Category: Southern Culture

The Highway of Life

speeding.jpgFor the most part, I drive the speed limit. Okay, okay within 5 mph of the speed limit anyway. I was thrilled when the speed limit on Alabama interstate highways was raised to 70 mph a few years back because I had always found that pace to be a comfortable cruising speed. Add to that the 5 mph cushion that most cops will allow as a margin of error, and I never really felt the need to go much faster, especially with young drivers and drivers-to-be scrutinizing my every move from the backseat.

But yesterday while driving back from Orange Beach, it was brought home to me anew just how slowly I drive compared to my peers.… Read the rest

Found Jesus? Part II

Bad boy Billy Ray finally came forward for baptism at a Church of Christ in L.A. (Lower Alabama). Preacher and the whole con-gree-gay-shun rushed down to the river before Billy Ray changed his mind.

Preacher put him under quickly, making sure that all body parts were completely covered by the cleansing flood. He held Billy Ray under a right smahutt time, sews it would take real good and all.

Finally, he lifted Billy Ray out of the water. “Have you found Jesus?” Preacher asked.

Gagging and spitting, Billy Ray tried to reply but couldn’t before Preacher did something highly unorthodox for a Church of Christ evangelist–he put him under again.… Read the rest

Huntsville, Alabama–Hollywood Down South

There is almost a European-like energy here where everyone was not just friendly, but engaged. I suddenly had this revelation that what I had put on page actually existed and it was Huntsville, Alabama.

–Jordan Walker-Pearlman, director of the movie “Constellation”

My first exposure to Huntsville, Alabama was in the James Michener novel Space. Having previously lived in Birmingham and Nashville prior to moving to Huntsville in 1993, I can recall thinking that myspace-and-rocket-center.jpg adopted hometown was just a touch too tame. I mean after you’ve visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and stood at the base of that 363 foot Saturn V rocket which sits beside I-565, what else is there to do?… Read the rest

Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?

halloween-1998.jpgThere’s a bowl nearly full of Halloween candy on our kitchen counter. It’s not supposed to be that way, you know. But last night, we had a grand total of 10 trick-or-treaters knock on our front door and accost us for candy. What a bummer.

When we moved into this neighborhood 11 years ago, our street was the place to be on Halloween night. The sidewalks were packed with moms and dads escorting cute little ghouls and goblins from one house to another. It was one of the few times when everybody was out–a block party if there ever was one–and the spirit of community mingled freely with the other shades and shadows conjured up on those crisp, moonlit fall nights.… Read the rest

A Southern Halloween

grim-reaper.jpgHave you ever met a ghost?

I haven’t (as far as I know). But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. My friend Jeff believes he has met some ghosts and offers up some sobering thoughts and Halloween reflections on these denizens of the afterworld in his essay, “Stumbling in Endor.” I felt a shiver or two running up my spine (at least I think that’s all it was) when I read this, and I bet you will too.

With its storied tradition of gothic tragedy, it figures the South would produce more than its share of tortured souls wandering the earth in search of redemption and release.… Read the rest

On Any Given Day

ticket.jpgLast Saturday morning, our family awoke at the crack of dawn and headed down to Game Day in T-town. It was only a 2 ½ hour drive from Huntsville to Tuscaloosa, but for all practical purposes it might as well have been 40 years.

I say that because that’s what it felt like–1966. After the obligatory pregame meal at Dreamland BBQ, we arrived on the beautiful, oak-lined, University of Alabama Quad, bordered by Denny Chimes to the south and Gorgas Library to the north. The stereotypical Southern fixation with the past was never more perfectly illustrated than by the Crimson-clad legions bivouacking on the expansive green, reveling in the memories of past teams and glory years gone by.… Read the rest

A Red State of Mind–A Good Read

The stack of books on my nightstand is about to get one louder, uh, I mean higher. My blogging friend Nancy French has a new book coming out October 9th–A Red State of Mind: How a Catfish Queen Reject Became a Liberty Belle. If that down home and intriguing title doesn’t grab you, maybe the paperdoll cutout with the big hair will:


You gotta admit, that took some guts. The book chronicles the adventures of a conservative, evangelical former beauty queen reject from Paris, Tennessee as she plunges headlong into the deep, Blue State waters of New York City and Philadelphia.… Read the rest

A Tale of Two Hats


The weekend has concluded, the Tide hung in there for a while but didn’t escape from “The Swamp” and “Wide Right Jesus” is still signaling “no good.”

But unless the world screeches to a halt and stops spinning on its axis, the Crimson Nation should be be smiling next week at this time after dismantling one of the nation’s most feeble college football teams, the Duke Blue Devils. I suspect the boys from Durham are making a handsome sum for showing up in Tuscaloosa for their thrashing. Duke lost their Homecoming game 37-0 to UVa on Saturday, so look for Saturday’s game to get butt ugly very quickly.… Read the rest

The Church of Football

churchsign.jpgThe South is a curious amalgam of fried food and sweet tea, trashy trailer park tragedy, dark gothic tales, hell, fire and brimstone and, of course, the ever-present, all-consuming, life-giving Church of Football.

Oh sure, there’s football in other parts of the country, but does anyone else come close to matching the faithful fanaticism of a Deep South Game Day? The Church of Football has it’s own liturgy–the parking lot fellowship meal, the processional to the house of worship, the gathering of the congregation, colorful vestments and the common chants and cheers. Touchdowns, of course, are the holiest sacrament, and in the ecstasy of celebrating another six points, congregants, if only for a few transcendent moments, forget their troubles and woes and are transported into high, heavenly places.… Read the rest

A Hoover High Reprise

As most regular readers know, Ocular Fusion 2.0 tends to be a non-controversial blog. Eyegal tells me that I need more “edge,” and that she would like to see me post on more “hot topics.” Well, she of all people should know that when you get down to my core, “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

Still, I’m up for a good scrap now and then, especially if one comes knocking at my door. My recent post on the MTV reality show “Two-a-Days” featuring Hoover High School’s football team didn’t stir up much trouble when I originally posted it, aside from the interesting discussion that Jon and I had on the pros and cons of allowing cuss words to be heard in one’s house.… Read the rest

The Death of “Good Mornin'”

It’s a given that if you’re taking a walk or a run on a Saturday morning in Alabama (or just about anyday anywhere in the South for that matter) and you meet up with one of your neighbors, that you’ll exchange a greeting of some sort. A head nod, a lift of the hand, a “hey,” or the classic “good mornin'” are all socially acceptable salutations. To acknowledge and greet a fellow passerby is as much a Southern staple as barbeque, sweet tea, high school football and Wednesday night church.

Or so I thought.

This past Saturday I was nearing the half way mark of my morning run when I spotted a speed-walking, fifty-something woman clad in colorful, cheerful spandex coming around a corner directly into my path.… Read the rest

Hoover High Lights

om.jpgWhenever we Alabamians hear that our beloved Yellowhammer State is in the news, our first reaction is to usually to cringe–“what now?”

Well, for better or worse, Alabama has made it again, this time in the form of MTV’s “Two-a-Days” a reality show which documents the fortunes of the Hoover High School (near Birmingham) Buccaneers football team, winner of four of the last five state 6-A football titles and the current preseason #1 in the USA TODAY Super 25.

We know a little something about Hoover High up Huntsville way. Our Grissom High Tigers are usually the ones who make the first round of the state playoffs only to be served up as Buccaneer bait.… Read the rest

It’s a Long Way From Gotham to Huntville

AL_12131.gifLast year at this time, the Eyegang was in New York City celebrating a 20th wedding anniversary with a family vacation. This year, things are more down to earth–hanging out with my little sis and her family in the roaring metropolis of Ozark, Alabama, the “Best Kept Secret” in the South. It’s a long way from Gotham to LA (Lower Alabama), but we expect the fun, fellowship and food (barbeque and shrimp boil are on the menu) to be every bit as satisfying.

While in New York City we walked till our little dogs howled for mercy trying to take in as much as we could in our 4 days–Ground Zero, The Statue of Liberty, baseball at Yankee Stadium, a Broadway play, etc.… Read the rest