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I’ve been writing this column for about…two and a half years now. It’s a pretty niche topic, if you think about it.
Writing about our history and culture from a modern perspective can be kinda limiting, because so much of our narrative was written by tarnished hands or subjective points of view. It’s hard to think of what else to add to the story.
I’ve written more than a book’s worth of information over this time, and I’m seeing where to go with that, too. I’ll admit, I have thoughts about hanging it up for a bit. This thought especially comes to me when I write my columns on Tuesday evenings, assuring Ms. Christa that I’m just a few words away while staring at a blank Word document and researching to figure out what in the world I’ll write about next. I’m a little bit of a procrastinator, but hey, look where that’s gotten me so far.
In that vein of “where to go from here,” sometimes I think about what our future holds. Who will they write about in 50 years? What will be our story in 50 years? In a century, will we still be viewed as a bunch of boot-scootin’ hayseeds? Don’t get me wrong, I want a little bit of that in the picture, but maybe we could stand to teach the world about some of the nobility in hayseedery.
Who will we elevate to the cover of our textbook?
Now, y’all know I’m partial to a good poet, especially when we’re talking about our roots. There’s a subtlety that one sees in the way we lead our lives that isn’t easily captured. Often it takes a masterful artist to show that about us.
Since Ms. Christa won’t let me just send pretty pictures to share as my columns, I figure the written word will have to do. And modern writers like Alabama’s own Jason McCall.
Jason McCall is a fascinating man who captures a modern perspective of southern living. He’s the author of multiple publications, such as “Mother, Less Child,” “Two-Faced God” and “It was Written: An Anthology of Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop.” But beyond that, he’s also approached our broader culture in articles like “When you Choose ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Over ‘12 Years a Slave’” and other movie reviews. These counter interestingly with his thought-provoking, almost-comical-but maybe-I-shouldn’t-laugh-at-that prose in poems like the following, “Sidekick Funeral: John the Baptist.”
“Sidekick Funeral: John the Baptist”
Every MC needs a hype man,
Chuck D had Flav.
Biggie had Diddy.
And Jesus had you
to get the crowds ready,
to make sure the world knew
new (stuff) was on the way.
You never loved yourself
too much or fell in love
with the idea that you could go
solo. You knew it wasn’t about you;
it wasn’t even about Jesus
and the whole “son of God”
tagline. It was about the message,
about the music of a million knees
dropping to the earth and dropping
their burdens at your boy’s feet.
And that’s why the message had to live
even if the body was on the cross,
in a Galilee grave, on his father’s throne.
And you made sure the message pumped
through every speaker in heaven, hell, and earth.
Mr. McCall manages to take difficult topics and present them in a way that is digestible to the common reader, while still being thought provoking and challenging. I personally find that to be a very compelling trait for a writer – I may respect Isaac Asimov or Fyodor Dostoesvsky a great deal, but I’ll read Robert Heinlein or Chuck Klosterman quite a bit more because of this.
While his topics don’t typically address the South in any specific way, I feel his Montgomery origins in his speech. The easy flow of the way he writes feels like home.
I don’t know what the future of the South looks like, or how the story of our present will be written. But I hope he’s included in the narrative in some way – or maybe he’ll hold the pen.