Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Confederacy of Dunces

Part One: Am I going to that thing at the campground ...?
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Someone asked me if I was going to the Super Special Summer Out-in-the-Woods Frolic or whatever the Hell they’re having somewhere east of Atlanta. I don’t remember my exact reply, but I think it boiled down to, “No.”

That’s like Josef Mengele saying to a bunch of Jewish people, “Hey, we’re having a little get-together over at Auschwitz. Wanna come? You only have to pay $250 and you have the opportunity to clean up after Nazis in the kitchen or have the good fortune to take care of other Nazis’ children! And, later, there might be a soap-making workshop!”

I wouldn’t go out there if they greased I-20 and the world tilted!

* * * * * *

Now … I live in Atlanta and I know not of what you speak...what is this fest? Sounds abysmal. ...

I guess you could say it’s like Burning Man with a Southern accent. It’s got none of the cachet of Burning Man, but all the dirt and discomfort. A real “Land of Milk and Hiney.”

Part Two: Good times there are not forgotten.”
Friday, March 30, 2007

... down the dank moldering paths and past the Ocean’s streams they wentand past the White Rock and the Sun’s Western Gates and pastthe Land of Dreams, and soon they reached the fields of asphodelwhere the dead, the burnt-out wraiths of mortals make their home ...
— Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles

I have had several well-reasoned comments to my blog entitled, “Am I going to that thing at the campground ...?” One friend — no stranger to this type of gathering or its organizers — replies,

“You use the Nazi analogy, but I liken my own experience to indentured
servitude/slavery, that’s right, slavery! I think they owe us REPARATIONS!"

And another asserts,

“... sounds a lot like a KKK meeting ...

Well, my friends, you have come closer to the truth than you know. Let’s take a look at some of the facts regarding this event.

Appropriately, the site of this get-together is the Alexander Stephens Memorial State Park in lovely Crawfordville, Ga. Well, for those of you who may have forgotten, ol’ Alexander Stephens was the Vice President of the Confederacy — an ill-fated government in this part of the country in the 19th century — and Crawfordville was his hometown.

What kind of man was this native son of Georgia? Well, he was quite the collector. By the time the War of Northern Aggression began in 1861, Mr. Stephens had collected 34 slaves and several thousand acres. He stated at the time that, “Our new [Confederate] government is founded … upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.” And, “… all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system.”

An interesting choice of venue for “experiencing transformation and revitalization.” Nevertheless, if you pay the $250 registration fee, you can spend five days of “… complete privacy, harmony in a relaxed atmosphere that will ensure an experience to remember.” Yep, five days in a charming, small rustic cabin — much like the ones that Alexander Stephens’ 34 slaves lived in. And you can bet that those “negroes” of Stephens’ day who lived and worked on that very land were ensured an experience to remember. With a whip.

But, what is a whip but a work incentive? The clever organizers of this woodland wonderland getaway thought of that, too. If you agree to wait on the other attendees at the expense of your own “communing with the spirits and gods of nature,” then you may get a discount on the price of admission. You’re still in paradise, but as more of an Elysian Field hand. Maybe if I goes and works real hard for massa, at the end of the five days he’ll send a shuttle bus comin’ for to carry me home.

I don’t think this shindig could have been better planned if had been conceived by D.W. Griffith himself. The persons behind this event may intend to create an enchanted community in a place that is not a place in a time that is not a time, but so did a group of robed and hooded men who met at Stone Mountain, Ga. in 1915 to create a new incarnation of the Klan.

If I sound a little unsympathetic to this whole endeavor, well, you’re right. Just consider me another renegade, a product of the vicious doctrines spread by the carpetbaggers. Sure, those attending might experience “a Magickal Community in a very special place,” but count me out. I’m going to be sure to steer clear of this “Afterbirth of a Nation.”

* * * * * *

... Not quite the Magickal gathering i first envisioned from the title.
(yes, i was thinking faeries and free spirits)

I’ve been to these things. They may start out as faeries and free spirits but usually degenerate into a five-day Bacchanalia. I am reminded of the time when someone I know attended one of these events sporting a pair of faerie wings. Like the character in Alfred Smedberg’s “The Seven Wishes among Gnomes and Trolls,” momentarily, she was transformed into a little, exquisitely beautiful fairy. By the end of the evening, someone had to stand with her and hold her wings while she threw up.

I am loving your bio on ol’ Al Stephens how informative and ironic! How come he rates having a state park named after him? What’s next, the Lester Maddox Memorial State Park? Free baseball bats for the first 100 visitors (long as they’re white. ...)

Lester Maddox has a bridge over the Chattahoochee named after him.For my out-of-state friends who may not be familiar with former Georgia governor Lester Maddox, he was famous for preventing a trio of “negroes” from entering the restaurant he owned by holding a gun at the entrance, then later defied a court order by proclaiming to another group of negroes, “If you live 100 years, you’ll never get a piece of fried chicken here.”
While in office, upon Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, he denied the slain civil rights leader the honor of lying in state in the Georgia state capitol. He reportedly abhorred the idea of flying the state flag at half-staff “in honor of a Negro.”And, just to set the record straight, it wasn’t a baseball bat that he used. It was an axe handle. He handed them out to the white patrons of his Pickrick Restaurant to keep that establishment from being integrated.Yep. Can’t beat Georgia history.

Part Three: I wasn’t just whistling Dixie.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

In a recent blog entitled, “Good times there are not forgotten” (March 30, 2007), I acquainted the reader with a certain summer soirée to be held here in Georgia in the latter part of June. I drew (perhaps unkind) comparisons between those responsible for the planning and execution of this ill-conceived affair and the slave owners of the 19th century. Racial connotations aside, there remain strong parallels between the architects of this event and the landed gentry of that bygone day.

The Web site for this event strongly encourages registrants to volunteer for work details in exchange for a slight reduction in the cost of admission. This offer appeals to the “have nots” — those common folk who can not easily afford either the cost associated with travel to the site or the not insignificant $250 registration fee.

The attendees opting to take advantage of this “bargain” accept an increase in workload directly proportional to a decrease in the fulfillment and harmony touted by those behind this gathering of like-minded souls. And, they do so at the convenience of an elite group of personalities who are exempt from such base chores as cooking, dish washing, child care and the like, and who command superior accommodation and luxury. So, as has been stated elsewhere, *I’m* not going to the damned thing.

Apparently, I’m not alone. I have been informed that the entire event has been canceled due to lack of interest. The notice has gone out, the Web site has been removed and the campground will remain silent. Evidently, the fees collected were insufficient to pay the airfare of the previously mentioned “personalities” living out-of-state, or the available labor pool was not adequate to support them to an acceptable degree on-site.

So, laugh, all who declined to accede to the inequity inherent in this event. We will accept neither servitude nor subordination. We are freed from the shackles of that airy elite, that charmed circle. We can share in the breathtaking sense of liberty Booker T. Washington must have felt when he penned with such eloquence:

“As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters
than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night.
Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom.
... Some man who seemed to be a stranger ... made a little speech and
then read a rather long paper — the Emancipation Proclamation ...” *

Raise your voice in song. We have overcome.

*Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery (1901)