the twit


    a short catching up

    things have been many and stressful lately. transitioning to a new type of being productive, with no imposed ritual, and little guidance. be careful what you wish for when you've got big ideas; at some point someone may say, "ok - here's a salary. get it done." life as a series of short adventures.


    1. at the grove.

    from "at ole miss, the tailgaters never lose," nytimes:
    The glory of the Grove is legend at all of Ole Miss’s rival schools in the Southeastern Conference and beyond. It is the mother and mistress of outdoor ritual mayhem.

    As Charles R. Frederick Jr., a folklorist at the University of Indiana, characterized it in his dissertation on the Ole Miss tailgating event, the call to “come on out Saturday and look us up” in the Grove is as basic, and born to a spot, as a human bond can get. And it is as deep as the root of a tree.

    It is also as fresh and green as a leaf.

    “I love it,” Molly Aiken, 19, a sophomore at Ole Miss, said on Saturday under a tent, under the trees, a party roar rising and dissipating into the whisper of a warm, humid wind above. “There’s no place like it.”

    Ms. Aiken, who is from Chattanooga, Tenn., said of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, “I went to U.T. this past weekend, for the U.T.-Florida game, and I was, like, this just doesn’t compare.”

    Ole Miss’s stadium accommodates 60,580 people, and devotees of the Grove argue that the Grove accommodates more. It is every kind of party you can describe, at once: cocktail party, dinner party, tailgate picnic party, fraternity and sorority rush, family reunion, political handgrab, gala and networking party-hearty — what might have inspired Willie Morris, one of Mississippi’s favorite sons, to declare Mississippi not a state, but a club."

    so after two years with the teacher corps, and now a couple of months employed by the university of mississippi through the william winter institute, i figure it's due time that i check out this grove thing. ole miss was playing florida, and as the couz is a floridian, he came over to oxford from marks and at a bar on the square we watched the surprisingly close game. since it was an early afternoon kickoff - 11:30 - the grove was active both pre- and post-, and we wandered to campus afterwards; a family from marks had a tent somewhere in the mess - we were determined to find it and say hello.

    the grove is, of course, an impressive sort of bedlam.

    this sets the scene: a tailgating melee unlike any other in population density, southern flair, and who-are-you-kin-to socializing. the couz and i are following around an older woman from marks as she - dressed up elegantly and with pounds of makeup - makes the rounds. i am wearing t-shirt that says "the jackson branch naacp supports the school bond referendum," with a big naacp seal in the middle (and my membership card in my wallet, to boot). i am - in case you're wondering - white (or more appropriately, half-colombian but not latino-looking at all and claim my upbringing from the caucasian paradise of the suburban midwest). this all becomes very apparent when two ole miss grads (who look the part - khaki shorts, swoosh-over-the-eyebrow bangs, and cheesy sunglasses with that odd "sporty" necklace attachment) are cleary discussing my shirt as the couz and i wait patiently for our escort to catch up with whomever she's run into. of course, i'm not totally surprised that a white guy in the grove wearing an naacp shirt would furrow some brows, but so does dixie (give me all the "heritage, not hate" you want; some heritage is absurd). in any case, a discussion starts, here adapted as best i can remember:
    guy 1: hey.
    me: hey.
    guy 1: are you wearing that t-shirt as a joke?
    me: nope; it's not a joke.
    guy 2: well, i think you're sorry sack of shit.
    me: i'm sorry you feel that way.
    guy 1: man, you've got to get your priorities straight.
    me: my priorities are straight; i taught public high school in jackson for two years - i care about my kids and i care about their education.
    (it continues in this vein for a second)
    guy 2: well, i'm going to have to ask you to leave this tent.
    me: are you kidding?
    guy 2: no; just get the hell out of here.
    me: this is public land, and a public forum. i am an employee of the university, and i certainly have the right to stand here and to wear this shirt.
    guy 2: just fucking leave.
    guy 1: hey man, just walk away.
    (it continues in this vein for a bit. the guys never get out of their seats or raise their voices enough to cause a scene - southern gentlemen that they are.)

    from "at ole miss, the tailgaters never lose," nytimes:

    A boy in white shorts and a polo shirt stepped out onto the Walk of Champions, the brick path where the Rebels would make their ceremonial march through the Grove on their way to the stadium the next day.

    “Are you READY?!” he called to the trees, prompting the Ole Miss cheer.

    “HELLLLL YES! DAAAAMN RIGHT!” the trees yelled back. “Hotty Toddy gosh almighty who in the hell are we? Flim flam bim bam, OLE MISS by damn! WUUUUUUUUUUUUU!”

    who in the hell are we, indeed.

    2. in sumner, ms - the evening before the emmitt till commission's press conference:

    do not forget these strange things
    you take for granted. sleeping in
    the mayor's guest room; a town
    of 400 - he took the job because
    no one wanted to. nearby: a man
    with multiple (not tanks, but) APVs
    goes riding at night in fatigues -
    a pet racoon on his shoulder;
    all the 200 guns in his house
    are loaded - that is very clear
    to his children; an old black woman,
    convinced the white sheriff is out
    to get her because she marched
    in the 60s, had breakfast with
    the kennedys; a brain tumor helps
    know he's near - looking through
    the trailer wall with x-ray vision.
    lights over there are tutweiler
    jail; over there parchman.
    when a family dies - the house
    is empty, the business gone.
    someday these weekend cottages
    will have wonderful histories.

    3. in sumner, ms - the day of the emmitt till commission press conference.

    the injustice of neglect - an explicit violence: in 1955, emmitt till was brutally abused and murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman. he was 14 years old, from chicago and visiting with family in tallahatchie county. two white men were acquitted of murder by an all-white jury after an hour of discussion. after the till commission (composed of black and white community leaders) read it's formal statement of regret on the steps of the sumner courthouse (where the trial had occurred) - acknowledging that a miscarriage of justice had occurred and calling for truth and reconciliation in the case - one of till's family members remarked, "imagine having to hold your breath for 52 years."

    the injustice of neglect - an implicit violence: in 2007, buses of middle and high school students are unloaded at sumner courthouse. it is a hot day, and the emmitt till commission press conference drags on. there aren't enough chairs for everyone, and the students huddle against empty storefronts. uninterested in what's going on, they begin to talk amongst themselves. teachers are no where in sight. most of the most audible students are black males, huddling around each other in brambles of machismo. many are emmitt's age; i doubt they've been provided adequate context for the historical resonance of the what's going on at the podium, and references to "young people" over the loudspeakers become more and more ironic above the swelling din. i walk over to a group and explain that i can't hear the conference, and get a bundle of sneers, who-the-fuck-does-he-think-he-is looks, and few taunting drugs & violence references. i stand there for a while, and - as i hold my breath - the group disperses: off to find some bottled water, an ice cream cone, some girls.