Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Summary of the South

Dear Blob,
The Ukulady’s Fantasy Southern Love Vacation has concluded, leaving me plumper, well-pampered by my True Love (TR) and finally-decompressed from LA’s unnecessary and ever-present over-adrenalined, urgency, which will probably return after 24 hours in LA. Like the rest of the world, the Deep South is a place of contrasting realities, stereotypes and hypocrisy; world-class Watts Towers/Gaudi Towers-level folk art called Pasaquan (www.pasaquan.org) alongside supersize Wal-Marts and fast-food chains; authentic warmth and hospitality hand-in-hand with racism and homophobia. Most strikingly, I found the South to be a land of many sad people living unsatisfying, unhappy lives and looking to the patriarchal God for meaning, community and a sense of belonging. Amidst the sad people accepting of a common chain-restaurant life, are many truly extraordinary people, artists, thinkers, historians, and activists. The Deep South is bleakly beautiful; old brick factories, red geologically-phenomenal earth formations and millions of trees in bloom, a relieving optical distraction from Krystal Burger, NeedGod.com billboards and churches everywhere. The Bible Belt is a fitting name. Even the seemingly-millions of churches in LA cannot compare to the millions-more churches, friggin’ everywhere in the South.

Aside from religion and a-pretty-much- lack of Latino and Asian people, the cultural differences of California and the Deep South are mostly food-related; people drink soda instead of water, avocados are still uncommon and hummus hasn’t reached the masses yet. Trader Joes just opened in Atlanta, so it won’t be long until Soy Crisps and mango salsa are consumed alongside fried pickles and butter beans. I experienced Waffle House, Cracker Barrel and a Dairy Queen. Warning – the DQ’s small Blizzard is Huge – too much to finish and I’m an ice cream loving, waste-hating Heeb. I had to throw ice cream away for the first time in my life. Also, Reader, heed warning of the breakfast gravy at Cracker Barrel. I only had a tiny taste and its pig-waste, garbage-ee flavor almost made me gag. Cracker Barrel gravy tastes like food of the poor –an attempt to make something out of nothing and using what is available; in this case, it seemed to be rancid lard. The South is truly swollen with very large people. A body considered plump or chubby in CA is seen as normal to slim in the South. Fat is politely called “big boned” and I have no doubt that another week in the South would have added five pounds to my, as once described by a theater critic 10 pounds ago, “zaftig” frame. The temptation of “down-home cooking” and homemade pie everywhere, constantly taunted me: “Ukulady, you must sample All the homemade pie of the South!” The best was a Mason jar of banana pudding with Nilla Wafers and sugar-glazed meringue at a barbecue eatery in Columbus, GA, called Country’s.

My final night in the Deep South TR and I went bowling. We stumbled upon dollar Bud-pitcher night at Peachtree Lanes and I was simultaneously repulsed and fascinated to bowl alongside a clutch, fleet, murder or perhaps the appropriate word is Keg-Party of Southern Frat boys and their Abercrombie & Fitch-clad women. The drunken bowling Keg Party of Frat People were complete jackasses, as TR calls them (I call them Schmucks), loud, abrasive and identical. The women wore low-cut jean-capris, tight breast-accentuating shirts and all of their perfectly-mussed ponytail/buns had snug, low-brimmed caps shading their heavily-mascara-ed eyes. Their men, boys really, chewed tobacco, clutched cups for spitting and wore flip-flops. Kegs of Frat People are everywhere, but the South has an unfortunately high-percentage of them, my Southern-born TR revealed to me. His distaste towards them allows no room for the amusement I found in them, due to his life dealing with their constant jackassery. I felt lucky to have been raised in the uber-progressive unreality of the Bay Area, CA, where Kegs of Frat People are the minority.

My TR and I are from the same planet, thought & value-wise, but his Southern world is a place where bohemians, dorks and artists are the minority, fleeing after graduations and leaving the land to be ruled by the rednecks and jackasses. Where as I come from the land ruled by Nerds.

Five Nibblets of Note:
1. Kiss Mittens – mittens made out of kisses.
2. Lateen Wolf – see preceding vlog.
3. Sex Fort – the fort of sheets in a Getting’ Busy Bed; but you have to sing it, “Sex Fort! A Fort for Sex!”
4. Java for Jehovah – this is a real coffee bar at a mega-church in the South.
5. Turtles are called Cooters in the South – there are menus, apparently, with Cooter Soup, on them.
Love The Ukulady
Ps: Jenna Bush did not show up at any of my Southern shows. Bitch.

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