That piece in the Times about how Jack Daniels is now engaging w/ how African-Americans played a role in developing their iconic whiskey is an interesting read, esp in terms of seeing mainstream journalism struggle with telling about the struggle to recover marginalized presences from archives. Glad to see they checked in w/ John T., who has been thinking, and talking w/ Tunde Wey about these debts. My reaction may be condition by being a 46 yo Yankee, who lives in the South, and now thinks about these things as a condition of maintaining some level of sanity, but the first thing I thought of when I read this news was Lynyrd Skynyrd. Specifically, their live double album -- One more for from the road. My big brother the pickler brought this record to my attention some time in the 1970s, and it captured my imagination on a variety of levels. Free Bird, of course, before a million wankers at a million shows made it a punchline, was epic, and almost always the last slow dance at 7th-8th grade dances. And! Sweet Home Alabama, a great tune that just keeps getting more complicated, not to mention Gimme Three Steps, and Saturday Night Special, IE two more songs questioning gun violence than there were on the last record you bought. But! Part of the fascination was the gatefold, which portrayed a world very different from my own.
It's a world with hot dogs, beers, guns, and bras, all pretty much absent from my early teen, bowlcutted existence. But also, the Confederate flag and Jack Daniels. The Jack Daniels label and the Confederate flag are both iconic, and seem often to keep pretty close company. (If you are some place that sells t-shirts with one, chances, they sell the other.) There are plenty of other times and places to rehearse the why and where for flying the Confederate flag (almost never, IMO) or what it means, (different things to different people), but among the other valences, the Confederate flag and the Jack Daniels logo both represent a form of white masculinity (throw the Harley logo in there too, if you like). It is too soon to know how energetically the Jack Daniels folks will tell this story, but it would be ironic if this icon came to represent recovered African-American history, don't you think? Play us off, lads.