Notes on the FloraBama Mullet Toss.2:35 PM, Apr 28, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It was the biggest weekend of the spring, with people coming from all over to a little strip of beach known as “Perdido Key,” for a gathering known as the FloraBama Mullet Toss. It has been going on for three decades and every year it grows; it now claims to draw numbers in the “tens of thousands.” Hard to know if that is an exaggeration, but there is no denying the traffic along the beach highway or the multitudes on the beach where the sand is so white that, when the sun is out, it makes your eyes hurt to look at it. Which accounts for the sunglasses -- everyone wears them. The only thing more ubiquitous might be the coolers. But you can double team a cooler. One man (usually) on each end and then find a spot where you can put that thing down on the sand, fold out the beach chairs, set up the awning and then . . .
Well, before getting into detail, a little background might be in order. First question, what is the FloraBama?
Well, it started out life, as a roadhouse. And even that description is a little charitable. It came into existence when you could buy liquor by the drink in Florida and not in Alabama. So shortly after a highway along the coast connecting the two states was completed, an American entrepreneur threw up a structure that was just barely adequate and just barely on the Florida side of the line and began selling whiskey and other adult beverages by the glass. The place was called the FloraBama.
That is fairly straightforward stuff. The mullet toss part is a little more baroque.
The mullet is the upper Gulf Coast’s transcendent fish, in the sense that it is more than just a fish. In a sense, the mullet supports an entire food chain. Everything eats mullet. It is both a baitfish and a food fish. Mullet sustain populations of other, predatory fish. And mullet is the default species at just about any fish fry that takes place in this part of America. Countless volunteer fire departments, local churches, civic clubs, youth football programs, and so forth have been sustained over the years by money raised through fish fries featuring mullet. You can also walk into any number of local eating places and have yourself a plate of fried mullet with hushpuppies and coleslaw.
One last point of interest: The mullet cannot be caught on hook and line. The fish is caught by netting and the sovereign method is by cast net. There is an art to this, and it is beautiful to watch someone wading through the shallows of a bayou, water up to his knees, then throwing the net in a perfect circle over a school of fish he sees passing in range.
You could no more imagine this part of the Gulf Coast without mullet than you could Iowa without corn.
So it was probably inevitable that, three decades ago, someone at the FloraBama would come up with the idea of throwing a mullet across the state line. One doesn’t want to be hasty here, but it seems reasonable to suspect that alcohol might have been involved and even that immortal war cry, “Hold my beer and watch this,” might have been shouted.
By this time, the FloraBama had gone trough several evolutionary stages. It had begun life as a bucket-of-blood saloon. Moved up in class to “fighting and dancing club.” Then to “roadhouse.” And then to its present status as world-class honkytonk. It was smashed flat a few years ago by a hurricane called Ivan but was quickly built back up, bigger and more “lively” than ever. It is great place for country music and a destination for motorcycle clubs and other aficionados of the American road. Saturday night at the FloraBama is righteous stuff.
But back to the mullet toss.
It was, one imagines, no great leap from “let’s throw a fish across the line,” to “let’s see who can throw one the farthest.” And, in the way of these things, there was soon an official ritual with the name “mullet toss.” T-shirts inevitably followed. The event was even blessed by the participation of a genuine local hero, Ken Stabler, who had once played quarterback for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama. (In what people in this part of the world probably consider a minor footnote, Stabler also quarterbacked for a Super Bowl winner in the NFL.) Stabler threw his mullet in the late 1980s.
At last year’s event, one of the aviators who flies with the Navy’s Blue Angels threw a fish. The Blues, of course, fly out of Pensacola, twenty miles or so to the east. Other notables have, over the years, tossed mullet over the line but the record consists, mostly, as oral history and legend. The record for distance, set more than a decade ago, stands at just short of 190 feet.
7:32 AM, Mar 30, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
During President Obama's tenure, religious Americans have been increasingly marginalized by an administration that can be intolerant or at least unaccomodating of beliefs that conflict with its policies, regulations, or legislative goals. Perhaps most notably, President Obama campaigned by expressing support for traditional marriage, more than once citing his Christianity as the basis for his position, a position he later "evolved" away from. This has not stopped the president, however, from invoking scripture in support of other items on his agenda.
A man of policies, ideas, and solutions.Apr 6, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 29 • By FRED BARNES
In 1989, Gary Palmer founded the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank. By the time he resigned as its president last year, API had become a powerful force on state issues, everything from pensions to prison reform to politics. Palmer led the successful fight against a lottery—Alabama is among the few states without one—and organized the drive that defeated Republican governor Bob Riley’s bid for a whopping tax increase.
9:17 AM, Jan 6, 2015 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
While college football fans were riveted to the two playoff games on New Year’s Day (make that one-and-a-half playoff games, as the second half of the Rose Bowl was hardly must-see T.V.), some commentators could hardly wait to seize the moment to criticize the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), college football’s previous format for determining its national champion.
By 60 to 23 percent margin, fans said they would rather entrust the BCS than a committee. 6:04 PM, Dec 7, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Most college football fans are happy that the sport has adopted a 4-team playoff. The method of selecting those four teams, however, is another matter. This past offseason, McLaughlin & Associates asked self-described college football fans this question: “As you may know, college football will have a 4-team playoff starting next season.
We need rivalries.4:05 PM, Dec 3, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
A few hours before kickoff, my wife and daughter and I went to Gladys Knight’s place in Atlanta for the chicken and waffles (can’t recommend the “Midnight Special” enough) and the room was full. It seemed like every third table was occupied by people wearing crimson or orange. When they caught the attention of someone in similar colors they would utter their war cry. “Roll Tide,” of course, or “War Eagle.”
10:06 AM, Dec 3, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
For the past decade, the Bowl Championship Series unfailingly provided the matchup for college football’s national title game that reflected the public consensus. (In the six years prior to that, the BCS’s record was spottier, but after 2003-04, its formula was wisely streamlined, and its subsequent results were impeccable.) This year, that BCS selection process, which involved 167 polls voters and six compu
10:55 AM, Oct 13, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Half of this college football regular season (7 of 14 weeks) is now in the books, and neither of the two standout teams to date has won a conference championship, let alone a national championship, in the past half-century. Each played in a bowl game in Tennessee last year (the Music City Bowl and Liberty Bowl, respectively), far away from the bright lights of Pasadena, New Orleans, or Dallas. What’s more, the two are separated from each other by only 100 miles geographically and by only .001 in this week’s Anderson & Hester Rankings. Despite their modest pedigrees and expectations, however, few college football fans would deny that #1 Mississippi (6-0, with wins over #7 Alabama and #17 Texas A&M) and #2 Mississippi State (6-0, with wins over #6 Auburn and #17 Texas A&M) have accomplished more so far this season than any other teams in the country.
9:27 AM, Oct 7, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
After finishing the season ranked #29 last year, the Arizona Wildcats — hot off their upset win at Oregon — have claimed the top spot in the inaugural 2014 Anderson & Hester Rankings. The second and fourth spots are held by two schools from Mississippi — #2 Mississippi and #4 Mississippi State — that went a combined 15-11 last year. Sandwiched in between are the Auburn Tigers, who came within 14 seconds of winning last season’s national championship. TCU, which went 4-8 last year, rounds out the top-5.
5:54 PM, Sep 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Senator Jeff Sessions issues this statement in response to President Obama's decision to wait until after the mid-term election to take action on immigration by executive order.
4:01 PM, Aug 13, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senator Jeff Sessions says Americans should be asking where their elected representatives in Washington stand on "executive amnesty," which the Alabama Republican says "could be increasingly imminent and broad in scope." Here's an excerpt from his statement:
9:45 AM, Jul 16, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Gary Palmer, the founder of the conservative Alabama Policy Institute and a candidate for the House of Representatives, won his Republican primary runoff Tuesday against Paul DeMarco. Palmer is running to succeed retiring Republican Spencer Bachus for the GOP-friendly, Birmingham-area district. At National Review Online, Alabama resident Quin Hillyer has more:
8:01 AM, May 22, 2014 • By FRED BARNES
Gary Palmer, who is seeking a House seat in Alabama, is a unique candidate. Until this year, he’d never run for political office. Yet he has a long and impressive record in politics. He was a walk-on for Bear Bryant’s University of Alabama football team – whoops, that’s not politics.
Seven Alabama Republicans are hard to tell apart. May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By MARIA SANTOS
No House district in the country is more Republican than Alabama’s 6th, where the retirement of Spencer Bachus opens the seat for the first time in 22 years. The district voted 74 percent for Mitt Romney, so whoever captures a majority in the seven-way Republican primary in June—or, in the likely event no one does, whoever wins the runoff in July—can expect to be moving to Washington.
7:01 AM, Apr 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Over two dozen widows in Alabama were dropped from their health care plans due to Obamacare, WHNT reports: