Every ethnic group has a mythology... Until 'Roots'... there was nothing in the popular culture to refute the paragraph in elementary school history class that said, 'Slaves picked the cotton, were happy and life wasn't so bad.'
The usual way of growing cotton is highly petrochemical-intensive, requiring 110 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per acre. Some of the fertilizer is broken down by soil bacteria into nitrate, a toxic and highly soluble chemical that can leach into groundwater or get washed into lakes, creating oxygenless dead zones.
The South is full of memories and ghosts of the past. For me, it is the most inspiring place to write, from William Faulkner's haunted antebellum home to the banks of the Mississippi to the wind that whispers through the cotton fields.
No generation has escaped it - one morning, your skill with the eight-track or the record player or the cotton gin suddenly ceases to impress. It's just one of those inevitable disappointments that come with growing up, like the realization that Santa doesn't exist or the way that music always takes a turn for the worse after you turn 30.
When I ask my medical students to describe their image of a woman who elects to birth with a midwife rather than with an obstetrician, they generally describe a woman who wears long cotton skirts, braids her hair, eats only organic vegan food, does yoga, and maybe drives a VW microbus.
My grandfather on my dad's side was the first in our family to settle in the U.K. He came from Pakistan on his own in the '60s and worked in a cotton mill in Bolton, earning enough to bring over the rest of his family. My dad, Shah, was only about eight when he came to this country. Like most immigrants, he has a fierce work ethic.
Before I go to bed I clean my face with a cleansing milk and cotton pads and then wash my face thoroughly with a foamy face wash. I apply a calamine lotion on my face and a medicated moisturizer on my face and neck. I repeat the same procedure after I wake up in the morning.
I don't apologize for supporting Trump. He said all the right things, and nobody else would even say it. I suppose it's possible that another politician who really meant it would come along. There's Kris Kobach, Tom Cotton, Jeff Sessions... there are probably a handful of politicians.
James Cotton is a real blues guy, and he played with Muddy Waters, and it surprised me that they would want me to make a record with them, that he called me to do this record. I'd never done anything like that before. But I love blues, so I was very happy.
There's a catharsis in cutting down trees. But there's absolutely none of that in picking cotton. It's maddening! It's fiddly, and it pricks your fingers, and it's something that's a very hard skill if you have no alacrity for it.