You, DK. You. The good friends I have here that give me hope that we can finally learn to talk to one another civilly, that we can learn from one another and that we can "all get along" someday. It matters to me here in Alabama more than you can appreciate. And when I see diary after diary that has in it's headline some trashing of Alabama, when every show leads with some mockery of Alabama and it's people I can't imagine how it's ever going to change. Then I remember that it already has changed. Over and over it changes, every time we have that dialogue and march arm in arm. Every time we speak out and every time we get a blast from the past that reminds us that time is on our side.
That song. Time is on our side. Why do you think the songwriter wrote it in the way he did.? Why were the lyrics and the music so forceful? Why was it necessary to say something so simple? Because the one word in that song that isn't emphasized is OUR side. We all live in a yellow submarine. We are all targets if we try to be different. We can't be different and not be obvious. It's the nature of things. And so the artists among us find ourselves eitiher ostracized by someone, or they find that we are too radical to sehear our message, read our words or join in our songs.
It sucks sometimes being an artist. Especially if your message spans generations and is universal. It isthrilling when the message becomes clear to one person at a time but you become too passionate for some people and passion is sometimes not appropriate to the message eing heard.
A norweigan visitor to the bistro where my art is hanging right now said it best: You are in a difficult spot being between generations - I think I know what he meant. I'd dress like the "hipsters" if I thought I'd get away with it. I used to do that at art school befrore I became a graduate student and had to represeent the school in a different way. I was fond of wearing men's oxford shirts with writing on them and image transfers that said what I couldn't say out loud. It was the time and the season for messages but no one around here wanted to hear them.
I have been back in school during several national events. I returned to school as soon as I could pick myself up off the emotional floor where I was left by the Bush V. Gore -- Idecision - prior to that I'd been creating a website for a jewish friend of mine named Stephen Goldfarb. The webiste is in the archives now. It was called LeoFrankLynchers and I did it anonymously because of the pollitical firestorm it caused in the area where I lived and other places. The fact of the matter is that I was afraid of people ike Bob Barr and Newt Gingrich. In those days, if you were a progressive and lived in marietta, Georgia you might have reason to be afraid of these men.
When I see the mail come in to this house where a 96 year old Republican lived until her stroke a few months ago, I see the claims of people like Bob Barr, John Bolton, Ollie North, and so many others trying to terrify an elderly woman into donating more money to save the Republican party from itself, using fear to try to change the world, and ponder what it is that they want her to be afraid of, I really do realize that the delicate edge of their precarious balance is that they kn ow that the elderly mostly just want us to all get along. hat's all that matters to them.
The Republican National committee finally called the house yesterday in person. I was so glad to finally be able to explain to the dittoheads that she is too old to support them with the money that she has left. She is going to need all of it to take care of herself most likely. I hope she lives to be 200 and gets a chance to see the world she believes in. come to pass.
She loves cats. Wouldn't turn a stray cat out if her life depended on it. She is not a cynical hateful woman who wants that black man to be defeated. She's not afraid of his religion either. She really doesn't have a dog in this fight at all. She no longer listens to the TV because she can't hear and she isn't really interested in the arguments about whose side is right and whose side is wrong. She isn't even a legacy republican like those in my family. She came from nothing, from a family whose father abandoned them and then died, and she was the one who raised the rest of them and worked at Brookley Field until it closed. She was one of the last employees. Her husband, who died a few years ago, was also a Brookely Field employee and they lived a good life here in Mobile, but like most of this town, the closing of Brookley Field was a shock that never stopped hurting.
Mobile is a town that has had many Tsunami's of ecomonic shock and the gulf oil spill is just another one. We are always dependent on things we can't control whether it's torrential rains flooding downtown Mobile or Hurricanes wiping out the city. My adopted town of Mobile (I'm from Fairhope, and there is, despite what I've written before a difference) b has a reputation that sadly is tarnished by the constant avalanche of bad news and economic impact that only the devoted are able to stick around to record.
Those of us who, like myself, have five or six generations of family buried in Magnolia Cemetary and who have sloshed through one too many swampy funerals in that to bury yet another proud member of the family, people who have had positions of power as well as those who silently supported them and died without their stories told, (I'm workign on it, trust me) and yet you have to wonder why my immediate family is not buried here. My mother is in Montrose and my father in Tampa, and I don't know where I"ll be buried. I don't care though as long as the story I have to tell gets told before I'm done.
That story, that saga, that you all have been reading and commenting on, those images and artwork that depict the sad trajectory of three generations of the Douglass-Warley-Hales family those paintings that are so "creepy" to the young kids because I used dolls to represent the children who were sent off to war, to be maimed and killed and somehow they all survived and came home to increase the family tree one more time. We made it by luck -- one made it back from the Civil War with one arm and "sired three children" which used to be a famliy joke, and others made it despite shocking breaches of the social order, defiantly being forced to live as bankrupt has beens, widows, or worse. But we all made it somehow and thanks to my aunt who is no longer with us we actually know each other.
I attended a funeral for one of my prominent uncles and met some of Mobile's blue bloods. This was during the Bush -Gore election and was right before the primary as I recall, and I can remember that my cousin told me that I had better not open my mouth about being democrat. I had a hard time that day in that living room where they all felt so free to trash the very people I was helping to elect. I didn't dare tell them (my aunt strong armed me this time) that I was a Kucinich delegate...And later, when my art was hanging in a local restaurant and I ran into the woman who informed me of why they had moved away from the farm in St. Elmo (which had something to do with dark skinned peolple who couldn't be trusted not to steal as she so unabashedly proclaimed) I had to go outside for air! I really wasn't prepared for how clearly the message was being broadcast that the world had better remain on the "W" side until I realized that those little tiny black stickers that I couldn't have cared less about were all subtle "signs" that meant we were in the "in crowd" of supporters of the man who meant LEGACY to these people. He's one of us, that W said. I couldn't have thought of it because I don't think like that.
They were members of a secret society. The elite. The wealthy. The powerful. That meant that they had to be careful and not speak ill of the "other" within the hearing of that "other" but it gets more difficult when you can't easily tell which is which.
That's when I realized that it was going to have to change slowly. But that was then. There's much more at stake now, and the stakes are much higher. We are all in this together now. Many many people are not that afraid any longer.
C'mon, Alabama. Show us what you really are. Come to the table together and show us how you really think for yourselves. Be the Alabama i grew up in, not the one that divided over hate but the one who rebuilt after that. Be the Alabama that came back together and supported the Southern Poverty Law Center, that helped Selma become more than just a bridge to nowhere, that celebrates both the high stepping black bands and the high jumping black athletes as well as the rest of them. Be the Alabama that loves every single person from all walks of life and really fears no one that we meet face to face. Be the Alabama who elected Don Siegleman because he was the right man for the job and the Alabama whose governor Wallace lived to regret many of his decisions. Be the Alabama of Tallulah Bankhead, Faye Dunaway, Jimmy Buffett, Rick Bragg, Fannie Flagg, and Eugene Walter. C'mon. Stop the hate.
I'm counting on you.