Tuesday I read chapters 8 through 12 (pages 129 – 212) in Harvey Jackson III’s The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera (2011). The chapters that I read cover roughly the 1980s to 2000.
Jackson’s book is largely nostalgic. Most of the material focuses on the present-day Gulf Coast, but he’s always making a comparison with the way things used to be during his visits to the coast as a young man. Jackson clearly disapproves of the way that the coast has been developed, but he is fair enough to present both sides.
In one particularly telling quote, a police officer recounts what Panama City was like before the developers made it more upscale. He notes that there were many more stabbings and shootings back in the old days. To Jackson, the absolute nadirs of coastal development are the Phoenix condominiums in Orange Beach, Alabama. One observer – Dr. John Dindo from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab – refers to these condos as a “concrete jungle.”
As someone who has spent several summers at the Phoenixes, I got a kick out of those comments. The Phoenixes are far from “down home” and they completely block the view of the beach from Perdido Beach Boulevard. But they are quite nice, many units are large and they are well built with poured-in-place concrete.
As a final aside, I have to mention an anecdote that Jackson recounts. Panama City attempted to reign in rowdy behavior by making it illegal to “walk drunk, arresting pedestrians for doing so. As a result, whenever police appeared, many spring breakers would jump into the passenger seat of any available car (even cars filled with total strangers). You can’t make up this stuff.
The Wall Street Journal had several goodies in it Tuesday. I was particularly interested an article that discussed a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The Court ruled 5-3 that it is OK for debt-collection agencies to try to collect expired debts (those that people have no obligation to pay) during bankruptcy proceedings.
Demanding that someone pay a debt that they don’t have an obligation to pay (and failing to inform them that they have no obligation to pay it), seems awfully close to criminal fraud to me.