Bejeezus is subtitled “Reclaiming Southern Culture,” but its coverage of culture extends far beyond its Kentucky roots. Encompassing the broad categories “See, Watch, Read, Eat, Listen, Make, Visit, & More…” the magazine provides short columns on each, keeping the publication varied and concise.
As a regional publication, there are some purely local features with which I could make no connection – the “Eat” section promoting local donut shops. At the same time, there were features that weren’t local and for which I still couldn’t connect – “Foods to Live By,” highlighting three random food products, seemed not in caliber with the rest of the magazine. Getting past those, which unfortunately opened the publication, the wider-reaching works began to filter in.
“From the Vogue to the Alamo” by Rod Whiteneck laments the loss of art house theatres, but has hope restored in local film fests. Reading this just after visiting a film festival in a town whose art house theatre still thrives, this struck a chord. “Eternity for Sale” by Julie Leidner takes a critical look at the art of Damien Hirst, Simen Johan and Mark Swanson, and Eric Rickert extols the beauty of the Polaroid with, of course, accompanying photos.
Interviews include folklorist Shirley Collins and graphic artist/author Laura Szumowski, whose book Tip of the Iceburg, a handbook to the clitoris, is the first in a series focused on women’s health and sexuality. The “Listen” section dredges local musical culture with rare photos and discussion of Emmett Miller, and introduces Pokey LaFarge. The article on Freeman Kitchen, whose small town post office is combined with a record shop, and accompanying piece on the Carter family provides an in-depth study. Certainly, I know the Carter family, but I didn’t realize how little I knew, and how much more I could appreciate, until I read these articles.
Jonathan Hawpe’s “Between the Boxes: Comics and the Human Condition” offers support for comics as a literature that gives insight into our existence. And there is “& More…” to this publication, much more. Each turn of the page is a continuation of a cultural romp – full color (and often full bleed) artwork, photos, and design. My advice: visit LaFarge’s MySpace page, put his vocals on in the background, fix yourself a glass of sweet tea, hunker down, and enjoy the thoughtful pleasure trip through the south and beyond that this publication offers.[www.bejeezuszine.com]