Imagine my surprise when, a year or two ago, I ran across a high class magazine published through the auspices of the University there. I subscribed for a year because the topics were interesting and diverse, and included special editions which featured such subjects as Southern food, music, and writing. I was pleased by my decision, but did not renew my subscription for economic reasons (mine).
Yesterday, I got an Email from the magazine, celebrating its first place finish in a national competition including video presentations. They won out over some elite competitors including the New York Times. The article referenced a link to a web site which contained about a dozen of the award winning videos about "Southern life." Since the NCAA basketball tournament was still a day off, I watched all of the first page of these videos over dinner. Each one features a different topic, personality and location, not unlike Charles Kuralt's show On the Road.
I was enchanted by the 5-9 minute vignettes, each taking a different subject, but all of which chosen to illustrate various facets of contemporary Southern culture. There are clips about restaurants and juke joints, a home grown factory and store which designs, makes, and sells high fashion clothing in a small Southern town; there's plenty of folk and rock and roll music, and there's even a clip featuring the last company in the US to produce and sell cast iron cookware, the Lodge Company of southern Tennessee (I have four of their pans in my kitchen right now).
If you're a student of American culture, or simply an interested, occasional observer, I recommend that you check out these visual chapters about American life. Then head for the old fashioned cook stove where you'll find cornbread, collard greens, fried chicken, and top them off with an RC cola and a Moon Pie. You bet; finger lickin' good.