Birmingham 9 to 5
Saudi Aramco World, Nov.-Dec. 2006
Muslims—whether immigrants, native-born or converts—are part of the mosaic of life in America, where human "tiles" of every color, shape and ethnicity abut, adjoin, interact and contribute to the whole. While relatively large numbers of the nation's 1.2 to seven million Muslims — estimates vary widely — live in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Dearborn, many live in smaller cities and towns, and much of the interaction between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans happens in those places where Muslim populations are more diffuse. And much of that interaction happens at work: in the offices, factories, stores, hospitals and schools where Americans of every stripe earn their living every day. To look at American Muslims at work, Saudi Aramco World asked Syrian-American photographer Karim Shamsi-Basha to consider his own adopted hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, a city of 1.2 million people that include between 5000 and 10,000 Muslims. And we asked free-lance journalist Ann Walton Sieber to talk to some of these people about their work as well as their lives as Muslims, Americans, Southerners and members of an American minority. As in the Islamic community nationwide, faith is central for some, peripheral for others; in every other way, they are as different from each other—and as similar—as any other group of Americans. Their voices are worth hearing. ...(read more)

Mississippi's Muslim Museum
Saudi Aramco World, Jan.-Feb. 2006

In 2000, Okolo Rashid was as excited as most other Mississippians at the prospect of the upcoming blockbuster exhibition "The Majesty of Spain: Royal Collections from the Museo del Prado and Patrimonio Nacional." The third in a series of biannual international exhibitions hosted by Jackson's Mississippi Arts Pavilion, "Majesty" was expected to attract half a million visitors—including King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain. ...(read more)

Jan de Hartog: Activist and Storyteller
Friends Journal, February 2004

In 1963, tiny, unprogrammed Live Oak Meeting in Houston, Texas, started having its Sunday meetings for worship in Jeff Davis Hospital, a charity institution of the city. The meeting's move was to support a concern by Jan and Marjorie de Hartog, who had been led to volunteer as orderlies in this hospital, which primarily served the city's African American population. Jan first wrote a series of vivid editorials on the ghastly state of the hospital and then...(read more)

Dalton's Social Year: Preserving memory, loving people through the lens of a camera — on the prowl with Dalton DeHart, compulsive photographer and Montrose community treasure
OutSmart, January 2001

"Oh, my yes, oh, my my yes." Dalton DeHart is flipping through a pile of his photographs from 2000. "Oh, Roy Green, isn't he a panic?" he says, pointing to a grinning muscular man in a Mardi Gras mask. "I just love him. Now that's Grant Martin, of course. There's Sharon Montgomery. Miss Brunjes and company. Brian Keever. Oh, what a doll. Do you know Kevin Davidson? He's wonderful.... That's a horrible picture of that sweetheart there.... I don't know who that queen is.... Michael and Richard, they are princes, absolute princes." Clumps of smiling men face the camera, drag queens strut, social groups from glossy to boozy mingle and pose and primp and beam. ...(read more)

Joe Watts's High Drama: Scenes in the life of a gay theater director
OutSmart, Sept. 2000

While a 12-year-old growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Joe Watts found himself on board a bus full of Baptists from his aunt's church, Southern Hills Baptist, going to see fellow church-member Anita Bryant compete for the title of Miss Oklahoma. As Joe remembers it, Anita wore a white dress with red piping, sang "Till There Was You" from The Music Man, and when Joe went up afterward with his sister to congratulate the new beauty queen, she kissed him full on the mouth. ...(read more)

The trip, not the destination
Houston Chroncle, Texas Magazine, July 27, 1997
Our first stop is in Humble at the Kerrville Bus Company and Holiday Dress Shop. Most of the bus passengers light up as soon as they hit solid ground, but a few make a quick once-around the store, pawing absent-mindedly through the racks of stretched pants and oversize T-shirts painted with gold acrylic flowers. At the front of the store, four molded plastic Greyhound pod chairs are bolted to the floor. I find an intriguing item, a slim box containing three men's bikini briefs, tiger-striped. On the box is a photograph of a man wearing the tiger briefs, his head tilted back at an odd angle as he clutches a small camera against his chest. The underwear is called "My Hero." ...(read more)
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Ghetto Utopia: Shrine of the Black Madonna
Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston, winter, 1996
"We're building a nation. And when you come forward here to join this church, you're coming into a nation" preaches the Reverand Albert B. Cleage, better known as Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman, found and holy patriarch of the Shrine of the Black Madonna. "We have to train our own young men. We have to take some young black nationalists and militants and send them to school to learn how to pastor this church when I get too old to stand up here. We have to train people. That's a part of being a nation — thinking about tomorrow and the day after tomorrow..." (read more)

Still Lives
The muse for hire at $8.50 an hour: unveiling the naked truths of Houston's art models
Houston Press, April 21, 1994
Tammy is leaning against the wall, head thrown back to expose her elongated Brancusi neck, one foot propped up, not clothed in a stitch, unless you count her many lush tattoos -- draped over her shoulder, encircling her wrist and ankle, even demurely nestled in her pubic hair. She is the object of beauty in the room. Four dour artists sit arrayed before her, looking blankly at her sinuous body, then frowning down at their newsprint pads, nudging in a charcoal shading under a breast, making a sweep of back rounding into buttocks. It's a matter of attending and not attending. The grimacing artists do not notice that Tammy is crying. Frozen in her pose, she cannot wipe the tears away, so they silently slide down her angular face and plunk onto her graceful, smooth, almost adolescent body. ...(read more)