 percent of the work force 14 graduation rate had dropped and business leaders studied did not graduate from high school, and in the South overFebruary 15 - 21, 2012



Early-Childhood Debate The Blueprint report looks at human capital even earlier than kindergarten. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If we are going to build toward a solid economic foundation in this state, it starts with babies,â&#x20AC;? said Oleta Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Defense Fund. She served on the educational achievement subcommittee that


helped write the Blue- existing pre-K programs and align them with the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s K-12 print Mississippi report. public schools. The report argues â&#x20AC;&#x153;Building an early childhood education system is that early childhood ed- critical to having children at the school ready to learn ucation should be a key and stay on task,â&#x20AC;? Fitzgerald said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So many of our chilstrategy in the effort to dren come to school behind and stay behind, and it raise Mississippiansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ed- puts strain not only on the child, but the system itself.â&#x20AC;? ucational achievement Having children at different levels in kindergarten puts levels, because childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a strain on teachers, especially in a system as underfunded as learning in the first Mississippiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, Fitzgerald said, where schools often do not have few years of life affects enough teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; assistants to go around. their educational sucRight now, several different types of preschools and day cess later. The Southern cares provide some kind of pre-kindergarten education to chilEducation Foundation dren in Mississippi: Head Start, pre-K programs in traditional reported that in 2008, public-school systems, privately run preschools and informal one out of 14 kinder- day cares located in homes. garteners and one out â&#x20AC;&#x153;We would like to see all of those entities be aligned, of 15 first-graders in to have their curriculum and their programsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;their early Mississippi schools had learning strategiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;aligned with the public schools system, so Janice Parker attended Lanier High School, but dropped out when she was 15 years old after to repeat their grade. that as children exit those early childhood settings they have becoming pregnant with her daughter. She later got her GED and an associateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree. Her The report said that if been assessed and have the capacities they need to perform at daughter expects to graduate from high school in May. children are not ready pre-K to kindergarten levels, and in grades one through three,â&#x20AC;? academically when they she said. enter kindergarten, While some programs in Mississippi are helping align the all, where 11.5 percent of the work force has less than a high they are more likely to do poorly in school and are less likely various pre-kindergarten programs, Fitzgerald said some chilschool education. to graduate. The same report found that almost half of 3- and dren still enter kindergarten more prepared than others. Census figures show that the percentage of Mississippians 4-year-olds in Mississippi do not go to preschool. who get high school, bachelorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and higher degrees has risen Blueprint Mississippi explains that beginning education Budgeting Woes steadily within the past decade or so, although only Texas has early makes a long-term difference, especially in poor states New programs cost money, however. To invest in educaa lower percentage of high-school graduates than Mississippi. like Mississippi. tion in an era of tightening budgets, Sivak said the state should MEPC director Ed Sivak said education must remain a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Implementing quality early childhood education is a look at ways to raise revenue instead of just making cuts. top priority for legislators. proven strategy to overcome â&#x20AC;&#x153;The bottom line is that if we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make the necessary poverty and give Mississippiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s investment in education at all levels â&#x20AC;Ś itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be harder youngest people opportuniReturn on Investment to build the work force that we need for local businesses to be ties later in life,â&#x20AC;? the Bluesuccessful and to attract (larger businesses),â&#x20AC;? he said. print report said, adding that ducation pays. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that people with Blake Wilson, president and CEO of the Mississippi the return on investment for higher levels of education are less likely to be unemployed and generally make Economic Council, said Mississippiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy has undergone strong pre-kindergarten prohigher salaries than their less-educated peers. How much higher? Turns out a structural shift within the last 15 to 20 years, and the amount grams ranges from about $7 the difference between graduating high school and dropping out is about $182 per of education people need to get jobs is changing along with to $12 in benefits for every week. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what the nationwide data from 2010 show: it. Small-town manufacturing companies that paid low wages dollar spent on pre-K over a and required little education are gone, he said, replaced by 40-year period. %DUCATIONLEVEL -EDIANWEEKLYEARNINGS 5NEMPLOYMENTRATE computer-operated factories run by companies such as PackLow-income children /HVVWKDQDKLJKVFKRROGLSORPD  SHUFHQW ard, Nissan, Toyota and the Severstal steel facility that often typically come to school with +LJKVFKRROGLSORPD SHUFHQW draw employees from several counties. smaller vocabularies than 6RPHFROOHJHSHUFHQW â&#x20AC;&#x153;Back when I was a kid, if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d go through the GM their peers, and kindergarten $VVRFLDWHGHJUHH  SHUFHQW plant in my home state (of Delaware), it was a pretty dirty, classes may move too fast for %DFKHORUÂśVGHJUHHSHUFHQW noisy placeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a bunch of burly guys torqueing bolts and things them to catch up. In Missis0DVWHUÂśVGHJUHHSHUFHQW like that,â&#x20AC;? he explained. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Well, today if you go through a Pack- sippi, with high levels of pov3URIHVVLRQDOGHJUHHSHUFHQW ard plant, those same functions are there, (but) theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re either erty and many parents who 'RFWRUDOGHJUHH SHUFHQW being done by a robot or by robotic assist. â&#x20AC;Ś Today, you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have low levels of education $YHUDJHIRUDOOHGXFDWLRQOHYHOV SHUFHQW just have a big burly person lifting that torqueing tool and themselves, strong pre-kinSOURCE: BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS making it happen; today itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s got to be somebody who can fol- dergarten programs could low the computer steps to lower that machine and make sure give children preparation for that (work) is done. school that their parents are â&#x20AC;&#x153;It cannot be somebody whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s uneducated. They have unable to provide. That doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem likely, judging from Gov. Phil Bryantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s to have at least a high-school education and usually some While some public schools offer pre-K programs targeted budget proposal, which calls on school districts to dig deep additional certification. That is the manufacturing plant of toward low-income children, independent preschool programs into any reserves they might have to offset shortfalls in the today.â&#x20AC;? may or may not prepare children for kindergarten. The Blue- stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s funding. To succeed economically, Mississippi needs to develop its print report suggests creating an umbrella entity to streamline The Department of Education estimated that funding â&#x20AC;&#x153;human capital,â&#x20AC;? Sivak said, which means a healthy population with access to high-quality, well-funded education at all levels, from kindergarten through the university level, as well as community colleges for continuing education.

EDUCATION, see page 16


EDUCATION, from page 15


Mississippi’s Adequate Education Program—the formula for that by requiring districts to put up almost $73 million from make it easier to push lower-performing students out of charadequate funding for public schools—will cost more than their reserves. However, in 2008, the state auditor and De- ter schools entirely. $2.2 billion. That’s a big number, but it makes sense when partment of Education officials said that most districts do not Some lawmakers have tried to get charter schools in Misone considers that MAEP makes up the bulk of funding for have reserve funds. Most create cash-flow reserves when local sissippi for years. Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, and chairkindergarten through 12th-grade public schools. taxes come in, but spend them throughout the rest of the year, man of the Senate Education Committee, said the Legislature MAEP is a formula that, in theory, ensures that even the rather than saving them to offset state budget cuts. passed “some very, very watered-down legislation” in 2010 most low-income, rural school districts in Mississippi get the Wilson said he understands that everything got cut dur- after a long debate about what place charter schools should minimum amount of funding they need to do their job of ing the recession, but education should be the top priority have in Mississippi’s educational system. Under the current educating children. The law, passed by the Legislature in 1994, when the economy comes back. law, schools must be rated low performing or lower for three requires the state to allot a certain amount of consecutive years before they can be turned money to each school district every year, based into charter schools. Then, at least half of primarily on how many students it enrolls. the parents at the school must petition the Wilson said the rationale behind MAEP state Board of Education to create a charter is that even in districts without a wealthy tax school. base to support schools, students will still get Tollison wants laws that make it easier for a basic level of funding each year. charter schools to come to Mississippi. “If you’re in Rankin County or down on “Hopefully, I think the Legislature will the Coast or in Hattiesburg or Tupelo, you’ve look at the charter-school issue, because there got plenty of tax revenue. In other words, are certain failing districts and districts that you’ve got a good tax base; you can fund your are not performing up to par,” he said. schools,” he said. One bill currently before the Legislature, “You get out into rural Mississippi— Senate Bill 2242, would make it easier to Sharkey County, Issaquena, Carroll County, start charter schools, but they would still be moving on down the list—the tax base isn’t accountable to federal testing standards outsufficient. You could raise people’s taxes all lined under the No Child Left Behind Act. you wanted, but there wouldn’t be enough of If students at the charter school don’t make a base to fund the schools.” progress for two consecutive years, the school The problem is, the Legislature has only could lose its charter. sent the state’s schools “adequate” funding Since Mississippi doesn’t have any charter three times in the past decade. schools, yet, lawmakers have the benefit of Mississippi ranked 46th out of 51 in perlooking at what other states have tried, such pupil spending in the 2008-2009 school year, as the KIPP Delta Public Schools in West the last year for which figures are available. State Legislators are considering bills regarding charter schools, early childhood education Helena, Ark., Tollison said. He hopes charter During that year, Mississippi spent $8,075 and school funding during the 2012 session, just to name a few. schools could attract more Teach for America per student on education, $4,719 of that on teachers who are interested in charter schools teachers’ salaries and other costs related to into Mississippi classrooms—another of the instruction. At the time, the national average Blueprint recommendations. for per-pupil spending was $10,499. But that was before the Charter School Conundrum “Sometimes kids, just like you and me, react differently Legislature started budgeting during a nationwide recession, The Blueprint report also made a few controversial rec- to different environments,” he said. “… Let’s give it a try; we’ve and Mississippi failed to fund MAEP four years in a row. ommendations, such as endorsing charter schools—schools never tried it.” Shortly before he left office, former Gov. Haley Barbour that receive public funds, but are privately operated and have SB 2242 also gives preference to charter schools run by made his annual budget recommendations, which suggested more leeway when it comes to teaching styles and standards programs that have operated successfully in other states, like allotting just under $2 billion for the program, a 2 percent cut than traditional public schools. schools run by KIPP, or the Knowledge Is Power Program. from fiscal year 2012. Barbour suggested that school districts Proponents of charter schools say they clear the way for KIPP has schools in 20 states and the District Columbia, draw from reserve funds to fill in any gaps. innovation needed to revive America’s educational system, many of them in low-income areas. At about the same time, the Joint Legislative Budget such as longer school days and greater freedom in hiring teachTeachers in KIPP schools must commit to longer school Committee, chaired by current Gov. Bryant, recommended ers. They point to charter schools whose students make as- days and availability to help with homework after school level funding for MAEP—no cuts, but nothing to get funding tonishing academic leaps, while some skeptics point to charter hours. Other charter schools specialize in science and technolup to “adequate” levels, either. schools whose students did worse than their peers. ogy, or organize curriculum around ethnic studies. Bryant’s budget, which he released after taking office, Others, such as Fitzgerald, say some charter schools help The Blueprint report gives a cautious recommendation recommends level funding for the program, but only achieves a few students while leaving far more out in the cold—or even to use charter schools in low-performing districts in Mississip-


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Seeing What’s Needed At Lanier, Janice Parker wants to improve the public schools Jackson has now, starting with parents, students and teachers. Adrianna, who is now a senior at Lanier herself, is involved in several dropout-prevention programs and plans to go to Jackson State University or Tougaloo College. Parker is especially proud of Adrianna because she plans to be a teacher. “I like that, because she can see what’s needed now,” she said. Now a billing specialist at Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, Parker has coached her daughter in the importance of an education, not just in high school, but continuing on through college. She hopes that Adrianna will be like some of the teachers she had when she was in high school. “I was a young teen parent when I was here at Lanier, and some of my teachers are here teaching my daughter,” she said. “It wasn’t like they looked down on me because I was a teen mom; they encouraged me to keep going.” Parker said her teachers were like her “mom at school,” even though teen moms often think they’re grown up and don’t need to finish high school. “If you miss a day from school, they asked, ‘Why are you not at school?’ They’re calling your house. That’s called genuine concern,” she said. Comment at Read the whole Blueprint report at

2012 Bills to Watch


ere are some of the major education bills state legislators are considering this year.

Charter schools Mississippi law allows public schools that fail for three years in a row to become charter schools, but only if parents petition for a charter. Sen. Michael Watson of Pascagoula, along with nine other Republican senators, has proposed Senate Bill 2242 to make it easier to start charter schools in the state. The bill provides for converting existing public schools to charter schools, similar to earlier legislation, but gets rid of the three-year requirement. Instead, any school may apply for a charter, but preference may be given to schools rated as under academic watch or lower at the time of application, or those in districts with low ratings. Students at the school would automatically be enrolled at the charter school, but the next year, if more eligible students apply than the school has spaces available, it would use a lottery to fill spaces. Siblings of students in the charter school would automatically be enrolled if they apply. If the law passes, charter schools would be exempt from all the rules and policies of the state Board of Education, local school boards and state law, except for laws prohibiting intimidation intended to keep a student from attending school, requirements about violence on school property, Department of Health regulations and federal No Child Left Behind rules. The bill would also allow outside entities to start charter schools

that are not converted from existing public schools, called open-enrollment charter schools, and sets most of the same restrictions on them as with converted charter schools. The bill does give preference to applicants that have run successful charter schools in another state if the school is to be located in high-poverty areas with a high percentage of students reading below grade level. Conversion charter schools would receive the same funding as other public schools in the district, while open-enrollment charter schools would receive the same perpupil funding, based on student attendance, but only half the money from school district ad valorem taxes. Watson has also introduced another bill, Senate Bill 2294, to authorize “virtual charter schools,” among other things. Under the bill, students would be taught partially in the classroom and partially via computers. Early Childhood Education On the pre-kindergarten front, Senate Bill 2061 would fund a grant program for existing early childhood education programs. Licensed preK programs, including Head Start, public-school programs and private programs, could apply for funds for things like hiring additional teachers, purchasing new equipment and evaluating programs. Senate Bill 2115 targets the Delta by seeking to establish a pilot program for mandatory pre-kindergarten classes in under-performing school districts in the region. If the bill passes, school districts in the 18 Delta counties that are rated low-performing or worse for two consecutive

years will be required to implement state-funded, full-day pre-K programs. Another bill seeks to implement public early childhood education programs statewide on a phased-in basis, beginning with underperforming school districts. Senate Bill 2185 would have the state Department of Education begin implementing voluntary pre-kindergarten programs in the 2012-2013 school year. Superintendents and School Boards Several legislators want to switch all districts to appointed, rather than elected superintendents. Most districts already have appointed superintendents, but for several years the Department of Education has asked the Legislature to require all superintendents to be appointed. The rationale for such a move is that elected superintendents might have the charisma to get votes without the educational and administrative know-how to run schools. Senate Bills 2190 and 2313 would both require all school districts to have appointed superintendents, while House Bill 43 would require appointed superintendents and elected school boards. Consolidation House Bill 34, sponsored by Rep. Bill Denny, a Republican from Jackson, would reorganize all the school districts in the state into 82 countywide school districts. Senate Bill 2330, which passed the Senate last week, would only merge the three school districts in Sunflower County.

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pi—not as widely as some lawmakers would like. Fitzgerald is skeptical of more lenient charter-school legislation, however. “The recommendation of charter schools came at the tail end of the process (of deciding on Blueprint recommendations), and it really was not thoroughly discussed by members of the education subcommittee,” she said, “so there is some reticence about that recommendation from some members of the subcommittee.” Fitzgerald said she recognizes that charter schools are probably coming to Mississippi, but said the state must be careful to set up a program that does not draw already-limited funds away from traditional public schools to serve a subset of children. “(We must make sure that) we have a system that’s fair to all children and that charters serve children who are currently in the public school system if there are to be charters,” she said. If SB 2242 passes, charter schools converted from existing public schools would have to serve children enrolled in the original schools. New, “open-enrollment charter schools”— ones not converted from existing schools—could draw students from a wider area. The bill would also allow outside entities, like the KIPP organization, to start charter schools.


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No Miracle Cure by Elizabeth Waibel

Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council, says businesses need an educated work force. His organization helped write the Blueprint Mississippi 2011 report by gathering input from business and community leaders around the state.


lake Wilson only planned to stay in Mississippi a couple of years. A Delaware native, he has lived in five states, three of them since he has been mar-


“Frankly, we like Mississippi best,” he said. “I wouldn’t have thought that when I moved here. … But I hope to retire here. That’s the best testimony I can give.” Wilson spoke to the Jackson Free Press a few days after Gov. Phil Bryant’s State of the State speech and shortly after the Legislature’s education committees met for a hearing on charter schools. As president of the Mississippi Economic Council, he’s spent quite a bit of time lately talking about the Blueprint Mississippi 2011 report, a col-

laboration between universities, business and community leaders, and experts in various fields who studied Mississippi’s economy compared to the so-called “Blueprint States” with comparable economies. “We had literally thousands of pages of research that we pulled from to create that document,” he said. The resulting 140-plus-page report is a wealth of information on the state’s economic outlook, with recommendations on everything from growth in the health care sector to racial reconciliation to charter schools. Ahead of the report’s release last month, Wilson and others at MEC took some initial recommendations from Blueprint on the road to business leaders and communities

I saw in the Blueprint report that people had listed education as their top priority. Education is number one, which didn’t surprise me. I mean, I’ve been here 14 years, and it consistently comes up very high. It’s a funny thing—it’s one of those issues that business and community leaders all agree are very, very important, and they have different ideas on how you get to solving the problem. ... My leadership are primarily corporate CEOs, some of whom have served on school boards over their careers, and some who have employees who serve on school boards, and we really wrestle with that issue (of charter schools). You’d think the business community would say: “Oh yeah, choice! We all want free enterprise; choice everywhere!” Well, the problem is that the business of education is not a business, so you can’t run it like a business. … You can’t say, well, we’re just going to have the bright kids in our school, or we’re just going to have the kids who like engineering, or we’re just going to have the kids who like music, or we’re just going to have the kids who are kind of nonperforming, we’re going to take care of them. That’s what some people think we ought to do—we ought to have all these choices. Well, how do you afford to do that in a state that right now is talking about consolidation of schools? I live in Rankin. My kids have graduated now, but they went to Northwest Rankin. Would they have had four schools? How would we have funded four different schools for them to choose from? How do you do that? You can’t. Charter schools need to be employed with the precision of a surgeon—to carve out nonperformance, to be used in an area where, OK, we’ve tried ev-

erything with this school, and we can’t seem to get it working. Charters are the course of last resort. Put a charter there, but have it for all students—don’t set it up where you’re having a competition within the school district. Have it for all kids, and use a different approach for managing that problem—carve out that cancer of nonperformance. … We support charter schools, but only used very narrowly. Do you think there’s anything in particular, education-wise, that business and community leaders want to see the state invest in? Work-force training is very important to everybody, and I don’t mean learning how to weld or learning how to join. Irwin Edenzon who is the (president) of Ingalls Shipbuilding, which is the largest manufacturing employer in the state. He came and went to three of our road-show meetings on Blueprint, and he stood up and said: “Look, I can teach somebody how to weld, I can teach them how to join, I can teach them how to be an electrician. I cannot teach them how to read and write.” That’s why having a kid learn to read by the time they’re in the fourth grade is critical, because if we miss that, we’ve missed the shot. And I hear that from so many business people. … We’ve got to make sure these kids graduate from high school, and when they graduate from high school that they’ve learned to read, do math, communicate with each other and have the ethic of showing up for work. … That’s really what business is looking for most out of our K-12 public school system. They’re really not looking for training kids to be welders, but to get them focused, that they’re either going to get ready for work or they’re going to get ready to go to an adMIRACLE, see page 20


around the state, to ask where Mississippi should focus its efforts. The resounding answer? Education.


MIRACLE, from page 19

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vanced education, either community college or a four-year (degree). We’d like to see more effort put into making kids aware of their career options. We have, for good reason, focused so much attention in America on a four-year college degree, that we’ve kind of de-emphasized that a four-year college degree isn’t for everybody. There are a lot of kids that are destined to be a tradesperson, and are going to make great money. A welder, on the job today, is making $65,000 to $70,000 a year—not bad money. My liberal arts-graduate daughter, who works at a local ad agency I’m sure would enjoy making that kind of money. … We do believe that almost everything today is requiring some additional education. In other words, a high school degree is usually not enough. You’ve got to get on and get some additional skills training—and maybe they’re going through a certification program, not necessarily getting a two-year degree or a four-year degree—but you’ve got to gain more background experience.

There are also many examples where it doesn’t. There’s a Stanford University study, … which shows mixed results, and what does it get back to? It gets back to exceptional teaching and exceptional leadership—those are the two main ingredients in any successful schools.

How do you think the state will have to help with that? They’ve been doing it. Public policy’s a funny thing. Every politician wants things to happen in four-year increments because they’ve got to get elected. Rarely on an issue like this can you turn something in four years. It’s a long, slow commitment. … (For example), we have one of the toughest, most effective accountability systems, and it took years for us to get that in place. And now it’s going to take us years to see the results of it, because for the first time now we can get rid of principals who are nonperforming—they get turned out of their job, as well as superintendents. It didn’t used to be that way. Exceptional leadership, exceptional teaching is what makes a difference in a school. … I think we’re moving in the right direction; it’s just not going to be rapid, there are no silver bullets. Charter schools, like everything else, is another tool we can use, but there’s no miracle cure. This is not something being sold on late-night TV as the miracle cure; it will not work. You’ve got to look at it long-term.

‘The business of education is not a business, so you can’t run it like a business.’

I’ve heard some people argue that the ultimate goal of charter schools is to develop techniques that can be applied more broadly. A charter school is really a school within itself. What happens is it’s really taken out of the system. It’s still under the public school accreditation requirements—in other words, you still have to meet all of the performance requirements; you can’t just come up with your own curriculum and say, I think we’ll teach whatever we feel like today, you have to follow that—but the administrative aspects, the selection of teachers, all of that is pulled out of the statewide system, and it’s almost its own entity. The idea of that is you bring the parents in, you have the students who are very focused, you have a very focused faculty, and there are great examples where it works.

Some charter schools have had start-up money to help them. Do you see the business community in Mississippi doing something similar? That’s one of the challenges. Yeah, in Madison or Rankin County, it would be easy, but you don’t need the charter school there; you’ve got high-performing schools. But you get out into some of these rural counties, and there is no business community. There’s no tax base. That’s why the schools are underfunded.

That’s what the whole purpose of having the Mississippi Adequate Education Program is. … If you’re in Rankin County or down on the coast or in Hattiesburg or Tupelo, you’ve got plenty of tax revenue. In other words, you’ve got a good tax base; you can fund your schools. You get out into rural Mississippi—Sharkey County, Issaquena, Carroll County, moving on down the list—the tax base isn’t sufficient. You could raise people’s taxes all you wanted, but there wouldn’t be enough of a base to fund the schools. So, the Adequate Education Program levels that funding out, and says we are going to have at least a level of funding for all schools in Mississippi. That’s why the Adequate Education Program is so important. It creates predictability and stability for funding public schools. Do you think there’s any chance of getting MAEP funded this year or close to funded? The governor in his (State of the State) speech said level funding; I think that’s probably realistic. We don’t have any problem with the fact that everything had to go down when the recession hit; you cannot fund everything at the same levels. We just want it to stay in the same relation to how everything else has been cut. … The thing is, we have to make that the first priority when the economy comes back. Comment at

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For the Love of Art by Sharon Dunten

February 15 - 21, 2012



oddlers dance around the dining room table as Samuel McCain absorbs the musical notes from his iPod. The tunes might inspire his next piece of artwork. Sitting against the patio window, his easel holds the blank canvas where a palette knife might chisel bright paint like a sculptor with a block of granite. While many artists seek solitude for developing a masterpiece, McCain thrives as a visual artist amid the squeals of Raighan McCain, 2, and Khaleah McCain, 3. His wife, Tasha McCain, and two teenage boys, Paris Stigler and Samuel McCain Jr., complete the family that lives in his Ridgeland home. McCain, 37, a “strictly oil” artist, says he dabbled as a youngster drawing tennis shoes, rockets and stick figures while growing up in a military family that moved frequently between Illinois and Virginia. His family eventually settled in 1986 in Mississippi where he entered high school, but his self-awareness as an artist opened up even more when he studied art in college. McCain fell in love with oils as a freshman at Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead, where he won the school’s Freshman Drawing and Painting Achievement Award in 1997. “I will never forget the first time in 1997 when I used oils in class and finished a piece,” McCain says. Since that time, he has filled his artwork with bright colors and swirling lines creating the human form or inspirational figures such as musical instruments or maybe, Mississippi flora. For more than a year, McCain has displayed his work at the Municipal Art Gallery (839 N. State St., 601-960-1582), and is also displaying at Sanaa Gallery (5846 Ridgewood Road, 769-218-8289) and Gallery 1 (1100 J.R. Lynch St., 601-960-9250) at Jackson State University. “I feel my work is a musical piece created by hand with broken lines and a broken prism,” McCain says. “Music and paint will never see divorce.” As an aspiring bass guitar player, McCain said that music, including the blues, loosens him up to start painting, yet his children can inspire an image, as can a childhood memory, a place in his hometown or a place he would like to visit. Even so, McCain says his art does not portray the usual way an African American community is represented in Mississippi. “In one of my pieces, I don’t show the traditional cotton fields, but show musicians in fine clothes, wing-tipped shoes … and put a different face on it,” McCain says. Twelve years after graduating from school, McCain raises his kids, pays his bills and does what he loves: his artwork. But he also produces art without a typical studio atmosphere and embraces the non-traditional way of painting. “I like to stay away from the norm, do the opposite of what I am taught and develop a different type of form,” McCain says. He doesn’t go by the color wheel and ventures into different levels of an art piece, he said. For example, McCain’s work may use an unusual color for a skin tone or a landscape and may become abstract in some ways. His work overtly uses lines to present movement, like in music. Despite his busy household and active children, McCain says he enjoys taking time to share his oil-painting process with his children as he creates a new art. He already 24 sees a spark for art from his 3-year-old. But one process his

In order to overcome “painter’s block,” Samuel McCain paints.

Samuel McCain of Ridgeland produces art like this out of his home amid his busy family life.

daughter and family will never see him use for his art is computer and digital technology. “Artists should start fresh on their own; don’t go to technology,” McCain says. The piece should be of the heart, and that cannot be done on a computer.” For the love of art, McCain likes to stand back, look at his work, get out of the chair and come back to it, then start again. “Don’t throw the palette away; pick it up and paint and do it,” McCain says. “Young artists can sell their work and find audiences with ‘untraditional pieces.’” He admits to “painter’s block” from time to time, but he hasn’t used com-

puter technology to produce his work or to influence him. McCain also understands the business of selling artwork. “There are three ways individuals buy art: buying artwork to match their furniture; to purchase a piece as a fan; or to fall in love with something different that they see in my artwork,” he said. No matter, McCain says the love of his family and art sustains him. “I want to see it in their eyes … and recognize that what I put on the canvas is a gift from God,” he says. For information on Samuel McCain’s artwork, visit his Facebook page, or contact him at


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by Anita Modak-Truran


ful French girlfriend (Nora Arnezeder). Because smart is sexy, Moreau is a medical resident at a hospital. Weston’s life takes a 180-degree spin when a “guest” arrives at the safe house: none other than the notorious Tobin Frost (Denzel), a CIA agent who went off grid about 10 years ago and is selling bigtime secrets. We know about Frost because the head honchos at Langley talk about him in grim, hushed tones. Frost’s fieldwork is legendary, and he can manipulate human assets better than anyone. He plays mind games, and he’s the best. It’s no surprise, then, that when the CIA extraction team sent to interrogate Frost on Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star in an actionforeign soil is besieged by packed morality play. enemy combatants trying to take Frost hostage, Frost gets into Weston’s head. “Remember rule No. afe House” is a CIA-agent- 1: You are responsible for your house gone-rogue thriller. No fur- guest. I’m your house guest,” Frost says. ther information is needed to “Time’s a-wasting. Tick tock, tick tock, understand the plot line, and tick tock, tick tock ...” if this picture didn’t have Denzel WashIn the blaze of bullets, explosions, ington, Ryan Reynolds and a fine cast car chases and blood baths, Frost teaches of actors—along with that inexplicable Weston to survive and to challenge what something else—there would be no point is being said. in discussing the film. “If they tell you that you’ve done a But the beauty of movies is that even good job, but they will take it from here, when we know what to expect in a genre it’s over son,” Frost says. picture like “Safe House,” Reynolds and The CIA corrupted Frost, but will it Denzel (I like to think of Denzel on a corrupt Weston? first-name basis) grab our attention, and It’s hard to resist Frost. Denzel gives the script by David Guggenheim actually a peak performance here. He’s funny, poihas something to say. gnant, irrational, rational, brutal and jadDespite endless T-bone collisions at ed. But Denzel isn’t alone. Reynolds holds 100 miles per hour (where Denzel and his own, and the cast filled out with Vera Reynolds walk out of cars, trucks and Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard SUVs with barely a scratch), the pulsat- and Ruben Blades gives the movie zing. ing score that sweeps the action forward “Safe House,” directed by Swedenlike stormy waves moving sea junk to born Daniel Espinosa, has brute vitality shore and fast-action editing—despite reminiscent of “The French Connection” all of that—this movie still has a kind of (1971). For those who have not seen the truth. It’s a morality play. In a world of gold standard of thrillers, “The French bad versus mo’ bad, the challenge is, who Connection” unleashed a torrent of slamwill survive? Bad or mo’ bad? bam, fast-and-furious, charged-up susAnd that, my friends, is where mon- pense. Although the innovativeness of the ey and the greed index determine the quintessential thriller has been watered outcome. down through 40 years of copycats, “Safe Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a House” blows an audience sky high from CIA agent still wet behind the ears, baby- an adrenal rush, just like the classic. sits a CIA safe house in South Africa. UnEspinosa has crafted the film carefullike Paris, Rome or Berlin, it’s not a great ly, so that the car chases, slashings, beatassignment. When he’s not throwing a ings, water boarding, sniping, murders, tennis ball at the wall, Weston maintains a fist fights and more car chases keep you banal cover story, which he has sold, hook, on the edge of your seat. line and sinker to Ana Moreau, his beautiI really liked it. I really, really did.

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by Sam Hall

The Truthniks



hen it comes to political memoirs, most are either too safe to be interesting or too salacious to be taken seriously. With political thrillers, the plots are often either too thin to be enthralling or too complicated to be enjoyable. But every now and then comes a political memoir that makes everyone sit up and take notice. Ditto the political thriller that is a captivating romp of intrigue and danger. If you could in some way take the best parts of your favorite political memoir and blend it perfectly with the most engaging political thriller you’ve ever read, then you would likely come up with something akin to “We’re With Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics” (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2012, $15), an honest and eye-opening look into the world of two political opposition researchers. Authors Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian make their living researching the lives and backgrounds of political candidates. They view their role in the political process as not digging dirt but uncovering the truth. What political operatives do with their information is not their concern. This unabashed desire to present an unbiased assessment of their subjects comes from backgrounds in journalism. “We began working together as journalists, working across from each other,” Rejebian said during a phone interview, describing how the men began their 18-year professional relationship. “We knew back then that we worked well together and shared similar passions.” As one reads the alternating chapters— simply titled “Alan” and “Michael”—their complementary attitudes and individual tendencies show how they have become among the most sought-after and successful political researchers in the country. “Alan is more likely to go down a rabbit trail looking for something, seeing where it leads,” Rejebian said. “I’m more organized and methodical, going piece by piece. It works out well that way. The way we each approach the projects helps us find things one might have missed on our own.” “We’re With Nobody” gives a one-year account of their travels from Louisiana’s back roads to the government offices of Washington, D.C. They offer a candid and humorous look behind the scenes of how the content of so many “attack ads” come to light. The writing is far from staid. That Rejebian and Huffman made their early living writing doesn’t hurt. “We’re With Nobody” opens with Alan “in the rural countryside near the North Carolina-South Carolina line,” which is to say the middle of nowhere, approaching an interview subject who sits in the darkness of his porch with a shotgun resting across his lap. From there, it never slows down, regard-


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less of who is writing. The imagery and dialogue will satisfy your thirst for a well-written thriller, while the details of what the two men uncover along the way provides the non-fiction reader with more than enough meat to be filled. What is most interesting about “We’re With Nobody” is not only that Huffman and Rejebian did not provide identities in their work, but that foregoing the “tell-all” and focusing on the “tell-how” made for a far stronger and much more interesting read. “We had a plan of what we wanted to write early on, and we never intended to call names,” Rejebian said. “Not only because we wanted to focus more on what we do and how we go about it but also because who’s going to care in 20 years if some guy got a DUI?” Together, the two authors make up Huffman and Rejebian, a political consulting firm based in Jackson. Rejebian is a Texas native and former journalist, who served as communications director for the Office of Mayor for the City of Jackson. He is a political adviser to Attorney General Jim Hood. He also has an affinity for metal detecting, especially looking for Civil War and other historic artifacts. “I love searching for stuff,” he said. “I guess that’s one of the parallels with the book. It’s more about the search and the digging than what we find, because we never know what we’re going to find or if we’re going to find anything at all.” Huffman’s political work also includes work for Mississippi attorneys general and governors. Today, in addition to working with Rejebian, Huffman is a world-traveling photographer and freelance writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Los Angeles Times, National Wildlife Magazine, Oxford American magazine, Smithsonian Magazine and Washington Post Magazine. In addition to co-authoring “We’re With Nobody” with Rejebian, Huffman is the author of three nonfiction works: “Ten Point,” “Mississippi in Africa” and “Sultana.” This book is clearly about Huffman, Rejebian and their craft. While I’m an admitted political junkie (I’m one of those guys who takes their truths and writes those nasty negative ads), this is work that will appeal even to those who despise politics. After all, both Huffman and Rejebian reveal that their fortitude for political narcissism is severely limited. It’s their desire for the truth that is insatiable and keeps them pounding the pavement—and the dirt roads and marbled hallways—in search of it. Meet Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian Feb. 21 at Lemuria Books (202 Banner Hall, 4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-366-7619) at 5 p.m. A reading follows a book signing.

BEST BETS February 15 - 22, 2012 by Latasha Willis Fax: 601-510-9019 Daily updates at


The Lena Horne Tribute Youth Poetry and Art Exhibit at the Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.) hangs through Feb. 18. Free; call 601-238-3303. … Author C.T.M. Cooper speaks during History Is Lunch at noon at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building (200 North St.). Bring lunch; call 601-576-6998. … Scott Chism and the Better half play at Hal & Mal’s. … Dreamz JXN hosts Wasted Wednesday. … John Mora performs at Papitos from 6-9 p.m. … Jake Owen performs on the last day of the Dixie National Rodeo at 7:30 p.m. at the Mississippi Coliseum. $15-$23; call 601-353-0603 or 800-745-3000. Free livestock shows through Feb. 19. … Bill and Temperance perform at Underground 119. … The Med Grill hosts the Battle of the Bands at 9 p.m. … Pelican Cove has Open-mic Night.

at the door; call 601-292-7121 or 800-745-3000. More shows through Feb. 19; visit for details. … Compositionz performs during Centric Thursday at Dreamz JXN.


Power APAC’s 30th Anniversary Celebration is at 7 p.m. at Belhaven University Center for the Arts. Free; call 601960-5387. … Kevin Hart performs at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall. $37, $47; call 601-353-0603 or 800745-3000. … Writeous Soul performs at Nameless Openmic at 9 p.m. at Suite 106. $5 admission, $3 to perform; call 601-720-4640. … Martini Room hosts Martini Friday. … The Soul End Theory: The Return of Deep Friday is at 10 p.m. at Salsa Mississippi Studio and Club (605 Duling Ave.). Enjoy music from DJ ScrapDirty, DJ Phingaprint, DJ Hova and The NastySho. $10; visit … Club Magoo’s hosts All Dance Night with DVDJ Reign. … Bloodbird and Spacewolf play at Ole Tavern. … Southbound is at Pop’s.

Jackson Irish Dancers hosts the Mostly Monthly Ceili at 2 p.m. and the Sean Nos Dance Workshop from 5-7 p.m. at Fenian’s. Free ceili, $15 workshop ($10 for JID members); call 601-592-9914. … Art House Cinema Downtown at Russell C. Davis Planetarium (201 E. Pascagoula St.) features Oscarnominated short action films at 2 p.m. and animated films at 5 p.m. $7 per film block; visit … The Mississippi Mass Choir performs at the Mississippi Heart Smart Sisters Conference at 3 p.m. at New Horizon Church International (1770 Ellis Ave.). Free; call 601-718-6546. … Eddie Cotton performs at The Med Grill at 6 p.m.



The Make a Difference 5K is at 8:30 a.m., at Woodlands Office Park (795 Woodlands Parkway, Ridgeland). Proceeds benefit Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital. $25 run/walk, $15 fun run; call 601-914-3220. … The Yoga for Non-violence fundraiser is at 9 a.m. at the Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). Proceeds benefit the Center for Violence Prevention. $25, donations welcome; call 601-500-0337 or 601-932-4198. … Lucky Town Brewing’s monthly Be Bold Beer Run is at 4 p.m. in downtown Jackson. Free, drink prices vary; call 262-391-9265. … The On Location TV launch party and live audience taping featuring singer-songwriter Cassius and celebrity stylist J. Bolin is at 4 p.m. at Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). $20; call 601-720-7517 or 601-398-6130. … Single in the Sip hosts the Speed Dating and Sushi Tasting at 7 p.m. at Wasabi Sushi and Bar (100 E. Capitol St., Suite 105). $25 in advance, $30 at the door; call 601-212-7295. … Saturday Night Live: Ladies Night Edition is at Slick’s Bar and Grille. … Yoshi Hummer’s mixtape release party is at 9 p.m. at Dreamz JXN. … At Hal & Mal’s, Jason Turner performs in the restaurant, and Time to Move performs in the Red Room. … Sherman Lee Dillon and the Comedian and actor Kevin Hart performs at Thalia Mara Hall Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The Margaret Walker Center’s Tupac Shakur Conference is from 1-7 p.m. at Jackson State University (1400 John R. Lynch St.) at the Liberal Arts Building, room 166. Free; call 601-979-3935. … The Dance Ministry Ensemble Performance is at 7:30 p.m. at Belhaven University (1500 Peachtree St.), in the Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center; shows through Feb. 18. $10, $5 seniors and students; call 601-965-7026. … The musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” is at 7:30 p.m. at Black Rose Community Theatre (103 Black St., Brandon); shows through Feb. 26. $15, $10 students and seniors; call 601-825-1293. … Ardenland’s concert series kicks off with music from Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and Plowhandle at 7:30 p.m. at Duling Hall. $10 in advance, $15


The Bayou Teche Mardi Gras Beer Dinner is at 6 p.m., at Sal & Mookie’s. Reservations required. $55 per person; call 601-368-1919. … Pianist Dr. Stephen Sachs performs at 7:30 p.m. at Belhaven University Center for the Arts. Free; call 601-974-6494. … Rick and Hunter are at Fitzgerald’s.


The Fat Tuesday party at Last Call includes drink specials and music from DJ Spoon. $5, booth and table reservations available; call 769-233-9229; visit … Snazz performs at the Mardi Gras party at Shuckers.


Historian Stuart Rockoff talks about the history of the Beth Israel Congregation during History Is Lunch at noon at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building (200 North St.). Bring lunch; call 601-576-6998. … Baby Jan and All That Chazz performs at Underground 119. More at and Cody Canada and the Departed perform at Duling Hall Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. COURTESY ARDEN BARNETT


Mississippi Sound perform at F. Jones Corner. … Evelle is at Reed Pierce’s. …Fingers Taylor and Friends play at Olga’s.



jfpevents JFP-SPONSORED EVENTS Yoga for Non-violence - 108 Sun Salutations Feb. 18, 9 a.m., at Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). All levels of ability and endurance are welcome to participate in the yoga mala. Free sun salutation classes given at many Jackson yoga studios. Proceeds benefit the Center for Violence Prevention. $25, donations welcome; call 601-500-0337 or 601-932-4198. Jackson 2000 Friendship Ball March 3, 7 p.m., at Hal & Mal’s (200 S. Commerce St.). Civil rights veteran Owen Brooks and Voice of Calvary Ministries President Phil Reed are honored for their racial reconciliation efforts and their contributions to Jackson. Look forward to hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and music by These Days with Jewel Bass. Proceeds benefit Parents for Public Schools and Students With A Goal (S.W.A.G.). Wear casual attire. $20, $10 with student ID; call 601-362-6121, ext. 17.

COMMUNITY Mission Mississippi Monthly Businessmen’s Luncheon Feb. 15, 11:30 a.m., at Capital Club (125 S. Congress St., Suite 19). Attendees discuss racial and denominational reconciliation. $15; call 601-2782922, 601-260-2116 or 601-353-6477. “History Is Lunch” Feb. 15, noon, at William F. Winter Archives and History Building (200 North St.). Jackson writer C.T.M. Cooper talks about her new novel “God Sent Us Angels in the Form of Good White Folks.” Bring lunch; coffee and water provided. Free; call 601-576-6998. Events at Pearl Public Library (2416 Old Brandon Road, Pearl). Free; call 601-932-2562. • Computer Classes For Adults Feb. 16. The email class is at 10 a.m., and the Excel class is at 6 p.m. (pre-registration required). • Mad Hatter Tea Party Feb. 16, 4 p.m. The event includes refreshments, crafts, games, storytelling and door prizes. Hats encouraged. • History Cafe Feb. 22, 9 a.m. Join the men’s group for coffee and conversation. The topic is the Civil War. Free; call 601-932-2562. Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts Feb. 16, 1 p.m., at Wells United Methodist Church (2019 Bailey Ave.). The annual awards program is a celebration of Mississippi artists and arts organizations. Free; call 601-359-6031. “Back in the Day” Black History Program Feb. 16, 6 p.m., at New Hope Baptist Church (5202 Watkins Drive). Tougaloo College President Dr. Beverly Hogan is the speaker. Also enjoy poetry from a surprise guest. Refreshments served. Free; call 601-366-7002. Precinct 3 COPS Meeting Feb. 16, 6 p.m., at Jackson Police Department, Precinct 3 (3925 W. Northside Drive). These monthly forums are designed to help resolve community issues. Call 601-960-0003. Third Thursday Nature Lecture Feb. 16, 7 p.m., at Clinton Community Nature Center (617 Dunton Road, Clinton), in Price Hall. Grady Howell talks about the destruction of Jackson during the Civil War. Free, donations welcome; call 601-926-1104.

February 15 - 21, 2012

Youth Mixer Feb. 18, 7 p.m., at New Vineyard Church (3784 Terry Road). Speakers include Crystal Ingram and Jared London of New Vineyard Church, and Yomeka Johnson of Living For Legacy. Wear casual attire; refreshments served. $5; call 601291-6728.


Camp and Education Connection Feb. 18, 10 a.m., at Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive). Parents and Kids Magazine is the host. Meet representatives from camps and organizations to learn about available programs. Free with paid admission; call 601-366-0901. Stepping Up for the Community Feb. 18, 10 a.m., at Deville Plaza (5058 Interstate 55 N.). H&R Block is the host. Local nonprofits showcase their

services. The event includes child fingerprinting, free tax advice, food, health screenings, face painting and entertainment. Call 601-454-5044. Be Bold Beer Run Feb. 18, 4 p.m., in downtown Jackson. Lucky Town Brewing Company and the Home Brewers Association of Middle Mississippi are the sponsors. Registration is at 4 p.m., and the run/walk is at 4:30 p.m. The race includes stops at designated restaurants for drinks. Free, drink prices vary; call 262-391-9265. On Location TV Launch Party and Live Audience Taping Feb. 18, 4 p.m., at Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). Host Phyllis “Peaches” Robinson interviews Cassius, CEO of Mile High Music Group and singer-songwriter, and J. Bolin, a fashion designer, celebrity stylist and editor-in-chief of Denim Magazine. $20; call 601720-7517 or 601-398-6130. Speed Dating and Sushi Tasting Feb. 18, 7 p.m., at Wasabi Sushi and Bar (100 E. Capitol St., Suite 105). Single in the Sip hosts the event for single professionals. Enjoy drink specials, door prizes, sushi and martinis. $25 in advance, $30 at the door; call 601-212-7295. Bayou Teche Mardi Gras Beer Dinner Feb. 20, 6 p.m., at Sal & Mookie’s (565 Taylor St.). Enjoy a five-course dinner paired with beers from Bayou Tech Brewing. Reservations required. $55 per person; call 601-368-1919. Starting a Business: First Steps Feb. 21, 1 p.m., at WIN Job Center, Canton (152 Parkway Drive, Canton). Topics include licenses and permits, legal forms of ownership and lending terminology. Free; call 601-979-2795.

WELLNESS NAMI Mississippi Events. Free; call 601-899-9058 for location information. • NAMI Connection Support Group Meetings. The alliance of individuals with mental illnesses meets Tuesdays at 2 p.m. to share experiences and learn new ways to cope. Trained facilitators lead the meetings. • In Our Own Voice Presenter Training. In Our Own Voice is a public education program that allows trained speakers to share their personal stories of mental illness and recovery. Presenters commit to making at least one presentation per month for one year after the two-day training. Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Webinar Feb. 17, 10 a.m.. The teleconference is for health providers and their staff. Dr. Linda S. Kinsinger is the speaker. Register to receive website information. Call 601-957-1575, ext. 260. Art in Mind Art Program Feb. 22, 10 a.m., at Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.). The Alzheimer’s Association of Mississippi offers the monthly program for people with early-stage dementia and their caregivers. Participants tour the galleries and make art in the studio classroom. Register by Feb. 20; space limited. Registration forms available at Free; call 601-987-0020.

FARMERS MARKETS Mississippi Farmers Market (929 High St.), through Dec. 15. Open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. Call 601-354-6573.

STAGE AND SCREEN Dance Ministry Ensemble Performance Feb. 1618, at Belhaven University, Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center (1500 Peachtree St.). Shows are Feb. 16-17 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 18 at 11 a.m. $10, $5 seniors and students, free for Belhaven employees and students; call 601-965-7026. “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” Feb. 16-26, at Black Rose Community Theatre (103 Black St.,

BE THE CHANGE American Cancer Society Road to Recovery Training Feb. 25, 2:30 p.m., at American Cancer Society (1380 Livingston Lane). ACS seeks volunteers to drive patients to treatments. Call 601-362-8874. Affairs of the Heart Benefit Feb. 17-19, at Parkside Playhouse (101 Iowa Blvd., Vicksburg). Enjoy entertainment from local performers. Shows are Feb. 17-18 at 7 p.m., and Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary. $10, $7 students 13 and up, $5 ages 6-12, ages 0-5 free; call 601-636-0471. Make a Difference 5K Feb. 18, 8:30 a.m., at Woodlands Office Park (795 Woodlands Parkway, Ridgeland). The event includes a run/walk and a one-mile fun run. Proceeds benefit Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital. Registration available at $25 run/walk, $15 fun run; call 601914-3220. Brandon). The musical is based on Charles Schulz’s comic strip. Shows are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Reservations recommended. $15, $10 students, seniors and Sunday matinees; call 601-825-1293. Kevin Hart Feb. 17, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., at Thalia Mara Hall (255 E. Pascagoula St.). The comedian and actor does stand-up. $37, $47; call 601-3530603 or 800-745-3000. Power APAC 30th Anniversary Celebration Feb. 17, 7 p.m., at Belhaven University Center for the Arts (835 Riverside Drive). Current and former students perform. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Free; call 601-960-5387. Nameless Open-mic Feb. 17, 9 p.m., at Suite 106 (106 Wilmington St.). Poets, singers, actors and comedians are welcome. Writeous Soul is the featured poet. $5 admission, $3 to perform; call 601-720-4640. Art House Cinema Downtown Feb. 19, 2 p.m., at Russell C. Davis Planetarium (201 E. Pascagoula St.). Watch the Oscar-nominated short films for 2011. See action films at 2 p.m. and animated films at 5 p.m. Popcorn and beverages sold. $7 per film block; visit

MUSIC Ardenland Concert Series at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). Call 601-292-7121 or 800-745-3000. • Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m. The Nashville country and rock band performs to promote their album “Chasing Someday.” Plowhandle also performs. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. • Kinky Friedman and Kacey Jones Feb. 17, 8 p.m. Friedman sings as part of his “Southern Discomfort” tour. Jones is a singer-songwriter and humorist. $30 in advance, $35 at the door. • Hurt Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.. Enjoy cocktails at 7:30 p.m., and the show at 9 p.m. The Los Angeles band gives an acoustic performance. Jeffro also performs. $12 in advance, $15 at the door. • Cody Canada and the Departed Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m. The country band performs to promote their album “This Is Indian Land.” $12 in advance, $15 at the door. The Soul End Theory: The Return of Deep Friday Feb. 17, 10 p.m., at Salsa Mississippi Studio and Club (605 Duling Ave.). The event pays homage to visual artists Tony Davenport, Melanie John, George Miles, Shambe’ and Lorenzo Gayden. Enjoy music from DJ ScrapDirty, DJ Phingaprint, DJ Hova and The NastySho. $10; visit Mostly Monthly Ceili and Sean Nos Dance Workshop Feb. 19, 2 p.m., at Fenian’s Pub (901 E. Fortification St.). Enjoy a family-friendly gathering of folks interested in Irish music and dance. Patrick O’Dea holds the workshop from 5-7 p.m. Jackson Irish Dancers is the sponsor. Free ceili, $15 workshop ($10 for JID members); call 601-592-9914. Faculty Recital Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., at Belhaven University Center for the Arts (835 Riverside Drive). Pianist Dr. Stephen Sachs plays Chopin and Liszt ballads. Free; call 601-974-6494.

LITERARY AND SIGNINGS Events at Lemuria Books (202 Banner Hall, 4465 Interstate 55 N.). Call 601-366-7619. • Lemuria Story Time Feb. 18, 11 a.m. This week’s story is Anne Rockwell’s “President’s Day.” Attendees also make paper top hats. Free. • “We’re with Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics” Feb. 21, 5 p.m. Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian sign books; reading at 5:30 p.m. $15.99 book. “Married to Sin: A Memoir” Feb. 19, 1 p.m., at Apostolic Restoration Ministries (1020 W. McDowell Road). Darlene D. Collier and Meredith McGee sign copies of the book. $12.62 book; call 601-7064656 or 601-372-0229.

CREATIVE CLASSES Discover Series - Adults-only Craft Class Feb. 16, 6 p.m., at Mississippi Craft Center (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland). Choose from fused glass, pottery, or wire sculpture. $25; call 601-856-7546. Events at Pearl Public Library (2416 Old Brandon Road, Pearl). • Polymer Clay Class Feb. 18, 10:30 a.m. Visit for a supply list. Free first meeting, $5 future meetings, $20 annual membership; email • Sticks and Strings Feb. 21, 5:30 p.m. Crochet with other hobbyists; all skill levels welcome. Bring supplies. Free; call 601-932-2562. Events at Viking Cooking School (Township at Colony Park, 1107 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland). Call 601-898-8345. • Mardi Gras Cooking Class Feb. 21. Topics include making a roux and working with seafood. For ages 16 and up. Classes are at 9 a.m. ($79) and 6 p.m. ($99). • Chicago Steakhouse Cooking Class Feb. 22, 6 p.m. Topics include making sauces, sautéing vegetables and making a vinaigrette. $89.

EXHIBITS AND OPENINGS Look and Learn with Hoot Feb. 17, 10 a.m., at Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.). The event for 4-5 year olds features art and story time. Please dress for mess. Free; call 601-960-1515. Lena Horne Tribute Youth Poetry and Art Exhibit through Feb. 18, at Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). Free; call 601-238-3303. National Geographic Map of Asia Exhibit, at Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive). View the 26-foot map through Feb. 17 and Feb. 21-23 from 9 a.m.-noon, and Feb. 19 from 1-5 p.m. $4-$6, children under 3 and members free; call 601-576-6000. Check for updates and more listings. To add an event, email all details (phone number, start and end date, and time, street address, cost, URL, etc.) to or fax to 601510-9019. The deadline is noon the Thursday prior to the week of publication. Or add the event online yourself; check out for instructions.


Dark Songs of the Bloodbird

by Larry Morrisey

Adam Harrington, who performs as Bloodbird Harrington, takes on dark themes in his songs, embellishing them with his deep voice and blues-influenced guitar playing.

The Key of G by Garrad Lee


Tupac Shakur: 15 Years Later

up with something we could work on together. After much discussion, Charlie finally got the light bulb-over-his-head idea: We should co-sponsor a conference on Tupac Shakur, the enigmatic rapper who was shot more than 15 years ago on Sept. 7, 1996, dying of those wounds six days later. We agreed that the best way we could honor his legacy was to bring together a wide range of scholars, historians, musicians, artists, writers and activists to discuss one of hip-hop’s most celebrated, complex and controversial performers. With the help of our friends at the Margaret Walker Center, we put together a conference to take place at Jackson State Feb. 16, featuring two panel discussions and a keynote address from attorney and Jackson City Councilman Chokwe Lumumba. Tupac’s life was a lesson in contradiction. The uninitiated often overlook the fact that he began his artistic career as a back-up dancer with Digital Underground, the comical alternative hip-hop group most famous for “The Humpty Dance.” The son of a former Black Panther, Tupac imbibed his early releases with themes of Black Nationalism, and he attacked social inequality, police brutality and poverty with his songs.

Yet Tupac’s work was much more complicated than just social commentary over West Coast beats. Tupac could be immensely poignant, aggressive, playful and sometimes straight-up scary—all within

images, with a number of run-ins with the law and his later switch to the “Thug Life” persona. But those in the know understood what Tupac was doing. A prodigious reader, Shakur was far too smart to be played by the media. He seemed to have a plan, however chaotic the process might have seemed to outsiders. This point often gets neglected about Tupac and hip-hop in general: These guys are often smarter, and their images and work more calculated, than they seem at first glance. That is why conferences such as ours remain crucial to the Jackson State University is the site of the Feb. 16 understanding of the nuances, conference on the Career and Legacy of Tupac complexities, and misunderAmaru Shakur. Hip-hop culture experts will speak. standings of hip-hop culture. “R U Still Down: A Conference one song. Sadly, the media, hungering for on the Career and Legacy of Tupac Amaru images to fuel its East Coast-West Coast Shakur” kicks off with the first panel at 1 rap-battle narrative, latched on to Tupac’s p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16,, in Room 166 of the more aggressive qualities and tried to Dollye M.E. Robinson Liberal Arts Building force him into the mold of the angry and on the campus of Jackson State University. dangerous black male rapper. For a full schedule, you can visit jsums. To be sure, Tupac helped fuel these edu/margaretwalker/tupac. COURTESY COLUMBIA

have often written in these pages about the cool opportunities that find their way to me based on my position as a music columnist. One of the coolest things I have experienced so far is building a relationship with famed hip-hop journalist, scholar, poet and author Charlie Braxton. Charlie and I met last spring when he moderated a panel on local hip-hop that I put together for a conference at Jackson State University. I knew of his work, mainly through reading his pieces on southern hip-hop in industry magazines such as The Source and Vibe. His reputation as a historian and builder of Mississippi’s hip-hop scene from the early days makes him a go-to guy for these kinds of things. I was not only excited, but humbled when Charlie started calling me to talk about my writing and scholarly work. We had these epic hour-long conversations about hip-hop, politics, race, black music and everything in between. It was surreal and continues to be so. One minute you are reading a man’s articles in national publications; the next he wants to help guide your pursuits as a writer and cultural critic. During our talks, we would try to come

indie folk artists like Bill Callahan. Harrington takes the minor key guitar tunings from ’30s blues and incorporates them into minimal arrangements that support his distinctive, deep voice. His guitar parts come first, with the lyrics following quickly after. “It’s almost a Hank Williams approach,” he said. “If you can’t write it in 20 minutes, it’s not worth writing about.” Harrington spent several years at home honing his sound, not stepping on stage under the “Bloodbird” moniker until 2009. He started out playing shows in Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Coast. Early on, the name caused some confusion about his music. “I used to get booked on heavy-metal shows just because of the name,” he said. “That got kind of annoying.” He began his first CD, “Stained Glass Memories,” in 2010. Released in May 2011, it features moody songs that tell unsparing stories of betrayal and revenge. The disc also features Gordon Garretson, formerly of Delicate Cycle, playing drums on a couple of the tracks. Amid wrecked relationships detailed on the album, Harrington makes an unexpected lyrical detour. “Rollin’ on my 63’s” has the same dark vocal delivery and sparse arrangements, but it relates the travails of an aging skateboarder. “I may not be walking when I’m 40,” the song says, but he’ll go on “as long as I’ve got urethanes (wheels) below me.” The song, possibly the first dark-folk skater tune, reflects Harrington’s re-dedication to skateboarding. A teen skater, he recently returned to the sport and has been active with SkateMS, the skateboarding advocacy group based in Jackson. The group included “Rollin’ on my 63’s” on “Kids Need Fresh Air,” their fundraiser CD. Bloodbird Harrington plays at Ole Tavern (416 George St., 601-960-2700) Friday, Feb. 17, with Spacewolf. For information, visit



loodbirds are found in Australia, not Mississippi, but there’s one here who sings only in the dark. Adam Harrington, who performs under the name Bloodbird Harrington, is a Jackson-based singer and songwriter who wrestles with a number of dark themes in his music. His original songs are structured around his voice, ominous and occasionally deep, bringing to mind singers like Nick Cave or Mark Lanegan. Harrington accompanies his singing with a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, and a back-up drummer. Harrington grew up in Laurel in a musical family. His grandfather owned a music store, and his father played bass for blues musicians. Harrington also heard a lot of blues-influenced rock, including the Allman Brothers, around the house. His grandfather gave him his first guitar lessons when he was 10, but he didn’t get serious about music until he found punk rock as a teenager. When he was in his teens, Harrington joined Aerosol Junkie, a “typical punk-grunge” band. They performed at the American Legion Hall. “We’d rent it out for $200, and it would be packed with kids,” he said. “All the veterans would be in the bar in the back of the building. They would kind of peek in (on us) every now and then.” Harrington set his guitar aside while he attended Jones County Junior College. After graduating, he moved to Jackson in 2002 for work. Rather than finding another punk band to join, the guitarist went in a new musical direction. “I picked up the acoustic guitar and started playing more folk kind of music,” he says. “Mostly because I didn’t know anyone around here. It was just ‘All right, I’ll play acoustic until somebody comes along.’” He began listening to acoustic musicians, including traditional Mississippi bluesmen like Skip James and contemporary


livemusic FEB. 15 - WEDNESDAY

Weekly Lunch Specials









Open for dinner Sat. 4-10pm Thursday

February 16


w/ DJ Stache


Rooster Bloodbird w/ Spacewolf





February 18

South of 20 Monday

February 20

PUB QUIZ 2-for-1 Drafts


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February 21

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February 22


Open Mon-Sat, Restaurant open Mon-Fri 11 am-10 pm & Sat 4-10 pm

601-960-2700 Tavern

















Yankee Station February 17 | 9:00pm

THIS WEEK WEDNESDAY 2/15 Scott Chism & The Better Half (DR)

NOW OPEN ON TUESDAYS Wednesday,February 15th


February 18 | 9:00pm

The Fox Brothers w Special Guest Mark Roemer (DR) St. Paddy’s Day Float Meeting (RR) Speed Dating (RR)


• $3 Bloody Mary’s & Mimosas Every Saturday & Sunday until 6pm 6791 Siwell Rd. Byram, MS • 601.376.0777

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SATURDAY 2/18 Jason Turner (DR) Time To Move (RR)


MONDAY 2/20 Blues Monday with Central MS Blues Society (restaurant)


1 Meat, 3 Veggies, Bread and Drink

live music february 15 - 21 wed | feb 15 Jessie “Guitar“ Smith 5:30-9:30p thu | feb 16 Point Blank Lite Duo 5:30-9:30p fri | feb 17 Acoustic Crossroads 6:30-10:30p sat | feb 18 Liz Stroud Band 6:30-10:30p sun | feb 19 Shaun Patterson 3:00 - 7:00p mon | feb 20 Karaoke

(Blues) 9-1, $5 Cover before 8:30 $10 Cover after 8:30

Saturday, February 18th


(Blues) 9-1, $5 Cover before 8:30 $10 Cover after 8:30

Coming Soon


SAT 3.03: Friendship Ball


Friday, February 17th

PUB QUIZ w/ Erin & friends (restaurant) James McMurtry (RR)

THU 2.23: Chris Knight

New Blue Plate Special

Thursday, February 16th


Thomas Jackson Orchastra (DR)

• Live Music Every Friday & Saturday Night NO COVER CHARGE!


(Bluegrass) 8-11, No Cover

SAT 3.10: YARN (RR) WED 3.14 - 3.17: St. Patrick’s Day Festivities ... Stay Tuned!!! SAT 3.17: Anniversary of Mal’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade!!

Monday - Friday

Tuesday, February 21st (Blues) 6-11, $5 Cover Wednesday,February 22nd

CHALMERS & BABY JAN (Jazz) 8-11, No Cover

Thursday, February 23rd

ADIB SABIR & PINK GARLAND (Jazz) 8-11, No Cover

Friday, February 24th

Blue Plate Lunch with corn bread and tea or coffee



As well as the usual favorites! Seafood Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, Burgers, Fried Pickles, Onion Rings and Homemade Soups made daily.

Fridays: Catfish Plates are $9.75

$4.00 Happy Hour Well Drinks!

tue | feb 21 Jesse “Guitar” Smith 5:30-9:30p

visit for a full menu and concert schedule

1060 E County Line Rd. in Ridgeland Open Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm Fri-Sat 11am-Midnight | 601-899-0038

200 S. Commerce St. Downtown Jackson, Mississippi


SOUTHERN KOMFORT BRASS BAND (New Orleans Jazz) 9-1, $5 Cover before 8:30 $10 Cover after 8:30

Saturday, February 25th


(Blues) 9-1, $5 Cover before 8:30 $10 Cover after 8:30

119 S. President Street 601.352.2322



by Bryan Flynn by Bryan Flynn

Wii Be Movinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; VIRGINIA SCHREIBER

Whitney Houston sang one of the best national anthem renditions, ever, at Super Bowl XXV. She is gone, but her anthem will live on forever. THURSDAY, FEB. 16 College Basketball (8-10 p.m. ESPN 2): Ole Miss faces a very good Vanderbilt team. A win will boost their NCAA Tournament hopes. FRIDAY, FEB. 17 NBA (7-9:30 p.m. ESPN): Defending champion Dallas Mavericks face the surprising Philadelphia 76ers in what should be a good matchup. SATURDAY, FEB. 18 College Basketball (3-5 p.m. CBS): Ole Miss faces the number one ranked team in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats, on the road. â&#x20AC;Ś NASCAR (7-10 p.m. Fox): NASCAR returns with the Budweiser Shootout at the Dayton National Speedway. SUNDAY, FEB. 19 NBA (noon-2:30 p.m. ABC): Latecomers can still jump on the Jeremy Lin bandwagon, as the New York Knicks take on the Dallas Mavericks at home. See #Linsanity on twitter. MONDAY, FEB. 20 College basketball (8-10 p.m. ESPN): The Baylor Bears face the Texas Longhorns in a Big-12 showdown. TUESDAY, FEB. 21 College basketball (7-9 p.m. ESPN): Mississippi State gets their shot at top-ranked Kentucky as the Bulldogs take on the Wildcats at home. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 22 College basketball (6-8 p.m. CSS): Ole Missâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; postseason fate could be sealed after they face the Tennessee Volunteers on the road. Follow Bryan Flynn at, @jfpsports and at

Playing Wii games probably wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t replace all exercise, but it will get you up and moving, like they do for Lacey and Bryan, above. Oh, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dang fun.


am hot, sweaty and getting tired. I am moving as best I can, but I keep getting popped in the face. Next to me, Lacey has a determined look in her eye. She is moving fluidly, but I am flailing about, just trying to keep my head above water. In a stunning flurry of blows to the body and face, I go down. Working as fast as I can, I get myself back up only to face another barrage of fists that Lacey sends my direction. Several shots to my face, almost too quick to count, and I am down again. Lacey is standing over me like that famous Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston photo. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Stay down,â&#x20AC;? Lacey screams, nearly at the top of her lungs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Stay down, Bryan.â&#x20AC;? In what seems like a miracle, I pull myself up once more. This time the end comes swiftly. A quick right sends shock waves through my face. An even quicker jab to my body causes me to slide right. I see it coming, but I am nowhere near fast enough to defend myself or stop it. A crushing righthanded uppercut blows me backward. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m down for the final time. Lacey stands over me with her hands in the air screaming once again for me to

february 15 - 21, 2012

Bryanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rant â&#x20AC;˘ Whereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the SWAC?





stay down like the loser I am. Mercifully, the Wii counts me out, and my wifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s undefeated boxing streak remains intact. Since we got our Wii a couple of years ago, I havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t found a way to beat Lacey in boxing. She pummels me every time we play. My one saving grace is tennis, where I can beat her sometimes. Video games are a big part of American life. In 2010, Americans spent $18.6 billion on video games and equipment, and gamers older than age 2 play more than 13 hours each week, according to consumerresearch company NPD Group. At the same time, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re getting fatter each year, and TV and most video games account for large amounts of inactivity. The Wii makes video game players get off the couch and move. Wii games like boxing, tennis and baseball require movement, and not just to push buttons and shove a joy stick around. Lacey was not much of a gamer before we got our Wii. I gave her a Wii Balance Board for her birthday recently, and she uses it regularly. She also enjoys yoga and strength training. One of my favorite things is the Wii ski jump, but my balance stinks. Surpris-


ingly, I do well with the hula hoop game. Wii hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t completely replaced other exercise for the two of us. We go for runs and walks in our local park. Lacey works out at home and at her office during down time. I enjoy playing soccer, football and basketball, and I love playing sports with my nieces and nephews. To get anything productive out of exercise, however, you must devote time to it. Scott Owens, University of Mississippi associate professor of health and exercise science, found that the Wii had little effect on family fitness and that the use of the Wii declined over time. There is no telling if the Wii can get anyone as fit as a regular gym workout. I kind of doubt it, but it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hurt. Surely, if kids spend 13 hours a week playing video games, they could benefit by playing Wii games during at least some of those hours. And you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to rely on Wii, either. Sales for the Wii have been so brisk that Microsoft introduced the Kinect with the X-Box 360, and Sony introduced the PlayStation Move for its PS3 systems. Microsoft has added voice technology to the Kinect and uses no controller, just body movements. I would love to play the Kinect with the X-Box 360. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m curious to see how well the technology works, and I like the idea of using my whole body to play video games. Video games cannot fully replace exercise, but you can use them for some exercise and to get moving in the privacy of your home. If one of your 2012 resolutions is a new or renewed emphasis on health, you should use every tool you can to get your hands on to get yourself and your family excited about fitness. When itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really hot, cold or rainy, it is nice to have the Wii. Lacey and I can still stay active and entertained at the same time. I can tell you that it is a real workout, and it is a lot of fun. That is, unless Lacey is beating me without mercy in boxing. Follow Bryan Flynn at, @jfpsports and at


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*E Q M P ] ) R X I V X E M R Q I R X ' I R X I V


Dylan Moss



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Saturday, February 18




Late Night Happy Hour Sun - Thur, 10p - 12a


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Includes: Dessert, Iced Tea, & tax. Take Out Orders are welcomed.

Mon | Beef Stroganoff or Rosemary Chicken Tue | Mushroom Mish Mash or Seafood Meuniere over Angel Hair Pasta Wed | Chicken & Dumplings or Molasses Baked Ham


- Happy Hour in The Jazz Bar Tuesday - Friday 4-7pm 2 -4 -1 Wells, Calls, & Domestics, PLUS $5 appetizers To book a private party please call

Thu | Corned Beef & Cabbage or Chicken & Bowtie Pasta Fri | Fried Catfish or Pork Shoulder Steak


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Wednesday - February 15 ROCK KARAOKE



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Welcome Rodeo Fans! Wednesday: Karaoke

2 for 1 Coors & Coors Light Bottles

Thursday: Jeff Bates Tickets on sale now! $20 in advance $25 at the door

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Saturday: Dirty Play

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Lunch 11am - 2pm â&#x20AC;˘ Mon-Fri

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Friday: Rico & The Border Control


DINING|food by Roxanne Wallis



u gratin potatoes are a family-revered dish of decadence. A common au gratin preparation uses potatoes, but, really, you can use any combination of vegetables. Traditionally, layers of potato and onion come smothered in a buttery cream sauce and melted cheese. No matter how you cut the potato, au gratin potatoes are rich, starchy and leave diners feeling heavy and overindulgent—almost. Though sometimes described as bitter, turnips are an ideal substitute for potatoes. Turnip root is significantly lower in carbohydrates and is a wonderful option for a low-glycemic diet. Typical southern preparation of turnips uses a ham hock or salted pork for seasoning. Turnip greens and the diced root are stewed together until tender and bitterness reduced. Southern-style turnips are delicious, but what is a healthier alternative for cooking with turnips? The answer lies in the least likely of preparations—au gratin. Thin layers of tender, not bitter, turnip root, savory sautéed spinach and caramelized sweet onion meld together in a light yet filling casserole worthy of serving for brunch or at at a spring tea. As always, adjust recipe to dietary needs and personal tastes.

TURNIP GRATIN 6-8 medium turnip roots 2 large sweet onions (Vidalia or Walla Walla) 3 pounds frozen spinach 2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/3 to 1/2 cup walnuts 6 wheat crackers 1 cup grated Gouda cheese 6 to 8 slices American cheese 1 tablespoon dried thyme 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into cubes) 1 to 2 cups 2-percent milk (enough milk to fill bottom third of casserole dish) Salt and pepper Non-stick cooking spray Turnip au gratin is a healthy, filling dish, yet dainty enough for a spring tea party.

Bring a pot of well-salted water to boil. Peel, halve lengthwise, and cut turnip roots into 1/4-inch slices. Blanche sliced turnips in boiling water for no more than five minutes.

Remove turnips from boiling water and submerge into ice water bathe. When completely cooled, drain turnips and set aside until ready to use. Peel away the outer layer of onion and cut the rest into 1/4-inch slices. Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Sauté onion until softened and slightly caramelized. Remove onions from heat and set aside. Thaw, drain and squeeze excess moisture from spinach. Sauté spinach with garlic, red-pepper flakes and nutmeg until combined. Remove spinach from heat and set aside. In food processor, pulse walnuts and crackers until well crumbled. Combine crumbles, grated Gouda, thyme and olive oil until well combined and set aside for casserole assembly. Spray bottom and sides of ob-

long or rectangular casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Begin layering slices of turnip vertically against the short side of dish. Against the turnip layer, lay some of the sautéed onion and then a layer of sautéed spinach. Layer another wall of turnip, and gently press the first layers closer together. Continue layering and sandwiching to the other side of the dish. Layer remaining ingredients on top. Add enough milk to fill the bottom third of casserole dish. Season top of casserole with salt and pepper to taste. Cube butter and spread cubes evenly across top of layers. Cover bottom layers with slices of American cheese and finish with Gouda-walnut topping. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and the topping is browned. Serves six to eight guests.

Justice, Faith, Power E\'XVWLQ&DUGRQ

February 15 - 21, 2012




or some people, February means king-cake season. In the South, a king cake is like a cake-sized cinnamon roll, usually with purple, green and gold icing. Traditionally, a king cake has a small trinket inside (usually a baby), but due to choking hazards, some bakeries put the trinket on the side. The person who finds the trinket in or under his or her slice receives various privileges and obligations. The recipient is declared the king or queen of the day, and is also required to supply the king cake for the next celebration. These delicious seasonal cakes usually are enjoyed around Mardi Gras, which is the celebration leading up to Lent, and are eaten in places that celebrate the holiday, such as New Orleans and other areas around the Gulf Coast. Other countries serve slightly different king cakes. The name “king cake” is taken from the biblical Three Kings who visited baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Eve of Epiphany, Jan. 5, is popularly known as Twelfth Night, referring to the Twelve Days of Christmas

counted from Christmas Eve to January 5th. King-cake season lasts from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas through Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday.” The celebration is called Fat Tuesday because it represents the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday the next day. The purple, green and gold colors of king cake symbolize justice, faith and power, respec- Even though many people in the area don’t officially celebrate Mardi tively. These are the official colors of Mardi Gras, Gras, Jackson still loves a good king cake. and are also seen on everything from floats and masks to beads on Fat Tuesday and the days leading up to it. $26.95 (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900); Here are a few places that will be selling king cakes this Primos Café and Bake Shop, $16.00 (2323 Lakeland Drive, Mardi Gras season: Flowood, 601-936-3701); Great Harvest Bread Company, Campbell’s Bakery, $18.95-23.95 (3013 N. State St., $12.95 (5006 Parkway Drive, 601-956-4406; 500 Highway 601-362-4628); Broad Street Baking Company and Café, 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-3313)

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Bourbon Street in the Quarter (1855 Lakeland Drive, 601-987-0808) Jacksonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hot new spot for great New Orleans cuisine, live entertainment and libations from the bar featuring daily lunch specials and happy hour in the landmark Poetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s location. Reed Pierceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (6791 Siwell Rd., Byram, 601-376-0777) Eat, Drink, Play! Burgers, Po-Boys, pub fare and dinner specialties including ribeye, filet, fried shrimp and more. 9-Ball lounge features tourney tables, full bar, live entertainment. Hal and Malâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (200 S. Commerce St. 601-948-0888) Pub favorites meet Gulf Coast and Cajun specialties like red beans and rice, the Oyster Platter or each dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s blackboard special. Best of Jackson winner for Live Music Venue for multiple years running. Burgers and Blues (1060 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland 601-899-0038) Al Stamps (of Cool Alâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fame) does it again with his signature approach to burgers, chicken, wraps, seasoned fries and so much more. Plus live music and entertainment! Cherokee Inn (960 Briarfield Rd. 601-362-6388) Jacksonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Best Hole in the Wall,â&#x20AC;? has a great jukebox, great bar and a great burger. Plate lunches, cheesy fries and tons more, including a full bar and friendly favorites. Cool Alâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (4654 McWillie, 601-713-3020) A Best of Jackson fixture, Cool Alâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s signature stacked, messy, decadent, creative burgers defy adjectives. And donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget the fries! Fenianâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pub (901 E. Fortification St. 601-948-0055) Classic Irish pub featuring a menu of traditional food, pub sandwiches and beers such as Guinness and Harp on tap. Last Call (3716 I-55 N. Frontage Road 601-713-2700) Burgers, sandwiches and po-boys, plus sports-bar appetizers and specialities. Pay-per-view sporting events, live bands. Martinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Restaurant and Lounge (214 South State Street 601-354-9712) Lunch specials, pub appetizers (jalapeno poppers, cheezsticks, fried pickles) or order from the full menu of po-boys and entrees. Full bar, massive beer selection and live music most nights. Time Out Sports CafĂŠ (6720 Old Canton Road 601-978-1839) 14 TVs, 1 projector and two big-screens. Daily $9 lunch specials, pub-style appetizers, burgers, seafood and catfish po-boys, salads, and hot entrees including fish, steak and pasta. Ole Tavern on George Street (416 George St. 601-960-2700) Pub food with a southern flair: beer-battered onion rings, chicken & sausage gumbo, salads, sandwiches and weekly lunch specials. Plus, happy hour 4-7pm Monday through Friday. Sportsmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Lodge (1120 E Northside Dr. in Maywood Mart 601-366-5441) Voted Best Sports Bar in 2010, Sportmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t disappoint with plenty of gut-pleasing sandwiches, fried seafood baskets, sandwiches and specialty appetizers. Underground 119 (119 South President St. 601-352-2322) Jumbo lump crabcakes, crab quesadillas, beef tenderloin parfaits, orange-garlic shrimp, even â&#x20AC;&#x153;lollipopâ&#x20AC;? lamb chops. Add a full bar and mix in great music. Opens 4 p.m.-until, Wed-Sat. Wing Stop (952 North State Street, 601-969-6400) Saucing and tossing in a choice of nine flavors, Wing Stop wings are made with care and served up piping hot. Every order is made fresh to order; check out the fresh cut seasoned fries!


Pan Asia (720 Harbor Pines Dr, Ridgeland 601-956-2958) Beautiful ambiance in this popular Ridgeland eatery accompanies signature asian fusion dishes and build-your-own stir-frys using fresh ingredients and great sauces. Fusion Japanese and Thai Cuisine (1002 Treetop Blvd, Flowood 601-664-7588) Specializing in fresh Japanese and Thai cuisine, Fusion has an extensive menu featuring everything from curries to fresh sushi.


Another Broken Egg (1000 Highland Colony #1009 in Renaissance, 601.790.9170) Open Daily 7am-2pm for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Egg, benedict and omelet dishes, pancakes, waffles, specialties, burgers, salads and sandwiches. Mimosas, coffees and more! Two Sisters Kitchen (707 N. Congress St. 601-353-1180) Frequent Best of Jackson winner for fried chicken offers a buffet of your choice of veggies, a salad bar, iced tea & one of four homemade desserts. Lunch only. Mon-Friday, Sun.

Best of Jackson 2008 - 2011 Lunch: Sun. | 11am-2pm Dinner: Tues. -Sat. | 5pm-9pm


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Babalu (622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757) Fresh guacamole at the table, fish tacos, empanada, smoked pork sholders, Mexican street cornâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Jacksonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Best Mexicanâ&#x20AC;? specialties mix extremely well with their â&#x20AC;&#x153;Best of Jackson 2012â&#x20AC;? magaritas.


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Broad Street Bakery (4465 Interstate 55 N. 601-362-2900) Hot breakfast,coffee espresso drinks, fresh breads and pastries, gourmet deli sandwiches, quiches, soups, pizzas and dessert. For Heaven’s Cakes (4950 Old Canton Road 601-991-2253) Cakes and cupcakes for all occasions including weddings, parties, catered events. Beagle Bagel (4500 I-55 North, Suite 145, Highland Village 769-251-1892) Fresh bagels in tons of different styles with a variety of toppings including cream cheese, lox, eggs, cheese, meats and or as full sandwiches for lunch. Paninis, wraps and much more!

February 18

Rodney Moore and Timmy Avalon

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High Noon Café (2807 Old Canton Road in Rainbow Plaza 601-366-1513) Fresh, gourmet, tasty and healthy defines the lunch options at Jackson’s own strict vegetarian (and very-vegan-friendly) restaurant.


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Hickory Pit Barbeque (1491 Canton Mart Rd. 601-956-7079) The “Best Butts in Town” features BBQ chicken, beef and pork sandwiches along with burgers and po’boys. Haute Pig (1856 Main Street, 601-853-8538) A “very high class pig stand,” Haute Pig offers Madison diners BBQ plates, sandwiches, poboys, salads, and their famous Hershey bar pie. Lumpkins BBQ (182 Raymond Rd. Jackson 866-906-0942) Specializing in smoked barbeque, Lumpkin’s offers all your favorites for on-site family dining or for catered events, including reunions, office events, annivesaries, weddings and more.



0 • 20

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The Pizza Shack (1220 N State St. 601-352-2001) 2009 and 2010 and 2011’s winner of Best Pizza offers the perfect pizza-and-a-beer joint. Creative pizza options abound along with sandwiches, wings, salads and even BBQ. Sal & Mookie’s (565 Taylor St. 601-368-1919) Pizzas of all kinds plus pasta, eggplant parmesan and the fried ravioli. Best Kid’s Menu & Best Ice Cream in the 2011 Best of Jackson. Plus, Pi(e) Lounge in front offers great drinks and a fun atmosphere for catching up with friends.


BRAVO! (4500 Interstate 55 N., Jackson, 601-982-8111) Wood-fired pizzas, vegetarian fare, plus creative pastas, beef, and seafood specials. Awardwinning wine list, Jackson’s see-and-be-seen casual/upscale dining. Cerami’s (5417 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-919-28298) Southern-style Italian cuisine features their signature Shrimp Cerami (white wine sauce, capers artichokes) along with veal, tilapia, crawfish, chicken and pasta dishes. Now with liquor license! Fratesi’s (910 Lake Harbour, Ridgeland, 601-956-2929) “Authentic, homey, unpretentious” that’s how the regulars describe Fratesi’s, a staple in Jackson for years, offering great Italian favorites with loving care. The tiramisu is a must-have!

STEAK, SEAFOOD & FINE DINING Crawdad Hole (1150 Lakeland Drive., 601-982-9299) Serving up fresh seasonal crawfish, shrimp and crab legs the Crawdad is Jackson’s crawfish destination. You’ll also want to try their delicious gumbo while enjoying Friday night karaoke! Crab’s (6954 Old Canton Rd., Ridgeland, 601-956-5040) Crab’s Seafood Shack offers a wide variety of southern favorites such as fried catfish and boiled shrimp. Full bar complete with multiple televisions for all of your favorite sporting events. Eslava’s Grille (2481 Lakeland Drive, 601-932-4070) Danny Eslava’s namesake feature Latin-influenced dishes like ceviche in addition to pastas, steaks, salads and other signature seafood dishes. Rocky’s (1046 Warrington Road, Vicksburg 601-634-0100) Enjoy choice steaks, fresh seafood, great salads, hearty sandwiches and much more in the “polished casual” dining room. Open 24/7 in the Riverwalk Casino.

February 15 - 21, 2012



Mediterranean Fish & Grill (The Med- 6550 Old Canton Rd./601-956-0082) Serving a fabulous selection of fish, gyros, and heart-healthy vegetarian food for over 10 years. Now serving fried catfish & bone-in pan trout. Aladdin Mediterranean Grill (730 Lakeland Drive 601-366-6033) Delicious authentic dishes including lamb dishes, hummus, falafel, kababs, shwarma and much more. Consistent award winner, great for takeout or for long evenings with friends. Mezza (1896 Main St., Suite A, Madison 601-853-0876) Mediterranean cuisine and wood fired brick oven pizzas. Come experience the beautiful patio, Hookahs, and delicious food. Beer is offered and you are welcome to bring your own wine.




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Strong and Natural




elaxers contain the most potent alkali chemicals you can use on your hair, such as sodium hydroxide, guanidine hydroxide and ammonium thioglycolate. â&#x20AC;˘ Sodium hydroxide is used in household products like Drano to dissolve hair in drains. â&#x20AC;˘ Guanidine hydroxide is a mixture of calcium hydroxide (used in chemical depilatories, among other uses) and guanidine carbonate (marketed as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;no-lyeâ&#x20AC;? product and safer for hair). â&#x20AC;˘ â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ammonium thioglycolate,

known as the thio relaxer, is less dramatic than sodium hydroxide, and, in some cases, than guanidine hydroxide, but it also breaks down the bonds in hair,â&#x20AC;? authors of the website say. â&#x20AC;˘ Relaxers raise the pH of your hair so that the other ingredients of the treatment can further alter its structure. â&#x20AC;˘ The active ingredients in the majority of relaxers have a pH of approximately 13 (a neutral pH is 7; 0 is very acidic; and 14 is extremely alkaline) Dranoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;which dissolves

hair and soap scum in your drainsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; has a pH of 13. Relaxers and Drano work the same way. â&#x20AC;˘ The purpose of relaxers is to destroy peptide bonds. Those bonds give your hair strength. When the bonds are destroyed, the hair straightens because its strength is now gone â&#x20AC;˘ Relaxers also deplete hair of essential fatty acids, which can result in thinning, breakage, discoloration, dryness and brittleness. SOURCE: DEVON AUSTIN, ON ANGELFIRE.COM/JOURNAL12/ MYSISTERSLOCKS.



f you are already natural or youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re thinking about making the transition, begin by using natural hair-care products likes shampoos and conditioners, oils, moisturizers and dyes. Beware of products claiming to be â&#x20AC;&#x153;all natural.â&#x20AC;? I cannot stress it enough: Read the label. Here are a few of my favorite products and places to shop: â&#x20AC;˘ Jamaican Mango and Lime Shea Butter Conditioning Shine, $4.99 (Goldstar Beauty Supply, 2544 Robinson St., 601-353-7029) â&#x20AC;˘ RA 100% Natural African Shea Butter, $5.49 (Hair Plus Beauty Supply, 202 Clinton Blvd., Clinton, 601-9242992). I buy this product to mix with other natural oils to give my hair nourishment and shine. â&#x20AC;˘ Karishma Herbal Henna, $1.99 (Patel Brothers, 1999 Highway 80 W., 601-353-6611). If you are serious about going natural and want to start shopping for natural hair-care products, food, and vitamin and mineral supplements, try Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative (2807 Old Canton Road, 601-366-1602) or The Sesame Seed (505-D Springridge Road, Clinton, 601-924-1012).

Going natural has health benefits. I am not frying my brain with chemical hair treatments (shampoos, conditioners and hair dyes included) that may be linked to cancer. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to spend thousands of dollars each year to look like someone else. I can care for my hair naturally, on a low budget and in the comfort of my home. Since I started using more natural products, I have noticed that my skin is clearer. I have never had a problem with acne, but lately I have noticed almost flawless skin. I have headaches less often. And my hair does not shed all over the bathroom floor, because it is no longer dry and brittle from too many chemicals. If you are considering transforming from chemically treated to all-natural hair, read on for help in making a more informed decision. I made the transition to better health starting with my hair, and I urge others to do the sameâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not just to embrace your natural beauty, but also to limit the harmful substances your body comes into contact withâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for your overall good health.





ers seemed to be getting stronger and weaker at the same time; they burned my skin easier and quicker, but they did not last longer than two weeks. I see it more now than ever before: African Americans are embracing their natural â&#x20AC;&#x153;roots.â&#x20AC;? They are not ashamed of wearing their hair in kinky-twists or in Afros, and they are staying away from chemical hair colorants. I never thought I would see as many African Americans Allowing your hair to be natural, instead of using harsh, possibly carcinogenic chemicals to with natural hair living â&#x20AC;&#x153;relaxâ&#x20AC;? it, can make your hair stronger and healthier. in Mississippi. I was born and raised in the South, and for some reason, we n April 2010, I had my last chemical hair relaxer. believed in climbing onto the beauty bandwagon of â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have had it,â&#x20AC;? I thought as I decided to go natu- straightening our hairâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an unnatural process, especially ral once and for all, and I made the firm decision among African Americans. that I would never use a relaxer again in my life. I could be wrong, but I always assume that the people May 2010 was a new beginning for my hair. here who have natural hair come from other states. They are At the time, my hair was not healthyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;though when in Mississippi for college or some other reason. They come you saw it you would think it was. The chemical relax- from places where having natural hair is more acceptable.


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The crowd danced into the night at the Best of Jackson party at the King Edward Hotel.


y love for Jackson is pretty unbridled all the time, but certain things send it into overdrive. Top among those are the quintessentially Jacksonian events—the times when a diverse group of people comes together to celebrate what makes this place great, and to eat, drink and dance. Let’s face it, Jackson knows how to have a good time. And oftentimes, a good cause benefits from these functions, which is also something that makes our city great—the instinct to take care of others and do good. Such an event took place on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the inaugural Appetite for Jackson at the Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515, The garden provided a perfect setting for this new festival celebrating Jackson’s food and music. What made the event exciting was the spirit behind it. When television food personality Andrew Zimmern contacted the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau about filming an episode of a new show in Jackson, Marika Cackett of the JCVB helped his team realize what Jackson has to offer—a rich food and musical heritage, vibrant culinary community and a downtown in the midst of a renaissance. Partnering with local restaurants and corporate sponsors, a festival celebrating those things was born. In the spirit of community, proceeds benefitted the Miracle League and Craig Noone Rock It Out Memorial Scholarship in memory of the late Parlor Market chef and owner. Jackson’s support and hunger (no pun intended) for events like this never fails to impress and encourage me. The activity downtown went beyond the main event at the Art Garden. Every restaurant and bar downtown was packed that night with people who attended the festival and stayed to enjoy an evening out in the city. I was thrilled for downtown’s growth and renewal, and for the hard work and passion that went into pulling off the event. Kudos to Marika, Tom Ramsey, Elise Russell and everyone who helped orga-

nize and execute the event (which the Jackson Free Press sponsored as well.) Right on the heels of Appetite for Jackson came another of my favorite annual events: the JFP’s Best of Jackson party. It truly is a celebration of all that’s wonderful about this city—the local businesses, people and places that make it special. The party always draws a fun mix of old and young, politicians and businesspeople, and creative types, and there’s always great food, drink and a DJ. This year, the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown (aka the King Edward, 235 W. Capitol St., 601-353-5464) served as a perfect location for the 10th annual party. It was only fitting to celebrate the people who make Jackson amazing in a space that symbolizes in a concrete way that with vision, commitment and collaboration, we can make things happen. For me, highlights of this year’s Roaring ’20s-themed party included Eddie Outlaw (co-owner of William Wallace Salon in Fondren) dressed as a 1920s newsie, the Cathead Vodka speakeasy lounge and, of course, DJ Phingaprint—because a girl’s gotta dance. Luckily, spring is full of many more events that make for great Jackson days and nights. The major one for me is the Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade. It’s like my High Holy Day, and with this year’s parade being the 30th and actually on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s guaranteed to be amazing. Also, I look forward to the growing Zippity Doo Dah Parade in Fondren, the return of Downtown at Dusk and more. Coming in April is the Sante South Wine Festival benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association, which will be held at The South Warehouse (627 E. Silas Brown St., 601-968-0100) and features some new events leading up to the grand tasting. Tickets will be available at, so do check it out. It’s an amazing opportunity to get up close and personal with the actual winemakers, and whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or just starting to learn about wine, you’ll enjoy it—and have a great night in downtown.

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