Monday I began reading Harvey Jackson’s The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera again. I’ve been promiscuous in my reading – I’d dropped Jackson in order to read a couple of other things. But I’m glad that I got back to it. Monday I made it from page 83 to page 128.
When I was kid, we often vacationed @ Panama City Beach in Florida. We always stayed @ the old Wave Crest out in what was properly Sunnyside Beach. The hotel was made of cinderblock painted a light orange-y color and the rooms had kitchenettes with screened-in porches facing the Gulf of Mexico. I can still remember going to sleep back @ the Wave Crest in March 1983, the waves hitting the shore while I tried to watch a USFL football game on TV.
The last time I stayed at the Wave Crest was 1993 and it closed in 1999 after a hurricane. Today’s coastline Panama City is a collection of skyscrapers that would be right at home in Manhattan. Things change…
The only aspect of Redneck that I don’t like is hinted at by the title. The words “redneck riviera” to describe the northern Gulf Coast allegedly originated with a New York Times article by native Alabaman Howell Raines in the late 1970s. Jackson chose these words for his title and makes constant references to rednecks and “redneckery” throughout the book.
In my humble opinion, the constant use of the word “redneck” is in questionable taste. Through its constant use, Jackson projects an ethos of a snob looking down on his social and intellectual inferiors. The use of redneck grabs your attention, but it has unintended consequences.
Jackson is a retired history professor from Alabama’s Jacksonville State University. Fortunately, unlike many academics, he is a talented writer and he keeps the narrative moving.
So far, I’d give Redneck Riviera 8 out of 10.
Baseball season is here and I loafed a bit online, looking @ some of the material posted by fans. I found a nice site called hardballtimes.com.
Hardballtimes.com has a lot of terrific articles. The best one that I read was the unbelievable story of Byron McLaughlin, a former pitcher who fell into a life of counterfeiting and whose current whereabouts are unknown. This is a terrific article if you have a chance to read it –