The Great American Reach Around - The Deep South & Scandinavia
Before we get into today's Great American Reach Around I have to mention that my good buddy Drew Curtis from FARK has released a book. Drew is a funny and smart guy and I think you should check out his book if you like things like computers and electrons and the dumb news media.
"Deep" is an ominous adjective. I have a theory that any location that is preceded by the word "deep" describes a place that is going to be alien and inhabited by terrifying creatures. Deep space is the stuff of science fiction horror. The deep sea is a frigid world where glowing monsters with needlelike teeth prowl hydrothermal vents searching for sulfur-sucking crustaceans.
That brings me to today's subject: the Deep South. If my theory holds true, it's like the South, but it's scarier, stranger, and filled with creatures we might recognize from our nightmares. No, not the one where your mom gives you a bath in front of your high school geography class, the other ones. The nightmares filled with goblins.
Today we will discover whether or not my theory is correct when it comes to the Deep South of the United States.
In this, the eighth week of the Great American Reach Around, we will be taking a look at five American cities and states. We've got Charlotte, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama and the one everyone has been waiting for: Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Counterbalancing my coverage of the Deep South will be three of our friends to the faraway north. Reppin' Steinkjer in Norway we have Enok "kjetting" Moe and straight trippin' out of Finland are Tuomas "Rosoboronexpert" Jalonen and "OK Days" for Porvoo and Rovaniemi respectively. None of our Swedish meatballs came through for this installment, so we will have to wait and hope that some day we can learn if all of their women really are gorgeous aryan princesses with braided hair.
The Deep South is the heart of the Southern United States. Most of the states that seceded from the Union during the American Civil War are located there. For many in America, particularly in the North East and on the West Coast, the region's name is almost synonymous with backwards thinking and racism. The region is also heavily Republican. Oddly enough, the perception of the South as racist and their rampant Republicanism are related.
Abraham Lincoln was viewed as responsible for the ruination of the South during the American Civil War. He was a Republican and, as a result, many Southerners hated the Republicans for nearly a hundred years. They viewed Republicans in much the same way liberals and Democrats are painted today: Northern academics and elitists.
In the 1960s Northern and Western Democrats supported the Civil Rights movement, which was much more personal to many in the South and was viewed as a movement bordering on open terrorism. Southern Democrats, or Dixiecrats, abandoned the Democratic Party because of the hard line Democratic President Lyndon Johnson took in support of Civil Rights. These racist pro-segregationist Democrats walked across the aisle and joined the ranks of the Republicans.
The move cost the Democrats their power base in the South for the next 40 years, but the price the Republicans paid was in many ways worse. By opening their arms to the worst elements cast off (painfully) by the Democratic Party they infected their own party with a lasting taint of racism that still surfaces to this day. Like that time good old Trent Lott praised then-ambulatory mummy Strom Thurmond's segregationist bid for the presidency and how everything would have worked out alright if only he'd kept the blacks where they belong. At the other drinking fountain.
That might be one reason why so many see racism, the Deep South, and Republicans as interconnected. Is it fair? In most cases, probably not, but that isn't how the world works.
Georgia is most commonly known as "The Peach State," for its succulent Georgia peaches, but it is also known as "The Empire State of the South." That's right; Georgia is trying to ride on New York's coattails.
Georgia is probably best known through its largest city, Atlanta, a muggy hellscape of urban blight punctuated by CNN anchors buying iced coffees and Atlanta Falcons players being arrested for spouse abuse. Atlanta, which I link to think of as "The Buffalo of the South" is not really representative of the slow and sassy Georgia outside the metro area.
That is why I have selected Savannah to represent the state. It may not be as flashy or as media-savvy as Atlanta, but Savannah is named after an adult film star and it oozes character.
This is the South of Southern Gothic literature. Where Spanish moss hangs from trees alongside ungentlemanly negroes. Where women sit on colonnaded porches in 100 degree heat wearing full gowns and corsets and sipping lemonade, just because they can.
With all its voodoo, crumbling plantations, and creepy cemeteries, many think of New Orleans as the sinister South, but it's Savannah. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if I was informed that half the people I know from Savannah are actually ghosts.
Savannah is a tourist attraction for its creepy old world feel. Proud Savannahians cultivate the molasses slowness of life and chivalrous demeanor of a ship's captain stuck in a Sargasso. It's a city that takes its time.
Lastly, I have to add that Savannah of 2007 is not the Savannah I visited in 1996 or 1998. Crime rates have spiked since 2004 and I am informed by various Savannahian blogs that this is due to "rampant blacks." If that is true, and I am almost 100% certain it is not true, then I hope they have their ropes well-oiled, because nothing kills a cities tourism industry like spiraling murder rates.