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Notes On The State of Virginia

  • Highways and Marriots look the same everywhere.
  • Local drivers are making it very clear that they support the troops and you should, too.
  • Southerners do, indeed, speak with Southern accents as rumored. But then how come none of the (many) southerners I know in Washington have accents?
  • In-room wireless is cool.

UPDATE: Also, my dad points out that I've been to Florida many times. Though I don't know that Boca Raton really counts as Red America. Tampa, however, is located in a crucial swing county.

March 4, 2005 | Permalink

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Florida is purple and doesn't count.

Southerners do, indeed, speak with Southern accents as rumored. But then how come none of the (many) southerners I know in Washington have accents?

On a similar note, how come Dubya speaks with a Texas drawl when his brother doesn't? People don't pick up or lose accents after college, do they? (Although I think I once heard Terry Gilliam speak with a semi-British accent in an interview once.)

Posted by: JP | Mar 4, 2005 6:02:36 PM

"But then how come none of the (many) southerners I know in Washington have accents?"

A bow to northern charm?

Posted by: praktike | Mar 4, 2005 6:04:46 PM

Southerners do, indeed, speak with Southern accents as rumored. But then how come none of the (many) southerners I know in Washington have accents?

We just wait until you're out of the room.

Posted by: tom | Mar 4, 2005 6:08:32 PM

For a real experience, stop at Pierce's Pit Barbecue. It's by Williamsburg ( in Lightfoot VA). It's a small detour but easy to find. It's a classic BBQ pit and my favorite stop whenever I'm in that area.

Posted by: Hoo | Mar 4, 2005 6:10:33 PM

highways look different in California. No greenery, no long unpopulated stretches.

Posted by: Christopher Brandow | Mar 4, 2005 6:17:34 PM

Yeah, they look pretty different in Arizona and New Mexico too. Arizona really looks a lot like the background landscapes in those Coyote-Roadrunner cartoons. A lot.

Posted by: JP | Mar 4, 2005 6:22:57 PM

The worst is the "Southerners" in Washington who TRY to speak with Southern accents and act "down home." Painful.

P.S. I too was doubting that you had never been to Florida.

Posted by: MDtoMN | Mar 4, 2005 6:37:42 PM

"Marriots look the same everywhere."

On the surface, perhaps. But all Southern hotel rooms offer Deliverance as a pay-per-view movie.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 4, 2005 6:42:13 PM

"But all Southern hotel rooms offer Deliverance as a pay-per-view movie."

I'm telling John Edwards you said that.

Posted by: praktike | Mar 4, 2005 6:46:09 PM

But all Southern hotel rooms offer Deliverance as a pay-per-view movie.

The toilet seat being left in the UP position by the cleaning crew seems to be a Southern thing, too. (Not a joke, an actual observation...)

Posted by: tom f | Mar 4, 2005 6:47:43 PM

For folks looking for admittedly superficial yet light-hearted Red America, Blue America road trip reports, I would offer:

"One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State"

Posted by: Jon | Mar 4, 2005 6:47:46 PM

Wait, when did you learn to drive? You have a car? They don't rent to younguns like you, do they?

Real request: Please keep a tally of how many times you get lost in Norfolk, I have dibs on 13 in the pool. (I have a great sense of direction, but continuously got lost in Norfolk/Tidewater for at least 7 years of regular visits.)

Posted by: wolf | Mar 4, 2005 6:49:33 PM

No, Boca Raton is definitely red--after all, the name is Spanish for "Republican's mouth."

Posted by: rea | Mar 4, 2005 6:53:38 PM

love that scene in Deliverance w/ the banjo strummin' kid... "Dueling Banjos," thank God for whoever wrote the song.

Posted by: Swan | Mar 4, 2005 6:55:20 PM

"...how come none of the (many) southerners I know in Washington have accents?" When I went to school there and people found out I come from Dixie, they inevitably remarked, "But you don't have a Southern accent!" Back home, listening to myself in a bit of persiflage with a wrong number that happened to be recorded by the answering machine, I am amazed at how folksy I can sound. Given education and the ubiquity of "broadcast dialaect", Southerners can trim their intonations to the company they are in. Failing to do so can get whatever you have to say immediately discounted as too backward, ignorant, or rusticated to be taken seriously -- which can happen anyway no matter how you talk when it's discovered you're a Southerner. And then how many times I have wanted to shout, "Yes, I agree there's an egregiously provincial party to this conversation, but I don't think it's I."

Posted by: Dabodius | Mar 4, 2005 7:03:23 PM

"People don't pick up or lose accents after college, do they?"

Er, yes they do. All the time.

Posted by: David Weman | Mar 4, 2005 7:12:26 PM

If you want to see what Red America looks like, ride up US 17 to Fredericksburg on your way back. Be sure to fill up before you go; the ratio of churches to gas stations is about 10:1.

Posted by: David Thompson | Mar 4, 2005 7:14:27 PM

John Shelton Reed (emeritus prof at UNC) is a sociologist who has extensively studied the south.

Some interesting conclusions: most southerners don't regard Florida as being in part of the south.

Also (not sure if this is attributable to him), most areas identifiable to southerners as the south are spatially correlated to kudzu. There is very little kudzu in Florida.

Posted by: Rich | Mar 4, 2005 7:56:19 PM

Oh, one more thing.

Being a CA transplant to the south, I've realized that my ear for southern accents has dulled. This was most notable when the in-laws came for a visit and we went to a local restaurant. My MIL noted how quaint the waitresses' accents were and my wife and I looked at each other and mouthed 'What accents?!'

Posted by: Rich | Mar 4, 2005 7:59:19 PM

David Thompson,
I'm not so sure about that. If you drive up US17 you will actually drive through some of the bluest rural counties in America - because they are predominantly black. The Northern Neck is very heavily black. Lots of churches, sure, but not necessarily right-wing churches.

Posted by: Elrod | Mar 4, 2005 8:15:57 PM

My wife's family is from Tampa, and having been there many times myself, I would concur that it's quite the swing-city. Interesting mix of red and blue, politically speaking. Just a little north or west, however, and Florida becomes solidly red, rural, and hick-ish. Only the coasts are blue in Florida.

Posted by: Chris | Mar 4, 2005 8:16:37 PM

"Also (not sure if this is attributable to him), most areas identifiable to southerners as the south are spatially correlated to kudzu. There is very little kudzu in Florida."

Yeah, but they've got hellsof Brazilian Pepper, which is an invasive deliberately dropped from planes by a 19th century railroad/real estate tycoon who wanted to fuck up the swamps in order to build, build, build!

Same Florida today, more or less.

Posted by: praktike | Mar 4, 2005 8:27:37 PM

"deliberately dropped from >>planes>19th<< century railroad/real estate tycoon"

A slight temporal discontinuity, there. And, Plant or Flagler?

Posted by: David Thompson | Mar 4, 2005 9:12:43 PM

I cut one of those fucking Brazilian peppers down with a handsaw this past summer. We had to get the pros to tear out the roots anyway, as they tend to grow back twice as big.

Rich, there is plenty of kudzu in very red north Florida.

Posted by: B | Mar 4, 2005 9:17:53 PM

" If you drive up US17 you will actually drive through some of the bluest rural counties in America - because they are predominantly black. The Northern Neck is very heavily black."

You should recheck the 2000 Census results.
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51000.html

The closest you get to majority black is 40% in Essex and it goes down from there. The 1st Congressional District is the outer suburbs in York and King George counties and a rural, culturally red swath between them, which is why the Democrats didn't bother fielding a candidate in 2004. Sending our intrepid adventurer out on US 58 to South Hill would net the dusky, blue South you're looking for.

Posted by: David Thompson | Mar 4, 2005 9:31:35 PM

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