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getting through it
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way.
You probably recognize that verse from Jingle Bells — But it’s those last two lines, O’er the fields we go, Laughing all the way, that have always been for me a powerful image for having fun and living life to the max.
satire on the campaign trail
My brother and sister Americans, let me introduce myself: my name is Arturo Tad Semple. Fearing someone might think I liked longhair classical music, or read books, or attended foreign movies, or watched PBS, or was born in Italy or France, or god forbid, Kenya, I dropped the “Arturo” years ago in favor of just a simple, less confusing “A.” I hope this information makes it easier to understand why I am known as A. Tad Semple.
I prefer it that way. It is an unique name and is easy to remember. And it fits me.
echoes of wild raggedy sun-crazed children
Wherever it was, it’s not there anymore. . . .Then again, maybe it is.
Rising up out of the water were three enormous white towers. I’m sure of that. Three. They looked like very tall rectangular scaffolds made of wood with ladders leading up to platforms near their tops from which people jumped off. One of them had a diving board, but the other two were more in demand among the more daring and were unlike anything anywhere else in the city and were the reason so many people like us came from so far to swim here.
Almost a year later, the remarkable words of family members in pain still ring in our ears.
“I forgive you,” one said in a crowded courtroom. “May God have mercy on you,” another added. “Hate won’t win,” said a third.
One after another, five people squeezed by turmoil forgave an accused killer, who stood pancake-faced in shackles in a separate room and watched his bond hearing on a television screen.
angry bernie birds
I didn’t think it would happen to me. I thought I was so open minded; basically a wild-eyed radical gently easing into being a nice liberal.
Live and let live. Well, no more.
I like to think that I am an informed, conscientious world citizen. On Twitter as @hidingunderhere I follow 930 news feeds and supporters for all types of candidates and issues from places all over the earth. The feed has been my loyal companion when I want to find the truth, because recently the mainstream media #MSM has failed to cover almost everything, choosing 24/7 McTrumpNews instead…
Hope y’all gits bit by a rabid ’coon
Johnny Depp has been generating a lot of free publicity back home in the US. Free for him that is – Australia is paying for it. You might remember that in April of this year Mr Depp and his wife, Amber Heard – or is it “then wife”, I don’t really follow what passes for the lives of film and TV stars – brought their two pampered mongs, Pistol and Boo, on a little jaunt to Australia where their daddy was filming yet another blockbuster aimed at children and adults under 15. Problem was…
Last week in Charleston a large mural of Rev. Clementa Pinckney was unveiled. It was done by 28-year-old Columbia artist Tripp Barnes. It is big and colorful and covers the whole outside wall of a building on St. Phillips Street, a few blocks from my house and from Emanuel AME Church.
In addition to his likeness, the mural also has a short but powerful quote by Clem: “Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history – we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.”
keeping our kids safe
Vehicles passing stopped school buses is much more of a problem than most of us realize. At least where I live, Gwinnett’s school system is taking steps to address this situation, at no cost to your school tax bill. But only about 10 school systems in Georgia are participating in a new technology which improves school bus safety.
Gwinnett is partnering with Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix, Ariz. in having traffic cameras on its buses.
Red and yellow, black and white
The summer I was fifteen, my goal in life was to get a good tan. In those days, you were nobody if your skin wasn’t bronzed beyond belief. That was before we knew how much the sun harmed our skin. Everyday at the public pool or in my own backyard, I’d slather up with a mixture of baby oil and iodine – trying to encourage the maximum exposure. No wonder my skin looks like sandpaper now and probably explains why, last Mother’s Day, my daughter looked at my arm in a sleeveless dress and said, “You look like a lizard.” What more could a mother want?
something of a dilettante
Forty-five years ago today (1971), I was graduated from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with a Ph.D. in English (Dissertation: Dickens’ Use of Language for Protest). I am grateful for the counsel which Professor James McMillan, then chair of the department, gave me in the hall after I had defended my dissertation: “Up until this point you have been rewarded mainly by writing what experts know. Hereafter, to be taken seriously, you must write what you know which experts have not yet discovered…
brought it on ourselves
You must admit that social media has been a mighty contributor to this 2016 political season.
In another way of saying this: look what we have done to ourselves.
We couldn’t get enough of Trump, or Bernie, and every so often, some of the other presidential candidates. So we turned inward, creating more bizarre buzzing for the political year.
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.