Every time I visit my in-laws, I am forced to travel up North to the tiny town of Merrimack, NH: population of 26,558 in 2007 according to City-Data.com, three Dunkin Donuts, zero Targets, and Red Sox paraphernalia galore. I marvel at small town life, where the American Legion is the hot spot (well, you can get Absolut Vodka for $2.60 and a Bloody Mary for a $1)--and every man, strangely enough, reminds me of King of the Hill. During these trips, I have a terrible tendency to note reasons why I love the South and I make a mental list, so that the next time I hear someone diss a Southerner (which happens as often as each time a baby drops their binky), I am well-equipped with some cold hard facts (or just my biased Southern opinion).
1. Our Women Are Delicate Flowers of the South: Okay, so I started with an opinion, but there is something to be said about our women. If anybody has some sort of silly GQ or Esquire survey out there with some "evidence," let me know because me simply telling you that Southern women are better looking than Northern women may not be the best argument the next time someone says, "Southerners are dumb." Hey, well, our women are better looking! Examples: Eva Longoria, Corpus Christi, TX: Jessica Simpson, Abilene, TX: Beyonce Knowles, Houston, TX: Reese Witherspoon, New Orleans, LA.
2. Fried Chicken and Waffles: I love that we have regional food that is rich in culture (and butter). We eat black-eyed peas and ham hock on New Year's Eve for luck! The last time I had Southern food, I went to Mary Mac's Tea Room and saw Senator Max Cleland, who lost both legs and one arm during the Vietnam War and Southern as hell (Democrat born and raised in Atl). I ate my fried chicken, collards, mac & cheese, and passed on the ultra sweet tea. Other hot spots: The Collanade, Glady's Chicken and Waffles, Son's Place and for more refined Southern, try Watershed or South City Kitchen. Just make a date with the gym the next day. Oh, and Paula Dean is ours--and from Georgia, too!
Mary Mac's Team Room: good Southern Soul food!
3. Atlanta Braves Baseball: Okay, hear me out for just a second. We are definitely not the Red Sox or the Yankees and we do not have any curses involving goats and yes, John Rocker was a former Atl Brave. But the Atlanta Braves were featured on TBS in Braves Baseball on TBS, starting in 1972, which was broadcast and distributed to cable throughout the U.S. The program received high ratings and Braves were dubbed "America's Team" in the 80's (we were the Dallas Cowboys of baseball!). Although most viewers were from the Southeast, the Braves picked up a following throughout the U.S. Every so often, I meet a friend's grandfather who is from the North, but loves the Atlanta Braves. Or a Northern friend who has a childhood photo of him/her wearing a Braves sweatshirt. The Braves Baseball on TBS ended in 2007 and during the final broadcast Skip Caray said, "To all you people who have watched the Braves for these 30 years ... thank you. We appreciate you more than you will ever know. ... Thank you folks and God bless you. And we're going to miss you every bit as much as you miss us." Rest in Peace, Skip Caray. Braves baseball is not the same without him...
5. Politicians--Our Pride and Joy of Atlanta: Every time I drive home on Freedom Parkway, I drive past a tribute piece of Martin Luther King, Jr. and I am comforted by his presence. MLK, Jr. was born in Atlanta and grew up in one of my favorite neighborhoods, the Old Fourth Ward. I have walked past this old Victorian on my way to Our Lady of Lourdes, its porch swing still in tact and a small plaque designating 501 Auburn Avenue as birth home of MLK, jr. You can tour his home for FREE (http://www.nps.gov/malu/) and with MLK day around the corner, can you think of a better way to celebrate? I also want to salute our other leaders: Andrew Young, politician and human rights activist, was the first African American since Reconstruction to be elected to Congress from Georgia--I have driven and walked Andrew Young International Blvd. for years: Maynard Jackson, the first African-American to serve as mayor for a major Southern city--I used the Maynard Terrace exit off I-20 on a daily basis for five years: Senator John Lewis, our representative in Georgia's 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is known for his role in the Selma to Montgomery marches, where in the first march he was beaten mercilessly during a peaceful demonstration.
John Lewis during first march from Selma to Montgomery: Bloody Sunday.