two years of “level:deepsouth— for Generation X”

It was two years ago this week that level:deepsouth went online. I had had the idea for a while before that, since there was no publication, no project, no website – not that I could find – devoted solely to Generation X in the Deep South. I had pondered first whether such a project could be a newspaper or magazine, whether it should be a book, then I gave in to the reality that, even though we were raised on print, this is now an internet world. And while I am an editor, this subject is larger than a single print anthology or similar work.

Generation X Deep SouthThe project is devoted to collecting, archiving, and sharing stories, images, videos, texts, and links that speak to what it was like growing up in the Deep South in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. You can read my editor’s introduction “Definitions, Numbers, An Exodus, and the Stories” for a better idea on what that means more specifically, but I’ll add this. In the 2000s, I worked on quite a few projects that collected the stories and images from the Civil Rights movement. By that time, most movement veterans were elderly or close to it – having been born in the 1940s or earlier – and there were obvious challenges associated with talking with them at that late date: foggy memories, re-interpretations over time, forgotten names, lost photographs. Often, in response to a question, we would hear, “You know, that was a long time ago . . .” which was then followed by a shaky recollection. Those experiences lead me to devise the idea for level:deepsouth. In the 2010s, GenXers were in our 30s and 40s, a prime age range for remembering and retelling stories from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Perhaps, I waited too long to begin, but let’s be honest: we’re not exactly “old” . . . yet.

Probably the most important thing to include here is that level:deepsouth remains open for submissions. The project has published some stories from Generation X, but there are a lot more out there. I have continued to track down sources for “the lists” and to write up scattered information for “tidbits, fragments, and ephemera,” but what will bring this project to life are the stories. To truly represent our generation in this place at that time will require more firsthand recollections. For those who aren’t confident in their writing ability, I am offering my editorial help. Finally, I’m aware that the lack of an author payment leads some writers to decline the opportunity, but as long as I’m funding the project with my own money, they’ll just have to miss out. (If anyone is confused by the lack of payment, please read this.)

We’ll see what the next year holds. No matter— if you grew up in Generation X in the Deep South, consider adding your voice to this fledgling cacophony. I’ll be here for a while longer to impose some order on that chaos. 

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 26: the mall edition

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

Jackson’s Metrocenter Mall opens, 1978

Birmingham’s Riverchase Galleria opens, 1986

Underground Atlanta reopens, 1989

excerpt: “The original Underground Atlanta opened in the city’s viaducts in 1969 but closed in 1982 because of the perception that it was riddled with crime. The new version, resulting from a three-year overhaul by the Rouse Company, is at the original site but is three times larger. It offers 22 restaurants and clubs and nearly 100 retailers.”

The documentary Jasper Mall, 2020

The now-abandoned Montgomery Mall, 2021

Montgomery Mall opened in 1970 and was a thriving shopping center until the late 1990s. The mall closed in the 2000s, and parts of it were bought up by the City and the local school system. This video shows its center, the parts that weren’t bought up, in 2021.

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.