“Harris was taught to read and write (illegal for slaves at the time), so that he could monitor the local funeral announcements, and trained his memory to mentally capture the flower arrangements on a grave so that he could recreate them perfectly after his midnight expeditions. He preferred to work in Cedar Grove cemetery, reserved for Augusta’s impoverished and black residents, where there was no fence, and where poor blacks were buried in plain pine coffins sometimes called “toothpicks.” His routine at Cedar Grove was simple: entering late at night, he would dig down to the upper end of a fresh grave, smash the surface of the coffin with an ax, reach in, and haul the body out. Then he would toss the body into a sack and a waiting wagon and cover up his work before setting off for the school, the corpse destined for vats of whiskey and, later, the student’s knives.”

Downtown Atlanta, Monday morning.

Decatur Cemetery, yesterday. Charlie contemplates mortality/geese.

Decatur, this morning.

Yesterday in Camilla, Ga.

In the August issue of Atlanta, I’m all up in a Jamie Allen and Brooke Hatfield sandwich: We were each dispatched to go on a road trip to visit some Georgia small towns, north middle and south, and I got middle. I took my mom. We touched many antiques that we did not buy and ate pie that I sometimes still think about. You can read the story in the for real real print magazine or the 99¢ digital edition right here.

Decatur Cemetery, Thursday night.

In the June issue of Atlanta, I’ve got an essay about the gross, harrowing, annoying, weirdly life-expanding and -affirming experience of riding MARTA, Atlanta’s beleaguered transit system. Kendrick Brinson took the photo; we had adventures! Also, I need to stand up straight, Jesus.

"We will be moving momentarily."

Last week I spent a few days bumming around small towns in middle Georgia on a meandering reporting trip where one of the only must-do’s was visiting both of the Yesterday Cafes that claim to have the best buttermilk pie in the state. This one was superior. But the other one looked just like it.

Some students at Wilcox County High School in Wilcox, Ga., are planning what will be their school’s first-ever racially-integrated prom. I hate that this is something that has to happen but love so much that they’re doing it. But of course it’s tricky. Like the white-only and black-only proms that are held every year, the integrated prom is planned and funded independently from the school and so far ticket sales are flagging. They’re looking to fund this year’s prom and leave enough in the kitty that seniors can plan another one next year, too. If you want to help, they’re accepting donations right over here. Or you can buy a chicken plate! I want these kids to get, like, “Veronica Mars movie”-level cashmoney. It’s such a small thing, but such a big thing.

Know your rights.

East and West on North Avenue, this morning.


The Decatur Book Festival is this weekend. I helped on the programming board this year so I’m especially excited about this one. There will be books and smart people talking about books and dogs and babies and popsicles. It is free. Decatur is adorable and right on MARTA. It should be raining only somewhat torrentially. 

On Saturday, I’ll be moderating a panel with authors Lisa Zeidner and Lydia Netzer, who both have new novels about what it means to be human and weird and in love. I’m going to try hard not to confuse their names. (Event info)

On Sunday, there’s a launch party for the book produced by this year’s KIPP Scribes. The book has a perfect title—Read After Burning: Post-Civil War Stories Set In Atlanta—and it’s all historical fiction written by some of the most hilarious and remarkable and stunningly wise sixth, seventh and eighth graders I’ve ever met. Not sure if this is on the main schedule, but it’s at 2 PM at CORE Studio on the square. 

That night I’ll also be introducing the great Austin Kleon as he makes his second stop in Decatur this year to talk about his book Steal Like An Artist. I think that’s one of the final events of the weekend, so please, come wring the dredges out of the festival with me (well, me for like two minutes) and one of my favorite blogger-people. It will be great. (Event info)

Here’s the full schedule.