Guest blogging at Facing South today

Chris Kromm of the blog Facing South, invited me to guest blog while he’s on vacation. It’s an effort of the progressive Institute for Southern Studies. ISS publishes the award-winning investigative journal, Southern Exposure. I told Chris that I promise to be good and not wreck the place — no four-letter words! Here’s a snippet of my first entry, Old and New South, Red and Blue. [Can %&$#@ Blogger not crap out for just one day?]…

I have Red State/Blue State “dual citizenship,” since I have native New Yorkers on one side of the family and I lived in NYC during its unforgettable heydey of urban decline of the 70s and 80s. When I returned to my hometown in 1989, it was clear that Durham, and its southern identity, had changed dramatically.

The best of Southern Culture has been retained here — brewed ice tea, good barbecue, a slower pace of doing things, a greeting of “Honey” or “Sugar” to you by people you don’t even know — it can be disconcerting to folks from other parts of the country that move here. Only last week I was at a business meeting with arrivals to these parts from Western and Northern states, and they freely admitted to being freaked out because they were addressed “Ma’am,” and that people weren’t in a hurry to get in line at the grocery store. Yes, the South is a different place, a lovely place to call home.

The South, even as the culture embraces bagels, scones, trendy coffee shops and NY-style pizza, still has some serious work to do as it adjusts to lives of its residents in the 21st century. For instance, NC has its first openly gay state senator, Julia Boseman, but the bible still beats hard over “values” issues here and elsewhere in the region.

You can read more of my post (and a lot of other, most-excellent writing) at Facing South