I’m a child of the deep south, and the culture here is no stranger to me. But I’ve been away from it for long enough that visiting Atlanta (not my native Louisiana, but close enough) allows me to have a few strong and swift impressions. I offer these up as naive points and nothing more:
+ Tubby Blubby – I know America isn’t populated with purely svelte people, but honestly, the sheer quantity of morbidly obese people around here dwarfs what I normally see. I guess if so many people are fat, these being obese loses its stigma. Not that I want these poor souls to be walking around hating themselves; it’s just interesting to me that a major metropolitan city with plenty of knowledge floating around about good nutrition is packed with so many porkers.
+ White Like Me – Let me go about this delicately – – – I’m not as surprised at the percentage of black people here, but the lack of them in Palo Alto. I mean, look, Palo Alto is ostensibly a liberal, diverse, sophisticated college town – – but as I’m walking around Atlanta (and keep in mind, this is in a fairly upscale area), the black population makes Palo Alto feel like the most whitebread city on the planet.
+ Jesus! – And, of course, Christianity is far, far, far, farrrrrrrr more pervasive here, in the form of mega-churches, billboards, and everything else. When I picked up my oversized bag at the Delta counter, the woman giving it to me asked me to “Have a blessed day.” Later, I saw an enormous billboard that proclaimed in huge letters: “YOU ARE FORGIVEN!” I then noticed the billboard was for a Ford dealership that offered liberal credit terms, even to those with lousy record. So I guess Mr. Christ doesn’t let a low FICO score foreclose anyone from personal salvation (or a late-model truck from Detroit).
Anyway, I remain here through Sunday. I’ll try my best to stay on top of the wonderful world of Slope in the midst of my familial obligations.