May 13, 2013
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Admit it: No one has any idea what's going on
April 22, 2013
US man departing country arrested on terror charges
An unorthodox but growing treatment in a 9-year-old's battle against cancer
April 19, 2013
Caroline B. Glick:
Why Obama's visit to Israel had no impact on public opinion or government policy
Gold collapse: The start of something big?
Livable super-Earths? Two candidates among Kepler's latest finds
April 17, 2013
Too much of a good thing? 'Palestinians' realize downside of foreign aid boom
BAD NEWS: EVERYONE IS RIGHT!
April 15, 2013
Egyptian Christians respond with harsh words to attack -- rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire -- against main cathedral
Marcy Darnovsky and Karuna Jaggar:
High Court to decide if you should own your DNA
US bracing for more Russian blowback after taking action against 18 more human rights violators
April 12, 2013
New cybersecurity bill: Privacy threat or crucial band-aid?
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom:
The Kosher Gourmet by Susan Russo:
Jackie Robinson's Friend, Hank Greenberg; CNN's Jake Tapper; Texas County in the News is named for 19thC. Jewish soldier and Congressman
FRUITY QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS: A flavorful, colorful and edible vessel of delicately fluffy, mildly nutty filling combined with chewy apricots, tangy cherries, and crunchy pistachios
April 10, 2013
North Korean missiles: Could US shoot them down?
Warning: Don't waste your capital being fooled by profit prophets
Donald Hensrud, M.D.:
Mayo Clinic Medical Edge: Take vitamin supplements with caution --- even approved, they may actually do damage
74 DNA discoveries move cure closer for three cancers
April 8, 2013
Jonathan Tobin: What Part of No Preconditions Do American Jews Not Get?
Is Putin finally trading his own party for a new power base?
Jewish World Review
March 4, 2011
/ 28 Adar I, 5771
On the Road to New Orleans
There are few better ways to go back in time and ever deeper into the South, which are much the same thing, than to drive through the Delta down to New Orleens Land of Dreems.
Mile by mile, the dreamscape unfolds like an old map, falling into familiar place after place. As the road narrows to two lanes, the residue of the past begins to float by. You pass abandoned cotton gins, long empty houses by the side of the road, their roofs slowly, majestically caving in, as if they had all the time in the world to disappear. They already seem archaeological, like forgotten monuments. The testify, like a stove-in old man at a camp meeting, to both the malice of time and the persistence of memory. Something, something powerful, lives on here. The evidence of it is all around.
You can tell you're getting deeper into the dream by the signs for products that are no longer made, the empty storefronts that went out of business long ago but are still there, some just barely. That one must have been a filling station, to judge by the rusty gas pump outside. You drive on, curve after curve, one half-forgotten vista opening after another, like the endless corridors of some memory palace.
Forgotten politicians live on here in their signs, their tattered images still flapping in the idle wind. Some of the billboards have dated with remarkable speed for a slow-paced land. One touts Blanche Lincoln, now the former senior senator from Arkansas, as One Tough Lady. Why, you wonder, would a U.S. senator have to present herself as macho if she really was?
Hattie Caraway, who really was tough, whipped an assortment of male rivals in 1932 to win a seat in the U.S. Senate -- without having to say much of anything. Huey Long, the Kingfish himself, took care of that. He and his sound truck came to her aid from south of the (state) border. He said everything that needed to be said in '32 and a lot more, as was Huey's way. For nine days he barnstormed the state and Silent Hattie won in a walk.
Six years later, Hattie Caraway would whup her challenger in the Democratic primary, which was, as they used to say in those days, Tantamount to Election. Her opponent? John L. McClellan, who would eventually get to the Senate after all. He was still young in 1938 but already gruff. Miss Hattie took care of him without needing any help by then. His campaign slogan that year was less than effective, or subtle: "Arkansas needs a man in the Senate." Who wouldn't have voted for the little widder woman after that?
Like so many other things, Southern demagoguery ain't what she used to be. Blanche Lincoln's fading billboard is already headed for the fate of all the old Faubus posters you used to see everywhere in Arkansas.
That's what driving south into the South is like: a series of flashbacks, usually in black-and-white, pre-Technicolor. Along the blue highways, the demagogues of the 1950s and '60s, or even the '30s, come to life again. It's we the living who seem pallid ghosts.
"I have fallen in love with American names," wrote the poet. He would have stayed in love with Southern ones, which are good enough to last a lifetime. They loll on the tongue, ripple through the void of time, conjuring up a past that still has not quite passed. And turn us all as garrulous as good ol' boys at a family reunion. ("Oh, remember when Bobby here...")
We love the past here, even if it's with a wink and a nod. If you've grown up anywhere Southern, you know the people who live along this winding highway even if you've never met them. You can hear their voices, even their pauses. The cultivated Suthuhn of the aristocrats. The everyday ring of black laughter -- which is one of my first childhood memories. We lived above my father's shoe store in Shreveport, and the joyous sound would drift up to my crib from below, like the sound of life, beckoning.
We stop at Lake Village, Ark., to see an old friend, the kind of Southern matron who is an old friend as soon as you meet her. Ensconced in her unchanged lakeside house, attending meetings of her clubs, all kinds of them, she still has time, all the time in the world, to entertain us -- or so she lets you think. For nothing must ever be hurried in these latitudes.
Over a Coke and nibbles, she tells us there is indeed something new under the sun in Lake Village: the Teach for America delegation. The young teachers live across the street in an old house big enough for a whole passel of them. You can almost feel the lifelong friendships being formed from where we sit in her parlor. They've brought hope and cheer to the public schools in Lake Village along with their dedication and math skills. And must be charmed by their hosts. Yes, Virginia, there is still a Southern hospitality.
These young people come from schools like Indiana and UCLA, Harvard and Stanford. They've got their undergraduate degrees college and are pausing before entering law or medical school. Some find it hard to leave teaching or this little town. Which doesn't surprise. Who wouldn't be entranced, at least on a day like this, in a house like this, in the company of a lady like this, by a small Southern town by the side of a lake?
You can take the Mississippi or Louisiana side of The River down to New Orleans, choosing to cross at either Greenville or Vicksburg. Each has its attractions, but I've always preferred the Mississippi passage; it seems to have more ruins. Or maybe it's the language; something majestically, quintessentially Southern seems to happen to it once you cross over The River.
Deep into the night, leaving the two-lanes and shanties behind, getting onto the interstate and beginning to enter American anonymity again, we stop for coffee at a convenience store. But the South persists. We hear a black clerk impatiently admonish a friend, "You heard me what I said!"
We drive on through the sweet, enveloping night, unable to stop repeating the phrase. Is it a variation of the reflexive, a Shakespearean echo, something all its own? It doesn't matter. It has force, clarity, a beat, and it stays with you. Like the South. You heard me what I said.
Paul Greenberg Archives
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