June 13 - 19, 2012
June 13 - 19, 2012
1 0 N O . 40
contents ELIZABETH WAIBEL
9 Whose Rights? Is the contraceptive mandate a violation of religious rights or protection for women’s rights? COURTESY RAY NIELSEN
Cover Photo of DeSean Dyson and son, Christian Dyson, by Virginia Schreiber
Fans of old TV westerns meet up in Memphis, Tenn., to reminisce and have a good time.
23 The Haunting of … Two books offer readers ghostly tales in Mississippi and the Natchez Trace.
32 Farmer Dad Is your daddy drooling over the latest garden gadget catalog? It’s not what you think.
what’s the responsibility? Is there a minimum standard of living that people should have?” he asks, challenging his students to weigh reducing the deficit against caring for families who have lost jobs in the recession. “The economy affects (my students), because they see the job market shrinking,” he says. “We study about the Depression, and they say, ‘Hey, could this happen again?’” Next year, Dyson will turn from teaching to administration, his long-term goal. He is the new assistant principal of Carver Middle School and Raymond Freshman Academy. A native of Jackson, Dyson attended Clinton High School and has lived in the area his entire life, except for two years at Mississippi Delta Community College. He received his bachelor’s degree from Belhaven University in 2006 and his master’s in educational leadership from Mississippi College in 2011. He now lives in Jackson with his wife, Alycia, and their son, Christian, who is 3. They are also expecting a daughter, Avery. As a father, Dyson says he wants to teach his son the responsibility that will serve him well when he is an adult. Because of his Christian faith, he tries to focus on the “eternal things” that will matter a long time from now. “In 50 years, I’m not going to remember what kind of car I had or how nice my clothes are, ’cause they’re not, but I’ll remember that my son would just see me and smile, or he would laugh,” he says. “That kind of stuff stays with you.” —Elizabeth Waibel
DeSean Dyson planned on being a lawyer. Less than a year before he graduated from college, however, Hurricane Katrina struck. His TV screen filled with negative images of young black men in New Orleans. “As I saw those images, it kind of made me question, ‘Man, is this how people see me?’ And I imagined if I felt that way as a 22-yearold honors student, that a 15-year-old who saw the same thing had the same struggles,” Dyson says. He wanted to contribute a positive selfimage to young people and set their expectations for themselves higher. Dyson says a lot of young people of all races have a false image of what it’s like to be an adult—some see tough guys who get rich selling drugs, but who aren’t beneficial to society. “I think we have to rewire that thought process in young people—this isn’t what it means to be a productive citizen,” he says. After his post-Katrina revelation, Dyson, now 28, turned to education—teaching U.S. history and government and coaching football at Clinton High School. He starts his lessons on the economy with a story about another flood—a river in 1870 that overran its banks. “The president doesn’t send any help,” he tells his students. “How does that make you feel?” After their initial outrage, Dyson talks about how the government’s responsibilities have changed over the years, and how different philosophies of government play out in today’s political debates. “As times have changed,
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COURTESY THE HISTORY PRESS
4 ..............Editor’s Note 4 .................... Sorensen 6 ............................ Talk 10 .................. Business 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................. Kamikaze 12 ........................... Day 13 ................. Opinion 14 ............ Cover Story 19 .............. Diversions 22 ........................ Film 24 .................... 8 Days 26 ............. JFP Events 29 ...................... Music 31 ....... Music Listings 32 ..................... Sports 34 .............. Body/Soul 35 ................. Wellness 38 ....................... Food 41 ................ Astrology 41 .................... Puzzles 42 ... Girl About Town
Elizabeth Waibel News Editor Elizabeth Waibel grew up in Clinton. She received her journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tenn. She likes coffee and trying new cake recipes. She wrote the Jacksonian and a Talk.
Joe Atkins Joe Atkins is author of “Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press” and winner of the Mississippi Association for Justice’s 2011 Consumer Advocate Award. His blog is laborsouth.blogspot.com. He wrote an Arts feature.
Andrew Spiehler Andrew Spiehler, originally from Slidell, La., is a graduate of the University of New Orleans and Mississippi College. He spent four years in California before moving back to the South, where he now enjoys the culture and craft beer. He wrote a beer feature.
Piko Ewoodzie Editorial intern Piko Ewoodzie is an out-of-towner from a bunch of different places—New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, Ghana, West Africa—who is thoroughly enjoying his time in Jackson. He wrote Guys We Love profiles.
Sara Sacks Editorial intern Sara Sacks studies English and communications at Millsaps College. She runs for the Millsaps cross-country and track and field teams. She wrote Guys We Love profiles.
Darnell Jackson Editorial intern Darnell “Chris” Jackson is a writer, photographer, graphic designer and so much more. He is a Jackson native and Jackson State University graduate. He owns J. Carter Studios. He wrote a Guys We Love profile.
Ceili Hale Editorial intern Ceili Hale, a senior at Germantown High School, can often be found shopping, eating or scouting out bearded guys on Facebook. She wrote a Guys We Love profile.
June 13 - 19, 2012
At the “Hindsonian” at Hinds Community College, cartoonist Mike Day won top awards from the Mississippi Press Association and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in New York. He was also a cartoonist for the Hattiesburg American.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Inherit the Flame
haven’t written much over the years about the man I like to think of as my “real father.” Maybe it’s too painful. When I think of the first man I called Daddy—my stepfather Willie Hoyt Smith came later—I think mostly of pain. I think of late nights when he would come in after a night of drinking. I remember one night when he was covered with blood, thanks to a knife fight. I remember my mama trying to put him in Whitfield to get him help. I also remember my Mama crying a lot, sometimes from the pain he caused her, but as much as anything out of frustration because she didn’t know what to do and how to help him through his alcoholism and his “problems,” as she liked to put it. Sadly, even though my heart fills with love and longing when I think about him, I only knew him for about eight years, until a heart attack took him away from us. He was 50, my age now. I didn’t know the younger, balls-to-thewall version of my father, the one who drove a cab and made friends black, white and Choctaw, and the one who was Dad to my much-older brothers, who knew a different man in a different era. I missed the man who married my mother when she was only 14, giving her deep love and pain. I missed the man with such humor and passion for life that his funeral drew multitudes of people we didn’t know, whose cars trailed far behind us up the town hill in Philadelphia as we drove to the cemetery on Fork Road. Clifton “Cotton” Ladd hailed from the Dixon area of Neshoba County, not too far from the infamous fairgrounds. He was born into families with a long heritage of scrapping for themselves and little education. Daddy went to the third grade at Dixon, a country school in one of those barn-like buildings dotting the county before they all consolidated into Neshoba Central (my alma mater) in the 1960s. Unlike my mother, who never attended school, he could read and write a little bit. He was the oldest boy of a large family—his mother gave birth more than dozen times, although they didn’t all make it past childbirth. Like many of his brothers, he worked in construction some, especially later after one of my uncles started a successful construction company. When I was growing up, Daddy was officially a house painter, although I remember him home more often than not and was often with him when he had one of his early heart attacks. I was there when the big one came, holding his hand. His most legendary job, though, was as a taxi driver in Philadelphia, back when more people there actually needed cabs to get to town, since they couldn’t afford cars. He was popular, funny and reckless. He loved to play cards and take chances he shouldn’t. In fact, when I was growing up after he was long gone, I liked to brag to friends that my father was a gambler. I wasn’t lying. As a toddler, I adored him. I would
stand in his car seat with my hand around his neck, playing with his graying-dishwaterblond hair as he drove, I think, our turquoise Chevrolet around town. He would pull into a gas station at the west end, where his buddy would wink at me and give me a pack of peanuts to put in my Coke. And I loved when we came to Jackson. I was too young to understand that it was something more than a grand adventure when he’d tell my mama and our relatives that he was taking me to the store for a Coke. We’d then pull up behind some joint somewhere near the railroad track, and someone would hand him a paper bag out the back window. He’d take a swig from the bottle inside, and we’d drive through the lights of downtown—awakening my love of the grit and urgency of city living. To this day, when I hear the train whistle here, I see Daddy’s face. It’s like a ghost passes over me. My favorite Christmas item is a Santa doll he bought me at one of the shopping centers here. It was cheap, but it’s the only thing I have that I know he chose for me. As an adult, it surprised me to learn that some people think I’m a lot like him. He had a certain fire inside him, one of my brothers told me in recent years; he emitted a fierce intensity. It got him into trouble, but it also made him unique and, well, fun—at least until it wasn’t fun any longer. In my earlier years, I too had a fierceness that drove me to throw care to the wind and live on the edge, sometimes barely hanging on. I don’t regret living like Daddy for a while—I believe regret is useless—but I am glad I’m still here to tell, and write, about it. Recently, my brother talked to me about the years when my mother and father “es-
caped Mississippi” (her word choice) and went to live in Hollywood, Fla., about the time I was conceived. There, they had the chance to make more money in a factory that made aluminum chairs and to have a new and better life than they left behind in Neshoba County. He coached a baseball team, and my brothers lived it up. Daddy’s employers there saw my father’s potential: He was a smart man. He was a people person. And he was driven. They put him on a manager’s track. But Daddy’s lack of education and confidence in his abilities sabotaged him. He didn’t believe he could do what the boss there believed he could. The pressure was too much, and they ended up moving back to Mississippi, leaving behind the paradise that all of them enjoyed so much. The difference between Daddy and me, I think, is one of timing, and certainly of education, which he and my mother taught me to crave. His internal fire was very hot and burned out far too early. He didn’t have anywhere to direct that flame, the education to figure out how to redirect it, or the confidence that he could change his life and his destiny. He lived and died amid the tragic limitations of his circumstances. My daddy’s life and death is one reason I ran from Mississippi the first chance I got. But what I know now, and work and breathe for everyday, is that we can all be better than the sum of our upbringing. And we can do it right here in the state that lit our flame in the first place. Rest in peace, dear daddy. And thank you for everything you gave me. Comment at www.jfp.ms or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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