In Defense Of The South

My resident state for the last several years is the butt of many jokes (made by myself, even) but I’ve seen personally that it’s a proud Southern state full of good people.  Of all colors.  Frankly, I’m sick of all the piling on the South that’s been going on this past week by people who feel it’s their duty to publicly stereotype and cluck their tongues at a whole section of the country they know little to nothing about and some haven’t even stepped foot in because it’s flyover country they’ve only seen from their first class airline seats.  Make fun of us all you want, write your fiery blog posts with the big words we Southerners can’t possibly understand, call our chunk of the country out on social media so you look enlightened and intelligent to your friends and associates.  The South has seen far worse. Hell, it’s brought far worse upon itself.

I’ve been to the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum and been moved to tears.  I’ve seen the 16th Street Baptist Church, where those 4 little girls were killed.  Go ahead, look it up.  Because some of the same ones yelling the loudest over the South’s mistakes (and they were awful and numerous mistakes), don’t even know why the 16th Street Baptist Church is significant.  So go ahead and Google that before you continue your stereotyping of the good Southern people who don’t deserve it.  I’ll wait.  It’s right across the street from the Civil Rights Museum for a reason, just a hint.

I was at the Civil Rights Museum as a chaperone with Gracie’s school field trip.  Even before you entered the museum, the atmosphere was reverential.  The only other place I’ve toured that was as reverential as the Civil Rights Museum was the Alamo (I’m a native Texan and we take the Alamo seriously, y’all).  The children even felt the gravity of the place.  That was the easiest time I’ve ever had chaperoning a school field trip.  They got it.  Those kids with the deep Southern accents that I couldn’t even understand when I first moved here, the deep accents I thought had to be put on, they GOT it.

Near the end of the tour, I was approached by an older man, a security guard there.  He was of color and he had the kindest eyes.  He quietly asked me what I thought of the museum and without even thinking, I said, “It’s beautiful and awful at the same time.  I loved being here today but I hate the reasons it has to be here”  He gave me a soft, understanding smile.  I bet my answer didn’t surprise him.  I bet he’s heard it hundreds of times.  I saw that sentiment in every person’s eyes I saw there that day.

The thing is, Birmingham isn’t exactly a “destination” city to most of the country.  Don’t hate me for saying that, Birmingham, but it’s the truth.  Most people choose to go to New York or California or Florida, the Grand Canyon, and all those other great locales.  Birmingham is a great city with a lot to offer, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never seen anyone on Facebook or Twitter post a picture of downtown Birmingham cleverly shot with their fruity and tropical alcoholic drink just in frame with the caption “Vacation started?  Check.”  Doesn’t happen.  Corona will never come here to film a commercial.  We don’t drink Corona here anyway because the local brews are so much better.  Screw you, Corona.

So, if Birmingham isn’t exactly a destination city (or at least not a huge destination city as much of an injustice as that is), who actually DOES go to the Civil Rights Museum?  Who makes the Civil Rights Museum repeatedly appear at the top of every single search engine result for recommended places to visit in Alabama?  Sure, there are people who visit the museum from every part of the nation and even the world but here’s my theory regarding the majority of visitors.

It’s all the local schools.  Those local schools contain our future leaders and they are being taught at a very young age to respect Alabama history, the good and the bad.  Especially the bad.  And to learn from it so it will never be repeated again.

It’s people who live in Alabama or in the surrounding states, who just happen to be passing through Birmingham and say “Hey, let’s go check out the Civil Rights Museum while we’re passing by downtown Birmingham”, and then are moved more than they ever thought they could be.  Those surrounding states?  All of them belong to the collective, stereotyped, and recently very much maligned deep South.  Alabama is the heart of the deep South.  Look at the map, for crying out loud.  Except for Florida.  I don’t really consider them deep South but that’s just my personal opinion.  Nothing wrong with being Florida.  I love Florida.

Is there still racism in the South?  Yes.  Yes to infinity.  There is racism everywhere, against every color.  You can’t escape it no matter what we take away from people.  Evil will find a way to perpetuate evil, with or without a flag.  Long before there were guns, Cain killed Abel.

Should the Confederate flag be taken down?  In all government agencies, my opinion is most emphatically yes.  Should Bubba (see, I can Southern stereotype with the best of them) have the right to free speech that includes owning and displaying a flag that conjures up awful imagery, imagery that is our history brought down upon us by very bad people who died long before we were born?  My head struggles with our freedom to practice – guess what – free speech.

Bubba’s a dip shit who is relegated to the kid’s table every holiday but if we take away his freedom of speech, who and what is next?  That nice gay couple down the street and their gay pride flag bumper sticker?  Your right to say that you believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead at Easter by putting a flag with a crown of thorns on it in your well tended flower bed?  Where do we draw the line and still be consistent?  Admittedly, I’m still struggling with these questions.  That’s okay.  That shouldn’t make me a racist or lead to the (wrong) conclusion that I’m pro Confederate flag.  I’m neither of those things.

There aren’t many other states as aware of civil rights and the need for them than Alabama.  Birmingham and Alabama as a whole is the scene of the crime, y’all.  The past reverberates here daily it’s so tangible and so very real.  Give me one Southern racist and I’ll give you thousands of Southerners who would rewrite history if they only could.  Give me one disciple of hate and I’ll give you thousands of disciples of love for their fellow men and women of any color.

I saw on the local news that a neighboring town here was littered with KKK flyers over the weekend.  It was a mostly black neighborhood.  The news reporter interviewed the sweet lady who found a flyer in her yard on her way to church.  Being the media, no matter how small, the reporter asked the woman what she would say to the people (and I use that term loosely) who left that kind of hate material in her yard.  Instead of spewing even more hate, this remarkable lady didn’t take the bait.  She instantly and lovingly said “I’m gonna pray for them.”  I wanted to stand up in my living room and cheer.

Whenever we traveled in the past, people always asked us where we were from.  My family always said “Alabama”.  Up until about a year ago, I would quickly add, “We live in Alabama but we’re FROM Texas.”  I stopped saying that when I realized that my heart is in Alabama.  My heart is in Texas sometimes, how can it not be?  But Alabama is the home my kids have known the longest.  Alabama is the scene of the great majority of their childhood memories so far and will be for hopefully years to come since we made the deliberate choice to stay here and not to move again unless forced to.  My son requests that I play “Sweet Home Alabama” every time we cross the state line on our way home from Texas.  This is our home now not by chance but by choice.

Pray for the South.  Pray for the victims of hate, wherever they are.  Pray for Bubba, bless his heart.  But stop the collective hating and pigeon holing of the South when you’ve never bothered to witness our hospitality, drink our sweet tea, enjoy our BBQ, or had to make life changing decisions as a new resident about who you’re gonna root for in the Iron Bowl game for fear of the entire state ostracizing you for your complete and total lack of commitment and therefore character.  Whew, deep breath!  Really, they don’t care (well, they do) which way you go but you have to make a choice – Alabama or Auburn.

The South is made of far greater things than a flag, good things that can never be taken away from us.  The South is made of bad things that the great majority of us wish we could reverse but have no control over because, you know, it’s a bitch that we still don’t have time travel machines.  I wish you knew this.  I wish you knew that words mean nothing, except for this week, especially if you’re Southern.  I wish you knew the vast majority of Southern hearts and the good they hold for their brothers and sisters, no matter what color.  I wish you knew me better so I wouldn’t have to say the only words mandated and necessary to prove I’m a “good person” this week but I will.

Take the motherfucker down.

Screw You, Forrest Gump! And That Geico Pig, Too!


I know, I know.  I’m way behind.  I am still stuck in post-Halloween hangover.  Costumes are still not completely unpacked and put into storage and I’m already grappling with the fact that I’m one week away from being behind on Christmas.  What the hell happened to November?  I promise to post my Halloween wrap-ups in the next week.

I’m also still recovering from a really tough football weekend.  I won’t lie.  I had a meltdown by the end of the 3rd quarter of the Alabama-LSU game and exiled myself to my bathroom for the duration of the game, firmly believing I was a jinx to the team the longer I watched.  E would run back to give me updates from time to time.  I sat behind a locked door with the exhaust fan turned on so I could block out all football noise, temporarily uninstalled Bleacher Report from my phone so I couldn’t check the score or who had possession, wrote a Facebook rant, may or may not have called my friends “ass hats”, and rocked back and forth with a beer.  I’m not proud of that but there it is.  And we won.  So I may exile myself again this Saturday when we play #1 ranked Mississippi State.

Alabama withstood LSU but Texas A&M beat Auburn, and Notre Dame went down to Arizona State.  Even if you’re not a football fan, you will appreciate the latest round of social media meltdowns from this past weekend’s heart wrenching losses, brought to you by Roll Bama Roll.

Fans who got a double whammy of hatred for the opposing team and self-loathing for their own team became suicidal, turned on the adorable Geico pig, threatened assault on senior citizen coaches and accused leprechauns of sodomy!  I also learned that watching Auburn football can give you the Ebola.  Holy shit.

Who knew other team’s fans called Bama fans “Gumps”, as in Forrest, I guess?  I didn’t.

It’s nice to know I wasn’t alone in my football meltdown.  Roll Damn Tide.  Also, fuck that Geico pig!

USA! USA! US.. Hey, Whatcha Got In That Bottle?

The coolest women EVER. I lived in the wrong damned era but I’m currently taking applications from super hot women who also love the booze so we can restore this lost sport to its rightful place.  For America!

We were in Nashville a couple weekends ago (Jack White and Third Man Records follow-up post coming up soon!).  We visited the Cuntry (see what I did there?) Music Hall of Fame.  We had some time to kill after that, so we walked around downtown Nashville.

Downtown Nashville is busy on the weekends.  There are lots of bars, record stores, bars, random ice cream shop from the Andy Griffith era and… bars.  Did I say bars?  They have lots of bars.  It was daytime, however, so we didn’t feel weird about dragging our kids down there.  We took a horse drawn carriage ride and took in the sights and sounds of downtown on a Saturday.

One of those sounds came from atop one of the two story bars.  I couldn’t help but think that the weight of all the humanity clustered together on the upper level would surely result in an awful catastrophe.  But I digress.  As usual.

I don’t follow soccer.  I hate soccer.  But that day, the chorus that rang from the second level of that probably-should-be-condemned bar was “USA! USA!  USA!”  And I thought how awesome it was that pretty much everyone you know, no matter where they’re from in the United States, could cheer for one team.

I’m an Alabama Crimson Tide football fanatic.  We moved here six years ago and I resisted all the hype for a while.  But it pulls you in, even when you think it won’t.  I vowed not to choose between Alabama and Auburn, even after being told multiple times by different people around here that I would have to.

I did eventually choose.  Some people ask why or how I chose Alabama over Auburn.  All I can say is that, after a while of watching the local news, listening to local sports radio, reading, etc., the choice just becomes clear to you.  I mean it.  It’s like Harry Potter and the Sorting Hat.  Your heart knows where to go.  If you make fun of me for that line, I will come to your house and kick you in the taint.

I have blocked family on Facebook because they acted like asses during football season and decided to post anti-Alabama shit on my wall, just because.  We weren’t even playing their team’s sorry asses.  They just hate Alabama.

You can’t escape football here.   It’s a living, breathing thing in Alabama.  Even during the off-season, news about football breaks every single day, multiple times a day.  I would not be surprised at all if one day a headline popped up on my Bleacher Report app exclaiming “Nick Saban Did NOT Eat His Traditional Little Debbie Snack Cake For Breakfast!”

You laugh, but I’m serious.  That could be an actual, real Alabama headline.

Chaos would reign.  Grown men and women would not come out of the fetal position all day, myself included.  Babies would cry inconsolably until Nick just did the right thing and ate his traditional Little Debbie snack cake breakfast.  Raging debates would ensue over what the hell this news meant.  How will his decision not to eat the Little Debbie snack cake impact the starting QB contest?  Why didn’t Nick just eat the damned Little Debbie snack cake?  He does it every single morning.  Every.single.fucking.morning.  College Gameday would set up camp in Tuscaloosa.  Kirk Herbstreit would predict WHEN he thought Nick would once again eat a Little Debbie snack cake.  Lee Corso would don a Little Debbie snack cake costume.  The local networks would interrupt regular broadcasting to ponder what this meant for our football season.  The sky would rain blood, frogs would fall from the sky.  Churches would remain open 24/7 so all could pray for Nick Saban, who has obviously given up on life and (way more importantly) football, because he didn’t eat the fucking Little Debbie snack cake.

All because, maybe, just maybe, Nick simply wants to cut back on his sugar intake.

I say all this to illustrate the passion that sports can bring out in people.  Irrational, totally crazed passion that makes one block family on Facebook.  Passion that inspires knowing your team’s stats so you can battle the haters that come from EVERYWHERE when your team starts to play in the fall, in my case.

It feels really good that everyone in my Facebook and Twitter feeds are posting “USA!  USA!  USA!” today.  I’m glad I don’t have obnoxious Germany fans, cluttering up my wall with USA hate and stupid memes that aren’t even funny or snarky, dissing my team.

As I write this, Germany currently leads the USA by a goal.  If pure excitement and unity count for anything, though, I think we got this.


Also, you might want to check out my friend Kari’s blog post from earlier today (which inspired my ass to finally write this post)  here.  Her conversations with her brother are the bee’s knees.  They make my brain hurt from all the intelligent words they string together.  At one time.  I’m in awe.  And I need an Excedrin.