ERROL CASTENS: ‘Mississippi is …’

Journalist Marshall Ramsey wrote recently, “Mississippi is _____. You can fill a lot of words in that blank, but ‘dull’ isn’t one of them.”

Got to thinking about that, and he’s right. Here are some resulting musings.

Mississippi is …
… frustrating and fulfilling.

… grits and grittiness.

… heartbreaking, but nevertheless home.

… sophisticate and simpleton living side by side – or even in the same skin.

… immutable insights from illiterate people.

… four-wheel-drives that have never left pavement.

… hurricane evacuators and hurricane hunkerers.

… tornadophobes and tornado chasers.

… preppies and preppers.

… poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac and poison pens.

… atheist anthropologists who envy the believers they study.

… proof that there is no “civil” war.

… upper-class folks who see fireplaces as measures of affluence and middle-class folks who see them as remnants of poverty.

… foie gras and Vienna (vye-EE-nah) sausage.

… hungry people living atop rich soil.

… a red state that gave birth to the blues.

… backstabbers who hug you first.

… the clashing theologies of “Go to hell, LSU!” on Saturday afternoon and “Hallelujah!” on Sunday morning.

… poverty and opulence, each both aggravating and ameliorating the other in strange ways.

… people who love college towns as long as there are few college students at large.

… tin roofs pittering in the rain and popping in the sun.

… debutantes and Delta Dawns.

… front porches and back fences.

… majority-minority communities.

… “The Ballad of Archie Who” and “Who Let the Dawgs Out?”

… acoustic physics and playing acoustic instruments.

… artists and con artists.

… bling and blight, together.

… soccer mamas and sugar daddies.

… full of “Driving Miss Daisy” stories.

… good will and Goodwill.

… the Gospel come to life.

… people who love Jesus but wish he hadn’t been so adamant about loving their neighbor.

… people who embrace “Southern culture” but wish it were more like New York.

… undertows and overtones.

… shallow graves in deep woods.

… yes, moonlight and magnolias. OK. We said it.

… twin opponents of legalized liquor: bootleggers and Baptists.

… “crazy checks” and casinos.

… the adolescent desire to be someone else, somewhere else, and the later recognition that this is where you’re most truly you.

… proud humility, or humble pride. Take your pick.

… three tribes of the woods – the Chickasaw people, the Choctaw people and the Chainsaw people.

… world-class athletes and world-record obesity.

… hating the race and loving the individual (per William Faulkner).

… two kids, from the same neighborhood, sitting in the same classroom, staring at the same cracked blackboard, struggling with the same problem – one with utter despair and the other with unstoppable determination.

Contact Daily Journal reporter ERROL CASTENS at (662) 816-1282or errol.castens@journalinc.com.