Ted, a Citadel graduate and a Southern gentleman of the old school, takes delight in sending me examples of redneckery to enhance my study of the subject along the Gulf Coast — where, incidentally, he spent part of his youth.
(Some of you may have taken his Civil War history course, which he taught the way God and Jefferson Davis meant it to be taught, despite the fact that he was unable to alter the outcome.)
Ted's e-mail contained a link to a YouTube video of the Bellamy Brothers, a duo that my friend presumed were some of my "Redneck Brotherhood" since the Bellamys' credentials in that category seem irrefutable. Included with the link was a note that apparently came from the person who sent the link to him — someone who clearly fears for the future of free speech in America.
The originator of the e-mail told Ted that some folks were so upset by what the link contained that they were saying "it should be banned in the U.S., and that if the Bellamys leave the U.S., they won't be allowed back."
Well, I doubted that. If we can't keep out all the other folks that I am told are coming across our borders, I figured a couple of good-old boys like the Bellamys could slip into south Alabama and never be noticed.
Still, rather than make a decision without giving the song a listen (like folks who will ban books they haven't read), I clicked on the link. And up came the Bellamys, two "heterosexual, white-boy Methodists," sitting in a bar surrounded by bikini-clad beauties and folks pretending to be Tiger Woods and Sarah Palin, singing about how life wasn't like a bowl of cherries. It was more like a jar of jalapenos — "what you do and say today ... will come right back and burn your --- tomorrow".
It was catchy, offensive, funny, politically incorrect, and except for leaving out wife-beating and a lynching bee, it contained just about every redneck stereotype I could imagine. And I can imagine more than a few.
Now, in my vast and soon-to-be completed (hopefully) study of rednecks and redneckery on the Gulf Coast, I have come across a lot of folks who don't like boys like the Bellamys. They find the whole concept of the Redneck Riviera offensive and are doing everything in their power to get rid of the oyster bars and beer joints down here and replace them with places that serve sushi and martinis. It's the theory that if you destroy the habitats, the species will die out.
Works for beach mice, why not for bubbas?
This anti-redneck element has carved out enclaves along the Coast, upscale and expensive communities that writer Peter Applebome described as "instant Dixie Cape Cod of cobblestone streets, white picket fences, widow's walks, languorous front porches, and New England cottages in Bermuda pastel shades of pink, yellow and blue, where platoons of Atlanta lawyers and squadrons of Birmingham doctors' wives alight each summer to eat designer corn chips, drink pina coladas and take seaside yoga classes."
These resorts have names like WaterColor, WaterSound, Rosemary Beach and, of course, Seaside, which the The New York Times described as being "as relentlessly tasteful as any place on the planet." Communities that attract people who would never describe themselves as "heterosexual, white-boy Methodists" even if they were.
So, naturally, the Bellamy Brothers own a home in one of these communities.
Yessir, in Seaside.
And it has a name — "Persuasion."
And, get ready, it is PINK.
When I told my friend, he suggested that it might be "fashionably sun-faded Florida coral," but even if it is, that's no better.
Have the Bellamys just been putting us on?
Is all that redneckery fake?
Or, maybe this is one more example of the (drum roll) REVENGE OF THE REDNECKS.
I could be wrong, but I like to think that when these boys from Darby, Fla., made it big, they decided to use some of the money they made to get money from the folks who think they are too sophisticated to buy Bellamy records. And a good way to do that was to have the white-wine, white-neck folks who visit Seaside pay the Bellamys for the privilege.
So they bought a house and rent it to 'em. And houses in Seaside rent for a pretty penny.
Now, the website says the Bellamys visit the house "a few times a year," but I have missed 'em so far. Maybe one day I'll see them at the sushi bar.
Harvey H. ("Hardy") Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist and editorial writer for The Star. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.