Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Southerners’ Southerner

I wish Ken Burns would have picked someone other then the women he did to represent the deep south on his show about the war. I wish Eugene Walters was alive and could have done it. He probably had the same slow, molasses coated voice that she had.

He ’s the kind of person I want to be my spokesperson for the deep south. He was a real mans man, no pun intended. The guy did everything, went everywhere, embraced his southerness and wrote many books about his south.

He was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1921. He was in the army, stationed in the Arctic Circle. He lived in NYC, in Greenwich Village, in the 40’s. Can you imagine the Village in the 40’s? All the Hipsters, Bohemians, Poets and Artist setting the stage for the 50’s and 60’s. Blazing the trail for the Beatniks and the Hippies.

He also helped George Plimpton, who started the Paris Review, get it off the ground and going. This was in the 50’s, he lived in Paris and one can only imagine who he hung out with and the parties they had. Paris in the 50’s was wide open and jazz musicians from all over the world were living there.

Then he took his Southerness to Rome. Italy that is. He was known to always have an herb garden where ever he lived. He loved to cook and entertain, and he love to prepare southern dishes for his high minded, international friends. A cook book he wrote, American Cooking: Southern Style, was a best seller for the Time Life book series.

In Rome, he worked for a guy named Federico Fellini. He did set design on most all of Fellini’s movies and was in a few. He played the “tacky American journalist who keeps pestering Marcello Mastroianni”, in Fellini’s 8 1/2. He said he was in over 100 hundred films while in Italy. He stayed in Rome 23 years, then returned to Mobile, Kingdom of the Monkeys.

Look, I have read the books and seen the movie, so to speak, and this guy was the real deal. The above dosn’t even scratch the surface. He did so much, knew so many and made a real difference. I hear his name often here in Atlanta and he is a real inspiration to groups like the Southern Foodways Alliance. I am sure in the near future he will be celebrated more and more, and I am very glad of this. I would not mind if he’s the kind of guy that comes to mind when people think about Southerners.

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