Don’t know if you guys heard, but a federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage this past week. It comes as a great relief to us bleeding-heart liberals, because we were frankly pretty baffled as to why state legislatures in such bastions of open-mindedness like Utah, Oklahoma and Idaho were ahead of the curve on this one.
Really, though, it shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise. Madison is by far the most left-leaning city in the state, probably the most in the Midwest, but is also in no way an indication of greater Wisconsin politics. It’s a mostly rural state, and the pains Republicans have taken over the last 50 years to capitalize on blue-collar mistrust of science (it all goes back to pesticides) are still paying off.
Still, the tide has turned, and Georgia is one of only 18 remaining states that outright bans — through state law, constitution or statute — same-sex marriages and legal unions. Now, if I’m reading my audience right (all both of you), you’re probably not happy about this. Austin Rhodes and the Whine Line (in which the great citizens of Augusta treat the English language like a horny lobotomy patient treats a lubed-up whoopee cushion) notwithstanding, this is generally a paper read by people concerned with forward social momentum, not regression or stagnancy.
So this article is for you. I lived in Georgia for over 20 years, all told, and I do miss it. Here’s a few things your state, in spite of itself, still has going for it:
1. You have a ton of breweries
I make a lot of noise about the beer scene here in Wisconsin, and rightfully so. We’ve got some great innovators and classicists alike. But Georgia’s craft beer footprint is not limited to Sweetwater and Terrapin, untouchable as those guys may be. Like, have you checked out Eventide Brewing in Atlanta, where you can find one of the more well-attenuated American takes on a traditional kolsch-style ale? Or Three Taverns, whose Night in Brussels IPA uses both Belgian yeast and southern cane sugar? Or the Lazy Dog in Warner freakin’ Robbins, where you can get growler fills of more than 20 different great craft beers, including Allagash Black? Even we don’t have a place like that. I hate you.
2. Read a book
The best writers are from the South, hands-down. It may have something to do with the fact that great art is born from great suffering, which is a really backhanded compliment, and I’m sorry. And yeah, everyone knows about Flannery O’Connor, but did you know that some of the nation’s best writers are living and working in Georgia right now? Emory University’s Kevin Young, who, incidentally, wrote a fantastic introduction to a recent edition of John Berryman’s “Dream Songs,” deals with race in his poetry in accessible, graceful and harrowing ways. Sci-fi author Michael Bishop lives in LaGrange, and “Legend of the Falls” writer Jim Harrison has roots in Georgia, though he currently calls Montana home. Poets D.A. Powell, Laura Newbern and Alice Friman also continue to do the state’s literary heritage proud.
3. Your music is the best
I know we’re all still reeling from the fallout caused by R.E.M. absolutely and finally disbanding, but good God, you guys still have the music scene on lockdown. Savannah boasts metal’s most potent swamp rock one-two punch in Baroness and Kylesa, while Steve Brooks’ recent move to Atlanta makes it that much more likely you’ll be able to catch a Torche or (squeal!) Floor show. There’s also Athens and a little band called Jucifer. Don’t like metal? Then you write an article.
4. You know how to cook
And I’m not just talking Georgian propensity for frying any and everything — though, you know, don’t ever stop with the pickles. Well-established fine-dining destinations like Bacchanalia continue to lead the charge, but people are getting playful too: pop-up restaurants are kind of Atlanta’s new thing, started and backed by skilled and credentialed chefs. Check out Villains Wicked Heroes, Atlanta Supper Club and the EAV Sandwich Shop if you want to know what I’m talking about.
The mountains of Colorado might be more impressive, the beaches in Maine and California more serene, the forests in Oregon more lush, but there aren’t many states that can beat Georgia for the sheer diversity of its pastoral beauty. Rolling farmland undulates on the back highways in between the interstate and Fitzgerald; beaches segue from buggy to beautiful as you make your way up the coast from Savannah to almost-South Carolina, where the beginnings of true marshland echoes Florida swamps on the other end; at the northern end of the state, modest-looking mountains are a prelude to the Rockies.
There. Now don’t you feel better?