Image Map

Top Add

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Magnificent Dr. Pemberton

It seems almost odd how un-famous Dr. John Pemberton is.  Dr. Pemberton made only one major contribution to modern society, but its a doozy.  Dr. Pemberton invented the one liquid that has managed to bypass water in popularity:  Coca-Cola.

There is much about Dr. Pemberton that most people do not know.  He was a confederate soldier that returned from battle with a horrific bayonet wound.  Due to his wound he became addicted to Morphine.  As a pharmacist by trade Pemberton sought to cure his addiction.  The good doctor's early version of Coca-Cola contained both Alcohol and Cocaine.  I'm sure the combination of liquor, caffeine and cocaine was helpful to many morphine addicts.

Pemberton was forced to remove the alcohol due to local anti-liquor laws.  Fortunately, they were no local anti-cocaine laws at the time.

Pemberton originally marketed Coca-Cola as a snake-oil-esque wellness tonic that specialized in treating hysteria in women.

We all know the rest of the story.  Coke becomes the biggest thing in the entire world and is seen in almost every aspect of our lives.

So, Dr. Pemberton must be cybernetically frozen or buried in the Taj Mahal, right?


Here is the grave of Dr. Pemberton.

While it was nice that someone left an empty Coke bottle in remembrance, it is quite a humble marker for such an influential man.  

A somewhat more fitting tribute is Atlanta, GA's Pemberton Park.  In between the Georgia Aquarium and Cokes own corporate paradise "World of Coke" lies a statue of Pemberton.

While I was there a guy came up and read the plaque and said "His name isn't Coke".

Coke has attempted to resurrect the good doctor in our modern digital age and have started using his image in advertizing.  For whatever reason the Coke corporation has downplayed the whole "Morphine Addicted Confederate Soldier" aspect of his persona.

For some reason he even has his own twitter account where he mostly just shills coke talks about how awesome his beard is.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Making the Ultimate Southern Mixtape (Part 2)

Previously on the Carpetbagger, I discussed making the ultimate Southern mixtape.  I recieved some good feedback and after some reflecting realized I had made some major Let's take a look at what we started with.

1. "The Three Great Alabama Icons" By the Drive-By Truckers
2. "Dueling Banjos" Traditional
3.  "The Devil went Down to Georgia" by Charlie Daniels
4.  "You Never Even Call me by my Name" by David Allen Coe
5.  "Rocky Top" by the Osborne Brothers
6. "I'm a Good old Rebel" Traditional
7. "Welcome to Atlanta" by Ludacris and Jermaine Deprie
8.  "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show
9.  "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynrd
10.  "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynrd.

So here are the additions.

Ramblin Man by the Allman Brothers

Probably the biggest omission to my last list was the Allman Brothers, who are probably fall only behind Lynrd Skynrd when comes to iconic southern bands.  There are probably people out there that would beat me to death for leaving them off.  Thanks to Rick Kilby and KoHoSo for pointing out my glaring omission.

A Country Boy Can Survive by Hank Williams Jr.

Thanks to Eartha Kitsch for reminding me that you can't spell South without "Hank Williams".  I included the ultimate Southern Karaoke song "You Never Even Call me by my Name", but left out Hank Willams Jr, who is probably the King of southern Karaoke behind David Allen Coe.  "Family Tradition" is a great karaoke song, but I am going to go with Eartha's pick of  "A Country Boy Can Survive" do to its themes of Southern pride.

Flirtin with Disaster by Molly Hatchet

We round out our Southern rock selection with this classic inclusion.  Thanks again to Ricky Kilby for the suggestion.

 Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs

KoHoSo pointed out that my previous list was lacking some very important Bluegrass.  Here is a song that epitomizes classic Bluegrass.

Blue Moon of Kentucky by Bill Monroe


Speaking of Bluegrass, it would be a sin to not include Bill Monroe.  He is the international face of Bluegrass and actually personally named the Genre.

Tom Dula

The murder ballad is an important part of Appalachian musical culture and this is perhaps the most famous of all murder ballads.  It is based on a true steamy Civil war era love triangle.  Tom Dula was engaged to woman by the name of Laura Foster, while also having an affair with her cousin Ann Melton.  Laura ended up stabbed to death and shoved in a shallow grave.  Tom was found guilty and executed, but there still lies some supicion around what really happened.  Some believe that Ann Melton killed Laura when she found out Tom had gotten her pregnant, while another theory is that Tom became enraged with Laura when he found out she had given him syphilis.  The small town murder became the "trial of the century" in its day and people are still singing about it.


AwNaw by the Nappy Roots

I feel like Ludicrous is maybe a little lonely being the only Southern Rapper on the mixtape, so I decided to add another.  I went with the Nappy Roots, because they are argue the most Southy of all Southern Rappers.  They wear their Southern pride on their sleeve.  The video for this songs features local pro wrestling, straw hats and a big barn dance.  The album this song is own is the provocatively titled "Chicken, Watermelon and Grits", but there doesn't seem to be a lot of anger coming from the Nappy Roots, as they show great pride in who they are and where they come from.

Jackson by Johnny and June Carter Cash     


It would be a crime to leave either one of these iconic Country singers of the list.  "Jackson" features the country power couple dueting in this high energy love song.  I love it.

Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn

Southern Icon sings an iconic song.  My previous list was completely lacking female Country Music.  I have chose to include Loretta Lynn.   I feel that she truly embodies the hard scrabble no-nonsense country woman.  She taught generations of Southern women how to deal with their drunken husbands and introduced Southern women to the joys of birth control.

Coal Miner's Daughter is her trademarks song and is very fitting on this list, as he shows her pride in coming from a poor hard working southern family.

Jolene by Dolly Parton


It would just be wrong to leave out Dolly Parton.  She is the reigning queen of the Smokey MountainsThey even erected a statue of her in her home town of Sevieville, TN.   

She is also responsible for Dollywood, the anchor to Pigeon Forge, TN, the ultimate Southern Tourist Mecca.

Elvis Pressley Blues by Gillian Welch

 I originally wanted to put an Elvis Presley song on the mix, as he is one of the towering legends of Southern Cultures.  Very rarely does a human being find himself elevated to such god-like proportions.  The sheer amount of velvet Elvis paintings across the South says something about his impact.  

However, I just couldn't find an Elvis south that really embodies his Southern routes.  Elvis's music is more Americana then it is truly Southern.  I decided to make a compromise and include this song by Gillian Welch, who despite being a Californian, writes some of the best traditional Southern music in the current era.  This song is a beautiful piece and honors the legacy of Elvis.

Crossroad Blues by Robert Johnson

Another distinctly Southern Genre I left out of my original list was The Blues.  I have to add Robert Johnson do to the sure legends that surround him.  As legend goes, Robert sold his sole to the Devil for super human music abilities.  Robert used his Satanic boon to create The Blues, which is the basis for virtually all modern music. 

Stagger Lee by Mississippi John Hurt

To round out our Blues section I am including this classic by John Hurt, who tells the tale of Southern folk Villain "Stagger Lee"

Marie Laveau 


Okay, another distinctly southern Genre of Southern Music is Jazz.  I have a somewhat conflicted view of Jazz as I appreciate its rich history and I understand that amazing level of skill that goes into mastering it.  I understand that many of you out there love it.  For whatever reason, my ears just don't find it very pleasant.

I am however, not going to leave it off of our mixtape.  I picked my personal favorite Jazz song, which sings of notorious Voodoo Queen Marie Laveu.

So here is our final Mix.

  1.  "The Three Great Alabama Icons" By the Drive-By Truckers
  2.  "Dueling Banjos" Traditional
  3.   "The Devil went Down to Georgia" by Charlie Daniels
  4. "Blue Moon of Kentucky" by Bill Monroe
  5.  "AwNaw" by the Nappy Roots 
  6. "Stagger Lee" by Mississippi John Hurt 
  7. "Elvis Presley Blues" by Gillian Welch
  8. "Ramblin Man" by The Allman Brothers
  9. "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" by Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs
  10. "Jolene" by Dolly Parton
  11.   "You Never Even Call me by my Name" by David Allen Coe
  12.   "Rocky Top" by the Osborne Brothers
  13. "Flirtin with Disaster" by Molly Hatchet
  14. "Tom Dula" Traditional
  15. "Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn
  16.  "I'm a Good old Rebel" Traditional
  17. "Marie Laveau"  Traditional
  18.  "Welcome to Atlanta" by Ludacris and Jermaine Deprie
  19. "Crossroad Blues" by Robert Johnson
  20. "Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams Jr.
  21.   "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show
  22. "Jackson" By Johnny and June Carter Cash
  23.   "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynrd
  24.   "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynrd.
Looks like we have a pretty respectable double album mixtape.  I lack the production equipment and song rights to produce this mix myself, so I encourage everyone out there to LEGALLY download all this music and put together the Ultimate Southern Mixtape.   I have taken the liberty of preparing a CD cover.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Injured Possum

The other day just down the road from our house we found a Possum on the side of the road.  He did not seem like he was not doing well.  He had a large scab on his back and he was walking in a tight circle like he was chasing his tail. 

Anyone who know me, knows I have a soft spot for Possums.   I talked about this at length in my post about Possums.

I felt like I couldn't just leave him on the side of the road, as he was an open target for cars and predators.  I scooped up the little guy and took him home. 

Thinks looked good.  I got him to drink some water and eat an entire bowel of cat food.

The next morning things didn't look as good.  He was having a hard time holding hid head up.  I started making calls to wildlife rehabilitators.  They either were full, didn't take Possums, or would not return my phone calls.

I took him out in the yard and got him to eat and drink a little, but he wasn't doing well.

That night he was doing worse and could hardly hold his head head up.  I did everything I could, but it was not looking very good.

He was hardly moving.  Part of me was hoping he was simply scared and playing Possum. 

Alas, the next morning my little friend had moved on.  I was pretty sad.  I had hoped to nurse him back to health were he could be released back in the wild, but it was not to be.  I had to just take solice in the fact that he was no longer suffering.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Quest for a Shoe Tree

I am a major fan of The Roadside America Website and I always try to check out some of the attractions logged on their site whenever I am on the road.  One of the popular attractions they chart are a little thing called "Shoe Trees". 

"Shoe Trees" are a roadside phenomenon where from some reason a normal tree begins to accumulate a large number of discarded shoes on its branches.  They could make a  pretty fascinating sociological study.  Where did the first set of shoes come from?  What drove others to add their shoes?  What does it all mean?

I think they are kind of beautiful in their own way.  I like the idea of so many people's shoes joining together in a final resting places.  So many long roads ending in one locations.  I wanted more then anything to add my shoes to one of these trees.

While visiting my family up north a few years back, I looked on Roadside American and found that there was a shoe tree in Highland Park, IL.  There wasn't much information on their site, and no pictures, but I was stoked to finally find a shoe tree.

Because I was on vacation I didn't have a spare set of shoes, so I had to ask my step-father to lend me a some.   When I told him where they were going, he was happy to donate a pair.

We traveled through Highland Park, IL and located the tree.  Much to my disappointment, it turned out to be a very sparsely filled Shoe Tree.

There were probably less then a dozen pairs of shoes hanging from the tree.   I still added my step dad's shoes to the tree, I figured that Shoe Trees like this needed shoes the most.

I also learned that throwing a pair of shoes like a bolo was harder then you may think.....I missed quite a few times.

I did finally land it, though.....

The visit to the Highland Park Shoe Tree did not satisfy my shoe tree itch.  Several years later I located a much more reputable shoe tree in Milltown, IN.  After convincing my wife that it was totally worth driving three hours out of the way for, we arrived in the middle of nowhere and found the Milltown Shoe Tree.

And it was beautiful.....

This time I came prepared with my own pair of worn out Chuck Taylors I had had for years. 

I gracefully added my footwear to the Shoe Tree.

I feel happy knowing my worn out shoes will always be part of the American roadside.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Abita Mystery House

One of the mainstays of the American Roadside is the "Folk Art Environment".  I have been to quite a few of these and one of my absolute favorites is "The Abita Mystery House".   Formerly known as the UCM Museum, The Mystery House is a wonderful stop just across the lake from New Orleans.   At a ridiculously low price of 3 dollars, this has got to be the best roadside deal in America.

The Abita Mystery House is the brainchild of artist John Preble.  When creating the Mystery House, a large amount of his artwork his based around my favorite medium:  Alligator.

The first thing you see when entering the Mystery House is this lovely Alligator Women in an evening gown.

There is a whole collection of wonderful alligator creations including the famous "Darrell the Dogigator"

Then there are several species of "Bassigators" spread through the museum.

You have your standard bassigator.

The two headed variety....

And the grandaddy of them all..........The 22 foot Buford the Bassigator.....

An let's not forget Thelma the 32 foot alligator.

Then of course there is the Duckigator....

And his dangerous counterpart the Alligduck....

There are plenty of other indescribable alligator creations.

There are non-alligator related examples of Cryptotaxidermy as well.....

This includes a good old fashion Fiji Mermaid.

The museum includes an authentic footprint of the Honey Island Swamp Monster, which was featured on the Travel Channel's "Mysteries at the Museum".

Another major part of the attraction are Preble's motorized dioramas of miniatures that portray Southern Life.

 And then there is the awesome Aliens meet Airstream exhibit....

When we visited we got a special treat....John Preble invited me and my wife back into his wrokshop and showed me some of his works in progress.

Here is John with his "Big Mouth Bass"

Here is me with one of John's horrific works in progress....

John was very friendly and even showed me what he uses to create his works.  I told him it was my dream to operate a roadside attraction and he told me that I should open a Hillbilly Museum (he felt it would do well in my part of the country).  Maybe someday......

I would definitely put this amazing place in my top five favorite roadside stops of all time.  More then worth the trip.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream