but then the boll weevils
showed up in the 1930's and now I'm stuck in fucking Alabama!
Chapter 12 in "Know Limpy's States", which is now virtually rocketing along while I studiously ignore Tysgirl's request for a "100 Things About Me" entry. Really, how entertaining would it be to read "I lie about the size of my penis" 100 times?
Alabama is the 22nd state, entering the Union on December 14, 1819. Originally settled by the French, the region was named after the Indians in the area, who called themselves "Alibamu", which I'm sure means something other than "Yes, thank you, we'd like nothing better than to have you kick our asses, violate several treaties and then force us to move to Oklahoma", but that's pretty much exactly what happened to them within 21 years of Alabama joining the US.
At any rate, after establishing a European settlement at Mobile Bay, the French lost the territory to the British in the French and Indian War. You can read all about that war here
, (actually, you probably need to buy the book; staring at the order page isn't going to help), where you will learn vast amounts about the Iriquois, the early colonies,European politics, why you shouldn't build forts near Pittsburgh when you know goddamn well the French are out there and are buddies with pretty much every single Indian group in a 100 mile radius
, and all sorts of other neat stuff, but you won't learn a single thing about Alabama because no one cared about it at the time.
Alabama, the original "player to be named later".
At any rate, once Andrew Jackson defeated the Creek Indians in the War of 1812, rising demand for cotton and Alabama's fertile conditions for producing the stuff, led to immigration from Tennessee and Georgia, as though anyone needed an excuse to leave those areas back before electricity. Some people came less willingly than others, but, much like Rhode Island, let's all close our eyes and pretend slavery never happened.
Alabama, feeling her oats, (or her cotton as the case may be), seceded from the Union in 1861. 15,000 dead Alabamians later, Alabama was back in the Union, like it or not. The good news, such as it was, was that thanks to General Sherman's efforts during the unpleasantness, there was a large demand for building materials, and Alabama soon launched its iron and steel industry. Its largest city, Birmingham, soon became known as "The Pittsburgh of the South", probably because they both make a lot of steel. Pittsburgh would have sued for defamation, but no one there could read at the time.
Of course, you can't talk about Alabama without talking about buses. And you can't talk about buses without talking about that uppity Rosa Parks. As we all know, (except in Rhode Island where we pretend we just happened to be selling rum in Africa and we gave this one guy a ride in our boat and next thing we know he's clapped in chains in some southern port and we don't know nuthin' about nuthin' anyway), the US used to have slaves. Not just in the south, but all over the place. Then the north indutrialized and realized it was even cheaper to use Irish and sort of phased things out. But the south kept using slaves because their economy was primarily agricultural, and required outside work, and let's face it, Irish people sunburn like there's no tomorrow. This led to two things. First, when a primiarily agricultural region gets in a war with a primarily industrial region, the agricultural region is going to get pummeled eventually no matter how bad the former's generals are. And second, after a hundred years or so of slavery, race relations are not going to be what they should be.
Which brings us to 1955. Alabama, and in fact many states, had segregated buses. Blacks had to give up their seats for white folk if required. Indians couldn't even get on the bus since they'd all been sent to Oklahoma in the 1830's. So one day Rosa Parks got on a bus. Legend has it that she's worked a long day and her feet were tired. I've since read she was actually doing this deliberately, but it really doesn't matter. She sat down. Some white douchebag demanded her seat. Rosa eloquently told him to get fucked. She got arrested. A boycott of the buses ensued. The bus segregation stopped. Black people got to vote. Martin Luther King made a speech saying he had a dream that, unlike my dreams, could be repeated in public. Schools got desegregated. Water fountains got desegregated. All was well and an era of peace and racial harmony descended on the land and then gay people started clamoring to get married and fucked it all up for everyone.
Or something like that. Anyway, long story short, there's an issue with race in the south. And indeed the whole country. And for that matter the entire world. It's not funny, but Alabama played a crucial role in bringing that whole ugly issue to the forefront, forced a confrontation which wasn't always pleasant, and led to at least some degree of improvement. So it bore mentioning. But I'm not going to bring it up again and when we get to Mississippi and Georgia I won't be making lynching jokes because those just aren't fucking funny. Fortunately, inbreeding, rickets, illiteracy and general dumbassery are funny, so there's plenty of fertile ground to be plowed there.
Alabama is called "The Heart of Dixie". Because it's in the middle of the South dumbass.
Alabama's state bird is the Northern Flicker. Does anyone else see the irony here? Damn carpetbagging
The state flower is the Camellia. I don't know what that is, but here's a picture.
Tysgirl would take a better one, but then she has a camera that costs more than my car. Which may have been built in Alabama for all I know.
The highest point in Alabama is Cheaha Mountain, in the Talladega National Forest. For some reason there are two Talldega National Forests in Alabama. The one with the mountain is closer to the eastern border. The Talladega Raceway is (probably) in Talladega, a city between the two parks. You can watch people drive really fast in circles for hours there, or you could climb a mountain. I'll take the moutain.
There are 4,500,752 people in Alabama. All of them know how to make grits. And every single one of them will tell you that everyone else's grits taste like shit. Also, 2,250,326 of them root for Auburn football and 2,250,326 of them root for the Crimson Tide of Alabama and every year there's a football game between the two that makes the Civil War pale in comparison. And no one else in the country gives a shit.
IF YOU'RE IN ALABAMA YOU SHOULD: Having spent all of one week in Alabama, and that week confined to Birmingham, clearly I am an expert in all the things you should do in Alabama. If you're like me, you'll spend your time sitting in an outdoor hot tub, drinking beer and cursing the fact that you're stuck in Birmingham. If you have more initiative, you could visit the Civil Rights Museum. You could send your kids to the US Space Camp in Huntsvile. You could visit scenic Dismals Canyon, (that's what it says in the book anyway), one of the few virgin forests, (or for that matter, virgin anything
) in the state. Apparently Aaron Burr hid out there after shooting Alexander Hamilton. I had a friend from Alabama tell me that the Gulf Shore has some nice beaches. She called it "The Redneck Riviera". Or you could do what everyone else does and stand outside with your lighter raised in the air yelling "Freebird" at the top of your lungs.
MISS ALABAMA LOOKS LIKE THIS:
Yes, southern women do seem to take the whole beauty pageant thing a lot more seriously than the rest of the nation. But since they can pretty much get laid just by using their accents, who's gonna complain?
LIMPY'S CONNECTION TO THE STATE: For the last 8-9 years I've worked for a company based in Birmingham. I had to spend a week there once for a training exercise/competition. I spent most of that week confined to a warehouse or hotel. I was also drunk a good deal of the time. I won the competition and gave an acceptance speech standing unsteadily on a table in an Outback restaurant. I am told that the speech was both hilarious and somewhat-less-than-gracious, but I could not tell you for sure. Other than that, I have no connection to 'Bama.
HAS LIMPY EVER GOTTEN LAID IN THIS STATE: No, although my wife came very close to flying down during that week, and I would have paid for the ticket twice over, and then I could have said "yes". And by the way Pug, I've done the electoral math, and unless I get some serious traveling in, I think I'm stuck in the 170's.
Up next, Arkansas. Put up your feet and whittle some!