Tag: #letstalkjackson

Let’s Talk Jackson: How Jackson became my buddy

The year was 1999. I was just seven years old, and the world was my oyster; or so I’m told. Maturity hasn’t been helpful in decoding that saying. It was early, and I was awake. But oddly enough, that was ok, because that day was going to be special. A day to be remembered in the annals of childhood experience. A day where imagination was my text book. That’s right people; I’m talkin ’bout field trip day.

As per my usual habits, I had neglected to ask any questions about the day or come at all prepared. Turns out, it was a choir field trip, which was good news to me. Choir day meant we ate fast food,  and not those peasant sack lunches. Not necessarily pertinent to this story, but a definitive milestone in my life nonetheless is the fact that I enjoyed my first Chic-fil-a sandwich that day. Hold the pickles. So I boarded the bloated yellow caravan to my musical destination. The usual trip activities transpired. Paper throwing. Book reading. Singing. Underground Pokémon tournaments. (Pokémon was strictly forbade at my school.)  Then, “Whoa, look!” I was seven years old, so look wasn’t as much a suggestion as it was a command, and my adolescent head rose automatically and stared out in the direction the looker had indicated. Glittering shapes danced before me like fire. Presumably buildings, their silhouette had been blurred by the radiance of the sun. What the heck was this place? So I asked. “Mrs. Adams, what is,” hand pointed out “that?”

LamarGargoyles_DSC5936_CMYK“That’s Jackson you little dummy. Why don’t you ever read the handouts?” Oh. So this was Jacks– wait a minute. Jackson? That place on the news where people went to get shot and/or robbed. This was that? And thus two important thoughts arose in my mind. “What if the tv doesn’t always tell the whole truth?”, and “Maybe there’s more to this Jackson thing than most folk know about.” As the day progressed, and then days after that, my second thought was affirmed. I had seen the place, walked the downtown streets. Met the people. And for the first time in my life, I knew something my parents didn’t. – Jackson was cool.

It’s been a while since my more formative years, and I have come to understand the apprehensions expressed by non Jacksonians about the city. It does have its fair share of problems. But you should know, this city hasn’t fallen to hell. In fact it’s on the rise, with plenty to do and plenty of great people to enjoy. Art. Food. Entertainment. All here. So I challenge you, reader, if you haven’t in a while, come check out the city. It’s better than you remember it.

Written by Joey 


Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at lemuriabooks.com. 

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: Building with what you have

Written by Scott M. Crawford, Ph.D

Friends of mine Rachael Taylor and Kelly Cook from Broadmeadow United Methodist Church approached me this morning as I arrived for church.  They were leading the Children’s Bible Study and asked the kids, “What are you grateful for?” The answer was a unanimous, “I’m grateful for my LEGO’s!!!”  Of course, being a bit of a LEGO fan myself (ever so slightly), this made me smile.  Rachael and Kelly asked if there was some way to incorporate LEGO’s into a spiritual message to teach the children.  This blog is my answer.


As fans of LEGO JACKSON may already know, it is an idealized version of Mississippi’s Capital City, in which all are welcome, everyone cares for each other, and people bring about justice and equity for all.  One of the first buildings I wanted to create was my home church, Broadmeadow United Methodist.  It’s a very traditional looking church, with a tall white steeple.  Unfortunately, that kind of steeple is very difficult (almost impossible) to recreate in the right scale, proportional to the minifigures that populate LEGO JACKSON.

Building with LEGO often results in this kind of quandary.  Having a great idea but not having the pieces available (if they even exist at all).  Complicating everything is that the more one builds, the fewer pieces you have left in the collection, no matter how carefully they might be organized for easy retrieval.

Living with a chronic, progressive, debilitating disease like multiple sclerosis is a lot like that.  It can be described as “the gift that keeps on taking.”  Ones strength, cognitive resources, coordination, and stamina are all taken away slowly but surely…sometimes quite abruptly.

Yet, we are all called to “BUILD” something meaningful with our lives.  None of us have the same set of pieces, and although we may try to get more through education, hard work, and creativity, there are always limits.

My life as a clinical neuropsychologist ended when I got a severe form of progressive MS.  It was not unlike the time when vandals broke into my storage unit and destroyed a large part of LEGO JACKSON.  It was devastating.  I’d worked very long and hard to create a life I thought was meaningful, and it was taken away.  I was left to “pick up the pieces” and “start over” with “plan B.”

I now have a lot fewer “pieces” than I had before.  MS affects my cognition, although most people do not notice.  Chronic exhaustion limits what I do despite my “workaholic” personality.  Some days it is hard to get out of bed, and it is always a struggle to speak loud enough to be heard (my vocal cords are paralyzed).

There are very few things that I’m absolutely certain of, but one of them is that we are all tasked with creating something meaningful with what we have available.  To me, that means serving on various disability related boards and committees, and inspiring others to care for each other and our city through LEGO JACKSON.

I couldn’t build the exact likeness of my own church, so I examined what I DID have, and came up with a design for a “Cathedral” to represent a place where the people of LEGO JACKSON could revere their Creator.  LEGO JACKSON’s Cathedral debuted in 2010.

If I had the pieces, I’d like to someday build a Mosque, Jewish Temple, and other places of worship.


You’ll notice I repurposed “wheels” for stained glass windows.



scott4I scrounged enough clear pieces to create a “stained glass cross” behind the altar.





I worked hard to recreate details like the altar cross, pipe organ, baptismal font, and bread/wine.  Jedi Knights serve for “monks”.



It didn’t turn out to be my church, but it serves the people of LEGO JACKSON well.

Remember, in life, we are asked to build something meaningful using fewer pieces than we wish we had.

Be creative.  Keep building.  Never stop.



Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at lemuriabooks.com. 

Let’s Talk Jackson: Dining at the Dive

Shocking personal disclosure:  I didn’t do any drinking in college.  It just wasn’t my thing.  But I fell in love with a bar my freshman year at Millsaps.

To call the Cherokee a “dive” is an understatement.  The décor is not hipsterish faux-decay, such as booths with gently worn canvas, mildly rusted signs, tattered artwork.  The decay in the Cherokee is genuine—real holes in the Naugahyde, sports pendants fraying from age and cigarette smoke, a slight film ensconcing the tables.  And I loved it.  I loved every gross, slightly greasy stitch of it.

But I didn’t drink.  However, if you take one look at me, it’s easy to see what my vice is:  I eat.

A lot.

And the Cherokee catered to this as well as it did those who imbibe.  The sausage and cheese plate is just that: smoked sausage with barbeque sauce, cheese cubes, and a few toothpicks.  During poorer times for me, an order of their Comeback dressing and a basket of crackers would suffice.  While my friends would down beer after beer there, I’d content myself with a cheeseburger and an order of fried green tomatoes.  The roast beef blue plate remains a favorite, the hamburger steak dinner fills me to the point of food intoxication, and the buffalo wings are incredible.  I have to stop writing now because I’m getting hungry and don’t want to start gnawing on my keyboard . . . but if I had some of their homemade ranch dressing . . .

But it’s more than the food.  It’s always more than the food.

Bars are weird places for the nondrinker.  I’ve had bartenders snub my order for a Coke or water because, frankly, the sober don’t tip as well as the tipsy.  But not the Cherokee.  When I frequented the place more than once a week, Lance (my favorite bartender, featured prominently in Ken Murphy’s picture of the place) would often pour me a water as I walked in, then hand me a menu without asking.  Occasionally at parties on campus, I’d feel a little odd without a bottle or cup in my hand.  At the Cherokee, though, I never felt out of place, even if the building itself was reeling from a collective beer binge that would make Faulkner himself blush.

When I heard that the Cherokee was moving from its original State Street location to its current Old Square Road one, I swatted down complaints from my friends that “it just wouldn’t be the same.”  Nonsense, I’d say.  And I was right.  The new building might have fancy embellishments, like walls that are plumb or level surfaces, but it’s still the same.  I have it on good authority that the cooking grease was moved.  Even if this is legend, I’ll still buy it.  And I’ll keep buying the burgers, the fried mushrooms, and now that I’m older and wiser, a beer.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén