Helena, Arkansas

Late season cotton along Highway 61.

Cherry Street in Helena. (I notice whenever I take photos that cars are ugly.)

The town was wide open. Cherry, the main street, which parallels the levee a block to the west, is reputed to have had forty or fifty white saloons in operation during the years preceding World War II, and Elm, which parallels Cherry a block further west, probably had a comparable number of black joints.

so says Robert Palmer in Deep Blues: A Musical And Cultural History from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago’s South Side to the World. No longer the case.

Levon Helm was from nearby Elaine.

Cemetery scenes.

Along the levee:

Sad tales by the river:

The battlefield:

A doomed Confederate attack there on July 4, 1863 came too late to relieve Vicksburg, which fell the same day.

If you’re at the Delta Cultural Center at 12:15pm, you can listen to them broadcast King Biscuit Flour Time live.

These are well-to-do white women listening. I listen, every day when I’m doing the show, for the simple reason that there’s something there. They’re trying to tell you something, and if you think hard enough and listen hard enough, you will understand what it’s all about.

so host Sonny Payne told Robert Palmer (quoted in Deep Blues). You can listen to the show on the DCC’s Facebook Live.

One of the legendary players on King Biscuit Time was Sonny Boy Williamson.

Led Zeppelin biographer Stephen Davis writes in Hammer of the Gods, while in England Williamson set his hotel room on fire while trying to cook a rabbit in a coffee percolator. 

The Mississippi Delta is strange and beautiful and also sad:

You can’t out-poor the Delta,” says Christopher Masingill, joint head of the Delta Regional Authority, a development agency. In parts of it, he says, people have a lower life expectancy than in Tanzania; other areas do not yet have proper sanitation.

quoted in the June 8th 2013 Economist

The Delta Que and Brew is the place for lunch.

Sandwich I’m still thinking about

BBQ Beef:

When you are at Craig’s you are on the Arkansas Pie Trail:

His sporting blood turned to horsepiss


This interview with Charles Portis, on his days a young reporter, for an oral history project about the Arkansas Gazette newspaper is so wonderful.

Lady stringers:


On Tom Wolfe and Malcolm X:


They made movies out of several Portis books:

is one and

is another.

What does Charles Portis make of all this I wonder?


Click on this link for an amazing picture of William Woodruff sailing up the Mississippi with his printing presses.