I have, at several points in my life, found myself on the precipice of addiction to various things, real or imagined. Here are the top 5:
There were two times in my life where I actually craved a cigarette, at least craved one not just in that drunk-freshman-year-trying-to-impress-girls-who-wouldn’t date-anywhere-near-the-upper-echelons-of-my-family’s-income-bracket way. The first was during my brief but fruitful stint as a waiter at Darryl’s restaurant in Raleigh, a job I interviewed for mere days after 9/11, which is not a cultural benchmark to this story as much as it is just a relative note about how stressful and emotion-consuming time it was. That was amplified by (though no way on the same level as) the personal turmoil I was dealing with, having just quit school at GW after two years, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all wrong, that the school did not feel even close to right for me, and was at risk of sucking me into a future of politics and polo shirts, incomparable student debt and friends who only liked you for the K Street connections you might have. Continue reading
Today the intesphere was full of much head-shaking and guffawing in disbelief at the news about the South’s plans to honor the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War — a fight, as most will remember, the South surely lost, though the wounds, as the popular narrative goes, are still a little raw. The internet chatter was on the obvious cognitive dissonance of it all: that a conflict so many in the other part of the country classify largely as a battle over the right to imprison and enslave other human beings would be celebrated at all, let alone with a blind eye turned to that particular aspect of the war. As the Times wrote:
The events include a “secession ball” in the former slave port of Charleston (“a joyous night of music, dancing, food and drink,” says the invitation), which will be replicated on a smaller scale in other cities. A parade is being planned in Montgomery, Ala., along with a mock swearing-in of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy.
To readers in the North, all this adds up to some mind-baffling historical doublespeak and cultural insensitivity, like celebrating the anniversary of the Dred Scott decision or hitting a pinata made out of broken Indian treaties.
I spent four years living in South Carolina as a local government reporter; another half a year living in Raleigh in between transferring colleges. I got to travel all up and down the coast of the Palmetto State and its neighbors, from the Spanish-moss framed squares of downtown Savannah to the Supreme Court steps of Columbia; from the Watermelon Festival of Hampton to the barn-sized dining hall/gas station/general store/karaoke bar/emporium of wonder known as Harold’s Country Club in Yemassee , and I realized something that I must share with you, fair readers; something that, once I checked and double checked my math, stood my preconceived notions about regional identity and historical traits on their heads. Disbelieve if you will, but I stand by my argument:
Here it is: I came across way more Confederate flags in New Jersey than I ever did in South Carolina or North Carolina. Continue reading