I have been a journalist for 25 years. In fact, this year marks my 25th year of being in the journalism industry in some area, starting in college at a local radio station and later as a paid intern at a newspaper. This also marks the 20th year of my college graduation.
In the last 25 years, I have covered a variety of stories, including homicides, fires and car accidents. I was good at establishing trustworthy relationships with law enforcement, but I have never really enjoyed covering spot news.
One of the cool things about teaching a college introduction to mass communications class is that you get to discuss the history of media, including books, magazines, newspapers, television, radio, music and movies. We also look at current events that relate to all of these mediums, and this semester, we watched a couple of current movie trailers, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Get Out.”
In light of the controversial events that have transpired because of Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 locally and nationally, with protests by notable Mississippians and some companies refusing to do business in the state, the yin and yang of the universe decided that on the last season of one of America’s top-rated television shows, two Mississippians were selected to showcase their artistic talent – one of the fine things Mississippi is very well known for – and a Mississippian won the contest. Within every place and every person, you can find both good and bad. For far too long, Mississippi has had a reputation of ranking last in many categories. It has become trite to recite the list. The state has the highest high school dropout rate, the highest teen pregnancy rate, the highest obesity rate, highest poverty rate, worst economy, and the lowest life expectancy in the country. Mississippi students have ranked last in school performance, and the state has one of the highest unemployment rates. We read these studies over and over again, and …
Mississippi is historically known for a progressively delayed (and often stalled) civil rights legacy. In the minds of some throughout the U.S., the state’s name will be forever linked to the opposition and violence that occurred in Mississippi in the 1960s – opposition and violence that resulted when fellow Mississippians stood firm, demanding the basic, inalienable right of equality, affirming that all men (and women) are created equal and have the right to be treated as such. Mississippi is also historically known for many good things, some of which include generosity, a rich literary and artistic history, and the notion that we are “The Hospitality State.” In light of Governor Phil Bryant’s decision to sign House Bill 1523 (authored by Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton) – a bill that would allow Mississippi business and government workers to deny services to any citizen based on their religious beliefs – (essentially anyone they choose not to serve for any “religious” reason) – it might be wise to reexamine what it means to be “The Hospitality State.” Should hospitality …
By LaReeca Rucker In 1983, I saw my first Star Wars film. “Return of the Jedi” was my introduction to the movie franchise, and I was hooked, because I wanted to look like and become Princess Leia. I wanted to ride speeder bikes through the thick, green forests of Endor; hang out in a village with adorable Ewoks, save Han Solo from the carbonite chamber, and command The Force as skillfully as a seasoned Jedi Knight. Throughout most of my childhood, I lived in a Star Wars fantasy world inhabited by me and my next door neighbor, who believed he was Luke Skywalker. Almost every day, we went on adventures to other planets in a galaxy far, far away. He often saved me from disgusting aliens like Jabba the Hut, and I was a beautiful princess who sometimes saved him – a feminist before I knew the word. We piloted space ships, killed alien creatures, and battled other evil forces with lightsabers, all underneath the big oak tree in my grandmother’s backyard. She often watched …
It’s been a while since I wrote anything on my blog, but I thought the death of Mississippi icon Lee McCarty warranted commentary since I had the pleasure of spending time with him five years ago when I visited Merigold, Mississippi, to tour and write about McCartys Pottery. If you’ve never been, I would encourage you to put this road trip on your bucket list. I toured the pottery shop, watched pottery being made, ate at The Gallery restaurant and Crawdad’s. And some of the locals took me to the nearby Po’ Monkey Lounge, known by many as the last authentic juke joint in America. In meeting Mr. McCarty, I met an innovative and original artist who created a special place in the Mississippi Delta with his wife, Pup McCarty. As I listened to the story of how McCartys Pottery came to be, it was evident what great admiration Mr. Lee and his late wife had for each other and how their teamwork and partnership helped create a unique brand. Mr. Lee gave me a …
So one day, William Faulkner was like, “Let’s take a selfie,” and I was like, “OK.” Save
My cousin, Pamela Whitten Gullick, has created a jewelry and craft business she calls Findings. She made this bracelet and earrings for my birthday, and she crafts some Mississippi-related items, like the necklace at left. Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
Here I am on the front lawn of Longwood mansion, an antebellum home in Natchez that was never completed by its owners. Exterior shots of the home were also used as the Vampire King of Mississippi’s home on True Blood. I didn’t see any vampires while I was there, but it was an interesting place to visit. Got a comment? E-mail me at email@example.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to write a fun feature story about a woman and her pen pal, who had been writing each other for almost 50 years. They first began writing as teenagers when one was living in St. Louis and the other in New Zealand, and they recently met in person for the first time in Oxford. Here’s their story. You can read more at OxfordEagle.com. Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.
On my way to visit Natchez for the first time, I stopped in Port Gibson because I wanted to visit the Windsor Ruins, an antebellum mansion that burned leaving nothing behind except the Greek columns that were incorporated into its architecture. If you haven’t been there before, the Windsor Ruins are kind of like Mississippi’s own Stonehenge from the antebellum period. While there, I decided to drive around the town square. It seems as if Port Gibson is a dying city, and that’s a shame. I noticed an old art deco movie theater and a colorful civil rights mural painted on one of the walls near the courthouse or main part of town. I’m not sure who painted it, but I’d like to know. If you do, e-mail me at email@example.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
Here’s a few photos from Brent’s Drugs in Fondren. Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.
One of my favorite spots to eat in Jackson is at Brent’s Drugs in Fondren. Walk inside, and time has stood still. The restaurant still looks like it would have in the 1950s or 1960s complete with vintage bar stools and a soda fountain-style ice cream bar. I used to visit there frequently on Sunday mornings, where breakfast is a modest price compared to most eateries, and I was thrilled when they opened a little, speak easy-style bar in back called The Apothecary. Above is a video of my last visit to The Apothecary. Got a comment? E-mail me at email@example.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a giant rooster, but if you drive through Rankin County and beyond, you may run across this one. On one of my last trips in that direction, I stopped to take a few photos of this rooster that is probably one of the largest lawn ornaments I’ve ever seen. The photo at left of me should give you some perspective about its height. This rooster is featured in front of a store that sells other metal decorations for your lawn. Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
Dine at Walker’s Drive-In in Jackson, and you’ll probably see this painting of a robot waiter. Got a comment? E-mail me at email@example.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
One of my favorite places to eat in the Jackson metro area is Phillip’s on the Reservoir because this is the view. Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
I have always been an aspiring artist, and I guess I’ll continue to “aspire” until I find a chunk of time that I can devote to artistic endeavors. 🙂 But occasionally, the bug will hit me, and I’ll ATTEMPT to draw or paint something. When I was going through some of my photos, I came across these two that I snapped at The Clarion-Ledger of two Wyatt Waters paintings that hang on the lower floor of the building. I remember snapping them because I wanted to study the paintings to see how Mr. Waters had made these images of downtown Jackson. I thought he did a fantastic job of vibrantly capturing the city, and his work inspires me to attempt, once again, buildings or cityscapes. Got a comment? E-mail me at email@example.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
One of the things I love about the South and Mississippi is that people value common sense, hard work and honesty. Some of my neighbors have a garden, and during the spring and summer when they have a crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc., they put them out on a table under a little shed. There are signs that indicate the vegetable prices and an “honesty box,” where you can drop your money if you decide to buy food. Here are a few pictures. Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.
The Mississippi Museum of Art often hosts a movie night, and last Halloween, they gave everyone a thrill and chill by showing “Psycho.” Here’s a shot of the film. Got a comment? E-mail me at email@example.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save Save
James Franco has spent time in Mississippi adapting some of William Faulkner’s books into movies. I haven’t seen “As I Lay Dying Yet,” but I got to interview a couple of the actors in the movie last year when they made appearances at a film event in Jackson. This is Ahna O’Reilly and Tim Blake Nelson. You may remember Ahna from “The Help” and Nelson from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
I spotted this toad frog in the grass, and he obliged by allowing me to take his photograph. Got a comment? E-mail me at email@example.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
I enjoy eating at old country restaurants and places with a little character and history like Taylor Grocery. I also recently had the opportunity to eat at a similar place in Utica, Miss., called Gibbes Old Country Store. You can read reviews about it on Trip Advisor. Here’s a tip: If you go, don’t eat all day so that you will be really hungry. You’ll be served a huge amount of food, and all of it is good. Try to save room for dessert. I enjoyed the ambiance and antique-feel of the place. I love when people are able to transform or salvage old buildings and part of history lives on. Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
My mother recently purchased this for me. It’s a piece of Square Books in Oxford with a certificate of authenticity that proves I actually own a piece of the popular bookstore. I think they were selling these as novelty items to raise funds for some kind of construction. When my mother posted on Facebook that I now owned a piece of Square Books, she received a lot of congratulatory comments. Unfortunately, this piece of wood is what she was talking about. 🙂 Got a comment? E-mail me at email@example.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save
So, this is probably my favorite restaurant in Jackson. I love the look and feel of it, and the food is fabulous. If you’re ever there, don’t leave without trying a fried green tomato BLT, or grab a plate lunch with lots of yummy vegetables. Here’s the menu if you’d like to check out what they have to offer. I recently snapped this picture.
I bought three Ball jars at an antique store in New Albany and decided to use one as a vase. These pink blooms were growing on the property of an abandoned house in my neighborhood, so I decided to sneak a few from the vine for my decor. Got a comment? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save