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TDG: Table Dancing: Southern by the Grits of God


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Timothy C. Davis is both appreciative AND wary of his status as a "Southern writer". While he sits eating pimento-cheese sandwiches and wishes moon pies of appreciation on people, he's also wondering how exactly this all affects actual real ruminations on southern culture.

Read all about it here.

Sarcastic editorial comment: no additional “ain’ts”, “shoots” or “doggones” have been added to Mr. Davis' copy, not that we weren't tempted. :raz:

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Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Jon,

Dang good thing you didn't! I'd have to get all-fired mad at you and come put a-whuppin' on ye. :angry:

See... you managed to avoid using “ain’t”, “shoot” and “doggone” and still got your point across!

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Great essay--and all the previous ones too! (Duh--hadn't realized all the pieces I liked, plus that Gastronomica SFA article, were all by the same person....I should've recognized the Southern argot.)

Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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Great essay. Writing as a Southerner is never easy, what with all the stereotypes.

I totally empathize with the author: I, too, have at times chosen a badly made pimiento cheese sandwich over any other sandwich. How can anyone pass up ANY pimiento cheese sandwich?

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who said anything about rednecks?

My point is, "who conspicuously didn't say it".

Although every writer has to cater to the reading publics' tastes, I think it's sad when Mr. Davis adopts a self-degrating attitude towards his heritage, even when it's done in a humorous fashion, in order to satisfy publishers sereotypes of Southerners.

SB (not a Southerner himself)

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Although every writer has to cater to the reading publics' tastes, I think it's sad when Mr. Davis adopts a self-degrating attitude towards his heritage, even when it's done in a humorous fashion, in order to satisfy publishers sereotypes of Southerners. 

SB (not a Southerner himself)

That's not at all how I read Tim's piece. I think he's making fun of the tendency of people to ask or expect it of him, but there's a refreshing awareness that stereotypes have to come from SOMEWHERE. It's not exactly like Tim is trying to hide his Pimento Cheese sandwich, or deny it. He's just asking people to look beyond it, he's not being self-degrading about it.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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who said anything about rednecks?

My point is, "who conspicuously didn't say it".

Although every writer has to cater to the reading publics' tastes, I think it's sad when Mr. Davis adopts a self-degrating attitude towards his heritage, even when it's done in a humorous fashion, in order to satisfy publishers sereotypes of Southerners.

SB (not a Southerner himself)

Davis did no such thing, in my opinion (which may not be worth much, as I occasionally enjoy a Zippy Mart pimiento cheese sandwich). I read the article as an acceptance of things the way they are and as a description of the fashion in which he takes advantage of the situation. I have benefited from the same situation over the years and there is a strange satisfaction to be had there.

It's fun pulling Yankee legs. The thin wire that a Southern Writer has to walk is another matter. Just because you set out to have a little fun with our Northern Brethren, does not mean that you can outright insult those in the South who managed to learn how to read by the light of a smoky fire in their dogtrot (see what I mean, it's a thin line :laugh: ). Being an enlightened redneck is a fine way to get noticed (or get elected to National Political Office or get your own TV show :raz: ).

I thought that it was a very enjoyable piece.

Brooks

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I don’t usually fight it, preferring to let the publication get the story they want, provided I’m not turned into some sort of quasi-Bo Duke savant who just happens to be able to type purty when I’m not mouth-breathing.

OK... That one "tipped over my bucket". :laugh::laugh::laugh:

I suppose one could counter with the fact that Faulkner and Williams, among others, were probably not mouth breathers. :biggrin: But, what the heck. Sterotypes can be quite useful. Being a multigeneration Texan, I have encountered that a lot in dealing with European colleagues. The funny thing is, SE Texas considers itself more Southern than stereotypically Texan. But, they don't have a clue as to what that means. :biggrin:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I enjoyed the piece too, and of course we should be able to make light of our own (group's) stereotypical foibles, but even inadvertently crossing the line into disrespect is just too easy.

How many other ethnic or racial groups would a publisher dare expect this of?

SB (as guilty as anyone)

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The issue to me is that sometimes (I am speaking of "Southern Writers" here, for lack of a better term) when others percieve that we are making fun of a group (or certain foibles) we are just pointing out the facts.

For example, people that live in trailer houses (that's manufactured housing to you more politically correct types) are often mentioned in Southern writing. Well, let's face it, alot of people down here do live in double wides and their less prosperous and even less upwardly mobile relatives might even live in used single wides, but that is no reason to make fun of them. Hell, I've got friends that have spent most of their lives living in trailers. Now on the other hand, a little good natured fun poked at the people who happen to be using a car seat out of a 70 Nova as a seat on their front porch (you can tell it's out of a '70 Nova because the remains of the car is sitting on 3 cinderblocks and a chunk of firewood out in the side yard) is perfectly in line, because unlike what many of you imagine-THEY know it's funny and stereotypical. They just don't care what you think about the seat or them. So it's fair play. And even if it's not, it can still be damn funny (or tragically funny or just downright tragic, it all kind of depends of what kind of lick that you feel like hitting the canvas with).

Faulkner invented a whole family tree of backwoods, brogan wearing, chicken stealing rednecks that become, perversely, kind of heroic and epic in their nogoodedness-The Snopes Family. And "the Snopes's" have become a familiar term among writers when one in looking for a euphamism for Redneck (which, in itself, is not always the terrible term that many concieve it as). This kind of writing has been going on for a long time.

Pointing out the foibles of our neighbors in a fairly good natured way (and ourselves) is what we do down here for entertainment much of the time. It beats real work and keeps you from having to work too much in all this heat and humidity.

I hope that this confuses things up for you. :wacko::laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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It's fun pulling Yankee legs.

Okay, now I'm going to have to metaphorically pummel Brooks for referring to people outside of New England as "Yankees". Bad Brooks, bad. :biggrin: That's like the Amish calling every single non-Amish "English"! See Brooks, you are English! Just like Andy Lynes!

I suppose the name of the nearby Baseball team (at least to ME, not srhcb) makes it all rather confusing.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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The issue to me is that sometimes (I am speaking of "Southern Writers" here, for lack of a better term) when others percieve that we are making fun of a group (or certain foibles) we are just pointing out the facts.

Faulkner invented a whole family tree of backwoods, brogan wearing, chicken stealing rednecks that become, perversely, kind of heroic and epic in their nogoodedness.... This kind of writing has been going on for a long time.

Pointing out the foibles of our neighbors in a fairly good natured way (and ourselves) is what we do down here for entertainment much of the time. It beats real work and keeps you from having to work too much in all this heat and humidity.

I hope that this confuses things up for you. :wacko:  :laugh:

There are lots of ethnic and racial groups you wouldn't dare point out "the facts" about though. The fact that Southerners can be good natured anbout poking fun of themselves is certainly to their credit.

Having been born and raised in Northern Minnesota about all I ever learned about the South in school was that "we beat them in the Civil War". Faulkner's books were my introduction to Southern ways. My first year in college I read every one on the shelves.

How about a Southern Redneck joke then? (Yes, there are Northern Rednecks too)

RE: "you can tell (re: the seat on the porch) it's out of a '70 Nova because the remains of the car is sitting on 3 cinderblocks and a chunk of firewood out in the side yard)"

You know you're a Redneck .... If you can tell the difference between a '69 and '70 Chevy Nova.

SB (The differences are very minute in a visual sense, but of utmost import to a real "Good Ole Boy")

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You know you are a redneck when you can just glance at a 70 Nova and tell whether it had a 307ci or a 396ci engine. :wink::raz::laugh:

Actually, come to think of it, if you even KNOW that you are probably one. :wacko::laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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You know you are a redneck when you can just glance at a 70 Nova and tell whether it had a 307ci or a 396ci engine. :wink::raz::laugh:

Actually, come to think of it, if you even KNOW that you are probably one. :wacko::laugh:

Of course the first thing a redneck woukd want to know about your Nova is "what she had inner?"

In 1969 the size of the engine in cubic inches was displayed in a rectangle that was incorporated into the front fender side market lights. In 1970 the engine size was in chrome numerals above the light.

SB (pulling up his collar to cover his neck)

BTW: I can tell you whether it was a 325/350 hp 396 or a 375 hp version .... from underneath the car.

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I thought it was a good article and as far as it being difficult being a Southern Writer with "all the stereotypes", it also captures that it is annoying just simply being a Southerner and being expected to be ultra-Authentic...but it is also kinda fun pretending to be authentic! Or maybe I am more authentic than I think...whoa.

I am from Memphis (sooooo loaded a statement).

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Nicely done, Tim Cee, and I'm with you on about 99 percent of it. Getting pegged as one of the nation's barbecue writers is its own special hell, and I treasure a letter to the editor that I keep pinned up in my cubicle. (A Myrtle Beach woman got incensed because I described Southern weddings as cheap champagne and dyed satin shoes -- she ended with the line "Ms. Purvis may be a writer, but she is definitely not a Southern Lady." Guilty as charged! And damn proud of it.)

However, I am puzzled by this part: "Here in Charlotte, North Carolina, we have loads of great new restaurants featuring some truly innovative chefs, yet such places never get so much as a peep of press, outside of a few postage stamp-sized reviews."

I've written more than peep about innovative chefs, my colleague Helen Schwab has written far more than a postage stamp, and your own publication's Tricia Childress writes almost every week about smaller ethnic restaurants and writes frequently about cutting-edge chefs. Her recent piece on local chefs from the CIA was an example.

Yes, we occasionally write on New South cooking -- I was just assigned to do another small piece recently -- but it's a legitimate food-news topic. And we do a lot more than that on chefs who aren't doing anything remotely Southern. Helen's reviews of Jim Alexander at Zebra, Tim Groody at Sonoma and Town and her recent coverage of Ilios Noche and Il Nido come to mind.

Is that an example, perhaps, of the same thing that the Southern stereotypes stem from: Seeing what you're looking for?

Edited by kpurvis (log)

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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kathi said: Is that an example, perhaps, of the same thing that the Southern stereotypes stem from: Seeing what you're looking for?

er...

"Seeing what you're looking for" is certainly a hurdle all writers -- hell, everybody period -- must try and get over, but it's hard not to write from a point of view when you do, in fact, have one. How can I find what I'm looking for when I don't know what I want? Of course, you have to allow yourself room to change your mind, I admit.

And I digress.

That said, I think Tricia does a fine job, as do you, as does Helen. Hell, I voted you best local critic in our recent "Best of" issue. That said, for a city our size, the restaurant coverage does seem awful small, both in our two papers and all the other -- (whatever they are -- Skirt? South Charlotte Weekly? The Auto Trader?) -- papers around. And you know I hate the whole "foodie" description, but I've never seen a city this size that had such a scaredy-cat approach to dining. It seems like most of the "higher end" restaurants stick basically take a high-falutin' approach to comfort food. Which, of course, was something of a trend for a while, which thankfully seems to be changing along with the times (the food-politics angle is something I'll delve into next time around). Maybe this is what customers have asked for, and who is a restaurant -- in business to make money, of course -- to turn them down?

None of that piece was meant to denigrate the Observer, nor my own paper. I guess I'm just surprised there's not more being written. 95% of the piece was in regard to the national media as opposed to locally. I apologize if it in any way come off otherwise. (I guess the "peep" and "postage stamp" might have given that impression.)

peeping, er, piping down,

TCD

Timothy C. Davis

Charlotte, NC

timothycdavis@earthlink.net

www.themoodyfoodie.com

www.cln.com

www.southernfoodways.com

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...and I think Hollis put it perfectly. It's the same dynamic that has made the Drive-By Truckers into critical darlings in the space of 2 1/2 years, a dynamic that has sold them loads of records and gained them much acclaim the world over, yet, in many ways, pigeonholed everything they'll ever do afterwards.

Durned if you do and durned if you don't. (That one's for you, Jon!)

xo,

TCD

Timothy C. Davis

Charlotte, NC

timothycdavis@earthlink.net

www.themoodyfoodie.com

www.cln.com

www.southernfoodways.com

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