Amazing Tales from the Heart of Dixie

Who knows where, or when? (Photo courtesy of The New York Times)

much has happened in Alabama over the past few weeks. First, the Auburn Tigers pulled off an amazing feat: they defeated undefeated Georgia and undefeated Alabama to end the regular season as one of the top four teams in the nation.

Then they lost the SEC Championship game, in a rematch with Georgia.

For their efforts, they fell out of the top four, out of the college football playoffs altogether. For their reward, they must play undefeated Central Florida in the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Their coach, Gus Malzahn, just signed a long-term extension, too.

So it might not exactly suck to be an Auburn Tiger these days, but happy days aren’t exactly here again, either.

In the meantime, both Alabama and Georgia ARE in the four-team playoff, and if you don’t know how that happened, there is a major sports channel and website just dying to fill you in.

In other news, Alabama held a Senate race to fill the seat vacated when Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (whose name you just can’t say or write enough) became Attorney General, in a move that hasn’t gone completely to expected form. Or at least the form JBS’s boss had hoped.

You might have read about the results of this race. Alabama just elected a Democrat to the Senate for the first time since the 1990’s. The shock was so great that this morning my computer wouldn’t turn on. The I-Store in Greenville got it working, as if by magic, which is how some of us view the victory by Birmingham attorney Doug Jones over his, and it should be “our,” rival, Judge Roy Moore who, at this moment, still hasn’t conceded and is waiting for God to oversee a recount.

I swear.

I knew the judge was in trouble — and no, I don’t mind writing that honorific over and over — when he and his wife Kayla rode to the polls on their favorite horses yesterday. Roy had on his cowboy outfit, as did Kayla. Roy’s horse is named “Sassy,” and I wish I were making this up. Actually, no I don’t. People ask why I choose to write non-fiction over fiction, and I reply with “Sassy!” Who could make this shit up? Roy clearly likes a bit of sass, and I keep thinking of the Saturday Night Live sketch this past week when either Michael Che or Colin Jost commented that the words “Go get ’em Roy” might apply to his campaign but also might be uttered by the candidate himself as he readies himself to enter the local mall’s Hot Topic.

Oh, right, “former” candidate. Can’t say that one enough either.

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was joking with my mother this morning. She couldn’t vote yesterday because she is in the hospital, and when she found out she had to go in, her first words were,

“But I have to go vote for Doug Jones.”

Thankfully her vote wasn’t needed in the end. In any case, I commented to her this morning that Roy should have donned a toga and rode up in his chariot. The best news for that being that Sassy still could have been the photo op. Chariots are very biblical, but I suppose I shouldn’t kick a man while he’s down.

My mother’s other comment — uttered late last night after CNN, NBC, and the Washington Post had all called the election for Jones — was that,

“See, I’ve always told you that people WILL do the right thing in the end, Buddy.” She has always called me “Buddy,” by the way.

Now it’s true that over 160,000 people did not do the right thing. This election was very close, very “sad,” as my daughter Pari said. Still, in other bright news, Pari informed me that over 17000 people wrote in Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s name on their ballot. I don’t know if anyone wrote Gus Malzahn’s name in, but there I go kicking people again.

In all seriousness, this is a victory for decency.

I know Alabamians don’t care for outsiders telling them what to do. Alabamians never have cared for outside interference, harkening back to the Civil Rights era (hell, the Civil War era). Outsiders have made Alabamians feel inferior, telling us how wrong we are, how we shouldn’t dig in our heels about the states rights and its attendant issues. I am currently reading a fascinating study called “The Indicted South,” by University of Arkansas Professor of Southern Studies, Angie Maxwell. During the dawn of Civil Rights, amidst the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, Maxwell argues that white southerners tried every means at their disposal to prevent public integration, particularly in schools. To do so, they attacked what they believed were the true American culprits — those who made the South feel and look inferior; those trying to upheave the discriminatory southern way of life: these beasts, in the southern mind, were “…the expanding federal government, judicial activists, and the liberal media…” (171).

Sound familiar?

Yes, these entities were indeed trying to force Alabama, Virginia, Arkansas, Georgia, etc to do the right thing by and for all Americans. That is if you believe, as I do, that every American regardless of race, religion, gender, political persuasion, class, creed, ethnicity (does that cover it?), deserves to have equal opportunity, and not be segregated to inferior schools, housing, job, etc.

And not to be sexually harassed, tormented, abused, groped.

Our system is not without flaw, and we must watch over it and be ready to comment, correct, and yes, criticize. There is a tension in this, and, I hope we can find our way to good will as we go forward.

Maybe I haven’t added to anyone’s good will here. Maybe I am still reeling from Kayla Moore’s comment about her and Roy’s good Jew lawyer friend. Or maybe I am thinking still of Moore campaign official Dean Young’s appearance on Chuck Todd’s “Meet the Press Daily” show yesterday on MSNBC. Young denied that the Judge hated homosexuals; he said that Kayla might have misspoken, but that her heart was in the right place. Or something like that.

Then he said that Judge Moore likes all people, apparently even if he thinks that some of these would be better off under slavery or in prison. And then, Young went here:

“Red, brown, yellow
Black and white…you know Chuck, that’s a line in a song we like to sing down here in Alabama.”

Young is right. I remember singing that song in Methodist Sunday School, week after week. The rest of that stanza goes:

“They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.”

The rest of the country, I’m sure, never heard of that song.

In my Alabama church, just as in my Alabama school and in every Alabama restaurant and bathroom and waiting room back in the 1950’s and 60’s, Jesus might have loved everyone, but not in a mixed group.

And speaking of mixed groups, among the counties that Jones won in last night’s Senate race were these two: Lee and Tuscaloosa.

Lee County is home to Auburn University, Tuscaloosa, to the University of Alabama.

So today, I can say with more enthusiasm, and certainly more conviction, than ever before:

War Eagle and Roll Tide.

I write about music, culture, food, and my Alabama past in One Table One World, The Riff, InTune, FanFare, SongStories, Rock n”Heavy, Counter Arts, and Pop Off.