June 20 - 26, 2012
June 20 - 26, 2012
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contents VIRGINIA SCHREIBER
COURTESY WILL STERLING/STERLING PHOTOGRAPHY
6 Clinic Woes Mississippi’s only abortion clinic faces an uphill battle to stay open against laws written to shutter it. COURTESY MS MURDER MYSTERIES
Cover painting by Joshua Stewart
Enjoy a good meal and become a participant in solving the mystery with Mississippi Murder Mysteries.
30 Roundball Jumper Dan Foley is looking for a pro career boost when he starts for the Jackson Showboats this November.
33 Face the Monster
Are our entertainment ghouls, vampires and zombies precursors of change or reflections of our fears?
helpful guidance of her grandmother. She obtained her GED in 1996 and then her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Jackson State University in 2008. She now lives in Byram with her three children: Deja, 16; Dymond, 9; and Quintin, 6. Her desire to always stay busy led her to own a tax service, Legacy Tax Service, as well as Made’lyn Productions, which specializes in event planning and entertainment. “I always had this go-get-it type of spirit. … I am a big-time multitasker,” she says. “I knew I wanted to do something that was busy all the time.” As a mother of three, an owner of two businesses and the author of two plays, Tillman says balance is key in her daily life. “I am a big procrastinator. The thing is, I do not let (the procrastination) go for a long period of time,” she says, laughing. “I try to balance it all, and I make sure that I have family time.” Tillman’s second play, “It’s Time to Take Out the Trash,” premieres June 30 at Jackson’s Thalia Mara Hall. The play is the sequel to “U Got to Hurt Before U Heal.” Adding to her busy schedule, Tillman plans to take her second play on tour to Memphis, Houston and Atlanta. She is also working on finishing her first book and plans to write a third play. — Victoria Sherwood
COURTESY JOFA-ATELIER BERLIN JOHANNISTHAL PRODUCTIONS
“I have big, big, big faith,” Felicia Tillman says. The 34-year-old Jackson native believes that becoming the author of two plays was a spiritual thing for her. “I (had) never had a passion for writing at all, and one day I just felt like I should write a play,” she says. Her production company, Made’lyn Productions, produced “U Got to Hurt Before U Heal,” Tillman’s first play, in 2011. It centered on a promiscuous woman, Nikki, who comes to realize she needs to stop hurting the people she loves. Though Tillman says the first play involved many situations she had never experienced firsthand, she noticed some parallels between herself and the main character. Nikki is a woman looking for love, and Tillman says that love is what she searched for most of her life. “Everyone is looking for the same thing,” Tillman says. “Everybody’s looking for this love, this feeling. That doesn’t exist in man. And when I say that, I don’t mean a man or a woman, but mankind.” For Tillman, that love comes from her relationship with Jesus. Tillman has overcome great adversity in her climb to becoming a successful businesswoman and playwright. After dropping out of high school and becoming pregnant at 18, she persevered with the
4 ..............Editor’s Note 4 .................... Sorensen 6 ............................ Talk 10 .................. Business 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................. Kamikaze 12 ........................... Day 13 ................. Opinion 14 ............ Cover Story 19 .............. Diversions 20 ...................... Music 24 ....... Music Listings 25 ......................... Arts 26 .................... 8 Days 27 ............. JFP Events 30 ..................... Sports 32 ................ Astrology 32 .................... Puzzles 33 .............. Body/Soul 34 ....................... Food 39 ... Girl About Town
Secrets and Food
Ronni Mott Ronni Mott came to Jackson by way of D.C. in 1997. She’s an award-wining writer and the JFP’s managing editor, where she practices her hobbies of herding cats. She teaches yoga in her spare time. She wrote the cover story.
Victoria Sherwood Editorial intern Victoria Sherwood studies communications at Millsaps College. She enjoys watching soccer and one day hopes to own an orange cat. She wrote the Jacksonian.
Vergie Redmond JFP editorial intern Vergie Redmond studies Journalism at Belhaven University. She plays video games and watches anime in her spare time. She was sad when Harry Potter ended. She wrote a theater feature.
Adria Walker Adria Walker is a 10th-grader at Murrah High School and an aspiring writer. You can find her reading her favorite novel, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” or debating the greatest film saga ever, “Star Wars.” She wrote an arts piece.
Jacob Fuller Reporter Jacob Fuller is a former student at the University of Mississippi. When not reporting, he splits his time between playing music and photographing anything in sight. He covers the city for the JFP. He wrote a music feature.
Briana Robinson Deputy Editor Briana Robinson is a 2010 graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Her hobbies include photography, ballet and ballroom dancing. She is a rising junior at Millsaps College. She wrote a music story.
Jim PathFinder Ewing Jim PathFinder Ewing is an organic farmer, author and journalist. He has written five books on energy medicine and eco-spirituality. He lives in Lena with his wife, Annette, at their ShooFly Farm. He wrote Body & Soul stories.
June 20 - 26, 2012
Executive Assistant Erica Crunkilton was raised in the Missouri Ozarks. She migrated to Mississippi to attend Ole Miss and never left. She lives in Flowood with her fiancé and her two neurotic (and adorable) dogs and Starbuck, her kitten.
by Elizabeth Waibel, News Editor
Religion Without Holes
n the center of a dimly lit room in the National Archives sits a small book that Thomas Jefferson made by meticulously cutting out sentences and gluing them onto pages. It’s a Bible, but not the whole Bible. Only certain sentences were worthy, in Jefferson’s eyes, to be included in his Bible. He included nothing about miracles or the resurrection of Jesus or the Old Testament, resulting in a book of nice, familiar, vaguely religious advice. On the back of the display case is a quote from Jefferson: “We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus. … There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” In another display case, set back against the wall, are the pieces of the Bible that Jefferson didn’t want: two antique books with square holes clipped in the pages, but quite a bit of text left untouched. I thought about the Jefferson Bible again a couple of weeks after my visit to the archives, when I came across an article about Gov. Phil Bryant saying schools should have some kind of “nondenominational opening prayer” in classrooms. In The Hattiesburg American report, Bryant said he grew up with prayer in school, and it built students’ character. For thousands of years, governments have used civil religion to build certain characteristics into their citizens. What better than familiar religious beliefs to encourage unity and to endow the government with a sacred right to rule? In 312, Emperor Constantine the Great took the Christian Chi-Rho symbol as his standard and established Christendom in Europe, which also established a powerful incentive for aspiring politicos to embrace the emperor’s Christianity. In 1954, the U.S. Congress added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance as a way to differentiate “the free world from the Communist world.” (See Mississippi’s House Concurrent Resolution 7, passed earlier this year.) Communism, Congress suggested as it placed America “under God,” was not just a threat to our country but a threat to your religion, and citizens should get behind their government’s Cold War efforts with a religious fervor. In the debate over how much influence church and state should have over each other, the focus is usually on how the religious majority can use political power to oppress minorities, and people are right to remember that danger. Throughout history, people have been embarrassingly quick to use religion to bully people into line politically and to marginalize those who aren’t part of the mainstream. In Mississippi, however, those of us who are in the religious majority are quick to forget how civil religion hurts us. At first glance, having one’s religion enshrined in law seems like a way to safeguard its influential role in society, but, as one of my professors said (at my small, Southern Baptist college): When church and
state become intertwined, both church and state become corrupted. Civil religion demands a utilitarian view of God—he is worshiped only insofar as he is useful, and the pieces or pages or chapters of theology that don’t serve the state’s purpose can be discarded. Civil religion can offer a “benevolent code of morals” or a reason to get behind a war effort, but it is ill suited to act as a prophetic voice or conscience to challenge injustice or contradict popular wrongs. Religious groups tend to give up the right to speak truth to power when we become obsessed with gain-
When church and state become intertwined, both church and state become corrupted. ing political power ourselves. Reducing religion to a moral code also usually means ignoring the heart of one’s religion. As an evangelical Christian, I pray to a specific God: one who took on a human body as Jesus Christ, physically rose from the dead and continues to interact with people through his Holy Spirit. That’s not something you can put in a “nondenominational prayer”— at least not one that can accommodate an increasingly diverse population. Jews and Muslims pray to a God who is quite different from mine, and it’s vaguely insulting to think that the intricacies and uniqueness of each of our religions could or should be dumbed down to something we can all agree on. And those are just the Abrahamic religions—what about people who believe in
many gods or no god at all? Shouldn’t classrooms and the political sphere give them equal recognition as well? Even those who think the state should bow to the majority religion would do well to remember that Christianity has not always had (and will not always have) the voting clout it has now. It is both wise and good to, as Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” To be honest, I care more about protecting my religion than I do about the state. I’m more worried about a school feeding my future kids a watered-down version of religion that inoculates them against Christianity than I am about them turning into morally bankrupt juvenile delinquents if school doesn’t tell them there is a God. I’m more worried about politicians manipulating my religious beliefs to serve their political ends than I am that Christ will disappear if the governor does not tip its hat to him. I seriously doubt semi-religious “prayers” in classrooms are the only way we can teach children to be nice to one another, especially if it comes at the expense of ceding moral and religious responsibility to the state. Lately, Christians have spent too much time bogged down in arguments defending the political institution of Christendom rather than our belief in Christ. Yet another culture war over school prayer can only make it worse. So Mr. Bryant, from one evangelical to another, leave the cross and Chi Rho off your shields, and let me keep my Bible without holes in it. Elizabeth Waibel is the former news editor for the Jackson Free Press. This week, she moved to the Washington, D.C., area, where she is a freelance writer and sometime JFP Washington correspondent.
at the craft center
Celebrate our country’s freedom at the Mississippi Craft Center on WEDNESDAY, JULY 4 from 10am4pm where the whole family can enjoy a picnic, music by Chris Gill, demonstrations by our craftsmen, and much more! Hamburgers and hotdogs will be available for purchase. Admission is free to the public. / ,ÊUÊxäÊ, Ê, ]Ê, w w w. m s c r a f t s . o r g
news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, June 14 PETA members protest Barnum and Bailey Circusâ€™ treatment of animals at the corner of Congress and Capitol streets in downtown Jackson. â€Ś The Pentagon announces that they will hold their first ever event celebrating Gay Pride month, one year after the military first recognized gay and lesbian troops. Friday, June 15 Madison officially opens the Parkway Bridge, linking Mississippi 463 and U.S. Highway 51, after nearly two years of construction. â€Ś The Obama Administration enacts a policy change allowing undocumented immigrants that came to the United States as children to remain in the United States. Saturday, June 16 The Rankin County School Board announces a decision to work with Pearl schools over their proposal to extent district zones. â€Ś A Colorado fire has destroyed 55,000 acres of land, making it the worst fire Colorado has ever seen. Sunday, June 17 Rodney King, whose videotaped beating at the hands of Los Angeles police in 1992 sparked riots that left 55 people dead, dies at age 47.
June 20 - 26, 2012
Monday, June 18 Madison law-enforcement officers discover 167 marijuana plants in an indoor growing operation at a home on Brentwood Drive. â€Ś Hinds County supervisors vote to close the Raymond Detention Center to build a new jail.
Tuesday, June 19 Madison County announces that Mike Espy, former congressman and U.S. secretary of agriculture, will replace attorney Eric Hamer as attorney for the countyâ€™s board of supervisors. ... Music-subscription company Spotify releases free music apps for the iPhone and iPad, offering free, adsupported content to entice subscribers to purchase a subscription. Get daily news updates at jfpdaily.com
Mississippiâ€™s rape shield law is supposed to prevent rapists from using the victimâ€™s past sexual history to harm their credibility in court.
Abortion Clinic Stays Open, For Now
by Elizabeth Waibel
law that some Mississippi lawmak- time to comply,â€? she said. If the clinic can- if local hospitals will give their doctors the ers hope will close the stateâ€™s only not comply with the law in August, Her- required admitting privileges, so she is not abortion clinic goes into effect ring said the clinicâ€™s owners will likely file sure what their next move will be. in less than two weeks, but that a lawsuit against the state to block the lawâ€™s â€œWe have not heard back from the hosdoesnâ€™t mean the clinic pitals,â€? she said. â€œWe are still will close its doors July 1. working on thatâ€”just knee The law, which deep in that.â€? passed this year as House Michelle Movahed, Bill 1390, requires docstaff attorney at the Center tors at abortion facilities for Reproductive Rights, said to get staff and admititâ€™s too early to speculate on ting privileges at a local what would happen if the hospital. Terri Herring, doctors are unable to get adnational director of the mitting privileges. Madison-based Pro Life â€œItâ€™s hard to get there America Network, said right now,â€? she said. â€œ... The regardless of whether the clinic has been working diliclinicâ€™s doctors can get the gently to get privileges for the required privileges, it will doctors, even though theyâ€™re take a while for the state not legally obligated to do The fate of the Jackson Womenâ€™s Health Organization, Mississippiâ€™s only to determine if the clinic that, yet (because the law has abortion clinic, is up in the air. But it probably will not close July 7. is in compliance with the not gone into effect). â€œ new law. The center has partâ€œThe Department of nered with the Jackson clinic Health will not come out and close down implementation, which could tie things up on legal matters for several years, Movahed the clinic on July 1,â€? she said. The depart- in court for a while. said. The center also represents advocates ment is scheduled to conduct its yearly inWhen the law passed, Diane Derzis, for abortion rights in other cases around spection of the clinic in early August, Her- who owns the Jackson Womenâ€™s Health the country. Movahed said Mississippi lawring said, so it will probably evaluate the Organization, said she was willing to go to makersâ€™ tactics are nothing new, but their doctorsâ€™ hospital privileges then. court to keep the clinic open. Betty Thomp- forthright approach is. â€œAt that time, I think, even then if (fa- son, spokeswoman for the clinic, said last cilities are) not in compliance, theyâ€™re given week that they are still waiting to find out CLINIC, see page 7 VIRGINIA SCHREIBER
Wednesday, June 13 Leflore County authorities re-arrest inmate Demondrick Calhoun, who was serving five years for forgery, after he was mistakenly released from Hinds County Detention Center. â€Ś George Zimmermanâ€™s wife, Shellie, is charged with perjury after allegedly lying to the court about the coupleâ€™s personal finances.
Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber thinks neighborhood associations can run like minicompanies. p9
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BY THE NUMBERS
othing gets a feminist research wonk fired up quicker than statistics. For this weekâ€™s cover story, Managing Editor Ronni Mott ran up against the biggest problems in reporting numbers about rape: most rape and sexual assault victims never report their attacks. Here are some estimates compiled by DeBrynda Davey, professor of nursing at the University of Mississippi School of Nursing, Ken Lanning a retired FBI supervising agent and consultant, and Elise J. Turner, a certified sexual-assault nurse examiner. In the United States: â€˘ 85 percent of rape victims never report â€˘ 10 percent of reported rapes have charges filed â€˘ 40 percent of those charged are convicted
of every 1,000 rapes:
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As a result, â€˘ 150 victims report â€˘ Police and prosecutors charge 15 rapists â€˘
6 rapists serve time
news, culture & irreverence
CLINIC, from page 6
â€œItâ€™s a really common strategy for antichoice legislators to try and regulate the (provision) of abortion out of existence,â€? she said. â€œI think whatâ€™s unique about Mississippi is that prominent elected officials have been openly and unabashedly saying their intent is to close the clinic.â€? Herring, who got HB 1390 introduced and lobbied for its success, said doctors at ambulatory surgical facilities commonly have admitting privileges, and the abortion clinic should have them as well. â€œThey may not close July 1, but theyâ€™re definitely going to have to come up to the
medical standards that are a part of our community in order to stay open. And I donâ€™t know that they canâ€™t do that,â€? Herring told the Jackson Free Press. â€œâ€Ś We want them to be treated the same way as every other facility, but we donâ€™t want them to have special privileges like (not) having someone on staff at a hospital.â€? Herring, a longtime anti-abortion lobbyist, said she always anticipates a lawsuit, but she thinks there is a good chance that the courts will uphold HB 1390. â€œWe have a long history of challenges, but we also have a long history of victories in the courts,â€? she said. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
JPS Cutting Costs to Pay Debt by Jacob Fuller
COURTESY SHAROLYN MILLER
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Cover $5 | 18+
by R.L. Nave
Stern v. Killen: 40 Acres and a Duel
June 20 - 26, 2012
hen James Stern arrived at Mis- doesn’t have morals,” Stern would never be a Los Angeles-based studio that actress Debbie sissippi State Penitentiary’s medi- able to understand a righteous man such as Allen owns with her husband Norm Nixon. cal Unit 31, fellow black inmates himself, Killen said. Allen did not return calls for comment. debriefed him on one of the unit’s Over the next four years, Stern says Killen “The only reason why I have what I have infamous residents: Edgar Ray Killen. began confiding in him. Most strikingly, Stern from Edgar Ray Killen is because I did someHaving grown up in Watts, Calif., Stern said Killen admitted to killing 32 individuals, thing that no one else in the prison was willing was not even vaguely familiar with Killen, a and he named people who are still alive who to do: I put up with him,” Stern said when preacher and Klansman finally in asked why an avowed racist would prison for helping to mastermind the confess his crimes to a black man. murders of three voting-rights activStern acknowledges that his tale is ists in the summer of 1964 in Nehard to believe, but says that he posshoba County. sesses letters and other supporting docBecause of his lack of emotional uments written in Killen’s handwritattachment to Mississippi’s tortured ing—that handwriting expert Curt racial past, Stern didn’t have a probBaggett of Richardson, Texas, verifies is lem living in such close proximity to Killen’s—that validate his claims. Killen. The Klansman’s reaction to Robert Ratliff, Killen’s attorney, said Stern was more complex. Edgar Ray and Betty Jo flatly deny giv“Congratulations on fighting ing Stern any rights. my enemy,” Killen told Stern at one “Whatever document he has that point early on in their relationship, purports to give him the authority to Stern said. transfer Mr. Killen’s property to his Killen was referring to Missisown use is nothing Mr. Killen ever sippi Attorney General Jim Hood, agreed to,” Ratliff said in a phone interwho in 2005 had secured a convicview. “We will vigorously defend Mr. tion against Killen on three counts of Killen and his property rights as well as manslaughter for his role in planning any intellectual property rights of (his) the murders of James Chaney, Anand Mrs. Killen.” drew Goodman and Michael SchwStern accuses Ratliff of “sour grapes.” erner four decades earlier. As he tells it, Killen owes a large sum Hood had also extradited Stern in legal fees that Ratliff was hoping to from California on wire-fraud chargrecoup by selling the rights to Killen’s es. As Stern told the story on a visit to story himself. “When Edgar signed the Jackson Free Press offices shortly them over to me, that pissed (Ratliff) A Baptist preacher, James Stern says he became such after his parole in November 2011, the hell off,” Stern said. Furthermore, good friends with Klansman Edgar Ray Killen that Killen Stern was the chief executive officer of Stern brandished letters purportedly gave Stern control of the rights to his life story and land a Los Angeles-based firm that handled from Killen instructing Stern to fire in Neshoba County.This week, Stern sued Killen for automated clearinghouse (ACH) and Ratliff because the attorney is “just trydefamation, libel and slander. electronic funds transfers (EFTs) for ing to make money” off Killen. customers, including 18,000 people On June 18, Stern filed a lawsuit in in Mississippi. were also involved in the 1964 slayings. Hinds County Circuit Court against Ratliff According to Stern, even though four of Because criminals can’t legally profit from and the Killens for libel, slander, and defamahis underlings cooked up the scheme to steal their misdeeds, Killen gave Stern the intel- tion of character. Stern maintains that Ratliff cash from clients, Hood he’d nabbed a “big lectual-property rights to his story, Stern said. is tarnishing his reputation for suggesting that fish.” In addition to heading up the financial Even more remarkably, Stern said Killen also Stern might have taken advantage of Killen. services firm, Stern says the fact that he bro- granted him power-of-attorney over his estate, Ratliff said he hasn’t been served, but said he kered a truce between L.A.’s Bloods and Crips including a 40-acre plot in Neshoba County would defend against Stern’s charges with the gangs made him a more desirable and high- on which Killen claims to have committed the same vigor he plans to defend Killen’s rights. profile target. aforementioned 32 murders. “When you come out of jail with a conStern pleaded guilty to five counts of wire At a June 14 press conference at the viction on you, you have nothing better to do fraud in 2007, which carried a sentence of 25 Jackson Hilton, Stern produced a copy of a than protect your good name,” Stern said. years (15 suspended and 10 to serve); plead- deed Stern his is power-of-attorney rights to “As a black man, you can’t allow people to ing not guilty would have come with a 35-year transfer the Killen land to Mississippi Racial just attack your name.” sentence if convicted, Stern said. Reconciliation, a not-for-profit organization Since coming to Mississippi as a prisoner, A minister, Stern said his Christian faith Stern founded in March of this year. Stern Stern has filed numerous suits. Among those did not permit him to hate Killen. It also plans to dedicate one acre to a memorial for claims include one that second-hand smoke compelled him to act when African American the so-called “Mississippi Burning” victims of exposure injured his eye that is sensitive to prisoners spit and put feces in Killen’s food. Neshoba County. formaldehyde found in cigarettes; one that Stern offered Killen his untainted food and Stern also announced book and movie Hood and Hinds County Circuit Clerk Bartook on the responsibility of rolling the ailing deals. John Brubaker, a Connecticut-based bara Dunn committed perjury in his criminal octogenarian’s wheelchair outside so he could writer, will co-author a book about the life case; and another that Dunn refused to proget some sun, he said. of Betty Jo Killen with whom Stern claims to vide him with documents that might prove his Despite Stern’s expression of Christian have recorded several conversations. “These innocence. compassion, Killen never ceased pep- could be some of the most famous tapes since Stern also alleged that unsanitary condipering his speech with the word n*gger. “You Nixon’s Watergate when they are released to the tions in the prison barbershop exposed him to have what’s known as a n*gger brain,” Stern public,” Brubaker said. Stern said he’s working HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases for said Killen would say. And because a “n*gger out a movie deal with Red Bird Productions, which he sought $31 million in damages.
Stern made similar claims in his home state. In a March 2002 lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections, Stern asked the federal courts to require the prisons to use sterilized hair-cutting instruments. A March 2002 Los Angeles Times article, reported: “Stern said that while serving time in a state facility in Delano for passing bad checks, he observed inmates with bleeding scalps after getting haircuts with unsterilized instruments. “Stern said he was placed in solitary confinement for six months for refusing a haircut. He finally submitted to getting haircuts and said that, while he did not contract either disease, he did come down with a skin condition.” His barbershop crusade didn’t stop there. Journalist Lawrence Kootnifoff goes into detail in a 2002 Los Angeles Daily Journal article about what he called Stern’s “eccentric past,” including his bizarre $61 million lawsuit against Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for criticizing the film “Barbershop.” According to Kootnikoff, Stern headed a group called the National Association for Cosmetologist, Inc. at the time, and he believed that the civil-rights leaders’ criticism of the film would negatively impact African American barbershops. With the help of a local branch of the NAACP, Stern also sued California banks for using a credit-verification system that he said was tantamount to racial profiling. The practice, he argued, prevented African Americans from establishing bank accounts. Stern referred questions about his lawsuits to Greenville attorney Hiram Eastland Jr. Eastland said he’s trying to streamline Stern’s claims and is working with Hood’s office to resolve two of them. Eastland warned against reading too deeply into Stern’s history of litigiousness, saying that it’s common for inmates, who lack legal training, to file a series of lawsuits just to get any relief they can. “I wouldn’t have taken his case if I didn’t think he needed a lawyer,” Eastland said. Kootnikoff’s Daily Journal piece provides more insight into Stern’s early brushes with the law. In 1989, Stern was convicted of scheming to take out phony student loans when he worked as a pastor-in-training at a L.A.-area Baptist church. In 1990, he went to prison for two years for writing a bad check, and in 1995 got 16 months for forgery. Stern went to prison two more times—in 1996 and 1998—for similar charges, Kootnikoff wrote. At the time, Stern chalked the stumbles up to being a bad businessman. Asked if he thought he was better at managing finances today, he responded: “Some things we evolve from and we grow from and some things we don’t. Are you the same man you were 20 years ago?” Vergie Redmond contributed reporting t this story by covering James Stern’s June 14 news conference. Comment at www.jfp.ms or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Jacob Fuller
Yarber: Focusing on Neighborhoods
Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber, a former school principal, said better neighborhoods lead to better schools and a better city.
mine had contemplated running when we knew that Marshand (Crisler) was running for mayor. (My friend) had moved to Brookwood, which is (located on) Jackson Avenue. It (became part of) Byram at the time, after the annexation went through that summer (2009). Kind of by default, because I was going to help run his campaign, he actually ended up helping run my campaign. I just really believed that I could provide a service outside of the scope of simply legislating. The platform that we ran off of was kind of a platform that could be perceived as being naive. We kind of had a real hippy ideology about changing the city one street, one house, one neighborhood at a time. What is your No. 1 priority, right now, on the council? Again, I think I have to categorize those priorities. There are legislative priorities, which, of course, will affect the other
priorities. When I come and sit in that chair, I think I have a responsibility to provide really good government. Good government is clean legislation, enforceable legislation. It is being sure the legislation is systemic, so that it affects something else. (We need to make sure) we are not creating policies that are in isolation, that are only created to deal with whatever the hot topic or the hot-button issue is. On the other side of that, my passion is be sure that we are invigorating neighborhoods; that we are creating the kinds of neighborhoods that are stable. I think neighborhood stabilization has to happen in my ward. It is happening. It’s going on. We are seeing a trend where crime in Precinct 1, where all of my ward is located, has been constantly on the decline. We are seeing trends where (residency) is not as transient, and that creates better schools. So, we create better neighborhoods, we get better schools, and it attracts the kind of people who bring the kind of values that we
What, specifically, can you do on the city council to help invigorate those neighborhoods? First of all, we have to start helping neighborhood associations organize better. They have to be organized to the degree that they run like mini-companies. When they run that way, then as a council, we can start appropriating funding that will assist in the kinds of efforts that they may be pushing. We do a lot with the CDBG, the Community Development Block Grants. If we’re going to have Community Development Block Grants, we can’t give it to folks outside the community and ask them to come inside the community to create a community. We’ve got to get it to a group of people who are in the community, who understand they can do their own needs assessments, because they have the need. They produce those needs assessments, then they can create the kind of fabric, or plan, that will drive making (the community) better. So we have to get funding. We have to get (citizens) educated, and we have to get them organized—or organized, educated and funded. I think at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to drive Ward 6. Ward 6 is unique, because over 95 percent of it is house tops. It’s residential. So, I can’t get overly excited talking about what is the economic idea for Ward 6, when folks don’t come to Ward 6 to work. They come to Ward 6 to go to sleep, to relax. They are leaving work to come to a community that supports a happy lifestyle. You can’t even talk to folks about coming and moving their businesses along Terry Road or along Raymond Road until we have neighborhoods that will attract those kinds of things. Comment and read more of this interview at jfp.ms. Write email@example.com.
Why did you run for city council? I attended a debate between (former council president) Marshand Crisler and one of his opponents when he ran in 2005. I remember sitting in there, thinking to myself, ‘I think I could serve in this capacity.’ I just remember thinking that, listening to the job description and the kinds of things that were happening. As time went on, it was getting closer to 2009 for the next election cycle. A friend of
all appreciate. Those values bring the kind of tax dollars that we want to see as well.
ony Yarber, 34, said his career in education chose him. He was a biology major, planning to go to medical school, at Southern Miss when his aunt asked if he considered teaching. Yarber hadn’t, but he began to think he would enjoy teaching high school and coaching. Yarber decided to talk to an education adviser. When he accidentally met with an adviser specializing in elementary education, he said she was elated that he was in her office. “I walked out (of her office),” Yarber said. “I’m looking at the paper, and I said, ‘This is damn elementary ed. I changed my major to elementary ed.’ Then it dawned on me. That’s why she was so excited, because there were no guys, specifically black men, in elementary education.” He went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000, and received a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from Jackson State University in 2004. He was the principal at Marshall Elementary in south Jackson when he decided to run for the Ward 6 City Council seat in 2009. The youngest member of the Jackson City Council, Yarber now serves as its vice president and chairman of the planning committee. The JFP interviewed Yarber June 14 in his office in City Hall.
by Aaron Cooper and Jacob Fuller
Berry’s Produce; No Beer in Jackson County
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For info on the Berry’s Produce, contact Brenda Berry at 601-850-7298.
The board was so ready to deny the exception, they forgot to allow the supporters a chance to state their case at the public hearing, Blacksmith said. The board voted against the approval 5-0, but retracted their vote after Crooked Letter Brewing Company supporters said they deserved a turn to speak. After supporters spoke, the board voted again, with a 4-1 outcome. The law requires the county to notify anyone who lives within 500 Mack and Brenda Berry prepare fresh produce for customers feet of the proposed site at Berry’s Produce on State Street in the Fondren district. of any possible industrial building in an agricultural Jackson County Rejects Brewery area. Blacksmith said Younghouse lives well A Jackson County couple had plans over 600 feet from where they want to build to build the state’s second brewery until the the brewery. county board of supervisors denied their apBlacksmith said the brewery is a $500,000 plication for a zoning exception Monday, project. Paul said the brewery would create June 18. two jobs instantly and a minimum of two jobs The local planning commission unani- per year over the first five years of operation. It mously approved Paul and Wanda Black- could create up to 15 jobs by year five. smith’s plans in April to create Crooked Letter The economic impact of the brewery Brewing Company on their 15-acre property could stretch far beyond jobs in the brewery. in an agricultural zone in Vancleave. Blacksmith estimated the company would pay However, one neighbor, Lisa Young- about $400,000 in taxes to the state in the first house, turned in a written appeal to the board five years, and another $210,000 to the federal of supervisors to block the approval. government. He said that doesn’t include retail When the Blacksmiths went to a pub- sales and employee wages. lic hearing June 18 before the board of suThe brewery already has distribution pervisors, Paul Blacksmith said he expected deals with Rex Distribution of Gulfport, a quick, easy, approval. Their plans seemed Southern Eagle of New Orleans, La., Mockler to crumble in front of them, though, as the Beverage Co. of Baton Rouge, La. and Chamboard voted 4-1 against awarding them the pagne Beverage Co. of Covington, La. special exception they need to build the busiBlacksmith said he will talk to his lawness on their property. yer to figure out their next step. They could “We went in (to the public hearing June take their case to Circuit Court if they want to 18) expecting for it to be a pretty simple pro- build Crooked Letter Brewery on their land, cess of, ‘It was approved by the planning com- as planned. Otherwise, they will start looking mission. Let’s just move forward,’” Blacksmith for another location. said. “It wasn’t. We were extremely shocked. Comment at www.jfp.ms. Send business We are very heartbroken.” news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
he 1940s-and-’50s-style hand-painted boards that dress the outer walls of the new produce market, at 3139 N. State St., depict bright tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. Located in a former gas station, the earmark of the art at Berry’s Produce is the blown-up Wyatt Waters watercolor portrait of owner Doris Berry working in her stand at the old Farmer’s Market in Jackson. For years, Berry has been waking up at 4:30 every morning to travel to Jackson from Simpson County and sell produce at her stand with her sons Mack, Mike and John. The boys are all grown up now, and thanks to Doris, they are all educated, too. “My mother sent all of her children to college (by) working her stand. (She) has helped all of her grandchildren make it to college, as well,” Mack Berry said. Without any doubt, the whole family loves the area, loves each other and loves, as well as knows, the produce they sell, Berry said. Brenda Berry, wife of John Berry, works at the produce market and greets customers with a sweet, smiling face while bagging beans and putting peaches in crates. She said the family’s love helped push them to move to Fondren. “We moved to this new location because we feel that pretty soon, someone is going to buy the old farmers market,” Brenda Berry said. “Working with fruit and vegetables and dealing with people has been in our lives for decades. Produce is our life.” The family is working on renovations to the building. When the internal renovations are finished, they plan to house everything from Amish dairy products to handmade artisan crafts. “We do it because we love doing it,” Mack Berry said, dripping with sweat and wiping the crushed strawberries and dirt from his pants leg when the JFP visited him June 19. Berry’s Produce sells fruit and vegetables from around the country—everything from plums and peaches to sweet potatoes and okra. The store is open Monday through Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
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to the JFP Interns of the Week June 11 - 15, 2012
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Editorâ€™s Kickbutt Award:
Internsâ€™ Choice Award:
Watch for the new intern blog at www.jfp.ms!
For details call 601-362-6121 x11
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6/14/12 1:38 PM
jfp op/ed Believe Her
opining, grousing & pontificating
ords count. One thing has become clear in reading Managing Editor Ronni Mott’s cover story about sexual assault and rape this week: Too often, we objectify other people. That, in turn, leads us to treat each other not as people, but as assets and commodities. As we’ve watched the so-called War on Women escalate with ever-tighter restrictions on the rights women have over their own bodies, it’s easy to see how all the pieces fit together. Men (and women) seeing their spouses as their possessions is one of the reasons behind domestic violence. That point of view is the basis of our laws defining sexual assault and rape. In Mississippi, like most states, “force” is an element of the rape crime, and a victim’s history of sexual consent can come into play in the courtroom, turning a rape trial into a victim’s nightmare. Rape is not an easy subject to research or write about. Victims don’t want to talk about it. And who can blame them? Our Judeo-Christian moral codes have put such an exorbitant amount of blame and guilt on the sex act—particularly outside of a sanctified marriage bed—that victims will often blame themselves for their attack. But it’s worse than that: Because of the psycho-social mess that we’ve made of this most natural human act, police, prosecutors, judges and juries too often blame the victims, too. Read the testimonials on websites such as Start by Believing (startbybelieving.org) and the Voices and Faces Project (voicesandfaces.org). The stories are heartrending, but everywhere, people are organizing to stand up against the horrors and injustices of rape and sexual assault. Make no mistake: Victims have good reason not to speak up, but it’s up to each of us to speak up for the voiceless. The next time you hear someone pontificate about a domestic violence or rape victim by asking questions such as, “why did she stay?” or making uninformed statements such as “I’ll bet she was asking for it,” it’s the perfect time to educate the uneducated. They’re asking the wrong questions. Instead, ask “why does he beat her?” or “what makes flirting or the cut of a woman’s dress an invitation for a rapist?” Or, “why can’t s/he take no for an answer?” It’s pretty simple, really. We have to stop blaming the victims of crimes that have nothing to do with love or sex. Domestic violence is about power and control, and rape is the ultimate expression of power and control over another human being. Human beings aren’t objects or chattel to be possessed, bought or sold. And people who have consensual, loving sexual relations aren’t dirty or shameful, ever. Any person, any time, has the right to say no—it’s incumbent on all of us not only to respect that right, but also to believe the victim when she (or he) says someone violated those rights. One way to make your voice heard is by participating in the eighth annual JFP Chick Ball. Find 10 easy ways to get involved at jfpchickball.com.
Slave of Minimum Wage
June 20 - 26, 2012
iss Doodle Mae: “The Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store ‘Black Music Month and Juneteenth Celebration Sale’ was a huge success. Congressman Smokey ‘Robinson’ McBride and his singing group, the ‘Deltonetics,’ entertained customers and gave them a wonderful black-music history lesson. ‘Cool Daddy’ McBride shared fascinating stories about the emancipation of slaves and the ‘Juneteenth’ holiday. In the arts and crafts section of the store, Chief Crazy Brotha hosted a screening of the movie ‘Roots’ and read Margaret Walker Alexander’s critically acclaimed poem titled ‘For My People.’ And Brother Hustle, part-time refreshment vendor, served customers icecold glasses of strawberry soda-pop, a popular Juneteenth beverage. “Customers, get ready for a special 4th of July celebration at Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store. Jogo wants to call this upcoming event ‘What to the Slave of the Minimum Wage is the 4th of July?’ sale. Frederick Douglass’ famous speech titled ‘What to the Slave is the 4th of July?’ was Jojo’s inspiration. Douglass delivered this speech to the Ladies of the Rochester AntiSlavery Sewing Society on July 5, 1852. His speech criticized the hypocrisy of the United States and the Christian church. “Chief Crazy Brotha will premiere a special re-enactment of the Frederick Douglass 4th of July speech in aisle 7 and 1/2. Scooby ‘Angry Black Man’ Rastus will play the role of Frederick Douglass, the great American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. “Come join us at Jojo’s during his 4th of July sale for food, fun, enter12 tainment, education and critical thinking activities.”
Fashion Police in Politics
ets just get to the bottom line. The “saggy pants” debate is perhaps the most ridiculous, over-talked issue of modern times. It’s downright stupid. And might I add ... stupid. Recently, local officials have dredged up the topic and even suggested putting laws on the books to prevent it. Nationally, many municipalities have instituted laws targeting those who sport sagging jeans. Some folks have even been jailed for it. For doing what Autauga County Alabama (are you surprised?) Circuit judge John Bush described as “showing your butt in court,” 20-year-old LaMarcus Ramsey sat in jail for three days in April on a contempt of court charge. Closer to home, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors is considering a proposal by Supervisor Kenneth Stokes to impose a fine on those considered to be showing too much of their undergarments. And apparently both Robert Graham and Peggy Calhoun agree. But a lot of folks will probably agree with me when I call this the most egregious misuse of government and taxpayer time in known history. Look, I’m a parent. I’m also an artist. I constantly tell my boys to get a belt and “pull their britches up.” I also catch myself slipping at times, because even I have let my pants sag. But what we don’t need is for public officials trying
to dictate fashion. We may not like it. I hate seeing the crack of someone’s undercarriage as much as the next guy. But just like most fashion “trends,” sagging jeans will eventually fade away just like tight jeans all but disappeared after the ’80s, thank God. Like most things that grown-ups try to force on kids, this is another attempt to put a surface, superficial solution on a deeply rooted problem. Pundits always like to find easy answers to crime, gangs, drugs or dropouts. It’s much easier than actually talking to young people and getting their side of the story, whether that’s about hip-hop, earrings or sagging pants. Their solution? Let’s fine them; let’s lock them up. Because if these kids start pulling their pants up, it will surely curb the urge to steal or smoke weed, right? Inevitably, they ignore poor parenting or the failure of horrible politicians (who, by the way, spend taxpayer time and money talking about sagging pants). The premise that we can fix a generation by making them pull their pants up is laughable. It’s not even a start, geniuses. It’s nothing more than what a lot of politicians get away with in this town: giving the appearance that they’re actually working. And that’s the truth ... shonuff.
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CORRECTION: (Vol. 10, Issue 40) • In “Natalie’s Notes,” the author incorrectly identified the musical artist playing with Lost in the Trees on June 21. It is the Brooklyn, N.Y.based rock band Daytona, not a rap group by the same group. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for the error.
EDITORIAL Managing Editor Ronni Mott Reporters Jacob Fuller, R.L. Nave Features Editor Kathleen Morrison Mitchell Events Editor Latasha Willis Deputy Editor Briana Robinson Copy Editor Dustin Cardon Contributing Editor Valerie Wells Music Listings Editor Natalie Long Fashion Stylist Meredith Sullivan Writers Torsheta Bowen, Quita Bride, Marika Cackett, Richard Coupe,Tam Curley, Scott Dennis, Jim Pathfinder Ewing, Bryan Flynn, Diandra Hosey, Pamela Hosey, Robyn Jackson, Garrad Lee, Genevieve Legacy, Amanda Michaud, Jessica Mizell, Anita Modak-Truran, Larry Morrisey, Robin O’Bryant, Eddie Outlaw, Casey Purvis, Debbie Raddin, Julie Skipper, Kelly Bryan Smith Editorial Interns Elyane Alexander, Aaron Cooper, Piko Ewoodzie, Ceili Hale, Lindsay Hayes, Dylan Irby, Christianna Jackson, Darnell Jackson, Allie Jordan, Vergie Redmond, Sara Sacks, Victoria Sherwood, Ben-Cuda Stowers,Whitney Menogan, Adria Walker Consulting Editor JoAnne Prichard Morris
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P.O. Box 5067, Jackson, Miss., 39296 Editorial (601) 362-6121 Sales (601) 362-6121 Fax (601) 510-9019 Daily updates at jacksonfreepress.com The Jackson Free Press is the city’s award-winning, locally owned newsweekly, with 17,000 copies distributed in and around the Jackson metropolitan area every Wednesday. The Jackson Free Press is free for pick-up by readers; one copy per person, please. Firstclass subscriptions are available for $100 per year for postage and handling. The Jackson Free Press welcomes thoughtful opinions. The views expressed in this newspaper are not necessarily those of the publisher or management of Jackson Free Press Inc. © Copyright 2012 Jackson Free Press Inc. All Rights Reserved
Turning Back the Clock
. K. Morrison will turn over in his grave on July 1. A little-known part-time investigator, slight in build, who looked older than his 68 years, Morrison was a private citizen who believed Mississippi desperately needed a law to protect people who get injured on the job. He was the chief warrior for the last 10 years of a 26-year struggle, and he shed tears when Mississippi became the last state in the nation to adopt a workers’ compensation law in April 1948. “Now when I go to bed at night,” he told Mississippi columnist Bill Minor after the bill’s passage, “I have the comforting feeling that I have done a good duty to somebody who will lose a leg or an arm on the job.” The clock turns back July 1, however, when the state’s newly revised workers’ compensation law goes into effect, putting the burden on workers to prove injuries are job-related and that they weren’t drinking or taking drugs, to provide medical evidence within a strict deadline and show they had no pre-existing condition. The new law tells corporations that Mississippi “is the most job-friendly environment in America,” crowed Gov. Phil Bryant during a May press conference. Mississippi Manufacturers Association President and CEO Jay Moon proclaimed that the new law actually promotes “the safety of the individual,” pondering no doubt the Cheshire cat grins on the faces of his MMA membership. J.K. Morrison would not agree. Neither would the “four horsemen,” the World War II veterans in the House who, as Minor wrote in an April 11, 1948, column, fought hardest for injured workers. Two became the stuff of legend in Mississippi politics: future Gov. William Winter and famed “Whiskey Speech” author N.S. “Soggy” Sweat. In a word, the new law “is terrible,” says Jackson labor attorney Roger K. Doolittle, who commissioned a study two years ago that showed a distinct bias on the part of the state’s Republican-dominated Workers’ Compensation Commission in favor of employers in worker injury claims. “This law is going to create an atmosphere that will be the most litigious in the history of the workers’ compensation act. … The intent is to deprive workers of access to the courts … a deprivation of due process,” it found. Doolittle says he and other attorneys may seek an injunction that would prevent the law’s enforcement until its constitutionality is determined. Mississippi AFL-CIO President Robert Shaffer agrees that “the thing is horrible” but fears an injunction may be premature given Mississippi’s pro-corporate judiciary. He prefers to wait until after this year’s elections to see if a more worker-friendly state Supreme Court emerges. Waiting for a worker-friendly court in Mississippi, however, may be like “Waiting
for Godot.” The fellow just may never show up, particularly if the deep-pocketed U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Legislative Exchange Council and billionaire right-wingers Charles and David Koch do show up, as they’ve done before. The irony is that the new law emerged out of a debate over the pro-employer bias of the current Workers’ Compensation Commission, led by former Gov. Haley Barbour’s hand-picked man, Liles Williams, for the past seven years. Doolittle’s study prompted the bipartisan Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review to conduct a months-long review of the commission. Its January 2012 findings described a commission that rejected administrative law judge’s rulings without stating “clear, principled legal grounds,” and one that acted in a manner that delayed the resolution of cases by an average of nearly two months. With the Republican takeover of the state House in the November elections and continued Republican control in the Senate and governor’s mansion, the issue turned from the commission’s performance to the law itself. Under intense lobbying from the MMA and Mississippi Association of Self Insurers, conservative legislators saw an opportunity and took it. Not without a battle, however. The state AFL-CIO set up phone banks and pleaded unsuccessfully with House Insurance Chairman Gary Chism, R-Columbus, an insurance agent, for public hearings. After the House flipped on its earlier rejection of changes to the law, a fight actually broke out between Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello, and Rep. Bennett Malone, D-Carthage. Malone was one of three Democrats who switched their votes. Despite claims that the changes establish a needed balance, the original purpose of workers’ compensation law was to give workers the benefit of the doubt in injury cases in exchange for their forgoing further legal action. July is historically the month with the most worker injuries. Statistics are hard to find in Mississippi but nationwide, at least 13,000 job-related deaths take place every year, and many injuries may go unreported. Eighty Mississippians died as a result of onthe-job injuries in 2008. J.K. Morrison fought for 10 hard years on behalf of those workers. Was his work in vain? A veteran journalist who teaches at the University of Mississippi, 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 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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ENDING THE SILENCE: Bringing Rape and Sexual Assault out of Shame’s Closet by Ronni Mott
June 20 - 26, 2012
ity—she had a pending assault case against her—followed the case to the city prosecutor’s office, where they dropped her sexual-assault charge. Cleveland police had arrested Sowell, but released him without charges two days later. Wade wasn’t a credible witness, the detective indicated to prosecutors. A year after her attack, Wade found out who Sowell was: a serial rapist and murderer. She was lucky to be alive, one of a handful of women who had escaped him. Sexual assaults and rape by strangers, though, are a small fraction of all rapes in America—only around 5 percent. Most victims know their attackers. Sometimes, they’re married to them. Zero Physical Findings The most important thing an attack victim can do after a sexual assault or rape— whether she or he has any intention to report the crime to authorities—is to go to an emergency room. There, nurses will conduct an exhaustive examination that includes taking samples and will administer prophylactic medications to guard against sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy. Technically, sexual assault includes any unwanted sexual contact, including fondling and molestation. Most experts define rape as the most severe type of sexual assault; rape is unwanted penetration, whether vaginal, oral or anal. “When a person is sexually assaulted … we tell them to, first and foremost, seek medical attention,” said Shalotta Sharp of the Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault, who is also a certified sexual assault nurse examiner, or SANE nurse, for both adults and children. Rape-crisis advocates play a vital role in helping victims through the process. A good advocate will explain the reasons the procedures are necessary, help her through invasive exams, even provide clothing to replace the garments the hospital will retain for forensic testing and, possibly as evidence in a trial. The law imposes no statute of limitations for sexual-assault crimes; even if a victim does not file charges immediately, the samples can still
support a rape charge even years later. Trained SANE nurses and advocates can alert hospital security to prevent a perpetrator from contacting the victim, and also guide victims toward counseling to ease or prevent rape trauma syndrome or its more serious psychological cousin: post-traumatic stress syndrome. Counseling is crucial, Sharp said, and about half of all rape victims are subject to PTSD. When a victim doesn’t seek help and can’t resolve her feelings about the rape, she can experience a stress reaction dubbed “silent rape syndrome.” Depression, suicidal behavior, panic attacks and acting out—whether through alcohol and drug abuse or promiscuity—are key behaviors associated with the syndromes. “Victims, they will self-doubt; they will talk themselves out of this being an actual sexual assault,” Sharp said. “What is sad is that, psychologically, they will deal with this later. One way or another, they’re going to deal with it. Their heart is broken; their spirit is broken.” The rape exam is lengthy and can be difficult, especially for an already traumatized
victim. Many of the questions are extremely personal (such as, have you had sex within the past five days, and if so, was it vaginal, anal or oral?), and the woman or man will have to relate the assault in excruciating detail. But it’s necessary, even cathartic, for victims. “That rape-crisis advocate is the secondmost important person in that victim’s life at that particular time,” Sharp said, adding that the first is a trained nurse. “The only reason medical staff is the most important is because that medical staff is trained to get advocacy there for that victim.” A trained advocate can help the victim through the procedure. “We’re asking that person to recount the most traumatic thing that’s ever happened to them, so we do that compassionately. We allow the victim to set the pace, allow them to take their time in giving us that history,” Sharp said. Although the exam can be stressful, victims generally understand its importance. “When we explain everything that we’re doing and the nurse explains why we’re gathering this information, it gives them the satisfaction of knowing that somebody is working hard on their behalf,” Sharp said.
MARVIN FONG/THE PLAIN DEALER
nthony Sowell had been out of prison about three years after serving 15 for attempted rape when he ran into Gladys Wade outside a neighborhood store in Cleveland, Ohio, on Dec. 8, 2008. When she said she wouldn’t go to his house to drink beer with him, Sowell became emphatic. He dragged Wade up his driveway, she told The Plain Dealer newspaper in November 2009, hitting, choking and pulling her. “He hit me so hard. He was dragging me by my shirt, and it was so tight around my neck,” Wade said. “I was blacking out and woke up in an upstairs room. He just kept punching me in my face.” Wade fought back. “I kept grabbing at his face and digging into his eyes and his nose,” she said. Exhausted, she almost gave up. Then she saw a sliver of outside light through a door. She grabbed at Sowell’s crotch and connected. He collapsed, and she crawled out the door. On the street, the people Wade cried out to ignored her. She ran into a restaurant for help, but the people there didn’t want to get involved. Use the pay phone outside, they told her, refusing to call the police. Sowell followed her, she said. He laughed when he caught up with her in front of the restaurant. “This bitch tried to rob me,” he told the men standing outside. “I just started crying,” Wade said. “I was in this circle screaming that this man attacked me, and nobody would hear me.” Wade managed to get away again. She stopped a police car a few blocks away. The officers took her to the hospital, where they stayed with her. “The police at that time took me very seriously,” she said. “They could tell how upset I was.” The next day, 27-year police veteran Det. Georgia Hussein wasn’t convinced. “She didn’t take me seriously at all,” Wade said. “(Sowell) told them that I robbed him and that I assaulted him. And, evidently, his story was somehow more powerful than mine.” 14 Hussein’s doubts about Wade’s verac-
Gladys Wade, who got away from serial rapist and murderer Anthony Sowell (pictured at his 2009 trial), believes as many as six women may have been saved if Cleveland, Ohio, police had believed her.
Women as Property Gladys Wade’s experience with police and prosecutors—men and women charged with protecting her—is all too common. “One of the biggest fears … is that you won’t be believed,” said Michele Alexandre, an associate law professor at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. “Then you proceed to blame yourself and have society blaming you. It’s very hard to recover from that.” Most rape and sexual-assault victims never file reports against their attackers; estimates run from 55 percent to as high as 85 percent. Even when victims file reports, the crimes carry notoriously low arrest and conviction rates. Only about four to six out of every 1,000 rapists in America will ever serve time in prison. The reasons behind the statistics are complex and confounding: Laws are archaic, prosecutors are hesitant to pursue cases they believe are unwinnable, victims are afraid no one will believe them, support systems are threadbare. “I think we have failed victims of sexual violence,” Sharp said. “We have failed them because we’ve not done a good job educating other people in this field such as law enforcement, such as other medical staff.” Both men and women frequently feel fear, shame and guilt after an attack, leading them to keep silent. Victims may believe that because they were drinking or because they dressed to attract attention, it makes the attack their fault. They might think that it’s the man’s right to take what he wants. Some are afraid of retaliation or ridicule. You don’t have to look far to see how endemic the problem is in America. The news is full of it, from priests abusing altar boys, to coaches assaulting young athletes, to politicians and yoga gurus using their power to “seduce” their victims. Still, “she was asking for it,” and “serves her right,” are typical responses to these horrendous, violent crimes. We live in an age when objectifying women and reducing them to body parts is commonplace. Catch an episode of Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club,” or ask any woman who been the object of catcalls on the street or harassment in public. “Check that thing.” “Shake that booty.” “Great tits.” Where do those attitudes come from, and how is it that in 2012, people still blame victims over perpetrators for domestic violence and sexual-assault crimes? It begins with the learned biases that are ingrained in our laws, Alexandre said. Inherent in our attitudes about rape is the idea that a woman’s body is a commodity; it doesn’t be-
long to her, and it can be appropriated. Once a woman engages in consensual sex or engages in sensual behavior—whether it’s wearing short skirts or using suggestive language—people, and juries, assume that somehow she consented to her own rape. It’s that faulty thinking that has people saying things like, “If she didn’t want to be raped, why did she dress that way?” “Consent—because our body is susceptible to being appropriated—is not ours,” Alexandre said. “We give our consent implicitly.” Perhaps unconsciously, legislators based rape statues on societal standards set in times when females were chattel, possessions of their
ty in 1839 to allow widows to keep their husbands slaves, but it took another 70 years for all states to allow women to inherit and own property. Until the 1970s, single women were generally denied the ability to buy property or get credit in their own name. In America, Alexandre said, race further complicates the issue. In “Girls Gone Wild and Rape Law,” published in the Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law in 2009, she pinpointed one of the fears encapsulated in the law: false accusations. “False rape claims by white women against black men as well as the United States’ violent racial history of lynching have
Shalotta Sharp of the Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault (standing) teaches one of her many classes to medical personnel about the realities of rape and sexual assault. Victims, she said, have the right to quality care. “They are to be believed,” Sharp said.
husbands and fathers, and marriages were monetary or political transactions. Suitors paid fathers a “bride price,” and husbands assumed ownership of “their” women. Laws mandated that rapists pay a reduced bride-price to fathers of unmarried daughters, and in some places, the victims had to marry their attackers. Typically, virginity raised a woman’s value. In ancient times, people gave virgins spiritual significance; they warded off evil spirits, caused crops to flourish and channeled divine blessings. Magically, a woman whose hymen was broken lost those extraordinary powers; she also lost her ability to accuse an attacker. The Code of Hammurabi, written around 1780 B.C.E., states that if a betrothed virgin is raped, she is considered blameless and her rapist should be put to death. If, however, she is married, she and her attacker should both die. Ancient history, perhaps, but those attitudes still permeate our culture. Women haven’t had the vote in the United States for 100 years, yet, and many couldn’t own property until 1900. Mississippi became the first state to allow married women to own proper-
strengthened (that) fear,” she wrote. “The reality for many women of color has been that, along with being raped and treated as a commodity, women of color historically have lived in fear of losing their fathers and husbands to the slaughter that traditionally followed accusations of rape … during slavery and the Jim Crow era.” Those fears, she indicated, have perpetuated generations-old teachings to keep women victims silent. The laws defining consent are also tied to the idea of force. “If the idea of consent is a sexual interaction obtained through force, it implies that a woman who does not fight back cannot be raped,” Alexandre said. “How much force is necessary is often influenced by the notion that, sometimes, ‘No’ can mean ‘Yes.’” “So even if the woman protests or says no or even fights back in some way, she might not have fought back hard enough,” Alexandre said. Mississippi’s rape and sexual-assault statute, as elsewhere in the U.S., include force as a defining factor, making it “one of the most SILENCE, page 16
No ‘Perfect’ Victims Paula Broome, special assistant attorney general and violence against women resource prosecutor in the Mississippi attorney general’s office, said that it’s rare to have a “perfect” victim. In a training presentation for rape crises advocates, Broome indicated that proof of penetration, DNA matches and witnesses who heard screaming are all “wishful thinking,” in a typical rape case. More likely, she wrote, a victim suffered minimal physical injury. She may have had a few too many drinks or, perhaps, he may have flirted with his attacker. An adult victim probably has had sex at some time in his or her past, perhaps with multiple partners. The victim might even be a prostitute and her rapist a senator’s son. Victims, of course, aren’t immune to the myths, either. In the absence of physical trauma, they may doubt whether a rape occurred at all; they will delay or fail to report the incident. Instinctively, many will shower or bathe after the attack and before going to a hospital. Even if it makes prosecution more difficult, all of that is normal behavior, and law enforcement, medical personnel and ordinary citizens that make up juries should be educated to understand that. What isn’t normal is that if victims don’t have health insurance, they might also be
afraid of incurring a big medical bill. But cost should be the last consideration for victims seeking help. If Mississippi is doing something right, Sharp said, it’s that the attorney general’s office will reimburse hospitals for completing a rape kit, if necessary. While many states provide no reimbursement and others pay a pittance, Mississippi will pay up to $1,000 so that the victims don’t have to bear the cost. “I’m so proud of Mississippi for this,” Sharp said. “I can’t shout it enough.”
COURTESY SHALOTTA SHARP
“In the years that I’ve done this—and I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of victims— I can probably count on one hand the victims that have said, ‘That’s too involved; I don’t want to go through this.’” One of the key jobs that organizations such as MCASA do is to educate medical personnel, law enforcement and members of the judicial system about the realities of rape. The ubiquitous image of a rape victim—disheveled, beaten and hysterical—promotes an unrealistic picture. Some don’t even cry. They may be reluctant to disclose details, or may lie about drug or alcohol use. They can be confused or have memory lapses. “It’s frustrating, because TV and the media have portrayed a rape victim as having horrible physical injuries, and that’s not necessarily the case,” Sharp said. “… The body protects itself against this type of trauma. … Ninety-six percent of our patients have zero physical findings.” A woman’s vagina will lubricate, for example, reducing or eliminating pain and injury. One of the most disturbing aspects for some victims is if they become sexually aroused or have an orgasm in the course of a rape—especially for men, but it happens to women, too. It’s a natural, physiological reaction to genital stimulus, Sharp said, and a rape victim has no control over it. It does confuse victims who believe that a sexual response should only occur during pleasurable sex, and it tends to add shame to the incident. A correctly completed rape exam, however, can reveal damage not visible to the naked eye. This is vital, because lack of obvious physical trauma can lead police—and juries—to doubt that a rape actually took place.
June 20 - 26, 2012
ENDING THE SILENCE, FROM PAGE 15 ing to make sure what they believe is the right decision.â€? When a jury hears evidence impugning a victimâ€™s character and hears story about her past sexual behavior, the case is no longer about consent or force. Now, the victim is on trial. â€œWe put a lot of onus on women to actually be pure as the driven snow,â€? Alexandre said. Evidence about a womanâ€™s prior sexual history â€œcreates a narrative about the victim that is hard to surmount.â€? Once a defendant creates doubt that the victim isnâ€™t as pristine as a jury would like her to beâ€”which means she has had no sexual experiences, either with someone else, or especially the defendantâ€”it becomes very hard to prosecute a rape case. â€œA lot of judges are swayed by this issue of credibility,â€? Alexandre said. â€œThey are convinced too readily that the jury needs to hear (about the victims) prior experiences when the rape shield statutes really make it clear that unless itâ€™s absolutely necessary, you should not introduce this kind of evidence.â€? Judges must also give clearer jury instructions, including pointing out our learned, ingrained biases against rape victims. Alexandre pointed out that those biases mean that the fight canâ€™t be won in court, alone. We have to teach children at a very young age what consent actually meansâ€”that itâ€™s not alright to push, and â€œNoâ€? really does means â€œNo.â€? â€œWe have to erase the damage weâ€™ve done,â€? with thousands of years of laws and attitudes about women and their ability to consentâ€”or not to consent, she said. â€œConsent is on a continuum. A woman can withdraw it at any time.â€? But in a state that can barely talk about sex at all, educating children to have respect for consent is a tall wall to get over. â€œMississippi has some challenges because
Shielding the Victim â€œWhen youâ€™re talking about the rape of an adult, weâ€™re going to have to show that it was forcible or against the will of the victim,â€? said Michael Guest, district attorney for Rankin and Madison counties. Mississippi, like every state in the union, has adopted a rape shield law to prevent a rapist from using his victimâ€™s past as a defense. â€œGenerally, the law does not allow the defendant to go in and put the victim on trial, talk about prior instances of sexual conduct that may have occurred, either between themselves or with other individuals,â€? Guest said. â€œBut sometimes that can come into play if the victimâ€™s credibility is attacked. â€Ś Sometimes the court can allow that type of information in.â€? Prosecutors work hard to keep that kind of evidence away from jurors. â€œAt least in our district, our judges are good at following the law and not allowing that in,â€? Guest said, but thatâ€™s not always the way it happens. â€œ(The defense) may make (a womanâ€™s character or her past) applicable to the case, and a judge may find that, based on the defenseâ€™s theory of the case, that (it) is somehow admissible. Because a defendant, they have the right to present their theory of the case,â€? he said, regardless of whether that theory makes a lot of sense. Itâ€™s not easy to get a victimâ€™s past into a rape trial, but a judgeâ€™s opinion can supersede the rules of evidence. â€œUltimately, itâ€™s going to come down to the person wearing the robe,â€™ Guest said. â€œTheyâ€™re going to do their best to make sure that they make the right ruling. They want to get it right. They donâ€™t want to be overturned or reversed later on. Theyâ€™re go-
of the reluctance to deal with sex education,â€? Alexandre said. â€œWe have to start with that.â€?
one really knows the extent of rape and sexual assault. Many experts rely on the FBIâ€™s Uniform Crime Statistics data, Fixing Whatâ€™s compiled from volunBroken tarily reported numbers The barriers to from various law-enlowering rates of rape forcement agencies naand putting rapists betionwide. Those numhind bars in Mississipbers only reflect rapes pi are numerous, but that women report to Michele Alexandre, a law professor at the solutions are available. police, which may be as University of Mississippi, Whether anti-rape low as 15 percent. The says we should teach advocates come at the FBI doesnâ€™t investigate children early that â€œnoâ€? problem through the their accuracy. really means â€œno.â€? law or increased victim Male rapes are not assistance, one substanincluded, and rape retial problem still exists: porting is subject to hierMississippi doesnâ€™t have archy rules, which codify enough advocates working for change. that if another crime also occurred (homicide, Of the roughly 120 hospitals in the state for example), the FBI only counts the more with emergency roomsâ€”the facilities that the serious charge. Nationwide in 2010, UCR MCASAâ€™s Sharp targets for medical person- numbers show 84,767 rapes, down from nel trainingsâ€”few have adequate numbers of 88,097 in the previous year; in Mississippi, nurses trained to care effectively for victims. the reported numbers are 927 rapes in 2010, Some donâ€™t have any. Some rural areas donâ€™t down from 991 in 2009. have emergency facilities, and the state has too In 2003, the Charleston, S.C.-based Nafew rape crisis centers that can dispatch people tional Violence Against Women Prevention to help victims through the process of gath- Research Center estimated that one in every ering samples or to assist them in navigating nine Mississippi women had been victims of often-hostile legal proceedings. rape. The report, aptly titled â€œOne in Nine,â€? â€œOur goal is that every hospital have a stated that the number exceeded 127,000. group of advocates they can call on and have Thatâ€™s a conservative number, the report someone on staff that has been trained â€Ś on states, based on the scant available research how to assess that patient and how to collect at the time. The number did not include atthat evidence,â€? Sharp said. tempted rape, alcohol or drug-facilitated rape, â€œBut no, we donâ€™t have nearly enough incapacitated rapeâ€”where the victim may people trained in Mississippi. â€Ś We have half have been mentally ill, elderly or otherwise inor less than half of what we need.â€? Another part of the problem is that no SILENCE, page 18 COURTESY MICHELE ALEXANDRE
regressive, one of the most conservative,â€? Alexandre explained.
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House of Horrors In Cleveland, Ohio, nearly 11 months after Gladys Wade reported Anthony Sowellâ€™s attack, police went to Sowellâ€™s house at 12205 Imperial Ave. on Oct. 29, 2009, with an arrest warrant for rape. Another woman had accused him of hitting, strangling and raping her the month before. Sowell wasnâ€™t there, but when they entered the house, police found two womenâ€™s corpses in the living room. By the time forensic experts left the scene a couple of weeks later, the body count for the â€œCleveland Stranglerâ€? had risen to 11. Investigators found bodies stuffed into crawl spaces and buried in his yard and basement. Police arrested Sowell Oct. 31, 2009. Charged with 11 counts of rape and murder, a jury convicted him in August 2011, and Cuyahoga County Judge Dick Ambrose sentenced Sowell to death. Officials believe he may be responsible for other, unsolved cases. East Cleveland police reopened similar cold cases to investigate possible connections to Sowell, and the FBI began an investigation into similar crimes in other places were he had lived. Cleveland demolished Sowellâ€™s â€œhouse of horrorsâ€? in December 2011, three years, almost to the day, after Wadeâ€™s escape. Six of the raped and murdered women died after her attack in 2008. When she heard about the other victims, Wade felt guilty that she hadnâ€™t done more to convince police, the Plain Dealer reported. â€œI kept thinking of all those families,â€? she said. â€œAll those women that might be alive if these people had only believed me.â€? Help the Center for Violence Prevention start a rape-crisis center. See jfpchickball.com for several ways to help. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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capable of consentâ€”or statutory rape of minors. The estimate also doesnâ€™t include males. The numbers are probably much higher. Last December, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of its National Intimate Partner and Violence Survey, conducted in 2010. The numbers of American women who are victims of rape are closer to 1.3 million annually, the report concluded, and nearly one in five women has been raped in her lifetime. Mississippi was among a handful of states that did not participate in the survey. But regardless what the numbers show, the fact remains that victims have too few effective, compassionate people on their side. Rape is not about sex any more than domestic violence is about love, said Sandy Middleton, executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention in Pearl. People must realize that it is an act of violent aggression, and that victims are not to blame. Rape is the ultimate expression of power and control that a perpetrator can force on his victim. As long as victims donâ€™t trust that they will be cared for, as long as laws are inadequate and the prevailing myths about rape continue to fester, victims will remain silent. â€œVictims go through a lot in these cases,â€? Guest said. Rape kits are not fun, but he emphasized their importance by adding that if a woman has not been assaulted, itâ€™s unlikely she would put herself through such a stressful experience. â€œEvery victim of sexual violence has the right to the care that they want, and nobody should stand in the way of thatâ€”family members, friends, medical professionalsâ€”nobody should stand in the way of that victim,â€? Sharp said. â€œThey are to be believed.â€?
MUSIC p 20 | ARTS p 25 |8 DAYS p 26 | SPORTS p 30
COURTESY J. MICHELLE MARTIN-COYNE
The Flaming Lips Light Up Jackson by Jacob Fuller
Trying to broadcast streaming video live from the road and at eight different venues could certainly have setbacks. Connolly said organizers fully expect problems. That is why a team from MTV and VH1 made a test run of the eight-city tour June 13-14, arriving in Jackson around 3:30 a.m. on the 14th. The sprint starts at Handy Park on Beale Street in Memphis, the city where early blues players first found the bright lights (composer W.C. Handy is known as “Father of the Blues”). Next, the tour heads south to Clarksdale, right to the roots of blues and rock ‘n’ roll in the heart of the Delta. The home of the hill country blues is next: Oxford. Tim Burkhead, manager at the Lyric in Oxford, said a team of 10 or 15 people from MTV and VH1 came through town a few weeks before they made any official announcements to scout possible venues for the tour. He told them what the Lyric, the largest venue of the tour, had in their sound and lighting departments. He said the venue has hosted live video shoots before, including a Black Crows show that PBS aired. The initial 900 tickets for the Oxford show sold out in the first weekend after they went on sale June 8. The Lyric will make a small number of additional tickets available at the venue and online at an undisclosed time. Arden Barnett is the promoter of the shows in Jackson and Hattiesburg. He offered an 8 a.m. pre-sale June 8 of a small portion of the available tickets (of which there are fewer than 300 total) for the concert at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave., 601-941-1432) in Fondren. When the bulk of the tickets went on sale through Ticketmaster at 10 a.m., they sold out in 13 seconds. Tickets for the concert at Benny’s Boom Boom Room in Hattiesburg were gone in 17 seconds.
The Guinness Book of World Records requires a performance to be at least 15 minutes long to consider it a concert. Barnett said the Flaming Lips are likely to play between 15 and 30 minutes per stop. Fans in Jackson will get no shortage of music, though. Barnett and MTV have slated four opening acts for the Jackson show: DJ Young Venom, T-Bird & the Breaks, The Cleverly’s and Neon Indian. Barnett said fans in Jackson and Hattiesburg are in for some big surprise guests, too. “It’s mind boggling,” Barnett said. “The artists you see now, we’re talking infantile performers (compared to the special guests).” Fondren will come alive beyond the doors of the venue in Duling Hall at 12:01 a.m., June 28. That’s when opening acts are scheduled to begin, in preparation for the Flaming Lips, who will take the stage around 4 a.m. Fans who missed the 13-second window to get a ticket can watch the entire live streaming broadcast of the tour, including the Flaming Lips shows, on projection screens outside Duling Hall and in Babalu
The Flaming Lips will attempt to play a worldrecord eight concerts in 24 hours, including five in Mississippi.
Tacos and Tapas, which will stay open 24 hours that day. Brent’s Drugs will also stay open late that night, with live music and hot food. Cathead Vodka teamed up with Barnett to offer the Lipsuckle Experience. For $160, fans could get tickets to the shows in both Jackson and Hattiesburg, a bottle of Cathead’s recently released Honeysuckle Vodka, a Cathead swag bag, and a ride from Jackson to Hattiesburg and back on a deluxe motorcoach complete with an open bar and free food. Like the rest of the tour, tickets for the Lipsuckle Experience sold out fast. Hopefully, the eight-stop tour will be fast as well—world record fast. Jacob Fuller will join the MTV team in Memphis and ride with them to Clarksdale, Oxford and Jackson. He will blog at jfp.ms.
he Flaming Lips have a challenge ahead of them: eight cities, eight concerts, nearly 700 miles on a bus, more than 10 supporting and collaborating artists, one awards show, 24 awards and one world record—all in 24 hours. And every second streamed live on the Internet. In 2011, Viacom, parent company of MTV and VH1, created the O Music Awards. In the first two award shows, artists broke two musical Guinness World Records: rapper Chiddy of Chiddy Bang broke the longest freestyle rap record and a group of 13 dancers moved for over 24 hours to earn the longest group dance. For the third O Music Awards, on June 27-28, organizers wanted to host the show outside the typical award show setting. Shannon Connolly, vice president of digital music strategy at MTV, said there was no place better than a trip through the birthplaces of the blues and jazz, from Memphis to New Orleans. “Often when VH1 or MTV does an awards show, Clarksdale and Hattiesburg aren’t part of the plan,” Connolly said. “(We are) visiting an area that we would never go to that we think is musically rich and really perfect for this kind of creative attempt.” Organizers then got the idea to break Jay-Z’s 2006 record of the most concerts in 24 hours. Jay-Z’s record is seven, so the show asked the Flaming Lips to do eight, while hosting the O Music Awards live on their website. Unlike Jay-Z, who took private planes to shows in airport hangars, MTV and VH1 organizers wanted the Flaming Lips to do the tour on a bus, playing in smaller, more traditional clubs and venues. The Flaming Lips, along with some unannounced special guests, will present 24 awards during the trip, from venue stages, gas stations and other stops along the road. A crew will broadcast the 24-hour trip in its entirety on Omusicawards.com. Viacom will promote it on all of its entertainment sites.
WTF Is Zoogma? by Ross Cabell COURTESY DARIUS B WILLIAMS
Zoogma strives to bond musical genres to create a new sound.
June 20 - 26, 2012
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oogma. It’s a word that on the surface doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. To some people, the word represents absolutely nothing. To others, it’s a misspelling of the literary device Zeugma, a Greek word meaning “to bond.” And to an increasing number of people, it’s a guaranteed good time on a Saturday night. The band Zoogma got its start in Oxford, Miss., a town that is no stranger to jam bands (or really any act geared toward the red Solo cup crowd). Band members are Justin Hasting on guitars and synth, Matt Harris on drums and sequencing, Ryan Nall on bass and synth, and Brock Bowling on guitar and sequencing. Known for its seizure-inducing live shows, Zoogma mixes trance beats with a live rock sound akin to jam and funk bands. It has developed a following due to its shows, which often feature spur-of-the-moment instrumentation. Although the band plays original songs for most of its set, it also covers a bizarre array of songs ranging from “Eleanor Rigby” to the “Ghostbusters” theme song. Bowling describes the band as somewhere between a live rock band and a DJoriented electronica act. Indeed, the sound is as unique as the band’s name, and the Greek derivative almost perfectly describes what Zoogma is all about: bonding different genres to produce something new. The band has played Wakarusa, a camping and music festival in Ozark, Ark., and Camp Bisco, held in Mariaville, N.Y., both of which are well-known names to many college-aged festival-goers. The group also played a show at this year’s Beale Street Music Festival, a part of Memphis in May. Bowling estimates that they have played at least 300 shows in the last three years. With increased exposure comes new fans, including some unexpected ones. “Definitely what surprises me is the amount of older people that come to our shows,” he says. “There will be a 45- or 50year-old man who says that our music took
him back to the psychedelic rock he listened to. He doesn’t understand electronic music or listen to it, but he or she may take something else away from it.” The group will start their “WTF is Zoogma?” tour this summer, with a stop in Jackson at Martin’s June 23, just before playing places such as the StereoTerra Festival in Michigan and the Mint Green Music Festival in New Jersey, among others. Zoogma is no stranger to playing shows in Jackson; it is one of the first places the band performed outside of Oxford. “Martin’s was on the first tour we ever did (in 2007). So we’ve been playing there for the longevity of it. It’s one of the first clubs we ever played, out of town,” Bowling says. Zoogma will be handing out a free summer mixtape to coincide with its tour. The mixtape features original material heavy on DJ and beat-making talents, along with some vocal remixes of others’ works. “It is a concept we have been thinking about for a second and wanted to try out and see how it works,” Bowling says. “It’s like a hip-hop mixtape. It’s an idea we got from the hip-hop culture, taking songs and reworking them our way.” Zoogma is releasing the mixtape as a teaser for the band’s second full-length album, a follow-up to “Recreational Vehicles.” Bowling says the band plans to start recording in August and release the album this fall. The follow-up won’t be much of a departure from the eclectic mix of rock and electronica fans love them for. Whatever the future holds for Zoogma as its popularity continues to grow, Bowling says the musicians don’t plan on letting any outside pressures affect the sound they’ve carefully cultivated. “We just pretty much play and write what we want to write,” Bowling says. “We just hope (fans) like it.” Zoogma performs in Jackson with Space Capone at Martin’s (214 S. State St., 601-3549712) June 23.
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