Harvey H. Jackson: Odds, ends and peculiarities
Oct 03, 2012 | 2221 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Column writers collect all sorts of stuff in hopes that some of it will jell into a whole that can be written up in around 800 words for the entertainment and, dare I say it, edification of whoever might read it.

The other day, I pulled out my file from the past few weeks to find an abundance of things that individually would not make up a column and together might not make up one, either, but I’m gonna try anyway.

Editor Tutor stole the “Jesus had a wife” news, so there is not much for me to say about that other than “so what,” and add a much belated “Mazel Tov.” I know the possibility of a “Mrs. Christ” raises all sorts of questions and poses all sorts of problems for faiths that have based institutions and attitudes on gender separation, if not inequality, but not being a member of one of those, I will simply let them deal with it themselves.

Under the category of “news that isn’t news,” I filed the article announcing that “virtually all” the tar balls that have been washing up on the Gulf Coast beaches came from the BP oil spill.

Where else would that much oil come from? When ships years ago were allowed to flush out their ballast tanks offshore, some of the nasty stuff those tanks contained would wash up and get on you if you stepped in it. That was why my family always kept a can of kerosene or some such so we could clean the tar from between our toes. Then something was done to keep the ships from doing that and the tar disappeared. Now it is back, and unless the ships are doing what they did once again, the culprit is BP.

A study conducted by Auburn University proves it, in case you were wondering, which I wasn’t.

On a more serious note, I recently discovered that I had broken the law and not only that, I had shown other Alabamians how they, too, could become part of the criminal class.

Did you know it is illegal to make homebrew in this state?

Right.

Alabama is one of only two states that say you cannot brew at home — the other, surprise, surprise, is Mississippi, the state that once defied all but Mississippi-logic and outlawed the sale of alcoholic beverages, then taxed what was made illegal.

I discovered this when the press reported that the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board, in a raid ABC folks said was not a “raid,” entered a Birmingham beer and wine store and seized the equipment for making beer at home that the store had been selling to would-be criminals.

Some years ago, my lovely wife gave me a home-beer-making kit, and for a while I brewed and broke the law. Did she break the law by buying the kit from a catalog, and did the catalog company that sold it break the law by selling it to an Alabamian?

After my beer-making days ended (I don’t know what came of the kit; perhaps we donated it to the church rummage sale), I wrote a column about how in the dry county of my youth, grocers sold the ingredients that locals bought and brewed, and I even included a homebrew recipe I found in my late father’s papers.

The response was heartening. A local criminal gave me a six-pack of his homemade beer, and a sweet lady from south of here gave me a mason jar of dandelion wine. Others wrote to tell me they planned to try out my father’s concoction.

I hope the statute of limitations has run out.

And then there was yet another controversy concerning the Confederate battle flag.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band that has prominently displayed the flag at concerts, announced that because the symbol of the Lost Cause has been taken over by “hate groups,” the musicians weren’t going to display it anymore.

This set off a “firestorm” among fans of the band and fans of the flag, so Skynyrd backed off and said it would still use the flag onstage.

That must have come as a relief to entrepreneurs along the Gulf Coast. When BP coughed up cash last summer to get visitors to return to the beaches, one tourism association decided to take the money and bring in Skynyrd.

Not everyone liked the idea. Lynyrd Skynyrd would do nothing for the local economy, one critic wrote, because “every toothless redneck from a hundred miles will bring in [their] own Busch and Natty Lite and food,” set up lawn chairs, groove to “Sweet Home Alabama,” then leave. The only way for local businesses to make any money would be to “open a cheap cigarette and Confederate bandana shop.”

See, if Skynyrd had not decided the flag was OK, the bandana businesses across the South would have been out of luck. How’s that for an economic stimulus?

Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University and an editorial writer and columnist for The Star. Email: hjackson@jsu.edu.
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