32 episodes

On struggles, schooling, and raw concrete in the dirty dirty south. A companion podcast to the Brutal South newsletter.

brutalsouth.substack.com

Brutal South Paul Bowers

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 22 Ratings

On struggles, schooling, and raw concrete in the dirty dirty south. A companion podcast to the Brutal South newsletter.

brutalsouth.substack.com

    24: Okra soup (w/ Amethyst Ganaway)

    24: Okra soup (w/ Amethyst Ganaway)

    My guest is Amethyst Ganaway, a chef and writer from North Charleston, South Carolina.

    Amethyst has been working in the restaurant industry for about 12 years, and during the past year she got deep into researching the history of food from our part of the country. She has published a few great pieces on what she's learned.

    The articles we'll be discussing are "Black Communities Have Always Used Food as Protest," from Food & Wine magazine; and a tribute to the late culinary giant Martha Lou Gadsden of Charleston, which ran on Today. The New York Times recently published Amethyst's recipe for Lowcountry Okra Soup, which I'll be trying out as soon as okra season hits.

    One word you'll hear a few times in this episode is Gullah. If you aren't familiar, Gullah people are the descendants of formerly enslaved West African people who developed a unique language, culture, and cuisine on and around the sea islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The longer I've lived in South Carolina, the more I've realized how central Gullah culture is to the way of life here. I'm glad I learned a few new things from Amethyst.

    Amethyst and I have some friends in common, and we grew up in the same area and even went to the same college and had stories to share about a professor we both had in the religious studies department — but we hadn't actually met somehow. I admired her work from afar, so I'm glad she accepted the invitation to talk.

    Follow Amethyst on Twitter at @ExcuseMyFly or on Instagram at @Thizzg. Her website is waterwhippin.com.

    This podcast is an offshoot of the Brutal South newsletter, which you can get for free every Wednesday at brutalsouth.substack.com. For $5 a month, you can get access to some exclusive newsletter issues and podcast episodes as well as some sweet Brutal South logo stickers while I've still got them. If you can subscribe, that's great, but if not, please just spread the word. I depend on word of mouth, so if you enjoy my work, please tell your friends.

    The episode art is a picture of an okra cross-section by Prathyush Thomas, published under a GNU Free Documentation License.

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Episode 17: A free college manifesto

    Episode 17: A free college manifesto

    Halfway through John Warner’s new book about higher education, it dawned on me that I was reading a manifesto.

    The book is called Sustainable. Resilient. Free. The Future of Public Higher Education (2020, Belt Publishing). It’s a sweeping diagnosis of what ails higher education in the United States, written from a place of deep frustration.

    John spent 20 years teaching in colleges and universities, including Clemson and the College of Charleston. He’s a talented educator and an incisive writer, and I’ve admired his work for years. I jumped at the opportunity to bring him on the podcast.

    In the book, he argues for canceling student debt and making all public colleges free for students. He rails against student surveillance and the insipid utopianism of the edu-tech TED Talk circuit. John worked as an adjunct, not a tenure-track professor, so he writes from experience about the ways the industry grinds down its frontline workers.

    One concept that I connected with was the idea of “vocational awe,” originally coined by the librarian Fobazi Ettarh to describe “the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in notions that libraries as institutions are inherently good, sacred notions, and therefore beyond critique.” While the term originally applied to librarians, it could just as easily describe the mindset of college instructors, K-12 teachers, nurses, and journalists.

    “To the person operating with a sense of vocational awe, the institution is so important that self-immiseration is a worthwhile tradeoff,” Warner writes.

    Like any good manifesto, Sustainable. Resilient. Free. opens the imagination. It’s a book for disenchanted voters, workers saddled with lifelong college loan debt, and professors on the verge of burnout. I read it in two sittings, growing angrier and more hopeful with every page.

    If you enjoyed today’s podcast and want to hear more from John, you can order a copy of his book from your local independent bookstore or via the Brutal South Bookshop page. He’s on Twitter (@biblioracle), and you can find links to his writing at johnwarnerwriter.com.

    ***

    For $5 a month, paying Brutal South subscribers get access to exclusive newsletter issues and podcasts episodes, plus some rad vinyl stickers. To sign up, visit brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe.

    Twitter // Bookshop // Bandcamp // Apple Podcasts // Spotify Podcasts

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe

    • 55 min
    Episode 16: This bear kills fascists

    Episode 16: This bear kills fascists

    Michael Baumann (@MichaelBaumann), staff writer for The Ringer, joins me for the second annual Wikipedia Holiday Special.

    Mike and I met at the University of South Carolina, and one of the ways we’ve stayed in touch since graduating is by sending each other articles we find on Wikipedia. You could say it’s our love language.

    If you’re following along at home, here are the Wikipedia pages we’re discussing today.

    Mine:

    Quadro Tracker

    Methods of divination

    Attacus atlas

    OK Soda

    Elisha Otis

    Baumann’s:

    List of eponymous laws

    Wojtek (bear)

    Louis Slotin

    Doping at the Tour de France

    Gilles de Rais

    If I get a minute later on, I’ll send out a subscriber-only list of the ones that didn’t make the cut. You can also check out last year’s Wikipedia year in review by clicking here.

    Don’t forget to subscribe and rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and sign up for the newsletter at brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe if you haven’t already. Paying newsletter subscribers ($5/month) get access to extra podcasts and exclusive content, including a new piece of short fiction that I adapted into an audiobook earlier this month.

    Episode image: “Wojtek sits in front of a soldier,” 1942, Imperial War Museum.

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 17 min
    Episode 11: Singing sparrows, snapping shrimp

    Episode 11: Singing sparrows, snapping shrimp

    I wrote in the newsletter a few weeks ago about this thing I saw with my kids when we were camping in the South Carolina Upstate. It was long and yellow and it moved like a slug, but it was shaped like a snake and it had a flattened sort of hammer head. It was horrifying. When we got home I wrote in to Rudy Mancke, who is sort of a legendary naturalist with a show on South Carolina Public Radio, and he informed it was a land planarian, an invasive species that probably got here on plants imported from Malaysia.

    I kept reading about this thing online, and every new detail was disturbing. Its mouth is its anus, it eats worms, and if you chop it in half it just becomes two planarians. Really gross stuff.

    Anyway it got me thinking about horror and beauty in the natural world, and how there is so much going on out there and there are so many creatures who probably never think about us either unless we happen to cross paths. And it prompted me to send an out-of-the-blue inquiry to Dr. Melissa Hughes, a professor in the biology department at the College of Charleston.

    She doesn't study land planarians. She mainly studies song sparrows and snapping shrimp, and she was very gracious with her time explaining these weird animals to an absolute layman. Her research focuses on animal behavior, communication, territorial aggression, and deception.

    I'm not a scientist, but I love talking to researchers like Dr. Hughes. I learned a lot, I came away with a new appreciation for animals I never thought much about, and I hope you enjoy this too. Let's talk about birds and shrimp for a little bit.

    If you would like to read some of Dr. Hughes’ writing, here are the two pieces we discussed from Scientific American:

    The Not-So-Simple Secret World of Song Sparrows

    Hopeful Monsters and the Snapping Shrimp

    You can find a list of her publications on Google Scholar.

    The field recordings in this episode were graciously provided by Dr. Hughes. All of the birdsongs came from a single male song sparrow.

    The episode art is a photo of a song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) in Battery Park, Newcastle, Delaware. It was uploaded by Flickr user Keith (Pheanix) with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe

    • 50 min
    30: Nehemiah Action (w/ Charleston Area Justice Ministry)

    30: Nehemiah Action (w/ Charleston Area Justice Ministry)

    My guests today are Amber Campbell-Moore and Dr. Matt Cressler with the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, a good, radically inclusive organization working for social and economic justice in Charleston, S.C., and the greater Charleston area. As we speak today, the ministry is gearing up for its biggest public-facing event of the year, the Nehemiah Action.

    Every year at the Nehemiah Action, members of religious communities bring their protests and demands to local politicians. It’s exciting, it’s strange, it’s genuinely a lot of fun to be part of — and it gets the goods. Year after year I’ve seen the group behind it, the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, push for successful changes in our city, county, and school district governments. They make some enemies along the way — including the mayor of North Charleston, who threw a hissy fit one year — but when they get in trouble, it’s always good trouble, as the saying goes.

    The 2022 Nehemiah Action will take place on Monday, April 4th from 7-9 p.m. at the Charleston County School District 4 Regional Stadium (3659 West Montague Ave., North Charleston, SC). Here is the link to register and add it to your calendar: https://charlestonareajusticeministry.org/event/2022-nehemiah-action/

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Possum Island, the audiobook

    Possum Island, the audiobook

    I have a new piece of short fiction out today in the Charleston City Paper Lit Issue. It’s called “Possum Island,” and you can read it online or pick up a paper if you’re in the area.

    I thought it would be fun to make an audio version, so that’s what I did. Enjoy!

    If you’re looking for more stuff to listen to, check out the Brutal South podcast on Apple or Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.

    If you’re a possum aficionado, you might enjoy this thinkpiece I wrote about possum memes last year with the help of the novelist George Singleton:

    That’s all for this week. The possum drawing is by my daughter. The music in the episode is by The Camellias.

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe

    • 7 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

Mark Sanford and Son ,

Best podcast in SC ( lowest bar ever? lol)

Paul Powers puts together a thoughtful well researched program. The narrative flow shows that he is also accomplished and effective writer.

JRSBowers ,

Winner!

Always insightful, challenging, and oh-so-varied! I have learned about so many things I “didn’t know I didn’t know.”

JJ_Lemieux ,

5 stars from a global podcast scout...

Enough said.

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