We don't tailgate on asphalt!

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Going to Church on Saturday

Can’t you just smell it? The crisp air, the falling leaves, and the sweet smell of bourbon! It’s college football season down in the South. You see, Southerners have two religions: One we do on Sundays throughout the year, and the other, where we worship at “cathedrals” that on Saturdays become the third largest cities in our states. This weekend is our upcoming “Holy Week” whereby pilgrims filter in from their dorms, frat house, farms, towns, and neighborhoods in order to commune with their coreligionists (even the “Sabanic” Alabama fans). Ah, the first week of football season!

Now by football season, I’m of course speaking of the SEC or Southeastern Conference. I don’t know what you call what those other teams and conferences are doing, but it ain’t football. Well now friends, (and former friends who are mad I insulted their schools) you can’t hear my accent (or put-on accent) on the internet. There’s a difference between the word “foot, comma, ball” which is played up north, and “Foo-Boll” which is what we play down in the SEC. I’m going to be writing about the latter (surprise, surprise).

Like everything else, we do things a bit different down here. And like food, manners, leading battles, writing novels, and producing beautiful women, we do some things much better. Football is another of them. I didn’t grow up in SEC country, but when I attended Ole Miss in the fall of 1996 I became a convert to this new religion…and what is it that they say about the zeal of a convert? So here is my guide for anyone who wants to know what it’s like to attend a game in the SEC. Sure it will be a bit Ole Miss biased, so there won’t be a lot of talk about winning championships and such, but I think the fellow faithful of other schools will get what I’m talking about, and will have shared similar experiences.

When I first went to Ole Miss I got my student season tickets within the first two days of school (See The South Will Blog Again, Guide to the SEC, Back to School Edition). I stood in line and received  my envelope of tickets, a total Noob to the football culture that awaited me. Sure, I knew there would be some good games ahead of me as I peaked inside and noticed the Auburn, LSU. And Mississippi State games, names of teams I had seen on TV, but really, I had no idea just what a big deal this would turn out to be.

At the time Ole Miss had a bit of a primer as to what to expect. On my initial campus visit (which had an evangelistic fervor to it) I was informed that Ole Miss students dressed up for football games, and told about some of the school traditions, fight songs, and cheers. I was also informed about the Grove. So for my first game I put on an Oxford shirt, khakis, a necktie, and my white (eventually to be sweat stained brown) Ole Miss “bar cap”. This was to later be my game day “uniform” and a part of my Saturday morning ritual. I then walked from my dorm with some friends and first entered the Grove.

Sunday Best and Student Sections

The Grove (always capitalized) is a wooded park-like area of campus, surrounded by some of Ole Miss’ oldest school buildings. It to me is what the South is supposed to look like but doesn’t always live up to. It was intoxicating. I saw the students dressed in their “Sunday best”, the gorgeous coeds wearing their sorority “hearts” the Rebels stickers, heard the band playing “Dixie”, a lot (not that I ever minded), the generations of alumni, the smell of fried chicken and whiskey, and the general aura of camaraderie, rivalry, and ease of manners that comes from shared ritual.

The Grove takes football tailgating and classes it up Kentucky Derby style. I couldn’t imagine wearing jeans and a t-shirt to the Grove or to a football game ever. I know that sounds strange to lots of people, and sounded really strange when I informed people at my graduate school, Virginia Tech, of my way of life. But once you’d been to the Grove you don’t tailgate on asphalt.

There was lots of tradition that both warms my heart and makes me sad today when I think back. Sad because several poltroons of the highest order have taken it upon themselves to ruin the school in the name of the almighty Nike. What I can tell you was that back in the day, I and many others would listen to the band play our fights songs, then we’d do the “Hotty Toddy” cheer, and after playing “From Dixie with Love” which combined Dixie and the Battle Hymn of the Republic would march out to the stadium, somewhat inebriated, full of hope (and a little piss and vinegar) ready for the Rebels to charge and take down those Yankees, even if those “Yankees” were hardly Yankees at all.

Oh, but then I got to the stadium and got my first taste of the militant law and order culture that pervades the leadership of my alma mater.  I had student tickets. The good news was that it gave me 50 yard line seats for $5 a ticket. The bad news was having to enter through the student gates. There one had to run the gauntlet of a cadre of private security known as “Cobra Security”. They were kind of like the villains from G.I. Joe only with redneck rather than quasi-Eastern European accents. The more dressed up you were, the more you looked like a “typical Ole Miss student” the more you got manhandled and strip searched. The cause… looking for smuggled bourbon. If you gave those folks any “guff” you might get a thump on the head or some mace.

My "buddies" Cobra Security

In any case, I got to hand it to the Ole Miss students. Some of the same guys who flunked science or who would fail engineering miserably were experts at concocting and designing elaborate systems to smuggle in their whiskey. This included soft plastic flasks, tube systems, items with false bottoms, and let’s just sat “strategic placement”.  The easiest way to smuggle in bourbon was to bring a date. Ole Miss girls were “bourbon mules”. Now ladies…I don’t mean to say you looked like mules, far from it, but am explaining how women were able to smuggle whiskey “across the Cobra-can border”.  The way they did it was to place a bottle underneath a row of “feminine items” which no good ol’ boy wanted to touch, and they were through. Sadly, I think they wised up and started hiring some rough looking gals to search the women.

Now about those Ole Miss girls….I love them and always will. Girls in the Deep South KNOW football. I always say the ideal Southern girl looks like Reese Witherspoon and throws like Peyton Manning. And these women understand the game! You won’t hear them ask “what does a two point conversion mean?” or “when is halftime?” or “what’s going on honey?” No, what you’ll hear is “You @#$%# suck (insert player name here)!” or “I can throw better than that!” or shut the @#%# up (insert team rival here)!”

The camaraderie was another thing. Even people who didn’t talk to each other or get along with each other in class, for no other reason that they were strangers or of a different major etc. became your “family” during the game, especially a rivalry game. I’ve seen our students get jumped and guys from rows back jump in for the rescue, or other pieces of etiquette like sharing your bourbon, or helping to shield other fans from the security when they were filling their cups of Pepsi with it. There was also a shared misery of losing, shared joy of winning (one of the few acceptable times down there to hug another guy) and the mutual cynicism of a school that is the Charlie Brown of the conference. So yeah, I saw as many losses and wins, and you know what? So what! We partied harder, and classier, and with more style than any other team in the country. Or at least we once did.

Hell hath no fury like a Southern Woman whose team cannot score!

I Used to Hate Some of my Best Friends

This brings me to the other fans. Look, this piece is about you too. (I hate you all but I also respect you) See, you hate them, and I mean HATE them during game day, but after it’s all said and done they were just like us. It’s sort of like Catholics, and Presbyterians and Baptists are branches of the same faith. We have our differences but we aren’t “heathens” like the &@#$# Big Ten! So since my graduation I’ve become great friends with alums of other schools, even the most hated ones. They’re the only people who get what I’m talking about.

Now there are three types of rival fans. The first, silliest and easiest to make fun of are the “sidewalk alums”. The name comes from them coming no closer to campus than the sidewalk, i.e. never were students. These are the fans you stereotype in order to make fun of the students at the other school. Almost every SEC school is embarrassed by their “Sidewalk fans”. Of all of them, and I’ve seen them all, the Alabama ones are the craziest and scariest. Of course they are also the most numerous and winningest which brings out the crazy. But here’s the deal…many sidewalk alums donate a lot of time and money to the schools they love and root for. And that money gets back to cleaning up the campus and paying for the facilities the students use. And when push comes to shove, a “sidewalker” can be a great friend indeed in a fight.

The second type is the other school’s students. They are your peers and the most likely to fight you. The toughest in my experience were the LSU students. They didn’t back down at all. Hated ‘em, respected the @$%# out of ’em! In my day, the Ole Miss administration placed our student section, and the visiting student sections next to one another (they’ve since been moved to opposite endzones). This meant there was only a ten foot “no man’s land” between the two sections. This meant after every big play, or controversial call a hail of bottles, cups, or any throwable item would fly through the air. Back to LSU…they were better than us, and usually beat us…which made it that much sweeter when we pulled a victory out once in awhile. I remember after one such occasion when this one brave soul decked in the purple and gold version of the “Grove attire” I told you about, flanked by two friends propping his whiskey soaked body up, stood up in front of our entire section and flicked us all off. He had tears, tears of utter rage in his eyes. He was struck with dozens of projectiles from our people, but I had to admire such courage and “patriotism” in such a suicide mission.

These people really do exist!

Then there are the alums. Some alums are passionate, but most including our own (especially our own) can be a bit boring. Maybe that’s because they’ve partied so hard in their younger days it’s all out of their system. But in any case I always used to chuckle at a certain kind. We’d have these middle aged guys, with the official coaches caps, official coaches polo shirts, pulled up khaki shorts, high socks, gleaming white sneakers, and radio headsets doing a walk of shame after every Ole Miss defeat. We used to call them “hitched up” people. These guys would go through three stages of grief. As you first walked by them, they would be in shock about a defeat that they shouldn’t have been in shock by. Then after a few minutes they would go through a brief anger period whereby they would denounce the school and vow never to return. And yet, inevitably by the end of the walk back to the RV Park, these same fans would comfort themselves with the mistaken belief that Ole Miss would somehow still win a national championship.

Hitched-up hope springs eternal.

Ah…fun times and funny times. I wouldn’t trade those football memories for the world. To this day any time I meet a fellow alumnus anywhere in the country I will say a “Hotty Toddy” cheer, and share our similar stories. And when the weather cools, and the leaves begin to fall, anywhere I am, I begin to smell the bourbon and the fried chicken, hear the cursing, cheering, and the band playing “Dixie”, remember the 4th quarter friendships and the game day enemies, and I return to the Grove, where I’m forever 19 and ready to lead the charge.

Thanks again for reading y’all. This week I went through an earthquake, hurricane, and power outage to bring you this post a bit tardy. Thanks to a friend with power and wi-fi I was able to get this up a day late. I will return to the SEC and lampoon all those other fans of the rival schools just so you don’t feel left out in GUIDE TO THE SEC…PLAYING WELL (AND NOT SO WELL) WITH OTHERS.

- Southern Blogger


Guide to the SEC…Back to School Edition

Hey Y’all,

Southern Blogger just celebrated a birthday and this blog has survived into its fourth week. The semi-popularity of this semi-satirical blog I attribute to my loyal readers and their efforts to re-post and promote this little island of humor about the South from a Southern perspective; that is, from one who knows it and lives it like many of you do.

Since I’m a history major and historian by trade I definitely had fun co-blogging with some of my favorite Southerners of all time. But now we will switch gears a little bit and will get into our 4×4 Delorean with KC lights and head back to the future.

During your birthday you get a bit reflective and nostalgic. As a new generation heads back to college this week, or maybe for their very first experience, I was reminded of how I became the “Southern Blogger” I am today. It’s all thanks to my alma mater Ole Miss (pre Dan Jones) .

Don’t worry we’re getting to the humor soon.

I grew up in a Southern state…Virginia. But going down to Mississippi for the first time was a whole ‘nother level of Southern. In fact the whole SEC (Southeastern Conference for those of you who are “sectionaly challenged”) is like its own country. So I’m going to reminisce and satire the SEC from the perspective of one who was an outsider who became an insider.

Hope you enjoy!

-   S.B.

WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?

Kids these days! Haven't got a clue.

Take a look at the kid in this picture. He’s totally lost…both physically and figuratively. When you first enter college you have lots of hope, fear, and confusion. There are forms to sign, classes to find, hoops to jump through, and people to meet. Lots of people. People pushing this cause or that club, each handing you a shiny brochure. You have no idea what to do. Well, thankfully I’m here to set the young man straight and maybe any of my gentle readers.

So this guy is wondering which he should sign up first. Should he purchase his books and get ready for class? Surely that’s the way to get ahead and make good grades. After all you wouldn’t want to wait too long and have the bookstore run out of your required texts.

What about car decals? I know he’s probably heard of the parking Nazi’s that infest college campuses. Merciless Gestapo agents of the Academia/Meter Maid Complex. Better get one of those before the grace period (which varies from five minutes to five days) runs out.

Or what’s this? A sign that says college football season tickets? Hmmm. Sounds interesting…but in high school you could see all the games for little cost and just walk up to the games (I know, not y’all in Texas…you have a head start on football craziness over the rest of us).

What should he do first? Well this ain’t Duke, Harvard, or Stanford, so forget about buying the books first. In any SEC school, I can pretty much guarantee you that those books will be sitting on the shelves through most of the semester. They won’t sell out. Well, this is where I need to put an asterisk on my comments for Vanderbilt. If you are going to Vanderbilt you need to buy your books ASAP! Vanderbilt is like the nerdy kid in our conference the rest of us cheat off of during the exam.

Parking decals? Important, but you don’t build a lifetime of memories on whether or not you got fined for illegal parking or were towed. It happens…to us all. Get the decal by all means but don’t hurry.

No son, you need to get you your season tickets. In fact within two days of your arrival! We are talking less than $10 a ticket for top notch football. Future NFL stars, storied programs, national champions, tailgating, coeds in sundresses, spilt bourbon, fight songs and fights with rivals, and the best camaraderie in any part of the country. For the next 4 to 7.5 years of your life, THIS will be your real classroom!

WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO…

WHEN IN THE SEC, DO AS THE GREEKS DO

In the South being social is next to Godliness. A major part of life in the SEC is Greek life…or rather the “Greek System”. Going Greek is a big deal down in the SEC. Not everyone does it, and it’s up to you…but Greeks dominate the social, political, and school spirit scenes on campus. If you choose to forego this opportunity be forewarned….The student union gets pretty boring after awhile.

It’s funny to me what passes for a fraternity outside of the South. In fact Yankee Fraternities aren’t half as good as their Dixie cousins. That’s why they call them “Frats” up there I think. For you see, the Yankee frat, is what the media and Hollywood portray the entire fraternity world as: loud, fist pumping, Ed Hardy wearing, gel haired, rope necklaced, obnoxious “Bro-heims”. Sad really.

Now when you first get to school and you consider joining a fraternity, know that in the SEC there are some pretty high standards. Some gents have it already made. Their families are known and they grew up in the region and know the routine. Others have a little bit of a learning curve. Then there are the totally clueless.

It's not hard to tell who's NOT going to do well here

Consider this picture. There’s certainly a uniform in the South. We all know it. It’s unspoken…but it’s a way of dressing fathers teach their sons, and young men learn going to church and social functions. By the way in the South it’s not advised to wear beach attire to church. Here we have fifteen gentlemen from fifteen states depicted going through rush. Can you identity the three that don’t have a chance down South?

It’s not a hard quiz. They only have those at Vanderbilt.

It may seem vicious and it’s not for everyone, but be prepared. If you plan to rush down in the SEC don’t look like a Cheese Head, a cast member from Jersey Shore, or Laguna Beach. Be respectful, be traditional, and don’t be too much of an idiot and you should be okay. Hey…its good practice for working in an office someday.

Sororities are their own ballgame. I don’t profess to have learned all there is to learn about them. All I can tell you is that SEC sororities are filled with future Miss America’s. (My alma mater produced three thank you very much). These women smell nice, talk real sweet, and pretty much have all of us completely under their spell whether we admit it or not.

They may look cute but they WILL run you over!

Now from what I gather, sororities teach young women skills such as drawing in curly Q’s, putting up colorful signs, power walking, collecting promise rings, and blowing up lots of balloons…and I mean LOTS.

I kid…sort of…except for the balloons part, that’s 100% true.

Thing is, these girls also have high GPA’s, great organization skills, good manners, and eons of hours doing charity work. Smart, beautiful, dedicated…I’m sold.

It does tend to get a little weird on bid day though. Man I’ve seen these girls get so excited they run into traffic and scream gibberish uncontrollably like some sort of perfume smelling, pretty mass exorcism.
Only down side is those young ladies who for whatever reason didn’t make the cut…it’s not happy times for them.

Calling it like it is folks.

DON”T BE AN EXPERT…

THEY DON’T NEED NO OUTSIDERS TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO

As for book learning…we have it down here too. It might surprise Yankees that Southerners are pretty smart sometimes…oh like when it comes time to inventing American music, writing the nation’s best literature, leading our soldiers in war, and well…writing the Constitution.

Still…there’s a difference between being smart and a “know it all”. Nobody likes experts down here/there. Big mistake!  You’re going to be in a lot of general required courses your first two years. Nobody wants to be there, including the professors. I warn you. Don’t participate…or if you must keep it to a minimum. Whatever you do DO NOT raise your hand to “impress” your professor with historical inaccuracies of a Hollywood period piece five minutes before class ends on a Thursday when your school is hosting the ESPN game of the week. You will be sorry…you will be called out…you will be cursed at…you will be threatened…and you might be killed. There are frat daddies who are minutes away from a night of debauchery and you are babbling about Viking helmets. Think about it. Again, doesn’t apply to Vanderbilt.

After two years when you are in classes with others of your major…go for it. Talk it up…but still…don’t be too much of an expert (or a leftist/vegan/Hipster/collegiate activist etc.)

After a couple of weeks on campus, a lot of what I am saying will just make sense and come naturally. You will either begin to love it, or at least adapt to it, or you will soon be packing your bags.

Not worth it dude.

The only really hard part for me was the first week in the dorm. Ole Miss had sex segregated dorms, and class level segregated dorms. That’s right, I was in an all freshman all male dorm with little supervision with people away from home for the first time. I heard things and saw things and even thought I saw things that I still have nightmares about. Think the scene in “Shawshank Redemption” when the inmates chant “fresh fish…fresh fish!” and you’ll get an idea what I mean.

Just stick it out. It will get better. I ended up loving it!

Now friends, there are naysayers and doubters and politically correct folks about to poo poo all I just wrote. But I speak the truth as I know it.

I went to an SEC school and I turned out pretty smart (just don’t count my typos). I have an advanced degree and work in the cultural sector. I’m even about to be published. Yeah I like being smart and around smart people. But my college days also taught me how to be “smart” in other ways. It taught me how to be social, how to talk to ANYONE, how to dress professionally, how to tell good stories, how to laugh, how to live and die for my school with camaraderie, pride, passion… and most of all how to sit down, enjoy the finer things in life, and not be in such a dang hurry.

Yeah I’ve been around since then and seen other schools.

Yeah, I’ve seen Harvard Square.

Can’t say I’m a fan of Cambridge…

But after all…I’m an Oxford man through and through.

Hotty Toddy,

Southern Blogger.

This is pretty much what it looked like August, 1996.

We’ll get back to the SEC once football gets rolling with GUIDE TO THE SEC…FOOTBALL GAME DAY.


How to…Win a Civil War Battle

Hey Y’all,

This year marks the beginning of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. It was the bloodiest conflict in our nation’s history pitting the side of the country that believed barbecue is a delicious pork product against the side of the country that considered barbecue to consist of hamburgers and hot dogs. After four years of turmoil, while many issues were settled, that culinary fight continues to rage on (See Southern Blogger, How to Choose a Good BBQ Restaurant).

Over the next four years Millions of Americans (hopefully)will take the time to honor the brave soldiers who fought in the war (yes, even the blue coats), learn some history, and support our National Parks…well the smart ones at least. For Southerners like me, it means trips to Gettysburg whereby they get their hopes up, but then get depressed when they realize the outcome never changesand then go home sulking, (I’ve made 11 trips there and always the same score!). Or they enjoy the early battlefields of the war, like Manassas, whereby the South, like their SEC football descendents “padded their schedule” against easy opponents. (Southern Blogger can’t separate college football and the Civil War, that’s why he ended up at Ole Miss).

In any case fellow Southerners, sympathizers, curious Yankees, and folks who stumbled in from a search engine gone awry, have you ever thought what would happen if you were to find yourself in a Civil War battle? Not just fighting in the battle, but leading it? I know I’ve thought about this day and night since I was three, but I’m a Virginian so it helps to be prepared. In any case, should you find yourself in this position, for whatever reason, you should at least know HOW to win a Civil War battle. So I decided to call on an old friend to guest blog for us this week…a true expert in this field. Please welcome General Robert E. Lee…

-  Southern Blogger

Thank you very kindly Mr. Blogger, sir. I shall as always endeavor to do my duty and to properly lead your readers into the finer points of Napoleonic tactics. We shall blog together and come to an understanding of how to face “those people” (for they are never quite the enemy) on the battlefield should sectional difficulties once again arise, God forbid. I would also humbly ask that by doing you this favor you would, hopefully sir, please stop requesting my audience repeatedly. I am asked to do many blogs, and indeed while I appreciate your hero worship and your bobblehead collection of me, I do regretfully inform you that I cannot write for this site frequently. Doubtless, President Jackson is a finer blogger than me, but of course amongst historical figures, we’ve always considered him to be a “techie geek”.

So without further ado, may I present four points to consider when plotting a Civil War Battle…

Gen. R.E. Lee, ANV

STEP ONE: LEADERSHIP

It is indeed a difficult task to command an army. You must feed, clothe, and provide for the sustenance of your men. You must also be willing to sacrifice that very thing you love, your army, if you are to succeed, (or so I once heard Martin Sheen say). As an army commander there are thousands of orders that must be carried out, one by one by subordinates in order to achieve victory. With Providence, and a little fortitude, and some skill, the day can be carried.

But one key component is to have proper leadership, especially underneath you. That is why whenever possible if you must pick someone to command you should choose a Virginian. Now, it may seem arrogant to thus enshrine my own home state in such praise and glory. But it is not vainglory dear readers. No sir, it is simply a known fact that Virginians are born with a certain blood, a spirit, what in your day you  call “DNA”, for leadership.Virginians are born and raised to command, and I must say it is a heavy burden to bare to always be so right and noble all the time…Didn’t you once say the same thing Southern Blogger?

Indeed General Lee, when I was a mere sophomore in Civil War class at the University of Mississippi, the professor was intrigued that I never took notes. I had to inform him that as a Virginian, the Civil War is not mere history but current events. In any case, after making a paean to my home state’s leadership abilities, and tactical greatness during the late war, the Alabamian professor referred to me as a “typical…arrogant…young Virginian”. I do believe I got a 103 in that class. Later on, my speech about Virginia was quoted by General Armistead in the movie Gettysburg.

Indeed, Southern Blogger…you were correct…but a bit arrogant…a difficult burden being so right so young. In any case, once you have maintained the proper chain of command and good Virginia leadership, you must seek good terrain from which to fight.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

George Washington, knew his role as a Virginian, even as a baby.

STEP TWO: CHOOSING THE BATTLEGROUND

Now it is very important to choose a proper site to engage any enemy combatant. You will need to command the high ground, have rivers and streams for your enemy to have to cross, have large open spaces by which to make grand charges to win the day, without the interferences of traffic, parking lots, shopping centers, and other things that always get in the way of a good Civil War battle, especially in my native northern Virginia.

That is why I always tried to fight my battles on National Park Service land. National Parks have plenty of open space that makes them perfect for battlefields. Some of them are even labeled “battlefields” which makes them easy for both opponents to find. I also chose them because the many stone monuments provide excellent cover for the men, and the rangers are often very knowledgeable should any of your men become lost. Even the orientation films provide an excellent introduction for new recruits. Yes, I highly recommend them!

Now, once you’ve established your leadership and have seized the ground you must then endeavor to gain the psychological advantage.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

If only the NPS map was easier to read, Gettysburg would have been ours

STEP THREE: INTIMIDATE THE ENEMY

Although we always strived to be an honorable foe in the Army of Northern Virginia, we certainly made use of the tactics of fear. Ours was a small, lesser equipped army, and as such often had to resort to dare I say, “chicanery” in order to carry the day.  Most famously my men used what is now known as the “Rebel Yell”. Dear readers, many of the people of your era have tried but have failed to capture the essence of that call. It was not really a yell so much as a fox call, or “whoop”. But a simple whoop could be done a million ways. In order to make our battle cry effective we had to sound as one voice.

The real secret to our success, besides Divine Providence, was our excellent use of choreography. Indeed, Jefferson Davis used his intricate spy rings and European agents early in the war to secure us an excellent song and dance instructor. I am referring to one of the true unsung heroes of our Southern cause, the French legend of 19th century musical theatre Pierre Gustav Tutant Beau-Ree-Peep. Monsieur Beau-Ree-Peep actually coined the phrase “Rebel Yell” as it was the name of a successful off-Broad Street musical production of his. Although my men did not naturally take to the theatre the way the French Army had, with Monsieur’s good help and excellent training we turned our men into a magnificent choreographed force of military intimidation.

Remember, with good leadership, command of the field, and intimidation, you are well on your way to victory. As for the final piece to a successful engagement, you need…audacity.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

In some things the French really are the best army in the world.

STEP FOUR: AUDACITY, AUDACITY, AUDACITY

Dear gentle readers, you are now ready to hear the real secret to the success of the Army of Northern Virginia. The key to our  great victories in Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, as well as the Seven Days campaign, was a secret cadre of handpicked men known only to a few. I am of course, speaking of the F.A.R.B.s.

It gives me great pains when I examine your modern day celebration of our great war that these brave men are so easily mocked and belittled. There are indeed many in your time that choose to reenact the epic struggle of the War Between the States by dressing up as the combatants, fighting with period replica weapons, using nineteenth century tactics, and living as people did long ago. It is indeed a great educational tool for your time.

Sadly many of the men who portray those brave FARBS are mocked by elite bands of “living historians” who refer to these men as “phonies”, “fakes”, “anachronistic”, and “uneducated”. They even say “FARB” means “FAR BE it for me to criticize your uniform, outfit, gun etc.” My friends, I cannot sit back any longer and allow this injustice to continue. The truth is that FARBS were the key to our great victories and I shall honor these secret warriors whose recognition was long overdue.

“FARB” actually stood for “Feint Assault Reenactor Battalions”. We deliberately recruited overweight men, old men, stupid men, nutcases, nerds, and bad armchair historians, and outfitted them with the worst weapons and uniforms. We trained them in two left feet marching tactics, war woops, three syllable pronunciations of “war”, and other nonsense. The key was to use these men in a feint frontal assault. The Yankees would therefore be lulled into a false sense of security, while our REAL soldiers then flanked them. My friends, THAT’S how I won Chancellorsville. I thank the dear Lord for those brave Farbs.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Dedicated to the 40,000 men who gave up their dignity that weekend so the real army could win.

Thank you Southern Blogger for your kind support and the chance to write to your 21st century readers, but I must now return to my own time. I bid you good day sir!

-  Gen. R.E. Lee, ANV, Commanding

Thank you very much General. I do indeed have a tear in my eye from that Farby story. Indeed this whole blog post is quite Farby. Well, I’ve enjoyed bringing y’all two weeks of history, but for the next few weeks we get more topical as I guide y’all and any upcoming college students in my GUIDE TO SEC LIFE : BACK TO SCHOOL EDITION.

Thanks again for blogging with me,

-   Southern Blogger


How to…Defend Your Honor!

Hanging with my Homie at the Hermitage

Hey Y’all,

From time to time on The South Will Blog Again we will be featuring guest bloggers who are experts on certain topics. This week I’m honored to welcome Andrew Jackson the 7th president of the United States. “Old Hickory” will be discussing “How to Defend your Honor”, something every Southerner should know how and be prepared at a moment’s notice to do. President Jackson is no stranger to “honor defending” as he has survived over 17 duels, 27 feuds, 74 brawls, and 478 “cuss fights” (and has even survived to live over 250 years). So without further ado….

-  Southern Blogger

Thanks S.B.,

Now…notice I didn’t say “S.O.B.”…I said “S.B.” for “Southern Blogger”. If I had said “S.O.B.” well…we would’ve had us a problem…a problem with honor violatin’. Now even though it would have made for a great demonstration, I happen to like Southern Blogger and there’s no need to needlessly get into a feud (even though I would win). I rather liked that Choosin’ Barbecue piece and would like to see him continue writing.

Now I’m rather new to this whole bloggin’ sphere so you’re gonna have to forgive me…I’ve only gotten into the whole social media thing about three years ago (Thanks to Henry Clay) so this is new for me. I love the chance to talk about my favorite thing in the world…puttin’ down fee simple, knock-kneed, scalawaggin’, mugwumpin’, poltroons. In other words, defending my honor. Even though I’m an expert in this field, with a little practice, and my advice, you too can cane any dune bug, and win you a duel any time.

(Disclaimer: Since dueling is officially illegal in 49 states, Southern Blogger does not recommend you take all of President Jackson’s subsequent advice literally.)

So, if you follow my steps, you too will know how to defend you honor.

STEP ONE: ISSUING THE FIRST CHALLENGE

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When "duel" rhymes with "jewel" you know the man is serious!

Poltroons like to run their mouths. They do so because they think they can get away with it. Now I’m an avid follower of politics, and I have to say that in your time “poltroonery” may be at an all-time high. Now you might say “well, Andy we don’t have honor defenders in our day like yourself”. Hogwash!!!!

One of my favorite challenges of all-time occurred in your generation. During the 2004 presidential election, a TV poltroon, Chris Matthews, was flapping his jaws and being rather belligerent about “answering questions”. Well now, nothing would make me madder than a cornered possum on whiskey than a rascal asking me to answer the question but then not letting me answer it.

Well the target in question, a U.S. Senator from Georgia, Zell Miller (a true Jacksonian Democrat if I saw one) wasn’t about to let Chris’ gums keep on flapping without a proper response. He told this poltroonish pundit that he “wish we lived in the days when you could challenge a person to a duel”. Now due to legal interference, he couldn’t SAY he wanted to duel, just imply it. But the message was sent, and the loud pundit responded with a nervous chuckle. That my friends, is a back down. And let me add that Sen. Miller pronounced “duel” properly, as in rhymes with “jewel”. Anyone who pronounces the word like that definitely has been in one.

But what if a poltroon won’t shut his mouth…what then?

STEP TWO: DETERMINE THE PROPER RETALIATION

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Be cautious when describing South Carolina's bedroom habits!

Now friends, not every foe is worthy of a duel. Sometimes certain opponents are so fiendish they deserve a good whoopin’. Take the case in point of one Charles Sumner.

Now Sumner, he was a smart man, a little too smart for his own good. He was a Harvard man, a true Brahmin, and quite the wordsmith when he laid into his opponents. Except this one time he chose the wrong opponent. Long story short, in 1856, Sen. Sumner was attacking the State of South Carolina and its Senator, his former friend, Andrew Butler. He referred to South Carolina as a “harlot” and attacked Butler when the man wasn’t present.

Those were fighting words.

Calling the state of South Carolina a whore in any age is a bad idea. And laying into someone, when they can’t defend themselves is poltroonery of the highest order.

Well, in the House of Representatives Butler had a cousin (South Carolinians always have cousins readily available) named Preston Brooks. He carefully analyzed the situation (in the 32 seconds he went from red hot to white hot anger) and decided Sumner wasn’t worthy of the “field of honor”. He took his walking stick, walked over to the Senate chamber, and broke his cane on Senator Sumner’s forehead…repeatedly.

Problem solved. But what if the opponent is of a higher caliber? (get it?)

STEP THREE: ISSUING THE FORMAL CHALLENGE

When attempting to shoot someone, remember to be polite about it!

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Just because your blood is boiling and your honor is at stake doesn’t mean you can forget your manners. In fact, when issuing a formal challenge it is of the upmost importance to remember your raisin’. After all, honor is at stake.

Personally, I like to keep my challenge letters pretty simple and direct…firm BUT polite. Always address the challenged party by their proper name and title, NOT what you really think of them (there’ll be time for that). Remember anyone being issued a formal challenge is at least worthy enough of the field of honor, so you should address them properly.

At the same time, you ain’t writing a love letter so keep it simple and to the point. If you haven’t issued a formal challenge before I can help you. I have written hundreds of them and have one here for you to look at. I can’t remember who it was to, there’s been so many.

Good luck with all that fuss…I’ve always found the shooting much easier than the writing part anyhow….which brings us to…

STEP FOUR: THE FIELD OF HONOR

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This cartoon is NOT approved by Dan Jones and Pete Boone.

If you’ve reached this point, congratulations, you have truly found a worthy foe (usually). Since dueling etiquette is as intricate as wedding etiquette it’s important to follow good advice. First, you need to properly follow the “Code Duello”. I keep a copy of Emily Post’s “Guide to Dueling”, third edition, with me.

Following the proper Code means you must have a second. Your second is like your best man at a duel. He should be a friend, but a friend that knows what he’s doing. Seconds arrange the details like the time, place, form of combat, and other sundry rules.

Once you’ve reached the field of honor the rest is up to the participants. An apology might be issued by the offending party. In that case you should accept. Anyone who shows up to the field of honor in the first place may be a poltroon, but not a cowardly one. You may also decide to waste your shots or some other arrangement whereby honor is kept, but you both walk away (I found those very disappointing).

In the end, you may find that the best course of action is to duel it out. Good luck! Stand your ground and keep a steady eye!

Like this picture here. Now one look at this “bear” and I’d have personally gone the cane route. But Colonel Reb (a close friend of mine) had too much honor for that. Despite the grave insult this Bear did him (a couple of Poltroons replaced the Colonel as the Ole Miss mascot with this rascal) , the Colonel gave him the ultimate honor of meeting in the field. Either that or he knew that was the only way to get rid of the mugwump.

Best wishes dear readers, and thanks again S.B. for the opportunity.

-   Andrew Jackson

Thanks President Jackson! That was great, if not somewhat illegal, advice. I hope y’all now understand the importance of honor and how to maintain it. Next week we have another guest blogger from history, as General Robert E. Lee will teach us HOW TO WIN A CIVIL WAR BATTLE.

Until next time y’all,

Southern Blogger


How to…Choose a Good Barbecue Restaurant

In the South, nothing starts an argument like which restaurant, state, or region has the best barbecue. This post is NOT about that. Lord people, this blog might be controversial enough without starting a war like that. No, Southern Blogger’s first guide to Dixie will be HOW to pick out a good barbecue joint.

Now of course, places that are world famous such as the Rendezvous in Memphis or Lexington BBQ in North Carolina advertise themselves. They are world famous because they have such great food. But what about if you are driving through the South, perhaps in an unfamiliar location, and you get a hankering for some good Q? What are some signs to look for that the random place you pulled into is probably gonna have some fine food? Well, here’s my guide to choosing a good place to get your pig on…

STEP ONE : THE BUILDING

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"the uglier the building, the finer the BBQ" - Confucius

First of all, this building is hideous (I can say that because I drew it). It looks like a shack, has ugly colors, and a kitschy sign. These are definitely markers of a good place for BBQ. Madison Ave. was NOT consulted when that sign was made. I like how good restaurants will emphasize that this is “Ed’s” or “Billie’s” or “Jim’s” such and such BBQ. BBQ has it’s roots in the Protestant Second Great Awakening (not really). So like another of the South’s religions, when there is a fight over doctrine (in this case cooking style or sauce), the congregations split.

Another thing to look at is the parking lot. We are here pretty early so it’s not too packed (actually I hate drawing cars). But you want to look for the proper pickup truck to car ratio (at least 2-1). I also feel good when I see big rigs and sheriff’s cars…esp. sheriff’s cars. Needless to say Suburu Outback’s, VW wagons, and fuel efficient cars do not bode well for a BBQ joint.

Let’s step inside and see who eats here…

STEP TWO: THE CUSTOMERS

"If the Feds took the census here, they'd be more successful." - FDR

The South is a bit of a cultural crossroads…of different types of Southerners. While there are different types of Southerners you will find them together in two places…football games, and barbecue restaurants. When you go inside a barbecue place you need to make sure you see a good cross section of Dixie. If you do not, there is a problem. You should see black folks, white folks, good ole boys, frat stars, church folks, lawyers, truckers, bikers, families, and law enforcement.

Of course occasionally you’ll find Yankees too. There are two types that wonder in off the interstate…the ones that love our culture that we (should at least) love back and try to  blend in (bless their hearts)…and then there’s the folks on the right. In some states Barbecue means hamburgers and hot dogs (ha ha). I remember one time as a kid, at this place down the road from me called Nanny’s, a van with a family from New Jersey pulled in. They confusedly looked at the menu for a few minutes and then the dad yelled “What…no ham-boi-guz or hot dahgs!?!?!” and they left. Everyone in the place started laughing at them…wait that’s another thing Southerners are united about.

Check out the wall….there’s some more things to look for….

STEP THREE: THE DECOR

"If it's good enough for Snuffy Waltrick, it's good enough for me." - Richard Petty

Good Barbecue places have cool stuff on the wall. It can’t be forced or too thought out, otherwise you’d be at an Applebees or Red Hot and…well you know who I’m talking about. While not comprehensive, there a few things here that signal a good restaurant…

1. Trophies – this place has won the East Carolina Pig Off of East Georgia (???). Trust me this is good news. I’ve always wondered if pigs are cannibals since they are often depicted cooking one another or at least advertising how tasty they are.

2. BBQ Swag – The merch section is a good sign. Nothing too fancy. Good places stick with t-shirts, trucker caps (esp. if they’ve been sitting around for 20 years), peanuts, bottles of sauce, gum, cigs, and maybe aprons.

3. Celebs – The “celebrities” here should be minor….B-level country stars, local drivers who made it big in NASCAR (but not TOO big for their roots), actors that appeared in Andy Griffith or Dukes of Hazzard, minor league baseball players, a lineman from the nearest SEC school who played three snaps in the NFL, and state level (nothing higher) politicians. In short these people WANTED to eat here, not get an endorsement.

Let’s take a look at that menu some folks were looking at….

STEP FOUR: THE MENU

"Barbecue...food of the gods...I should know." - Zeus

The menu at a barbecue place should be pretty simple. It should contain one to three types of barbecue and they should SUGGEST which one the locals prefer (That will be their bread and butter). They should call side dishes fixin’s and make not so subtle politcal statements. Let’s see…healthy food should NOT be easy to find…and the sweet tea should give you what Wilford Brimley calls “Die-Ah-Beet-Us”.

That’s mainly it….ugly building with lots of trucks parked outside, cross section of Southern customers, local color in its decor, simple but tasty menu…oh and one more thing….THEY TAKE CARE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT!!!! Any good place knows to do this for a variety of reasons. But if the cops are eating there in large numbers….and the cops themselves are rather large…then you are definitely good to go.

Thanks for reading y’all – Southern Blogger

"What do they call you up in Philadelphia?" "They call me HUNGRY" - In the Heat of the Night

NEXT WEEK – We step back in time as I show you HOW TO DEFEND YOUR HONOR


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