Generation X Deep South

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 30

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


The Superdome in New Orleans, opened 1975

excerpt: “After reaching an agreement to build a stadium, the NFL awarded the area a team, the New Orleans Saints. Construction began in August 1971 and was completed by August 1975. Due to its massive size, the dome stadium was named the Louisiana Superdome. The Superdome covers 13 acres and is 27 stories tall. From the outside it looks like a massive spaceship.”

Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler album, released 1978

Sung by Texan Kenny Rogers and written by North Carolina-born Don Schlitz, this album’s title song garnered the two men tremendous attention. It got radio play on country and pop stations, and resulted in a TV movie with Rogers playing the lead. The only other hit on the album was “She Believes in Me.”

The Indigo Girls play their first gig, 1981

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, “Emily Saliers was born July 22, 1963, in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved with her family to Decatur when she was in the sixth grade. At Laurel Ridge Elementary School she met Amy Ray, who was born April 12, 1964, in Atlanta, and was then in the fifth grade. The two formed a friendship, and they later discovered their complementary musical talents—Ray’s brooding voice and edgier style balanced Saliers’s vocals and folkier leanings. In 1981 they played for their first live audience: their high school English class.”

The deadline on the Equal Rights Amendment expires, June 1982

When the deadline for ratification of the 1972 ERA passed in the summer of 1982, the amendment basically died on the vine. The ERA would have guaranteed protections against discrimination based on sex or gender, but it did not become law. Almost all of states that did not ratify the ERA were in the Deep South.

 


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.

Louisiana, ca. 1980

During the time that Generation X was growing up, Louisiana had a population of 4.2 million people, nearly 1.1 million of them under age 15. This means that the GenX population in the state was higher than average, about 25% as opposed to around 20% in other Southern states. 

No GenXers had yet finished high school in 1980, but to look at Table 201B in the Detailed Population Characteristics: Louisiana census report, there were about 65,000 fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds in high school in 1980, alongside 1,700 thirteen-year-olds, 224 twelve-year-olds, and 24 eleven-year-olds. (Those along with another 9,500 sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds who would have been born before 1965.)

For whatever reasons, population growth in Louisiana was almost nihil in the 1980s. Though the state population grew from 3.644 million in 1970 to 4.206 million in 1980 – a 15% increase – there were only 4.219 million in 1990. That means that growth in the 1980s only amounted to 0.5%— basically stagnant. (As a comparison of how low that number is, Louisiana’s population in 2000 was 4.468 million, which constituted growth of 6% over 1990.) 

Compared to states like Alabama and Mississippi, Louisiana had a more diverse population. In the state, 2.92 million people (69%) were white, 1.24 million (29%) were black, and just under 100,00 (2%) were Hispanic. (Asians / Pacific Islanders did not show up as group on this report.) Over 85,000 Louisiana resident were “foreign born,” and about half of them lived in New Orleans. Nearly one-quarter of the state’s immigrants were Europeans, though over 22,000 people had moved to Louisiana from Asia, more than 21,000 from Central or South America, and over 2,000 from Africa. 

Among the events in Louisiana in the early 1980s that garnered national attention were the 1980 Lake Peigneur disaster and the 1984 World’s Fair. The former event was described this way by US News:

A Texaco oil rig in the middle of the then-shallow lake punched a hole in a subterranean salt dome being mined by Diamond Crystal Salt. The oil rig began listing, causing those aboard to head for shore. They looked back to see the rig disappear into the lake and saw a whirlpool that sucked the entire lake, including 11 barges, into the vortex. It also pulled in 65 acres of lakeshore, including Bayless’ new home and much of the garden.

The latter was also described as a disaster in its own way. Despite real effort put into its planning, attendance was low, a failure attributed to the fact that it was scheduled at the same time as the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Outside of those two events, Super Bowls XII and XV, in 1978 and 1981, were played at the SuperDome, which opened in 1975.

Perhaps Louisiana’s most famous GenXer would be Shaquille O’Neal, if he were actually from Louisiana. Though he played basketball at Louisiana State University (LSU) from 1989 until 1992, Shaq was born in 1972 in New Jersey. If not Shaq, then the most famous might be any of these native New Orleanians: Harry Connick, Jr. (born in 1967), Tyler Perry (born in 1969), or recently appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett (born in 1972). Country singer Tim McGraw and Phil Anselmo (of the metal band Pantera) are also late-’60s babies from Louisiana. 


 

Generation X Deep South

now accepting fiction and poetry

Beginning in April 2022, level:deepsouth will also be open to submissions of short fiction and poetry. The subject matter of submissions should still center on the experiences of Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s.

To be considered, a short story or poem must either have been 1.) written between 1970 and 1999 while the writer was growing up in the Deep South, or 2.) the subject matter should center on growing in the Deep South during that time. 

Before submitting, writers and poets should read the guidelines thoroughly then query the editor, providing the information requested.