Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mississippi Goddamn


For me, this is the greatest protest song ever. 

We just spent three days in Mississippi visitng Megan, who is there for a year as the John Grisham writer-in-residence.  She is ensconced in a terrific apartment right on the square in Oxford. She is thrilled at the caliber of students in their MFA program and happy to be amongst writers like Ace Atkins, Tom Franklin, Chris Offut, Jack Pendarvis and others.

Mississippi is like another country to me. Oh yes, Oxford is somewhat like most flagstaff univeristy campuses in some respects, but where else on a lovely Sunday morning would you hear a young man say to his dog,

"Roscoe, what do you feel like doing this afternoon? Should we get ourself some ducks."

It took me a minute to suss out he was talking about hunting and not pet or grocery shopping.



Highlights of the trip: having drinks with Ace Atkins and Jack Pendarvis at a terrific bar. Jack is a writer on the show ADVENTURE TIME and wonderfully funny. I have enjoyed his blog for years and it was a treat to meet him and talk about some of his favorite subjects.

Driving to the famous Taylor Grocery for dinner and being told the wait would be in the neighborhood of three hours. I have never seen tailgating at a restaurant before this.

Drving to Greenwood (and look at that sky) and having lunch at the Crystal Grill. Fried oysters and fried green tomatoes with coconut cream pie for dessert. Seeing a bit of the Delta and the cotton crop.

A football game with LSU filled the town for three days. Marching down to the Grove on game night to see the thousands of tents set up for the tailgating there. The co-eds dress better than any girls in the north. Flirty skirts, I think they call them. And Ole Miss won unexpectedly.


Visiting Rowan Oak, Faulkner's home. Is there a more famous writer's house in the country? It manages to be modest and grand at the same time--much like the writer.

Going to Big Bad Breakfast with Jack Pendarvis and his wife, Dr. Theresa Starkey, who's as sweet and interesting as her husband. How I wish I could take her course which compares seventies films to fifties films.

Getting to see Phil and Megan watch two Tiger games together. I often see Phil and Josh share games but rarely Megan and Phil.

This is my second MS trip. The first time we drove down the Trace to Natchez. The people are so polite, helpful, kind. And yet. Mississippi Goddamn.







17 comments:

George said...

Sounds like you and Phil had a great time visiting Megan. I've been in every state of the U.S. except for Mississippi and Hawaii. Love the photos!

Charles Gramlich said...

Mississippi blues. Not so blue it sounds like.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great trip, Patti.

Jackie wants to know - did you wait the three hours for dinner.

George, Jackie wants to know what you were doing in North Dakota.

Jeff M.

John said...

Great post! You saw a bottle tree! Do you know about that? It's part of the hoodoo superstitions of the Gulf states. I would expect to see them in Louisiana or southern Mississippi not in the northern part of the state.

And I want to know what George did in Idaho. And Nebraska. Two states I still have yet to visit.

Heath Lowrance said...

North Mississippi had a profound impact on me. Wish you could have seen Junior Kimbrough's place before it burned down, Patti, you would have loved it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It took me a while to find a bottle tree but we did finally.
Truly I am drawn and repelled by MS at the same time, Heath. It resonates in your work, I think.
We did not wait, Jeff. Didn't even consider it. There are a ton of good restaurants there now and we ended up having a very good dinner somewhere else.
I have never been in many states in the middle of the country but we have the coasts and the south covered.

Chris said...

I'd like to spend more time in that part of the country.

F.T. Bradley said...

Cool report on my current home state. I've not been to Oxford--it sounds fun... I'll be going to Jackson in January, I'll have to report from there :-)

Mississippi is definitely an interesting place...

pattinase (abbott) said...

We're hoping to get to Jackson when we visit in the spring. Maybe we can do lunch.

Todd Mason said...

I'm going to insist that even "Fables of Faubus" and "Mississippi Goddamn" (and Simone's "Backlash Blues") aren't quite up to Holiday's reading of "Strange Fruit"...and you, Patti, are not allowed to forget Gil Scott-Heron's "We Almost Lost Detroit."

And today's Miss is the child of 1960s MS...it's not as if any state in this nation, or any nation on Earth, can hold its head up completely in such matters. Someone very close to me is married into a Mississippi-based family that has mostly decamped to the Philly area, and they don't see That much difference in the neighbors' attitudes...

Having at least touched down in every state in the US, I can say that it's not That tough, and can be enlightening...though also can be just a whole lot of driving through...

pattinase (abbott) said...

Off to check out Fables of Faubus.

Dana King said...

good song, but what a great book title it would make.

Anonymous said...

As someone who, while not a native southerner, has lived in the south close to half my life, I think your assessment of Mississippi is spot on. I find most people here warm, friendly, and helpful--as long as you don't discuss politics or race. If you do, it's like you turned on the crazy faucet.

Deb

Margot Kinberg said...

Sounds like an amazing trip, Patti! Thanks for sharing.

Kent Morgan said...

Didn't you visit the famous book store?

pattinase (abbott) said...

All three of them. They have taken over the square!

Erik Donald France said...

Fantastic places you visited. So cool! I had a very good experience in Natchez with one of my sisters at an old (African American) woman's house, wherein she shared lunch with us. It was like a time capsule, her place, with pix of JFK, MLK and etc. on her wall. Sweet.

But agreed on the grimmer aspects of Mississippi.