I often resist Garden & Gun magazine, seeing it as a Southern elitist fantasy.
The magazine presents the South as a paradise of resorts, gourmet dining, fascinating cities, craft shops, music and field sports. It leaves out the region's poverty, violence, self-defeating politics and addictions.
But, as a lapsed Southern gentleman, I find myself succumbing to the magazine. The newest issue, termed February and March, hooked me with a special section on Charleston, the magazine's hometown.
Ignoring the city's slave-market past, Fort Sumter and the Mother Emanuel slayings, the magazine paints an idyllic portrait of the "Holy City." An article discounts reports that the city's famed restaurant scene is beset by over-saturation and declining quality. Other articles that could have been written by the city's tourism bureau tout its historic homes and gracious gardens.
The city's black culture is noted with a mention of Citadel professor Damon Fordham's excellent "Lost Stories of Black Charleston" tour, which unveils historic contributions of black residents in every downtown block.
Fordham, a writer and chronicler of the city's black authors, gives an impressive history of the origins of George Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess" in Charleston writer Dubose Heyward's novel, "Porgy." Heyward authored the opera's libretto, and wrote the lyrics along with Ira Gershwin. Fordham takes the tour past the gentrified location of the opera's Catfish Row.
An in-depth profile of black gay poet Jericho Brown, director of Emory's creative writing program, gives depth to the issue. The compelling article examines Brown's overcoming an unhappy childhood and his commitment to poetry.
The magazine is also flavored by signature columns by Julia Reed and Roy Blount Jr., whose essays distinguish each issue.
Although I'll never like articles on hunting dogs and duck hunting, I suppose my resistance to Garden & Gun is futile and that I'll have to admit that I'm a Southern elitist too.