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Sometimes, in the still of the night, I think I hear the American culture coming apart at the seams. Sometimes it’s the popping of a stitch. Other times it’s an alarming rip. But the culture is definitely showing signs of strain. I don’t think this is normal wear and tear. I think the culprit is zeal connected to bad ideology, zeal fueled by ignorance often masquerading as enlightenment.
A moment’s thought, for instance, reveals that Political Correctness undermines the most precious provision of the Bill of Rights: free speech.
bigotry still king
I’m planning a road trip to see America with two of my sons. We are mapping out an itinerary circling the country and finding well-known, quirky, and interesting destinations. The hardest thing so far has been planning the trip without passing through states that have jumped on the deny people’s rights to get elected bandwagon.
I know Tennessee recently passed legislation making the Bible the state book, but the governor vetoed it. Georgia is waffling on their version of discrimination in the name of religious liberty and safe restrooms after several major businesses in the Peach State protested.
part three of lilian's wish
Emmett never let go of his dislike of dogs. He showed it with muffled and incomprehensible grumbles about Bobbie. He never forgave her for growling at him when they first met. He said he would rather have a snake in the house than a dog. And no damn dog had better ever climb up on his sofa if they managed to get inside his house. Bobbie was a big ungainly soul who had been Lilian’s companion. She was used to having full reign of my house. Emmett never had a clue that she was much cleaner than he was…
part two of lilian's wish
Emmett had made his grand entrance into my house in January. By the time spring had arrived, he’d started showing up at my doorstep whenever he felt like it and would blow his horn from the driveway rather than come up to the door. At first, I thought something might be wrong, but he would tell me later that he was just an old man who didn’t walk well so he thought I should come to him. He didn’t vary his greeting much and usually said, “Hey, young fella, where you been? It’s hot out here…
part one of lilian's wish
Retaining her sense of humor to the end, she asked to be buried in Montreal for several reasons. First, she had developed a keener sense of family, and her uncle and most of her aunts and cousins live in that beautiful city. Secondly, she said she wanted her husband and daughter to pay a proper pilgrimage to see her rather than just pop in occasionally at a more convenient local cemetery. Thirdly, she recognized that Montreal was a European city and after all she was at heart a European. And finally, to all who knew and loved her and would have enjoyed her reasoning, it added to her mystery.
on the surface
I don’t understand race. An anthropologist colleague says, “Louie, race doesn’t exist as a scientific category. At best a race is just ‘a breeding community with unstable boundaries’; and you and Ernest knock the hell out of that one, don’t you!” I see what she means.
Yet racial categories so pervade my life that I cannot hope to understand myself, much less the world, without sensitive and difficult vigilance regarding pitfalls and opportunities.
sweating the sermon
On March 22, I journeyed across Georgialina to Washington, Georgia, to speak to the Kiwanis Club. Prior to speaking, Mr. Steve Blackmon gave me a tour of seven historic homes that had something unique in common. All had been moved in total or in part to their current location. Expect a column on that soon.
Steve reads my columns and he knows that I often write about things that are no more, and so he gave me six unique gifts: vintage handheld fans that had been used long ago in my hometown. You just don’t see fans in church anymore…
Gotta set aside climate change guilt sometimes, do some rationalization. I figure the airplane’s going there anyway, with or without me… and my credit card points make it almost free… so we fly. Got the very last seats, no window but plenty of avant garde audio from the engine just on the other side of that thin skin. We navigate our way to the East Village and though we enjoy a very pleasant visit with daughter and son-in-law, this is about three days of museum-hopping in Yew Nawk. Day 1. MOMA (Museum of Modern Art)…
rome rejects hate:
What should a citizen do when neo-Nazis announce that they intend to invade your town? That is the question now facing the people of Rome, Georgia. For some the initial response to the impending occupation of their quiet North Georgia community by a hate group from Michigan was to plan to hide and pray that the threat just goes away. Every schoolyard bully knows that denial and pusillanimity are powerful temptations. Fascists and white supremacists count on the paralysis that it produces. Fortunately some Romans didn’t give into the temptations of moral cowardice and instead decided to organize…
port of st. marys
St. Marys, Georgia: A peaceful little coastal town of unsurpassed beauty. It serves as the gateway to Cumberland Island National Seashore, a mecca for tourists who want to experience true Southern charm, and a dream-realized for those seeking a natural environment beyond compare.
Enter developer Christopher T. Ragucci and his Knights of the Green Shield/Worldwide Group. (Cue “Razzle Dazzle” from “All That Jazz.”) They quickly changed the company name to “The Port of St. Marys, LLC” and set about trying to convince the townsfolk and elected officials that turning St. Marys into an industrial barge port would be a blessing and boon to all.
we know who we are
We in Georgia may think we have our problems. Yet recent action by the Legislature in North Carolina puts that state in the ranks of those with reactionary actions flying in the face of reasonableness.
The North Carolina situation particularly vexes us, in that its action made no sense. Legislators there quickly passed an act, their Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which will force public colleges and universities (as well as other public venues and government buildings) to require their restrooms be used only by people whose biological sex at birth matches the sign on the door.
life’s good in the midnight garden
Savannah has a strong heritage when it comes to books, authors, and writers. Published in 1994 by Random House, John Berendt’s Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil shone a strong light on Savannah in the mid to late 1980s.
The book centered loosely around internationally known antiques dealer Jim Williams’s shooting of male hustler Danny Hansford in May 1981. It covered the four murder trials that took place over a span of eight years. Though Williams was acquitted when the dust settled, readers for the most part took great joy in the book’s characters drawn from every level of society…
Part One left us in the Edgefield General Store, a place with something for everyone, an old fashioned soda fountain, gourmet items, and the talented services of Maine the florist. It was there, near the front door, where two fellows out of Barnwell ambled in claiming they had found a pot made by Dave the Slave. Nancy Gilliam referred them to Old Edgefield Pottery around the corner. Off they went, would-be art peddlers, seeking fame and fortune.
Though I am a native of South Carolina (Aiken), I grew up in Augusta, Ga., and I think of it as my hometown. I haven’t lived there in years, and even if I wanted to move back there, I know that you can’t go home again.
That is particularly true in my case, but, no, it’s not because the Statute of Limitations has yet to run out on the antics of my misspent youth. In fact, I was nearly an altar boy. (May it please the court: let the record show that I said “nearly.”)
I’m making my way to Edgefield to attend Edgefield Camellia Club’s annual Camellia Tea. As soon as I take Exit 18 onto Highway 19, everything changes. I-20’s bland corridor of cars, trucks, and tedium gives way to thick, green cedar groves, sprawling pine-edged fields, stately avenues of oaks, an abandoned home or two, historic plantations, horses, and a curious collection of what appears to be forsaken 18-wheelers in a powerline right-of-way.
My goal is a leisurely one. Saunter around Edgefield a bit and take photos and make mental notes…
what would roger do?
On Monday, April 4, the Tennessee legislature approved a bill making the Holy Bible the official state book of Tennessee. At least two other states (Louisiana and Mississippi) had talked about it, but Tennessee was the first to actually approve such a measure. The bill now goes to Governor Bill Haslam, who has questioned its constitutionality but still might sign it into law. If that happens, the Bible will join the Channel Catfish, the Eastern Red Cedar, and the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly as an official state symbol of Tennessee.
something to fret about
Even though I’m not much of a gardener, in March and April I used to worry about things like when I should plant my veggies. I always let the spring flower bulbs fend for themselves. Vegetables were different. Building on that thought, this year things are quite a bit different.
Today, it seems like I worry about everything in terms of the weather: shopping traveling, appointments — you name it. It’s now well into April and I’m still thinking about the “S” word — “snow.” How much snow will the next storm bring?
There are many reasons for people to decide to have a party, and such a reason occurred back in 1996 when a mama bear and her two cubs made their way out of the wild and onto Dahlonega’s Historic Town Square.
A large crowd gathered, some of them actually following the bears to the square in the Northeast Georgia town.The mama bear and one cub escaped to another part of town, where they were later captured by forest rangers and returned to the wild, but one bear cub climbed a sycamore tree on the square and remained there for several hours as rangers and other locals tried to coax it back down to the ground…
Several shootings lately. Today it’s in Virginia at a Richmond Greyhound Bus Terminal.
Fortunately, no need to panic. As quick as you can scream “Active shooter, shelter in place!” the news stations pounced, emphatically stating “this is not terrorism!”
Whew, for a minute I thought this was something serious.
The local news and CBS categorically stated “There is no link to terrorism that we know of….
remembering it is over
Governor Phil Bryant caused something of a stir in February when he signed a proclamation declaring April to be “Confederate Heritage Month” in Mississippi.
Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal made no such proclamation, but he didn’t need to. The Georgia General Assembly already took care of this back in 2009, when it legislated that “the month of April of each year is hereby designated as Confederate History and Heritage Month and shall be set aside to honor, observe, and celebrate the Confederate States of America…
guns on campus
According to recent reports, members of the Georgia General Assembly are scrambling to respond to Governor Deal’s reservations about HB 859, the “campus carry” bill, now on his desk. The bill permits students at least 21 years old with concealed weapons permits to possess firearms anywhere on the state’s public college campuses except residence halls, fraternities, sororities, and athletic events.
It’s no wonder legislators are confused. A couple of weeks ago, Governor Deal airily dismissed arguments against the legislation as “lacking validity.” In recent days, however, he’s become persuaded that the bill has to be substantially revised…
killing of jimmy dixon
“First, about the sharecropper,” he had begun “The only few years for which I can say much about it was in the 1940s. It was a tough life at our house. A world of make-do, hand-me-downs, and home-made clothing mom put together on a foot-powered sewing machine. A Mason Rotary that her mom — my grandmother — had owned before she died, when mom was just sixteen.
“Our two mules, Doll and Kate, were coarse and creative, and always unrepentant bullies. And the equipment — plows and cultivators, among other things — were worn-out and unreliable. Then there was the weather…
jury of peers to decide
St. Petersburg – The $100 million Hulk Hogan sex video case, upon which all freedom of speech in the Internet Age is said to hang, appeared to take a sudden turn Thursday morning in the direction of making all celebrity sex videos fair game for the worldwide web.
An appeals court ruled that FBI files had to be unsealed and made public and these files were rumored to be so devastating they would destroy Hogan’s case against the gossip site he is suing, Gawker, for posting a video in 2012 of him having sex with the wife of his best friend, Bubba the Love Sponge.
reality came charging
Jesse and Peetsy had seen them a few weeks before, on a Sunday, in front of the town’s only theater. They had walked by while the boys were checking out the posters in front. It was always closed on Sunday; the preachers had seen to it. The whole town seemed desolate. No one else was even walking around in the two blocks that shared the traffic light. No cars were parked on the streets and only an accidental one would pass through…
stranger than fiction
St. Petersburg – When Hulk Hogan, the former professional wrestler whose real name is Terry Bollea, took the witness stand Tuesday in his $100 million civil trial against the gossip site Gawker, there’s a good chance he wasn’t expecting to have to admit under oath he doesn’t have a 10-inch penis.
But, on the other hand, in this suit, who knows?
Maybe lawyers had prepped him.
or i scream
It’s not quite springtime yet, but this unusually warm winter appears to have begun transitioning into an early spring. Tree buds are popping out throughout town, and the weather is turning downright balmy. With that warmer weather come thoughts of our favorite cold, creamy concoction: ice cream. And thoughts of ice cream – a food product with which I have the love/hate relationship of the Perpetually On Guard Against Chubbiness – always remind me of a summer long ago.
like no one else
Writer Pat Conroy, who died Friday night, had a way with words that can only be described as an incredible gift. Perhaps no one more aptly painted word pictures of love, loss, beauty, yearning, pain, grief and aspiration.
Whether fiction or memoir, Conroy could tell a story like no one else. Just read his ebullient description of the inimitable author and chef Nathalie Dupree, the subject of the first chapter of his cookbook, The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life: “Nathalie’s voice is deep and musical and seductive…