Monday, May 08, 2006

Welcome to Atlanta: A Reflection

While I tend to stray from the cliché, going back home never ceases to flood my mind with countless memories, often serving as an impetus for deep thought,

Clay and I traveled into the Piney Woods this past weekend to introduce our girlfriends to our native culture and way of life, causing me once again to pause and try to reconcile the psychological and emotional disconnect formed through years of living in rural East Texas.  Indeed, Uptown living in Dallas is a long way from the streets of Texas’ ATL.  Here are a few random thoughts from my trip:

First, a note to all Atlanta (Texas) natives, the town is DEAD!   Drive through downtown Atlanta and count the vacant buildings.  Perhaps, it would be easier to count the actual businesses (2 antique shops, one female dress shop, one drug store and countless churches.)  Do members of the Atlanta City Council not understand the concept of economic development?  Remember when there were Ellises on the city council?  Downtown wasn’t so depressing then…..Maybe I should move back and run for mayor.

By the way, doesn’t Stephen Frost call Atlanta home?  Shouldn’t he try to help out with Atlanta’s economic woes?  If not, you that are registered to vote in Atlanta should vote his ass out.

I pick up the Texarkana Gazette on Saturday and evidently they are still burning crosses in Fouke, Arkansas.  For those of you not from East Texas/ Southwest Arkansas or Northwest Louisiana, Fouke is an “all-white” town in a region where African-Americans outnumber Caucasians.  Fouke comes complete with a “hanging tree” in a residential neighborhood that has been used to deter African-Americans from moving into the area.  Two years ago, Fouke schools consolidated with Bright Star schools, which had a few African-American students. Fouke citizens referred to the state mandated consolidation as “the integration.”  Well, apparently, some Fouke residents recently placed a burning cross in the yard of a white lady who had invited her black boyfriend to move in with her.  The men were arrested and the Gazette wrote an article about Fouke’s racist past.  They interviewed Fouke’s mayor, Cecil Smith, who tried to play down many of the points the Gazette raised.  My favorite quote from Smith was, “When colored folks come in here and ask for different types of things, we treat them like our next door neighbors.”

A mayor using the phrase “colored folks” in 2006?  

I really do miss the cooking from my homeland.  On Saturday afternoon, Clay’s mother prepared a huge feast for us that included fried catfish, fried alligator, fried shrimp, stuffed crab, boiled shrimp and bacon wrapped grilled shrimp; the only thing missing was the crawfish.  It’s nearly impossible to find good seafood in Dallas—all the seafood is so bland and don’t even try to find good gumbo here, it is impossible. Luckily, Clay’s mother taught our girlfriends how to prepare this meal, so hopefully they will be able to duplicate the culinary experience.  

Finally, East Texas is not a good place to travel if you are trying to quit smoking.  It seems like everyone in the area smokes and it is so tempting to pick-up the habit once again after three months of being nicotine free.


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