August 24 - 30, 2011
August 24 - 30, 2011
9 N O . 50
contents KENYA HUDSON
6 Budget Battles Jackson’s mayor and city council are locked in a heated exchange over what info the city should provide. ELIZABETH WAIBEL
Cover photograph of mosaic play ponds at the Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art by Julian Rankin
THIS ISSUE: ............. Editor’s Note
COURTESY DEE GARDNER
marcy nessel When Marcy Nessel recognizes the man walking into her gallery, she greets him with a hug. “Hey Don! I’m so happy you stopped by today,” she says. Gesturing toward some new statues, she asks him, “Aren’t these beautiful?” Don Mitchell is a regular client at Nessel’s Fischer Galleries. “He has a fantastic collection of work,” Nessel says, remembering the purchases he has made. She goes on to explain the method by which the artist, Rod Moorhead, created the masterpieces she points out. Fischer Galleries opened almost four years ago to represent Mississippi artists. “It’s very much a part of my personal life,” she says, adding that art is her passion. “It’s what I do every day.” Nessel, 48, has lived in Jackson for most of her life. She grew up in northeast Jackson and graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. She left to attend Stephens College in Columbia, Md. When she came back in 1983, she attended Millsaps College as an adult student. She has two sons: Spencer, 21, a senior at Millsaps; and Alexander, 23, who graduated from Millsaps in 2010 with a business degree. A runner, gardener and art connoisseur, Nessel initially attended school for fashion merchandising but fell in love with art along the way. She worked briefly for Bryant Galleries before moving on to work with James Patterson, a photographer and owner of
Gallery 119, for 10 years. While working with his galleries on Congress Street and President Street, Nessel learned how to run a gallery. To open Fischer Galleries in Fondren, Nessel worked with real estate developer Mike Peters and artist William Goodman. “It was a wonderful combination of things coming together,” she says. “The three of us worked to make it happen.” It was also “a combination of knowing a lot of local artists and not only loving them but admiring and having a huge appreciation for their work,” she says. “It seemed like a natural fit.” “A lot of the artists that I represent are the artists I’m extremely passionate about,” Nessel says. Ron Lindsey, Matthew Puckett and Richard Kelso are just a few of the artists represented in her personal collection in her Fondren home. “The artists make the gallery what it is. They pour their souls into their work. Their work is very much a part of who they are. It’s their passion to produce it as much as it is mine to show it,” Nessel says. “… It’s what makes what I do so special and interesting. I have so much respect for each one of them for what they do.” Fischer Galleries is at 3100 N. State St. Call 601-366-8833 or visit fischergalleries.com for more information. —Briana Robinson
16 Autumn Arts With cooler weather (we can hope) comes a new season of all things arty. Begin your fall plans here. ANDREW DUNAWAY
4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................... Stiggers 12 ........................ Zuga 13 .................. Opinion 33 ............... Diversions 35 ..................... 8 Days 36 ....................... Music 37 ......... Music Listings 40 ................. Astrology 40 ..................... Puzzles 41 ........................ Food 45 ............... Body/Soul 46 .... Girl About Town
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41 New Eclectic Chef Luis Bruno, a Jackson staple for years, has taken his culinary skills to the Palette Café at MMA.
Valerie Wells Valerie Wells is assistant editor of the JFP and BOOM Jackson. Email ideas to valerie@ jacksonfreepress.com. She wrote the cover story.
Latasha Willis Events editor Latasha Willis is a native Jacksonian, a graduate of Tougaloo College and the mother of one cat. Her JFP blog is “The Bricks That Others Throw,” and she sells design pieces at zazzle.com/reasontolive. She coordinated the arts preview.
Briana Robinson Deputy editor Briana Robinson is a 2010 graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Her hobbies include photography, ballet and ballroom dancing. She is a sophomore at Millsaps College. She wrote the Jacksonian.
Elizabeth Waibel Cub reporter Elizabeth Waibel grew up in Clinton. In May, she received her journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tenn. She likes coffee and trying new cake recipes. She wrote Talks.
Larry Morrisey Larry Morrisey is the director of grants programs for the Mississippi Arts Commission. He is one of the hosts for “Mississippi Arts Hour,” the agency’s arts interview radio show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. He wrote a music feature.
Jason Huang Editorial intern Jason Huang loves life’s banter and welcomes all adventures. Nothing can compare to stumbling on an unexpected adventure, living it, and then walking away with a strut. He wrote a music feature.
Alexis Goodman Editorial intern Alexis Goodman is a student at the University of Southern Mississippi, and enjoys spending time with friends and family. She is also addicted to watching crime television. She wrote Body/Soul.
August 24 - 30, 2011
Account executive Adam Perry is a local musician who lives in Flowood where he, his wife and daughter are herded through life by two supreme beings posing as unruly house-cats. He manages JFP sales accounts.
by Lacey McLaughlin, News Editor
Washing Our Souls
n a balmy night last month, I was walking along Frenchmen Street in New Orleans with heavy thoughts. Life suddenly seemed like a game show with so many different paths and choices that come with inevitable disappointments and victories. I pondered the best investment of my time and the sacrifices I would need to make in order to meet my goals. Would it all be worth it in the end? All of a sudden, I stumbled in front of a young man wearing a newsboy cap and looking like he had just stepped out of the 1940s. He had set up a table and was writing on an antique typewriter. A sign attached to his table described his services: For $5, he would write a poem based on any topic you offered. I imagined that he probably received a fair share of non-serious requests from drunken tourists, but I decided to give it a try. I explained to him my conundrum about life, and 20 minutes later he presented me with the following poem: All points and stresses brought to bear by your consideration, and though your compass spins uncertain never fear that your direction is the best. And sometimes you must hold your nose and enter rooms of musty irrelevance, and make the best of the furniture you find, for you’ll never know where you’ll be tomorrow, so try to be as comfortable as you can while you’re here. The poem was like a sermon, and I placed it on my car’s dashboard where I read it over and over again in the next few weeks as my life encountered unexpected setbacks. I’ve always found comfort in words—whether it’s reading a good book or writing in my journal. For me writing is an outlet and even a form of atonement. But it’s not just the act of putting words on paper—it’s the magical act of telling a story. Good stories can transform people and even change society. Good stories cause us to stop and ask ourselves questions. Good stories break down walls and cause us to see the world in a different light. I wanted to be a writer since I was a child; I began filling up journals from the time I learned how to read and write at age 6. As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I struggled to fit in at a high school where the majority of students—who were being groomed for high-power jobs—drove nicer cars than the teachers. Working on the school newspaper, however, gave me a reason to talk to students I might have been too intimidated to talk to otherwise. Unlike my other classes, journalism sent me outside the classroom and seldom required a textbook for learning. Despite my passion, I struggled with grammar, and my writing skills needed work. At the end of my junior year, I received a letter from my teacher telling me that she had to cut me from the newspaper staff. With tears in my eyes, I came to her office after school, asking her why. “You must improve
your writing,” she told me as she raised an eyebrow and looked over her eyeglasses. “Maybe there are other things you can do besides journalism.” I was crushed. I felt like I had nothing else to keep me coming to school. I remem-
I used to think that getting older meant that I would become jaded, but I’m starting to think that becoming jaded is a choice. ber walking up and down the hallways, distraught and in shock. Fortunately, my family ended up moving that summer to another school district, and I was able to write for that school’s newspaper. But the rejection I felt when I received that letter has long stayed with me. In fact, it made me want to be a journalist even more, and when I think of where I am now, I am truly humbled. I’d like to go back to that teacher and thank her for kicking me off the staff because it pushed me to work harder. When I started at the JFP two years ago, my writing took the form of inverted-
pyramid style journalism and lacked my voice. Working with editors such as Donna Ladd and Ronni Mott have caused me to grow and push myself. I’ve learned how to invest myself into a story, go back for more and get over writer’s block when I’m up against a deadline. Last week, I was fortunate enough to hear the works of so many talented local writers. I hosted the quarterly Writer’s Spotlight at Lemuria where local writers such as Bob Hudson, Jeremiah Maeda, Herbert Brown and Anita Modak-Truran read their writings. After the event, someone who just moved to the area told me that she didn’t realize Jackson had so much talent. Former Jacksonian Janine Jankovitz started the Writer’s Spotlight nearly two years ago, and it’s given writers as well as non-writers a place to connect. Unless you were there, it’s hard to describe how powerful it is to see local writers share their stories and bare their souls as they take the stage. I’ve never felt so proud of my city. In the midst of uncertainty, I find that I am drawn to other people’s stories and the idea of turning disappointment into an opportunity. I used to think that getting older meant that I would become jaded, but I’m starting to think that becoming jaded is a choice. Each disappointment also brings a new direction to our lives—new possibilities that we hadn’t thought of before. For me, writing provides an outlet for expression, but for others it might be music, photography or art. Art provides a way to deal with the crap that life sometimes throws at us, or as in the words of Pablo Picasso: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
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Thursday, Aug. 18 President Obama calls on Bashar alAssad, president of Syria, to step down and announces sanctions against the country. The announcement comes after five months of protests and deadly crackdowns by the Syrian government. …. Jim Hill High School holds a candlelight vigil to honor Tommy Wheaton, a student who was killed in a hit-and-run accident while riding his bike Aug. 14. Friday, Aug. 19 The “West Memphis Three” are released from prison 18 years after they were convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys in Arkansas. New DNA evidence raised questions about their convictions, and the three men still say they are innocent. … Peaches Restaurant celebrates 50 years of serving up soul food and peach cobbler on Farish Street. Saturday, Aug. 20 Tropical Storm Irene forms in the Caribbean and quickly grows to hurricane strength in the warm waters. … A plane crashes during an air show in Kansas City, killing the pilot, one of several air-show deaths over the weekend. ... Jackson artist Miriam Weems dies. Sunday, Aug. 21 Libyan rebels move into the capital city of Tripoli, dealing another blow to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. … A convenience store owner shoots a man who allegedly tried to rob him outside of his business on Hanging Moss Road.
The University of Mississippi Blues Archive in Oxford contains the world’s largest collection of blues music.
Council Spars with Mayor on Budget
ackson City Council members and Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. are caught in a power struggle over passing the city’s budget for fiscal year 2012. In preparation for passing the city’s budget Sept. 15, council members say they want more involvement in the process. Council President Frank Bluntson said Monday that he would take legal action against Johnson, if necessary, to obtain the names and salaries of all city employees after failed previous attempts to get the information from the mayor. In July, Johnson revealed his $266.7 million budget for fiscal year 2012 that would increase funding for public safety and infrastructure repairs. His budget would also provide a 2 percent raise to all city employees. The council’s budget committee has conducted hearings over the last two weeks in which they have received reports on expenditures from all city departments and asked questions of department heads. On request, the mayor provided a list of all salaries and job titles to council members, but did not attach employee names. He also provided a list of all city employees. Council members announced at yesterday’s work session that they are calling a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday for a final review of the budget and to offer proposed amendments. The meeting is open to the public, but deviates from the planned budget process. The council will have a public
hearing on the budget Sept. 1 and vote on the budget Sept. 15. When the mayor questioned the council about the need for a special meeting, Bluntson brought up the issue of salaries and whom the city employs. He had asked the mayor for the list at a budget recap meeting Aug. 17, in which council members offered minor Jackson City Council President Frank Bluntson is budget amendments. He challenging Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. over the city’s budget. asked for the information again, repeatedly, at Monday’s meeting. petty politics that you put the whole financial “It looks like you have something to well-being of our city in jeopardy. That aphide,” Bluntson told the mayor. pears to be the road we are headed down.” Johnson said that determining Although Bluntson did not bring up employees’ salaries is an administrative func- the issue of the salaries last year, he said that tion and a not a legislative one, and, there- former mayor Frank Melton gave council fore, did not see a need to reveal the names members names and salaries of employees and salaries. when he was in office. “We are not trying to hide anything, “They are getting public money, and it’s but I don’t understand why, after providing a matter of public record,” Bluntson said. all the information that we have provided, “I’ll go to the attorney general or go and all the questions we have answered, that to court or do whatever it takes (to get these names of these employees are so impor- the documents).” tant that you have basically hijacked the proWard 1 Councilman Quentin Whitcess,” Johnson told Bluntson. well, vice chairman of the budget committee, Johnson accused Bluntson of playing BUDGET, see page 7 games. “I hope you don’t get so caught up in
e v a h be
August 24 - 30, 2011
Monday, Aug. 22 A memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. opens to the public on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. … Ole Miss quarterback Randall Mackey is arrested on charges of disorderly conduct.
Tuesday, Aug. 23 A judge dismisses a sexual assault case against Dominique Straus-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund. … Mississippians vote in runoff primary elections for both major parties. Get news updates at jfpdaily.com.
by Lacey McLaughlin KENYA HUDSON
Wednesday, Aug. 17 Christine O’Donnell, former candidate for the U.S. Senate, walks out of an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN. … Authorities upgrade the charges against Deryl Dedmon to capital murder in the death of James Craig Anderson.
Is Delbert Hosemann playing politics with election results? p 11
“What we are going to do is behave the way citizens of Jackson would ask us to behave.” —Ward 6 Jackson City Councilman Tony Yarber on Aug. 22 regarding the arguments between Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and Council President Frank Bluntson over the city’s budget disclosures.
Another season of arts events begins now, so it’s time to declare some of Jackson’s arts-connected (and some not-so-connected) items either in or out. Why? Because we say so, that’s why.
The Orient Expressed
Eating lunch at your desk
3 Doors Down
Art Supply Headquarters
Michael’s Arts & Crafts
Ridiculous skinny jeans
news, culture & irreverence
BUDGET, from page 6
said he planned to offer amendments to the budget Wednesday but would not give specifics. He did say that he did not support all city employees receiving 2 percent raises. He also said that council members felt like they did not have input in crafting the city’s budget and wants to change that for next year. “(The mayor) and his staff have guided this process 100 percent without allowing us to provide input about how we feel about the budget,” Whitwell said. City spokesman Chris Mims said that the mayor has provided with council for input. “We have asked the council to provide any questions or possible amendments in
writing to the administration so we can go back and see how to balance the budget if any changes are required,” Mims said. Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba said he wants to see employees in the public works department receive more than 2 percent raises because of the high demands of their job. He also wants the city clerk’s office to add a policy analyst to offer recommendations on the administration’s proposed budget and policies. “I think the mayor’s proposal of a 2 percent pay raise is good,” he said. “But that still leaves a large gap between some of our employees and the people of the bottom of the ladder who are the public works people and are very important because they clean our city up.” Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Bonds Fund Jackson-Area Projects by Elizabeth Waibel
plans stalled, Barbour called for building the museum in downtown Jackson. The Old Capitol once housed Mississippi’s history museum, but did not have enough room for all the exhibits and storage. The Old Capitol Museum now focuses on the building’s history, MDAH said. The Jackson Zoo will also get a boost from $1.3 million in bond money for ongoing renovations to help it maintain its accreditation with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Beth Poff, the zoo’s director, said some of the money will probably be used to renovate exhibits for the Amur leopard (an endangered Russian breed), gibbons and tapirs, which are some of the oldest animal exhibits at the zoo. The zoo will also use the money to add interactive displays to educational stations and to repair roofs. “Some of it is not as visible, but very important,” Poff said. The commission also approved issuing up to $100,000 in bonds for the Mississippi Children’s Museum. Susan Garrard, executive director of the museum, said they are also seeking private funding. During its first eight months of operation, 160,000 visitors came through its doors, Garrard said. The Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland will also get up to $100,000 in bond money, some of which will go to new parking areas. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
An artist’s rendering shows the planned Museum of Mississippi History.
COURTESY MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY
he state Bond Commission gave several Jackson-area projects the goahead last week, paving the way for a much-anticipated civil-rights museum downtown. The state Legislature passed a bill last session calling for the state to issue $38 million in bonds to fund a Museum of Mississippi History and a Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, but the Bond Commission had to approve those funds.. Lucy Allen, museum division director at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, said now that the commission has authorized the sale of bonds, the projects can move forward. The bill states that the Legislature intends for the museums to be open to the public by 2017, Mississippi’s bicentennial, a hope that Attorney General Jim Hood and Gov. Haley Barbour echoed at the Bond Commission meeting. With all the work that needs to be done to get two museums built and stocked with exhibits, Allen said the project probably will not be finished before 2017, although MDAH hopes to meet the target. The costs for building the museums are still being finalized, but both also need private donations. The Bond Commission approved a total of $40 million in bonds for the museums and allowed the state Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management to draw down $4 million for pre-planning. Officials discussed Tougaloo College as a potential location for the Civil Rights Museum in 2008, and the Jackson Redevelopment Authority suggested a site near Farish Street earlier this year. Allen said, however, that the museum will be between the William F. Winter Archives and History Building and the site for the Museum of Mississippi History on North Street. Mississippi has been planning a civil-rights museum since at least 2008, when Gov. Haley Barbour appointed a commission that recommended Tougaloo’s campus as a site for the museum. After those
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The University For The Arts Kenosha Johnson is homeless. The Jackson Police Department routinely arrests him for panhandling in Fondren, but he returns each time.
K Art & Design • Music Theatre • Dance For current events and more, visit
August 24 - 30, 2011
enosha “Giggles” Johnson has become a staple in Fondren. Often with a blanket in tow, Johnson hangs out in front of businesses along State Street and occasionally receives strange looks from people who walk by. Johnson often points to the sky and speaks inaudibly to no one in particular. He appears disoriented, and at times he approaches people and makes them uncomfortable, business owners say. On Tuesday, Aug. 16, Jackson police officers arrested Johnson for panhandling. They held him in the city’s jail, but within hours he was back in Fondren, sitting at his usual bench on the corner of State and Mitchell streets. Although many Fondren residents know Johnson and feel uneasy about his arrest, they recognize that there is no easy solution to help him. JPD has arrested Johnson nearly a dozen
times this year. Precinct 4 Commander Wendell Watts said he witnessed Johnson asking people for money on Aug. 16 and, because that breaks a city ordinance, officers took him to jail. Watts presumed that due to overcrowding, officials released Johnson that same day. Watts said officers can’t take people to a state mental-health facility unless they pose a threat to themselves or others, but will try to take homeless people to a shelter such as Gateway Rescue Mission or the Salvation Army. “I think we have taken him to the hospital before, and they have deemed him safe enough to be out on the streets,” Watts said. Watts said JPD tries to help the homeless, but they can’t always control what happens after shelters work with them. “We have a process we have to follow in getting help from the shelters,” he said. “We try to help the homeless before we do anything as far as jail or mental facilities. People do have hard times and need assistance, but we can’t control what these facilities do. … This is an ongoing issue with a lot of them because it’s like they don’t want help.” David Waugh, president of the Fondren Association of Businesses, said business owners frequently express concerns about Johnson and other homeless men and women deterring their customers. “As far as we know, he is harmless to himself and to others,” Waugh said. “He takes care of himself—though not as much as we’d like. But when he is making these noises or threats it becomes scary, and it’s rough for these businesses to have someone like that sitting out front.” Waugh said that the only option business owners feel they have is to call the police. “We have talked to legal counsel about what it takes to remove people from the community,” he said. “We did so because we were listening to our membership. … He is a public nuisance, but he doesn’t pose a direct threat, and so there is nothing you can do.” Waugh said he is considering giving
Johnson a job such as picking up trash, or providing other opportunities for Johnson to be productive. “We wish it was a problem that goes away, but we recognize that it’s not going to, so how do we find ways to address it?” Waugh asked. “I think we have to learn how to embrace him as a neighbor.” Ron Chane, owner of Swell-O-Phonic, admits that he has called the police on a number of occasions when Johnson has disturbed customers. He said he felt conflicted about calling the police. “When we first started coming up, everyone was real accommodating to him, but sometimes your desire to want to help gets clouded by the fact that he’s a distraction,” Chane said. “… He has basically taken up residence here.” Drew Mellon, manager at Swell-O-Phonic, said that Johnson’s mental state could be keeping him from getting help. “I don’t know if he has the mental capacity to understand the concept of getting help,” Mellon said. Kathy Denton, public relations director at Mississippi State Hospital, said that residents must first go to a regional state health facility before coming to the state hospital. In Hinds County, residents can seek treatment at Hinds Behavioral Health Services, and staff will then decide if the patient should seek long-term treatment at the state facility. It often takes a family member or friend to bring in someone they are concerned about and continue taking them to appointments. Dr. Tomora Thomas of Hinds Behavioral Health Services said that her organization will sometimes offer JATRAN bus passes for homeless or needy patients. She also said that case managers are assigned to patients and will follow up with them by visiting them, even if they do not have a home. “The case manager will visit clients to help determine housing needs, medical needs and psychiatric needs,” she said. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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Sex and Standards
Love the Arts?
If you know and love fine arts, books, theater, dance or music, you may be the arts writer weâ€™re looking for. Send samples and story ideas to email@example.com. And if you have passion for Jackson arts and are willing to learn, weâ€™ll train you in creative non-fiction workshops.
prefers abstinence-only sex education. JoAnne Shepherd, counsel for JPS, said the district has just begun the preliminary work to adopt a sex-education policy. Shepherd said officials are looking at both abstinence-only and abstinence-plus policies, but it is too early to say when they might decide on a policy. They have not yet determined whether they will put together a task force or committee to solicit input from the community. Even though some school districts in the state are already starting to consider and adopt policies, they will still have to go through the process of selecting a curriculum approved by the Mississippi Department of Education. MDE is accepting submissions from vendors for potential sex-education curricula. It will then compile a list of approved curricula from which school districts can choose. Raising the bar Mississippi has begun to implement new standards for education designed to put students on par with the rest of the country. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an effort of government leaders and educators from different states to develop common expectations in English language arts and math curricula. Each state chooses its own curriculum, but most, including Mississippi, have now signed onto the initiative. Judy Johnson-Evans, state leader for the initiative with the Mississippi PTA, said a common core is especially helpful for families who move often. Instead of possibly having to repeat a grade when moving to a state with a more rigorous curriculum, students will find similar academic expectations whether they live in Mississippi or Massachusetts. â€œThe standards are designed to give a concise measurement so all the states will be on the same page,â€? she said. The initiativeâ€™s standards will be phased in over a period of several years so students can grow with the program. This fall, they are being implemented in kindergarten through second grade, and new assessments are expected to be ready by the 2014-2015 school year. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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that contradicts them. Cannon said later that she is comfortable with the Legislatureâ€™s timeframe, but she wants to put the issue at the forefront of the board membersâ€™ minds. â€œWe want a lot of time to have the policy in place and then train individuals who would be able to implement it with our children,â€? Mississippi school districts must include abstinence-only or she said. abstinence-plus sex education in their curriculum for the 2012-2013 school year. Mississippiâ€™s teenage birthrate was the highest in the nation in 2008, a Cenonica Cannon, who has a daugh- ters for Disease Control and Prevention study ter in a Jackson high school, is part found. Preliminary data show that the stateâ€™s of a teen-pregnancy prevention birthrate for teens ages 15 to 19 was 65.7 per coalition in the Jackson area. Dur- 1,000 births. That number was down from ing a Jackson Public Schools board meeting 71.9 births per 1,000 in 2007. The national Aug. 18, Cannon told the board she feels that average in 2008 was 41.5 births per 1,000. JPS could adopt a policy on sex education Cannon said that from a parentâ€™s perspecquickly because people and coalitions in the tive, times are different than when she was in area have already been researching possible school. Looking at the statistics, Cannon said curricula for quite some time. She offered her students need information about topics such groupâ€™s services as part of a task force or com- as sexually transmitted diseases and the proper mittee to explore the districtâ€™s options. use of contraceptives. Gov. Haley Barbour signed a bill in â€œThere is a misconception that abstiMarch that requires Mississippi school dis- nence-plus is anti-abstinence, but thatâ€™s not tricts to adopt either an abstinence-only or ab- the case,â€? Cannon said. â€œMany abstinencestinence-plus sex education policy. House Bill plus programs have a strong abstinence (com999 gives school boards until June 30, 2012, ponent), but itâ€™s fused with other researchto adopt a policy and requires them to imple- based information â€Ś that our children need ment it in the 2012-2013 curriculum. to know so that theyâ€™re not making foolish Neither policy allows schools to teach decisions.â€? students how to use condoms, although they Lisa Karmacharya, superintendent of the are allowed to discuss condoms and contra- Brookhaven School District, said her district ceptives if the presentation includes informa- has adopted the abstinence-only policy and tion about their risks and failure rates. The bill has already hired a health teacher to implealso requires schools to provide written notice ment the curriculum in its junior high school to parents of any instruction or presentation next year. on human sexuality at school, and give parâ€œWe just felt like it was the best approach ents the option to request that their child be for our community, especially in light of the included or excused from the lesson. fact that there are very minor differences beThe bill includes a list of suggested guide- tween the abstinence-only and the abstinencelines for abstinence-only sex education. Al- plus (policies),â€? she said. though programs do not have to include each Karmacharya said Brookhaven adopted components, they may not teach anything the policy in part because the bill says the state
Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, is proud to announce the
Mary Cook McLeod Elementary
La’Keshia Opara-Nadi Pecan Park Elementary
Diane Setzer Davis Elementary
Barbara Stevens Callaway High School
CFGJ manages the Outstanding Educator Award fund, which grants a substantial monetary award annually to four educators from the Jackson Public School District.
Wednesday, September 7 at 11:45 a.m. Jackson Medical Mall | Call 601.969.6015
Founding Chapter, Parents for Public Schools, 1989
August 24 - 30, 2011
200 N. Congress, Suite 500, Jackson, MS 39201 • www.ppsjackson.org
COURTESY GRACE HOUSE
2011 Recipients of the Outstanding Educator Award:
by Dustin Cardon
he white building sits nestled between small houses on Millsaps Avenue. The striking red front door and the bright red and white-striped domed cover above it sets the house apart from others on the street. The building is one of five that makes up Grace House, the largest transitional housing facility in Mississippi for homeless people with HIV/AIDS of three in the state. Grace House provides a home for men and women, and offers outreach and educational programs, grief counseling, and coordination with health-care providers. It is a place where HIV sufferers who would otherwise be unable to find any sort of assistance can come to find shelter and an opportunity to change their lives for the better. “Grace House is no longer a place just to live, it’s an opportunity to change your life,” Operations Manager Teresa Viramontez says. It also provides free confidential HIV testing “and a whole lot of love.” Many of the people at Grace House are homeless because they have been thrown out of their homes, abandoned by family, or denied rent opportunities due to the stigma of HIV/AIDS infection and the ignorance of many people regarding how the disease is spread. Many people also suffer from substance abuse or mental-health issues, often tied to their homelessness. Grace House’s program includes introducing structure into residents’ lives and preparing them to re-enter the work force. Lists of daily duties are posted at various places, and everyone does their part to maintain the buildings and grounds. One of the first things you may notice if you visit is that few residents seem to be around. Many are at jobs or school during the day; at least four residents are attending college. Residents speak to youth groups throughout the state about HIV and tell their stories. “Everything here at Grace House is about self-determination,” Viramontez says. “We are not a flop house. People are here to change their lives.” Words of inspiration are everywhere. On the stairs, each step has a word painted inside a white rectangle: courage, hope, wisdom, faith, love and healing. Every wall is covered in messages, Bible verses and handprints in multiple colors. Mission groups from colleges and churches throughout the state do many of these to commemorate their work here. The house even has a resident “horticulturist” who sees to all of the plants, including a vegetable garden located in the spacious shared backyard. The man is a former substance abuser, and taking care of plants is therapeutic. “Part of (substance abuse) therapy involves getting a puppy or a plant,” Viramontez says. “(It helps) take focus off of yourself and give something external to focus on.” A woman sits at the table in the center of the room, typing on a laptop. Piles of books, papers and folders lie on either side of her. The
Grace House, a transitional facility for people with HIV/AIDS, blends in with its Millsaps Avenue neighbors.
woman, who asks not to be named, is one of the four Grace House residents attending college. She’s majoring in business at Hinds Community College. “Things are going well,” she says. “It’s been typical so far; standing in line for hours for books, lots of homework.” Reginald, another resident, is dressed in a simple white T-shirt, a bronze-colored cross necklace around his neck. “When I go to speak to people today I tell them I have AIDS, not that I am HIV positive,” he says. “When you have an attitude of not hiding your status, it makes it easier to deal with it. If someone else has a problem with it, it is their problem. I don’t let ignorance get to me.” Last year, Mississippi reported 550 new cases of HIV. In 2009, the state ranked No. 6 nationally in HIV infection rates among the 40 states that have confidential HIV reporting. Nationally, the number of new infections has remained around 50,000 per year for the past decade. Nationally 44 percent of new infections are in African Americans; in Mississippi, 78 percent of new cases are African Americans. Men make up the majority of new cases, and the virus is especially prevalent among men who have sex with other men. About 9,500 Mississippians live with AIDS. HIV is not spread through the air or through casual contact. Any sexual contact that involves the exchange of body fluids allows the spread of HIV; vaginal, anal and oral sex can all cause infection. “Many young people think they’re invincible, but the highest age group (of people contracting HIV) is age 13 to 24,” Reginald says. “They need to hear the message, to clear their misconceptions, such as thinking they won’t get AIDS if they only have oral sex.” On Saturday, Aug. 27, Grace House hosts “Saving Grace,” an evening of blues, jazz and gospel music, from 6 to 9 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church (3921 Oak Ridge Drive) featuring food and drink, a raffle, and performances by Ben Wiley Peyton, James Martin, Raphael Semmes, Lisa Palmer and the Grace House Choir. Tickets are $35. For additional information, call 601-353-1038.
by Lacey McLaughlin
Hosemann vs. Dems? RAIN
A Tribute to the Beatles
Monty Python’s Spamalot
Vienna Boys Choir
embers of the state’s Democratic Party claim they were sideswiped Aug. 16 when Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann issued a press release that the party had failed to file election results from the Aug. 2 primary, which were due Aug. 12. The secretary of state’s office must receive the Democratic and Republican Party’s election results by Aug. 12 to provide ballots to county circuit clerks for the state’s runoff elections Aug. 23. The Democrats filed their results on Aug. 16 at 5 p.m.—an hour after Hosemann sent the press release, titled “State Democratic Party Fails to Certify Elections.” The Republicans, however, were also late, having filed their results just one day earlier. Jamie Franks, chairman of the Democratic Party and candidate for House representative in District 19, said his party had been in constant contact with the secretary of state’s office over the elections results, which were late because a few counties were having technical glitches. “It seems like the secretary of state is more interested in playing political games so that he can blame it on the Democratic Party, rather than his own self,” Franks said. “I don’t understand why someone who was in constant contact with the Democratic Party would send a press release when everything was certified by 5 p.m. that day.” Each county’s Democratic or Republican Party submits results to the state party, which then compiles a complete report for the secretary of state’s office. Franks said party members met Friday, Aug. 12, to certify the results, despite reports that the party could not meet because they didn’t have a quorum. Franks believes that Hosemann is unfairly targeting Democrats because it’s an election year. “Any problems we may have had weren’t just exclusive to the Democratic Party. The Republicans had the same problem as well, but yet he wants to jump on the party that
he is a not a member of,” Franks said. Pamela Weaver, director of communications for the secretary of state’s office, disagreed with Franks’ assessment and said that Hosemann was doing his job. “The Democratic Party is responsible for conducting their own primary election. Both parties certified their results late. How is that political?” Weaver asked, despite the release not mentioning the Republican Party in its release headline. The Secretary of State’s website also refers to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party.” The term is a political epithet used primarily by conservatives to cast the party in a negative light and dispel the notion that Democratic Party members are inheritors of democracy. Weaver could not confirm if any Republican or Democratic candidates have been left off the absentee ballots due to the late certification. Opponents often portray the Mississippi Democratic Party as disorganized and underfunded. Democrats are in the minority in the candidate pool this election season— with no Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, secretary of state or state auditor. Former Republican Party Chairman Brad White, who stepped down in February but is still a member of the party, said the state party’s certification relies on the county parties. “The state party is always—in order to get everything done—dependent on the county parties getting their elections certified and getting them to us. If you have some counties that are late in getting their certifications to us, it slows the whole process down.” White added, however, that it’s ultimately the state party’s responsibility to manage county elections. “If you have a lack of organization and lack of cohesiveness between county party’s in the state, it can really affect the process,” he said. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
NOVEMBER 17 South Pacific DECEMBER 11 Sounds of the Season, with the Tupelo Symphony, Doris Roberts, Guy Hovis & Mary Donnelly Haskell
FEBRUARY 2 Bruce Levingston and Friends including the Brooklyn Rider String Quartet 7 Ron K Brown/ Evidence A Dance Company 12 The Color Purple 25 Monty Python’s Spamalot MARCH 2 Vienna Boys Choir 8 Mass in B Minor Johann Sebastian Bach
Tickets available at the UM Box Office 662.915.7411 and online at WWW.FORDCENTER.ORG
Was Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann playing politics when his office notified the public about the state Democratic Party filing election results late?
OCTOBER 8 Chanticleer 19 Young Frankenstein 27 RAIN, A Tribute to the Beatles
opining, grousing & pontificating
Small is Beautiful
hen Peter Vandorn laid out downtown Jackson’s streets in 1822, he designed a checkerboard of alternating green squares. His plan created a public park on every other block. Stores or residences or offices would open doors and windows to green spaces. That plan didn’t last very long as development spread in Mississippi’s capital city. It was big thinking to plan a new city of perfect proportions balancing buildings and gardens. Perhaps it seemed too much like a dream and not practical enough for economic development. Vandorn had the right idea. The Art Garden, opening Oct. 1 at Mississippi Museum of Art, reminds us that public green spaces create a sense of place and, for exactly that reason, can boost economic development. People want to live and work in beautiful places where they feel connected to nature and to each other. Art helps that feeling. City leaders and developers should think small as well as big when coming up with plans for future projects. Everything should not hinge on huge projects such as a convention center hotel or a sports arena. Some thought should go into small projects that dot downtown with creativity. For example, we’d like to see landlords of vacant buildings allow artists to display their paintings and sculptures in the empty storefronts on Capitol Street. Many downtowns have done this, from Seattle, Wash., to Austin, Texas. It’s a simple, small thing that doesn’t come with an over-the-top budget. The dividends would last, though. When visitors staying at the King Edward step out on Capitol Street, they could look out at small pockets of art. Businesses want more residents downtown. Getting them there is going to take more than just creating new places to live. It takes adding little touches that make people want to be downtown all the time. People have got to want to walk the streets. The best way to do this is to give them things to see and appreciate along the way. Imagine if the playful alligator bench with its mosaic shell crawled out of the Art Garden to a spot somewhere on Capitol Street. Art with function is a way to spread bright spots around. The city of Jackson, through a new arts initiative, is looking for artists to paint 340 traffic boxes. It’s a simple and fast way to create many small points of optimism and inspiration. Beyond the city’s push, landlords and residents should join a grassroots effort to add a little joy—maybe even just a potted plant or two—in an effort to recapture at least part of Vandorn’s vision. For inspiration, join us at the Art Garden this fall. We can’t think of a better place to dream of grassroots creativity than the new public green space. Feel free to slip off your shoes and dip your toes in the play pools and let them dry on the grass.
Law of Self-Preservation
August 24 - 30, 2011
iss Doodle Mae: “Last week, around 7,000 people attended a job fair in Atlanta. They stood in the excruciating heat waiting with high hopes of landing a job. Little did these desperate job seekers realize that the companies represented at the job fair were not so interested in hiring them. “During our morning staff meeting, Jojo went into a philosophical mode to address why companies, small businesses and corporations are slow on hiring.” Jojo: “I want the staff of Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store to remember something my granddaddy Jojo said to me: ‘You are only necessary when you are useful.’ Granddaddy Jojo also shared with me the first law of nature, called self-preservation. In essence, every living thing, ranging from corporate CEOs to the desperate job seeker on the street, will fight, rob, price gouge and manipulate to survive. It’s natural to think of yourself first. Unfortunately, the ‘Law of Self-Preservation’ operates on a grand scale now. And hypocrisy is at an all-time high. “I also want my staff to know that everyone is useful and necessary at Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store. And the doors of this store are always open to those who are willing to share and have hope in their hearts. So, in the words of ‘Red’ from the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ ‘Get busy living or get busy dying.’” Miss Doodle Mae: “Those deep words should motivate you to come to the ‘Necessary and Useful End of Summer Sale’ at Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store.”
by Rommel W. Benjamin
Light a Candle
he killing of Mr. James Craig Anderson in Jackson in June seems to have precipitated a number of questions that can, in my opinion, be answered by revisiting our state’s history. The Clarion-Ledger gave a benign account of the event that made it sound like a possible accident. Then, CNN gave the community and the nation-atlarge the full story including intent, content, interview, discussion and the film footage captured on tape by a hotel near the site. This “twice-told tale” reveals what has the appearance of an intentional attempt to downplay the event by The Clarion-Ledger and the intention of CNN to report the story as it likely was: an egregious racist killing of an innocent person who happened to be black, the apparent preferred prey for the appetite of the “hunters,” Deryl Dedmon, John Aaron Rice and the two young white females who have not been formally charged. Many believe that they, too, are accessories to this crime. Did the judges in the case send a message that such a blatant violation of human life and legal rights will not be tolerated? And why is this case any different from other murder cases in Jackson, i.e., shootings at clubs, gas stations, drive-by, and carjacking, where both victims and perpetrators are of the same ethnic background? The answers lie in Mississippi’s past. Those who espoused white supremacy maimed, murdered and socially ostracized black and white Mississippians involved in the Civil Rights Movement. There is an endless stream of questions about Anderson’s murder because many have focused on evidence of positive social change in Mississippi. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that residues of racism lurk in the shadows of our social structure, residuals of systematic segregation, unrestrained discrimination, and the negative evaluation of black life, black culture and black contributions to society.
Mississippi has become the “poster state” for egregious violations of human rights and moral ethical norms of a supposedly civilized Christian society. This labeling obscures the work that many black and white Mississippians have done to bring the state into the 21st century—educationally, economically, politically and spiritually. Their work is an uphill battle against myth, misinformation, disinformation and blatant lies. To say the least, it is sad that Mr. Anderson had to die such a cruel, inhumane, untimely, and heartless death to awaken this community to the need for vigilance and continuous striving in the quest for truth, justice and spiritual actualization. Those who see injustice and intolerance and decline to speak out against it, and those who are in positions to dispense justice and prevent human predation but do not, are as guilty as those who practice these immoral, inhumane and destructive behaviors. CNN’s second telling of the story ignited a glimmer of hope when more than 500 people—community leaders, families, public officials and others— gathered for a march to the site of the murder and a candlelight vigil. The group sang “This Little Light of Mine,” an old Negro spiritual that seemingly took on new meaning: “This Big Light of Ours.” Several whites brought their children to be exposed to acts of compassion for the lives of others, regardless of their race, color or creed. This is a far cry from a time when whites would bring their children to the church picnic to watch the hanging of a black man or woman. Let us continue to light a candle rather than curse the darkness. Rommel W. Benjamin is a retired sociology professor living in west Jackson. He taught at numerous universities throughout his career, including Southern Illinois, Mississippi Valley and Jackson State universities.
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grew up in the Mississippi Delta in a large family with some of the most artistic people in Humphreys County. Some could paint; others received riches of literary talent; all could spin a tale. Mamaw Outlawâ€™s youngest, Uncle Richard, was a hairdresser like me, and for several years handed out business cards that said â€œYour hair looks like sh*t.â€? I spent countless hours with this colorful group, gleaning our history and embracing my God-given place in a long line of far-from-Broadway performers with great comedic timing. When I hear of a high-school kid interning in some big city for the summer, I wonder how I might have turned out if given that opportunity. What could I have picked up from more cosmopolitan folks had we vacationed in New York City or Los Angeles instead of the Ozarks? As it was, I spent hours plowing though issues of Metropolitan Home during study hall. Iâ€™ll never forget the first time I saw a loft apartment in glossy print. I looked around our two blocks of â€œdowntownâ€? and wondered if I could do the same thing. Secretly, I began to squirrel away pages of materials and furnishings from Motherâ€™s Spiegel and Sears catalogues. Anyone with half a brain would have urged me toward interior design or architecture, but how in the world is a 17year-old supposed to know which way to go if nobody has shown him the options? Mrs. Mortimer, my high-school English teacher and wife of the local mortician, wins the award for trying. She survived two heart attacks, and the rumor was sheâ€™d been re-animated like the bride of Frankenstein with less hair and makeup. Almost all the students were afraid of her. One day she asked me to come to her classroom. I quickly scanned the dayâ€™s events for something Iâ€™d done wrong. Finding nothing, I followed obediently, shoulders slouched, brow furrowed into a knot. As I entered the room, the door shut behind me. â€œIf she sucks the life out of me now, Iâ€™ll never know who shot J.R.,â€? I thought. She sat down, opened a drawer and pushed a book in my direction. â€œShow this to your parents. Tell them I said this is the place for you,â€? she said, with an accent devoid of the typical Delta drawl, and sent me on my way. Later that day, I bounded off the bus. â€œLook, Momma!â€? I yelled excitedly. â€œMrs. Mortimer thinks I should be an artist!â€? I handed her the catalogue, and Mother flipped through the book. â€œNew York? Paris? Has she lost her mind?â€? she asked. â€œBut Mother, itâ€™s Par-sons!â€? I replied. (I had no clue what Parsons was, and
knew even less about New York.) She handed it back to me and said: â€œSon, youâ€™re going to be the first in this family to finish college. And that college is Mississippi College.â€? She then gave me her patented Bonnie nod. That nod was like ending a statement with â€œor Iâ€™ll whip you â€˜til your butt wonâ€™t hold shucks.â€? I never gave myself permission to refer to myself as â€œa creativeâ€? until I moved into the Fondren Corner building. There, I found myself neck deep in a community serious about its art. Hell, if one of our graffiti artists worked over my car, Iâ€™d consider myself lucky. I once spent an afternoon watching William Goodman put the finishing touches on a collection and then deftly turning and whitewashing a wall with the same reverence. From time to time, Ginger Williams would show up at my door with a story about teaching classes to innercity kids at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Back before we lost Josh Hailey to his dreams in Los Angeles, he often burst into the salon to say â€œheyâ€? and ask an opinion about his outfit. Remember the Borat bikini? Not my idea. Over the next few years, I met several creatives and befriended quite a few. What I discovered by watching them is that creativity grows by the act of creating. Their works are a result of countless hours of practicing the act of being artistic. Ginger Williams once debuted a mini retrospective in my salon during Arts, Eats and Beats, covering every wall with works that she produced during her lifeâ€™s highs and lows. Every piece spoke to me on some level. Inspired by Goodman and others, I picked up the brush again. I thought back to time Iâ€™d spent with Mamaw Outlaw. One afternoon, we hopped into her maroon Oldsmobile and rode to Yazoo City. As we made our way down the aisles of the local Rite Aid, she stopped at the craft section and selected an oil paint set. Her bright blue eyes lit up as she whispered â€œHow would you like me to teach you to paint?â€? I felt something take hold, and itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve never forgotten. If someone is willing to show me how, Iâ€™m more than willing to take it up. Itâ€™s no wonder that every single time I smell linseed oil I think of her. Thankfully, living in Fondren ensures I never forget. Eddie Outlaw is co-owner of the William Wallace Salon in Fondren, a downtown resident of the King Edward, and spends most of his time trying not to embarrass his sweet Delta mother on eddieoutlaw.com.
I found myself neck deep in a community serious about its art.
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