It's hot outside today, but I went up to Chattanooga anyway for my monthly Zen service there. The picture above is from my dashboard as I was driving home at around 4:00 p.m. That's 39 degrees Celsius for those non-U.S. readers.
Before the service, I stopped as I almost always do at the Landmark Diner in North Chattanooga. I usually order a blueberry waffle and coffee, but today their waffle maker was broken and I had to make do with a blueberry pancake instead. No big sacrifice.
While sitting there, I noticed a graffito on the wall, one I hadn't seen before. Turns out, it wasn't actually graffiti, but an autograph by country-music singer Wynonna Judd (now just "Wynonna") next to her photograph taped to the wall. I snapped a quick picture - sorry that it's a little out of focus, but what she wrote was "Love, Wynonna 2010" and beneath that she wrote "Terry is crazy" for some reason.
Now, you might have your own feelings about Wynonna or the Judds or country music in general, but although nobody puts the South down more than I do (mostly for political reasons), you have to admit that without this region, American culture wouldn't have much to show for itself. Take my adopted home state of Georgia, for instance: not only has it produced Ray Charles, Little Richard, and James Brown, but the Allman Brothers, REM, and the B-52s as well. Not to mention Gladys Knight, Otis Redding, Outkast, Usher, Ludacris, T.I., the Indigo Girls, Neutral Milk Hotel, Mastodon, and Deerhunter. Georgia's contribution to literature goes well beyond Margaret Mitchell (Gone With The Wind) but also includes Flannery O'Conner, Erskine Caldwell (the father of my hydrology professor in college!), James Dickey and Alice Walker. Meanwhile, Chattanooga's produced more than just Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle), but also baseball players Harmon Killebrew and Willie Mays, jazz musician Yusef Lateef, actress Lori Petty (Tank Girl), and Samuel L. Jackson, arguably one of the coolest persons on Planet Earth. The lists go on and on, but you can Google them just as well as I can.
My point is this: as I was sitting there in the Landmark Diner in Chattanooga, Tennessee, eating my blueberry pancake, Wynonna's autograph reminded me of just how rich this area's cultural history actually is, and how thankful I am for living here.
Despite the heat.