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March 26 - April 1, 2014


TRIP BURNS

JACKSONIAN ROBBIE FISHER

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oing from practicing law to working on films may seem like a strange leap. But Robbie Fisher knows better. Since she left her law career and position as Mississippi Nature Conservancy’s state director, her main focus has been filmmaking, specifically producing films. Fisher, a Greenville native, got her undergraduate degree in political science and French from Sewanee in Tennessee, and then earned a law degree from Suffolk University in Boston. After law school, she worked in the legal field for a few years before becoming the state director at the Nature Conservancy in 1999. Before then, filmmaking was only a parttime love. In the ’90s, she produced a film for Mississippi Public Broadcasting on the collaboration of Boogaloo Ames and Eden Brent, also Greenville natives, titled “Boogaloo and Eden: Sustaining the Sound.” Later, at the conservancy, she worked on another film for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, “The Singing River, Rhythms of Nature,” about the Pascagoula River. After leaving the organization in 2008, she became an independently contracted producer for MPB’s “The Gulf Islands, Mississippi’s Wilderness Shore,” about the Barrier Islands off of the coast. Since 2008, her focus has been solely on producing films. “I just am really drawn to and interested in the way that film uses so many different mediums and brings together different mediums of music and song and visual

CONTENTS

images and writing,” Fisher, 49, says. “… I really enjoy (the) aspect of it as a collaborative art experience, working with really great directors, writers, the crew and the actors. It’s a really exciting, creative experience to be a part of.” Her job as a producer includes many tasks spanning from pre-production to post-production, including negotiating location contracts, getting the rights to music, finding money to produce the film, making sure filming stays safe for the crew and cast, and figuring out how to distribute the movies. She loves doing documentaries, but her favorite types of films to work on are narrative fiction. Fisher says she likes “films that explore human relationships … basic emotions and truths and things that are involved in our lives and what we experience.” Fisher is currently producing a four-part film series titled “Sequence,” which is directed by Alex Warren. Each film focuses on interpersonal relationships and the dynamics involved. The films, though, don’t have a common story line; they can be shown together or separately. Besides producing films, Fisher is also involved with the Crossroads Film Festival. She has been on the board of the organization since late 2012 and helps with fundraising. Crossroads Film Festival is April 3-6. To find out about ticket prices or for more information, visit crossroadsfilmfestival.com. Flip to page 16 to read reviews of some films being screened at the event.

Cover photo by Trip Burns

6 Take Your Pick

Three mayoral candidates—Melvin Priester Jr., Tony Yarber and Margaret BarrettSimon have sat down with the JFP to pitch their cases—and confess—so far.

26 GM-No, Thank You

Rainbow Co-op is participating in a campaign to raise awareness about genetically modified organisms in crops and packaged food.

35 Porch Rockin’

“Drew (Young) and I will sit down and listen to a band and say, ‘Hey, these guys sound great,’ or we’ll work with friends that have been playing music for years but have never gotten the recognition they deserve. Now we’re getting people from all over the south emailing to say, ‘Hey, we want to be on the porch.’” —Paul West, “The New South”

jacksonfreepress.com

4 ............................. EDITOR’S NOTE 6 ............................................ TALKS 14 ................................ EDITORIAL 15 .................................... OPINION 16 ............................ COVER STORY 24 ......................................... FOOD 26 ................................. WELLNESS 28 .............................. DIVERSIONS 30 .......................................... ARTS 31 .......................................... FILM 32 ....................................... 8 DAYS 33 ...................................... EVENTS 35 ....................................... MUSIC 36 ....................... MUSIC LISTINGS 37 ..................................... SPORTS 39 .................................... PUZZLES 41 ....................................... ASTRO

RYAN ROYALS ; TRIP BURNS; TRIP BURNS

MARCH 26 - APRIL 1, 2014 | VOL. 12 NO. 29

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EDITOR’S note

by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief

Protect the Innocent: End the Death Penalty

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ou can’t make it up. A husband horribly abuses his mentally ill wife and his son for years, even forcing her to have sex with others to videotape. Someone then kills the abuser. A nightmare of legal maneuvering then follows with her accused of paying another man to kill her husband, even as her son confesses to the murder several times, as does she once while under the influence of mind-altering drugs. The judge doesn’t allow the jury to see evidence that might have helped her. Meantime, neither the son nor the supposed hit man goes to prison for murder, and a newspaper quotes the prosecutor saying the alleged contract killer didn’t actually do it. The woman ends up on death row because, as often happens to poor people, her crappy attorneys can’t figure out how to keep her from being executed. Nowhere along the way does this mess of a prosecution and sentencing capture much of anyone’s attention outside a handful of anti-death penalty folks. The Democratic attorney general of the state, Jim Hood, asks for a date for her execution, and there is no evidence that either he or the current GOP governor, Phil Bryant, gives a damn about whether she actually is innocent or not. Because they’re all tough-no-matterwhether-or-not-it-was-a-crime politicians. Michelle Byrom is a textbook case of what is wrong with the state executions in Mississippi and the rest of the nation. Even if you believe that the government should choose who to execute and that it’s moral to take one life for another—which I don’t—I’m guessing that most of you think taxpayers should only fund the killing of murderers whom we’re dang sure is guilty. When someone is convicted for hiring someone the prosecutor said didn’t kill anyone … well, Mississippi, we have a problem. The nightmare that is the death penalty in Mississippi is beyond a morality question.

The citizens of this state have no guarantee that we are actually executing the people who did the crime. Our criminal-justice system has long been riddled with corruption (Quick: How many of you have paid to keep your kid out of jail at some point over the decades? Be honest with yourself at least), ineptness, and a lust for power that leads prosecutors and judges to do really bad things. Start here in Hinds County. My friend Cedric Willis spent 12 years in Parchman

The death penalty in Mississippi is beyond a morality question. for a double murder and rape because thenDistrict Attorney Ed Peters’ office didn’t present the evidence that could have cleared him. The prosecutor on the case, Bobby DeLaughter, later became a judge and presided over many criminal cases. He, more recently, went to prison due to a bribery scheme involving former employer Peters. I sure wish I had time to scrutinize every case those guys ever touched. I’m not saying I would find other problems, but how do these men’s records lead to trust in our court decisions that, in turn, bolster our confidence about who is in prison and on death row and who is walking free? The point is: There is no possible way Mississippians can be certain that all people on death row are guilty. Our system is too broken, and as the Byrom case shows, there

is little, if any, Mississippi officialdom lining up to make sure that the state government doesn’t kill or imprison innocent people. It is easy to look at convicted murderers with bloodlust and a desire for revenge. I get it, and I’ve felt it myself. But don’t fool yourselves into thinking that the death penalty actually deters murders. For one thing, it’s perhaps the most discriminatory institution this country embraces: It is biased against the poor and uneducated who do not have the connections or resources to keep themselves off death row. Not to mention, I rather doubt someone suffering the abuse that the killer of Mr. Byrom actually stopped to think about whether or not they might be executed at some point. The death penalty doesn’t deter murders by the people likely to be executed. The embrace of the death penalty by many in the United States is unusual on the world stage and especially among “civilized” nations that consider the practice barbarous and backward. We can talk all we want about human-rights violations in places like China and Iran, but that is the company we keep by allowing government executions in the U.S. In fact, the countries that execute the most people are, in this order: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United States, Pakistan, Yemen, North Korea, Vietnam and Libya. The truth isn’t that non-death-penalty nations are trying to be “softer” on crime. The research shows myriad problems with executions—from the “cruel and unusual” nature of the ways we kill the convicted (see page 8) to the costs and uselessness when it comes to actually preventing other murders. Put another way, “civilized” rejection of executions means that other countries just might be facing the truth quicker than some in the United States are willing to. Too much of that truth involves unethical judges and prosecutors who often run for office based on their toughness and, thus,

are sometimes willing to hide evidence that might clear someone or, at least, keep them alive and in prison. Consider some other tough truths: In Mississippi and beyond, most condemned murderers of any race killed a white person. A disproportionate number are black murderers—and usually for killing whites. Since 1973, more than 138 people on death row have been exonerated in the U.S., including at least three in Mississippi. That means prosecutors, judges and juries are condemning innocent people. The scary part is that their case may or may not be reopened, and often only are because a zealous journalist (like Ronni Mott) did a story that went viral. We can only pray that saves Ms. Byrom. But what about all the others on death row in Mississippi and beyond? There aren’t enough journalists to investigate every case, and often the evidence is missing or buried too deep to find. Attorneys doing the Lord’s work such as those with the Innocence Project (who helped free Cedric Willis) can’t get to everyone, either, although they try. And our leaders aren’t exactly helping. Beyond turning their heads away from bad prosecution, the state’s leaders aren’t calling for enough scrutiny. The attorney general has defended the controversial work of medical examiner Steven Hayne, for instance, and the Legislature is actually giving judges more latitude and sentencing discretion, instead of being more concerned about what judges and prosecutors are up to—or hiding. Meantime, the public simply cannot trust our criminal-justice system to get it right. That has been proved over and over again. As a result, the state of Mississippi must declare a moratorium on the death penalty. It is the only moral thing to do. See jfp.ms/byrom to read more about the Michelle Byrom case and jfp.ms/cedric for Cedric Willis’ story. Read about Haynes’ work at jfp.ms/Edmonds.

March 26 - April 1, 2014

CONTRIBUTORS

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Amber Helsel

R.L. Nave

Haley Ferretti

Richard Coupe

Genevieve Legacy

Demetrice Sherman

Briana Robinson

David Rahaim

Editorial Assistant Amber Helsel graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is short, always hungry and always thinking. She wrote the Jacksonian and contributed to the Crossroads Film Festival cover package.

R.L. Nave, native Missourian and news editor, roots for St. Louis (and the Mizzou Tigers)—and for Jackson. Send him news tips at rlnave@ jacksonfreepress.com or call him at 601-362-6121 ext. 12. He wrote Crossroads film reviews.

Interim City Reporter Haley Ferretti is a 2013 graduate of Delta State University. She enjoys traveling, listening to The Strokes and raiding refrigerators. She wrote talk stories. Send her story tips to haley@ jacksonfreepress.com.

Richard Coupe, avid fan of the beautiful game, husband, brother and father of four, is still wondering what he wants to be when he grows up. He contributed to the Crossroads Film Festival cover package.

Genevieve Legacy is an artistwriter-community development consultant. She works at Hope Enterprise Corporation and lives in Brandon with her husband and youngest son. She contributed to the Crossroads Film Festival cover package.

Editorial Intern and Mississippi Delta native Demetrice Sherman loves animals, books, and chocolate, all in abundance. Name a movie and chances are, she still hasn’t seen it. She contributed to the Crossroads Film Festival cover package.

Music Editor Briana Robinson wants to become an expert on all things music. Her other passions include dance and photography. Send her the music scoop at briana@jacksonfreepress.com. She wrote Crossroads film reviews.

One day Sales Representative David Rahaim will finish his first novel. He promises. It may just be after he finishes his second. To get his help with your business, write david@ jacksonfreepress.com.


     

      

UNIVERSITY

OF

SOUTHERN M ISSISSIPPI student, Michael Sims,

was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, a national honor recognizing the next generation of great research scientists. Michael is in exclusive company. He was one of only three students from Mississippi universities to win the award in 2013. In fact, two of the three

students honored came from Southern Miss. As Michael bursts through the doors of his future, he’ll be proof that the knowledge of how to change the world can be learned close to home. He’ll be evidence that

golden opportunities are often closer than you think.

Take a closer look at Southern Miss.

AA/EOE/ADAI UC 70480.5016 3.14

#CloserLookUSM

jacksonfreepress.com

You’ll find we are more than meets the eye.

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Thursday, March 20 Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the storied 82nd Airborne Division who carried on a three-year affair with a captain and had two other inappropriate relationships with subordinates, avoids jail time and is instead only reprimanded and docked $20,000 in pay in one of the military’s most closely watched courts-martial. Friday, March 21 President Vladimir Putin signs Crimea into Russia on the same day that Ukraine seals a deal pulling the country closer into Europe’s orbit. Saturday, March 22 An appeals court reinstitutes Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, but not before more than 300 same-sex couples rush to the state’s county clerk’s offices and receive marriage licenses. Sunday, March 23 More planes join the search of a remote patch of the southern Indian Ocean in hopes of finding answers to the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, after China released a satellite image showing a large object floating in the search zone.

March 26 - April 1, 2014

Monday, March 24 Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces that a new analysis of satellite data indicates the missing Malaysia Airlines plane crashed into a remote corner of the Indian Ocean. ‌ President Obama holds one-on-one talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of a plan to rally the international community around efforts to isolate Russia.

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Tuesday, March 25 Obama announces a proposal that Congress overhaul the electronic surveillance program to end the government’s practice of collecting the phone records of millions of Americans and holding them for five years so the data can be searched for national security purposes. Get breaking daily news at jfpdaily.com.

A #JXNMayor Confessional by R.L. Nave

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ith more than a dozen candidates seeking the Jackson mayor’s office, a little bit of mudslinging combined with the right amount of fundraising could mean the difference between making a runoff and waiting around three years for another crack at the bat. The three members of the Jackson City Council who are running for mayor got ahead of the rumor-mill in interviews with the Jackson Free Press last week. Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon took issue with a departed Clarion-Ledger reporter’s account of her attendance record. She said her husband, Al Simon, was hospitalized twice during that time period the reporter observed. “My family always comes first. If they were rolling this guy into surgery, you would not be at city hall,� she told the JFP editorial board. � Taken together with special city council and planning-and-zoning meetings, Barrett-Simon argued that her attendance record is among the best on the board. Another member of the council, Tony Yarber of Ward 6, had to confront issues with absenteeism as well. At a mayoral forum in West Jackson March 20, an audience member asked Yarber why he was absent for two sales-tax referendum votes on the council. Yarber said he had permission from City Council president Charles Tillman to be absent from the meeting to attend what he characterized as a “council-related� event. Earlier in the week, Yarber indicated to the JFP board that he thought voting for tax hikes would be tantamount to political sui-

Filming

Mississippi by Amber Helsel

T

hough Mississippi is definitely not California or New York, we do have some merit when it comes to the film industry. In fact, quite a few films have been shot in the state. Here are a few.

TRIP BURNS

Wednesday, March 19 Ukraine announces mass troop withdrawals from Crimea as Moscowloyal forces seize control of Kiev’s naval headquarters. ‌ Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, an al-Qaida spokesman and son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, testifies in his own defense at his terrorism trial.

Prompted by the Jackson Free Press editorial board,Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. “confessed� to attending both public and private schools in the Jackson area.

cide for late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. When asked for his confession, Yarber opened up about having been unfaithful to his wife of 12 years, Rosalind. He wrote about the experience in a book titled “Man Tips: What She Wants You to Know,� published in 2012. “My wife is an amazing lady,� Yarber said. “We are a team now.� Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. also talked about murmurings about what some might call a partnership with Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who represents Jackson. Thompson often gets involved in local politics, including last year’s mayor’s race when he supported Chokwe Lumumba against businessman Jonathan Lee. This time, however, Thompson—

“Mississippi Burning� This film, which fictionalizes the investigation of civil rights activists’ murders in 1964 by two FBI agents, played by Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, was shot in cities in our area, including Jackson and Canton, and in other areas of the state. “The Ladykillers� This 2004 remake of the 1955 classic was mostly shot at a studio in California, but a portion of it was shot in Natchez. “My Dog Skip� This children’s favorite, which is based on the book by Willie Morris, was shot in Canton, Jackson, Yazoo City and Mendenhall.

whom Priester said was a family friend— appears to be backing Priester although Thompson has not made any official endorsements in the race. The thing Priester wanted to get ahead of is the making of hay about his educational experience, which in addition to graduating from Harvard and Stanford universities, includes attending St. Andrew’s Episcopal before he transferred to public school. “I just point out that I’m a proud graduate of Murrah,� Priester said. “My parents decided I needed a broader experience background, so I went to Murrah, and it’s one of the things I’m happiest about in life.� See jfp.ms/jxnmayor for an archive of candidate coverage. Comment www.jfp.ms. Email R.L. Nave at rlnave@jacksonfreepress.com.

“O Brother, Where Art Thou?� The Coen Brothers movie, about three escaped convicts looking for treasure in Mississippi, was shot in cities including Vicksburg, Jackson, Leland, and Oxford. “The Sound and the Fury� James Franco’s film adaptation of William Faulkner’s novel was shot in central Mississippi. “Get on Up� The James Brown biopic, set to premiere Aug. 1, was shot around central Mississippi, including Jackson, and was also shot in Natchez. Its office moved into the old Jackson Free Press headquarters in Fondren.


Margaret has delivered for her district...

She can deliver for Jackson! Vote Margaret Barrett-Simon

Find Margaret Barrett-Simon on: Margaret Barrett-Simon Barrett-simon Margaretbarrettsimon Paid for by Margaret Barrett-Simon Campaign

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Tuesday, April 8th

7


TALK | state

Will Byrom Be Tortured to Death? By Ronni Mott

teen U.S. states and Washington, D.C., have abolished the death penalty. The European Union has long banned

McGuire’s attorneys had attempted to stop his execution by arguing that Ohio’s untested combination of drugs could lead COURTESY MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

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ississippi’s pending executions of Michelle Byrom and Charles Crawford—which are not yet scheduled—have mired the state in a controversy over what constitutes “cruel and unusualâ€? in executions. Anti-death penalty groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that inflicting torturous pain to kill a person is little more than vengeance. As a civilized society, the United States should do better than inflict excruciating death even on those who have done no better for their victims, they say. “It is the ACLU’s position that all five current methods of execution violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, which prohibits the imposition of gratuitous pain,â€? the group states on its website. “The most commonly used method of lethal injection, now the primary method of execution, violates that prohibition by using a sequence of drugs that creates an unnecessary risk of excruciating pain.â€? “[O]ne cannot know whether lethal injection is really painless, and there is evidence that it is not. As the U.S. Court of Appeals observed, there is ‘substantial and uncontroverted evidence ‌ that execution by lethal injection poses a serious risk of cruel, protracted death. ‌ Even a slight error in dosage or administration can leave a prisoner conscious but paralyzed while dying, a sentient witness of his or her own asphyxiation,’â€? the site states. Anti-death penalty efforts have made the execution process expensive, lengthy and relatively uncommon in the U.S., while making the methods for state-sanctioned killings as quick and painless as possible. But, although lethal injection may be more “humaneâ€? than hanging, electrocution or gas, preponderance of evidence shows that execution does not deter violent crime. Eigh-

The death sentences of Michelle Byrom (pictured) and Charles Crawford have put Mississippi in the midst of the controversy over what constitutes “cruel and unusual� in executions.

executions. Under public pressure, manufacturers of sodium thiopental stopped selling to the U.S., whereupon the states substituted pentobarbital in its execution drug “cocktail.� Danish pharmaceutical manufacturer Lundbeck stopped selling pentobarbital to the states in 2011. With supplies running short, states such as Mississippi have sought alternative methods to procure the drugs. The effort has met mixed success. On Jan. 10, Oklahoma executed Michael Lee Wilson, 38, using pentobarbital to sedate him as the first of three drugs that would eventual end his life. As the drug entered his veins, Wilson cried out, “I feel my whole body burning.� In Ohio one week later, Dennis McGuire, 53, reportedly writhed in agony for 25 minutes, groaning and gasping for breath before finally dying.

to “air hunger,� a medical term for suffocation. McGuire would experience “agony and terror� while struggling to breathe, they said. Apparently, that is precisely what occurred. “He started making all these horrible, horrible noises, and at that point, that’s when I covered my eyes and my ears,� Amber McGuire told The New York Times after watching her father’s execution. Mississippi Department of Corrections records indicate that the state has turned to a Grenada compounding pharmacy, H&W Compounding/Brister Brothers Pharmacy, for pentobarbital, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride used in executions. Brister markets non-prescription herbal supplements. Earlier this month, after MDOC resisted disclosing its supplier or the drugs’ expiration dates, the Roderick & Solange

MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans filed suit on behalf of Byrom and Crawford to reveal the information. With scant oversight and poor regulation, compounding pharmacies have aided in killing at least 145 people. In 2007 and 2008, 81 Americans died from tainted heparin compounded from Chinese ingredients. Sixty-four died in 2012 after receiving steroid injections. In both cases, the pharmacies obtained the drugs through legal means. “If the first drug is not effective in achieving anesthetic ‘death’ for the prisoner, when you inject the paralytic agent, which is step two, in addition to having severe internal burning sensations, it is going to be the functional equivalent of suffocating somebody,â€? Jim Craig, an attorney with Roderick and Solange, said. “In essence, you are stopping their muscles from working—including their lungs from taking in air.â€? “It really a very gruesome process,â€? Craig added. â€œâ€Ś Opacity prevents accountability, and that’s exactly the problem.â€? “We have no assurance that this compounded pentobarbital is sufficiently potent and effective,â€? Roderick and Solange attorney Vanessa Carroll said in a statement. “This is an enormous concern because pentobarbital is the first drug administered during a lethal injection, and if it fails to work properly, the prisoner will be suffocated to death by the paralytic agent that is given next and may be conscious during the excruciating pain caused by the third drug, which causes death by cardiac arrest.â€? “No one has sentenced Ms. Byrom and Mr. Crawford to be slowly suffocated to death and to have their internal organs burned while conscious of it,â€? Craig said. “That’s not what they were sentenced to. They weren’t sentenced to be tortured.â€? Read the story that drew worldwide attention to Michelle Byrom’s case at jfp.ms/byrom.

      

March 26 - April 1, 2014

  

 

    

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LEGISLATURE: Week 11

Piling on the Poor

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With the end of the session nearing, Gov. Phil Bryant has been busy signing legislation into law.

18 percent for nonviolent crimes, the legislative task force reported. Before giving it final approval, lawmakers made having one kilogram of marijuana tantamount to drug trafficking, punishable by 10 to 40 years in prison. Also, this week, Bryant quietly signed a bill that would involve random drug screening of families applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Despite the bill being a centerpiece of the legislative agenda he laid at the beginning of the year, Bryant did not hold a public signing ceremony for the bill. Instead, his office released a statement in which he said the bill would help “adults who are trapped in a dependency lifestyle so they can better provide for their children.� Small Victories A little more sunshine is coming to Mississippi government agencies thanks to a bill the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information and the Mississippi Press Association backed. House Bill 928 amends the state’s open-record laws to say that boards and agencies can charge no more than the cost of using the least-paid worker to fulfill a records request. Currently, agencies are permitted to charge for their attorneys to review public-records requests . Officials with Jackson Public Schools are also applauding a measure that will allow the district to pay part-time workers twice per month. Until now, state law said JPS could pay employees such as bus drivers once per month, which became one of the reasons the drivers sent on strike earlier this year. Comment at www.jfp.ms. Email R.L. Nave at rlnave@jacksonfreepress.com.

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War on the Poor Mississippi lawmakers have been hard at work to make lives harder on poor residents, who are the nation’s poorest. After months of working out the details, legislators agreed to terms on House Bill 585, which a task force of lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, and criminal-justice experts studied before the session began and developed recommendations they said would slash the amount the state spends incarcerating people by $266 million over a decade. “We have worked hard to develop a research-based plan that is tough on crime while using resources wisely,� Bryant said through a press release. Architects of the bill said that courts lack consistency in how they punish people convicted of crimes. HB 585, which would become law on July 1, defines violent and nonviolent offenses and requires individuals convicted of violent crimes to serve 50 percent of their sentences and those convicted

of nonviolent offense to serve 25 percent of their sentences. Currently, people serve an average of 43 percent for violent crimes and TRIP BURNS

B

efore the session started, fiscally conservative budget writers vowed to keep state spending to a minimum unless the economy improved and projected revenues went up. This week, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee met and updated the forecast thanks to an unexpectedly strong national and state economy. After a presentation from state economists, JLBC members increased the revenue estimate by $150 million for the 2014 fiscal year and added $98 million to next fiscal year’s budget. That means the legislative leadership will have a little more breathing room for a few items on their wish lists. Despite the increase, it’s unlikely that lawmakers will expand the Medicaid program federal law allows. Legislators will not likely use any of the extra money to make headway toward fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Since 2008, the Legislature has shorted Mississippi public schools $1.3 billion. The most likely beneficiaries are teachers. Both Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn want to give teachers pay increases, but the men have different views on the size of the raises and whether it should be based on merit or tied to test scores and other performance measures. Reeves’ Senate plan involves giving teachers a $1,500 raise this year and another $1,000 bump next year. In the third year of the plan, raises would be linked to how well teachers’ students perform in the classroom. The House and Senate have until Saturday, March 29, to hammer out a compromise between the two plans.

9


TALK | education

State Takeovers:

A Fix for Failing School Districts? by Jackie Mader, The Hechinger Report

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March 26 - April 1, 2014

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More Autonomy Some states, such as Tennessee and Louisiana, are putting failing schools in a separate statewide district and handing them over to charter-school operators or outside organizations. Andy Smarick, a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that focuses on education-reform research, said this gives schools more autonomy to make drastic changes. “There are states now that are saying, ‘Hey, maybe the fundamental problem is the district structure itself,’” Smarick said. A 2004 report from the Education Commission of the States found that, nationally, takeovers tend to improve administrative and financial practices but have less of

an effect on classroom instruction. Academic performance when a district is under state control is usually mixed, the report concluded, with increases in some areas, and decreases in others. “The bottom line is that state takeovers, for the most part, have yet to produce dramatic and consistent increases in student performance, as is necessary in many of the school districts that are taken over,” the report concluded. A decade later, Mississippi is one of many states struggling to understand when the state should intervene—and when to pull out. For years, Mississippi has ranked below all other states in standardized test performance. Last year, only 26 percent of fourthgrade students were proficient in math, com-

Two districts that the state took over in the 1990s and then released back to local control—North Panola and Oktibbeha County—are once again under state control for poor academic performance. Other districts have been returned to local control after making little academic progress. The Okolona Separate School District, about 20 miles south of Tupelo, was under state control from 2010 until 2012 after years of low test scores and numerous accreditation violations. The district was returned to local control in 2012, even though only 14 percent of the district’s third graders scored proficient or advanced on the state reading test that year. In a 2012 press release, Tom BurnJACKIE MADER

AZLEHURST, Miss.—When the state took control of the Hazlehurst City school district in 2008, the small rural district was in chaos and suffering from abysmal academic performance. Student folders had gaps where grades and attendance records should have been. District personnel reports listed one employee as holding five different positions, including assistant superintendent, transportation director and athletic director. The state received complaints of nepotism, favoritism and harassment. Nearly six years later, the district is one of three in Mississippi returning to local control. Hazlehurst has shown some academic improvements. Last year, the pass rate on the high school algebra exam was 77 percent, up from only 14 percent before the takeover. More than 75 percent of eighth graders scored proficient or advanced on the math exam, a big change from just 9 percent in 2008. But some scores still linger far below the state average. Only about 21 percent of fifthgrade students scored proficient or advanced on math in 2013. A third of sixth graders passed the reading exam. A 2011 judicial brief described out-ofcontrol classrooms, incidents where students engaged in sexual activity on campus, and student violence toward teachers. Hazlehurst’s inconsistent and often lackluster results throw a spotlight on how difficult it is for a state to take over far-flung school districts. They also raise the question of whether it is even worthwhile, particularly in rural districts where resources are limited and plans are ill defined. In Mississippi, and nationwide, the results clearly are mixed over whether takeovers work.

Molly Berry, an algebra teacher at Strayhorn High School in Tate County, teaches parabolas to her class. Berry says that consistent leadership and high expectations have helped the district improve under state control.

pared to the national average of 41 percent. In the 2010-11 school year, only 63 percent of Mississippi’s students graduated from high school in four years, compared to 78 percent nationwide. The state has tried to improve its lowest-performing districts, but in the past six years Mississippi has underfunded schools by more than $1 billion and has no extra money set aside to help conservatorship districts. Still, since 1996 Mississippi has taken over 15 districts for various reasons, including financial mismanagement and poor academic performance, and it is set to take over more schools this year. Consider the mixed results:

ham, who was then state superintendent, said “This is why we have this tool in place, to improve the school district and return it back to the community in better shape.” The release cited Okolona’s progress: the district met all but three state accreditation standards and every senior at Okolona High School was set to graduate that month. But one year after the state left, 73 percent of students in the district graduated, and less than 50 percent of high school students passed the state English exam. Only 15 percent of fourth graders scored proficient on the state math test. “It’s really hard to find many examples of state takeovers that have led to dramati-

cally different performance,” said Michael Petrilli, vice president of the Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank. Five of the districts currently under state control in Mississippi have had several years to show academic growth, but that growth has been relatively varied, and in some districts, mediocre. A Hechinger Report analysis of school data found that all of the districts have seen at least slight improvement in their overall score from the state on a 300-point scale, which is based on student test scores. But in several districts those gains have been erratic year to year. Some of the five districts have struggled to show steady growth in individual grade levels or subject areas, and have seen test scores rise one year, only to drop the next year. In third-grade math, all five districts showed overall gains since their takeovers. But only two districts saw growth each year in high school algebra pass rates. All five districts showed year-to-year ups and downs in eighth-grade language arts scores from the time the state took over until 2013. Two additional districts that were taken over in 2012 registered a decline in third-grade math scores right after the state took over. These mixed results come at a time when the state may expand takeovers. A 2010 Mississippi law permits the state to take over individual schools rather than entire districts. At least 50 schools will be eligible to be taken over this fall due to years of low academic performance Across the country, more than half of all states have laws that allow the state to take over failing districts. Several states have struggled to improve failing districts even after decades of control. In New Jersey, the Newark school district has been under state control since 1995 but still registers low test scores and graduation rates. The problem, Petrilli said, is that widespread change is often the key factor leading to improvement. “What typically will happen is the state will simply replace the superintendent with someone they choose,” he said. “If nothing else changes—the central office stays the same, all of the systems, curriculum, all of those reasons that the system is failing in the first place—… then (the superintendent) doesn’t necessarily make the radical changes you would need to see for radically different performance.” It’s unclear what a successful takeover would look like in Mississippi. In some states, like Tennessee, clear growth goals and a timeline are set for


a public-records request by The Hechinger Report for the most recent accreditation audits of Hazlehurst, Tate County and North Panola—all districts that are exiting takeovers this year. A state official wrote that the Mississippi Department of Education “does not have any documents responsive to your request,� (The state did provide earlier audits.) Based on publicly available records, Tate County appears to be one of the most academically successful takeovers in Mississippi. The district’s overall state score has grown 34

MISSISSIPPI TAKEOVERS: 1. North Panola, 1996-1997 2. Tunica, 1997-2002 3. Oktibbeha County, 1997-2002 4. North Bolivar, 2005-2006 5. Holmes County, 2006-2007 6. Jefferson Davis County, 2007-2009 7. North Panola, 2008- Present* 8. Hazlehurst, 2008-Present 9. Indianola 2009- Present 10. Tate County 2009-Present 11. Sunflower County 2010-Present 12. Okolona School District 2010-12 13. Aberdeen 2012-Present 14. Oktibbeha County, 2012-Present 15. Leflore County, 2013 – Present 16. Claiborne County, 2013- Present 17. Scott County, 2014- Present

points, the second-greatest improvement after North Panola. Last year, about 66 percent of Tate’s sixth-grade students were proficient or advanced on the end-of-grade reading exam, a 22 percentage point increase since the beginning of the takeover four years earlier. The percentage of students passing the state algebra exam has increased dramatically, to nearly 90 percent last year from 45 percent in 2009. Nevertheless, critics say the state has stayed in Tate County for too long without clear exit goals. “I’m somewhat frustrated that it’s taken almost six years,� said state Senator Steve Hale, D-Senatobia, where Tate County and North Panola are located. This year, Hale proposed legislation for the second year in a row that would have set criteria for academic growth, and a cap on the amount of time a conservator could stay in the district. “There needs to be a structure there,� Hale said. “There should be a better understanding of what’s taking place, what it’s going to take to correct it, and how long it’s going to take.� But his legislation died after it was not brought up for discussion before the deadline to move bills out of committee this session. Larry Drawdy says a timeline would be difficult since the state often takes over a district and then finds the situation is much more complicated than it first appeared. “I

would hate to put any time length on a part of conservatorship, because some districts we might be able to move into and we can correct the problem within maybe a two-year process, another one might take five years� Drawdy said. “Conservatorships are similar, but they’re all different. Each one of them has their own peculiarities.� Help for Hazlehurst The experience of the Hazlehurst School District illustrates both the benefits and problems brought on by a state takeover. Few people deny that the district needed help when the state intervened in 2008. Hazlehurst serves more than 1,500 students about 35 miles south of Jackson, and has posted poor scores on state tests for years. Ninety percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. In recent years, dozens of the district’s vacant teaching positions have been filled by first-year teachers from Teach For America, who tend to leave after two years. In the spring of 2008, a state audit found the district was in full compliance with only two of 37 accreditation standards. Members of the community members and the staff told state officials that they “perceive that a system of nepotism and favoritism exists.� School board members randomly appeared at schools, in what district employees called attempts to “harass and/or intimidate.� The administration was unstable as well. According to a 2011 judicial brief, there were six different principals at Hazlehurst Middle School during the 2008-09 school year. In the years after the state took control, the district has continued to struggle with turnover. In the past six years, the district has had at least five different conservators. Conservatorship is the “loneliest job in the state of Mississippi,� said Larry Drawdy—and one of the hardest positions to fill. “Basically, [conservators] have to pick up and move to a community that they’re not familiar with, where they don’t know anybody there,� Drawdy added. “They don’t know who they can trust.� But conservators also bring an outside perspective and the singular authority to make tough decisions. They can replace office staff, dismiss teachers, and make swift changes. “They are the total voice for the school district,� Drawdy said. “It’s really not the checks and balances you would have with the superintendent and the board.� In Hazlehurst, where the school board was in violation of several accreditation standards—including failure to provide notice of public meetings and to take minutes during the meetings—the state takeover allowed conservators to make immediate changes. To address the academic gaps, a more intractable problem, the district added a block of time during the school day to work with struggling students on basic skills, and PRUH7$.(29(56VHHSDJH

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schools or districts that are taken over. Tennessee’s Achievement School District includes the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state, all of which have the goal of moving to the top 25 percent within five years. Since the achievement district’s inception in 2012, the state has closely monitored its progress. In the 2012-13 school year, the district’s schools posted drops in reading scores, and modest growth in math and science. In Mississippi, the state identifies administrative and financial areas to fix through annual audits of school accreditation standards, which look at such measures as finances and school board practices. Districts can also be taken over if they are rated as failing by the state for two consecutive school years or if there is a pattern of “poor student performance.� When a district is taken over, the audit becomes the district’s “action plan,� which provides steps the district must take to fix accreditation violations. But the state does not set academic criteria for the district’s exit from a takeover, or a timeline for improvement. “Initially, (the goal) is to try to get out of the failing status,� said Larry Drawdy, Mississippi’s deputy state superintendent of school improvement, oversight, recovery and conservatorship. The takeover process in Mississippi is quick. After the governor declares a state of emergency in a district due to finances, poor academic performance, or concerns for student safety, the superintendent and the school board are immediately removed. The state usually hires an experienced superintendent as a conservator, and takes control of the district. The conservator can make immediate changes, which can include firing teachers and hiring new business managers or administrators. The district pays for the position, unless, Drawdy said, the district is in debt and can’t afford it. In those cases, the state will front the bill. Some districts, like Tate County, have had the same conservator for the entirety of the takeover. In other districts, like Hazlehurst and North Panola, several conservators have cycled through. After a district returns to local control and a new superintendent is hired, conservators may move to another takeover district. Drawdy said once districts show they have fixed violations in the annual audit, they’re cleared by the Mississippi Department of Education and return to local control. There is no limit on how long a takeover can last. Some Mississippi districts have returned to local control after one year while others remain under state control after six years. In a July 2013 press release, Drawdy, then the interim state superintendent, defended the efficacy of the state takeovers of Hazlehurst, Tate County, and North Panola. “Overall, conservators have done a good job of getting these districts back on track,� Drawdy said. The state education department denied

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created an after-school program open to all students. Consultants were brought in to help train teachers on using data and creating strong lesson plans. Henry Dorsey, the current conservator of Hazlehurst, says the goal for the district was “to move our kids from proficient to advanced, and to move those that were basic to proficient.” Clearly, the per-

to decide that it’s time now to give it back.” Districts in conservatorship find it difficult to attract teachers and principals, he said. Henry Dorsey, the current superintendent of Hazlehurst, said improved test scores have made it easier to attract teachers. And in some districts, Larry Drawdy said the state can only do so much. “We can significantly go in and change and bring JACKIE MADER

Students in Molly Berry’s algebra class in Tate County work on an assignment together. When the state took control of the district in 2009, the pass rate on the high school algebra exit exam was only 45 percent.

formance data has been mixed. Andy Smarick said sometimes a state doesn’t have the staff or capacity to make dramatic progress in a district, but takes control because of a “sense of moral obligation” after a district hits “rock bottom.” But then, Smarick said, officials often don’t know what to do with the district. “(States) realize ‘we were not set up to take over a district, much less run schools from the capital when the district might be 50, 200, 300 miles away,’” Smarick said. Despite some persistently low scores in Hazlehurst, Drawdy, the deputy state superintendent, said “there’s a point where we have

that school district up to what it needs to be accreditation wise, financial wise, and in many cases test score wise...because we can control the school,” Drawdy said. “We cannot control the community because we have not changed the culture in the community.” Lessons from Tate County Although the results of state takeovers have been relatively mediocre overall, Tate County is a rare example of academic success. When the state took control of the Tate County School District in 2009, the rural district that serves about 3,000 students was more than $1 million in debt. Supplies and

technology were grossly insufficient: A 2009 audit of the district found that computers for a vocational program were running Windows 3.0, a system released in 1990. The district, just 30 miles south of the Tennessee border, was also struggling academically. In 2009, only 40 percent of third-grade students scored proficient or advanced on the end-of-grade English language arts exam. Only 45 percent of students passed the state algebra exam. Teachers were “just sort of floating around on their own little island,” said James Malone, a former high school principal and district superintendent, who was appointed by the state as the district’s conservator in 2009. When he took control, Malone rolled out a district-wide curriculum so teachers at each school were teaching the same material. Teachers began to use frequent assessments to track student progress, and consultants were brought in to observe and coach teachers. At the same time, Malone had to make cuts to whittle down the $1 million deficit. In the 2009-10 school year, Tate County cut all of its assistant teachers, and most new teachers. He was able to hire back some staff members, but had to increase class sizes to do so. “When you cut personnel and you’re still trying to improve test scores ... that’s difficult,” Malone said. On a recent morning at Tate’s Strayhorn High School in the small rural town of Sarah, Miss., veteran math teacher Molly Berry was teaching parabolas to 10 students who were riveted by a picture of a Ferrari sports car displayed on a screen in the front of the room. “Where’s the parabola in this picture?” Berry asked. “The hood!” one student offered. “The steering wheel?” another guessed. Berry pointed to the front of the car. “The headlights,” she said. “I said that!” two students chorused. The algebra scores at this rural high school have grown dramatically since the state takeover. In 2009, only 41 percent of its students passed the state algebra exam. Last

year, more students took the exam, and nearly 90 percent passed. “We have worked really hard,” Berry said, referring to teachers in the district. She said that the expectations for students and teachers have grown since the state took control. It’s also helped, she added, that teachers have access to consultants and coaches. Unlike Hazlehurst, leadership in Tate County has remained consistent. “The same leadership—and good leadership—sets a certain expectation for the school,” Berry said. A new model As the state considers whether to take control of dozens of schools this year, experts question whether Mississippi should be thinking along the lines of Memphis or New Orleans. Test scores for students in Louisiana’s state-run Recovery School District, a network of low-performing schools in New Orleans and several other cities in Louisiana, have grown faster than any other public school district in the state. This September, the Recovery School District in New Orleans will become the nation’s first ever allcharter school district. Andy Smarick said that it can be harder for rural areas with fewer people, a smaller workforce, and less ability to attract charter school operators, to make the changes seen in large cities. “You’re left without a lot of really good options,” he said. “The set of solutions you can apply in urban areas, those things, in some sense, go out the window when you’re talking about a sparsely populated area.” In Tate County, conservator James Malone is a believer in the potential of the current model of state takeovers. He says that the academic growth in the district is evidence that Tate County is ready to return to local control this year. “It’s been a long haul,” Malone said. “But we feel that we got the job done.” Sarah Butrymowicz contributed to this report, which was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educationnews outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University.

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What It’s Come To

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iss Doodle Mae: “Jojo, our fearless leader, is an avid seeker of knowledge and understanding. His desire is to use helpful information to better serve his customers, staff and community. During his early morning independent-research and personal-development session, Jojo discovered that the number of long-term unemployed people who are no longer receiving unemployment benefits hit the 2 million mark, according to the National Employment Law Project. This bit of information inspired Jojo to have an emergency morning staff meeting about helping long-term unemployed customers. His brief message to the staff was titled ‘Supply the Demand.’� Jojo: “In these days and times, a lot of people are free-falling into a very deep hole of uncertainty. They are irritated and frustrated 60-year-olds looking for gainful employment. They are disappointed, depressed and stressed individuals who feel betrayed by politicians and government. They repeat statements like: ‘I’ve been working and paying taxes since I was a teenager, and I’ve been a responsible human being. Is this really what it’s come to?’ “In all of this despair, I hear voices demanding that our great society do better toward people free falling into a pit of imposed poverty. This is the point where Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store will become the Ghetto Science Community’s social-safety net. “As of today, let’s make a good effort to ‘supply the demand’ of our long-term unemployed customers by providing better service and keeping ‘everything a dollar.’ They have suffered enough already.�

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Why it stinks: In these days of slow economic recovery and shrinking congregations, pastors of churches big and small have to come up with innovative ways to pay expenses, including their own salaries. That’s not the issue with Yarber. Rather, it’s one of transparency and accountability. If Yarber, who founded the church with his wife, Rosalind, six years ago, is accustomed to this informal method of doing business, it seems a tough habit to break if he gets into the mayor’s office. How can the public know be sure that Yarber won’t award contracts and conduct other city business on the strength of the Holy Ghost handshake? He needs to convince the voters that he handles finances more carefully than that.

Show Us the Campaign Money—OnTime

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n Tuesday, April 1, candidates seeking the office of Jackson mayor are required to submit their campaign-finance reports. The law states that candidates are required to itemize each contribution over $200; donations under $200 can be lumped together. Runoff candidates would need to file another report by April 15. All candidates must also file statements of economic interest (SEI) with the Mississippi Ethics Commission as are current office holders and some other appointed officials. These are important reports that come with absolutely crucial deadlines in a campaign as short as this one. More so even than last year’s protracted campaign, the amount of money spent, and how it is spent, could make or break the bids of the 13 individuals vying for the post. We already know that most of the top candidates are buying advertising on local radio and television as well as in print publications (full disclosure: that includes the Jackson Free Press). We also know that campaigns or their agents are running so-called robocalls, some of which are negative. Fundraising and drawing contrasts between oneself and one’s opponent are necessary parts of our political process. However, the integrity of a political campaign is a bellwether for the level of transparency and accountability that will be present during a leader’s administration. Running an underhanded, dirty campaign usually carries over into administration of government duties. Likewise, a clean, transparent campaign instills trust in the electorate and helps build political campaign that a

mayor can spend in times of turmoil. In the endorsement interviews we’ve conducted so far with the three members of the Jackson City Council who are running for mayor we’re already getting a taste for how transparent some administrations would be. So far, Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon has been most forthcoming about the source of her campaign funds; she named her top three contributors who have given a total of $5,000. Councilmen Tony Yarber and Melvin Priester, who took control of Lumumba’s seat on the council and rose to the rank of council president following the mayor’s death, declined to disclose to the Jackson Free Press editorial board who was giving to their campaigns. Yarber, who is being supported by developer Socrates Garrett, did acknowledge that businesses that do business with the city are donating. Withholding those names makes no sense to us; they must tell us by law within a week anyway. Why the secrecy now? So we’re calling on candidates—and PACs and surrogates—to not only comply with the campaign-finance deadlines, but to fill out the forms completely, with names, addresses and phone numbers of contributors. Yes, we intend to scrutinize and publish these lists. Yes, we will raise questions about where the money is coming from. But, believe it or not, candidates for mayor, this is good for you, it’s good for Jackson, and it’s good for democracy. See jfp.ms/documents for all campaign-finance reports

Email letters and opinion to letters@jacksonfreepress.com, fax to 601-510-9019 or mail to 125 South Congress St., Suite 1324, Jackson, Mississippi 39201. Include daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, as well as factchecked.


I Don’t Feel Welcome in Mississippi Editor-in-Chief Donna Ladd Publisher Todd Stauffer EDITORIAL News Editor R.L. Nave Features Editor Kathleen Morrison Mitchell Music Editor Briana Robinson JFP Daily Editor Dustin Cardon Editorial Assistant Amber Helsel Interim City Reporter Haley Ferretti Events Editor Latasha Willis Music Listings Editor Tommy Burton Fashion Stylist Nicole Wyatt Writers Torsheta Bowen, Ross Cabell Marika Cackett, Richard Coupe, Bryan Flynn, Genevieve Legacy, Anita Modak-Truran, Larry Morrisey, Ronni Mott, Eddie Outlaw, Julie Skipper, Kelly Bryan Smith, Micah Smith Editorial Interns Brittany Sanford, Demetrice Sherman Consulting Editor JoAnne Prichard Morris ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY Art Director Kristin Brenemen Advertising Designer Zilpha Young Graphic Design Intern Jesse Flowers Staff Photographer/Videographer Trip Burns Photographer Tate K. Nations ADVERTISING SALES Advertising Director Kimberly Griffin Account Managers Gina Haug, David Rahaim BUSINESS AND OPERATIONS Director of Operations David Joseph Bookkeeper Aprile Smith Assistant to the Publisher Leslie La Cour Operations Assistant Caroline Lacy Crawford Distribution Manager Richard Laswell Distribution Raymond Carmeans, John Cooper, Jordan Cooper, Clint Dear, Ruby Parks ONLINE Web Editor Dustin Cardon Web Designer Montroe Headd Multimedia Editor Trip Burns CONTACT US: Letters letters@jacksonfreepress.com Editorial editor@jacksonfreepress.com Queries submissions@jacksonfreepress.com Listings events@jacksonfreepress.com Advertising ads@jacksonfreepress.com Publisher todd@jacksonfreepress.com News tips news@jacksonfreepress.com Fashion style@jacksonfreepress.com Jackson Free Press 125 South Congress Street, Suite 1324 Jackson, Mississippi 39201 Editorial (601) 362-6121 Sales (601) 362-6121 Fax (601) 510-9019 Daily updates at jacksonfreepress.com

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wenty years ago, Debra Allen and her friends were kicked out of a restaurant after a family complained, saying they thought it was a “family” restaurant. “Here I stand today, fussing about the same damn thing. I’m a 58-year-old Mississippian from birth. I pay my taxes. I generally obey the law,” she said, stirring up laughter. “I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve to be thrown out of a restaurant because they don’t like the way I look or the fact that I’m sitting with five women.” Atop the 16 steps of the dust-colored Mississippi Capitol, Allen stood along with protesters—some holding signs while others shoved their hands in their pockets to keep warm. It was quiet. No breeze shook the skeletal trees. Most was gray except for the bold proclamations painted and sketched on the protesters’ signs: LET GOD BE THE QUALIFIER DON’T LEGALIZE DISCRIMINATION LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL HB2681 SEGREGATION DIDN’T WORK THE FIRST TIME! I was there to report the vote of Senate Bill 2681, otherwise known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and as a gay Mississippian, I wanted nothing more than to join my own community and hold a sign as high as I could possibly reach. I wanted to bang on doors, glare at passing senators, wear a rainbow flag on my back and tell people to call me Super Gay. But, of course, being a journalist and what not, I had to follow those things called “ethics.” The bill, in the form it was in before it reached the House, included vague language that opened doors to discrimination and slammed them in the face of LGBTQ citizens. It wasn’t cool, y’all. Having lived in Mississippi my whole life, a lot of things have been not cool. Add being gay to that, and you have the formula for a whole bunch of uncoolness. Don’t get me wrong, Mississippi can be great. I have fantastic manners (except that I’m a chronic burper), I can deal with humidity, and my accent wows people even though I try to rid of my inevitable drawl. But if you’re gay and living in Mississippi, you have to play a character. We’ll call him Johnny Boy.

Johnny Boy shops at Reed’s, searching for the most masculine-looking Columbia jacket to go over his simple button-downs. Sometimes Johnny even likes to wear hats because all his uncles do. And his uncles are real men, after all. Johnny “likes” to watch football, even though all he wants to do is flip through the latest issue of Vogue while listening to Whitney Houston, quietly humming to himself. Johnny went to a conservative high school where he was made fun of for trying out for musicals, so instead, he hangs out with his bros and talks about chicks. He just really wants to sing. That’s all. He wants to express himself. All gay Mississippians have a little bit of Johnny Boy in them. We’ve had to cloak ourselves, don our straight-boy-who-hasto-play-sports costume (not found at Walmart), learn how to stand like a man, keep our wrists up, our voices deep and emotions void. All because of conservative legislation based primarily on Christian values. There. I said it. Mississippi has a way of trying to dictate everyone’s lives—from women’s health-care legislation to bills like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Anyone who is not a heterosexual white male with an American flag pinned on his severely dry-cleaned suit is not welcome. I do not feel welcome in Mississippi. Period. I won’t feel welcome until conservative Christians slow their roll, have a seat, take a deep breath, sip some sweet tea and rethink their actions. Come on, guys, really? Sometimes I find myself wanting to scream “REALLY?!” as loud as possible. Even though cities throughout the state are creating nondiscrimination resolutions, no one is doing anything to ensure nondiscrimination. No one is putting emphasis on progressing. We are still stuck. I can’t wait to be unstuck. I can’t wait for the day that everyone can stuff their Johnny Boy costumes way in the back of their closets. I can’t wait for the day where I can hold a lover’s hand in Mississippi and feel like I belong. I can’t wait to throw a gay wedding and dance to the entire Beyoncé discography at the reception. That’ll be the day, won’t it?

All gay Mississippians have a little bit of Johnny Boy in them.

Zachary Orsborn is a junior at Mississippi State University, a student reporter for the Starkville Free Press and the multimedia editor of The Reflector at MSU.

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“B

March 26 - April 1, 2014

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

eautiful Jim” is an intimate documentary portrait of bisexual singer-songwriter and raconteur Jimbeau Hinson. The film, which Rex Jones directed, conveys Hinson’s life experience through a series of candid interviews and segues during his musical performance. Jones balances the expository, sometimes provocative narration with photographic stills, shots of memorabilia and well-placed non-verbal sequences that show the full dimension of Hinson’s story. As a boy growing up in Newton, Miss., Hinson earned recognition as a singer at an early age. When his voice changed radically at the age of 14, his singing career lost momentum. Determined to be a songwriter instead, he followed his dreams to Nashville where he eventually found success. Best known for his work with The Oak Ridge Boys, the self-described “first openly bisexual man in the county music industry” faced numerous challenges in life and career. Hinson was diagnosed with HIV in 1985. Since then, he’s survived two, near-fatal bouts of full-blown AIDS but

Though he lived through war and segregation, Joe LaNier

16 remained hopeful about America through his last days.

COURTESY OF REX JONES

ulive, c 1 t a e r c 14 ith a features kw s n ee ia al kson he festiv whole w ers, c a J the n, t emb ided prov n Madiso asses for stival m 15 for s a h e p $ i F s al estiv e Malco All-acces ads Film ssion and regular F m h i $35 s Fil ans. adm , at t ossro da sroad his year ississippi 9 for Cr regular Society is short an rs s o r C 0 a . T ing M io or $4 Film re $2 , the , sen utlet p of years ematic o d featur dmission y passes a ossroads made u embers y tick5 1 bu Cr -da For nd cin de by an gular a ally or m a One ership to —gener and $6 f le and to s. a re . l s a t m 9 r n 5 s u e u lm b e t $ stud block mem red fi , som ission sched , are films pril 3-6 lder and dents. A ual film ular adm te event the featu o A d g f u le end, s 65 and rs and st ts. Indivi are $8 re e comp f some o h r o t o n i o i e r — s n s se Fo review sen tud rt film free. bers, for s e o mem and $25 up of sh hops are . Here ar s o k e r m r c g o i o r c a p r ost w stival. re, o featu udents. M adsfilmfe o st and sit crossr i v ets,

Jimbeau Hinson performs at the Bluebird Café in Nashville.

has lived to continue writing, recording and performing his music. Rex Jones is a filmmaker on staff with The Southern Documentary Project (SouthDocs.org). The project is affili-

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wo Jima is a small volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean. Its name is seared into the psyche of anyone even remotely familiar with American history in World War II. The island has reached mythical status for the United States and Japan because of the horrors soldiers endured while stationed there, and the near superhuman effort needed to take the island from its Japanese defenders. In the film “Life, Liberty and Resilience,” Joe LaNier’s demeanor gives no indication that he participated in the battle. You don’t see bitterness, or fear. LaNier is the same way about the larger battle of growing up African American in rural Mississippi. Steffan Tubbs, the director of “Life, Liberty and Resilience” and author of the book by the same name, is an awardwinning journalist who currently hosts a morning radio show in Denver, Colo. In 2006 and again in 2010, he spent time in Iraq as a journalist embedded with U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division. His experience there led to an interest in America’s veterans. He began working with The Greatest Generations Foundation based in Denver. The Foundation is dedicated to

ated with the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss. SouthDocs is also a division of The Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “As a documentary filmmaker, it’s my job to make films about Mississippi and the South,” Jones says. “With such wonderfully fertile ground for telling stories, I have a lot of rich material to work with.” A native of Hickory, Miss., Jones began his professional career in computers. In 1992, he graduated from Mississippi State University with two degrees, a master’s in business administration and a bachelor’s in computer science. He worked in IT for 15 years. Somewhere along the way, he became fascinated with documentary film as a creative way to effect change in the world. Though he knew very little about the process, he eventually shot his first movie. “I had a grave dowser come to my ancestral church and use his supernatural powers to find unmarked graves in the cemetery,” Jones says. “It was amazing to watch. I thought, what better topic than this for a documentary? I bought

honoring the sacrifices of veterans and ensuring their legacies are recorded. One way it does that is to escort WWII veterans back to the battlefields where they fought as young men, taking with them members of the younger generation to ensure their story is told. He heard through this group that a black veteran of Iwo Jima, Joe LaNier, was headed back and decided to interview him for his radio show. “I expected the interview to last five minutes, but it went on for more than an hour,” Tubbs says. He realized what a fascinating story LaNier’s entire life was, not just his WWII service. When LaNier’s trip to Iwo Jima was canceled after he reached Guam because of the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Tubbs promised LaNier that he would get him back to Iwo Jima—and he did. He decided to write a book and then a documentary on LaNier’s life and experiences. LaNier, who passed away in 2013, was a handsome man even well into his 80s, when this documentary was filmed in 2012. In the film, he is always impeccably dressed and usually sporting some kind of hat. Like many men of his age are


F not full of the bitterness, but rather as one relating some strange facts. The key to this documentary, and what makes it well worth seeing, is LaNier himself and his outlook on life at the end of his days. He is unfailingly enthusiastic about America and how far it has come since his days growing up in Mississippi, and he states how proud he is of his country for realizing that things had to change. “There’s no such thing as a perfect Union,” he says in the film. “That’s why we always say we are trying to make it a more perfect Union, because each generation is going to have something they need to fix that the previous generation didn’t do. ... We’ve moved forward in a positive sense. Sometimes it’s slow, but it happens. That’s why I’m proud to be an American.” “Life, Liberty and Resilience” screens at 1:10 p.m. April 5 on Screen B.

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

wont to do, and especially veterans of WWII, he wears a baseball cap with some type of large insignia on the front of the cap that says something about his service. It says “Iwo Jima Survivor.” The documentary has no narrator; the only voice you hear is LaNier’s while he tells his story. Tubbs says this is the result of more than 100 hours of interview time. The method works as LaNier is very articulate, with a phenomenal memory, and a kind of empathy that makes the viewer really like him. The scene where he is in an overgrown and completely trashed cemetery near Columbus, Miss., looking for his parents’ graves and can’t find them, is heartbreakingly real and makes one want to grab the neighbor’s bush hog and help him find them. His descriptions of the violent racism in Mississippi when he was growing up and the continued racism in the Navy during the 1940s is told in a voice not looking for pity,

olk songs have existed about as long as music has been around. Some are about everyday issues; some tell a story. One type of folk song, which deals with crime, is called a moritat, such as “Zela Trovke” from Slovakia. Cry for help. Touch of evil. Mounting

“Zela Trovke” goes inside a performance of a Slovakian folk tale of murder, adding depth and context to the music.

tension. These are a few phrases used to describe “Zela Trovke,” which translates from Slovak to mean “cutting grass.” The film of the same name tells the story of the Holland Baroque Society’s performance of the piece included in their Barbaric Beauty programme. The group’s violinist,

In 1950s suburbia, a family faces threats from at home and across the globe.

pearly whites at them do they once again feel reassured, and the soundtrack of perfect suburbia life for them resumes. In the midst of all of this is that pesky threat of a Soviet nuclear-missile launch. Sure, it’s evident from the news and from Judy’s family fallout shelter stockpiled with shelves atop of shelves of giant cans of soup in every flavor imaginable. But a missile still appears to be far from possible, and definitely not as immediate a concern to Judy’s dad as chasing away the scumbag chasing his daughter. That is, until a siren wails in the distance. This is not a test. The missiles are coming. But even as they appear in the evening sky, one illuminated blip at a time, I feel that surely even they will not be enough to destroy Nirvana, this perfect suburbia. “Sheltered Love” screens at 7:20 p.m. April 4 on Screen C as part of the Shorts 1: Dark Comedy & Satire block.

Maite Larburu, sings the lyrics. The piece of music itself tells the story of a woman who performs her mundane daily chores and then brutally murders her husband without rhyme or reason. Beyond the shocking nature of lyrics, the music builds up to a nervous climax before coming to an abrupt end. One of the group’s members describes the lyrics as “brutal.” The short film explores women’s roles in Slovakian society in 1720, when the piece was written. As the soloist, Larburu, ponders the thoughts of this female murderess and what may have led to her actions. The first half of the film features interviews with members of the Holland Baroque Society after they performed the music in front of a live audience. They discuss the impact this music has on them as musicians, as well as how they prepared to play it. The performance of “Zela Trovke” leaves the audience somewhat breathless, and the film’s viewers are right along with the people sitting in the performance hall. “Zela Trovke” screens at 5 p.m. April 6 on 17 Screen B, along with “Brasslands.” jacksonfreepress.com

a cheap Handycam and went out there and followed him around the cemetery.” To Jones’ surprise, several film festivals accepted the film he put together, titled “Dowsing Spring Hill.” Ready for a change of vocation, Jones built off the success of his first effort, applied to film school and enrolled at Montana State University. In 2009, he returned to Mississippi with a master’s degree in science and natural history filmmaking. “Beautiful Jim” is Jones’ 12th production under the auspices of SouthDocs and his first feature-length film. Through serendipity and Google, he discovered Jimbeau Hinson in a blog entry about bottle collecting in Newton, the singer-songwriter’s hometown, just eight miles from Hickory. “I was fascinated by his story,” Jones says. “He’s overcome so much adversity in his life and has done so many wonderful things. I was drawn to his story and to him. Being from the same neck of the woods as

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elcome to 1950s Perfect Suburbia, U.S.A. The opening credits appear over a black-and-white scene that instantly reminds me of “Leave it to Beaver,” so much so that I half expect to see June and Ward waving from a front porch. This appears to be a place where perfect families live in perfect neighborhoods and everyone knows everyone. In this setting, we encounter the lovestruck teenage girl, Judy, who adores Mr. Jacket-Clad Bad Boy, Rick—whom her father absolutely despises. “This Family is Safe and Protected!” reads a sign planted on the father’s well-manicured lawn. And he doesn’t just mean from Soviet missiles. This appears to be a warning to low-life James Dean-wannabe boyfriends as well. This world literally stops when any emotion outside of Pollyanna-type bliss is exhibited. When the father grabs tough guy Rick around his jacket collar on the front lawn, everyone passing by who witnesses the scene—from the milkman to the unseen driver of a car rolling along in the background—stops in open-mouthed astonishment. Only after Dad flashes his

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

COURTESY OF REX JONES

Jimbeau Hinson is one of the first openly bisexual men in country music.

myself, I knew I had to reach out.” Hinson’s response was affirmative and enthusiastic, setting the tone for the film that took about six months to complete. Between Hinson’s generosity and the depth of Jones’ interest and appreciation, the film telegraphs an immediacy of rapport and open communication “It’s a collaboration,” Jones says. “I’m very fortunate to be able to quickly reach a level of comfort and intimacy with people when I’m doing these films. It really helps when you’re doing that exchange of information.” Shot in multiple locations in Tennessee and Mississippi, Jones’ film displays a fine eye for landscape and frame. Throughout the film, he plants moments of contemplation—a time-lapsed sunrise over a fallow field; a silent shot of Hinson sitting on a bench in Newton with the town water tower hovering in the distance— purely visual moments that evoke a sense of place and regional identity. “Beautiful Jim” is one of three LGBT films included the 2014 Crossroads Film Festival. Though Jones did not set out to make a film in that category, he hopes the documentary will be relatable to a broad range of people. “If I can reach the LGBT community and the HIV AIDS community, the songwriting community or small town MS and people from the south, then that’s the reason for the movie,” Jones says. “We all embody people who have struggled. If they’re an underdog, then it’s even better.” “Beautiful Jim” screens at 3:15 p.m. April 5 on Screen A.


     

 

The Laramie Project

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COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

far as she knows, he’s taking a road trip for his advertising job. The truth, though, is that he’s trying to sneak in his last bit of freedom before settling down. Craig travels to towns such as Oxford, Raymond, Gulfport, Jackson and Rose Hill, N.C. He gets to buy a replica of the world’s biggest rocking chair at Dedeaux Furniture Factory in Gulfport. But everywhere he goes, he’s reminded of the woman waiting for him in San Francisco. He’s scared. Buying a house, or even renting an A road trip to see weird large tourist attractions is the apartment together, is a huge cover for a boyfriend worried about settling down in “Big step for any couple. This trip Significant Things.” is his way of acting out, his one of six of the world’s largest frying pans is way of hiding from reality. He keeps the fain North Carolina. çade up of the good boyfriend who just has Those are just a few things you learn to finish his job before meeting Allison and when watching Bryan Reisberg’s film, “Big her parents in California. Significant Things.” You also learn that the His road trip through cities and scenic main character is sissy when it comes to deal- places in the south provides a good backdrop ing with relationship issues. for the film. While Craig is agonizing about The entire film focuses on Craig, the inevitability of settling down, Mississippi played by English actor Harry Lloyd, and viewers get to see familiar places, making the his road trip around the south. Craig is get- film even more powerful. ting ready to buy a house in San Francisco “Big Significant Things” screens at 7 p.m. with his long-time girlfriend Allison, and as April 4 on Screen A.

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hough I like the film “Forev” by Molly Green and James Leffler, it’s frustrating to watch, and not because of any flaws

“Forev” explores the impromptu relationship of two neighbors.

often seen on screen. It’s actually my favorite type of film. “Forev” has an offbeat storyline and sense of humor, the people are normal, and the camera work is pretty simple. The frustration lies in the dynamic between Pete and Sophie. Pete is an awkward IT guy who keeps to himself, and Sophie is somewhat of a budding actress. They’re neighbors and friends, but barely know anything about each other. Pete has to go pick his sister Jess up from college in Phoenix, so Sophie, feeling sad about possibly being turned down for a local hotdog commercial, decides to tag along. Before they leave, as Pete and Sophie

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

colors and textures, but animates the film on her computer. The opening of “A Tangled Tale” features dark scenes of nature, from something jumping out of water to catch a butterfly to the casting of a fisherman’s line. The fish pops out of the water, and once it dives back in, the viewer sees an underwater world of interesting textures and colors. The fish meets another fish caught in the same situation, and they discover that they have a connection. They strive to find a way to break the connection. “A Tangled Tale” screens at 1:20 p.m. April 5 on Screen C as part of the Shorts 3: Animation for Adults block.

begins to crush against the confines of the home Hublot has so painstakingly created. When it becomes too much for Hublot to bear, he decides to rectify the situation. My heart began to break, along with that of his robotic companion who looked questioningly at his owner and cowered, confused. This film—which took home the

“Mr. Hublot” tugs at the heartstrings with its portrayal of a tightly wound man learning to love.

Academy Award for Best Animated Short this year—definitely tugged at my heartstrings and my tear ducts more than a few times. This film offers a beautiful retelling of the “odd couple” story of the very neat man and his messy companion. But more importantly, the film shows the basic need for connection, love and understanding in a world where everything is overly-automated and moving at a rapid pace. “Mr. Hublot” screens at 1:20 p.m. April 5 on Screen C as part of the Shorts 3: Animation for Adults block.

lay on his living-room floor, and she insists that she’s going to stay there forever. Pete says that if that’s the case, they should get married. She replies she would marry him right then. It is mostly a joke at first, but when they are well into the road trip, Pete says he thinks that they really should get married. “It’s going to be awesome,” he says. Even though they know almost nothing about each other (not even one another’s last names), they make the idea seem like it makes sense. And at first, it does. You’re supposed to marry your friend, right? Sophie and Pete click, and they have fun together. It’s a simple relationship, uncomplicated by the perils of a romantic relationship. Jess is the dose of reality in “Forev.” She has been in a real relationship, and she is experiencing real pain from the ending of it. At times, she may seem bitter and scornful, but she knows that neither one of them really wants this. At some point, you just want to yell at Pete, because no matter how far his shenanigans go, he won’t just tell Sophie he likes her—and that they should try being a couple before diving headfirst into one of the biggest decisions of their lives. “Forev” screens at 1 p.m. April 5 on Screen A.

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id you know Oxford has one of the largest cedar buckets in the world? The city held the title after the Murfreesboro bucket burned down, up until it was rebuilt. Other fun facts: Gulfport has the largest rocking chair in the world, and

In “A Tangled Tale,” Corrie Francis Parks takes sand art to a new level.

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

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hen I was little, my mom would buy me sand-art kits. They were the simple kind— just colored sand and whimsically shaped bottles. But Corrie Francis Parks’ “A Tangled Tale” made me realize sand art’s true beauty. In the film, Parks uses the traditional method of sand animation, turning something as plain as sand into an incredible piece of art. In sand animation, an artist creates a series of images with sand, using their hands to draw lines and figures. The work is done on a piece of backlit or frontlit glass. Parks created her first sand animation in 2003, titled “Tracks,” about animals in the Savannah Desert sharing a drink of water before night falls. The film allowed her to experiment with the medium and figure out what worked and what didn’t. “A Tangled Tale” was her way to capitalize on the process and turn it into something amazing. This time, though, she had technology on her side. She uses as many physical mediums as possible to create the

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

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he striking film “Mr. Hublot,” directed by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares, is like Steampunk meets “The Jetsons”—a post-apocalyptic universe of steam-powered machines and propeller hats that allow citizens to take flight above it all. Mr. Hublot, our esteemed, goggled, prominent-nosed protagonist, has made a refuge for himself in the midst of this chaotic world, but he is definitely not part of the world. His padlocked front door makes his home a vault of sorts, shutting out everything. He is quite content to keep it that way, even if it means being confined to an obsessive-compulsive existence, beginning and ending each day the same as the last. Except that the yipping of a small robotic puppy living on the street below keeps drawing his attention to the world outside his window. The creature is trying to find refuge from the elements and the constant busy-ness of a world too preoccupied to take notice of him. In the first of a few notable climatic turns, Hublot finally forces himself from the physical—and mental—confines of his sanctuary when he sees that unfortunate circumstances have befallen the pooch. He welcomes the creature into his world and goes through the growing pains of learning to share his space. His puppy also grows, literally. He becomes a dog, then a much bigger dog, until he becomes so massive that he

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Pub Quiz with Andrew

T /

Vulcan Eejits F /

Bailey Bros. S /

Joe Ca rrol

M /

Karaoke with Matt

T /

The Grim Reaper stalks Henry Fleetwood in “There is No God and We All Die Alone.”

ens (likely a play on the name of the popular atheist author, Richard Dawkins), has stripped him of his belief in any god, leaving him to search desperately for happiness by other means. However, by the time of the viewer’s introduction to Henry, the shock of his father’s death has obliterated what little progress he has made. Teetering on the brink of giving up, he reaches out to his ex-girlfriend, Anita, who, with the aid of Derrick (her pet boy), attempts to pull Henry out of his slump. Despite the heavy nature of its subject matter, Marian and Givens’ efforts have resulted in a delightfully frenetic film that

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prooting your life and taking it to an unfamiliar place is a scary idea, but it’s necessary, sometimes, to keep your sanity. That’s what the ladies in “Baking Alaska” did. After Jackie and Kathy’s father passed away from cancer, the sisters wanted their mother, Doris, to have a new experience. Jackie jumped at the chance to open a bakery in Homer, Alaska. She left her life and her job in San Antonio, Texas, and brought Kathy and Doris along for the ride. The women went to Homer around the end of April 2009, when the town was blanketed in snow, to get ready for the bakery opening May 1 of that year. Due to harsh weather conditions, Boardwalk Bakery could only stay open from May to Labor Day. The film follows the ladies’ adventures running the bakery going for those first few months. The first couple of weeks are the hardest, but eventually, the bakery became a hit with the locals. It’s not all roses, though. The film highlights the ups and downs the ladies experienced of running a new, temporary bakery in a harsh environment. They work 12, sometimes 14, hours a day, and stay open all week. Whenever they can, which is rarely, they spend some of their time off winding down at the local bar or walking along the beach. But all in all, their passion and joy in running Boardwalk shows through.

stimulates the mind, the heart, and the funny bone in just the right amounts. I laughed out loud, jumped in shock, and—almost—cried at the in-your-face and over-the-top display of cheek, slapstick, and cheese. All of these elements combine to address the question of meaning human experience: “What’s the point?” Though each person may have a unique way of answering that question, there is something uniting in the fact that we must all decide how to do so. “There is No God and We All Die Alone” screens at 7:20 p.m. April 4 on Screen C as part of the Shorts 1: Dark Comedy & Satire block.

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W /

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

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enry Fleetwood is, by his own standards, average. He is clever, but jaded—a gloomy fatalist. Besides his wit and weariness, he doesn’t have much to remark upon. He has exhausted himself in searching for meaning in an existence made pointless by the inevitability of death, which he sees everywhere. Literally. He sees Death everywhere. Wherever Henry goes, blackrobed, scythe-towing figures abound—riding on bicycles, lighting a woman’s cigarette or getting down on the dance floor—but always robbing their unsuspecting targets of life with absurd nonchalance. It is this absurdity that sets the tone of Ross Marian and Harrison Givens’ “There is No God and We All Die Alone.” The darkly comic film begins with the wacky, drawnout, sudden death of a homeless man, sitting next to Henry on a bench. Only Henry, watching in silent awe mere inches away, and the viewer seem to notice this occurrence, after which Fleetwood introduces himself, directly addressing the audience. From this point on, the viewer gains access to Henry’s bizarre perception of the world, shaped by his longing for meaning and his obsession with Death’s ever-intrusive shenanigans. The viewer learns about the events that have brought Henry to his depressing philosophy. A book, entitled “There is No God and We All Die Alone,” by Robert Dark-

Three women uproot their lives and go on a culinary adventure together in “Baking Alaska.”

To navigate the story, the film editor uses a recipe card that pops up over b-roll footage occasionally, counting down the months the bakery stays open or focusing on aspects such as how many customers they served, and general life moments for Jackie, Kathy and Doris. Some focused on Jackie’s love life (or lack thereof) and one counted the number of fights Jackie and Kathy had in the last month. “Baking Alaska” screens at 1 p.m. April 6 on Screen A as part of the Food for Thought for Life block.


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lan Lomax’s role in the preservation of American folk and blues music can never be understated. Lomax traveled around the country collecting interviews and songs for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. He didn’t do it in the luxury of a recording studio; he did it from his car with about 500 pounds of recording equipment in tow. In 1941, Lomax’s travels brought him to the Mississippi Delta, where he discovered and recorded the likes of Mississippi John Hurt and Muddy Waters, among others. Aside from their historical significance, these recordings are some of the most harrowing sounds ever committed to tape. Jesse Kreitzer’s short black-and-white film titled “Lomax” explores what one of these recordings might have been like. Alan Lomax, played by musician and actor Georg Koszulinski, is sent to Bill Henley’s homestead by someone in town. “Don’t many folks get this far out,” Henley (played by James “Tail Dragger” Jones) says, surprised by this visitor in a large Plymouth. Lomax conducts his interview with Henley and then asks if he can record the elderly blues singer. After he hooks up the

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

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“Lomax” tells the story of Alan Lomax’s journey around the country in a big Plymouth car, recording music.

heavy mobile recording gear to the car’s battery, Henley performs a blues song a cappella dedicated to his old mule. Lomax plays the recording back to him, and Henley seems surprised by the sound of his voice. The film is short, but it gives the audience a real sense of Lomax’s important work. He obviously worked very hard to locate these artists just to record them. Aside from the music itself, you can hear the cicadas in the distance and the creak of the old house where Henley resides. Viewers are transported to another place and time, thanks to Kreitzer’s details. “Lomax” screens at 5 p.m. April 6 on Screen B along with “Brasslands.”

PG13

Veronica Mars PG13 Sabotage R Divergent

PG13

Muppets Most PG Wanted

300: Rise of an Empire (non 3-D) R Mr. Peabody and Sherman (non 3-D) PG Non-Stop PG13

God’s Not Dead PG

Son of God PG13

Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club PG13

The Monuments Men PG13

Need For Speed (non 3-D) PG13

Frozen (non 3-D) PG

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“Holes” and “DAR HE: The Lynching of Emmett Till,” plays all 20 roles in the film. Wiley’s range as an actor is evident, as he portrays such roles in the trial as Till’s mother Mamie Carthan, Carolyn Bryant and Sheriff Strider. He plays both African American and white characters ONE NOBLE JOURNEY

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Mike Wiley plays all 20 roles in the true crime film “Money 1955:The Emmett Till Murder Trial.”

with ease. Though the film portrays the trial with grace, he blurs the lines between people so well that it conveys the message that we’re all the same underneath our skin tone. “Money 1955: The Emmett Till Murder Trial” screens at 1:10 p.m. April 5 on Screen B, along with “Life, Liberty and Resilience.”

FULL MISSISSIPPI BRAVES SCHEDULING COMING IN APRIL!

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ou’d be forgiven for thinking “Money 1955: The Emmett Till Murder Trial” is a documentary, given that the trial marked the start of the Civil Rights Movement. But as it turns out, the film—produced and directed by Rob Underhill—is a short true-crime film based on court transcripts from the trial of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, the men who killed Till. If you need a brush-up on your civil rights history, the story goes that Till had flirted with a local grocery store owner named Carolyn, Bryant’s wife. After catching wind of what had happened, Milam and Bryant dragged Till into a barn and beat him, shot him, tied a cotton-gin fan around his neck and then threw him into the river. At the insistence of his mother, Till’s casket remained open at his funeral so the world could see how brutally he was murdered. Milam and Roy were tried and acquitted in 1955, but admitted later on in a magazine interview that they had, in fact, killed him. While short, the film creates an amazing portrayal of the trial. Mike Wiley, who has starred in “True Blood,

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Dear Friends,

Mark your calendar for the American Heart Association’s annual event to help us be more physically active!

I hope you’re as excited as I am for what our grassroots movement can accomplish for the Citizens of Jackson in the next three years. The People’s Platform is not just a catchy phrase or vision, it is a tangible plan that has already proven to bring positive change to our great city. Within the principles of The People’s Platform, we fundamentally believe that if we give the people the right information and an opportunity to make a decision, they will make the best decision. The 91% passage rate of the local sales option referendum is a genuine reflection of this philosophy.

National Walking Day Wednesday April 2, 2014

We all have the power to change Jackson if we work together to get it done -- and that belief is at the core of our campaign. For we are “One City. One Aim. One Destiny�. But for the most part, the direction our work takes will be completely in your hands -together, we can and will make Jackson rise and reach its potential as the capital city of Mississippi. We need your help to make that a reality. Please send me a message on Facebook at the “Elect Chokwe Lumumba� page, email me at chokweantarformayor@gmail.com, or call The People’s Campaign headquarters at 601.362.0029 if you want to get involved. If you have a specific interest, such as door-to-door canvassing, or making calls -- let us know. Join the People’s Movement and volunteer today! Being entrusted as a leader is a sacred responsibility. Leading means understanding that when you hold office, you hold it to the best of your ability for the people, not for the promise of 4 more years. Jackson doesn’t need a politician. Jackson needs an Advocate.

 

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“T COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

his is Ravi. Can everyone say hello to Ravi?” the teacher asks as her hand rests on the shoulder of the awkward and shy boy standing before the class. With that introduction, Ravi joins his peers at his new school in Sydney, Australia. Ravi begins an unlikely friendship with Jane, who takes an immediate interest in her new classmate from Sri Lanka. Their friendship blossoms, not so

March 26 - April 1, 2014

“Ravi and Jane” explores an unlikely but sweet friendship between two kids from different worlds.

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much from the exchange of words, but from kind gestures and shared smiles. Ravi is not as carefree as your typical 10-year-old, and the reason soon becomes apparent—he and his family reside at an immigration detention center. Their lives are confined behind high-wire fences, his freedom limited to the center and school and the white van that shuttles him daily

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

T

he title of Lyn Elliot’s short film, “A Good Match,” hints at its relationship-hinged plot, and the film’s opening sequence of a revolving slot machine of faces does the same. But it’s not until the slot machine picks three faces that the audience might begin to realize that this isn’t the typical love story. Ann is an average girl. She’s in her mid-20s and hasn’t had much luck with men. Her main concern, however, isn’t just finding a good girl-to-boy match, but also finding a good girl-to-boy’s-mom match to go along with it. “A Good Match” shows what happens when Ann attempts to salvage her relationship with her ex-boyfriend’s mother Carol. “What I wanted to do was take a character getting out of that narcissistic stage and realizing she is not going to be 25 forever. Instead, she starts noticing older women who have something to offer rather than simply being someone’s mom,” Elliot said in an interview with KC Studios. While spending quality time with Carol, Ann gleans life lessons from her. During a walk in a local park, Carol tells

“A Good Match” explores the impact of secondary relationships—and how they sometimes matter more than primary ones.

Ann that her life would have been just as good had she not gotten married, expressing that happiness does not come from just romantic relationships. By using first- and third-person storytelling, the 13-minute film gives viewers an insight to the motivations behind Ann’s actions while also showing the outcomes of them. “A Good Match,” while focusing on one relationship hindered by another, might also be a narrative about selfevaluation and acknowledgment. “A Good Match” screens at 7:20 p.m. April 4 on Screen C as part of the Shorts 1: Dark Comedy & Satire block.

between both places. “Ravi, you know the rules. Just be patient,” his father says when Ravi asks if he can go to Jane’s birthday party. Even in the midst of cake and balloons and other friends, Jane looks out the window watching and waiting for him. But Ravi doesn’t make it to the party, and he is not at school the following week. He and his family left Sydney, leaving Jane confused and saddened. Then, a red envelope arrives in the mail for her. It’s a card from Ravi, thanking her for being his friend. The contrast in the lighting used in scenes reflecting life in their respective homes illustrates their vastly different worlds. Jane’s is illuminated in light—freedom, backyard trampolines, dog kisses, birthday parties and a mother’s hugs. Ravi’s world is weighed down with dimness—confinement, silent family dinners, whispered conversations between parents at night and a mother’s tears. But there is an instant connection between these two. Ravi is no longer sitting alone at recess as the others play around him. He is now a part of Jane’s luminous world, if only for a little while. “Ravi and Jane” screens at 2:50 p.m. April 6 on Screen B as part of the Shorts 7: Feel-Good Fare block.

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rumpet and brass bands are a huge deal in Serbia. Each year, the town of Guca hosts a trumpet festival where the world’s finest players and bands perform for hundreds of thousands of people. Imagine Woodstock with the sound of traditional Serbian brass music instead of rock ‘n’ roll. The 84-minute film “Brasslands” follows the endeavors of three different groups as they make their way to the 50th anniversary of the Trumpet Festival held in Guca. The festival’s semicentennial celebration, was also the first international competition, featuring groups from all over the world. The first group is from Brooklyn in New York City. The name of the band is “Zlatne Uste,” which is a bad Serbian translation of “Golden Lips” (It actually means “Golden Mouth”). The band is the oldest of its kind in the United States, formed in 1983, by gym teacher Michael Ginsburg. The second group is the Dejan Petrovic Orchestra led by Petrovic from Uzice in western Serbia. People consider Petrovic a “trumpet master,” and he has the rock-star swagger to prove it. He attained his status

“M

y own mother doesn’t agree with what I’m fighting for,” Holli Banks, a volunteer with the “No on Proposition 8” campaign, told a documentary filmmaker in 2008. “She said to me, ‘The Bible clearly states that marriage is between a man and a woman.’ My mother has been married five times.” Not only did the No-on-8ers run against people like Banks’ mom, who clearly weren’t as committed to the ideals of socalled traditional marriage as they professed, but they also encountered confusion and apathy within the ranks of their allies. “The Campaign,” directed and produced by Christie Herring, introduces us to the people working to stop California’s Proposition 8, which would have eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in the nation’s most populous state. In one scene, a campaign volunteer tells the story of a gay man who assured the volunteer that he had voted early in favor of the proposition, erroneously believing the ballot initiative protected same-sex marriage. The issue of gay marriage has a long, rocky history in both California and the nation. In 1970, Jack Baker and Michael Mc-

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

FESTIVAL

'*-.

through study and practice, and his home country holds him in high regard. Lastly, we meet Demiran Cerimovic, a three-time champion from Vranje in southern Serbia. Cerimovic is of Romani descent and other Serbians see him as a gypsy. The film converges at the festival. You’ll have to see the film to see who wins, but it is less about the results of the competition than it is about the journey. The most interesting aspect is the way the film portrays the relationship between

Serbia’s Trumpet Festival is a connecting point for brass musicians from around the world.

Serbia and the U.S. The Serbians are very aware of how the world sees them, and the Americans enter the competition equally aware that they are presenting this music to an audience who lives and breathes it daily. The real majesty of the film lies in its message of the unifying power of music. “Brasslands” screens 5 p.m. April 6 on Screen B.

COURTESY CROSSROADS FILM SOCIETY

2014 CROSSROADS

“The Campaign” covers some of Proposition 8’s rocky road in California.

Connell sued to the U.S. Supreme Court after they were denied a marriage license in Minnesota. The high court declined to hear it, arguing that it lacked a federal constitutional question. In California, a 2000 referendum limited marriage to unions between men and women, but the state Supreme Court struck down that law in 2008, setting up a the showdown over Prop 8. Not only were Prop 8 opponents outspent in the early going, a popular U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was a complicating factor because he claimed to support LGBTQ rights, but said at the time, he believed that marriage should happen only between a man and a woman (he reversed his position for his 2012 reelection campaign). Proposition 8 was successful, but was essentially reversed in 2013. Same-sex marriages are currently legal in California. “The Campaign” screens at 1:10 p.m. April 6 on Screen B.


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jacksonfreepress.com


WELLNESS p 28

The Wine Guy

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of being a sommelier, I’m the second, a certified sommelier. To go beyond that, (most people are) in the restaurant business. I flew to Orlando, Disney World, for the first time in my life and took my intro (exam) there. It was a two-day thing, and the first day, I was going to quit, because all these people were rabid. They were just rabid wine people, and I thought, “I don’t fit in here. I’m from Madison County. I studied under a hickory tree.” But then after I passed that, I thought, I’m just as good as these people are. So immediately I flew to Chicago within a couple weeks to take my certified test. And I didn’t pass it. … I threw my corkscrew in the trash and I got on the Southwest Airlines to Jackson and got home and said I’m not doing this anymore.

she asked me, “Is it wrong?” I said, “Do you like it?” And she said, “We love it.” So, by all means, do it. But I guess the number-one principle, if you want to talk principles, is the weight—the fullness of the food in your mouth and the boldness of the wine. You want those to wine. When I’m talking about weight, I’m talking about mouthfeel, not pounds. Then, if you have a salad with some acidity, say a raspberry vinaigrette, you want to pair a lighter wine, preferably white, with some acidity. So you’re matching structural components.

But you changed your mind, of course. Where I didn’t do well was in (service). So I What did you study? bought a waiter’s tray and I got a bachelor’s at Southern in getold my wife go to the Sommelier John Malanchak has a lowstress approach to teaching about wine. ology, a master’s in geology at Western store and get champagne Michigan University, and after 19 years flutes. She said, “Do you … I ended up going back to graduate school at Ole Miss want the plastic ones?” I said, “No, I want glass. I want to (on a Jackson-based campus). It was night school, and I do it the way they do it.” got a master’s of science degree in engineering geology. I I broke three champagne glasses in the first nine minutes. ended up in environmental geology—you know, soil and I live out at Lake Lorman, and my lot is about 150 groundwater contamination, and how to clean it up. And feet down to the late. I would get down to the lake and I basically spent my whole career doing that. I’d have these four champagne flutes filled with water. I would get on my knees, and I would crawl all the way How did you get into wine? to the house, holding the champagne, climbing over When I was very young, 8 or 10, my dad brought branches and stuff. Then I’d run up and down a ladder. home a glass gallon jug of … we’ll just say homemade red I would set (my daughter’s dolls at a table), and I would wine. It was the worst liquid, the foulest thing I put into deliver the champagne flutes, starting with the lady and my mouth. But it intrigued me, that you actually made ending with the host. ... this thing by yourself. … And I practiced this champagne thing until I was blue When I graduated from Ole Miss, I told my wife, if in the face and I opened the door (at the test) and there they I don’t do something, my brain is going to explode after were, bottles of champagne. four years of night school. So I was flipping through the My second certification, you didn’t have to do any (Millsaps enrichment class) brochure, and there it was, of that—it’s 100 percent theory. And that’s through the Great White Wines of the World. And, like, 16 classes Society of Wine Educators, that’s the guild. I’m a certilater, now I’m teaching it … That was where I started. fied specialist of wine. It was one of those 100-question exams. So you take that 100-percent theory and match it You are a certified sommelier. Talk a little about with restaurant stuff, recommending wine, pairing wine. that process. They have two certifications, two different wine What are your basic rules for pairing wine and food? guilds. One is the Court of Master Sommeliers, I have a friend—she and her husband like steak. But which is an international guild. There are four levels they drink a moscato, which is a sweet, sweet wine, and

When it comes to pairing, people talk a lot about meat. What about people who eat less or no meat? What should they look for in pairing? For me, when I think of vegetables, you want to go with a Sauvignon Blanc from, say, New Zealand. Its characteristics include a lot of herbs and citrus notes, so it goes with fruits and salads. For vegetarians who eat cheese, you want a full-bodied wine, a white wine. It could be a Chardonnay. One of my favorite wines these days is a Viognier. It’s right up there as far as the body of a Chardonnay. You want to look at the tannins structure; that comes from the oak barrel (in a white wine), not from the skins. There’s one that I like now, its called Carménère; it’s a low-tannin-structure wine, medium bodied. That would probably go well with some of your non-meat dishes.

March 26 - April 1, 2014

Are you a Jackson native? No, I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The area I lived in, Pittsburgh, (was comprised mainly of) immigrants. My grandparents were from the Ukraine. Back then, you took care of your parents, and you usually didn’t go to college. … My dad said, “You’re going to college,” I said, “No I’m not, I’m going to take care of y’all.” He said, “No, you’re not.” Because it was so late in the year, I ended up going to the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. 1966. August. Hotter than hell. Of course, all the civil rights things were going on, and I’m thinking, “What have I done?”

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ine is one of my emerging great passions. The more I learn about it, the more I realize I don’t know. It’s like a history lesson in every bottle. A few months back, I took sommelier John Malanchak’s enrichment course at my alma mater, Millsaps College, with some friends and really enjoyed his unstuffy, unpretentious approach to wine. I asked him if he could share some of his knowledge with the JFP readership.

by Kathleen M. Mitchell

What would be your ideal meal with wine? It would have to be a steak and a red Bordeaux. But, I think the coolest meal is Thanksgiving. There are so many different flavor profiles. I get this question all the time: What wine should I have with Thanksgiving dinner? My answer is, take a dime, throw it over your shoulder and whatever wine it hits, that’s the one. Because something in that bottle is going to match with one of those foods.

So now that you are retired, you work at Joe T’s. What kinds of things do you do there? My passion, my love is talking to people. Just to (educate people) that there are more wines than the ones you always order. Get a Viognier instead of a Chardonnay, and they’ll say, “Why?” Or they’ll want a lighter, medium-bodied wine. I’ll say, let’s get away from California and go to France, or Spain or Italy or Germany. That’s the fun part. And I get so excited about doing all that—they’re actually paying me to do this. Learn more about wine by stopping by Joe T’s Fine Wine and Spirits (286 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-6057602), or attending the Sante South Wine Festival April 5 at the Renaissance at Colony Park (1000 Highland Colony Parkway). Visit santesouth.com for more information.


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LIFE&STYLE | wellness

Getting Schooled in GMOs by Genevieve Legacy once in a while, we have removed a trusted ed in a 60-question, multiple-choice test held product that we knew was safe, but then the at Duling Hall March 16. To prepare for the ingredients changed.” test, the organizers gave participants a CD The Mississippi campaign Say No to GMOs and Rainbow recently sponsored the GMO Grand Challenge, an educational initiative to raise awareness about the prevalence of GMOs and the potential health and environmental risks of eating GMO food products. Some of those risks include increased food allergies, digestive issues, links to cancers and ingesting pesticides, according to the Insti- Rainbow Co-op recently made a push to educate tute for Responsible Technol- Jacksonians about genetically modified foods, and to ogy. Building off the success of stock its shelves with GMO-free products. Rainbow’s Food Revolution contest last year, the GMO Grand Challenge of interviews from the GMO Mini-Summit doubled the first-place cash prize to $1,000. in October 2013. John Robbins, the author “To up the ante and hopefully get more of “Diet for a New America” (H. J. Krampeople involved, we decided to offer a larger er/New World Library, 25th Anniversary cash prize than last year and to involve more Edition, 2012, $18.95), and food advocate businesses and, hopefully, more of the com- Jeffrey Smith hosted the summit of experts, munity,” Lundemo says. interviewing each for 20 to 40 minutes. The GMO Grand Challenge culminat“The interviews are with scientists,

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enetically modified organisms really get around. GMOs in the form of corn, soy, wheat and rice—the crops most affected by genome modification to make a plant more resistant to insects or poor growing conditions—are at the center of scientific debate and legislative initiatives across the United States. At this point in time, unless you shop selectively, GMOs are likely to be at the center of your dinner plate. “We’ve all been eating hundreds of pounds of this experimental food since the mid-1990s, yet polls tell us that 60 percent of Americans don’t think they have ever eaten any GMOs. Another 15 percent aren’t sure,” says Luke Lundemo, CEO of Rainbow Co-op. For the last four years, Rainbow has upheld a policy to keep no known GMO products on its shelves. Lundemo says the members of the co-operatively owned grocery keep the staff on their toes. “Products are changing all the time. One big trend in the industry is for small start-up companies to be bought out by big food conglomerates who take over and mess with the formula,” Lundemo explains. “We have to constantly watch for that. Every

doctors, educators and agricultural experts—anyone who listens is going to get an incredible education about our modern food system, government regulatory agencies and how food and health science is carried out,” Lundemo says. With permission, the GMO Grand Challenge organizers recorded and duplicated the collected interviews, creating a free study guide for participants as well as for the general public. In preparation for the challenge, they distributed about 350 CDs. Although turnout for the test event was lower than desired, Lundemo looks on the bright side. “The test was really difficult, but all the 30 or so participants worked very hard,” he says. “Most of them won a prize because there were nearly as many prizes as there were participants. Almost everyone was a winner.” Congratulations go to Matt Smith, who won the Grand Challenge’s $1,000 cash prize. Smith scored 39 out of 60 questions. For more information about the GMO Summit, visit gmosummit.net. For more about Rainbow Co-Op, or to purchase a Say No to GMOs T-shirt, visit Facebook.com/ rainbowcoop.

Help the JFP Chick Ball celebrate its 10th anniversary of helping keep metro families safer from abuse.

March 26 - April 1, 2014

Sign up now to sponsor, volunteer or donate for the silent auction.

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Write chickball@jacksonfreepress.com or call 601-362-6121 ext. 23 to get involved.

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ARTS p 31 | 8 DAYS p 32 | MUSIC p 35-36 | SPORTS p 37

Perspectives on a Tragedy by Demetrice Sherman

March 26 - April 1, 2014

Living It

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ncidents at a performance of “The Laramie Project” at the University of Mississippi in October brought the themes of this play front and center in the state. During the performance put on by Ole Miss students, the audience broke out in laughter, conversation, and some even directed homophobic and racist slurs at the actors. The initial disturbances directed a lot of negative attention at the school, but the actors and theater department carried on, and said an outpouring of support over the rest of the show’s run empowered and encouraged them. Read Justin Hosemann’s story about it at jfp.ms/LaramieOleMiss.

JUDY SHEPARD/MATTHEW SHEPARD FOUNDATION

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COURTESY DIXIE LEE HAMILTON

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ohn Maxwell dedicates himself to presenting truth and ministry through modern drama. “We don’t shy away from anything as far as subject matter, as far as language, any of that stuff. Sometimes it’s pretty raw,” says the local actor and playwright regarding his nonprofit, Fish Tale Group Theatre. A desire to present the truth to audiences through an unfiltered lens drew him to his latest production, “The Laramie Project,” which runs April 3-6 and 10-13 at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church (305 N. Congress St.) The play is based on a comThe play “The Laramie Project,” based on Matthew Shepard’s tragic death in 1998, spreads a munity’s reaction to the 1998 message of tolerance. murder of 21-year-old college student Matthew Shepard. On the evening of Oct. 7, 1998, Shepard was severely beaten, tortured and left tied to a fence near ing God through that. It’s not a play about the morality of hoLaramie, Wyo. He died five days later. Prosecutors charged Aaron mosexuality. It’s a play about how this community reacts to this McKinney and Russell Henderson, two Laramie residents, with horrific act,” Maxwell says. “So you’re not going to get a sermon. Shepard’s murder and sentenced them to life in prison, with McK- That’s not what the play is.” inney serving without parole. When testimony revealed that McKEight actors comprise the cast, each of whom will inhabit inney and Henderson targeted Shepard because he was gay, the case multiple roles. “The demand (is) on those actors to put on a hat drew extensive media coverage and served as a catalyst in the push or put on a scarf, that’s all they’ll have time to do, and turn into for state and federal hate-crime legislation. another person,” Maxwell says. Five weeks after the tragedy, playwright Moisés Kaufman and Juniper Wallace is up for the challenge. As a cast member, she members of the Tectonic Theatre Project in New York City trav- estimates that she will be playing as many as 15 characters. “I play eled to Laramie where, over the course of a year, they conducted a deejay in a bar, and I also play a Baptist minister. And I play male more than 200 interviews with the town’s residents regarding the and female characters,” she says. It was the message of tolerance that case. They turned those interviews into a critically-acclaimed play, drew her to the play. “We’re all human beings and we all have views “The Laramie Project,” which has been performed all over the and different faiths and I just think at times we hide behind those United States. things when we don’t agree with something,” Wallace says. “We al“More than anything, it’s a great story about how that com- low those things to excuse us from our behavior. This tragedy spoke munity reacts to what happened,” Maxwell says. “The fact that two volumes to me when it happened. The fact this piece even exists, it’s of their own were capable of doing that to Matthew Shepard is what so important to all of us to be able to spread that message.” horrifies them. It’s really powerful stuff.” Maxwell says this play has been both a journey and learning Maxwell emphasizes that the importance of The Laramie Proj- experience for him. “It’s unflinching in what it does as far as offering ect” lies in its message of tolerance. opinion. Everyone’s description of Matthew Shepard, who he was, is “It really does fit our mission. We deal with social issues, not the same. That’s so human,” he says. “You will be moved by it in plays that deal with social issues in a modern way and illuminat- a very profound way. Every time I read it, I’m moved.”

The tragedy of Matthew Shephard hit close to home when Ole Miss theater students performed the play last October.


DIVERSIONS | arts

Oh, Mr. Maxwell, Do you Write? by Alexis Moody

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rom his portrayal of William “When I went to college, I tried out for a sumed by it. I’m sure people didn’t want me Faulkner in “Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do couple of musicals to meet girls, and finally at parties because I wanted to talk about ‘The you Write?” to his southern interpre- realized, hey, I love this again,” he says. “It Sound and the Fury’ all the time. I wrote tation of the biblical character St. Pe- rekindled what I had when I was 5 and 6.” (the play) and had no idea that it would do ter in “Fish Tales,” John Maxwell is a man of Maxwell received a master’s degree in anything. I thought I would just do one run many faces. of it and go back to teaching.” He has performed nationBut the opposite hapally and internationally in venues pened—the play got rave reviews. It such as The Bottom Line in New opened at New Stage Theatre in the York City, The Smithsonian, Picolo fall of 1981 and has received much Spoleto Festival, the Alliance Theacclaim and inspired a movie veratre in Atlanta and the Alabama sion that earned a variety of awards, Shakespeare Festival. He has also including best actor for Maxwell’s performed “Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do performance in the film at the AtYou Write?” before former Presilanta Film Festival in 2006. dent Jimmy Carter and his wife, Maxwell went on to found Roslyn, at the Cultural Olympiad his own theater group called Fish in Atlanta. Tales Group Theatre, a nonprofit This year, Maxwell received organization dedicated to spreadthe Artistic Excellence Award at ing the word of the Bible through the 2014 Mississippi Governor’s modern dramas. Maxwell creArts Awards Feb. 20. “What’s great ated a series titled “The Religious about that is affirmation from your Monologues,” which tell the story state, which is so important—and of a variety of biblical characters no matter who you are or what you such as Paul in “The Last Epistle,” do, a pat on the back is always apPeter in “Fish Tales,” John the preciated,” Maxwell says. He is best Baptist in “Flower Child,” Joknown for writing and performseph in “Father to the Stepson,” ing his one-man play, “Oh Mr. Judas in “Me and My Shadow” Faulkner, Do You Write?” He has and Barnabas in “Giving, and the John Maxwell, founder of the Fish Tales Theatre Group, performed the play in 12 countries Son of Joy!” brings the Bible to life onstage through original plays. and almost all 50 states. Fish Tales Theater Group Maxwell was born the son of also performs a range of less dia cattle farmer named Hoover, and rectly biblical plays, from “Freud’s grew up two miles outside Pickens, Miss. His theater from the University of Mississippi. Last Session” written by Mark St. Germain, mother, Mighonne, who was a self-taught He then taught at Holmes and then Hinds which takes place during a session between pianist and singer, first opened his eyes to community colleges, where he came up with C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud to “Dr. Bob the arts. “I probably picked up more of her the idea for “Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do you and Bill W” written by Samuel Shem and genes than (my father’s), because I knew I Write?” His mother was also his inspiration Janet Surrey, a play about the creation of Aldidn’t want to be a farmer,” Maxwell says. for writing the play, which tells the story of coholics Anonymous, to “The Prodigal,” a “My mother would take me around to talent Faulkner based on the author’s memoirs. dramatic retelling by Maxwell of the parable shows when I was 5 and 6 years old, and I “When I was 30 years old, my mother of the prodigal son. The play takes place in would sing and dance. I immediately loved bought me ‘The Hamlet’—which still re- the Mississippi Delta. it, loved being on stage and in front of an au- mains my favorite Faulkner novel—and I He is currently working on a play called dience.” It wasn’t until college, however, that said, ‘Mom, I can’t read Faulkner.’ But I read “Martha,” which is a modern retelling of the Maxwell decided to really pursue the craft. it and fell in love with it,” he says. “I got con- biblical story of Martha and Mary.

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FRIDAY 3/28

TUESDAY 4/1

WEDNESDAY 4/2

Community Bike Ride starts at 6 p.m. at Rainbow Co-op.

Eudora Welty Photography Exhibit is at The Cedars Historic Home.

Randy Pierce signs copies of “Magnolia Mud” at Lemuria Books.

BEST BETS MARCH 26 APRIL 2, 2014

Michael Garriga signs copies of “The Book of Duels” at 5 p.m. at Lemuria (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 202). Reading at 5:30 p.m. $26.95 book; call 601-366-7619; lemuriabooks.com. … Jackson City NAACP Branch Mayoral Forum is at 7 p.m. at Masonic Temple (1072 W. John R. Lynch St.). Free; call 601-906-1717 or 601-331-0274.

Gospel hip-hop artist Kirk Franklin speaks and performs at the Jackson Convention Complex March 27.

COURTESY KIRK FRANKLIN

WEDNESDAY 3/26

THURSDAY 3/27

OSIRUS PHOTOGRAPHY

B.A.M.! Health Fair and Fitness Walk is from 9 a.m.noon at Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). Free; call 601-573-8458; find Be Active Mississippi on Facebook. … Leadership Greater Jackson Alumni Association Mayoral Forum is from noon-1 p.m. at Mississippi Public Broadcasting (3825 Ridgewood Road). Email leadershiprsvp@gmail.com; lgja.org. … Kirk Franklin performs at 7 p.m. at Jackson Convention Complex (105 E. Pascagoula St.). Gospel rapper Da T.R.U.T.H. also performs. $25; call 800-745-3000. Thick and Proud Sisters’s Model Call for TAPS models at least 21 years old and TAPSY models ages 16-20 is March 30 at Exposé.

SATURDAY 3/29

Fondren Urban Ultra is in Fondren. The race includes a 5K, a 12-hour run and a 12-hour relay. Benefits Cheshire Abbey, an animal rescue organization. $25 individual runs, $100 BY BRIANA ROBINSON relay; email hundredmilefunrun@ yahoo.com; ultrasignup.com. … JACKSONFREEPRESS.COM Southern Escape Benefit Show is at 4 p.m. at Soul Wired Café FAX: 601-510-9019 (111 Millsaps Ave.). Performers DAILY UPDATES AT include 5th Wolf (5th Child/ JFPEVENTS.COM Spacewolf), Fides, Sun Ballet and The Empty Handed Painters. $8; call 601-863-6378. … Capital City Rollergirls Roller Derby is at Mississippi Trade Mart (1200 Mississippi St.). The team takes on the Enterprise Boll Weevil Bruisers. $10 in advance, $12 at the door,; capitalcityrollergirlsms.com.

EVENTS@

March 26 - April 1, 2014

SUNDAY 3/30

FRIDAY 3/28

Community Bike Ride is at 6 p.m. at Rainbow Co-op (2807 Old Canton Road). Free; find Jackson Bike Advocates on Facebook. … The Standing Ovation Tour is at 7 p.m. at Mississippi Coliseum (1207 Mississippi St.). Enjoy standup comedy from Sommore, Bill Bellamy, Gary Owen, Tony 32 Rock and Joe Torry. $43-$69; call 800-745-3000.

TAPS and TAPSY Model Call is at 2 p.m. at Exposé (4700 Robinson Road Ext.). Free; email hathor601@aol. com. … Perfect Day: The Music of Lou Reed is at 6 p.m. at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). More than 13 bands including Electric Hamhock and Wooden Finger play their favorite Lou Reed tunes. $8 in advance, $10 at the door; call 601-292-7999; ardenland.net.

MONDAY 3/31

“Tee it Up” Golf Tournament is at Annandale Golf Club (419 Annandale Parkway, Madison). Registration is

at 10:30 a.m. Lunch and a putting contest is at 11 a.m., and tee time is at 12:30 p.m. $200; call 601-948-7575; greaterjacksonpartnership.com. … “A Decent Proposal” Dinner Theater is at 6 p.m. at Sombra Mexican Kitchen (140 Township Ave, Suite 100, Ridgeland). Includes a threecourse meal. RSVP. $39; call 601-291-7444 or 601-9371752; thedetectives.biz.

TUESDAY 4/1

Eudora Welty Photography Exhibit is at 10 a.m. at The Cedars Historic Home (4145 Old Canton Road). See rare vintage photographs from the late author. Free; call 601-9819606; fondren.org. … Freedom Summer Luncheon Dialogue is at 11:30 a.m. at Hattiesburg Cultural Center (723 Main St., Hattiesburg). Raphael Scott Waldrop of Hattiesburg High School speaks on the topic “Bridging the Achievement Gap.” Free; call 601-583-6005; hattiesburgartscouncil.org. … Around the World in Music is at 7 p.m. at Millsaps College, Academic Complex (1701 N. State St.). Baritone James Martin and pianist Jovanni-Rey de Pedro perform. $10, $5 students; call 601-974-1130; millsaps.edu/conted.

WEDNESDAY 4/2

History Is Lunch is at noon at William F. Winter Archives and History Building (200 North St.). MDAH historic resources specialist Caroline Gray-Primer presents “The Life and Sacrifice of PFC Milton L. Olive III.” Free; call 601-576-6998; mdah.state.ms.us. … Randy Pierce signs copies of “Magnolia Mud” at 5 p.m. at Lemuria (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 202). Reading at 5:30 p.m. $25.99 book; call 601-366-7619; lemuriabooks.com.


#/--5.)49

Sante South Wine Festival April 5, 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m., at Renaissance at Colony Park (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland). Sample more than 120 wines and food from the top Mississippi restaurants. The VIP tasting is at 6:30 p.m., and the grand tasting is at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Alzheimer’s Association of Mississippi. VIP tasting: $125; grand tasting: $80 in advance, $90 at the door; call 601-987-0020; santesouth.com.

Events at Old Capitol Museum (100 S. State St.) • History is Lunch: Commemorating 175 Years of the Old Capitol March 26, noon MDAH Museum Division director Lucy Allen discusses the museum history of the Old Capitol. Free; call 601-576-6998; mdah.state.ms.us. • Power Conference: Women Doing Business March 29, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Women get tips for starting a business or expanding a current business. Registration required. Free; call 576-6800; email powerconference4women@gmail.com.

Taste of Mississippi April 7, 7 p.m.-10 p.m., at Highland Village (4500 Interstate 55 N.). Enjoy food from 40 fine restaurants, a silent auction, and music from Hunter Gibson and the Gators, and Pryor Graeber and the Tombstones. Proceeds benefit Stewpot Community Services. Admission TBA; call 601-353-2759; atasteofms.org. Crossroads Music Video Showcase April 11, 7 p.m., at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). See music videos featuring local filmmakers and performers. James Crow, The Hons, and That Scoundrel perform. $5; call 601-345-5674; email info@crossroadsfilmfestival.com; crossroadsfilmfestival.com. Crossroads Film Festival April 12 - 14, at Malco Grandview Cinema (221 Grandview Blvd., Madison). Enjoy independent films, workshops and parties during the festival. Discounts available. $8 per film, $20 one-day pass, $59 all-access pass; call 601-345-5674; email info@crossroadsfilmfestival. com; crossroadsfilmfestival.com.

Jackson City NAACP Branch Mayoral Forum March 26, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., at Masonic Temple (1072 W. John R. Lynch St.). In the cafeteria. Meet the candidates and learn what each of them envision for the city’s future. Includes a Q&A session. Free; call 601-906-1717 or 601-331-0274. Eudora Welty House’s 10th Anniversary Garden Luncheon March 27, 11 a.m., at Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.). Writer and humorist Julia Reed is the guest speaker. Night blooming cereuses and camellias propagated from Welty’s own plants will be available for sale. $60; call 601-353-7762. Leadership Greater Jackson Alumni Association Mayoral Forum March 27, 11:30 a.m., at Mississippi Public Broadcasting (3825 Ridgewood Road). Hear the candidates’ vision for the future of Jackson. Lunch is at 11:30 p.m., and the forum

Grammy-Worthy Gospel COURTESY TYE TRIBBETT

A

lthough it was Grammy night and Tye Tribbett had been nominated in three categories, he didn’t expect to win, especially after being asked to present at the event. But during the pre-telecast portion of the awards ceremony, Tribbett garnered two of the coveted trophies. He first won Best Gospel Song for “If He Did It Before ‌ Same Godâ€? from the self-produced 2013 album, “Greater Than.â€? The album itself earned Best Gospel Album, his second win of the evening. Grammy night also happened to be Tribbett’s 38th birthday—and what a way to celebrate. Tribbett grew up in Camden, N.J. His father was a pastor, and his mother, Niecy, is currently a gospel DJ at Praise 103.9 in Philadelphia, Pa. A skilled musician from an early age, Tribbett assembled the contemporary gospel group Tye Tribbett & Greater Anointing in 1996 with family and friends. Featured on “The Prince of Egyptâ€? inspirational album in 1998, the group was catapulted into mainstream music. By 2000, the group was touring with stars such as Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Will Smith, Jill Scott, Justin Timberlake and Elton John. Tribbett went solo in 2010, and his popularity continues to soar. He has more than 650,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook, and the video for the single “If He Did It Before ‌ Same Godâ€? has more than 1,000,000 views on VEVO alone.

2014 Grammy winner Tye Tribbett performs March 29 in Jackson.

He told philly.com reporter Dan DeLuca that he plans to write a book aimed at young believers in today’s culture, and he eventually wants to dabble in TV and Broadway production. Despite possessing the prestigious awards, Tribbett says that the wins won’t change him, but they might change people’s perception of him. “Now my words, my voice, my music have just a little bit more potency, a little more relevance and importance,� he said. Tye Tribbett performs at 7 p.m. March 29 at the Jackson Convention Complex (105 E. Pascagoula St., 601-969-0114). Willie Moore and Alreddy Reddy also perform. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. VIP Meet and Greet tickets are $40. Visit itickets.com. —LaTonya Miller

is from noon-1 p.m. Other collaborators include Jackson 2000, Women For Progress and Working Together Jackson. Free; call 432-6565; email leadershiprsvp@gmail.com; lgja.org. Precinct 4 COPS Meeting March 27, 5:30 p.m., at Redeemer Church (640 E. Northside Drive). The forum is designed to help resolve community issues. Free; call 601-960-0004. Jackson Mayoral Candidate Debate March 27, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., at Jackson State University (1400 John R. Lynch St.). In McCoy Auditorium. The Jackson Chamber of Commerce is the host. Candidates for mayor share their vision for Jackson and answer moderated questions. Simulcast available on WLBT and msnewsnow. com. Free; call 601-948-7575; email cbuchanan @greaterjacksonchamberpartnership.com; greaterjacksonpartnership.com. Eudora Welty Garden’s 10th Anniversary Celebration March 29, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at Eudora Welty House and Museum (1119 Pinehurst Place). Enjoy self-guided tours and a plant sale. Free; call 601-353-7762. West Jackson Master Plan Public Meeting March 29, 1 p.m.-3 p.m., at Jackson Zoo (2918 W. Capitol St.). At the Community Center near the main entrance. Duvall Decker Architects is the facilitator. Attendees give input on developing a master plan for improving west Jackson. West Jackson residents are encouraged to attend. Free; call 601-713-1128; email jsp@duvalldecker.com; find West Jackson Master Plan on Facebook. Southern Regional Beauty Show March 30 - 31, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at Mississippi Trade Mart (1200 Mississippi St.). Includes hairstyling workshops, competitions and more. Licensed professionals and students must bring credentials. $30 students, $40 professionals; call 601-259-3211; southernregionalbeautyshow.com.

THIS WEEK WEDNESDAY 3/26

NEW BOURBON ST. JAZZ BAND (Restaurant)

THURSDAY 3/27

RESTAURANT OPEN AS USUAL

FRIDAY 3/28

BILL &

TEMPRANCE SATURDAY 3/29

BASS

INVASION 3D

OVER 10 DJS PLAYING THE BEST IN EDM, DUBSTEP & MORE.... Doors Open at 9PM MONDAY 3/31

One Loud Voice: A Multidisciplinary Team Approach April 1 - 2, at Jackson Marriott (200 E. Amite St.). Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi hosts the conference. The keynote speaker is Olympic swimmer Margaret Hoelzer. Those who work in the areas of child abuse prevention, awareness, investigation or case management are encouraged to attend. $99, $25 pre-conference ethics session; call 601-940-6183; childadvocacyms.org.

CENTRAL MS B LUES SOCIETY presents BLUE MONDAY

Women for Progress Lunch and Learn: Conversation with the Candidates April 1, noon, at The Penguin Restaurant & Bar (1100 John R. Lynch St.). Attorney Pamela Shaw moderates the forum. RSVP. Limited seating. $15; call 601405-4478; email mail@womenforprogress.net; womenforprogress.net.

W/ ERIN & FRIENDS

History Is Lunch April 2, noon, at William F. Winter Archives and History Building (200 North St.). MDAH historic resources specialist Caroline Gray-Primer presents “The Life and Sacrifice of PFC Milton L. Olive III.� Free; call 601-5766998; mdah.state.ms.us.

+)$3 Events at Ridgeland Public Library (397 Highway 51, Ridgeland). Free; call 601-856-4536. • Baby Bookends Story Time (Ages 0-2) March 26, 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m. Parents and caregivers interact with the children through a variety of nursery rhymes, action rhymes, songs and stories. • Ridgeland Readers Story Time (Ages 3-7) March 27, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Includes stories, music, movement, crafts and more.

PRUH(9(176VHHSDJH

(Restaurant)

TUESDAY 4/01

PUBQUIZ (Restaurant)

WEDNESDAY 4/02 RESTAURANT OPEN AS USUAL

BUY GROWLERS

OF YOUR FAVORITE BEER TO TAKE HOME $24 for first time fill for high gravity beer. Refills are $20.00 $19 for first time fill for regular beer. Refills are $15.00

Visit HalandMals.com for a full menu and concert schedule

601.948.0888 200 S. Commerce St.

Downtown Jackson, Mississippi

jacksonfreepress.com

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Youth Fishing Rodeo March 29, 7 a.m., at Turcotte Lab (506 Highway 43 S., Canton). The event is for children ages 15 and under. Bring fishing gear, catfish bait and stringers. Free; call 601656-7376 or 601-432-2209; mdwfp.com.

30/2437%,,.%33 What a Pain in the Neck March 28, 11:45 a.m.1 p.m., at Baptist Medical Center (1225 N. State St.). In the Baptist for Women Conference Room. Dr. Lynn Stringer talks about current methods for relieving neck discomfort. Registration required. Free, $7 optional lunch; call 601948-6262; mbhs.org.

Wednesday MARCH 26

KARAOKE with DJ STACHE Thursday MARCH 27

LADIES NIGHT W/ DJ Stache • Ladies Drink Free

Friday MARCH 28

Viking Half Marathon and 5K March 29, 8 a.m., at Market Street, Greenwood . Race through the historic Cotton Row District at the annual event. Registration required. Fees vary; call 662-4534152; vikinghalfmarathon.com. Sweetness 5K March 29, 8 p.m., at Jackson State University, Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center (32 Walter Payton Drive). The purpose of this event is to increase obesity awareness in Mississippi and to promote physical activity in the community with a concentrated effort on the youth. Includes a run/walk and one-mile run. $20 in advance, $30 day of race, $10 kids’ fun run, $15 college students, $65 family team (up to four) $75 organizational team (three to five members); call 601-979-1368; active.com. Fondren Urban Ultra March 29, in Fondren. The race includes a 5K, a 12-hour run and a 12-hour relay for four. Awards given. Proceeds benefit Cheshire Abbey. $25 5K and individual 12-hour race, $100 relay; email hundredmilefunrun@ yahoo.com; ultrasignup.com.

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JASON TURNER BAND Saturday MARCH 29

LIVE DJ

DANCE PARTY! Monday MARCH 31

PubQuiz with Casey & John 8PM

Tuesday APRIL 1 2 for 1 Highlife & PBR

OPEN MIC

March 26 - April 1, 2014

with Wesley Edwards

34

FREE WiFi 416 George Street, Jackson Open Mon-Sat Restaurant Open Mon-Fri 11am-10pm & Sat 4-10pm

601-960-2700

facebook.com/Ole Tavern

Being Belhaven Arts Series March 27, 5:30 p.m.7 p.m., at Belhaven Park (Poplar Boulevard). The Jackson Irish Dancers perform with the Ceili Band. Free; call 601-352-8850. Japanese Film Series March 27, 7 p.m. The JapanAmerica Society of Mississippi and the Crossroads Film Society present the film “Robo-G.” Free; call 601-898-7819; filmmississippi.org. “Beautiful Jim” Documentary Screening and Concert March 27, 7 p.m., at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). The film is about Jackson native and singer-songwriter Jimbeau Hinson’s battle with HIV. Hinson, his wife Brenda and Ken Somerville perform. Tonya Boyd-Cannon performs before the screening. Proceeds benefit Hearts Against AIDS. $10, $5 students with ID; call 601-292-7999; email arden@ardenland.net; ardenland.net. “Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano” March 26, 7 p.m., at Tinseltown (411 Riverwind Drive, Pearl). See the simulcast of the pop star’s concert The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. $14, $13 seniors and students, $12 children; call 601-936-5856; cinemark.com. Movie Night @ The Alamo March 29 - 30, at Alamo Theater (333 N. Farish St.). The fundraiser for the historic theater includes a screening of “12 Years a Slave” and a feedback session with Dr. Alfredteen Harrison. $5-$7; call 601-352-3365 or 800-745-3000; email thehistoricalamotheater@ gmail.com. “Last Train to Nibroc” April 1 - 4, 7:30 p.m., at Belhaven University Center for the Arts (835 Riverside Drive). The play is about two strangers who fall in love on a train. Doors open 30 minutes before the show. $10, $5 seniors and students; call 601-965-7026; belhaven.edu.

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Events at Belhaven University Center for the Arts (835 Riverside Drive) • Belhaven Strings and Orchestras March 28, 7:30 p.m. In the concert Hall. Enjoy a showcase of string solos and chamber groups. Doors open at 7 p.m. Free; call 601-974-6494; belhaven. edu. • All State Strings Concert March 29, 3 p.m. In the concert hall. Mississippi’s best high school string students present the results of two intensive days of rehearsal and study. Dr. Timothy James Bergman is the guest conductor. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. Free; call 601-974-6494; belhaven.edu.

Art in Mind Art Program March 26, 10 a.m.11:45 a.m., at Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.). The Alzheimer’s Association of Mississippi offers the program for people with early-stage dementia and their caregivers. Participants tour the galleries and make art in the studio classroom. Registration required. Free; call 601987-0020; alz.org/ms.

Change a Life Tour March 27, 7 p.m., at Life Church (5021 Highway 84 W., Laurel). Performers include Audio Adrenaline, Kutless, Finding Favour and Shine Bright Baby. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $18 per person in group of 10 or more; call 800-9659324; itickets.com. Downtown Jazz March 27, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., at Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.). Enjoy performances from local jazz and blues musicians. $5, free for members; call 601-960-1515; msmuseumart.org. Mississippi Academy of Ancient Music’s Early Music Concert Series March 27, 7:30 p.m., at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral (305 E. Capitol St.). Shawn Leopard presents a harpsichord recital of music from Bach and other composers. $15, $5 students, $125 season tickets; call 601-594-5584; email info@ancientmusic.org; ancientmusic.org. Hall and Oates March 28, 8 p.m., at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino (875 Beach Blvd., Biloxi). In the Beau Rivage Theatre. The rock and pop duo Daryl Hall and John Oates performs. $60.0$75.0; call 888-566-7469; beaurivage.com. Holi Mela Festival of Colors March 29, 11 a.m.5 p.m., at Hindu Temple of Mississippi (173 Vernon Jones Ave., Brandon). The Indian spring festival includes colored water splashes, herbal tattoos, food, games and more. Free admission; call 601-918-8172, 601-291-8761 or 601-278-0154; email events@htsm.org. “Gianni Schicchi” and “Pagliacci” March 29, 7:30 p.m., at First Baptist Church of Ridgeland (302 West Jackson St., Ridgeland). The Mississippi Opera presents the short operas “Gianni Schicchi,” a comedy about a lost will, and “Pagliacci,” a story about a sad clown. $45, $22 children and students with ID; call 601-960-2300; email info@ msopera.org; msopera.org.

,)4%2!293)'.).'3 Events at Lemuria Books (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 202). Call 601-366-7619; email info@lemuriabooks.com; lemuriabooks.com. • “The Book of Duels” March 26, 5 p.m. Michael Garriga signs books. Reading at 5:30 p.m. $26.95 book; call 601-366-7619. • “Bark: Stories” March 27, 5 p.m. Lorrie Moore signs books. Reading at 5:30 p.m. $24.95 book. • “Thirty Girls” March 27, 5 p.m. Susan Minot signs books. Reading at 5:30 p.m. $24.95 book • “A Boy Called Combustion” March 29, 1 p.m. Bill Keeton signs books. $18 book. • “Magnolia Mud” April 1, 5 p.m. Randy Pierce signs books. Reading at 5:30 p.m. $25.99 book. “The Reading Circle” April 2, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., at Lorelei Books (1103 Washington St., Vicksburg). Ashton Lee signs books. Free admission, books for sale; call 601-634-8624; email loreleibooks@ wave2lan.com; loreleibooks.com.

Writing Your Personal Memoir March 28, 10:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m., at Tulane University, Madison Campus (2115 Main St., Madison). The facilitator is Dr. Virginia Earnest. Topics include the nature of a memoir, what to include and creative strategies to discover material. Registration required. $10; call 601-605-0007; email poates@tulane.edu. Shut Up and Create! March 29, 10 a.m.2:30 p.m., at JFP Classroom (125 S. Congress St., Suite 1324). Donna Ladd’s workshop is designed to help you tease out your creative side, whether you want to write, create art or even be more creative on the job or with your family. Registration required. $60; call 601-362-6121, ext. 15; email class@ writingtochange.com.

%8()")4/0%.).'3 Wyatt Waters and Yerger Andre Art Exhibit Reception March 28, 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., at Southside Gallery (150 Courthouse Square, Ox ford). Free; call 662-234-9090; email southside@ southsideartgallery.com; southsideartgallery.com. Student Invitational Art Exhibition Opening Reception March 29, 2 p.m.-4 p.m., at Belhaven University, Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center (1500 Peachtree St.). The exhibit includes drawings, paintings, sculptures, photography and mixed media. Hangs through May 3. Free; call 601-974-6478; belhaven.edu.

"%4(%#(!.'% Cosmos & Couture March 27, 6 p.m.-9 p.m., at Old Capitol Inn (226 N. State St.). The cocktail party includes a fashion show featuring items from local merchants and a silent auction. Proceeds benefit the Mississippi Burn Foundation. $40 in advance, $50 at the door; call 601-540-2995; email afontaine@msburn.org; eventbrite.com. Tablescapes Event April 1, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at Christ United Methodist Church (6000 Old Canton Road). The theme is “Practice Hospitality.” The eighth annual event features more than 40 decorated tables, food and a silent auction. Proceeds benefit charities such as the McClean Fletcher Center, Methodist Children’s Homes and Ronald McDonald House. $10; christunitedjxn.org. One Loud Voice: A Multidisciplinary Team Approach April 1 - 2, at Jackson Marriott (200 E. Amite St.). Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi hosts the conference. The keynote speaker is Olympic swimmer Margaret Hoelzer. Those who work in the areas of child abuse prevention, awareness, investigation or case management are encouraged to attend. $99, $25 pre-conference ethics session; call 601-940-6183; childadvocacyms.org. Check jfpevents.com for updates and more listings, or to add your own events online. You can also email event details to events@jacksonfreepress.com to be added to the calendar. The deadline is noon the Wednesday prior to the week of publication.


DIVERSIONS | music

Meet The New South by Genevieve Legacy

WEDNESDAY RYAN ROYALS

LADIES NIGHT LADIES 1/2 OFF 5-CLOSE

HOWARD JONES QUARTET 6:30, No Cover Thursday, March 27th

LISA MILLS 7, No Cover

O

n the front porch of his home in Hattiesburg, Drew Young invites musicians to join him to talk about and play music. His collaborator and former student, Paul West, directs the video interview and performance series. “The Porch Sessions started as an idea that Paul and I had,” Young says. ”With so much wonderful music, culture and art in Hattiesburg and Mississippi in general, we wondered why no one was exploring it— trying to bring all that talent to light.” Young moved to Hattiesburg in 2010, bringing more than 20 years of music-industry experience to his lecturer position at the University of Southern Mississippi School of Mass Communication and Journalism. Fresh from a stint in the music mecca of New Orleans where he was assistant music supervisor for the TV series, “The Big Easy,” Young found in the Blues in Hattiesburg, but with a few exciting updates and derivations. “I feel that many people buy into the unfortunate stereotypes of Mississippi,” Young says. “When I got here, I was blown away by the people and by the level of talent and creativity.” As a student at USM working on his entertainment industry degree with a management emphasis, West met Young during his first semester teaching at the university. “I enjoyed Drew’s classes the most because his thinking was up-to-date and current as opposed to theory-based classes,” West says. “He acknowledged how rapidly things were changing in the music industry, meaning you can’t assume that what worked a week ago will work again this week.” In September 2013, Young and West premiered The Porch Sessions to explore and positively expose the state’s talent. Maintaining the founders’ keep-it-current philosophy, the video series is geared for social media, namely YouTube and Facebook. “I’m from the south and have been blessed to travel a lot,” Young says. “The more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve come to understand the misconceptions about the

south that are propagated by media that focuses on the outlier. The real meat of the south is very creative and increasingly aware of the world.” The Porch Sessions videos, each of which are divided into three 10-minute segments, are all about representing the type of southern musicians that Young calls the “New South.” While maintaining deep connections to the land and oral history, Mississippi’s New South musicians play their music with a contemporary spin and perspective. The episodes reflect a broad range of musicians and musical styles—from youthful soul and gospel harmonies to neural research-inspired blues. A primarily acoustic venue, the Porch Sessions has inspired and highlighted the versatility of its guests. Hattiesburg-based dirty blues, roots and rock band The Deltamatics performed its first acoustic set ever for The Porch Sessions. “They loved it so much, they’re releasing one of the tracks from the session,” Young says. “The Porch pushed them into a situation they’d never been into before.” Swedish electronica duo The Deer Tracks had a similar experience. “Having them play acoustically was beautiful,” Young says. “The Porch forced them to explore a completely different sound and approach.” In January, trio Ralph Nix and the Catfish Gospel felt at home on the porch. With rousing vocals, guitar and a 6-foot tall, hollow-body, acoustic bass named Gretchen, the trio’s songs are a raucous, rowdy mashup of blues, gospel, bluegrass and swamp. At this point, West and Young aren’t limiting themselves to a specific genre. “We’ll sit down and listen to a band and say, ‘These guys sound great,’ or we’ll work with friends that have been playing music for years but have never gotten the recognition they deserve,” West says. “Now we’re getting people from all over the south emailing to say, ‘Hey, we want to be on the porch.’” The Porch Sessions videos are online at youtube.com/theMSporchsessions. Find The Porch Sessions on Facebook.

Friday, March 28th

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Wednesday, March 26th

In November, Paul West and Drew Young invited The Deltamatics to perform on The Porch Sessions. From left: Joey Odom, Dave Allen, Paul West, Drew Young and Tate Thriffiley.

3/26

35


MUSIC | live

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DIVERSIONS | music

Several Jackson bands are coming together to pay tribute to late rocker Lou Reed at “Perfect Day,� a concert this Sunday at Duling Hall.

T

he late New York rocker Lou Reed and his street-wise songs might seem worlds away from music made in Mississippi, but many Jackson musicians cite the musician as an important influence. Following Reed’s death last October at the age of 71, musicians around the world produced tribute performances. A number of Jackson artists and groups will get their chance to pay homage March 30 at “Perfect Day,� a concert at Duling Hall celebrating Reed’s music. More than a dozen performers will play songs from throughout the songwriter’s nearly 50-year career. The show is the brainchild of James Patterson and Ron Blaylock, two photographers who share a studio space in Fondren. After hearing about a Reed tribute concert in Knoxville, they began brainstorming a way to stage a similar show in Jackson. Patterson believes that Reed is the perfect artist to bring a variety of musicians together. “Everybody’s influenced by Lou Reed one way or the other,� he says. “Either the pop side, the punk side, or another part of his music.� Reed’s career took many unpredictable turns. His first major group, The Velvet Underground, was a seminal late ’60s band that brought together avant-garde art concepts and rock. A 40-year solo career followed, which included forays into glam, noise rock, as well as straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll. Patterson remembers the ubiquity of Reed’s early solo records. “I could have gone to any of my friends’ houses in high school and found (Reed’s) ‘Transformer’,� he says. He floated the concept of the tribute show to some musicians, and the response was immediate. Several bands quickly agreed to perform and began picking songs. The show will feature multiple genres, including punk (Overnight Lows), progressive/psychedelica (MOSS) and garage rock (Used Goods, Los Buddies). Songwriter Josh Little will explore Reed’s years with The Velvet Underground at the show, performing “Jesus� from the

group’s third album. Little was heavily into punk music as a teen, but a box set of The Velvet Underground’s albums locked in Reed as a strong influence. “I saved up to buy it and just devoured it,â€? Little says. “I studied it like it was a holy book or something.â€? Each artist will perform a short set, allowing the stage to turn over quickly. Blaylock, whose band Electric Hamhock is on the bill, feels that the brief performances will make the show more enjoyable for the musicians and the audience. “It’s nice to be able to do two or three songs and not have the pressure of pulling a whole show off,â€? he says. The Union Jackson, which includes veterans of several local bands, will make its debut at the concert. Bassist Jakob Clark says the group came together through a mutual love of British rock, but they also have deep respect for Reed’s music. He remembers how, when he was a teenager and looking for a birthday present for his brother, one of his current bandmates, Denny Burkes, steered him to The Velvet Underground. “I told him I wanted something ’60s— but not bubblegummy or hippie—something avant-garde,â€? Clark says. “He picked out (The Velvet Underground’s) ‘Loaded.’ It was pretty typical of me to buy (my brother) a CD, pop it open, listen to it, then re-wrap it. I ended up going back and getting another copy. ‌ I liked it right away.â€? Josh Little echoes the excitement of his fellow participants on being part of the show, but he’s also interested in hearing how each group will interpret Reed’s music. “I really like how diverse the show is going to be,â€? he says. “The bands are going to make the songs their own. It’s not going to be a Lou Reed cover show.â€? “Perfect Day: The Music of Lou Reedâ€? is at 6 p.m. March 30 at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave., 601-292-7999). Doors open at 5 p.m. Admission is $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Ticket holders under age 21 must pay a $3 surcharge at the door. Visit ardenland.net.


DIVERSIONS | jfp sports

SLATE

by Bryan Flynn

Somewhere in the world, Warren Buffett is laughing that no one was able to win his billion-dollar bracket challenge. I, myself, busted out at ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, Fox and other places. THURSDAY, MARCH 27 College basketball (8:30-11 p.m., CBS): The Florida Gators look to get into the Elite Eight and keep the SEC undefeated in the NCAA Tournament in their game against the UCLA Bruins. FRIDAY, MARCH 28 College basketball (6-11 p.m., CBS): An SEC doubleheader for a spot in the Elite Eight features Tennessee looking to take down Michigan, followed by in-state rivals Louisville and Kentucky. SATURDAY, MARCH 29 College basketball (5-10 p.m., TBS): Teams are to be announced, but TBS’ doubleheader will decide half the Final Four of the 2014 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. SUNDAY, MARCH 30 College basketball (1-6 p.m., CBS): The rest of the men’s Final Four will be set after this doubleheader on CBS. MONDAY, MARCH 31 MLB (2-5 p.m., ESPN2): Opening day of baseball features the defending World Series champions the Boston Red Sox against American League East rivals the Baltimore Orioles. TUESDAY, APRIL 1 NHL (7-9:30 p.m., NBCSN): Take a break from basketball and the start of baseball with your weekly hockey fix, featuring the St. Louis Blues hosting the Philadelphia Flyers. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2 High school basketball (8:30-10:30 p.m., ESPN:) Be sure to check out the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Boys Game featuring Moss Point, Miss., star Devin Booker for the West team.

bryan’s rant -Y,OST"ILLION

I

waited until the first four playin games of the NCAA Men’s Tournament were complete before filling out brackets on various websites late into the night. I felt confident that some were good brackets, and went to sleep excited about the tournament starting late in the morning the next day. The games started with Dayton playing Ohio State, and I had the Flyers upsetting the Buckeyes. I also had Harvard upsetting Cincinnati. Two key correct predictions down. Things were going great as the morning and afternoon games finished up. My bracket was perfect, and I only had to make it through the evening games to finish day one without a loss. But then, things went downhill and kept going. North Carolina State couldn’t hit free throws, blowing a big lead to Saint Louis. At nearly the same time, North Dakota State upset Oklahoma. Just like that, my bracket featured two losses. Things did not get better as the weekend progressed. The state of North Carolina kept kicking me while I was down, with Mercer upsetting Duke. Stephen F. Austin knocked out VCU, and just like that, my bracket was all jacked up. On Saturday, Dayton went from being a first-round upset pick I was proud of to busting my bracket even more by upsetting Syracuse. Connecticut took out Villanova, which really killed my Sweet Sixteen in the East and South brackets. On Sunday, the tournament went on to crush what spirit I had left.

Serving the area for over 30 yrs.

Things started off with Kansas getting upset by Stanford—another Sweet Sixteen team gone. Kentucky ripped the hearts out of small-school fans everywhere by beating Wichita State, taking out another Sweet Sixteen team. Baylor finished the weekend by taking out Creighton and destroying more of my Sweet Sixteen. I have just one bracket with all my final four teams still alive. The SEC has had the best showing in the opening games of the tournament—the conference sent three teams to the tournament, and all three are in the Sweet Sixteen. That ties the Big Ten and the Pac-12 for most teams in the Sweet Sixteen, but the Big Ten and Pac-12 each started out with six teams in the tournament. This weekend’s worst conferences have been the Big-12, ACC, Atlantic10 and Big East. The Big-12 got the most bids into the tournament, but by the end of the weekend only two of those teams were still standing. The ACC and Atlantic-10 got six bids each to start the tournament. Both conferences have just one team still in the running. Wanting to be a basketball-only conference, the Big East basketball schools split from their football-playing members. Of the new Big East’s four bids, none are into the Sweet Sixteen. The American Athletic Conference got two teams in the Sweet Sixteen out of four overall. My billion dollar-winning bracket will have to wait until 2015. Until next season, college basketball players better practice those free throws.

Follow Bryan Flynn at jfpsports.com, @jfpsports and at facebook.com/jfpsports.

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WANTED MORE VENDORS at THe

Our goal is to offer the widest selection of fresh produce and specialty products around. If you have something special to sell call Historic Vicksburg Farmer’s Market at 601-801-3513 for more information. The Vicksburg Farmer’s Market is open at the corner of Washington and Jackson every Wednesday 3-6 pm and Sat 8-11 am. Become one our great vendors and share your crops and specialty items with our customers each week!

March 26 - April 1, 2014

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This promotional item is based on work supported by the Farmer’s Market Promotion Program (FMPP) Grant Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, under Award No. 12-25-G-1372. “Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

38 2014-FarmersMarket-=4.5x5.875.indd 1

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v12n29 - Crossroads Film Festival Takes Jackson