Playing Dress Up

I don’t understand where my clothes came from. Somehow, in the past six years, I have amassed enough of a wardrobe to need to prune it drastically at least once a year. This plethora of clothes was not always the norm for me: For most of my life, I did not have an adult wardrobe, or even much of a young adult one. My closet was a cornucopia of t-shirts, acquired from various field hockey and lacrosse tournaments, plus a sprinkling of jeans. I went to a school that required me to wear a uniform from age five until age eighteen, so the days on which my biggest fashion decision was whether to throw on a sweater or a sweatshirt far outnumbered the ones on which I was in full control of my ensemble. By the time I hit 18, I was operating at a severe sartorial deficit.

In 2008, after thirteen years of green tartan kilts and white oxford shirts, I was headed to college, a magical land without a dress code in sight. Even by college standards, my school put the ‘liberal’ in liberal arts, renowned for its barefoot students, shirtless students, and a guy who dressed up as a wizard for a large part of my senior year. So what was a girl who was so used to, even dependent on, sartorial structure to do?

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My friends and I rocking the plaid kilt/oxford shirt combo of our youth.

After some friend-mandated shopping expeditions (thanks Brooke!), I set off for school armed with two new pairs of jeans, a handful of American Apparel t-shirts, and two Anthropologie blouses, give or take. I was excited for my newfound fashion freedom. “This is going to be amazing,” I told myself. “I’ll get to wear whatever I want, whenever I want!” Then I arrived. And I have never missed plaid kilts and oxford shirts so much in my life.

Over the four years I spent in Baltimore, I slowly built up a healthy wardrobe of floral dresses, festive tights, plentiful leggings, and that pile of free t-shirts all co-eds seem to accumulate over the span of their studies. I had boots for days: I should have bought stock in Frye. By graduation, my style had crystallized into a theme of sorts, which I liked to describe it as what Taylor Swift would wear if she attended a very liberal, liberal arts college.

Then, in 2012, I found a new fashion icon in the form of Lizzie Bennet (well, really, the form was of Ashley Clements, since most of Lizzie’s wardrobe is from her personal collection, and most of her personal collection is from Anthropologie. “Do other stores sell clothes?”). That same year, I moved to New York, where my grad school pamphlets told me I would need to dress “professionally” for some classes. all things considered, I was relatively unfazed. By this point, I’d amassed a few blazers and a handful of dresses; my style was Lizzie Bennet approved. I could make this work. I stole a pair of my mother’s old Tory Burch flats, and we were good to go.

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Lizzie Bennet channeling Ashley Clements being everything I want to be sartorially.

Once in the city, I quickly learned that my style choices weren’t exactly wrong, but they were…different. In this giant city, color in clothing is easy to spot because there is so little of it. Faced with a room of little black dress-clad twenty-somethings, my green dress, tweed blazer, and brown boots felt incredibly out of place. (I sought out the few other color-wearing students and thereby made some of my best friends, but that’s a story for another time). That winter, I bought a black coat, black jeans, a handful of black tops, and several pairs of black shoes. The following summer, I learned that navy was a summer color in the big city, and I held a small funeral for many now outdated florals.

I’ve been in New York for just over two years now, and it definitely shows in my closet. I own much more black than I did when I moved here. My reds, blues, and greens have been supplanted by a sea of navy, and my wardrobe is slowly being sapped of anything that could be classified as a pattern. I understand the practical appeal of these muted tones: Black comes in handy in the fraught world of commuting, where anything from four-day-old puddle splash to a jostled morning coffee could turn your carefully constructed outfit into a neo-Jackson Pollack shit show.

But I studied art, and convention be damned, I think monochrome has a time and a place. So nowadays when I head home for a spell, I eagerly bust out the color. Black and grey can’t be entirely avoided (their invasion of my wardrobe has been vicious and pervasive), but swatches of Kentucky blue and my favorite kelly green peek through, and my florals and patterns reclaim their rightful prominence in my outfit. I find that fashion is linked to environment, a cultural signature as endemic as accent or cuisine. At home, people are happy to stand out, and so they wear colors and patterns as bright and outrageous as Lilly Pulitzer can make them (she’s not my cup of tea, but I appreciate the sentiment all the same).

The good old days of bright patterns and slouchy boots.

The good old days of bright patterns and slouchy boots.

See, your sartorial palette sends a message. Down South, people want to be approached, and their gardens of color and cheery florals invite you in for a glass of sweet tea and good conversation. New Yorkers, on the other hand, wear their neutrals like armor, a necessary shield of “don’t bother me today — I missed my train, and Starbucks is out of soymilk.” After two years, I’ve managed to halfway adopt this colorless convention, but I still can’t resist a pop of color. What can I say, my roots run deep. We all come to this city to “be someone.” How are we supposed to stand out in black and white?

October Round Up

Hey Folks! Another month, another whirlwind of crazy blogging adventures! We’re honestly quite baffled by where October went, but the calendar doesn’t lie, and so we find ourselves already hurtling into November. October was a busy month for the Z&S ladies: Scout turned 25 (she’d rather not discuss it), Zelda hit the road for a jaunt up to Providence, and we went to several awesomely awesome concerts and shows together. The air is starting to turn crisp (…kind of, if you can call this week’s high seventies and 85% humidity crisp. Again, we’d prefer not to discuss it.), and the trees are shedding their leaves, so what better way to spend a blustery fall day than curled up with a mug of tea and some Dixie-tinged loveliness, curated from around the interwebs by yours truly.

New York can be awfully pretty in the fall, even when it rains.

New York can be awfully pretty in the fall, even when it rains.

What We’re Doing: October has been yet another busy month here at Zelda & Scout. We taught New Yorkers the important distinction between sweet and unsweet tea, spotlighted the fabulous Loretta Lynn, explored the wonders of beer cheese and tailgating, and got a little philosophical about our furniture. Scout took a walk, Zelda took a road trip, and of course there were several fantastic Arkansans, North Carolinians, Kentuckians, and more featured in Just Folks. To top it all off, Zelda dispensed some incredibly serious tips for Halloween costumes with a Southern flair.


Nothing good happens after 2 a.m., but that doesn’t mean it can’t still have an awesome soundtrack.

What We’re Listening To: Our October playlist was full of melancholy melodies for those rainy nights that creep into drizzly mornings, as your thoughts run rampant, nostalgia takes hold, and sleep remains out of your grasp. From Brooklyn indie artists to classics of New York, this month’s list is the perfect soundtrack for a blustery, rain-soaked evening, pairing well with a steaming mug of tea (or a glass of something stronger). You can check it out on Zelda & Scout, on YouTube, or on Spotify. And of course, like the good Southern girls we are, we celebrated T-Sweezy Day with several repeat listenings of 1989 (even if she has abandoned her county roots).

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Everything is better in a onesie.

What We’re Watching: We were lucky enough this month to check out the #NOFILTER show in Brooklyn, starring three of our all-time favorite YouTubers (and ladies in general): Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, and (Southern gal) Mamrie Hart. It was an awesome evening, as side-bustingly hilarious as it was surprisingly inspirational (although we have to admit seeing these frequent stars of our laptops and smartphones in 3-D was a bit disconcerting #cognitivedissonance). If you haven’t checked them out yet, we seriously suggest you block out an afternoon, or two, to peruse It’s Grace, My Drunk Kitchen, and You Deserve a Drink. Your days will be brightened, we swear.

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© Philip Montgomery, via The New York Times

What We’re Reading: We don’t normally think of the New York Times as our destination for fiction, but this story by Lydia Davis was a welcome surprise. Zelda is a big fan of Davis’ prose, and this excerpt from the new short story collection “Tales of Two Cities” is an eerily resonant depiction of commuting in the city. We also love this cheeky recounting of a writer’s love affair with seminal-Southern-sports-saga “Friday Night Lights,” and this round-up has officially kicked off our excitement for Derby, and all the fabulous millinery it entails. In the book realm, Scout was blown away (and rendered incredibly nostalgic for her college field hockey days) by Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding,” while Zelda was amazed by how funny Jonathan Tropper made sitting shiva in “This Is Where I Leave You.”

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Washington Irving: Author, erroneous President, and saucy minx (via Wikimedia Commons)

What We’re Drinking: A couple weeks ago, Zelda went to a Manhattan bar, which shall remain nameless to save them from searing public humiliation. She was feeling festive and so, despite the exorbitant prices, she decided to order a cocktail. This being fall, she was in a bourbon-y mood, and so she settled on a blackberry honey concoction featuring her favorite Kentucky spirit. As she waited eagerly for her drink to arrive, she came across this summary of the drink’s etymology: “The Irving is named after Washington Irving, a former president and popular fiction writer…” Her shaken faith in the American educational system not withstanding, her drink was, nevertheless, delicious.

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Industrial strength deliciousness, via Arrogant Swine

What We’re Eating: This new North Carolina-style Bushwick BBQ joint has been blowing up our social media feeds, shooting straight to the top of our November to-do lists. Zelda is seriously considering buying a doughnut pan just so she can make these autumn wonders. And Scout is currently obsessed with this fig spread, which makes late-night cheese as dinner instantly classier.

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Via Kentucky for Kentucky, a face to brighten any living room

What’s On Our Wishlist: Kentucky for Kentucky is the frequent home of many of our most-coveted items, and this month we’re all about their new merch featuring our ver own G.R.I.T.S. spotlight, Miss Loretta Lynn. Also this month, Zelda’s got cookbooks on the brain, especially these new(ish) releases from her favorites David Lebovitz and Joy the Baker, while Scout is itching for a wardrobe update. And we’re both swooning over this print courtesy of our favorites at the Old Try.

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10 Awesome Southerners to Dress Up As This Halloween

All Hallow’s Eve is nearly upon us, a festive season of masquerades and sugar highs. I don’t know about you, but Halloween always has a tendency to sneak up on me. I start each year with grand ambitions of a great costume — cute but not slutty, clever but not so niche as to be unrelatable (I’m lookin’ at you, Scout) — and yet come the last week of October I’m inevitably left scrambling through my closet for some combo of dress and heels that is vaguely flapper-esque.

This year I was determined to be different, and as I pondered this year’s disguise I came to a realization: Southerners live every day with Halloween flair, full of big drama, big hair, and inhuman levels of calories, so where better to look for costume inspiration than Dixie.

These ten get-ups are sure to make you the hit of any Halloween party. Enjoy, my little gremlins.


Dolly Parton (Sevier County, TN): Big hair, big bling, big…tracts of land. The more sparkles the better. Strut around in your cowboy boots like you own the joint. Karaoke is your jam, so slap on some pink lipstick and belt out a few choruses of “Jolene.” All eyes will be on you (or at least on the thirty-seven tissues you stuffed in your bra).

Boo Radley (Maycomb, AL): Grey shirt, grey pants, grey hair, grey face paint. Not a speck of color to be seen. Stand in the corner staring at people. Shy away from bright lights. Do not speak.

Scarlett O’Hara (Tara, GA): Dress in all black with a cheeky pout. Once you arrive at the party, pull down your host’s curtains and use them to fashion yourself a more festive gown. Speak in a Southern accent so as not to be confused with Maria Von Trapp. Bonus points if you find someone with a Clark Gable mustache to make out with all evening, before storming passionately out.

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Hunter S. Thompson (Louisville, KY): For this costume, you will need a Hawaiian shirt, aviator sunglasses, a cigarette, and lots and lots of drugs. Write the whole party off as decadent and depraved and tell people you’re thinking of joining a biker gang instead. Bonus points for a Johnny Depp sidekick.

Abraham Lincoln (Hodgenville, KY): Top off your finest black suit with a stovepipe hat and a lustrous beard. Commandeer the nearest stack of cocktail napkins and scribble down speeches for further use. Do not smile.

Norma Rae (Roanoke Rapids, NC): Put on your best jeans, flannel, and plucky attitude. Make yourself a cardboard sign reading “UNION.” When you arrive at the party, find a chair, climb on it, and hold your sign aloft. Stay there until somebody offers you better working conditions, or a drink.

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Mia Hamm (Selma, AL): Get yourself a jersey, a soccer ball, and a Red Sox cap. Adorn yourself with gold medals. Score more than anybody else at the party (until an Abby Wambach shows up).

Jimmy Buffett (Pascagoula, MS): Engulf yourself in the brightest, loudest parrot-print shirt you can get your hands on. Top with sunglasses, leis, a coconut bra, and a giant frozen margarita. Greet the other guests at the door with a hearty “Welcome to Margaritaville,” then spend the rest of the evening trying to start a sing-along.

Paula Deen (Albany, GA): Deck yourself out in your most colorful apron and a big grey wig. Walk around the party dropping sticks of butter in people’s drinks and apologizing for being racist.

Just Folks: Katherine Hurt

Mondays on Zelda & Scout are all about you! In a series we call “Just Folks,” we talk to Southerners who have found their way to New York about where they’re from, where they are now, and what home means to them. Tell us your story here!

This week we have Katherine Hurt! A fellow Kentucky-to-Brooklyn transplant, this girl after our own heart has decided she has two homes: While after five years, she’s decided she can officially call herself a New Yorker, but she still wears her Kentucky badge proudly.

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Katherine Hurt


Pikeville, KY



Current City:

Brooklyn, NY

Who are you and what do you do?

I work at a boutique talent and literary agency in Chelsea and live in a studio by Prospect Park with my two dogs, Cardi and Phoebe.

Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?

A little over 5 years

What brought you to New York?

I moved here for school; I attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

What’s the most common reaction when people learn where you’re from? What’s something about life in the South that you have to explain to non-Southerners?

“But you don’t have an accent!”

For some reason, people are always surprised to learn that Kentucky gets all four seasons, and that it snows — a LOT.

Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.

As a single girl, people probably picture my life as very “Sex and the City.” I have a designer bag or a cosmopolitan in hand at all times, and I’m constantly on my way to a gallery opening or amazing new restaurant.

In REAL life, I’m usually lounged out on my couch in my (non-designer) sweats after a long week of work. The art I consume mostly comes from my Netflix account and the occasional Broadway show (I do take advantage of the awesome film festivals in the city, though!). Most of my shopping is done online, and Seamless is one of my bookmarked pages.

Carrie Bradshaw would totally be bored with my life.

Where do you consider home? Why?

I always refer to Kentucky as home — as in, “I’m going home for Christmas” — but at the end of the day, I can’t wait to get HOME, to Brooklyn.

I guess I have two homes!

Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?

I don’t think I’d ever live there again, but I love going back for the holidays.

Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?

I once saw a homeless man releasing diarrhea and vomit simultaneously on 16th Street and I just keep walking. I’ve now decided I am allowed to call myself a New Yorker.

But I still wear the Kentucky badge proudly.

Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you? (choose as many or as few as you’d like)


Empire State of Mind” came out the year I moved to New York, so that’s my jam and makes me emotional every time I hear it.

Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from? (choose as many or as few as you’d like)

Cracker Barrel, WAFFLE HOUSE!!

There’s no one particular song that defines my experience in Kentucky, but my favorite thing (and the thing I miss most) about home is being able to drive my car and sing (not well, mind you) at the top of my lungs. Even though my Mom repeatedly points out, ” You know they’re ticketing now for loud music.”

Of course, I can listen to music in New York, but because I have neighbors and commute to work on the subway, I can never really jam THAT hard.

What is the best cure for homesickness?

FaceTime, for sure.

Are you a Southerner living in New York City? Want to talk about it? Fill out our survey here, and internet fame and fortune can be yours in just a few short minutes!

Hey, New York, Quit Harshin’ My Vibe

I went to Providence a couple weeks ago. I spent four very happy college years there and still have a lively cohort of friends who have stayed on for one reason or another, so with my first weekend day off in many moons I decided to pop up for a visit. October in Providence is a magical time, a textbook perfect New England fall. It’s by far my favorite time of year on campus; the achingly brilliant leaves against the brick buildings looming over greens sprinkled with bescarved students is so damn charming, it’s like living in an admissions catalog. Due to two rather ill-timed broken feet, I missed out on much of the fun of my freshman and senior falls, so I was extra excited to go back for this little autumnal getaway. Fate, and my metatarsals, had cheated me, and I was owed some fall festivities.

It was a perfect weekend, crisp and clear and full of good friends and good food, wandering familiar streets and lounging on the green. While New York has been dragging its feet on this whole fall business — stuck in a perpetual, can’t-decide-what-season-it-wants-to-be middle ground of tepid temperatures and decidedly Southern humidity — the foliage was out in full force in Rhode Island. A friend and I spent the afternoon meandering up and down the cracked sidewalks of College Hill, marveling at blazes of color, both arboreal and residential (for a New England town, the historic homes of Providence run much more Key West than Plymouth Rock when it comes to paint colors). I was giddy, brimming with nostalgia and reveling in the perfect weather in this place I love.

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Providence in the fall, infinitely lovely

I’m naturally a pretty enthusiastic person (the word bubbly has been used to describe me on more than one occasion), and this weekend had me in a particularly heightened state of gushing bliss. A lot of it was nostalgia, greeting once intimately familiar streets like old friends. Then there was the perfectly perfect weather, and lots of hugs and snuggles and bookstore browsing and late night conversation. One friend accused me of being tipsy, chalking my ebullience up to one too many G&T’s. But as I sat on the bus heading back to Brooklyn, I thought there must be something geographical to it.

My college, at least when I attended it, was ranked as the happiest school in the country, and it was a frequent topic of conversation among me and my classmates. While it’s true that none of us were happy all the time — particularly during finals or the housing lottery we were prone to poke some good natured fun at the ranking — in general, we were all pretty thrilled to be there. Even buried under papers and buffeted by New England sleet, there was an underlying current of gratitude. We were happy because we knew we were lucky to be where we were, because we were surrounded by a community of peers who we admired and respected, and who were, by large, also happy to be there. This atmosphere of happiness made it easier to be happy on an individual level. After all, all the cool kids were doing it.

And I think, for me, that this is the crucial difference between Providence and New York. Where my classmates were optimistic, New Yorkers are decidedly not. There seems to be a culture of dissatisfaction, an undercurrent of unhappiness that sours the everyday. There’s no easier way to bond with another New Yorker than by complaining — about the subway, about the weather, about the prices and the smell and the fact that the rent is too damn high. New Yorkers tend to be a solitary lot, projecting a patented “don’t mess with me” vibe when striding down the sidewalk or pushing towards a subway door, but nothing brings people out of their bubbles like train traffic or a signalling problem, the eye rolls and shared groans the first sign of the ride that yes, we are all humans doing an activity together. Even those who are, by societal standards, successful, aren’t content. If you’ve got a great job, you complain about your apartment. If your apartment is great, you complain about your love life (or lack thereof). If you’re in a great relationship, you complain about work. The cycle is vicious, and unending. The popular lexicon can often be used as a barometer of public morale, and here in the Big Apple it’s cool to be sad, to be so fed up and over the daily grind that you “can’t even.” To express unabashed enthusiasm and giddy optimism for your life, outside of a drunken flight of fancy, is seen as immature, or as a big red flashing sign that you aren’t from around here. This is Pessimist City, and you do not belong.

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Fall colors of New York

Part of it may be a simple product of geography. New York is crowded, absurdly so, and if you don’t stake a claim to your space and protect it, aggressively if need be, you’ll get smushed. There’s a survival of the fittest element to it, a need to assert one’s voice and needs above the cacophony so as not to be swept into the background with the meek and thin-skinned. Even the landscape seems to reflect this hardened state of being. Where Providence is warm and colorful, New York is hard, angular, variations on the shade of beige set to a staccato frenzy. Nowadays when I go back to the South, the first thing that hits me is how green it all is, and how much sky stretches out unimpeded by skyscrapers. There are those who find beauty in the undulating office towers and gritty sidewalks, but I find it suffocating. As Anne Shirley would say, “There’s so little scope for imagination in it.”

Now I enjoy a good vent/bonding session as much as the next girl, and lord knows I complain (I mean, I live on the L, so really, can you blame me?). But I find the perpetual negativity exhausting. The complaining in New York seems harsher than the complaining back home, blunter, and with no hope of a silver lining. Where once I considered myself a generally happy person, skilled at navigating life’s hiccups with a positive spin and satisfied with where I was and what I was doing, now I’m not so sure. Sure part of it is probably due to my dreaded status as a millennial 20-something, thrust out of the cocoon of college into the cold harsh reality of a dismal job market, with years of “Follow your dreams!” mantras leading to a not-so-slight panic over my inability to pinpoint just what those dreams are. But I think a large part of it is New York, a cultural mindset embedded deeper than the subway tunnels. It’s often easier to be happier when you’re surrounded by positive energy and people, but when every interaction of your day is tinged with dissatisfaction, it wears down even the bubbliest of optimists. I think it’s why my life here feels so temporary: Even if I managed to achieve the New York trifecta (job, pad, mate), it still wouldn’t be enough. And that’s how I know I can’t stay.

GRITS: Loretta Lynn

This article is part of a series titled “GRITS: Girls Raised in the South,” in which we profile some of our favorite Dixie ladies and the things that make them awesome. Got an idea for a fabulous femme we should feature? Shoot us an email at! (Alliteration optional.)

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Name: Loretta Lynn (née Webb)

Born: April 14th, 1932, Butcher Hollow, Kentucky

Age: 82

Profession: Singer-Songwriter, Author, Legend.

Reasons she’s awesome:  A small town girl with big dreams, Loretta grew up to be a badass not only on the country music scene but also as a woman in general. Her life started traditionally enough: marriage, four kids, all by the age of 20, mind you. But it wasn’t until she’d moved to Washington state with her young brood and her hubby, moonshine runner Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, bought her a $17 Harmony guitar that she decided to pursue a music career. She cut her first single in February 1960, and she and her family hoofed it to radio stations trying to get them to play her song “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.” Hard work paid off, the single became a small hit, and she was signed by Decca Records.

Loretta and her family moved to that country music mecca, Nashville, and her career started to take off. She had her breakthrough in 1967 with “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’, (With Lovin’ On Your Mind).” The album went to number one and became one of the first female country albums to sell over 500,000 copies. She had consistent hits throughout the sixties and seventies, including a few hit duets with Conway Twitty and a tribute album to her friend and mentor Patsy Cline.

In 1976, she published an autobiography, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which chronicled her childhood in Butcher Hollow and her rocky relationship with her husband. Four years later, it was immortalized on the silver screen in an adaptation starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. Spacek won an Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta, and the film hit number one at the box office.

Her popularity faded in the eighties as country music moved more towards what we know it as today. Loretta cut down on her public appearances after the loss of her oldest son in 1984 (he drowned on the family’s property at the age of 34), and as her husband’s fragile health continued to decline. However, she continued to make music. Her 1988 album Who Was That Stranger was her last solo album for a major label. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame that same year.

In 2000, Loretta released Still Country, after which she struck up an unlikely friendship with Jack White. She performed with the White Stripes in 2003, and White produced her 2004 album Van Lear RoseThe album was her most successful in several years and won a Grammy Award for Best Country Album.


Loretta is famous for her music, and rightfully so: Girl has won four Grammy’s, written over 160 songs, released 60 albums, and sold 45 million records. But she is also awesome for her refusal to shy away from controversial subject matter. While today we tend to think of country music as odes to pick-up trucks and girls in jorts, Loretta was a song-writing badass, and her songs tackled everything from growing up poor in rural Kentucky (“Coal Miner’s Daughter”) to the Vietnam war (“Dear Uncle Sam”), the double standards faced by divorced women (“Rated X”), and the rise of female sexuality and birth control (“The Pill”).

Though she hasn’t released any new albums since 2004, the past few years have been littered with accolades honoring of Loretta’s contributions to the American music landscape. In 2010, Sony Music released a tribute album in her honor, for which Loretta re-recorded “Coal Miner’s Daughter” with Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow. She received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and in 2013 President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

At 82, Loretta Lynn continues to tour and perform.

Favorite Songs and Stories: “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Blue Kentucky Girl,” “Fist City,” “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” (with Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton), “Portland, Oregon” (feat. Jack White), and “I Miss Being Misses Tonight” (feat. Jack White)

Just Folks: Patrick Cox

Mondays on Zelda & Scout are all about you! In a series we call “Just Folks,” we talk to Southerners who have found their way to New York about where they’re from, where they are now, and what home means to them. Tell us your story here!

This week we have Patrick Cox. This mathematician, Rubick’s Cube enthusiast, and lover of horses (especially when they’re racing) was born and raised among the hills of Kentucky but has recently gone from Lebanon (Pop. 5,629) to New York City (Pop. 8.4 million).



Patrick Cox


Lebanon, KY



Current City:

New York, NY

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a fellow in the Math for America program, where I’m currently receiving a Master’s Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education while also student teaching. Starting next year, I will teaching in the NYC public schools.

I am passionate about horses/horse racing, math, and solving the Rubik’s Cube.

Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?

4 months

What brought you to New York?

I have always wanted to live in the city for at least a brief period of time. The Math For America program just ended up being what brought me here.

What’s the most common reaction when people learn where you’re from? What’s something about life in the South that you have to explain to non-Southerners?

The most common reaction is “You don’t have an accent,” to which I say I do, and then people listen closely and point it out every time it occurs. Another is: “You aren’t stupid for being from Kentucky/The South.”

As for something I have to explain about life in the South: horses and horse racing.

Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.

People at home picture it: Everything you would ever want to do, plus more!

How it actually is: A lot of the things you would ever want, but also missing things from your home.

Where do you consider home? Why?

I consider Kentucky my home, because I spent my entire childhood growing up there, and I love the area. My parents still live there, and I feel at home when I go visit them.

Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?

I do miss it a lot; it has been an integral part of the majority of my life thus far. And I would like to go back eventually, maybe when I retire.

Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?

I consider myself a Southerner at heart, but I am definitely developing New Yorker tendencies, like walking at a blistering pace and sleeping on the subway. I will always be a Southerner though.

Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you? (choose as many or as few as you’d like)

Food: Pizza and Halal
Drink: Coffee
Song: “Bright Lights Bigger City” (CeeLo Green)
Movie: “Big”
Artwork: “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali

Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from? (choose as many or as few as you’d like)

Food: Fried Chicken
Drink: Sweet Tea
Song: “Wagon Wheel” (O.C.M.S.)
Movie: “Forrest Gump”
Artwork: “American Gothic” by Grant Wood

What is the best cure for homesickness?

Southern food. Period.

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