Appalachia is purt near heaven

By Buddy Early, October 2019 Issue.


summer I was able to cross something off my bucket list. Most things on that

list involve sporting events — the Summer Olympics, a Final Four, U.S. Open

Tennis Championships, The Masters (where I can yell “Get in the hole!” right

before being kicked out). 


are those bizarre items that I will probably never do, like dress in drag or go

to Burning Man. (If I ever made it to Burning Man I would die. I don’t mean

“die” like it would be so incredibly amazing; I mean I WOULD DIE. DEAD.

DECEASED.) Of course, I have my decades-long bucket list goal of writing the

next Great American Novel. So far, however, I’ve decided to simply use my

talents to write this monthly column about my tips for avoiding small-talk with

people at the holidays and why non-British individuals who spell words like

“humour” and “realise” should be brought up on hate crime charges.


summer I was able to drag several members of my family to Dollywood. And that’s

a real accomplishment. Dollywood is not in a major metropolitan area. Even the

closest airport is an hour away in Knoxville, Tennessee. My family and I

actually drove two hours from where we were visiting — Asheville, North

Carolina, which is like a much smaller Portland, Oregon, but without the

homelessness, used needles scattered on the sidewalks, and people trying their

damnedest to be “weird.”


been itching to go to Dollywood my entire life. Which is peculiar, since I was

15 when it opened. (I must’ve known what was to come, I guess.) Anyway, as

someone who has cheated death three times in the last decade at Magic Mountain,

I’m basically fearless when it comes to amusement parks. And when it comes to

roller coasters and thrill rides, Dollywood is the poor man’s Magic Mountain.

But that’s ok, because Dolly was poor, so it’s pretty fitting. The

thrills were plenty exciting, however, and there was no waiting 90 minutes to

get strapped in. What Dollywood has on other parks, furthermore, is an

affordability, a charm, and a majestic, gorgeous setting in the Great Smoky



trip to this part of the country was to re-visit my childhood home, which is

nestled in the Appalachians. While I struggle with the realities of this part

of the country — it’s certainly home to more than its fair share of KKK members,

Trump boot-lickers and snake charmers — there is an undeniable allure, a

culture that is worth saving. There’s no other place in the world like the

Appalachians, and I really hope the terrific parts of that culture do not

die.  I’m talking about going down into

the holler; grampas making moonshine; grannies dipping snuff; the unique

dialect that gives us words like dope (soda), ett (ate), clumb (climbed) and

poke (brown paper bag); and inexplicable phrases like “Shit far and save the

matches.” (Even when you realize that “far” means “fire” … it’s an odd phrase.)


you think this is an example of Southerners being lazy or stupid, you should

know that the language of Appalachians is rooted in Elizabethan English.


guess what I am proposing is that we not write off the South. I know a lot us

sometimes suggest we should let the South secede and let those states crumble

under the weight of backwards thinking, but I think it doesn’t have to come to

that. I needed this trip “home” to realize the South is worth saving. Bigots

and evangelicals don’t deserve this magnificent place. The progressives,

free-thinkers and true Christians who live there deserve it. I know Dolly would



the way, this is all in reference to the one-and-only Dolly Parton, in case nunna

yuins ain’t know.

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