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November 2015

An interview with painter Heidi Pitre on the frustrations of no-count husbands, today’s kids and what’s required to push through the BS to reach your dream.

Heidi Pitre moved from New Orleans to Bay St. Louis five weeks before that whore Katrina ripped her way up I-59. Unable to return to either city, Heidi and her family sought refuge in Hattiesburg and refuge she found. Her paintings soon lauded her as a darling of the Hattiesburg art community.

“I’m from New Orleans, but Mississippi has given me more encouragement and support than I ever expected,” Pitre said.

While living in Hattiesburg, Heidi watched her daughters spread their wings and leave the nest, began a business painting pet portraits and received several art grants including ones from the Andy Warhol and the Pollack-Krasner Foundations. Five years ago, she dropped her other hats to pursue her gift of painting full-time.  

 

The holidays approach. After your mother emotionally blackmails you into attending this year’s Misery Fest, you’ll find yourself asking the deep philosophical questions Aristotle and Diogenes wrestled with.

Questions like, “How am I related to Cousin Derrick? Didn’t he and his kids fall out of a tree only last week?!” And, “Exactly how many squirrels does it take to fill Aunt Mabel’s legendary Squirrel Casserole?” I know. I’ve been there. The answers are: Through your father’s father’s side. Yes, because their tails fell off two weeks ago. Forty-two squirrels.

Discussing controversial cookbooks is a delightful relief compared to listening to Cousin Derrick orate about the state flag, homosexuals or the lack of “appropriate” police brutality in 21st Century America. For this technique to work, the recipes must be easy, the writing must be witty and the book must be bursting with gorgeous, sexy, messy food pictures.

 

Nowhere else in the U.S. has Vietnamese food culture been embraced like it has in the Gulf South. Showing up in waves throughout the second half of the last century, Vietnamese immigrants found comfort in the familiar climate and employment opportunities of south Mississippi and Louisiana. Some overlap in native ingredients and a shared heritage of French colonial influence further tightened the bond with their adoptive home.

Magic Wax evolved from the mind of a 16-year-old Mississippi skater while working on a bee farm.

While many 16-year-olds are worried about getting their driver’s license or who to take to prom, Matthew Holifield was doing something most adults wouldn’t dare—starting a new business.

   Holifield moved to Laurel in 2011, but for a teenager interested in skateboarding, it wasn’t the best town to call home. With the nearest skate park over 45 minutes away in Petal and without a means of transportation, Holifield was often stuck at home. But thanks to his friend and right-hand man, Noah Gower, a ride to the skate park was never more than a phone call away. The money for gas, on the other hand, was a different story.

  Holifield started earning extra money by making bars of skateboard wax, a substance skateboarders rub on curbs, rails or stairs to reduce friction between the board and object, to sell to other kids at the skate park. However, the time came when Holifield needed a real job.

    “My mom couldn’t afford the gas money for me to go to the skate park anymore, and I didn’t have a car, so I needed something within walking distance of my house,” he said.

Musician Lauren Stovall, a Mississippi transplant to Boulder, Colo. and a bluegrass singer/guitarist in The Railsplitters, makes her home in 176-sq. ft. room built a top of a flatbed trailer. Lauren designed this home with the help of her family. They built the structure in Mississippi and delivered it to Colorado last September. Her “Petit Manoir” as she calls it, is flanked by the town of Boulder at her front door and Colorado’s Indian Peaks just beyond her bed’s loft window. The loft adds an additional 40 sq. ft. and lends to its open, airy feel.

Thanks to Emily Sierra Photography, you can take a tour of this precious place without a flight into DEN. 

Lauren Stovall and her tiny house | Photo by Emily Sierra Photography

“It’s kind of magical,” says the five-foot-tall singer, who shares the space with her Jack Russell terrier named Skippy. 

The Railsplitters is a Boulder-based bluegrass band headed by Lauren Stovall, a Mississippi born and raised spitfire on stage. Her band is made up by Dusty Rider on banjo (we promise, that’s his real name), Christine King on fiddle, Leslie Ziegler on bass, Peter Sharpe on mandolin and Lauren on guitar/vocals.

RS played their first gig in January 2012 as a group of individual musicians invited to perform by Lauren.

“I put together this particular group and I didn’t want to play in public without being rehearsed,” she said. “So we put together enough material to play a 2.5 hour set. It was fun and it worked.”

After the show, Lauren didn’t sit back quietly. She approached each of the musicians with a formal written proposal, requesting initially a three-month trial commitment.