Let me tell you a few things about myself. I’m from New York (yes originally you asshole), I’m a liberal, my favorite sport is challenging Republicans to arguments, I hate modern country music (most country things after 1980 can fuck right off), I’m an Atheist and I don’t like NASCAR. That being said, I have a pretty serious love affair with the South. I have traveled more to Louisiana and Georgia in the last 5 years than anywhere else. I’ve also made stops in North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. I would say Florida, but we all know that Florida is a Northern state a lot of the time. I have also fallen into the habit of dating a lot of Southerners for the last 6 years. What is it about that place that I find so intriguing? Why is it that when I hear a Southern accent, I melt into bacon butter? After a recent excursion to the Southeast, I decided to take a closer look.
New Orleans-Tennessee Williams once said ““America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” I’ve got no problem with Cleveland, but this man had a point. I first went to New Orleans in 1998 with my dad. I clearly remember being completely enamored with that city from the first day I was there. It hasn’t lessened one bit. The food, the people, the music, all of it. I think there is something so magical about New Orleans. It is such a unique city for so many reasons. I think one of the reasons that it is so interesting is its turbulent past. In the 1800’s, it was the largest port in the slave trade, in the 1980’s through early 2000’s they had one of the most corrupt police departments in the country, and then of course there was hurricane Katrina. One of America’s most important cities saw the government turn their backs on them in their greatest time of need. You can feel all of that there. Its all mixed in with all of the things that make the city great. The city is a gumbo, one of its most loved traditional dishes. A big mix of everything. I try and visit New Orleans every 2-3 years. The last time I was there, I went for Halloween. There is no other city in America that can kick it off like that. It was phenomenal. New Orleans has this amazing voodoo/spirit world vibe to it already. Compounding that with the Halloween Harvest is just amazing. I would go there for Halloween over Mardi Gras any time. Then there are the different parts of town. Frenchman street, the Garden district, the French Quarter, the Metairie. All of them, so special and different from the last. Everywhere else IS Cleveland.
Savannah-I had always wanted to visit Savannah after watching the first hour of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Its another city that seems to have a love affair with its past. After all, its where Sherman’s March came to an end. Luckily for us, the Northern troops stopped burning things down once they got to Savannah, so lots of the city has a beautiful old look to it. Now I’m a little biased with this one. One of my best friends/favorite people on earth owns what I think is the greatest bar in America in Savannah, the Sparetime. We are going to speak to the ladies of the Sparetime another day, but if you ever make it down there, you are committing a sin by not going there. As far as the rest of the city is concerned, the old mansions, the Spanish moss dangling down from most of the tree’s in town, its relation to beautiful beaches like that on Tybee Island, its really hard to wrap your head around it all. There are also more beautiful people living in Savannah than most other places. There is definitely something in the water. There are few places on earth that welcome you like I have been welcomed in Savannah. After going there for my 4th time in about a year, I’ve found the locals to be some of the warmest, genuine and most interesting people I have ever met. Every time I leave, I instantly feel like I am leaving something behind.
Jesup-A few years ago I spent some time in Jesup, Georgia with a lady friend for the holidays. The people I met there were nothing short of amazing. I had never felt so welcomed by people I did not know. I was taken in and shown a level of hospitality that was awe inspiring. We spent Christmas Eve working in a soup kitchen and the level of love in that room was truly magical. I ended up on the cover of the local paper. Over the course of the week we played music, shot guns, went fishing, went to the drive-in and did so much more. I got to practice the art of shutting the fuck up when it came to talking about politics and religion. That was a good thing. Its never a good idea to be someone’s guest and shit talk the way they live their life. There are plenty of times to do that elsewhere. I have traveled quite a bit on this big blue marble and the kindness I was shown in Jesup was something I will remember forever.
Western Virginia-For the last 2 years, I have spent my labor day weekend with a friend of mine driving on the Crooked Road. The Crooked road is 300 mile stretch of road in Western Virgina (not West Virginia) where bluegrass was born. The Carter Family, Ralph Stanley, and many other bluegrass legends hail from this part of Appalachia. There are fiddle festivals, ho downs and more live music than you would ever imagine. All along the road are music venues, Luthiers and museums all dedicated to bluegrass and preserving the rich musical history of the region. We usually camp out the first night in Grayson Highlands State Park. Drinking local moonshine and playing guitars. The first year we went we spent a few hours hiking the Appalachian trail. At one point we ran in to a bunch of wild pony’s. The experience was and is almost impossible to convey to anyone who hasn’t been there. Do yourself a favor and look in to the Crooked Road.
People have been asking me recently “When are you moving to the South” because I’ve been spending so much time there. The truth is I dont know. I live in New York and I love this city so much. Not for the bullshit reasons that everyone loves New York. There is an element to this great city that is difficult to explain. It goes far beyond the museums and the culinary wizardry and the fact that being a music fan, there are fewer better cites to be in than this. However after having so many beautiful experiences in the South, it does feel like a matter of time. Now about those Republicans…