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    On Drunks and Skunks And Why It’s Good That Mickey Spillane Isn’t Here To See This


    You may or may not have heard about the new show on CMT called “Party Down South”(originally called “The Dirty South”, or so the rumors go), a purposely stupid, sexy, boozy 10-week series about a group of 20-something southern rednecks, strangers to one another, thrown together in a house near Myrtle Beach for a month just to see what happens.  The booze, provided by the production company, flows freely with no danger of running out, and the participants are encouraged (I hope that’s it) to out-dumb each other. The program is produced by the same folks who gave us the equally stupid, sexy, boozy–but popular– “Jersey Shore”.

    I have never seen “Jersey Shore” but I’ve seen enough about it to know it’s okay that I’ve missed it.  I watched the premiere episode of “Party Down South” on Thursday night, without knowing anything at all about it until earlier that day, when I saw on the local news that a reality show had been filmed last summer at Murrells Inlet and was about to be shown for the first time.

    Our temporary winter digs are mere miles from there and if I stand in the right spot I can actually see the inlet from my house.  Murrell’s Inlet is many things to many people but the leaders and promoters sorely want it to be known mainly as a quaint but hip fishing village with restaurants and shops and a fine old history.  It is  located on the banks of a wide and beautiful salt water tidal marsh known for good fishing, crabbing and oystering.

    There is a half-mile U-shaped boardwalk along the edge of the marsh (or “creek”, as they call it) that connects a long established grouping of bars and seafood restaurants–running from the cool kind of rowdy to the sublime and expensive.  Around here Murrells Inlet is known as the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina”, and the restaurants are packed, even in January.

    Murrells Inlet high tide

    Murrell’s Inlet Marshwalk. (All Photo Credits: Me)

    Mickey Spillane, author of dozens of detective novels and creator of “Mike Hammer, Private Eye”, fell in love with Murrell’s Inlet in the 1950s and lived there until his death at 88 in 2006.  He was their honorary good will ambassador and he never missed a chance to talk up the place.  He loved the beauty of Murrell’s Inlet but I’m guessing he also got a kick out of the rowdies.  I’ll go out on a limb, though, and bet he would have hated what is happening now with “Party Down South”.

    There are two biker bars down near the main highway, a couple of miles away from the MarshWalk, that give Murrell’s Inlet a different kind of attention.

    “Suck Bang Blow” gets its name from motorcycle jargon, they say, and is large enough to open its doors wide and let the bikers roar right up to the bar.

    “The Beaver Bar” started out as a roadside stand and got its name from its owner but it has no problem with you thinking what you’re thinking.

    It could be that they were what brought TLC and the “Jersey Shore” producers to this spot, setting those doofuses up in a century-old historic home, but whatever it was, the producers’ reputations for sleaze no doubt preceded them, because right from the startthe welcome mat was definitely not out in some quarters.

    (Coincidentally, “Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor”, TLC’s controversial redneck reality show filmed in neighboring Myrtle Beach, began its second season on the exact same night and at the exact same time.  Enough to drive a body crazy trying to decide. . .)

    But about Party Down South:  CMT hypes their new show this way:

    “From the producers of Jersey Shore comes the most outrageous Party Down South. Follow eight young, brazen adults for one wild summer of extreme fun. Their summer vacation spot, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, may never be the same after these fast friends work, party and bond with one another over their common love of the South.”

    Yeah, well.

    So to understand why some people might not like this very public but skewed portrayal of their fair town, here are a few pictures I’ve taken of the area over the years, very near where the production company chose to film these episodes.  This is the real Murrell’s Inlet.  Or at least the one we’ve come to know and love.

    Murrells Inlet harbor

    Murrells Inlet harbor

    Pelican and Egrets at Murrell's Inlet

    Pelican and Egrets at Murrell’s Inlet


    Palmetto and the marsh at high tide


    Siesta time at Murrells Inlet

    Veterans Memorial at Murrells Inlet MarshWalk

    Veterans Memorial at Murrells Inlet MarshWalk

    There is more to Murrell’s Inlet inland, including world-class golf courses and the amazing Brookgreen Gardens, the sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington’s gift to the Low Country.

    Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture Court

    Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture Court

    But if you happen to watch the first episode of “Party Down South” (and why wouldn’t you?) be sure not to blink during the scenery shots.  You won’t see much of Murrell’s Inlet.  Seems a shame, considering the notoriety that lovely place will now have to endure.

    But worse things have happened to this little community.  Remember Hurricane Hugo?


    Canceling cable feels so good right now.

    This weekend I watched Swiss Miss on youtube. It's an old Laurel and Hardy flick I had seen way back when. Not one of their best, but not bad. I also watched Psych and George Gently on Netflix, and some Michael Palin travelogues on DVD.

    Other than that I was reading Brown Dog, a book of stories about a guy on the Upper Peninsula who works when he has to, but otherwise hunts, drinks, chases women and walks in the woods.

    . . .a book of stories about a guy on the Upper Peninsula who works when he has to, but otherwise hunts, drinks, chases women and walks in the woods.

    I'm a big Jim Harrison fan but I haven't read this, even though It's about my neck of the woods.  The one that stuck with me most was "Dalva".  Harrison writes in female first person and pulls it off beautifully.  My grandson told me about "Brown Dog" but I haven't read it yet.  I should put it on my list.

    I understand what you're saying about cable TV but I'm not ready to give it up and I don't know if I ever will be.  I know I can watch most anything online or on DVD but I like the immediacy, I guess.  There is nothing on TV I'm forced to watch and I can turn it off at any time, but when I want it I want it.


    I’m like Donal, I gave up cable too. I haven’t turned on a television for over three months, and I’m loving it. I got more out of reading and looking at the pictures in your blog this afternoon than I’ve gotten out of watching cable in the past three years. I’ve just about ODed on stupidity, so I finally asked myself, why should I have to PAY to watch it? Although I do miss Gunsmoke, the final straw with me was when I finally began to recognize that Saturday Night Live reflected more reality than Meet the Press.

    So thank you for the vacation. I might want to visit there . . . By the way, what’s their position on stand your ground?

    Lol, Wattree, you got me there.  I don't know what they think about "Stand your ground" but I can guess.  It's probably the same position my neighbors up north take. 

    The sad truth about beautiful places is that they're not closed to bullies, racists, misogynists or ignoramuses. Nor do they have the ability to soften and mellow said creeps.  Unfortunately, they're with us no matter where we wander.

    You might also enjoy the book, the movie and the remake set in the area Ramona wrote about:



    The movie with Robert Mitchum gave me nightmares after watching it on tv's Saturday afternoon Armchair Theatre.

    wiki trivia:

    Cape Fear is a prominent headland jutting into the Atlantic Ocean from Bald Head Island on the coast of North Carolina in the southeastern United States

    The name comes from the 1585 expedition of Sir Richard Grenville. Sailing to Roanoke Island, his ship became embayed behind the cape. Some of the crew were afraid they would wreck, giving rise to the name Cape Fear. It is the fifth-oldest surviving English place name in the U.S


    Nice article.  It raises the question: Why must everything beautiful be destroyed by cable TV?   

     their common love of the South.”


    At the risk of exposing my status as a "Sectionalist", this was the  phrase that leapt out for pure, WTF giggles. ( Bearing in mind that a person living in Michigan might find  redeeming social value in a South Carolina winter venue.)

    Edit to add: Of course The Beaver Bar is now on my list of must visits...


    Yes, Jolly, you did come to mind when I listed the Beaver Bar.  (No, I mean it.  But in a nice way.)

    There are a lot of us old Midwesterners down here, for the reasons you might think.  It's too damn cold up north and old people get cold.  And up there the days are too damn short.  Too much light deprivation and we're in the bars and casinos looking for bright lights and a cure for depression.

    Rents are cheap here because January in the So. Carolina low country is cold, too, but not that cold.  The ones who snowbird in Florida have more money than we do, but they tend to be boring and snobby so those of us who come here think we're the cat's meow and the bee's knees. (No, wait, that was before our time.)

    We save big bucks by not living up north in the winter.  Heating with propane is crazy!  Electricity in the boonies is nuts!  Up there we pay almost $4 a gallon for gas.  Down here we pay under $3.  Plus we don't have to drive for an hour to get to the nearest center of commerce.  Or shovel snow. So there are a lot of good reasons for heading south.

    But that phrase "their common love of the South" gave me the giggles ,too, since it looked to me like they stayed in the house drinking, anyway, so they could have been anywhere.  I doubt if they'll ever appreciate the beauty of the place, but who cares?  What's important is that those kids have a show of their own based on how drunk and stupid they can get.   Going heavy on that slack-jawed Southern drawl helps, too.  (Haven't met many who actually talk like that, by the way, but it could be that they're out there in places I don't frequent.)

    I think there's some sociological object lesson in there but only for those who care about such things.  For the rest, it's one step up from the horrors of Honey Boo Boo and that kicks it up a notch.  (I'm guessing.  I don't know that for sure.  I shouldn't even be talking about this.  I'm old.  I know nothing.)

    you did come to mind


    "I  may not know art, but I know what I like..."

    Apparently I do, too.  lol

    Oh, Jolly, that's quite a bio.  I'm impressed!  By the way, I know that guy, Rex.  Say hello for me.

    You scamps!  But boys will be boys, I always say.

    Most people realize that there is more to New Jersey than Jersey Shore, and I suspect they will be able to work out that there's more to Murrell's Inlet than Party Down South.  But I can see what you mean when you say that one of the main local activities is crabbing.

    Did you ever hear of Murrell's Inlet before now?  I've heard of New Jersey.  Enough to be able to sort out the difference.  It bugs me that anyone watching that show wouldn't know that there's more to Murrell's Inlet than booze and hot partying.

    I don't know.  It's just a thing with me.  Indulge me.  Okay?

    one of the main local activities is crabbing.


    Ta-da-DUM...thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week...don't forget to tip your server...

    Both shows sound like spring break infomercials. Timing them works too.


    You're right, Emma.  It will appeal mainly to the spring breakers, which is, I think, part of the locals' fear.  There are enough of them here already, and while they welcome the money they bring, there's no getting away from the damage they cause.

    Murrells isn't a big spring break area because it's a few miles from the beaches.  The Breakers do come to the bars and seafood places but they don't stay there.  I'm pretty sure the community would want to keep it that way. 

    I already live the good life in a mobile park with lots of yahoos.  I am really embarrassed about it most of the time.  There is already too much reality in my life. I am with Donal I would rather watch an old movie. Don't want to watch 20 year olds lay around drunk with fake accents. 

    Nothing wrong with trailer parks, Momoe.  There is something wrong, I think, with trying to portray them as crazy places filled with human trash.  That's not just unfair, it's mean.

    Trailer parks share an interesting "social ecology", at least the few with which I am familiar--instead of an apartment building, where the transit from home to street is an unseen ride in an elevator, trailer parks, for security reasons channel, all the "streets" through a single front entrance, permitting the "business" of all the inhabitants to be the subject of general analysis.  This may account in part for the somewhat florid reputation that attaches to trailer park living.  There is, generally, less privacy than is available either to urban apartment dwellers or suburban single family home owners.

    That's a good point.  It works for some people, though.  It's like camping at a campground--is you stay long enough, everybody knows your business.  Plus, you either have to join in on the sing-alongs at night or be considered strange and possibly Communist.

    It CAN get a bit intense--I visited for a while at a park in Stockton Ca where every third trailer was emitting the unmistakable odor of a fresh pot of meth brewing...not that there's anything wrong with that...

    I found this local TV news report on Party Down South, which, especially if you check out their link to their earlier report on Welcome to Myrtle Manor, makes it sound like the latter is more than welcome to continue filming there (even considered exciting that they have continued to do so), while the former is not very welcome at all. Mostly cause the latter is about locals, but the former is basically seen as an invasion of furriners?

    The trailer park where "Myrtle Manor" is filmed is hidden way back behind a neighborhood and is hard to find, even when you're looking for it.  (Yes, we went looking for it last year and found it.  It's clean and neat and looks like any other trailer park.  The filming is done on a "set" at the very back.  Don't know why but there were almost no people around.  It was kind of eerie.)

    This is Myrtle Manor's second or third season, so it may be more accepted right now, but there was plenty of concern while it was filming and when it finally aired.  They want their rednecks to be cool and authentic down here.  None of this phony stuff.

    I seriously doubt that the good people of Murrell's Inlet would have been happier if the cast had been made up of local yahoos.  I think the fact that all of them come from somewhere else is pretty minor compared to their other grievances about the show and where it came to be located.

    So would you ban reality shows completely, or just NIMBY?  Perhaps appoint a Reality Show Czar (with appropriate staff) to regulate and license them, ensuring they adhere to your standards of tastefulness and edification?

    Just as they have a right to exist, I have a right to criticize or make fun of them.  

    Same way with posting and comments.  I get to write a post and you get to criticize.  Works out well for both of us.

    (By the way, I never said anything about banning; you did.)

    A fair division of labour:  you stitch, I bitch.

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