The Bitter Southerner

Michael Adno

Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a staple on high school and college reading lists. Published in 1937, it could have easily disappeared into obscurity if it wasn't for a young Georgia writer named Alice Walker

On Second Thought For Friday, Aug. 30, 2019

Aug 30, 2019

The story of barbecue is the story of American history and traditions — or so says author Jim Auchmutey.  Just in time for Labor Day weekend, On Second Thought talks to Auchmutey about his book, Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America.

Adult Swim

"Squidbillies" is Atlanta-based Adult Swim’s third longest-running animated series. It’s based on the show creators’ experiences here in Georgia – and features a cast of anthropomorphic redneck squids. The 12th season of "Squidbillies" premieres Sunday on Adult Swim. Hear from the co-creators Dave Willis and Jim Fortier who recently joined us on On Second Thought

After an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at an Atlanta hotel, health officials have identified 11 confirmed cases and dozens of other people who are potentially affected.  Dr. Allison Chamberlain of Emory University and Amy Wenk of the Atlanta Business Chronicle visit On Second Thought to explore the health and economic ramifications.

GPB’s Kalena Boller returns to On Second Thought to catch us up on current Hollywood productions for when the What’s Filming in Georgia series returns.

Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP

Amid prep for Fourth of July cookouts, pool parties and parades, the On Second Thought team is also cooking up summer playlists – and this year, no playlist would be complete without "Old Town Road."

Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

"The Beverly Hillbillies" introduced audiences to the Clampett family in the 1960s and helped popularize the stereotype of the "Dumb Southerner." The myth persists today, wrapped up with ideas about tolerance, race and intelligence.

Marie T. Cochran, director of the Affrilachia Artist Project, joined "On Second Thought" to dig into this idea and her experiences growing up in Appalachia. Chuck Reece, host of "The Bitter Southerner Podcast," also joined the conversation.

alans1948 / Flickr

Southern accents are inexplicably linked to a sense of culture, identity and community. They can also summon stereotypes about intelligence and education, something writer Laura Relyea found when her family moved from Charlotte to Chicago when she was young.


Relyea explored her relationship to her own North Carolina drawl on a recent episode of "The Bitter Southerner Podcast." Her story of losing and finding her way back to her accent resonated with listeners all over Georgia. She joined "On Second Thought" to discuss how accents form a pillar of Southern identity.


Some say music holds the power to heal, and, on her album "Rifles and Rosary Beads," Nashville-based singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier directs that power to veterans.

"Rifles and Rosary Beads" is up for Best Folk Album at the Grammy Awards this weekend. Chuck Reece of "The Bitter Southerner Podcast" spoke with Gauthier about the songs, each of which Gauthier co-wrote with veterans and military spouses. 

Today's show explored the history of black motorists through Victor Hugo Green's travel guides. We also discussed arguments for affordable menstrual products and increased funding for fine arts programming in rural Georgia schools.

Jordan Strauss / Invision/Associated Press

The Academy announced the 2019 Oscar nominations Tuesday, and "Green Book" picked up a few nominations. The film was nominated for best picture, best lead actor and best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali. Ali plays black pianist Don Shirley, who toured through the Jim Crow-era South with white nightclub bouncer and driver Frank Vallelonga.

While Shirley's family has denounced the film as inaccurate, "The Negro Motorist Green Book" was a real series of travel guides for black motorists between the 1930s and 1960s. Columnist Cynthia Tucker explored how black travelers relied on the book for a recent article for the Bitter Southerner. She joined "On Second Thought" to discuss the realities of the open road during Jim Crow.

Michael W. Twitty/@KosherSoul / Twitter

Culinary historian Michael Twitty traces his ancestry through food in "The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South." The memoir won the 2018 James Beard Foundation's Award for Book of the Year. In it, Twitty explores the complex question of who owns Southern food.


GPB's Tony Harris spoke with Twitty about why he wanted to wrestle with that question and his passion for food justice.


Janelle Monáe / Twitter

The Bitter Southerner came out with its best Southern albums of the year list, featuring artists like Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves and Lucy Dacus.

Chuck Reece, editor of The Bitter Southerner and host of GPB's The Bitter Southerner Podcast, joined "On Second Thought" to discuss these albums and women's impact on Southern music this year.

Golden Globe nominations have been announced, and several Georgia-based productions are in the running. The list came as a "Boycott Georgia" hashtag is being used by some film industry insiders. Some are protesting the victory of Brian Kemp, while others say they're concerned about the religious freedom bill the governor-elect expressed support for on the campaign trail. Opponents say the proposed legislation would discriminate against the LGBTQ community. 

GPB's "The Credits" podcast host Kalena Boller spoke to "On Second Thought" host Virginia Prescott about the controversial issue. 


Joe H. Shipp

The Bitter Southerner recently published its first hardcover book. "A Community in Black & White: A Most Unusual Photo Album of One Southern Community" is a collection of photographs Joe Hardy Shipp took of Hickman County, Tennessee, over several decades in the mid-twentieth century.


His grandson, Joseph Shipp, discovered the collection, which includes thousands of black and white photographs of both black and white members of the Hickman County community. The unusual part? These photos were taken at the height of Jim Crow when white-owned businesses only served white customers. 

The Bitter Southerner

In New York in the 1980s, Chuck Reece had his first job in journalism covering the media industry for Adweek magazine. That meant he got the first look at network television pilots and magazine protoypes, and every time any of those had something to do with the South, he said he only saw a couple of stereotypes. 

"One looked like the party scene from the beginning of 'Gone with the Wind' except maybe with updated clothing, and the other one looked like ... 'The Beverly Hillbillies' to 'Duck Dynasty,' most recently," Reece said. "Those two stereotypes just didn't fit the South that I grew up in and knew."

Sean Powers / GPB

Chuck Reece of "The Bitter Southerner" is serving up something new: a GPB podcast. "The Bitter Southerner Podcast" launches later this month, but we have a sneak peek of an upcoming episode.


Reece spoke with Tiffanie Barriere, a cocktail historian and mixologist. They met when Barriere was mixing drinks at Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours in Atlanta. They discussed her years on the job and diversity and representation in the industry.


Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force

Aretha Franklin died yesterday at the age of 76. Raised in Detroit, her career spanned decades and genres, from gospel to jazz to her signature sound as the Queen of Soul. 

Chuck Reece is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of magazine The Bitter Southerner.

After hearing of Franklin’s passing, he published an essay called “Aretha Goes Home.”


Former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, 86, died Friday morning at his home in Young Harris.

Miller was best known for pioneering the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship, which has provided nearly 9.5 billion dollars in financial assistance to millions of Georgia college students since its creation in 1992.

In July 2000, after two terms as governor, Miller was appointed to the U.S. Senate. He won a special election to keep the seat in November 2000 and remained in the Senate until 2005.

A conservative Democrat, Miller was keynote speaker for both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 1992 and 2004, respectively.

We talked with Chuck Reece, Miller's former press secretary, about his memories of working with the governor.

Every year, the online magazine The Bitter Southerner picks its favorite Southern albums of the year. We listened to some of the featured tracks with Chuck Reece, the magazine’s editor-in-chief and co-founder. He recently compiled his list for the magazine.

Wikimedia Commons

Gregg Allman died over the weekend at the age of 69. He and his brother Duane revolutionized rock and roll in the South. Chuck Reece, editor of The Bitter Southerner, shares a remembrance of a musician who helped shape his worldview.

Charles McNair

Once upon a time, magazines published novels one chapter at a time. Now author Charles McNair is bringing the novel back to bite-sized form in the Atlanta-based magazine, The Bitter Southerner. Each week, he releases another chapter of “The Epicureans.” We asked Charles to take a break from writing and tell us about his creative process.