Southern Streethood

Normally, I’d avoid sticking my nose into a scrap, especially an ongoing scrap at City Hall. However, I bear at least some responsibility for the latest mess, especially since not everyone I voted for in the last election, lost. (An unusual occurrence , one can be sure) On top of all that, I am an expert in recognizing ‘not knowing what the hell you’re doing’ looks like when I see it. Since I’ve been in the circumstance so many times myself, I am even familiar with what not knowing what the hell you’re doing smells like. The latest dust-up looked and smelled like one of those situations and I figured that the City Hall boys could use a little help.

“First, you need a corpse …a stiff … a dead body. There’s just no other way around it. It can’t be a body whose demise is rumored, suspected, or even imminent. It can’t be a body on life support. Rather, its got to be body that has been verified and certified as officially dead.”

Anyway, that’s what I told the boys over at City Hall.

A late imbroglio over in our town involves street names. There are a couple of thoroughfares downtown that a few members of the city council seek to rename in honor of two civic overachievers. These star students as it were, are not ‘Martin Luther King or Hank Aaron famous’ but you’ve heard the names if you’ve lived around these parts for long. The rub is that not all of the council feels the same way about a civic life supposedly well lived. Controversy has thus erupted — and has lasted for months. Months!

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Having a street named in one’s honor is akin to being declared a municipal saint. Like regular sainthood, conferring ‘streethood’ should be the result of a rigorous process. It should be bestowed for some real achievement, not just for perfect attendance, not just for showing up. Some hemming, hawing and deliberation is likely necessary But for months? Also, City Hall (anywhere) tends to attract politicians and lawyers. Giving either of these groups extra time to solve anything is the same as giving more rope to a hangman.  The rest of us will be hung with higher taxes and a lighter wallet.

Accordingly, in order to do a preemptive strike for the rest of us and since ‘that smell’ was getting louder, I offered the City Hall boys the following rules for future ‘streetification’:

Be A Resident of Both the City… And the Cemetery

You never know what gets into live people or what they are going to do or write on Facebook walls, text, or tweet. You never know when some, still living, old coot is going to get arrested for DUI. You can never know what mischief is on the same old coot’s Bucket List, especially since the invention of Viagra.

Thus, the proposed honoree’s death should be certified, verified and have occurred long enough ago so that we all know that they are not just wandering around in the woods somewhere or lost at sea. (Neither should they be a former celebrity, whose career tanked ages ago and we just haven’t heard from them.)  No D.B. Cooper Drive and Arsenio Hall Place is thus on the horizon. Maybe this even eliminates Michael Jackson Blvd, Tupac Street, and Elvis Drive since I have it on good authority that there are regular sightings of all three at one of the local pancake emporiums.

Two Municipal Miracles

In addition to a death certificate, municipal sainthood – i.e. streetification – should require two verifiable municipal-type miracles.

“Bubba, you shoulda seen it! I was rushing Momma to the horse-pital, drivin’ down Claymore Street; you know the one they want to rename after that dead broad. Anyways, all of a sudden this bodacious, humongous pothole comes outta nowhere and swallers up the car in front of us. It closed right back up before it swallered us up too. Momma made it to the horse-pital just in the nick a time.”

or

“Jasper, come look at this. We got ten inches of snow and ice last night. Fell on every street in the city, ‘cept  for that street they wanna rename for Vince Dooley. Now, ain’t that sumthin? It’s a miracle I tell ya. A miracle.”

Laugh Test

Mailmen, deliverymen, and first responders should not exit laughing when getting the call from the dispatcher to proceed to addresses on the newly christened street. No Snooki Street or Snoop-Dogg Boulevard.

(Of course, the exception to all of this is to have hit exactly 755 home runs like Hank Aaron or be Peyton Manning.)

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But for the Southern Governor Factor, it would seem that the three rules offered above would be enough to inoculate the rest of us (i.e. the citizenry at large) from future embarrassment if the original owner of a street name has a fall from grace. But Southern governors – as well as a number of their counterparts in some westernmost states — are such kidders. You never know what one of them is going to do next. They always have us holding our collective breath, waiting to exhale. (I’ve been surprised that none of them had a SCUBA gear franchise ‘on the side’ as it were.)    Accordingly,  and given the recent bipartisan proclivities of our town’s Mayor,  I dread the thought of retiring one night living on say, Peachtree and wake up with a street number that is now on Lester G. Maddox Blvd or perhaps even Deal Street.

Perhaps then in the matter of the streetification process for Southern Governors, a fourth and fifth requirement should be added. These will allow a street named in honor of a Southern Governor only when (4) all of the rest of us are all dead and (5) the remains exhumed and re-buried under the proposed street — giving new meaning to the phrase “over my dead body.”

©Copyright 2011 Will Cantrell

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Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.