I’m hanging out with my good friend Preston Brooks touring the Museum of Southern Honor. I’m getting an insider’s view on what it takes to cause a ruckus Southern style. We are an eccentric people, and even when we are angered, ornery, or downright rambunctious, we tend to do it with our own unique style.
For example, Mr. Brooks tells me that he originally only intended to hit Charles Sumner on the head one time, but that caning someone on the head three times was more spectacular. He used a “trick” guta percha cane which broke dramatically upon his opponent’s skull for effect. He also could have simply performed this act in private, but instead chose to confront poltroonery out on the Senate floor, in front of other elected officials and the visiting public. If you don’t recall, Senator Sumner of Massachusetts insulted Mr. Brooks’ relative and the entire State of South Carolina back in 1856. Mr. Brooks told me that “skullduggery can be ignored, but perfidy of the highest order, must be dealt with in high fashion.”South Carolinians are if nothing else, fashionable to the umpteenth degree.
This insider’s view is one of the perks of my job as your trusty Southern Blogger. Whenever I need to learn about Southern culture in the past, I simply draw up historical figures and ask them. You’d be surprised how adept many of them are at blogging and other social media. And this week, we will be discussing Southerners both of the distant and recent past, about that certain flair it takes down here to get you noticed and to create a good old-fashioned scandal. So without further ado, I bring you HOW TO…CAUSE A SCENE.
The Old South: Brawlers and Nose Pullers
Remember our old friend Andrew Jackson? He had some great advice a few months back about defending personal honor. You see my friends President Jackson was (and remains) one of the world’s greatest duelists. He could follow the code duello to a T, write threatening greetings with great aplomb, and also kill his enemies with the finest of manners. But there also comes a time and place where one must put aside the gentlemanly code and flat out brawl. He could do that too.
For example, sometimes a rascal is just plain asking for it. He might be a no good varmint of poltroon, not worthy of a gunfight or even a good caning. When someone absolutely, positively has to be put in their place publicly you go for the muzzle pull. That’s right, just reach out there and yank your enemy’ nose. It tells the public this scoundrel is a mean sunofgun worthy only of the time to drop him to the floor. It’s dramatic, short, and quite effective.
Of course, you tend to cane, nose pull, and duel folks a lot when you make enemies the way Jackson did. President Jackson grew up rough and tough, and learned to fight even tougher. He once was slashed by a British officer as a teenager for refusing to polish the Englishman’s boots. Rather than forgive and forget (two things Andy was bad at) he made a point of embarrassing the British army at New Orleans, and also pretty much stole the Florida territory from them. Like William Wallace in Braveheart he liked to go “pick a fight”. When Jackson picked fights he didn’t lose.
The key was not so much simply striking fear but doing so in a grandiose fashion, creating exponential fear. Think it didn’t work? Well, Andrew Jackson blamed John Quincy Adams’ “dirty tricks” for creating the stress which he claimed killed his wife Rachel. During Jackson’s inaugural, Adams, the former president and defeated candidate didn’t stick around to watch the ceremonies. Adams was a smart man, and was definitely smart enough to know that “Old Hickory” wasn’t the let bygones be bygones sort. If Jackson ever buried the hatchet it was most likely in someone.
President Jackson also caused a scene by his very presence. It was said the more educated Harvard types in Washington were quite appalled when Andy’s voters came to celebrate. They partied hard off of free bourbon and a giant communal block of cheese. Drapes and furniture were said to have been smashed or gone missing. Spittoons were missed and “Jackson juice” ended up on the White House floors. Such was Jacksonian democracy, and it was a hell of a party.
But, that was politics in the nineteenth century. In many parts of the South you couldn’t get elected to office without at least some brawling or dueling on your resume. Just think of all the early pioneers of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. They were hunters, bushwhackers, fist-fighters, and eye gougers long before they held office. In fact, it was great practice for politics.
Jim Bowie probably stands taller than most of them, both literally and figuratively. He holds the title for greatest brawler of all time. Once during a feud between his party and a rival party, he helped create a fantastic fracas along the Mississippi river. On an island off of Natchez, MS, Bowie was standing in as a second for an offended party. Seconds, if you remember, are there for support and rule-keeping, not fighting. In any event words were exchanged, glances were glared, and before you knew it a real full on melee ensued. Bowie survived several gunshots and took care of some poltroons with just his bare hands and the famous long knife invented by his brother. That kind of theatrical backwoods brawling is picture perfect for someone who ended up martyred at the Alamo.
The New South: Base Stealers, Man Stealers, and Show Stealers
I suppose we’ve calmed down a bunch as a people since the nineteenth century. Even so, we still have plenty of people who know how to create chaos, befuddle enemies, and do so with style. In the world of entertainment, we will discuss three twentieth century Southerners who knew how to be the center of attention, talk the talk, and walk the walk. In the process they became legendary (each in their own way) for their scene stealing excess.
Although the South is known for its love of football it has produced its share of great baseball talent. Among the earliest and greatest of Southern ballplayers was Ty Cobb. Cobb was the perfect storm of baseball ruckus creator. He was born to a wealthy Georgia family that had declined following the Civil War, had a grandfather (who was a general) killed at the battle of Fredericksburg, and hated pretty much all Yankees. So it made sense during the turn of the century, a time when Dixie ballplayers were heckled for their Southerness, and Washington and St. Louis were the two cities closest to home, to send young Mr. Cobb to Detroit. It should also be mentioned that Ty Cobb was probably clinically psychotic and was re-fighting the Civil War on the base paths. Even his own teammates hated him.
Cobb actually seemed to enjoy belittling his baseball opponents. He would announce bases he planned to steal and then would steal them. If an infielder or catcher got in his way they were kicked, clobbered, or spiked by Cobb’s shoes. Legend has it that he even field his metal cleats for effectiveness. If you heckled him he might climb in the stands and punch you. He was afforded police protection in Philadelphia due to the large volume of death threats, carried a loaded luger with him on the road, and was wanted for assault in several states. Yet through it all he snarled and smirked his way into the record books and into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His philosophy the “baseball is something like a war” found disciples in Ted Williams, and fans in Douglas MacArthur.
Although hardly a snarler, the Alabama born Tallulah Bankhead was no stranger to scandal. She came from a wealthy and politically connected Huntsville family yet chose the stage for her career path during an era when acting was looked down upon. While early Hollywood was no less a stranger to scandal in the early twentieth century as today, Miss Bankhead turned heads and raised eyebrows to great effect.
In an era when women (especially rich Southern women) were expected to be chaste until married, then devoted housewives and mothers afterwards, Bankhead flouted the “rules”. Her affairs and love interests were quite numerous and varied and she loudly advertised and proclaimed them. She filled up the gossip columns and created such scandal it more than likely hurt her box office appeal. She was turned down for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, due to her age, yet in many ways was of the same background, personality, and scandalous nature.
Despite it all, Tallulah Bankhead never flinched and never cared if people didn’t like her. She was quite “Jacksonian” in her loyalty to her friends and political allies. She once made a point of booing Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat Party motorcade, and loudly supported Harry Truman’s integrationist policies and presidency when it was quite unpopular to do so in the South.
Another Southerner who combined flair on and off-stage was the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown. Brown grew up in poverty in rural South Carolina and rose to be the “hardest working man in show business”. In Brown’s case that was hardly an exaggeration.
Brown not only had a tight band (which he fined for things like unshined shoes or missing notes), and a tighter look, but would sing, dance, and perform in such a manner that would kill the average man. Brown recorded and preformed in a chart topping career that spanned nearly five decades and practically wrote an entire genre of music.
While he was known for his flamboyant hair, clothing, and stage persona (down to being draped in a regal cape), he used his scene stealing persona and fame to speak out against segregation, and declare himself to be “black and proud” at a time when declaring both loudly was a dangerous thing to do in the South. Brown never held back his views, his style, or his effort. He had to be the best, because if he wasn’t he knew how quickly and how rough he could fall to crushing poverty. Even when Brown succumbed to legal troubles, he still had the sense of style and performance even in his arrests.
Scene stealing Southerners still put on a show even when they get in trouble.
Point is folks; we are no strangers to colorful characters down here. And while many of the folks mentioned in the piece did things that would get you shot, arrested, hospitalized, and ostracized today they do prove the genius of the genuine. Being quiet after all doesn’t get you in the history books.
After the results of our recent poll it looks like I’ll be posting a piece on Southern pageants. I will be trading blogs so to speak with my friend the Budget Blonde. She will co-blog from personal experience on pageants while I will satirize Southern style blogs on her site. These pieces may take a few days to sort out and schedule so stay tuned for further updates.
It looks like I’m starting to get back on track with my posts. I’m still a little bit behind but am starting to catch up. The good news is, I have storylines and cartoons planned in advance and plan to continue to bring you funny stories and comics from a semi-satirical and Southern perspective.
From time to time I hear from some of my readers about this site and what they like about it. At the risk of sounding like a PBS telethon, you might want to consider following this site by clicking at the link at the very top of this page. That way you will receive and email notice each time I make a post. I also have a Twitter account @SouthernBlogger which you are welcome to follow. As I get more adept at blogging I will include buttons on here to make that easier.
Another thing I would encourage y’all to do is to send in suggestions for topics and comic ideas. I would love to hear from you. You can either comment on my site or send me a shout out at email@example.com I’m always open to any suggestions you may have. I want to keep this blog Southern but also very topical.
Speaking of which, in what has become my week in the life of Southern Blogger paragraph, I made it to the final round of that job interview I told you about. So in a few weeks I’ll be trucking it down to North Carolina for a final intense interview. Wish me luck.
Speaking of jobs and joblessness, there’s been a lot of talk in the news about “occupation”. At first my ears picked up and I said “finally, the news has picked up on my blog’s efforts to illuminate people on the occupation of the Southern people” but nah…wasn’t about that it turns out. Apparently people are protesting Wall Street and politicians all across the country. The college aged protesters don’t really dress or sound like the folks I went to school with in the SEC. In fact, it kind of reminded me of how my college experience was a lot different from people in the northeast and Midwest. I can remember most people in my school WANTING to be crony capitalists and big time Senators (or at least interning for them). So with that in the news and primary season and elections gearing up, I was inspired to bring y’all my little take on the not always so democratic electoral process down in Dixie. I skewer all political parties don’t worry.
The Dead Will Vote Again!
It’s only in the last thirty or so years that the South has begun to catch up, and in many cases, pass the rest of the nation economically. The region as part of the “Sun Belt” contains big metropolitan areas, corporate headquarters, and banks. Some of our region’s families have gone from sharecroppers to CEO’s in a matter of one or two generations. It’s pretty remarkable really. So it sort of follows that Southerners would then have a lot of political power.
Thing is, even when the region was primarily agricultural, it had a disproportionate amount of political clout. A lot of that had to do with the negotiations and deal breaking that led to the formation of this country, and how that in turn benefitted a handful of planters. A very tiny fraction of very rich Southerners controlled the rest of the region, and indeed much of the country. In any case from the very beginning Southerners have been major players in politics. And well, because we tend to be rather eccentric, there have been some shenanigans from our neck of the woods.
I’m gonna flat out say it. We tend to have a lot of corruption in our politics. Way back in George Washington’s time, politicians in the South would win elections based on how much whiskey they gave out. In fact, the Father of Our Country once lost an early race because he failed to give out the good stuff. He learned his lesson and the rest is history. Our friend Andy Jackson certainly was no stranger to corn liquor electioneering. He got his people to the polls, got most of them standing upright, and they got him to the White House. They also came for a giant block of cheese, and well…more liquor…and well they spit on the floors and tore the drapes…so yeah…kind of a big mess.
Whether progressive or conservative, the Southern politician has had a “wink wink” approach to deal making and the electoral process. In the 20th century Governor Huey Long of Louisiana built himself a fiefdom down at the mouth of the Mississippi. He was a champion to poor Southerners of all races, built roads, and schools, and was a hero to many. He also built a political empire that punished all political opposition, rewarded cronies, and even placed a “lying tax” on newspapers that attacked his administration. It should be mentioned that Long was eventually assassinated.
Another Southern progressive, Lyndon Johnson made his bones in the Texas legislature and U.S. Senate before eventually becoming president. It has been implied that JFK’s election in 1960 owed a lot to the dead, both in Kennedy country and in areas delivered by Johnson. Ole LBJ also initiated the efforts to pass Civil Rights legislation after Kennedy’s death, even going so far as to “get dirt” and use the IRS and compromising photos of opponents to get the votes. Whether on the side of the right or the left (or right or wrong), that’s how things got done in Dixie.
Modernization has homogenized the South and caused some of the old open corruption to fade away. But still, we are a region not lacking in crazy political campaigns, characters, and deal making. From “the Raging Cajun’” to “Senator No” to candidates who shoot sign stealers and hang out with Founding Fathers, I’m here to guide you on the wonderful, crazy, “wink-wink” world of Southern politics.
Everyone of us is a born politicker
Let’s say you’re a man or woman looking to make a difference in the world. Now stop and ask yourself “why do I want to be a politician?” Honestly, there are thousands of good Southern folks helping people out as missionaries, aid workers, volunteers, soldiers, and law enforcement. You might want to go that route.
Let’s say you’re a twenty something on fraternity row, surrounded by empty beer cans looking to find a way to keep the party going for decades. Well, then…perhaps you should consider the world of politics.
But first you got to clean up your act and keep the partying ways behind the scenes. Sure, interns and staffers will see and report you in a tell-all memoir, but if you’re Teflon is in working order your power will outlast their fifteen minutes of fame. You’ll also need a good spouse, one that won’t cost you votes, 2-4 children who are willing to wear matching sweaters for your Christmas/fundraiser cards, and good hair. You’ve got to have good hair. If you know politics and don’t have good hair…well then you can be a campaign manager.
Hey don’t knock that position. Being a king maker is sometimes more lucrative than being the king. Just ask James Carville (speaking of no hair). James Carville is the mastermind of Southern politics on the Democratic side. He has no living equal on the other side. I said living equal, being that the Republican strategist Lee Atwater of South Carolina was the Southern GOP mastermind.
Now Carville may look and talk funny but he knows how to get candidates to stay on message and keep it simple. It was Carville who took an obscure Arkansas governor and made him into a two term president all by keeping the campaign pretty simple with the pithy “it’s the economy stupid”. Carville is a genius and there’s a reason why. He’s actually a space alien. He landed somewhere in the Louisiana bayou some sixty years ago to study our ways. His weird looks and accent were then brilliantly concealed and passed off as “Cajun” since nobody (including Louisianans) understands what Cajuns are actually saying.
But even if you can’t get a Carville, you should find someone to run your campaign that gets you into the right churches, knows the back roads, and the local sheriffs, and Rotary clubs, and right pig pickins to get to. Even having the right bluegrass band tour with you can make all the difference in the world.
Once you’ve made it to office and have won re-election a few times all this will become old hat. Really all of us down here kind of have the basics ingrained into us. We’ve been raised in a culture where nobody comes out and says their business, and church functions, BBQ cook offs, and football games are a good way to size people up. It’s partly why Southerners are naturals at politics while earnest Midwesterners, who are often masters of public policy don’t translate nationally. When speaking about the issues what kind of sauce you use for BBQ is more an indicator of character than your stance on the “Arab Spring”. Those Midwestern wonks are very important though, since you’ll need them to fill you in on that stuff after your inauguration. That’s the beauty of having cabinet positions.
Choose your celebrity endorsements wisely
Another thing you’ll need to do is find the right celebrity endorsers. I always found it funny that as much as Hollywood and music people must have hated Jesse Helms he was great friends with Bono. Yep, that Bono of U2. Thing is, “Senator No” of North Carolina was instrumental in getting foreign aid passed that aided Bono’s charitable efforts. Despite their seemingly different politics on most everything else, and contrasting lifestyles and personalities they became good friends. Bono needed a major player in Washington, and Southern Senators tend to be that, and Senator Helm’s needed “hip surgery”, as in someone to bring him cool points with the young folks back home.
Still you got to have experience to pull this off or your Nixon-Elvis moment might totally backfire. A case in point is Rick Barber of Alabama. Last year Mr. Barber was running in a GOP primary for a Congressional seat from Alabama. He ran an ad of him hanging out with the Founding Fathers, who presumably along with Rick would lead a rebellion and overthrow the corruption in Washington.
When I say Founding Fathers, I do mean the costume shop variety. Mr. Barber’s exuberance and passion for American history were ridiculed in the press, and indeed historians could point out that many of the Founders would have had differing views than the candidate’s. And the whole “gather your armies thing” was a bit odd too. See for yourself here.
You really couldn’t get away with this anywhere else
Nevertheless eccentric political ads can be done well. In Barber’s own state of Alabama it was achieved but the master of the come from behind You Tube sensation Dale Peterson. Mr. Peterson was running poorly in a little known race for Alabama Agricultural Commissioner until he ran this gem. Not only does this ad scream Nolan Ryan meets John Wayne, it also had a killer soundtrack, a Winchester rifle, and a threat to would be yard sign stealers. Peterson shot up in the polls (no not with his Winchester) overnight and became an internet sensation. Even though he lost the race that ad made Peterson famous. He now tours the country making stump speeches and ads for other candidates, and is even promoting his own book. I think a talk show is not too far behind. See friends, a wacky commercial if done right can be quite profitable.
So whether you’re a Stetson “shoot firster” or an insider “Boss Hogg” type, you too can enjoy the wonders of being an eccentric Southern candidate. And who knows, if you play your cards right you can be the next Dixie accented “loose cannon” to launch themselves from outsider status into the White House. But then again…maybe you’d rather make a difference in this world, do right by your neighbors, and work hard for a living. That my friends would be quite noble, and would be a great idea.
– Southern Blogger
NEXT WEEK: We continue with the political theme as an old friend and guest blogger stops by.
I’m starting to get back on track after last week’s big delay. I managed to finish my cartoons in about two days and I hope you like them. As for me I’m writing at night so I can get some rest and prepare for a big interview tomorrow. I love to blog, and will continue to do so every week, but I do need to pay the bills, so wish me luck.
The South Will Blog Again has made it into its third month! I cannot thank my readers and my loyal re-posters enough for checking this site out. I think this blog is starting to take off, and it has also developed its own language, routines, and gags. For instance, I hope y’all have been playing along and trying to find my signature and TSWBA tags in the drawings. As time goes on I’m planning to make them harder to spot, lest any counterfeiters pass off my cartoons as their own 😉 I’ve also begun to write my posts in story arcs, such as the last series on singing, writing, and cooking, and my series on the SEC.
This week we return again to the “How To” series. We will have a serious discussion (and by serious I mean completely satirical) on the state of traffic laws in the state of Georgia. If any of you have ever travelled to Florida by car you have had to pass through the southern portions of the Peach State, you may know (and perhaps all too well like my brother in law) that certain jurisdictions in that state have a bit of a “toll” for passing through. Not a toll you pay at a booth, but the kind you pay via a pink slip handed to you by a member of law enforcement.
This won’t be an indictment of them so much (we all have to pay the bills) but rather a How-To guide for y’all to follow to avoid being ensnared, or if failing that, how to conduct yourself should you find yourself staring at flashing blue lights in the rear view mirror. So without further ado, I bring you HOW TO DRIVE THROUGH SOUTHERN GEORGIA.
– Southern Blogger
It’s Like the Discovery Channel on Wheels
Listen to me friends. When you get into a vehicle (with out-of-state plates) and drive through southern Georgia you are prey. And by prey I mean four-wheeled, metal, gazelles just waiting to be lunch for the local deputies. Like any potential prey in the wild, the stupid will be eaten and the smart will survive. Smart prey will survive through good instincts, skill, and camouflage.
Now some of you might be saying “I don’t get this analogy, I for one do not believe in hunting but the harmony of all creatures!”To which I say, good for you John Lennon, please enjoy your trip down South in a VW van, and do remember to yell loudly about your constitutional rights, that should go over real well.
Now for the rest of you, listen up. It’s a tough economy, and when times are tough tickets become more plentiful. Cops are doing their jobs, and there are millions of people with disposable income passing by every year, many of whom are just asking to be pulled over. I’m here to help you be the one that gets away.
Let’s take a look at your vehicle. Does it stick out? Red sports cars are a bad idea. First of all, they stand out like a sleek, sexy, sore thumb. That’s why you bought a red car Mr. Mid-Life Crisis. Two, people who drive sports cars speed. Three, the good sports cars are usually foreign. If you are driving a red sports car you will be toast. But if you are a Ferrari driver, you won’t be reading this poor little blog, will probably speed anywhere, have tons of cash to blow on tickets, and think you can out run an Ole Boy in a Dodge (you won’t btw).
What if you are driving a minivan? Also a big no-no. You are like a big lumbering fat wildebeest. You are slow, you are easy to catch, and you make a tasty meal. Anyone from out of state driving a minivan is going towards Disney World. You also probably have several kids in the back seat screaming or squirming because they’ve got to pee. You clearly won’t be paying attention enough to watch your acceleration.
The funny thing is some people put even more targets on themselves. Like Disney decals, bumper stickers promoting liberal causes and those annoying stick figures of families. But the real true indicator of your chances of being pulled over is your license plate.
Let’s look at that.
If your plate is from Georgia, chances are you have to be doing 90+ to get pulled over. Ditto for (some) Florida Counties (not Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach), and South Carolina. You’re too likely to be able to drive to court and fight the ticket. If your plate is from another Southern state you are 75% likely to get a pass, so long as you don’t push it, and depending on the officer’s “patriotism”. As for Yankees, your chances are 50-50 if you are Midwestern, better the odds the “redder” your state is. New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut…well I’d advise going the speed limit. But even THAT may look suspicious and you could be pulled for “excessive speed limit following”. See Georgia penal code, Section 104, part D6.
So, what happens if you put pedal to the medal and you get pulled?
How to Avoid Being in a Heap of Trouble
You didn’t see the sign, honestly you didn’t. And you’re probably right, being that certain counties have an odd habit of letting trees and kudzu cover the speed limit signs, especially the ones that drop from 70 mph to 50 mph. You hear the siren, you see the lights and now you are pulled over, nervously breathing and fumbling for your license and registration.
You roll down the window and you can hear a car door slam and the sound of boots treading on the emergency lane gravel. You make an anxious swallow and look over toward the window and find yourself staring into your reflection from mirrored sunglasses.
Don’t panic, it’s critical that you do not act or appear to act like a Yankee @#$%@#.
Don’t make excuses, don’t plead ignorance, and don’t cop an attitude.
Be cool and you might get a warning. Even if not, be cool, take your ticket and don’t cause trouble.
Of course most of my readers get this since they’ve learned a bunch about Southern culture from this blog. But the Ferrari drivers, oh the Ferrari drivers are going to totally blow it. They may claim not to have seen the sign, may mention how much they hate such and such “hick town”, talk about their high priced lawyer cousin, threaten to sue the Podunk county, and cause a giant ruckus.
But what if through “no fault of your own” you have a misunderstanding and should find yourself behind bars. What then?
Make the Good Ole Boy System Work for You
You know the movie My Cousin Vinny? Joe Pesci and Marissa Thomei team up and help free their kin down in Alabama who are innocently behind bars. A clash of cultures results, yet the boys are freed, and the New Yorkers win the hearts and respect of the locals. Great film, pretty funny, touching heart-warming comedy…yeah…DON’T DO THAT! You will lose and possibly do life without parole for a mere lane change violation.
Rather make the system work for you. Of course anybody who’s been to a school in the SEC or grew up in such environs, or has committed this blog to memory knows that. But let’s say you’ve stumbled onto this site for the first time, maybe even by accident. If you should find yourself in trouble in southern Georgia make use of the local legal system.
What I mean by that is to get a lawyer who graduated from the right law school. I didn’t say TOP law school. Top law school is irrelevant and potentially dangerous. Nobody wants to hear your lawyer brag about being top in the class at an Ivy League university. You might both end up in the slammer. No friends, the key to getting a good lawyer is picking one that went to the same college as the judge’s favorite football team. So you’re best to go with the University of Georgia. Ideally you want an attorney that speaks like Matlock, looks like a corrupt version of Gregory Peck, and can dissect the Dawgs defensive line’s chances against Florida’s passing scheme.
I’m serious. Print this essay out, cut out the preceding paragraph, and tape it to your refrigerator. You can thank me later.
Now I hope after reading this that you aren’t afraid to drive through Georgia. It’s a fine state full of fine people. Remember, we are in a recession and we all have to find ways to raise our revenue. If you follow my advice you should be okay. This article also doesn’t apply to all parts of Georgia.
For example, if you are driving near Atlanta you probably won’t have to worry about any of this. One, you’d have to be clocked at about Mach 5 to get pulled for speeding in Atlanta. Two, the rules of “Southerness” haven’t really applied to Atlanta for over 100 years, so you New Yorkers can rest easy you’re practically “home”. Third, half of the time the traffic in Atlanta is so bad only the people on foot could be truly “speeding”.
You can also speed through Georgia if you know how to outrun the law. To do THAT properly you’d best be a native and know the back roads. I’d have a few trucker friends to help or an orange race car that can fly. In either case you probably don’t really need to worry about being caught by “John Law” since you’re likely to out run ‘em anyway. But for the rest of you, here’s a summary of my advice.
- Don’t drive with Yankee plates or Disney accessories. You can always rent a car with Georgia tags.
- If you are an out-of state driver, stay in the middle lane and don’t go more than 5 mph over.
- When you see a road sign obscured by foliage assume the speed limit is no more than 45 mph.
- Should you be pulled over and stare into some mirrored sunglasses, do remember your manners. What you say and do in this moment can make all the difference in the world.
- Make sure you use a good local lawyer should you find yourself in trouble. Your lawyer should be better able to quote Herschel Walker than Alan Derschowitz.
- If you get a ticket, pay the fine, and be happy you are contributing to the economy. We all gotta make a living.
Stay smart and stay safe out there people. We could all do well to slow down a bit.
Thanks again for reading. Next week we’ll probably talk a little more about law enforcement as we discuss HOW TO…SUCCEED IN POLITICS
– Southern Blogger
This year marks the beginning of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. It was the bloodiest conflict in our nation’s history pitting the side of the country that believed barbecue is a delicious pork product against the side of the country that considered barbecue to consist of hamburgers and hot dogs. After four years of turmoil, while many issues were settled, that culinary fight continues to rage on (See Southern Blogger, How to Choose a Good BBQ Restaurant).
Over the next four years Millions of Americans (hopefully)will take the time to honor the brave soldiers who fought in the war (yes, even the blue coats), learn some history, and support our National Parks…well the smart ones at least. For Southerners like me, it means trips to Gettysburg whereby they get their hopes up, but then get depressed when they realize the outcome never changesand then go home sulking, (I’ve made 11 trips there and always the same score!). Or they enjoy the early battlefields of the war, like Manassas, whereby the South, like their SEC football descendents “padded their schedule” against easy opponents. (Southern Blogger can’t separate college football and the Civil War, that’s why he ended up at Ole Miss).
In any case fellow Southerners, sympathizers, curious Yankees, and folks who stumbled in from a search engine gone awry, have you ever thought what would happen if you were to find yourself in a Civil War battle? Not just fighting in the battle, but leading it? I know I’ve thought about this day and night since I was three, but I’m a Virginian so it helps to be prepared. In any case, should you find yourself in this position, for whatever reason, you should at least know HOW to win a Civil War battle. So I decided to call on an old friend to guest blog for us this week…a true expert in this field. Please welcome General Robert E. Lee…
– Southern Blogger
Thank you very kindly Mr. Blogger, sir. I shall as always endeavor to do my duty and to properly lead your readers into the finer points of Napoleonic tactics. We shall blog together and come to an understanding of how to face “those people” (for they are never quite the enemy) on the battlefield should sectional difficulties once again arise, God forbid. I would also humbly ask that by doing you this favor you would, hopefully sir, please stop requesting my audience repeatedly. I am asked to do many blogs, and indeed while I appreciate your hero worship and your bobblehead collection of me, I do regretfully inform you that I cannot write for this site frequently. Doubtless, President Jackson is a finer blogger than me, but of course amongst historical figures, we’ve always considered him to be a “techie geek”.
So without further ado, may I present four points to consider when plotting a Civil War Battle…
Gen. R.E. Lee, ANV
STEP ONE: LEADERSHIP
It is indeed a difficult task to command an army. You must feed, clothe, and provide for the sustenance of your men. You must also be willing to sacrifice that very thing you love, your army, if you are to succeed, (or so I once heard Martin Sheen say). As an army commander there are thousands of orders that must be carried out, one by one by subordinates in order to achieve victory. With Providence, and a little fortitude, and some skill, the day can be carried.
But one key component is to have proper leadership, especially underneath you. That is why whenever possible if you must pick someone to command you should choose a Virginian. Now, it may seem arrogant to thus enshrine my own home state in such praise and glory. But it is not vainglory dear readers. No sir, it is simply a known fact that Virginians are born with a certain blood, a spirit, what in your day you call “DNA”, for leadership.Virginians are born and raised to command, and I must say it is a heavy burden to bare to always be so right and noble all the time…Didn’t you once say the same thing Southern Blogger?
Indeed General Lee, when I was a mere sophomore in Civil War class at the University of Mississippi, the professor was intrigued that I never took notes. I had to inform him that as a Virginian, the Civil War is not mere history but current events. In any case, after making a paean to my home state’s leadership abilities, and tactical greatness during the late war, the Alabamian professor referred to me as a “typical…arrogant…young Virginian”. I do believe I got a 103 in that class. Later on, my speech about Virginia was quoted by General Armistead in the movie Gettysburg.
Indeed, Southern Blogger…you were correct…but a bit arrogant…a difficult burden being so right so young. In any case, once you have maintained the proper chain of command and good Virginia leadership, you must seek good terrain from which to fight.
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STEP TWO: CHOOSING THE BATTLEGROUND
Now it is very important to choose a proper site to engage any enemy combatant. You will need to command the high ground, have rivers and streams for your enemy to have to cross, have large open spaces by which to make grand charges to win the day, without the interferences of traffic, parking lots, shopping centers, and other things that always get in the way of a good Civil War battle, especially in my native northern Virginia.
That is why I always tried to fight my battles on National Park Service land. National Parks have plenty of open space that makes them perfect for battlefields. Some of them are even labeled “battlefields” which makes them easy for both opponents to find. I also chose them because the many stone monuments provide excellent cover for the men, and the rangers are often very knowledgeable should any of your men become lost. Even the orientation films provide an excellent introduction for new recruits. Yes, I highly recommend them!
Now, once you’ve established your leadership and have seized the ground you must then endeavor to gain the psychological advantage.
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STEP THREE: INTIMIDATE THE ENEMY
Although we always strived to be an honorable foe in the Army of Northern Virginia, we certainly made use of the tactics of fear. Ours was a small, lesser equipped army, and as such often had to resort to dare I say, “chicanery” in order to carry the day. Most famously my men used what is now known as the “Rebel Yell”. Dear readers, many of the people of your era have tried but have failed to capture the essence of that call. It was not really a yell so much as a fox call, or “whoop”. But a simple whoop could be done a million ways. In order to make our battle cry effective we had to sound as one voice.
The real secret to our success, besides Divine Providence, was our excellent use of choreography. Indeed, Jefferson Davis used his intricate spy rings and European agents early in the war to secure us an excellent song and dance instructor. I am referring to one of the true unsung heroes of our Southern cause, the French legend of 19th century musical theatre Pierre Gustav Tutant Beau-Ree-Peep. Monsieur Beau-Ree-Peep actually coined the phrase “Rebel Yell” as it was the name of a successful off-Broad Street musical production of his. Although my men did not naturally take to the theatre the way the French Army had, with Monsieur’s good help and excellent training we turned our men into a magnificent choreographed force of military intimidation.
Remember, with good leadership, command of the field, and intimidation, you are well on your way to victory. As for the final piece to a successful engagement, you need…audacity.
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STEP FOUR: AUDACITY, AUDACITY, AUDACITY
Dear gentle readers, you are now ready to hear the real secret to the success of the Army of Northern Virginia. The key to our great victories in Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, as well as the Seven Days campaign, was a secret cadre of handpicked men known only to a few. I am of course, speaking of the F.A.R.B.s.
It gives me great pains when I examine your modern day celebration of our great war that these brave men are so easily mocked and belittled. There are indeed many in your time that choose to reenact the epic struggle of the War Between the States by dressing up as the combatants, fighting with period replica weapons, using nineteenth century tactics, and living as people did long ago. It is indeed a great educational tool for your time.
Sadly many of the men who portray those brave FARBS are mocked by elite bands of “living historians” who refer to these men as “phonies”, “fakes”, “anachronistic”, and “uneducated”. They even say “FARB” means “FAR BE it for me to criticize your uniform, outfit, gun etc.” My friends, I cannot sit back any longer and allow this injustice to continue. The truth is that FARBS were the key to our great victories and I shall honor these secret warriors whose recognition was long overdue.
“FARB” actually stood for “Feint Assault Reenactor Battalions”. We deliberately recruited overweight men, old men, stupid men, nutcases, nerds, and bad armchair historians, and outfitted them with the worst weapons and uniforms. We trained them in two left feet marching tactics, war woops, three syllable pronunciations of “war”, and other nonsense. The key was to use these men in a feint frontal assault. The Yankees would therefore be lulled into a false sense of security, while our REAL soldiers then flanked them. My friends, THAT’S how I won Chancellorsville. I thank the dear Lord for those brave Farbs.
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Thank you Southern Blogger for your kind support and the chance to write to your 21st century readers, but I must now return to my own time. I bid you good day sir!
– Gen. R.E. Lee, ANV, Commanding
Thank you very much General. I do indeed have a tear in my eye from that Farby story. Indeed this whole blog post is quite Farby. Well, I’ve enjoyed bringing y’all two weeks of history, but for the next few weeks we get more topical as I guide y’all and any upcoming college students in my GUIDE TO SEC LIFE : BACK TO SCHOOL EDITION.
Thanks again for blogging with me,
– Southern Blogger
From time to time on The South Will Blog Again we will be featuring guest bloggers who are experts on certain topics. This week I’m honored to welcome Andrew Jackson the 7th president of the United States. “Old Hickory” will be discussing “How to Defend your Honor”, something every Southerner should know how and be prepared at a moment’s notice to do. President Jackson is no stranger to “honor defending” as he has survived over 17 duels, 27 feuds, 74 brawls, and 478 “cuss fights” (and has even survived to live over 250 years). So without further ado….
– Southern Blogger
Now…notice I didn’t say “S.O.B.”…I said “S.B.” for “Southern Blogger”. If I had said “S.O.B.” well…we would’ve had us a problem…a problem with honor violatin’. Now even though it would have made for a great demonstration, I happen to like Southern Blogger and there’s no need to needlessly get into a feud (even though I would win). I rather liked that Choosin’ Barbecue piece and would like to see him continue writing.
Now I’m rather new to this whole bloggin’ sphere so you’re gonna have to forgive me…I’ve only gotten into the whole social media thing about three years ago (Thanks to Henry Clay) so this is new for me. I love the chance to talk about my favorite thing in the world…puttin’ down fee simple, knock-kneed, scalawaggin’, mugwumpin’, poltroons. In other words, defending my honor. Even though I’m an expert in this field, with a little practice, and my advice, you too can cane any dune bug, and win you a duel any time.
(Disclaimer: Since dueling is officially illegal in 49 states, Southern Blogger does not recommend you take all of President Jackson’s subsequent advice literally.)
So, if you follow my steps, you too will know how to defend you honor.
STEP ONE: ISSUING THE FIRST CHALLENGE
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Poltroons like to run their mouths. They do so because they think they can get away with it. Now I’m an avid follower of politics, and I have to say that in your time “poltroonery” may be at an all-time high. Now you might say “well, Andy we don’t have honor defenders in our day like yourself”. Hogwash!!!!
One of my favorite challenges of all-time occurred in your generation. During the 2004 presidential election, a TV poltroon, Chris Matthews, was flapping his jaws and being rather belligerent about “answering questions”. Well now, nothing would make me madder than a cornered possum on whiskey than a rascal asking me to answer the question but then not letting me answer it.
Well the target in question, a U.S. Senator from Georgia, Zell Miller (a true Jacksonian Democrat if I saw one) wasn’t about to let Chris’ gums keep on flapping without a proper response. He told this poltroonish pundit that he “wish we lived in the days when you could challenge a person to a duel”. Now due to legal interference, he couldn’t SAY he wanted to duel, just imply it. But the message was sent, and the loud pundit responded with a nervous chuckle. That my friends, is a back down. And let me add that Sen. Miller pronounced “duel” properly, as in rhymes with “jewel”. Anyone who pronounces the word like that definitely has been in one.
But what if a poltroon won’t shut his mouth…what then?
STEP TWO: DETERMINE THE PROPER RETALIATION
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Now friends, not every foe is worthy of a duel. Sometimes certain opponents are so fiendish they deserve a good whoopin’. Take the case in point of one Charles Sumner.
Now Sumner, he was a smart man, a little too smart for his own good. He was a Harvard man, a true Brahmin, and quite the wordsmith when he laid into his opponents. Except this one time he chose the wrong opponent. Long story short, in 1856, Sen. Sumner was attacking the State of South Carolina and its Senator, his former friend, Andrew Butler. He referred to South Carolina as a “harlot” and attacked Butler when the man wasn’t present.
Those were fighting words.
Calling the state of South Carolina a whore in any age is a bad idea. And laying into someone, when they can’t defend themselves is poltroonery of the highest order.
Well, in the House of Representatives Butler had a cousin (South Carolinians always have cousins readily available) named Preston Brooks. He carefully analyzed the situation (in the 32 seconds he went from red hot to white hot anger) and decided Sumner wasn’t worthy of the “field of honor”. He took his walking stick, walked over to the Senate chamber, and broke his cane on Senator Sumner’s forehead…repeatedly.
Problem solved. But what if the opponent is of a higher caliber? (get it?)
STEP THREE: ISSUING THE FORMAL CHALLENGE
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Just because your blood is boiling and your honor is at stake doesn’t mean you can forget your manners. In fact, when issuing a formal challenge it is of the upmost importance to remember your raisin’. After all, honor is at stake.
Personally, I like to keep my challenge letters pretty simple and direct…firm BUT polite. Always address the challenged party by their proper name and title, NOT what you really think of them (there’ll be time for that). Remember anyone being issued a formal challenge is at least worthy enough of the field of honor, so you should address them properly.
At the same time, you ain’t writing a love letter so keep it simple and to the point. If you haven’t issued a formal challenge before I can help you. I have written hundreds of them and have one here for you to look at. I can’t remember who it was to, there’s been so many.
Good luck with all that fuss…I’ve always found the shooting much easier than the writing part anyhow….which brings us to…
STEP FOUR: THE FIELD OF HONOR
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If you’ve reached this point, congratulations, you have truly found a worthy foe (usually). Since dueling etiquette is as intricate as wedding etiquette it’s important to follow good advice. First, you need to properly follow the “Code Duello”. I keep a copy of Emily Post’s “Guide to Dueling”, third edition, with me.
Following the proper Code means you must have a second. Your second is like your best man at a duel. He should be a friend, but a friend that knows what he’s doing. Seconds arrange the details like the time, place, form of combat, and other sundry rules.
Once you’ve reached the field of honor the rest is up to the participants. An apology might be issued by the offending party. In that case you should accept. Anyone who shows up to the field of honor in the first place may be a poltroon, but not a cowardly one. You may also decide to waste your shots or some other arrangement whereby honor is kept, but you both walk away (I found those very disappointing).
In the end, you may find that the best course of action is to duel it out. Good luck! Stand your ground and keep a steady eye!
Like this picture here. Now one look at this “bear” and I’d have personally gone the cane route. But Colonel Reb (a close friend of mine) had too much honor for that. Despite the grave insult this Bear did him (a couple of Poltroons replaced the Colonel as the Ole Miss mascot with this rascal) , the Colonel gave him the ultimate honor of meeting in the field. Either that or he knew that was the only way to get rid of the mugwump.
Best wishes dear readers, and thanks again S.B. for the opportunity.
– Andrew Jackson
Thanks President Jackson! That was great, if not somewhat illegal, advice. I hope y’all now understand the importance of honor and how to maintain it. Next week we have another guest blogger from history, as General Robert E. Lee will teach us HOW TO WIN A CIVIL WAR BATTLE.
Until next time y’all,
In the South, nothing starts an argument like which restaurant, state, or region has the best barbecue. This post is NOT about that. Lord people, this blog might be controversial enough without starting a war like that. No, Southern Blogger’s first guide to Dixie will be HOW to pick out a good barbecue joint.
Now of course, places that are world famous such as the Rendezvous in Memphis or Lexington BBQ in North Carolina advertise themselves. They are world famous because they have such great food. But what about if you are driving through the South, perhaps in an unfamiliar location, and you get a hankering for some good Q? What are some signs to look for that the random place you pulled into is probably gonna have some fine food? Well, here’s my guide to choosing a good place to get your pig on…
STEP ONE : THE BUILDING
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First of all, this building is hideous (I can say that because I drew it). It looks like a shack, has ugly colors, and a kitschy sign. These are definitely markers of a good place for BBQ. Madison Ave. was NOT consulted when that sign was made. I like how good restaurants will emphasize that this is “Ed’s” or “Billie’s” or “Jim’s” such and such BBQ. BBQ has it’s roots in the Protestant Second Great Awakening (not really). So like another of the South’s religions, when there is a fight over doctrine (in this case cooking style or sauce), the congregations split.
Another thing to look at is the parking lot. We are here pretty early so it’s not too packed (actually I hate drawing cars). But you want to look for the proper pickup truck to car ratio (at least 2-1). I also feel good when I see big rigs and sheriff’s cars…esp. sheriff’s cars. Needless to say Suburu Outback’s, VW wagons, and fuel efficient cars do not bode well for a BBQ joint.
Let’s step inside and see who eats here…
STEP TWO: THE CUSTOMERS
The South is a bit of a cultural crossroads…of different types of Southerners. While there are different types of Southerners you will find them together in two places…football games, and barbecue restaurants. When you go inside a barbecue place you need to make sure you see a good cross section of Dixie. If you do not, there is a problem. You should see black folks, white folks, good ole boys, frat stars, church folks, lawyers, truckers, bikers, families, and law enforcement.
Of course occasionally you’ll find Yankees too. There are two types that wonder in off the interstate…the ones that love our culture that we (should at least) love back and try to blend in (bless their hearts)…and then there’s the folks on the right. In some states Barbecue means hamburgers and hot dogs (ha ha). I remember one time as a kid, at this place down the road from me called Nanny’s, a van with a family from New Jersey pulled in. They confusedly looked at the menu for a few minutes and then the dad yelled “What…no ham-boi-guz or hot dahgs!?!?!” and they left. Everyone in the place started laughing at them…wait that’s another thing Southerners are united about.
Check out the wall….there’s some more things to look for….
STEP THREE: THE DECOR
Good Barbecue places have cool stuff on the wall. It can’t be forced or too thought out, otherwise you’d be at an Applebees or Red Hot and…well you know who I’m talking about. While not comprehensive, there a few things here that signal a good restaurant…
1. Trophies – this place has won the East Carolina Pig Off of East Georgia (???). Trust me this is good news. I’ve always wondered if pigs are cannibals since they are often depicted cooking one another or at least advertising how tasty they are.
2. BBQ Swag – The merch section is a good sign. Nothing too fancy. Good places stick with t-shirts, trucker caps (esp. if they’ve been sitting around for 20 years), peanuts, bottles of sauce, gum, cigs, and maybe aprons.
3. Celebs – The “celebrities” here should be minor….B-level country stars, local drivers who made it big in NASCAR (but not TOO big for their roots), actors that appeared in Andy Griffith or Dukes of Hazzard, minor league baseball players, a lineman from the nearest SEC school who played three snaps in the NFL, and state level (nothing higher) politicians. In short these people WANTED to eat here, not get an endorsement.
Let’s take a look at that menu some folks were looking at….
STEP FOUR: THE MENU
The menu at a barbecue place should be pretty simple. It should contain one to three types of barbecue and they should SUGGEST which one the locals prefer (That will be their bread and butter). They should call side dishes fixin’s and make not so subtle politcal statements. Let’s see…healthy food should NOT be easy to find…and the sweet tea should give you what Wilford Brimley calls “Die-Ah-Beet-Us”.
That’s mainly it….ugly building with lots of trucks parked outside, cross section of Southern customers, local color in its decor, simple but tasty menu…oh and one more thing….THEY TAKE CARE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT!!!! Any good place knows to do this for a variety of reasons. But if the cops are eating there in large numbers….and the cops themselves are rather large…then you are definitely good to go.
Thanks for reading y’all – Southern Blogger
NEXT WEEK – We step back in time as I show you HOW TO DEFEND YOUR HONOR