Monday, September 29, 2014

Reflections in the Rearview Mirror

As I crossed the Mississippi River from Kentucky into Cairo, Illinois, I began to feel the blues. The South was behind me and I missed it immediately. I wasn't the guy ridin' the rails or hitchhiking back roads or drivin' an ol' Chevy outa town. I was just movin' on like everyone else and wondered when I would ever return. From tropical Florida to the Appalachians, across Georgia, North Carolina and to the verdant Tennessee countryside through Nashville and Memphis into Kentucky, I had become charmed by the accents, fascinated by the people  and seduced by the tastes of down home cooking. I'm not saying that I could ever live there. After all, this part of America has, well. you know for me, certain cultural shortcomings, which I expressed in my last post. However one thing is for sure. I grew to value from the heart the vibrant atmosphere of the South, which makes it distinct from other parts of America. Perhaps it has maintained more steadfastly a greater resilience against the creeping sameness which  is swallowing the cultural integrity of the rest of the country. Maybe its simplicity and folk culture struck a chord in me. In any case, I listened to its Cuban rhythm on Calle Ocho in Miami, its ballads at the Stephen Foster Cultural Park in Northern Florida, its twangy country songs on Broadway in Nashville and its blues in the clubs on Beale Street in Memphis and discovered that, most definitely, its music made me happy to be alive. (and that's not just whistln' Dixie!) The photos above really need no descriptions. Look at them and tell me what you hear!


  1. A great post of your travels as always! Love your captures! I'm happy to no longer live in the south, as you know, but I do understand what you felt and have written. Such a wonderful journey the two of you are having! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I just spent quite a bit of time writing a comment on this post, only to have Google lose it for me when I tried to post it. Unexpectedly, they demanded that I sign in again, although I thought I was already signed in. Then there was another delay because they wanted me to verify my cell phone number.

    When I finally got back to this page, my comment had disappeared. It didn't get posted and the draft window was empty. I don't think I can reconstruct it, so I'll have to send you my associations to this post by email instead. They are a bit too complex for a blog comment anyway.

    Basically, I was trying to explain how your ambivalence about the South put me in mind of certain Southern writers, who are very articulate when it comes to expressing that same ambivalence.