The drive out to Los Angeles from South Carolina was stupid long. As my wife and I aren’t crazy about talking to each other all that much, I had plenty of time to think about cross country themed ventures that I wanted to start in the name of our band. Amongst the rejected were juggernauts like Crazies Across the Country, Mullets around ‘Merica, Who’s the Most Ignorant State, States that Suck, etc… I eventually landed on Ned’s Snap Judgements of States. While less alliterative than the other blogs, I think this one really sums all of my judging that was done in every state and allows me to serve them to you so you can know exactly how I felt about the few days I spent and few things I did in each of these states/cities while getting a heavy side of my passing judgement.
The first state that we stopped in our long journey out to LA was Alabama. Birmingham was our destination here and I was pretty excited about getting to see a city that was so essential to the Civil Rights Movement. My mother-in-law is an elementary school teacher, so this stop was meant to be very educational. Immediately the coolest part of the city was seeing the separate city that black people had made for themselves within Birmingham. The thought of people being so strongly resilient in the face of such discrimination was super inspiring. That spirit in Birmingham has stuck around and now it seems like it manifests itself in pride for the movement. Sadly, the yang still exists there in this really weird, looming, plantation-south mentality. I didn’t really see it in a racist way, though. It was tension between the rich and the poor. A sense coming from the wealthy that they needed someone to look down on. I’m sure this isn’t a universal truth down there in Alabama. I know a couple from the state that I think are just the coolest, funniest, and probably most accepting people I know, but I couldn’t help feeling this snubbing kind of energy coming from more people than usual when we were in Birmingham.
What pushed me over the edge into full Joe Brown Judging mode was waiting for Emily’s parents to come out of the restaurant where we ate dinner. While we were sitting on the garden wall at the Seasons 52 (Don’t worry, I realize the irony) we watched an interaction between the valet guy and an Escalade driving wealthy dude that had used the complimentary valet. Though the valet was complimentary, it was totally superfluous. This is usually the case with valet, but it was especially true in this instance; the valet lot and the sorry people’s parking lot were both 20 ft. from the entrance to the restaurant, which, threw out the convenience pro of valet. With this argument gone, I felt very comfortable with assuming that this guy really wanted the feeling of having someone waiting on him – someone that he could squash. After exchanging some small talk he motioned for the young guy to go get his car. The kid brought his murdered out Escalade around, got out, and held the door open for the man. The man’s wife walked around and stood next to the passenger side door. That’s all she did, though. The kid stepped away from the car to let the man get in the driver’s seat. He stood back and watched as the man stepped into the front seat floor board, all the while, the wife stands silently by the passenger door. After a long two seconds pass the man steps back out of the raised seat to lean over to the kid and say, “Go open the door for her, would ya?!” Emily and I quickly averted our eyes as we too did not want a scolding. It became very apparent that this was normal in this kind of situation here. Instead of going and opening the door for his own wife, it was more of a luxury, and therefore more preferable, to step on the young valet boy and make him go do it.
Maybe I’ve made something out of nothing here, but I kept getting the same vibe from others the following morning while interacting with people on our way out of town. The disparity between classes and types of people was larger and more displayed with pride by those on top of the situation. Anyways, all that to say Birmingham was a pretty okay place where I felt both uplifted and put down, which were two feelings I wasn’t used to feeling simultaneously. I definitely used the, “help he’s repressing me!” line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail way more than usual.
I’m thinking about making this a bi-monthly post as I have more judgement to pass on Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and California. Let me know what you think. Tell me if I’m wrong or right or whatever. I’m happy to hear from you guys either way.