by Erin Z. Bass Nothing says Deep South quite like a pink flamingo in the front yard, but now even the fanciest of homes can feel good about their outdoor ornaments. Danielle Bacque of Pink Flamingos in South Louisiana has literally turned the plastic birds into works of art with a little paint and embellishment. Without a scrap of pink in sight, her birds are decorated to resemble chili peppers, ladybugs, rhinestone cowgirls, Mardi Gras, watermelons, alligators and more. She's even taken inspiration from the masters, with the Van Gogh Sunflower, Pollock and Monet's Water Color flamingos. And OK, we lied, there is a "Pretty in Pink" bird adorned with feathers. Bacque got the idea for her funky birds from a fundraiser she headed up as director of the Memory Walk for the Alzheimer's Association. Flocks of flamingos would be placed around town at businesses, who were said to have been "flocked" and asked for a donation to remove them. They could then choose the next place the birds would travel, keeping them on the move for the cause. Bacque no longer works with the organization, but does offer flamingo fundraiser packages on the Funky Flamingos website. She also takes requests for designs

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by Erin Z. Bass The current issue of Bon Appetit magazine lists the best new cocktail bars across the country, and Southern cities New Orleans, Nashville and Houston get a mention as taking part in the cocktail revolution. Defined by BA as "nattily dressed bartenders, pre-Prohibition-era settings, and fresh ingredients," this is not just a fleeting trend. "It's never been easier to get a well-prepared Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, or other classic in just about every American city," writer Andrew Knowlton concludes. In Nashville, the Patterson House is a bit swankier than a lot of the city's honky tonk bars. Reviews on Yelp all point to the Bacon Old-Fashioned as the drink of choice, but this bar also serves up Pimms Cups, whiskey-based Carpetbaggers and Tequila Mockingbirds on Music Row. Anvil Bar & Refuge on Westheimer in Houston is noted for its creativity and classics. Ginger beer and bitters are made in-house, and there's a list of "100 Drinks Everyone Should Try at Least Once." You can bet the Sazerac, Manhattan, Gin Sour and Singapore Sling are on it. Cure in New Orleans is described as an "uptown watering hole a bit more sophisticated than most bars in the Crescent City." With a cocktail menu

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The Killer by Gary Bloom The last time I saw him he Was at the Jazz Fest in New Orleans A hot spring day at the Fair Grounds A black piano in a muddy field With Jerry Lee Lewis pounding the keys Like his life depended on it. A bottle of beer was up there On the piano, like a candelabra Between songs he would Take a swig or two Do a little dance And get back to work, The beer a metaphor For hard living and wild women, The piano on its last legs Getting pounded to death. Missed Exit by Gary Bloom After twenty years of driving The same road to the same job I wonder what it would be like To keep going on I10 West, all the way to California. What would it have been like To have lived out there, say San Diego. Would I have Married a Mexican girl? Would I have kids? What would it have Been like if just Once I missed exit 53 And kept going on I10 Through New Orleans, through The Texas hill country And the Arizona desert All the way to the blue Pacific. What would that have been like? Airmen At The Mall by Gary Bloom They walk in pairs One wingman, the other Leading the way. They are fresh out of Keesler And look to be about twelve. In their bus driver blue uniforms They could be headed For the Catholic high school. But here

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by Ruth J. Hartman Last June, I traveled with my parents to a family reunion in Mississippi. My husband couldn’t get off work, so I rode the two-day trip from Indiana in my parents’ backseat. The condo we stayed in was nice, but crowded. There was only one bedroom so I bunked on a scratchy, lumpy couch. It just happened to be six inches too short for anyone taller than a gnome to stretch out on. Always a light sleeper, I tried to get at least fourteen minutes of shuteye before the next day’s onslaught of loud and affectionate relatives. But I kept hearing a bird that would not quit singing. The silly feathered thing sang all night long right outside the living room window. Were it not for the six inches of plastered wall between us, it would have literally been sitting on my head. After several hours of lying on the too-short, scratchy couch, listening to the obnoxious bird twitter and chirp, I realized he was singing several different songs. With nothing else to do, I kept track. I counted twenty-one different melodies in his repertoire. He would only stop for a few minutes at a time. I assumed he was taking

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by Martha Lyons It’s a Sunday afternoon And I’m watching To Kill a Mockingbird again. I’ve read the book and Seen the movie I don’t know how many times. It takes me home To a small southern town, Deep in summer. The air hot and humid, Heavy with the sweet scent of honeysuckle. Children can play outside In the mysterious summer night. Inside, the windows are open and Curtains sway gently, Blown by a lazy fan. Summer sadness Is not lost on a child, who dreams Of popsicles and bike rides, And playing marbles in the dust Under an old maple tree. Martha Lyons was born and raised in Winnsboro, Louisiana, and received her BA in English from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She was halfway through a master’s degree in literature when her husband (now ex) took her away to Orange County, California. She took up writing again through classes at a junior college there and "was lucky enough to have Michelle Mitchell-Foust as my professor, and she gave me the courage to write," says Martha. Poems like this one and "Southern Funeral," also published in our "Poetry" section, help her stay in touch with her Southern roots and feel closer to home. 

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by Erin Z. Bass Like most of us Southerners, I read the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" in school and probably watched the movie then too. Growing up in a small town where everybody on our street knew each other, I could relate to the Boo Radley house (it was right across the street from my own and occupied much of my time standing at the kitchen window with binoculars trying to find out what went on inside) as well as to Mrs. Dubose (she lived two houses down and didn't appreciate my sister and I picking her roses). What I didn't find out until much later is that the town of Maycomb actually exists. It's Monroeville, Alabama, the home of Harper Lee, courthouse featured in the book and an annual theatrical production of the now classic story. As "To Kill a Mockingbird" celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Monroeville is preparing for thousands of "Mockingbird" fans to descend upon the town starting today and lasting through the weekend. The Monroe County Heritage Museum kicks off the celebration with a panel discussion by residents who remember the novel’s publication and how it transformed their sleepy little town. Thursday's schedule also includes the

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