Monday, June 04, 2007


( . . . there'll be no heebie-jeebies hangin' round . . .)

Weather permitting, by tonight I'll have crossed yet another state of the list of those I've never visited. Yes, today and tomorrow, I'll be on a work-related trip to Birmingham, Alabama!

(As if Monday afternoon trips to Birmingham require the "work-related" tag.)

The long-time readers among you may recall that Mrs. Mike & I journeyed into the heart of Dixie last fall, checking out parts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. If you missed it, the sojourn is memorialized here, and here. And even here.

But we didn't make it to The Deep South. Even in Georgia, we were near Atlanta. I've never been to northern Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana . . . or Alabama. Home state of George Wallace. Bull Connor. But also Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, and a few others not likely to have aligned with Wallace.

Anyhow, to say I'm a bit curious about Alabama is an understatement. I know there's more to the state than a history of institutionalized racism, and apologies to any Alabamians here for my Northeastern snobbery & snottiness. No insult intended. But, as I've alluded to at times in the past, to this New York Jew, the Deep South is as foreign and exotic as Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, or Southeast Asia. Hell, I have folks from those places right in my neighborhood. But Alabama? Not so sure.

So, I'm off. I traveled for work to Texas a few years ago and I loved it, and I truly hope I feel the same way this time. We'll see. I'll report back on Wednesday.

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Anonymous Applesaucer said...

Hey, have a good one. And no agitating!

8:42 AM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

Dude, trust me on this. There's a big difference between Texas and Alabama.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous wfta said...

Mammy, it's Sammy come home to Alabamy. Bring on them eggs and hammy.

Welcome to the Heart of Dixie. Though born in South Carolina where my dad was stationed in the Air Force, I am a fifth generation Alabamian on his side. The first one came from the Carolinas after acquiring a stepfather. Upon coming home one evening (drunk if there is anything to genetics) and being snarled at by said stepfather’s dog, he threw said dog down the well and lit out for the old southwest (as Alabama and Mississippi were designated in the early 19th century.) He settled in Dale County in the southeast part of the state, probably about 1825. My mother still lives in the same precinct.

One of my older brothers lives just south of B’ham in a very comfortable hamlet called Indian Springs.

Almost all of the state is in a severe drought, so if it looks a little smoky it is probably from forest fires.

Other Alabama notables:
Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Harper Lee, Tallulah Bankhead, Hugo Black, Hank Williams, Wilson Picket, Jesse Owens, Willie Mays, Joe Louis, Carl Lewis, Bo Jackson, Ken Stabler, W. C. Handy, and all the NASCAR drivers.

Oh, and until I was 46 years old and moved to Houston, I considered Alabama to be the cultural heart of the Peckerwood Nation. The Lone Star State has corrected that flawed thinking.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

Welcome to Birmingham! I've lived here for twenty-plus years, so I guess that makes it home. It's a beautiful city in many ways, and much more progressive than you might think. The state as a whole? It depends on the subject at hand. I've been called an "outside agitator" and a good citizen.

Oh, and having lived in Houston a couple of years myself, I agree with wfta's assessment. I'll take Alabama any day.

11:15 AM  
Blogger George said...

Having nothing to say about Alabama, I will tell the best Tallulah Bankhead story. Tallulah was famous for going about sans underwear (years befoe Britney was a, er, twinkle in the paparazzi's eye) and this led to problems on the set of Htickcock's Lifeboat, as the set was a huge tank of water with a boat in it. Turns out more and more people (mostly men, of course) abandoned their soundstages to see Tallulah soaked to the, well, bone isn't the right word but you know what I mean. Finally the producer called Hitch aside and said he had to do something. Ever-ready with a quip, Hitch replied, "I would, but I don't know whether to call wardrobe, make-up, or a hair stylist."

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was through Alabama a few years ago. If you get off the beaten path don't run out of gas and plan your stops ahead of time. There are places out there where it's a hundred miles between gas stations.

2:57 PM  
Blogger DED said...

I went to Birmingham a couple times to visit a friend of mine who was going to school at UAB. Said friend was in the midst of adopting a southern accent and eventually dropped out of school, but stayed there. We saw Pink Floyd play on the Division Bell tour one time. Another time, my friend got drunk and passed out (an all too common occurrence) leaving me to hang out with this girl he introduced me to earlier. I hooked up with her. It was late and both of us were looking for someone to do. They were strange times.

Unfortunately, I had a falling out with that friend and I haven't talked to him in about a decade. If you run into any short blonde guys named Ted who spew lines like "she's all business" or "somba disca", give him a wide berth.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Went to Birmingham for a job interview last June. As part of that process I also did a lot of research on the possibility of living there, and while there did some exploring/was shown around--both revealed a surprisingly nice city. Now, I did not actually venture downtown, but the areas I did see reminded me geographically/visually of Westchester County. Not to shabby.

It was HOT, but I'd've leapt at that job had it been offered and the Furious family would happily call B'ham home.

BTW, everybody is ridiculously friendly.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Edwardo said...

My granny came from 'bammy, but her mammy packed her jammy and sent her far from Alabammy as soon as she were collage age.

Se wound up being a perfessional actress (submitted her photo to the Perduction of Gawn Wid da Wind-along with thousands of udder acters- but would'n ya no day dun gawn and gayve da role to sum Inglisch chic named Viv Lee. Fiddle de de. What was they thinkin'.

Anyhoo, it's all true. I still have relatives in Monty. Go Bulldogs! I went to scule in GA otherwise Ida sed Go Tide.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

I spent a month in small-town Alabama one weekend. Good luck with that.

My fondest memory of Birmingham is getting rear ended by a redneck at a red light, and the asshole wouldn't even get out of the car to check out the damage.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous wfta said...

Otto Man,
He may well have been a asshole, but no way would a redneck have stayed in the car.

Show me some multicultural love, hommes.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Dwilkers said...

I really like Alabama. A heavily wooded state with very nice people - go see the battleship in Mobile if you can, it is jaw dropping.

Georgia is an incredibly nice state too, or the coast is anyway. I don't care much for Mississippi, Arkansas or Louisiana (although I have very deep roots in Louisiana). I really enjoyed the Carolinas and Virginia and Tennessee as well.

I've done most of the west and south a good bit. I really need to do the midwest and northeast.

1:27 PM  

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