Yeah, It's Happenin'By WES BROOKS,
Have I mentioned I’m a rock ‘n roller? I’m sure I have, but have I gotten as specific as mentioning that I have special place in my heart for blues-injected, Keith Richards open-G tuned guitar-type rock ‘n roll?
Well, I do.
This month I’m hacking away at the hearing I have left with a song that epitomizes that style of music. Reach back to 1992 with me for the first track on the first record released by brothers Chris and Rich Robinson and their band, The Black Crowes.
The song is “Sting Me” from the album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. However, if you prefer live recordings like I do, then reach for 2002’s The Black Crowes: Live.
As Brian O’Neal from The BusBoys says, “it’s stomp-down, butt-bumpin’ rock ‘n roll rhythm and blues.”
Here we go…
If you feel like a riot,
don’t you deny it
Put your good foot forward
No need for heroics, I just
want you to show it
Now’s the time to shine
Hattiesburg has a pretty cool vibe going on at the moment. I certainly do not mean that as a slight to the previous administration, but there’s a coolness in the air and I’m not talking about the temperature. You know what I mean. There’s a feeling that something really cool in is about to take off and you want to be a part of it.
How cool? It’s made this Oak Grover start house hunting in town.
Roads, water, and sewer are being improved, new buildings are going up in midtown, parks and recreation are being enhanced, and things just seem, I dunno… better.
I see you, Mrs. Jones.
Things aren’t just being communicated out of City Hall, they are being communicated with enthusiasm. Each communication expresses excitement and, best of all, inclusion. In short, we’re being told that there are some really great things that are going to happen, but they’d be even better if you were a part of it.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about open invitations to have coffee with our men and women in blue, and I’m talking about Office Hours with the Mayor of Hattiesburg.
I see you, Ms. McCain.
I know I’m not the only person who’s turned on the television and noticed the members of City Council smiling! I mean, all five of them smiling at the same time!
I don’t know what it takes to get a city administration about reaching that end, and I sure don’t know what it takes to make a city excited about itself again, but it’s happening.
I see you Mayor Barker.
The signs reads welcome
to the valley of discovery
Look at what money can buy
Sons & daughters better
open your eyes
Tell me what you're seeing
This submission is a tired tradition
It's everyone's sacrifice
Now, I know that up to this point, I’ve left out quite a few people: Sharon Waits, CFO; Betsy Mercier, Assistant to the Mayor; Lamar Rutland, City Engineer; Andrew Ellard, Director of Urban Development; Chadwick Frierson, Dir. of Water and Sewer; Larry Barnes, Dir. of Public Works; Paul Presley, Fire Chief; Anthony Parker, Chief of Police, and many, many others.
I see you. All of you. Without you, none of this goes down.
What do I find appealing about it? The lack of division. The current administration has made abundantly clear that they’ll have none of that here. I think if we all join in together Hattiesburg’s trajectory can only be upward.
Not too long ago I had an interaction with a gas station attendant. At most, all this young man owed me was acknowledgement and to have me on my way in a decent amount of time. At worst, he could’ve ignored me, been rude, or wasted my time. None of those things happened.
Let me preface this by offering a full disclosure of how my day had gone up to that point: The morning was not unlike most others, I slept through my alarm, overcooked breakfast, almost killed the dog, and left the house having forgotten various things. You know, just NOT having a good morning… that was until I encountered the young black gentleman working at the gas station.
I come through the door of the gas station visibly frazzled and slightly out of breath…
Me: umm yes, may I have $25 on pump 7, please?
Attendant: Good morning!
Attendant: So, I got a hypothetical for you, man. Your down to your very last ten dollars and you have to decide which ticket you buy
Me: Uhh... buy a ticket?
Attendant: Yeah, you can either buy a ticket to see Queen, or a ticket to see Journey.
Me: Original lineup?
Attendant: Yeah, man!
Me: That’s easy… (singing) “I was just a skinny lad..."
Attendant: “Never knew no good from bad...”
Me: “But I knew life before I left my nursery!”
Attendant: “Left alone with big fat Fanny”
Me: “She was such a naughty nanny”
together: “Hey big woman you made a bad boy outta me!” (both of us laughing)
Attendant: You gone be a’ight man. Have a good day.
That young fella didn’t just have me in a better mood, he had me pumped about what the rest of the day might hold.
That’s the vibe I’m getting from Mayor Barker and his team. They aren’t aiming for “better mood,” they aiming for “pumped” and “excited for the future.”
I think it’s working.
I hope each of you has a Merry Christmas that the best things you’ve experienced in 2017 be the worst you have to endure in 2018!
When he’s not rocking his socks off, Wes Brooks spends his days as the Development Coordinator at the DuBard School for Language Disorders at The University of Southern Mississippi. Brooks is a husband, a father, and a guitarist for the local band, The 6550’s.