Tuesday, June 29, 2010

tar babies and tar balls

Not laughing or joking by any means but every time I hear the phrase Tar Balls, I think of my sweet, sweet grandmother taking me to see Disney's Song of the South. I was very, very little and never really understood the movie. I just remember the black man singing and the rabbit running around and something to do with a tar baby. Still have no idea what that movie is about.

The situation in the Gulf is horrendous and no laughing matter. I will be the first one to admit that there are some things about the South that I don't agree with or "get" but one thing I do know about Alabamians is that they LOVE their Gulf. They are very proud of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. Which is exactly why I don't understand some of the inane comments I've seen on local news and other social networks (and some of the most ridiculous, disappointing comments coming from folks I know personally).

In case you've been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, Mr. Margaritaville himself, Jimmie Buffet has decided to do a "charity" concert to promote tourism and raise awareness of the situation in the Gulf region. 35,000 free tickets were offered thru Ticketmaster and were dispersed within minutes and boy oh boy were people mad. Folks in Baldwin County and other parts of the coastal region think this is a free concert to take their minds of the situation and they should have been among the ticket recipients (a strong sense of "entitlement" happening here). Some are even going so far as to claim that they were personally blocked from Ticketmaster because of their ZIP code. I've heard folks ranting and raving about how "people in NY and NJ got all the tickets." Well, isn't that was the whole point of this concert? Most folks in NY, NJ and other "northern" states have no idea where Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, AL is located. I, for one, had no idea what "beach" everyone was talking about the first summer we moved here. We were actually looking for a place in FL to meet Cosmo's brother's family. The only place in the panhandle I had ever heard about was Panama City Beach (synonymous with Spring Break back in the day). I mentioned it to several new neighbors of mine, they all made faces and said PCB was tacky. Every one of them told us to go to GS or OB.
So, let's do the math -- 35,000 available tickets at a 4 ticket/person maximum. Really doesn't leave a lot of tickets, now does it?? Since the Ticketmaster debacle, we're hearing that 12,500 of those original 35,000 tickets were offered to various condos and hotels to sell as incentives or as part of promotional packages. So, 12,500 from 35,000 leaves even LESS tickets, doesn't it?

Now, being a native "Yankee" one thing I do know for sure is that Yankees love a good cause and will do anything to buck the system and screw "the man." If a bunch of New Yorkers and New Jerseyites are travelling south for the 4th of July holiday and plan to drop some serious coin on airfare, hotels, meals, souvenirs, outlet mall shopping, adult beverages, what is the harm? It's their way of giving BP the finger. Again, isn't that the whole point of this benefit concert? To give local tourism a boost? Isn't this similar to the tourism campaign launched in NY after 9/11? "Visit. It's safe. Broadway needs you. The hotels and restaurants need you." No different from a post-Katrina New Orleans. The last thing the Gulf region needs is a bunch of locals going to a concert and driving straight home and not spending any money on hotel rooms, food and beverage, etc. These are local business owners, local hotels/motel owners, mom & pop souvenir places. These are restaurant waitstaff, housekeepers, front desk folks. These are police officers and sanitation workers who may be in jeopardy of loosing their jobs if the local economy doesn't pick up. These are the same locals who now, because of the crappy economy AND the oil spill have NO disposable income.
Good God people! Makes me just want to scream. Can't we all just get along? Why does it always have to be a North vs. South kind of thing? Seriuosly! Who cares where the money's coming in from? That's what being a tourist is all about! Learning and exploring about new places! From www.dictionary.com:
Tourist: tour·ist 
 /ˈtʊərɪst/ Show Spelled[toor-ist] –noun
1. a person who is traveling, esp. for pleasure.
P.S. As a footnote, the benefit concert has been re-scheduled due to the threat of inclement weather from a possible hurricane in the Gulf. All those folks that were unwanted in the Gulf, all those people deciding to spend their hard-earned money in Alabama will not be able to change their flights, re-schedule their vacation time, or revise their condo reservations. I guess they'll have to stay at the Jersey Shore (with or without Snookie and the Situation, no matter). They'll probably pack up the mini-van and make the drive to family-friendly Wildwood. Perhaps they'll stay at one of the gorgeous Victorian bed & breakfasts in Cape May. The college kids will hit Belmar pretty hard or maybe they'll want some excitement and head over to Atlantic City. Some of the adventurous may trek to Ocean City, MD or a beach in Delaware. The golf set will look into Mrytle Beach or Hilton head. Now, no one will truly benefit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I loved it. Thanks for sharing your view (in which I happen to think you are right) ... I live in south FL and have not yet been effected by the oil, but they say it is coming and they are complaining about the tourists canceling... I am six miles from the gulf and I enjoy it every Sunday on a boat, frolicking in the water!

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