Well, the thunderstorms followed me. Maybe an omen?
Senoia Georgia to Daleville Alabama 192 miles in about 3 1/2 hours, which is plenty of time to contemplate what Alabama is.
I’ve ridden motorcycles in these parts, on and off over several decades, and have taken the time to share my travel stories with my friends. When I say, “Alabama”, I’ve received a mix of impressions: home of fat redneck sheriffs, hillbillies, moonshiners, Ku Klux Klan members, tobacco-chawin’ Good Ol’ Boys missing half their teeth, and all other manner of Corrupt Hicks, not to mention fire-and-brimstone preachers, iron-bound matriarchs, hot babes in short-shorts with crop tops, and possums, not to mention kissing Cousins.
Now, on the cousin thing. I consider myself a redneck, and like
many of my à cou rouge friends I haven’t married any of my cousins....and I have some pretty hot cousins.
Although the real South has a far wider range of locales and settings, Alabama is not as it appears on TV - usually one tiny rural town after another, separated by miles of farmland or steep, forested mountainsides. Its inhabitants always seem to be about fifty years behind the times, at least as far as social issues are concerned, and some might even be fighting those unfortunate Implications still.
If you’re a liberal urbanite from one of the coasts, then this is probably seen as the last place on Earth you’d ever want to visit. Especially if you’re an ethnic, religious, and/or sexual minority. In fact, it will be the last place on Earth you’ll ever go to if you piss off the locals, since everyone — including the snarling, tobacco-chewing sheriff who glowered at you in the gas station — is quite happy to make your godless ass disappear if they take a dislike to your demeanor. The only people in Alabama who don’t carry guns are the axe- or chainsaw-wielding serial killers. Seriously.
Do not try to knock up one of the local girls there, or you will disappear, or, at the very least, be married to her for the rest of your life, whether you like it or not. Sex is serious business down here.
So don’t complain about the war overseas, don’t admit that you think Queer As Folk is “like, totally awesome”, don’t try to explain how Paganism has nothing to do with devil worship, and don’t go out to the secluded farm house when your car breaks down in the rain... Unless the Alabama hospitality is being played up, that is.
It’s also an impression that Alabama People will often have two names, with men having the second name Bob (Jim Bob, Joe Bob, Billy Bob) and girls will have Mae (Billie Mae, Bobbie Mae, Bettie Mae).
Any part of the region that is not rural, backwoods, mountains, or bayous shows up in conversation as merely The City or Suburbia with an accent. The sprawling metropolis of Mobile might as well not exist, though not without stereotypes of their own. As far as writers are concerned, the only true South is the Deep South. And any old state down there will do. Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama... what’s the difference?
This is where the attitude comes from; the Genius who grew up in the “city/suburbia with an accent bigotry. According to media, there’s a lot of overlap with Everything Is Big In Texas, even though that’s a completely different South with next to no real similarities, culture-wise. (No, there were no cowboys in Arkansas or Alabama.) In contrast, the southern/coastal areas of Florida sometimes get a pass when it comes to most of the stereotypes, because they have a very different set of stereotypes. Likewise, Orlando, Jacksonville, or Tampa are out, because then you’re back to it being either The City or Suburbia. Only this time you not only get an accent, you get a tan. The rest of the state is fair game, however.
There are Rednecks in Alabama, but not every person is a Redneck. I know....I haven’t seen them all at the meetings. Most haven’t been on Springer or Anderson Cooper.
Not everything is about Beer, although many believe 80% of success is just showing up…with a six-pack.
Not to have tried (to outrun the Sheriff) is the true failure. Trust me on this one.
Few rednecks have the strength to honor a friend’s success without envy toward his truck.
OK, so you get my drift: Alabama, is a formidable place, and they don’t mind dynamiting fish.
And you have to admit, that it is a useful skill and any state that knows how to conduct a proper fish kill, is worthy of respect. A bucket of dead carp anyone?
Actually, Alabama also uses identifies with an elephant. This is because an illustration of a bucket of dead fish doesn’t look good on a ball cap.
My favorite one is. “Thou shalt honor thy daddy and thy mama, as soon as you can figure out who they are.”
Next stop: the BBQ Championship and HOG Wild Festival, Mobile.
Rednecks, Excited Bitches, and Moonshine
Yeah, okay. I try to be tolerant, but nah. A Redneck’s Dog is evil and should not exist. This morning at my hotel, some redneck had their dog in the lobby barking away.
At 2:36 am, I finally had enough. I stepped out into the hallway, which smelled of dog. To make matters even more enjoyable, I dodged some dog excrement as I walked down the hall to the lobby, where I found a woman sitting in the lobby with her beloved canine - Dolores.
The night desk clerk was no where to be found. Given the disturbance, who could blame them. The woman saw me, caught her dog’s attention pointing at me. The dog ran over, tail wagging, stomping around the lobby furnishings, running past me barking.
“Fuck you barky dog”, I said, in my head. “You should not exist”, and perhaps if I succumb to my evil side, it won’t much longer
Sure out in the country where dogs are meant to be, go nuts, have dogs all you want, but in the city they are a massive annoyance to anyone trying to sleep. Allowing your dog to run wild in the city is just extremely selfish and inconsiderate, not to mention dangerous for the dog, but to encourage your dog to go manic in a hotel lobby at nearly 3:05 am crosses a line; it’s a violation of the golden rule or the social contract or some such thing.
Dogs are like guns - in theory they might be alright if you could gaurantee the owners were 100% perfect people who were safe and considerate and mindful of the obligations of ownership, but you cannot gaurantee that, so likely they should just be illegal.
I looked at the woman and imagined that her biggest ambition in live is to git that big ol’ coon. The one what hangs ‘round over yonder, back ‘ah Bubba’s barn... Likely there is a stuffed possum somewhere in her house.
My mind continued to conjure while staring at the woman. I imagined her local newspaper has a front-page feature called“Cow of the Week”, with a regular bi-weekly column about the difference between squirrel and rabbit stew.
I imagined her family taking turns wrestling alligators for sport, cause that’s what you do on a Tuesday night.
I could vision four pair of pants and three squirrels hanging from her clothesline.
I could see her shopping for dinner which involves an orange vest and a 12 gauge, and if she were lucky, could save the ammo, although dinner may have tire tracks on it.
These white, Protestant Southern communities are populated by the descendants of British immigrants who arrived in the 18th century and have retained old manners of speech, music and a tight-lipped clannishness from generation to generation. On occasion, the lives of these poor whites have become the subject of serious political attention.
In the New Deal era of the 1930s, the various authorities sought to alleviate their condition and an enduring book, James Agee and Walker Evans’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, was written about their lives. In the 1960s, there was another surge of interest in the time of Kennedy’s New Frontier and Johnson’s Great Society, when Michael Harrington’s The Other America: Poverty in the United States initiated a succession of books.
Cinema too has been ambivalent in its response. John Ford treated the uprooted Okies as victim-heroes in The Grapes of Wrath, but mocked poor whites in Tobacco Road. Folksy, banjo-strumming backwoods folk were exploited for comedy in The Beverly Hillbillies and the musical version of Al Capp’s comic strip Li’l Abner, but their silent menace dominates John Boorman’s Deliverance and horror pictures regularly present them as a lurking danger to unwary travellers who make a wrong turn.
Tired and full of condescension, if not folkloric curiosity into the life of this heroine before me, I sat down across from her and struck up a conversation. By this time the dog had parked herself at my feet wanting pets. Of course I obliged.
Meg, appeared to be a resilient woman of about 60. She didn’t appear poor, nor dysfunctional. She seemed capable of spelling and arithmetic and likely proficient with small and large ordnance, skinning squirrels, handling firearms responsibly, and email.
She described how she grew up in a tight-knit community of mostly kin and bound together in their defiance of authority. Given her carefully chosen words, I had the impression hers may be involved in the drug business. However she seemed impressed when I told her I was a retired police officer.
She was certainly entertaining or I was really tired. In between descriptions of her kin, she sang a few lines of bluegrass folk songs. Her voice was not unlike Alison Krauss: lovely, almost a detached sense of longing, creating an image that drew me into her stories further.
culture. Clearly I was tired.
We talked for hours: two and a half to be exact. Once the dinning room opened for breakfast, we sat together enjoyingeggs benedict, sipping the best coffee I ever had. Clearly I was tired.
She continued to tell me her life, told in very short sound bytes. Occasionally I would slip Delores a strip of bacon and toast under the table where she laid, quiet, likely for the first time in months. I could actually touch the wintry images Meg created, of weathered wood, and smell the skin moist with the summer humidity, old clothes, tousled hair that had been washed the night before, and the oil dripping from rundown trucks: rich, realistic textures to be sure.
We just parted company a few hours ago. Exchanged contact information. Meg had written on a napkin at breakfast this recipe for moonshine brandy. When I suggested to Meg was almost predicable. She responded, “She was just living up to perceptions, perpetuating a cultural stereotype.” ;-)
Cut the rind off of melon, cut melon into one-inch cubes, remove loose seeds, and put melon and any free juice in primary (crock, plastic pail, etc.). Grate the yellow thinly off ten lemons, then juice the lemons and add the juice and zest (gratings) to primary. Add dried elderberries. Add water to make up 5 gallons.
Stir in sugar and stir well to dissolve. Cover primary with cloth, wait 12 hours and add yeast. Cover and ferment 3 days, stirring daily. Strain juice into secondary (demijohn) and fit airlock. Ferment 30 days….unless your in a hurry or the dog is acting out.”