Anyone with a good car does not need to be justified

“Anyone with a good car does not need to be justified.” is a quote spoken by the Flannery O’Conner character, Hazel Motes, in her novel, “Wise Blood” adapted to film by John Huston and starring Brad Doref as the returning veteran to rural southern Georgia to become a car roof evangelist of his new spiritual invention; “Church without Christ.” When I first saw this movie in 1979. It shook me up for unexplainable reasons until I saw the location credits; it was shot in Macon, Georgia, not long after our ubiquitous band, Bethlehem Asylum had recorded two albums for Capricorn records in that remote strange hamlet two hours below Atlanta. There were strange psychic parallels from the obsessive compulsive ambivalence with Southern religion all the way to the Ford Fairlane driven by Hazel in the movie to our light blue Fairlane sedan that carried us from Coconut Grove up to the backwoods of that southern Georgia nexus of soul where Otis Redding, The Allman Brothers, Little Richard, and James Brown all got their start. The movie and the novel explore the southern extremes of religiosity, racism, bigotry, street theater, and the unique phenomenon that Flannery O’Conner called “Southern Grotesque”. What unsettled me was the parallel that we had as a band to that strange southern rhapsody. I identified too well with the Hazel Motes character, I suppose. Danny was probably the evangelistic huckster played by Ned Beaty. The snide street wise blind preacher played by Harry Dean Stanton could have been our jazz brahmin hustler, Christian. Jim our psychedelic redneck is closest to Sabbath the unhinged daughter of the blind preacher, and Charlie no doubt would be the part played by Dan Shor; the simple minded country boy who knew things without knowing them; who felt things. Tthe one with Wise Blood. The DVD I got out of the Santa Monica library has a wonderful recording of Flannery O’conner speaking about writing and it is worth the effort to decipher her sweet melodic southern accent to enjoy her mellifluous sense of humor and candor which was recorded in 1959. It is the only recording of her voice.

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