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Friday, April 20, 2007

Celebrating Diversity

With all of the controversy lately surrounding insensitive media personalities, I thought it was a good time for me to explore new experiences.

No, I did not go see Cats. I did not take mind-altering drugs.

Nor did I have a child with Britney.

But for a long weekend, I did take a working vacation down south—to the deep, deep south—to spend time seeing the local sights, tasting the local tastes, and smelling the local smells.

Regular readers here know that my batteries aren’t normally charged by the charms of the region, be they musical or cultural. That was no obstacle—I was a man on a mission to celebrate diversity.

For most of five days I listened exclusively to country music. This was probably more of the genre than I’ve subjected myself to, combined, in twenty-plus years.

And here’s what I discovered: Country music is damn repetitive. The stereotypes are true, because here are the things I heard the most warbling about: (1) bad husbands/wives/girlfriends; (2) beer, with the occasional nod to whiskey or moonshine; (3) pickup trucks.

I’m not kidding.

My voyage of discovery did not end with aural stimulation. No, on Sunday afternoon I also went to a delightful local culinary establishment (aka dive, aka hole in the wall, aka sticky-floored white trash hovel) to watch, live in all its glory, a NASACR event.

This place had all the stereotypes:

A waitress at least seven months pregnant, devoid of wedding/engagement rings, missing a few prominent teeth.

Beer, onion rings, and fried anything-you-can-imagine.

Fellow diners—drinkers, really—shouting out support/hatred for their most/least favorite drivers (which, despite their alcoholic consumption, they seemed able to identify very easily by their car numbers, sponsor logos, or crew members).


I reflected on the experience a bit later under the southern sun, which was the only thing that saved me from poking my own eyes and ears out with broken glass from the bottles of beer that I gulped to dull the pain.

And, indeed, I did learn some things.

On one hand, I can understand why the South lost the Civil War. The traits that country music glorifies don’t exactly say “ambition” or “success.” And the only physical activity car racing encourages is the 12-ounce curl.

On the other hand, NASCAR doesn’t get the credit it deserves. On the third lap, I got to see a great spin-out, with at least six cars smacking into each other at nearly 200 miles per hour. Who knew crashes were so much fun to watch?

For the twisted among us that enjoy ski jumping for the monumental face-plants and watch ice skating hoping to see spectacular falls, car racing has much more to offer than I ever suspected.

So I not only survived my journey but also gained a little something. It’s rarely a bad thing to become better rounded … and this experience left me a better-rounded man from the experience.

Mostly from the fried food and beer.

21 Comments:

At April 20, 2007 3:08 PM, Blogger Layla (aka Barbara) replied to my musings ...

You painted the picture well...I could smell the grease (and the guys drinking beer....ick). Glad you added a bit more culture to your life.

Maybe next time you can visit my Acadian relatives in the bayous and learn experience Cajun life.

 
At April 20, 2007 4:20 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

I wonder what a Southerner thinks when he goes up North...hmmmm....

 
At April 21, 2007 1:01 AM, Blogger Paige replied to my musings ...

I'm being overrun with Rednecks this weekend with the race at PIR just down the road, and next week I'm at a conference in Houston.

God save me.

 
At April 21, 2007 7:40 AM, Blogger On My Watch replied to my musings ...

wow...that could be any given city between Texas and Georgia. But it could've been worse, you were lucky they were watching NASCAR instead of "rasslin" :)

 
At April 21, 2007 9:43 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

"Whi David, I don't know wha you're talkin 'bout. We got both kinds a music in the south, country & western."

 
At April 21, 2007 11:31 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Layla: I'd love to spend some time there--I'll get there eventually.

Phoenix: A good question. They probably just think the lack of the accent is funny.

Paige: PIR? I guesws my education didn't go far enough.

OMW: I think if I would have stayed at the restaurant longer, rasslin' would have developed.

GW: "You shure got a perty name there, bud ... and mosta yer teeth!"

-- david

 
At April 22, 2007 7:49 PM, Blogger Janet replied to my musings ...

Fried anything. Whiskey. Pick up trucks.

You might be a redneck if you picked up any of their bad habits, but you didn't. Congratulations to you.:)

 
At April 22, 2007 9:29 PM, Blogger Gyrobo replied to my musings ...

I've always opposed NASCAR; cars shouldn't be kept in captivity.

 
At April 22, 2007 9:52 PM, Blogger David Stefanini replied to my musings ...

I love the blog that you have. I was wondering if you would link my blog to yours and in return I would do the same for your blog. If you want to, my site name is American Legends and the URL is:

www.americanlegends.info

If you want to do this just go to my blog and in one of the comments just write your blog name and the URL and I will add it to my site.

Thanks,
David

 
At April 23, 2007 4:50 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Janet: Nope, I have the same bad habits I went there with.

Gyrobo: Cars don't kill people, drivers do.

David: Thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your site in a few.

-- david

 
At April 23, 2007 8:19 PM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

My wife is from the south and I lived there for a few years. There are differences for sure.

 
At April 23, 2007 9:35 PM, Blogger Lee Ann replied to my musings ...

Glad you survived!
Oh, I am also glad you didn't have a baby with Britney!
:)

 
At April 24, 2007 9:20 AM, Blogger ozymandiaz replied to my musings ...

As a born and bred proper southern gentleman I find myself quite offended by you limited southern view. The south is much more than the stereo-typical inbred, NASCAR aficionados that you so colorfully bemoan. Granted I do not particularly find the same enjoyment in spending four hours watching cars traverse a circle (or oval) at high speeds but entirely understand the competitive nature as I would suspect you would having driven the interchanges in and about the D.C. area (albeit you are required to make turns in BOTH directions). Also, unlike my dentally challenged kin folk, I find little enjoyment in the twangy canticles saturating our southern airways. I find it more pleasant to drive spikes into my cranium (which I seldom perform, thank you very much). But I digress. Back to the point; the south has much to offer. We have (in no particular order); vast regions of squalor (i.e. any gulf coast state between Florida and Texas), the ever popular sweltering heat, various swarms of insects of varying size (many of which bite), colorful local and regional organizations celebrating heritage (KKK, Sons and Daughters of the Civil War, etc.), cuisines as varied as there are parts of a pig (and made from each of those parts), and did I mention Yankees? Yes, in the region of the South from which I hail there is quite the number of Yankees. Not just any Yankees, no, these are the cream of the crop. The wisest and most noble of Yankees. They are so caring and giving that they suffer the south just to share there great wisdoms and continually tell us how things should be done, as they are “back home” where everyone is happy and content, not to mention treated fairly and equally with respect and compassion.
And let me just add… you live in D.C. and you piss on someone else culture and traditions? Didn’t you guys re-elect a crack head as mayor? And what the fuck culture do you have aside from drive bys and muggings? Yea, you’ve got the Smithsonian but all that stuff was made somewhere else. You’ve got like the highest crime rates and suicide rates in the nation, if not the world and your making fun of others? I’d be pissed if I didn’t do the same…

 
At April 24, 2007 9:34 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

I must be a half-breed then....I was born in the south and I like beer and LOVE onion rings...but I don't like country music and I hate NASCAR.

No wonder I'm always so conflicted.

*sigh*

 
At April 24, 2007 5:22 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Mark: Differences indeed. But as my title says, let's celebrate diversity.

Lee Ann: To paraphrase our former president's words, "I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Spears-Federline...."

Ozy: First, I don't live in D.C. and never have, just near it (if I did, I'd surely join your cranium-spiking club). Second, you've visited here long enough that you should know that these satirical caricatures are not true attempts to "piss on someone else [sic] culture and traditions." Third, from my years living in the south, I'm very aware of the many fine points of southern culture--but since when do satirists make fun of generally accepted "good" things?

PQ: Half-breeds are the best. NO better way to celebrate diversity than to live it internally. (Hmm, that could be a double entendre....)

-- david

 
At April 24, 2007 7:57 PM, Blogger Shannon A. Long replied to my musings ...

fried food and beer is the food of the gods.

 
At April 25, 2007 1:59 PM, Blogger KC replied to my musings ...

We recently went on a campus visit to a prestigious private college in the South. We didn't encounter any of the things you mentioned in your post. Probably because we didn't have much time to do anything OFF campus, and most of the students were imported from every where else in the country than the actual city we were in. But the school's pamphlet says it will teach the incoming students all about life in the Big Easy. I should probably be scared.

 
At April 25, 2007 3:34 PM, Blogger BeckEye replied to my musings ...

I wonder why there's no such thing as fried beer? There must be a way to turn it solid. If Mexico can fry ice cream, the South can certainly fry beer.

 
At April 26, 2007 1:25 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Your post reminded me of the county fairs in my hometown and made me once again praise God for my escape from that god-forsaken hellhole.

The county fairs often featured big name country musicians, fried foods, beer, and maybe a full set of teeth if you included everyone in attendance at the annual demolition derby.

There was even a speedway/racetrack in my hometown... it was kind of like NASCAR's equivalent to Double-A baseball.

*shudders* just reminiscing about it is unnerving.

 
At April 26, 2007 5:31 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Shannon: It's the food of the gods ... and many, many lesser creatures.

KC: Universities don't count, as you discovered. My time at a southern university was far from a southern experience--as least while on campus.

Beckeye: Fried beer?!? Yummm. Especially with cheese. Shall we open a restaurant specializing in this tasty treat?

Perplexio: Ahh, the great American county fair, a much maligned part of many of our childhoods that ruined cotton candy and funnel cakes for us.

-- david

 
At April 29, 2007 12:54 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

Nice to have yankees come and visit. So who are you rooting for now to win the Nextel Cup?

 

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