“level:deepsouth,” because GenXers have stories to tell

It was three 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 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.

For three years, the project has been devoted to seeking, collecting, archiving, and sharing stories, images, videos, texts, and links that speak to what it was like growing up in the 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 to me, but I’ll add some backstory here. In the 2000s, I worked on quite a few projects that collected stories and images from the Civil Rights movement. By that time, most movement veterans were elderly or close to it – many of them born in the 1940s or earlier – and there were obvious challenges associated with talking to people who were up in years: 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 led me to devise the idea for a project for Generation X. In the 2010s, we were in our 30s and 40s, a prime age range for remembering and retelling stories from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Now, in the 2020s, we’re mostly in our 40s and 50s. Time is passing quickly, and if you think about it, you’ll realize that the oldest GenXers will turn 60 in 2025.

I still believe in this idea. However, the most important thing is to include stories from people who grew up around the region. In three years, the project has published some stories from Generation X, but I know that there are a lot more out there. I’ve continued to track down sources for “the lists” and to write the editor’s blog . . . but the anthology needsmore personal stories from GenXers who lived through it. I’m proud of every story I’ve published, but to truly represent our generation in this place at that time will require more.

level:deepsouth remains open for submissions. For those who have a story but aren’t confident in their writing ability, I offer my editorial help. Finally, I’m aware that the lack of an author payment leads some writers to decline the opportunity, but I encourage those folks to reconsider. (This project is not unique at all in being a non-paying literary publication, and if anyone is confused by why that is, please read this.) 

Given my birthdate, I fall smack in the middle of Generation X. I turned six in 1980 and sixteen in 1990, then I got married in 2001. So, the ’80s constituted my childhood, and the ’90s were spent high school, college, and what comes after. As markers, MTV went on air as I began the second grade in 1981, Appetite for Destruction was released in 1987 about a month before I turned thirteen, MTV Unplugged aired for the first time during my tenth grade year, and Nevermind came out in the late summer going into my senior year of high school. I grew up on GI Joes and WWF, wore steel-toed boots and lots of bracelets in high school, then cut off all my hair and grew goatee in college. To prove it, here are a few old photos from back in the day— chronological from top left in the late 1980s to the bottom right in the late 1990s.

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