Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Georgia's New Confederate Flag Plate

As you may or may not have heard, the State of Georgia (US) has adopted a new license plate with the design from the Confederate Battle Flag on it (twice!) And of course, the debate is renewed between the Sons of the Confederacy and the Civil Rights Advocates.  The controversy just doesn't stop, now does it?

The debate between the two centers on the meaning of the flag.  Civil Rights Activists say that the flag is 'reprehensible' and the Sons of the Confederacy merely want to show their pride in their ancestors' part in the war.  Is that so bad?

What a lot of people tend to forget is that the War Between the States (aka The Civil War) was not fought on the single issue of slavery.  Everything is predicated on that one stance and it's just not so.  The war was fought on the North's belief that the South should not secede and the South didn't like the way that the government was running things and forgetting them.  Slavery was merely a small part of that argument.

If you look closely, you can see that the logo which includes 'that flag' also ahve some added embellishment identifying it as associated with the Sons of the Confederate Veterans and the date 1896.  The war was some 35 years earlier.  And, unless you believe in that "sins of the fathers" sort of thing, honoring one's family's endeavors in history should be encouraged.

Perhaps I've lived in the South too long or become somewhat inured to it all.  Here we tend to see 'that flag' everyhwere: on people, places and automobiles.  In addition, I've learned more about the South's involvement in the war, it's place and the true history of the War of Northern Aggression.  (Yeah, Yeah, I know what you're thinking, that the South started it all by trying to seceded, but let's face it, if the North hadn't advanced things, the South would have merely seceded and no war to complicate things.  The South didn't WANT the war, the North felt the need to escalate things.)

But more than all that discussion on who started what, the thing which bothers so many is that the flag seems to say "I hate you cuz of the color of your skin."  At least that's what the NAACP seems to think.  In a country and state of mind where we can have BET (Black Entertainment Television) and a Black Miss America, and even a special award for those "of color" who exemplify the race, we cannot seem to allow someone to honor his ancestors black or white, (who fought in a war) by placing a logo on his license place which includes the Southern Cross.

I can see both sides. And I don't like either one.  I guess I go back to my drawing board and try to figure out how this Southern Stuff works.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Walmart - The Place to Buy Just About Anything.

If you've never been in a Walmart store, you really are missing an experience.  I first encountered the establishment known as Walmart when I moved to the South many years ago.  Back then all we had nearby was a 'regular' Walmart which sold clothes, dishes and electronics; you know, stuff other than food. Then they closed that store and built a 'Super' Walmart about twice the size and located just down the road from where the Regular Walmart was. (Contrary to its name, Super Walmart does not have any special powers - other than making you spend money - go figure.)  Super Walmarts carry most anything you need (unless you need it on a Sunday afternoon, then it's iffy at best.) These days Walmart is building "Neighborhood Markets" which only sell food items.  It's a sort of evolutionary process, I guess.

(Odd Fact: Walmart sold more bananas than any other product last year. Bananas. Seriously.)

Walmart is the largest retailer in the world and the third largest corporation in the world with locations in every free country on the planet. (When they build an inhabitable Lunar space station, I expect Walmart to be the first retail establishment there, as well!) Sam Walton founded his first "Walton's Five and Dime" in the South: Bentonville, Arkansas and the corporate headquarters is still centered in that same city.

You'd think that being such a large company that it would have a better reputation than it does. It's a given that being such a large company would also make it an easy target as well as just being too darn large to police itself properly.  There are bound to be problems at every level in something that large - sort of like Congress only bigger.

Walmart has a reputation for being not only cheap but for having the strangest and craziest of customers - but in a good way.  There are websites dedicated to photos and stories of these unique and outrageous people not just in the South, but world-wide! Stories the likes of which would cause a regular person to drop their jaw.  Let it also be known that none of these stories is about me.

I suppose I should admit, I shop at Walmart - but not exclusively. My wife and I both just loathe the idea of giving any of our money to them and go out of our way to give it to others (and save money at the same time!) My wife and I have found a 'circuit' we run on grocery days that takes us to as many as FIVE stores in our area and Walmart is always last. My lovely Southern Belle is quite adept at knowing where to find products cheaper even than anywhere else. It's a science and one in which she deserves an advanced degree.  

You don't have to buy from Walmart, but you may want to stop in from time to time to see the sights.  Just be sure to tell them some guy in the South told you to do it.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Southern Idioms and Hog Farming

In my many years as a self-styled Southerner (read: 'wanna-be') I have not acquired much of an accent, but I have delved deeply into the entomology of Southern Verbiage so as to possibly sound like a native. Idioms abound in all areas of the world, but none are so full of character as those in the South.  

This week, I endeavor to introduce you to one of my favorites.  It comes from a Georgia Gal I knew some time back, and though I am pretty sure she has no real experience in Hogs, Pigs or the feeding thereof, she was quick to use this phrase at dinner time.  

It usually happened that we were having take out, or a buffet style dinner and she got to the table ahead of me with her plate loaded with Southern Goodness.  Rather than wait, she'd dig in but first she'd offer me this axiom: "I'll wait for you like one little piggie waits for another." 

It's not hard for one to imagine the meaning of this phrase, nor its usage.  If you've never seen pigs at feeding time, imagine the worst.  They are like a swarm and any movement of yours that imitates or suggests that food is forthcoming (or has already been served into the trough) causes them to immediately root about, pushing and shoving eating anything they can get their little snouts into. They like to eat, and they have no manners.  (My, how truly un-southern!) 

Now, I'm a gentleman - in fact I consider myself a Southern Gentleman and lest you think I am making references to her size or eating habits, I entreat you to reconsider.  She was neither piggish in form nor in her eating habits.  She just liked to eat when the food was hot.  She did not wait on me, and that's fine by me.  

At least once or twice I found myself also doing the same, using the same phrase to her and digging in. Southern food requires it, Southern Etiquette may not.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Buskers and the Music of Music City

Buskers. Street performers looking to be discovered. You can find them in most any city in the world, but there is probably no other place in the world where you can find them to such abundance as Nashville. On any given day (yes, even in the cold and damp) you're sure to find some guy (or gal) with his worn and trusty 6-string entertaining the passers-by with country, jazz and good old fashioned folk songs.  On any given Saturday night, under the warm neon summer lights, the city seems filled with them. 

A few months ago, we had cause to go down town for dinner. Afterward, we walked around, looking at the tourists, listening to the myriad music styles from both the bars and the buskers.  It was an eclectic mix, with one country bar sitting quite literally door to door with a jazz club and a busker playing a violin standing on the sidewalk just outside both.  

Friends who know me always ask when they're going to find me out there performing for spare change and, of course, the chance to be discovered. The answer is, of course, never. I don't play many instruments and I'm not about to practice on the streets. (Besides, rolling down the street with a baby grand is not really easy no matter how little traffic this city has.) Most of those Buskers are experienced with the moving transient audience, quipping back to the hecklers and singing songs of thank you for folding donations rather than clinking donations.  

So, the next time  you make a trip into Nashville, pick a nice warm day and be sure to walk downtown in the neon night and enjoy all the performances.  Be sure to bring lots of folding donations when you do.