Tag Archives: Gator

The Cinematic Legacy of Jerry Reed

8 Mar

The other day, I told the story of our visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame. While writing it, another post came to mind.

Jerry Reed was featured in the museum’s latest exhibits on Nashville musicians. He was one of the greatest guitarists who ever came to town and played on a ton of albums. Chet Atkins thought that Jerry Reed was better than him. In addition to playing for other performers, Jerry Reed also had his own string of hits, and this video from The Porter Wagoner Show provides a good example of his talent.

With all of that being said, some people may know Jerry Reed more for his movies than for his guitar playing. That is why this post is not about his numerous songs. It is about the five movies that, in my opinion, are Jerry Reed’s best.image-8

There is no better time to start the list than now.

5. What Comes Around was released in 1985. It was not a great movie and probably cannot be found anywhere. However, it must make the list because part of it was filmed in my hometown. In the climatic scene, they blow up a building, and, in real life, that building was the original Cracker Barrel. A ton of people went out to watch the explosion.

By the way, they did not really blow up the building. It is still standing.

4. W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings was also filmed in this area. Released in 1975, it was Jerry’s first collaboration with Burt Reynolds, which would lead to the top movie on this list. The movie also starred other Country music performers. It is cool to watch and see some places in Nashville that no longer exist.

3. Gator came out in 1976 and also starred Burt Reynolds. In fact, it is a sequel to an earlier Reynolds movie. It is also different because Jerry played the bad guy. He was a criminal empire of drugs, gambling and prostitution. He also had a sidekick named Bones whose head stuck out of the sunroof of the car.

2. Bat 21 was released in 1988 and was a completely different movie from the other ones on the list. It is a true story that stars Gene Hackman as a pilot stuck behind enemy lines in Vietnam. I will not spoil the plot, but Hackman, Reed and Danny Glover find an ingenious way to get him out. If you have not seen it, then it is worth a watch.

1. Released in 1977, Smokey and the Bandit is one of the greatest movies of all time. If you do not think that, then you are wrong. That is just the way it is. Jerry plays Snowman, the truck driving sidekick of the Bandit, played by Burt Reynolds. Did I say that it is one of the greatest movies of all time? It was the second highest grossing movie of the year behind Star Wars. I really do not know what else to say. It is great.

Bonus

There is one more Jerry Reed appearance that I must mention. In 1972, he played himself in The New Scooby-Doo Movies. His performance of “Pretty Mary Sunlight” may be one of the greatest things that has ever been on animated television.

The Orange Side of Savannah, Georgia

26 Jul

Last week, we spent some time in Hilton Head, South Carolina, but, in my mind, the best day consisted of a drive to Savannah, Georgia, the settlement established by James Oglethorpe when he first colonized the area. It is an old city with lots of history, and we rode a trolley through it all.

We saw the squares for which the city is famous filled with Live Oaks with Spanish Moss hanging from the branches. Each square is surrounded by a church and stately homes. One home was the headquarters for William Tecumseh Sherman when he captured the city on the completion of his march to the sea. Another home belonged to the family of Johnny Mercer and was the site of a murder that inspired Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – both the book and the movie.

Since movies were brought up, we saw where Forrest Gump sat on a bench and told his life story but missed an entire square because Adam Sandler was in the process of filming a scene. I was hoping to see where Burt Reynolds filmed parts of Gator, but the tourism folks do not promote that one as much as others.

We saw a lot of interesting places. The location of John Wesley’s first sermon in the New World. The docks where cotton was loaded onto ships bound for England. Of course, no one mentioned the slaves who worked the cotton. To make up for that lack of information, we saw a building used by the Underground Railroad.

Savannah is a beautiful city of architectural wonders and almost three hundred years of history. It was also filled with people trying out for American Idol. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of that stuff. Our trolley ride made photography difficult. No pictures of Live Oaks. No pictures of monuments or statues.

However, I was able to take a picture of this place.image-44

When it was time for lunch, I asked the man at the visitor center counter a simple question.

“If you were going to lunch where would you go?”

He started down the typical list that included Paula Deen’s and other places where tourists are directed. I knew that he would not pick any of those places but could not deviate from the script. We wanted to eat with the locals, and this guy offered no help.

On the trolley ride, we passed a place that looked like what we wanted. Clary’s Cafe had a few outdoor tables and was off the beaten path. It did not take long to choose that over standing in line at one of the other places. We got out the trusty GPS and made our way through the squares and around Adam Sandler.

We pulled into the parking lot and made our way to the door. However, my wife was nowhere to be seen. She was standing behind the car talking to someone. It turned out to be the owner of the restaurant who saw the orange T on the front of my vehicle. For those who are not from around here, that is my signal to everyone that I am a fan of the University of Tennessee. As it turns out, the owner was also a fan of the Big Orange.

We talked for a while about the upcoming football season and the orange shrine her husband built at their home. They are from Tennessee and make it to as many games as they can. She has high hopes for the upcoming season and thinks Butch Jones has the program on the right track.

Eventually, we made our way inside and found what we were looking for. Sweet tea was in the pitcher, and lima beans were part the day’s special. It was a true southern restaurant that did not involve a television personality. However, that was not the best part.

As we finished our meal, the owner told the waitress to give us the Big Orange discount. After all, we were part of her college football family.

Forcing the Issue

28 Jun

I feel that my best posts are created organically. They pop into my brain and make their way onto the screen in a free-flowing manner. They are not forced.

Sometimes, I force myself to blog, and the resulting posts are not my best. This is when I fallback on my iPod and movie quotes. As you can see from the past few posts, I am in time of writer’s block. Nothing is coming to my mind, and I have a couple of options.

I could not write.

I could force something that I really do not like.

Of course, there is a third choice. I could drive myself crazy trying to think of a good idea and pretend it is free-flowing.

For example, I could write about whether anyone would protest if this flag was flying over a state capitol.Flag CSA

I could also write about the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. We talk a lot about the Bill of Rights, but this one has always fascinated me. In fact, I would bet that most federal lawsuits are based on this amendment because it deals with civil rights. Section 1 reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This is the paragraph on which the Supreme Court based its decision concerning gay marriage.

The amendment was ratified in 1868. However, that process was fraught with problems. Most of the southern states refused to ratify it. I say most because Tennessee was the third state to pass the amendment, coming in behind Connecticut and New Hampshire. As a result, Congress, led by the Radical Republicans, passed the Reconstruction Acts. This meant that the remaining states of the old Confederacy had to pass the amendment in order to get back into the United States.

Oh yeah, those were the states that fought under that flag further up in the post. That was the first flag of the Confederate States of America. I bet a lot of people on both sides of the Confederate flag issue would not recognize it.

Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln did not think the states had the legal right to secede and planned on getting them back in with a pledge of allegiance from a certain percentage of each state’s voters. I wonder what would have happened with the 14th Amendment if he had still been alive. However, that is alternative history, and history is tough enough without thinking about what might have happened.

I could write about a song that I just downloaded, “Stole the Show” by Kygo. It also features Parson James. Anyway, it makes me think of how I used to handle relationships with women. However, that is too much information. Just know that I am happy to be married and have all of that behind me.

On second thought, I will put it this way. I always envisioned myself as Burt Reynolds driving into the sunset at the end of Gator. In other words, I was an idiot.

I could write about those things and a lot of other stuff that I have tried to cram into my mind. However, that will be forcing the issue, and I do not want to do that.

I Didn’t Intend To Write a Post About Trees

2 Oct

During this late afternoon, I rode with my stepdaughter as she drove the Gator. For those who don’t know, this is a Gator.Gator

She is 11 years old and loves to drive. In fact, she asks for a golf cart every time a birthday or Christmas comes around. She’s a good driver and watching her smile is the best thing about riding with her. I rode with my nephews when they were kids, and taking a spin with her brings to mind all of those fun times.

The Gator belongs to my parents, so we took off from their house. Then, we went into a neighborhood behind their farm. The neighborhood is filled mostly with older people who have been living there for decades. It has large lawns that are neatly kept, and, as we drove, I noticed a few people in their yards.

One man was on his mower. His next door neighbor was checking his driveway that had just been paved. A lady was watering her plants, and another lady was on her way to do the same thing. At another house, a brother and sister, who were probably visiting their grandparents, were playing basketball. I waved at them all, and a few of them waved back.

The people were interesting, but I noticed something else when we went into another part of the neighborhood. In one yard, a large tree stood. It was perfectly shaped, and the yard around it was perfectly kept. Obviously, the people who own the land around the tree take great care of it and noticing this made me begin to wonder. Did they plant the tree, or was it there when the house was built? Have they lived there long enough to watch it grow to its current majesty? Have they helped it along?

I began to think about a tree in the yard where I grew up. There was a notch in it that fascinated me. It had this strange shape and stuck out far enough that I could almost use it as a seat. When we played backyard football, that tree served as the goal line. Making it to the tree meant I had scored a touchdown. The notch that I tried to sit on is now over my head. The tree grew along with me and stood watch over my family.

It saw me ride a minibike as a kid and drive a car when I turned 16. It saw my dad walk up and down the driveway to get his mobility back after a stroke. It watched my mom work in the yard. It guarded my brother as he and his friends played basketball in the driveway. Heck, it watched my dad hit free throw after free throw as he beat me at H-O-R-S-E. I guess you could say that the tree and the other trees in the yard witnessed our family history.

Trees are like that. They have stood as sentinels over the events of our past. My parents now live on a site that used to be a hotel. When I walk through their yard, I wonder about all of the different things that have taken place under their shade. In the Victorian Era, they saw hotel guests strolling underneath and while other played croquet in their shade. They saw the hotel burn and remained as my parents built their home. They also served as decor for our wedding reception, and I bet that was not the first wedding that took place around them.

I am not sure what made me think of all this, but something hit me while we rode the Gator. People and trees grow old, but the trees last longer than we do. They are there for us, but they are also there for past and future generations. I have never considered myself an environmentalist and do not get overly wrought when I see a load of logs go down the interstate. However, when the trees that I have grown up with go away something in me goes away as well. I bet the people we past by this afternoon feel the same way.