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Having written and published a book about public transportation that is a novel wrapped in political satire, I have been lately asking myself, “What possessed you to embark on this journey in the first place?
Coincidentally, I need look no further than a piece I wrote called “Book Spotting,” that appeared in Like the Dew in 2011. The article mentions a fictitious book club on the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) whose basic membership requirement was to read something while riding public transportation…
for our ultimate audience
Talk about writer’s block: What about having to write an epitaph for your mother’s gravestone? The idea of an epitaph, of course, is that it’s written for the ages, even those short simple annals of the poor on weed-lost tombstones.
I write, and teach writing. I teach that it starts with your audience. If you’ve been writing only for your teacher, you haven’t really started to learn writing. Writing well for a mass of strangers – that’s more like it.
on lewis grizzard
My wife and I drove last week to Marietta, Ga., for a wedding party. Imagine my surprise when on a stretch of I-85 in Coweta County, about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta, I saw a sign that read: Lewis Grizzard Memorial Highway.
It warmed my heart, for I knew the late Lewis Grizzard when years ago I was a writer/editor for The Atlanta Constitution, where his incredible rise to fame began.
caines family, genuine folk artists
As I turned off Highway 17 onto West Virginia Road, snowy mountains and the blue-green Kanawha River came to mind, but neither snow nor mountains waited in Carolina Rice Country. Legendary folk artists waited—The Caines Boys. Now right here let’s get clear on names. The Caines Brothers are dead and gone. The Caines Boys, Jerry and Roy, live on. The first time I heard of Caines decoys, it was a reference to the Caines Brothers who came to fame in Georgetown in the first half of the last century…
how to ban muslims: ask mississippi
In The Promise of the New South, Edward Ayers tells of James Z. George, a U.S. senator from Mississippi who predicted that, in 1890 (just a year away), the number of African American in the state would exceed that of whites by half a million. George was worried about what this meant for the state’s political future. Democrats had controlled Mississippi since the end of Reconstruction, but now, the black population was growing so ominously and Republicans …
Atlantans are preparing for what many believe is an impossibility: ascending I-75 during rush hour in time to make it to a Braves’ game in Cobb County.
For weeks fans have been stockpiling food and fuel and consulting guides – one Buckhead man has hired six Sherpas – for the treacherous trek to the top of the city’s peak traffic nightmare where breathing can require oxygen and one slip can be fatal.
“My wife doesn’t want me to go,” said Billy Waldrop. “You know, we’ve got three kids, and if I don’t make it…”
slow death roll shot
“Go find Lester.”
We were typical college kids in the late 70’s. Brief moments of intense studying, staying up way too late, eating the wrong foods, smoking and drinking too much, partying like there was no tomorrow, falling in and out of lust disguised as love, rooting for our school and wasting time. Wasting lots of time.
Yesterday I attended a wondrous event: democracy in full-throated action.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte chairs the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives. It’s a position of considerable power, for good or ill. Congressman Goodlatte also represents Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District, which just happens to include Harrisonburg, Virginia, where I live, the home of the national Welcome Your Neighbors movement.
greetings from ireland
A year ago, spending Christmas with my son’s family in Ireland, I finally decided to make the move. I’d been living eleven years in Harrisonburg, Virginia, near my youngest son. I was happy in America, comfortable, well established with good friends and plenty of activities. But my son had moved to Kansas in 2014 and I was long flights away from him and his brothers in UK, Ireland, Kansas, Arizona and Australia, all urging me to move …
According to a 2016 poll by Yale and George Mason University, 3 out of 4 registered voters think the climate is overheating and more than half believe it’s caused by human activities.
Meanwhile, politicians who are paid millions in campaign contributions by the fossil fuel industry block much-needed action to curtail the worst impacts of continuing emission of greenhouse gases. Due to such corrupt denial of facts, millions of Americans …
It starts by driving 500 miles to seven different tree farms, farmers markets and retail establishments to argue with seven fingered cretins about how “there is no way in hell I’m going to pay you 100 bucks for a dead, eight-foot tree.” At some point, finding yourself in state other than the one in which you started, and having been told by the seventh tree ape to “shove it” in several languages and hand gestures, you decide to cut your losses (no pun intended) …
Dismayed by the extraordinary vitriol and vituperation expressed in online discussions of politics that we continue to read reminded me of the insights into behavior in Elias Aboujaoude’s fascinating 2011 book Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality. Aboujaoude is a Professor and Director of the OCD Clinic at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and specializes in the treatment of compulsive disorders…
who's your master?
It’s long been said that if you want a friend in Washington, adopt a dog.
President-elect Trump does not have a pet, other than his ex-wives, but reports by a Trump consultant indicated he may be changing his mind on having a national pet.
While presidents in the past have had all manner of pets, ranging from dogs to goats, because of Trump’s noted short attention span and indifference to details and facts, there are worries that a White House pet could be neglected.
Trump Tower, USA – In what insiders call a “tweak” to his campaign pledge to build a border wall to keep Mexicans from sneaking into America, president elect Donald Trump plans to move the wall to the Canadian border – to keep terrified Americans from getting out.
“It’s a testament to the power of his presidency,” said a Trump source. “He believes so strongly in …
banished to the forgotten
All burned houses look alike, a jumble of ashes, blackened metal, and charred wood. If you know the house that burned, however, you see ghosts. Just before Thanksgiving, my sister called—Grandmother’s home had burned to the ground. A flood of memories washed over me, like a time-lapse film where clouds stream overhead, dreamy and surreal.
Ironic that it burned two days before Thanksgiving…
Who would have thought that a bone scan could be such a pleasant experience?
I didn’t. I figured I’d show up at Tidelands Health Waccamaw Hospital in Murrells Inlet, S.C., at the appointed hour, go downstairs to Nuclear Medicine, get an injection, lie on a table and listen to machinery whir around me, then get up and go home.
But two musicians whose day job is in nuclear medicine at the hospital made the scan a truly harmonious (no pun) event.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and corporate charity.
Last Tuesday, Nissan Canton continued efforts to whitewash its reputation by giving $20,000 to the Mississippi Food Network’s BackPack program and sending employees to
pose for promotional pictures pack lunches.
“We are humbled to play a role in the efforts to ensure that no child experiences hunger,”
corporate shill Vice President of manufacturing Steve Marsh was quoted as saying.
no news is good news
Wednesday morning, my bicycle and I are leaving town, bound for Florida and a week-long ride across the Sunshine State. Far from intelligent design, the timing is lucky coincidence. But, there couldn’t be a better day to be shut off from the world by travel, nor a finer week to be pedaling the soft shoulder of some dusty Florida backroad.
Unless, of course, all hell really does break loose Tuesday night. What if we ride into a riot? Our Daytona to Clearwater route is eerily close to the infamous I-4 corridor of Bush v. Gore lore.
I grew up like the Reverend Billy Graham, who would say, “I did not know I was poor back then until someone told me that I was poor.” The country was still in the Great Depression throughout the 1930s, and we weren’t the only family that faced hardship. And there was a perk to being from “the other side of the tracks:” I was privileged to receive a real treat every Saturday morning – for I was a member of The Mayor’s Club.
passion for preservation
An Unsung Historian Makes A Difference
If “Big Sky Bill” leads you to believe Bill Fitzpatrick hails from Montana, you’re wrong. Bill was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, but has spent most of his life in the South. After earning an MBA from the University of South Carolina in 1978, Bill chose to stay in South Carolina. He lives in Taylors. So what’s behind the Big Sky connection? He likes Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana because of the great ski weeks he and his daughter have had there near Bozeman.
The South is not completely red politically, just as it is not home to only rednecks.
Come November 8, Southerners will cast about 33 million votes in this oddest and nastiest of presidential elections. Of those, more than 15 million will be for the Democrat, Hillary Clinton. That’s a lot of blue living in what most assume is just red.
Yes, our region, just like our nation, is more purple than just red or blue. In Southern state and federal elections, we’re a reddish purple. In many urban areas in the South, we skew a little more blueish purple.
what a life
In 1945, Carl Sandburg and his wife, Lillian, moved to the Hendersonville area from a small farm on the shores of Lake Michigan. A lot of people in the area wondered why this famous man had chosen our little community as his new home.
He had paid what was thought to be an astounding price of $45,000 for 248 acres of land that included a three-story main house, a barn complex and several outbuildings. Mr. Sandburg reportedly said he felt he’d bought an entire “village.” Mrs. Sandburg, a breeder of champion milk goats told friends that they had bought “a million acres of sky.”
Every Job You’ve Had, What Did It Teach You?
A Friday evening. In a restaurant where soft music and hard drinks make good neighbors, the regular crowd shuffled in as Billy Joel famously wrote. People took their seats at the bar and each person’s week took center stage. A woman lamented that we spend a third of our life working, prompting Mr. Wise Guy to pipe up. “I should have been born rich instead of so good looking.” That tired line didn’t fit. Still, we knew what he meant…
I am the first write-in presidential candidate who will win in a landslide. So heads up — Hillary is not the only historic choice here.
My run for the highest office in the land has gone exceedingly well. I am the first candidate to run an issue-free, wall-free, policy-free, promise-you-anything-to-get-in-office, campaign. (I know, I know, the Donald is neck-and-neck with me on this, but I’m not worried that he’ll grab the presidency – other stuff, well, you may want to be careful, just sayin’.)
I admit it: I’m a carpetbagger. For the unenlightened, according to Merriam-Webster, a carpetbagger is “a person from the northern United States who went to the South after the American Civil War seeking private gain under the reconstruction governments.” Colloquially, a carpetbagger is any Yankee who moves to the South…and stays.
As far as the former definition goes, I am indeed “a person from the northern United States who went to the South after the American Civil War.” It was after the Civil War…104 years after…
show me your papers
The first time I was evacuated was in early 1942, at the age of nine months. The allies bombing the German City of Aachen every night had become too traumatic, so my mother took her babe and fled to the Austrian Alps.
So, I spent the next three years in this rustic farm building: two rooms and a veranda and outhouse on the second floor; wood storage, bake oven and chicken coop on the first; no electricity; no running water.
In sports, the Gamecocks wear garnet and black. Clemson wears orange and purple. In politics, South Carolina is red and deep red. These are what are known as “self-evident truths.” Things that just are. While the garnet and orange will probably last until the Second Coming, the red in South Carolina politics is changing – and changing faster than most folks think.
Are political courage and smart ideas enough to unseat an entrenched incumbent? Jeremy Salter is counting on a thoughtful electorate ready for overdue criminal justice reform as the challenger in the contest for Floyd County District Attorney against incumbent Leigh Patterson. That Patterson is the most prominent of the four local public officials in the county who recently changed their affiliation from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party adds an element of drama to the race…
We were on a mission and there we stood at the dead end of a long Lowcountry road in searing heat. Anonymous Mysterious Florida Woman, Robert Clark, and yours truly were waiting on a ferry. Standing too long in a roasting September sun can evaporate resolve, but not ours. September no doubt pilfered some July heat. These days, it’s as hot as the hinges of … well, you know, and especially so where the continent runs into the sea, but the heat be damned. We were about to cross the Intracoastal Waterway and set foot on primitive South Island.
nipping at my curiosity
Every town has its own history and attractions; some well-known and some not very. Haunted houses, churches and other buildings are always interesting. Court houses and old jails, too. Sometimes small towns are more appealing and accessible than the bigger ones. Fewer people with less interest in what you’re looking for. The locals have sometimes lost interest in their own little treasures; that leaves more room for you and me us to touch, shake and sniff …
vp candidate, green party
Disappointment and boredom have left many Americans with the suspicion that something essential to democracy is missing from the 2016 presidential contest as it is covered by corporate news media… and they are correct. The presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the two major parties are painfully uninspiring and their ideas promise nothing but different versions of ‘more of the same.’ Americans are hungrier than ever for leaders willing to confront entrenched power. Which is why I was delighted to interview Ajamu Baraka, the Vice Presidential for the Green Party…
I’m not prone to posting video of myself talking. But, in this case, what I need to say isn’t something I could type now even if I wanted to. Still the words are ones I’ve been unable to stop repeating for 40 years.
The ability to recite the Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in Middle English has perhaps proven useful in the waning hours of a few cocktail parties over the years. But, it’s never been something to feature on a resume or bring up in a job interview. I’m waiting, but LinkedIn still hasn’t included this as a skill to tag in my profile.
Phyllis Schlafly has finally made millions of people very happy … she died. It was a simple, but gratifying act. Many hoped it would have happened much sooner, but as they say, better late than never. It occurs to me that there are a few others it would be nice to see follow suit. Are you listening Cheney?
Schlafly, a working women who hated women who worked, was an expert on self-loathing. She so hated her kind that she didn’t want to stop at shredding equal rights and equal pay for women; she hoped one day to become a Jewish Nazi and send herself to a death camp where she could have all her rights and humanity exterminated.
My “Old Maid Aunt” Naomi, prided herself on being “the only woman used car dealer in Atlanta.” Her car lot was on Lucky Street on the way to downtown Atlanta from where she lived on Piedmont Avenue. Seemed like thousands of cars passed her place daily – or hourly.
It was the summer of 1943 and I was a 14-year old. World War II was in full swing. I was scheduled to go into 8th grade at Christ School in Arden, a private school that was to cost $600 including room and board. My Dad was operating a grocery store, meat market and café in Fletcher, NC. I would have done almost anything that summer not to have to deal with killing cows and pigs and helping prepare them for sale in my Dad’s grocery store. I had that experience once, and that was enough.
When I was growing up, the Chinese capital was pronounced “PEE-king.” There was no latitude in the pronunciation of this word. It was not POO-king nor PIE-king. It was PEE-king. To deliberately say the word otherwise would be risking a paddle swatted against your rump for cutting up or being a pest in class.
Then a few years ago, I noticed newscasters and politicians saying “BAY-sheeng,” instead of the well-worn, polished word implanted in my vocabulary. They would have a sneaky look on their faces like they were putting one over on us.