Articles

      • When the Moon Met the Tiger: Homecoming and Loss in MyanmarIn his youth, my grandfather was a tiger. Tall, broad-shouldered, full-faced, he had led soldiers into the mountains of the Golden Triangle to set ambushes for drug runners and bandits. Later in life, he wore bespoke tailored suits, drank scotch in one hand, and smoked a cigarette in the other while talking military tactics with Moshe Dayan and negotiating treaties with Josip Broz Tito. He could not smile now; there was a feeding tube in his throat. He could not run at me screaming, “sumo!” because his groin was attached to a catheter. His hair was white and thin. His hands, which had held machetes and assault rifles and scotch, were liver-spotted and paralyzed. Published in Catapult.
      • Our Social Distancing & Sheltering Club: Self Isolation in the Most Sociable City in the SouthThen there’s Mardi Gras, our most iconic holiday. Christmas and Thanksgiving are generally celebrated by individual families, or maybe several families at once, but I cannot comprehend experiencing Mardi Gras and Carnival as anything less than a citywide celebration. I think back on the 2020 party, when I ran around with a bag of wine literally pouring it down willing people’s throats, and then read about experts saying Mardi Gras celebrations hastened COVID-19’s spread throughout Orleans parish. Well, yeah. Our way of life was as ill prepared for this pandemic as our physical infrastructure is for snow days. The COVID-19 response demands self-denial and isolation, and this is a city built on personal enjoyment and sociability. Published in The Bitter Southerner
      • Welcome to the Land: A Trip to the Northernmost Town in AmericaAt a local gas station, where a gallon of unleaded ran $6 — Utqiagvik receives all its supplies by air, including petroleum, even though it’s near some of the largest oil wells in the world — the owner handed me a pistol when I got out to work the pump. A bear had been seen prowling nearby. When I raised my eyebrows, his response was simple: “They’ll eat you.” Published in The Statesider
      • How New Orleans’ skate scene became a home for outsidersSometimes one of the guys will grab onto a car bumper and allow himself to be dragged through the busy streets of the Central Business District. Jarred says that particular move garners different reactions; some drivers indulge the skaters, some have pulled guns on them. The guys are nonchalant about pulling off this sort of move, but it’s a practised nonchalance. One suspects they realise how death-defying these tricks are, even if they might never admit it. There’s a moment in Gnarleans where, after watching one of the skaters get pulled through the streets, a random pedestrian says, “Coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole fucking life”. One of the skaters smirks and shoots back, “You got a boring ass life.” Published in Huck
      • A Writer’s Port of Call – I came to Madura to watch the bull races and found them after half a day of searching. I had originally asked on a Madura-bound bus where the races might be found in extremely broken Indonesian, saying something along the lines of, “Where do the cows here go to run fast?” Eventually I was deposited in a small town where English was nonexistent. The races had been worth it—bulls, rubbed down with coconut milk, fed palm liquor and prodded with spiked rings inserted into their anuses, charging through the racetrack and often enough, the crowds, too. Published in Worldhum
      • When Jesters Have Their Day – …in New Orleans, the agitators often have the run of the place. Mardi Gras and carnival season is the time of year when this sort of thing is most evident, but the jester is always a threat to the monarchy here. The misfit toys who just don’t fit in anywhere else, they find a home. They find tolerance, and creativity, and the best of Southern hospitality and warmth at the same time. That’s a heady combination to drink off of, and not to engage in New Orleans clichés, but we drink a lot down here. Published in WWNO (NPR)
      • Riding Sri Lanka’s A9, a passage between two worlds – In the tiny interrogation shack is a map of Sri Lanka. In red are the areas claimed by the Tigers, extending from the north to a full two-thirds of Sri Lanka’s coastline. Does Arun want the east of the country for the LTTE as well? Unconsciously, he fingers the cyanide capsule necklace that every Tiger wears, a suicide precaution against capture. “Yes,” he says. “We have interests there, too. Published in The Christian Science Monitor
      • Kalegate: New Orleans, the New York Times travel section, & Gentrification[It] all ends up coming off like a 19th-century travelogue by a Victorian author romanticizing a perceived vital primitivism in Africa or India. Enter the brave New York author; witness her jaunt downriver into darkest Louisiana, a weird frontier where danger comes hand in hand with dive bars but the rents are waaaay cheaper than Fort Greene. Published in The Lens
      • Under the Banyan Tree – The previous night, as the sun set, the black birds made storm clouds, flying from the city’s pagodas to nest in banyan and pipal trees. They were so loud, they could have been dinosaurs. Then, in the dark, the wild dogs came out, like a Toto song or a Jack London novel. They had no fear or respect of Yangon’s citizens, a bit like the Burmese government. Their eyes shone through the darkness of frequent power outages, and they stalked the city in lean, hungry packs.  Published in Worldhum
      • New Orleans: It’s About to Get Weirder – Every day I’ve spent here I’ve witnessed some act of joy that made my soul feel bigger. A Russian band screamed about love over raspberry beer. A woman donned a Saints helmet and a gold tutu and started a Second Line and was quickly followed by a tuba player and fire jugglers. A kid jumped onto a car under the bridge at Claiborne and Esplanade and danced with his ass in the air until the people in the car got out and joined him. Published in Worldhum
      • The tuneful heritage of the American South – It’s no exaggeration to say that the popular music of the last 100 years owes its existence to the American South. New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz. The Mississippi Delta gave the world the blues, which then cross-pollinated with the country music of the upland South to yield rock music. R&B music – ie rhythm and blues – and any variant of soul music also evolved from both the blues and the black gospel music of Southern churches. The pop music icons who have won American Idol have overwhelmingly hailed from the South. Even hip-hop owes its existence to black migration patterns from the South into Northeastern cities – and that is only accounting for the genre’s early history. In the 21st century, Southern cities like Atlanta have set the sonic course of hip-hop for at least a generation. Published in Lonely Planet
      • End to India’s brutal ‘Robin Hood‘ – Just outside this country’s version of Sherwood Forest, they’re not exactly sure what to make of Robin Hood’s death. Published in The Christian Science Monitor
      • Honor the struggle for civil rights in the Southern USA – No movement has challenged the United States to live up to its highest ideals, while tempting its worst demons, like the battle for civil rights. The fight is not one contained narrative, but a series of episodes, the latest of which is unfolding today. From the beautiful (marchers hand in hand in Selma, Alabama) to the nightmarish (those same marchers set on by police dogs), many of the events and images from this struggle are writ into Southern soil and soul. Published in Lonely Planet