A Single Southern Guy In America

January 25, 2005

Gotch Yer Ears On?

While everyone else is blogging this or that in my politics or dating or what gets in their craw and what makes their toes curls, I've been observing a Southern movie tradition. AMC is playing Smokey and The Bandit and Smokey and The Bandit 2 tonight. I'm not in heaven, but I'm darn sure close.

I'm not sure exactly what it is the about these two movies make me feel so at home. It could be the familiar country music that are now known as country classics or in cheap "Country Gold" cd compilations. Perhaps it's the notion of the outlaw flaunting the rules to achieve a never before feat to earn the notoriety of the act, the fame of the achievement, and the reward of the challenge. Of course, there is the romantic thought of the dashing brigand rescuing the reticent bride from a surely unhappy marriage with a slow man. The comic relief of a persistent and enduring pursuit by the unforgettable Buford T. Justice as a Texas Mounty through Arkansas Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, makes us both sympathetic and antagonistic to him at the same time.

Maybe it's that ever memorable phrase, "The boys are thirsty in Atlanta and there's beer in Texarkana, and we'll bring it back no matter what it takes..." that makes me think of the Southern overtones. In just our last blog-meet in Athens, I remember Acidman telling me of some of guys he knew while he was in school at the University of Georgia. These guys would head out on a Friday morning or maybe a Thursday evening before a Bulldogs home football game with a U-Haul trailer or van en route to Texas to pick up a load of Coors beer. As most folks know, Coors beer is not that great of a beer these days, but in those days, it was a premium beer, if only for its scarcity. I can't remember what he said they would but it for and then sell it for, but I recall clearly they made a killing.

A Part of it could come from the camaraderie of CB radio users displayed by the movie. The use of CB's remind me of my childhood when Daddy had a CB radio and we'd talk to other folks traveling with us and truckers whenever we went on family vacations that consisted of both long and short drives. I'll never forget when my maternal grandparents came across the CB when I was seven years old. We were in Knoxville, TN, for the World's Fair, and were heading back to our campground after a fun and educational filled day at the event. My Grandpa told my parents to turn on the radio--the president had been shot. News information had came to us electronically when we alerted to it by someone we trusted, knew, and could have nearly instant and un-edited commentary about the news event. But, I digress...

Still, who could forget the notion of traveling almost halfway across the country, being friends with truckers, meeting and winning the girl, and still getting the prized alcoholic beverage to the 'capitol' of the New South in 28 hours because of a 'blocker' driving a Trans-Am with T-tops? That kind of speed in those days would have been the envy of all folks who hoped information could travel so fast. While it's not quite the latter-day Robin Hood 'take from the rich - give to the poor' story, Smokey and the Bandit may have given us an early vision of what was possible with a citizens' promulgated communication system.

Ham radio certainly predated CB radio. And for numerous reason, Ham radio did not take root the way CB's did. We knew of roadblocks and speed traps as they happened from the CB radio. At the same time, law enforcement used the same medium to coordinate efforts to attempt to catch those who crossed the law. I suppose Ham radio was not mobile enough and required too much of an investment to be able to achieve the same. I muse whether the same might be true of earlier forms of technology versus what we have available today, and if the diffusion of information we see today versus then.

I may have been one of the last user of CB technology that switched to the wonder that is the internet. In 1994, I installed a cb radio in my 1983 Cutlass Supreme for my (relatively) short runs from Little Rock to my college town of Jonesboro, AR. I later used it in the first campaign I worked in that consisted of over 25 counties. Still later, I kept the CB radio in my Dodge Dakota when I worked for a campaign and then a consulting firm in Atlanta. That CB radio, that link, was used ceaselessly as I would traverse the interstates between Atlanta and any number of cities. One of the best (and most treasured) tidbits of information I gleaned was the best burger (Double bacon cheeseburger, in my case) between Chattanooga and Nashville (and the conditions on Monteagle).

These days, I will turn first to my blog and those I know from it, be it other bloggers or commenters, to find the recommended places to visit or stay in any number of locales. Blogs are really not that much different, in the sense of the content we provide. We have our own terminology, we spread information by calling attention to existing media reports, and we provide eyewitness reports to others in our audience, and, of course, we all have our own 'handles.' And to extend the analogy even more, I can typically found tooling around with my yellow lab in the passenger seat like ‘Snowman’ had ‘Fred’ with him while the ‘Bandit’ blazed they way. Only now, I have contacts with cell phones and a cell phone of my own.

Much like we saw how the ‘citizens’ in that movie were able to outfox the authorities, the bloggers seem to be able to do the same by exploiting the technology at their command. The ability to disseminate information and commentary by the technology freely available remains cherished by us all. Only in this instance, we find ourselves struggling against, and correcting the media ‘authority’ we’re supposed to trust.

In the end, I suppose it may have more to do with our goals. The Bandit and the Snowman wanted to earn their prize by getting 400 cases of Coors beer back to Atlanta in 28 hours. Some bloggers may want to earn their prize by dethroning a sovereign of a broadcast network. Others may want to earn their prize by influencing a primary or an election. And others may just do it for the thrill of the ride. Still others may want to do it just to show off, which is the way the Bandit would have liked it.

Posted by Adam H at January 25, 2005 12:23 AM ~ Link Cosmos | Trackbacks (0)

Your intro is great: sometimes I wonder how much of the "real world" I'm missing by blogging.

I remember CB's! My handle was "Bookworm", and all my aunts and uncles had them. I've only been blogging for three months, and I, like you, see the similarities between these two forms of technology.

Posted by: Shamash at January 25, 2005 05:16 AM

I'll never forget being "bitched out" by kindly old "Grandma Softie" for typing up channel 14. This was back in the old days before CB's had 40 channels.

After that movie, I always wanted to name my dogs "Fred".

My favorite line...You sounded taller on the radio...

Posted by: Howard at January 25, 2005 03:52 PM

It may surprise you to hear that back in the day my CB handle was 'Joe Cool'. We used our CB a lot when we were traveling from Indiana back to Arkansas for visits. That was during the gas shortages, so the most important information from the CB was "Where's the next gas station that's open & has gas?" And of course the location of any Smokies that were handing out Green Stamps.

Good Lord, I'm getting old.

Posted by: rita at January 25, 2005 04:35 PM

Classic movie. I think that was the last one I saw at a real drive-in. My favorite line was when Buford T. Justice said to his dumb son, "Boy, when we get home, I'm gonna slap yo momma."

We all had CB's back in the 70's. Good post.

Posted by: Dash at January 25, 2005 09:23 PM
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The epic ramblings of a young professional in the South in his Quixote-like quest to find ''the One.''


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