Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Sid Salter: In Memory of Julia Reed

It’s difficult to think of Julia Reed without hearing her raspy, smoky voice – sort of an odd cross between Lauren Bacall and the sound a farrier’s rasp makes on the hooves of a draft horse. When she laughed, it was earthy, twangy, and honest.

A skillful writer, editor, author, entertainer, media personality, and maven of style, fashion, food, and all things Southern, Julia was a force of nature. Brash, irreverent, piercingly direct, and devilishly funny, it was almost impossible not to enjoy her company.

Julia Evans Reed died August 28, exactly two weeks shy of her 60th birthday in Rhode Island. She quietly, privately battled cancer for three years. A Greenville, Mississippi native, Julia was the daughter of Clarke and Judy Reed. Clarke Reed is the grey eminence of the Mississippi Republican Party.

Distinguished New York Times writer “Johnny” Apple in 2004 credited Clarke Reed with having “more or less invented the Republican Party in Mississippi” and recounted his role in establishing “a solidly Republican South” over a half-century.

Reed’s influence remains legendary for a man who never sought elective office. Presidents, members of Congress, and others at the seat of power sought his advice and counsel. Mississippi Republicans still do. Politicians, writers, editors, and cultural icons beat a path to his door or met him for dinners at Doe’s Eat Place and other haunts.

Julia grew up watching her father enjoy a surreal political and business life that brought national political figures to their home. That carried her to Washington, New York, and other locales far from the Mississippi Delta’s sleepy hum. Julia was as comfortable in those far-flung environs as she was in the deep South.

She launched into an eclectic career as a writer and editor at some of the nation’s top magazines. From an internship at Newsweek while a Georgetown student, to stints at the Orlando Sentinel and U.S. News and World Report to an editor’s spot at Vogue and later achieving near cult status as a contributing editor and columnist at Garden & Gun, her journalistic career thrived.

Whether writing about Southern culture and food for the New York Times and Southern Living or style pieces for Elle Décor, Julia was consistently observant and relevant. She reflected what T.S. Eliot called “an experiencing nature.”

Her father’s influence gave her access to Republican political royalty, making Democratic pols likewise seek her out. Julia wrote intimate, incisive pieces about Barbara Bush and a stunningly candid behind-the-scenes vignette about the marriage of George W. and Laura Bush. Those dominating political stories produced for Julia a concomitant and easy access to actors, musicians, playwrights, chefs, and artists.

I first met Julia on Madison Square Garden’s floor in Manhattan at the 2004 Republican National Convention. She was talking with her father and Amy Tuck, then lieutenant governor of Mississippi.

To say that I liked her instantly was an understatement. Julia looked the part of an Upper East Side writer at the top of her game. Honestly, she was too well-dressed and put together to pull off anything approaching a Bohemian role. She wasn’t that person.

She was a beautiful, refined Southern girl who had been to finishing school, yet her vocabulary at times could make a sailor blush. Julia didn’t care. We had brief visits over the years at book festivals or other social or business events in Mississippi. Julia was extraordinarily generous with her time and fame for Mississippi causes.

She was tailor-made for national talking head shows who invited her based on her Southern accent. On most occasions, the hosts wilted when Julia refused to politely play along with lines of political or social debate that she neither endorsed nor abided.

Mississippi and the New South lost a magnificent ambassador, and those of us fortunate to know her lost a unique and passionate friend when Julia left the party. She was a fierce Mississippi woman who could love and lambast her home state with equal fervor.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Someone please wake me up when this is over.

Anonymous said...

Well, I had honestly never heard of her.
But I do send my condolences to the family and friends.

However, I do remember her Dad.

" It’s difficult to think of Julia Reed without hearing her raspy, smoky voice – sort of an odd cross between Lauren Bacall and the sound a farrier’s rasp makes on the hooves of a draft horse. When she laughed, it was earthy, twangy, and honest."

Really Sid . . . ( the sound a farrier’s rasp makes on the hooves of a draft horse) ( earthy, twangy, and honest) ?

Please tell us you didn't take one of those Donner-k Saturday morning writing classes.

Senzanome said...

I left a comment that was apparently not acceptable to Kingfish. And not sufficiently gushy about the decedent. She was a snotty bitch, although fat old Sid Salter thought otherwise. Geeeez, this site is becoming an echo chamber worse than Facebook!

Anonymous said...

She could write however, I lost a lot of respect for my fellow Delta native when she took a big swig of Cathead in a church sanctuary at the Mississippi Book Festival. There are some things you just don’t do.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS