Henry L. Menken, that most articulate of curmudgeons, famously labeled Dixie as “almost as sterile, artistically, intellectually, culturally, as the Sahara Desert.” While his comments (in The Sahara of the Bozart) have to be appreciated in context (for his scorn was reserved only for the South’s then-recent culture), the simile pierced me well into adulthood. […]