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April 3, 2008 11:35 AM   Subscribe

"Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch:" The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry

Reprinted in the Journal of Manly Arts which have been mentioned previously.

The article made me think of this battle from season three of Deadwood, although it is not a by-the-book rough and tumble.
posted by Bookhouse (34 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Metafilter: only devils, prostitutes, or monkeys could sire creatures so unfit for human society
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the best thing I have ever read. I'm going to steal it all for my fake memoir.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:54 AM on April 3, 2008


I think all you need to know about Southern fightin' can be summed up in this excert from Hillbilly Hare:

BUGS: (Singing.) Grab a fence post, hold it tight,
Womp your partner with all your might.
Hit him in the shin, hit him in the head,
Hit him again, the critter ain't dead.
Wop him low and wop him high,
Stick your finger in his eye.
Pretty little rhythm, pretty little sound,
Bang your heads against the ground.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:57 AM on April 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is fantastic, thank you.
posted by saladin at 12:00 PM on April 3, 2008


Sweet. I cited Gorn in a paper I wrote several years ago wherein I proposed that the similarities between the Kentuckian or Wildcat fighter's boasts were not substantially different from that of gangsta rap, and that the use of humor and exaggeration was central to both.

That paper was selected for an undergraduate research symposium. Yay, Elliot Gorn.
posted by beelzbubba at 12:04 PM on April 3, 2008


I'm from western South Carolina, and you sur have offended mi honah!
posted by wfrgms at 12:07 PM on April 3, 2008


Backcountry, Gentrified, or however else fighting is viewed, It's intent is always savage.

The idea that someone is not going to do something like eye-gouge or that they will fight fair is probably the reason a fair amount of people lose fights.

This article should be kept in mind anytime someone engages someone else in physical combat. Anyone.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:16 PM on April 3, 2008


This is the best thing I have ever read. I'm going to steal it all for my fake memoir.

Yeah, I came across it while researching what I'm pretty sure is going to be the most awesome short story ever written.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:17 PM on April 3, 2008


Jesus, I can barely read this stuff. If only all those video games had desensitized me more.
posted by danb at 12:18 PM on April 3, 2008


"I’m a salt River roarer! I’m a ring tailed squealer! I’m a regular screamer from the old Massassip! Whoop! I’m the very infant that refused his milk before its eyes were open and called out for a bottle of old Rye! I love the women and I’m chockful o’ fight! I’m half wild horse and half cock-eyed alligator and the rest o’ me is crooked snags an’ red-hot snappin’ turtle…. I can out-run, out-jump, out shout, out-brag, out-drink, an’ out-fight, rough-an’-tumble, no holts barred, any man on both sides the river from Pittsburgh to New Orleans an’ back ag’in to St. Louiee. Come on, you flatters, you bargers, you milk white mechanics, an’ see how tough I am to chaw! I ain’t had a fight for two days an’ I’m spilein’ for exercise. Cock-a-doodle-doo!"

Glorious. Thank you very much.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:19 PM on April 3, 2008


Southern Gentlemen: Pistols at dawn!
Rednecks: Fists after sunset!
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:21 PM on April 3, 2008


One of my fave movie fight scenes is the one in John Carpenter's underrated They Live. Very slow and very funny, with threse two big palookas whaling the tar out of each other. Rowdy Roddt Piper and Carl Weathers? Too lazy to look it up...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:22 PM on April 3, 2008


My bad -- Roddy Piper and Keith David.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:24 PM on April 3, 2008


Of course, this is pretty rockin', too....
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:28 PM on April 3, 2008


Great post. Well done!
posted by triv at 12:36 PM on April 3, 2008


i'm getting sympathy pain in my eyeballs just from reading this. ow ow ow.
posted by dubold at 12:39 PM on April 3, 2008


This level of violence is just sickening; and that's why I just shoot anyone who threatens me!
posted by Standeck at 12:52 PM on April 3, 2008


Wonderful post.

Et Eyegouge in Arcadia
posted by doncoyote at 1:03 PM on April 3, 2008


Thanks for this. Fascinating and, since I am marrying a woman from Atlanta, somewhat terrifying.
posted by Shepherd at 1:16 PM on April 3, 2008


And, my theft is complete.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:45 PM on April 3, 2008


AZ had disparaged Wisconsin for the last time:

I'm half Harley Davidson, half Holstein cow and chock full of bitter resentment at the greatness your memoirs.

*rips off shirt*

Let's dance, dead man!
posted by quin at 2:11 PM on April 3, 2008


Journal of Western Martial Arts is vastly underrated. Like the arts themselves.

There is little in the way of substance in Judo or Jiu Jitsu or Kung Fu that you can't find stripped down and made bare in old school boxing, fisticuffs, and catch wrestling. As far back as Pancrase, there ain't nothing two human beings can do to main each other bare-hand-like that hasn't been thought of by pretty much every up rite monkey on the planet.

Nice post.
posted by tkchrist at 2:32 PM on April 3, 2008


I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number. I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me. I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer and I am Barrel-rider.
...at least that’s what the little guy said before he whupped my ass.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not the face!
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


"The Yankee concluded that only devils, prostitutes, or monkeys could sire creatures so unfit for human society."

Huh. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
posted by John of Michigan at 3:34 PM on April 3, 2008


Man, this is awesome. Thanks, Bookhouse!

Are the JMA and JWMA still in print? Seems like the articles for both stop around 2006.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:37 PM on April 3, 2008


Frick - yeah, I forgot - thanks, Bookhouse
posted by Smedleyman at 4:40 PM on April 3, 2008


main

Er... I meant "maim"

or "Hello Dolly."

I like Maim better. She does coax the blues right out of the horn.
posted by tkchrist at 5:44 PM on April 3, 2008


I can out-run, out-jump, out shout, out-brag, out-drink, an’ out-fight, rough-an’-tumble, no holts barred, any man on both sides the river from Pittsburgh to New Orleans an’ back ag’in to St. Louiee. Come on, you flatters, you bargers, you milk white mechanics, an’ see how tough I am to chaw! I ain’t had a fight for two days an’ I’m spilein’ for exercise. Cock-a-doodle-doo!

PS. Stagger Lee, the Dozens, Signifying Monkey, Signifying Rapper, Schooly D and your mama got a peg-leg with a kickstand and your greasy goddamn granny.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:13 PM on April 3, 2008


What a great piece. Imagine if they had orangutans back then, too!
posted by not_on_display at 8:10 PM on April 3, 2008


This topic also relates to the sociology and psychology of Southern honor. I remember seeing this mentioned a lot in school.

A search on Google Scholar
A book on Amazon
posted by redteam at 8:28 PM on April 3, 2008


But the fight continued. The Kentuckian grabbed his smaller opponent and held him in a tight bear hug, forcing the Virginian to relinquish his facial grip. Over and over the two rolled, until, getting the Virginian under him, the big man "snapt off his nose so close to his face that no manner of projection remained." The Virginian quickly recovered, seized the Kentuckian’s lower lip in his teeth, and ripped it down over his enemy’s chin. This was enough: "The Kentuckyan at length gave out, on which the people carried off the victor, and he preferring a triumph to a doctor, who came to cicatrize his face, suffered himself to be chaired round the ground as the champion of the times, and the first rougher-and-tumbler. The poor wretch, whose eyes were started from their spheres, and whose lip refused its office, returned to the town, to hide his impotence, and get his countenance repaired." The citizens refreshed themselves with whiskey and biscuits, then resumed their races.

holy shit.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:58 PM on April 3, 2008


That is an awesome read.

tkchrist: There is little in the way of substance in Judo or Jiu Jitsu or Kung Fu that you can't find stripped down and made bare in old school boxing, fisticuffs, and catch wrestling. As far back as Pancrase, there ain't nothing two human beings can do to main each other bare-hand-like that hasn't been thought of by pretty much every up rite monkey on the planet.

I know what you're saying, and I agree with the idea that either things work or don't work in combat, and therefore, there will be plenty of common stuff among systems that are generally considered effective.

Still, I think judo and jiu-jitsu have plenty of substantive innovations that don't show up in fisticuffs and catch wrestling or as a result of just brawling it out constantly. I might be wrong, but I don't think there were versions of techniques like uchi mata, kata guruma, the triangle, and sweeps from the guard in olde timey fighting. These things are a big deal that have really changed fighting. From what I've read, even the idea that you should break someone's balance before you throw or sweep them was something that wasn't common knowledge before judo.
posted by ignignokt at 11:23 PM on April 3, 2008


Maybe having my glasses broken in a fight isn't the worst that could happen after all. Great post, Bookhouse - any idea on where and when that story will be appearing?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:41 AM on April 5, 2008


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