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reflections of the south
HIGHWAY 501 SC: April. Somewhere near Aynor. Having wrapped up a photo shoot in old Ocean Drive, we drive homeward through wind-driven coastal plain silt. Though dust devils obscure 501, a shimmering red and green mirage breaks through. But it’s no mirage. It’s remembrance. Winds subside, sands drop, and Dean’s Produce emerges next to a cornfield mown to beard-like stubble. Dean’s stand of glinting tin and yellow pine glows with honey, but the incandescent red and green jams gleam like St. Elmo’s fire.
April 18 - 19, 2015
-+*The Southern Appalachian oral art of storytelling has been a feature of the annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Ga., over the years. This year, storytelling will have an even more significant presence at the festival with the National Storytelling Network (NSN) awarding the 2015 Bear Festival the designation as this year’s Southeast Regional Spotlight Event for Storytelling.
why it matters
-+*Community Forum on Marsh Buffers & Clean Waters, March 4 at 7:00 pm, Ballard Community Center, Brunswick, GA.
And, because such events need to be sponsored and the environment can never have too many friends, we’re organizing a new group, the Sidney Lanier Environmental Advocacy Team or S.L.E.A.T.– sporting the unofficial slogan “Making sure our environment is good to eat.”
-+*Back when states were planting institutions of higher learning, these universities were not always located in what became the state’s major city. As a result, problems have arisen between forces in the major city wanting a state university and the major university located in a smaller town wanting to enhance their school’s prestige.
It’s that same old story of jealously, while seeking to keep the state’s university as the major campus of the state.
-+*This evening I popped out to the corner store for milk. A woman was there with an older man. He was walking up and down the aisles as she trailed behind him – sighing and huffing and saying things like “Dammit, Dad! You dragged me out to get something with you and now you can’t remember what you need?” Her words seemed to fall like blows on his shoulders. He began picking up items in a random fashion and knocked over several cans of soup. I bent to retrieve them up and when I straightened I looked into his face. There it was: the panicked, lost look of a man who set out with clear intent… and lost his bearings along the way. I know this look – and it breaks my heart.
-+*Now that the Board of Regents have decided to merge Georgia State University with Georgia Perimeter College, GSU will soon total more than 50,000 students, and will be the largest unit of the University System of Georgia.
Not only that, but it is an urban university, as well as a research university, bringing in $58 million in 2011 in grants for study. It has conferred 192,785 degrees since its founding.
value of liberal arts
-+*When I read Frank Bruni’s column recently in The New York Times about the value of a liberal arts education, I was pleased at how he had honored a professor at Chapel Hill whose Shakespeare classes had been the most transformative educational experiences of his life. She had read the column and had written him, the first contact they had had since the mid-1980s, to talk more about the state of higher education in this country today.
As I squirmed over their exchange on how so many politicians want to value education according to what kind of high paying job it can bring, I can still hear the concerns over half a century ago of my father…
in a white racial frame
-+*As taught in mainstream culture, American history propagates this nation as the womb of freedom, justice, and liberty. There are American creation myths as exemplified by the “Founding Fathers.” There are founding documents as revered as biblical texts for their promise of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That is why the argument that ‘black history is American history’ is naïve to the point of insipidity. For most of this nation’s history, blacks were not ‘Americans.’ First, we were owned, and then we were barred from exercising the rights of citizenship…
the job market
-+*I’m talking about the ones I know, like daughter Ruth, son-in-law Ben, their circle of friends, and a handful of nieces and nephews, who are all 30 or thereabouts and, I suppose, officially grown-ups, but, in any case, they flabbergast me.
Ben, a cellist, teaches music in a charter school, gives private lessons, takes classes at Georgia State for his official K-12 teaching certificate, and performs several nights a week with a number of different alt-rock-jazz bands. A pack mule would collapse after half a day under his burden.
one upgrade at a time
-+*Hello, my name is Mike and I stand here today and admit to being an addict. Not sure why this happened. I’ve never had issues like this before. My Life Coach Desmond suggested this support group. He said Twitter or Instagram or something recommended you.
I don’t smoke. Never been a drug user. Drink casually but not obsessively. I think claiming sex addition is BS. We’re all addicted to that. My problem is a little unusual and I hope you folks can help me. I’m addicted to apps.
-+*First came the cars. Then the summer vacation stormed America in the late 1940s, becoming an institution that drove more car sales and vacation rentals. And it did something else. It fired up the imagination of people stuck on the road to “there.” Dreamers galore created roadside attractions to tap into the coins rolling down the road. All these years later, all across the United States, in the middle of lackluster nowhere, you’ll come across these wayside-hijacking places. Once upon a time, their spectacles gave America’s highways a bit of character, a rest stop kids refused to let their parents pass.
knew the oldest secret
-+*Several years ago, I read an article about a personality type that resonated so strongly with me I never forgot it. Except, I did—the title of the article, that is, along with its author, and the name of the type it described. The consequence of this memory lapse is that recently, when curiosity led me on a search for the article I never forgot, I had no means to find it. So there is a valid function for names after all. The personality type the article featured was this: a person, usually a woman, who is the more or less unwitting hub of a vast wheel of human relationships.
-+*Color-blind racism is a tough nut to crack. Americans in recent months have confronted some uneasy truths about how race influences the way we see the world around us. It is easier to see and perhaps explain when it’s police racial profiling or some other symptom of structural racism that has immediate and almost always deadly consequences. Racism is less visible and harder to understand when it involves a city’s approach to preserving and communicating its history. And yet, a community’s public history conveys key messages about its values and identity.
-+*I read recently that “serendipity” is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering the farmer’s daughter.
It would truly be a lucky boy who would find such a treasure in a haystack when he was just looking for his car keys. That’s the way I felt this morning after awakening from a delightful dream in which I had finally been awarded my PhD in ancient languages. The rub was that I have never sought such a distinction…
-+*“It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. To serve as custodians of creation is not an empty title; it requires that we act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands.” — Desmond Tutu
tracks in the snow
-+*“Please hold my hand now. I am dying.” As this soul pulled me close to her, she looked up but just smiled. I had just finished reading “Walking Home From Oak Head” by Mary Oliver to her and she seemed to be pleased to hear some of the refrains again,
There is something
about the snow-laden sky
in the late afternoon
that brings to the heart elation
and the lovely meaninglessness
-+*The 31st Chinese Export Commodities Fair (Spring) was held from 15 April to 15 May 1972, and most of the foreign traders attended for the whole month. While the main purpose of the Fair was for China to exhibit and sell its products to the western world, buyers from the Beijing Government’s import agencies attended to negotiate the purchase of raw materials, metals, minerals and other commodities from the west, hopefully paying with Chinese goods.
China saw itself as a potential exporter of machinery and equipment, automobiles and other manufactured goods. In reality most of what was on display at the Fair in 1972 was several decades behind…
anything to win
-+*James Holland writes: Glynn County public works is at it again. I thought my eyes were lying to me when I observed the images in my photos. Tide coming in and you can see how high it is and it is still coming. Glynn County simply has to be the most unscrupulous county in the entire state. Why is it that they continue to do this when all the science is out there about what buffers do to protect our marshes and waters? If anyone knows the name of the single individual that gave the order to do this would you please enlighten me so I will know who is the dumbest person in this county….
photo of the week
-+*While men slumber, daring men trawl off the coast. Through dusk, midnight, into dawn their boats dance upon waves, major and minor. But what if a rogue wave or something gone awry scuttled an ill-fated trawler long ago. Does this surreal daybreak reveal that ghostly trawler? Could it be some phantom or mirage, a Fata Morgana?
Look again. It is there absolutely true and believable. High tide has tempted captain intrepid to sift for crustaceans close to shore. To his west, a colossal curl of wind-borne gravity-stricken saltwater topples and the greatest white noise—falling surf—reveals Earth’s great exhaling.
what might yours say?
-+*Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful, lest you let other people spend it for you. — Carl Sandburg
In my explorations along back roads, deep woods, and left-behind places, I come across forgotten graveyards. Their tombstones, like tragic figures in some sad drama, long ago surrendered to weathering. Stones cut from rocks softer than granite appear to melt. Their epitaphs, devoid of sharp edges, a bit chalky, and softened by time and the elements prove difficult to decipher, their words illegible…
-+*The Dong Fang (East Wind) Hotel was on Liuhua Road, between Liuhua Lake and Yuehsiu Park with its Chenhai Tower. Even though it was not close to the Chinese Export Commodities Fair, it was favored by the British and European traders. In 1972, the Dong Fang was a multi-story non-air conditioned building set amongst what must have been beautiful gardens. It was quiet, away from the Pearl River traffic. Beside the hotel was a rough field used by the foreign traders to play rugby, soccer and volleyball during the Fair.
-+*Terry and I were enjoying an unabridged, non-scripted evening together; our first in many months. Suzy has known him longer than me and likes to accompany me when I meet him for drinks. That isn’t true where my other friends are involved. Tom and Rick she could give a rat’s ass about seeing. My partner bristles at the idea that the “dynamics change” when she is present, but it’s true. With Suzy in attendance the conversation is driven by her interests. Terry and I, on our own, drift among subjects like a rudderless sailboat. No direction, no fact finding, no censors.
culture of obedience
-+*The saga of Don Siegelman, the former popular democratic Governor of Alabama, who was convicted and imprisoned on largely trumped up bribery charges and whose prosecution has been, so far unsuccessfully, appealed continues to befuddle his supporters. That’s because, I would argue, Siegelman having supporters, who believe in his innocence, does not carry the weight with the judicial system they might think. Rather, it’s because he has supporters, who are likely to be impressed and depressed by the effort to break him and grind him down, that his persecution seems worth while. It’s not senseless at all.
last bus in china
-+*It had been a busy four days in Hong Kong after an interesting landing at Kai Tak Airport. There was only one approach to Kai Tak, up Victoria Harbor, turn north east across the Kowloon Peninsula towards Kowloon Peak with its blinking red light and make a sharp ninety degree turn over Mong Kok. The plane flew just above the streets of Kowloon, between the tall apartment buildings with their protruding bamboo poles holding the day’s laundry, and the wing tip almost touched the laundry as the plane dropped suddenly in its final turn onto the runway…
-+*In 1971 I was a twenty-year old Mississippi college sophomore, terminally shy with a stutter and an undeclared major. What career choice did I have that didn’t involve actually speaking with people? Milton, a fast-talking, pimply-faced senior, said he had just the ticket for a shy guy like me. “How are you ever going to be a success if you’re afraid to open your mouth?” I shrugged. Milton was a student manager for a sales company that hired college kids to work during the summer.
black sheep bootlegger
-+*In the riverbed between Edgefield County, South Carolina, and Lincoln County, Georgia, a copper still sleeps in the ooze gluing two states together. That still, the last vestige of a moonshiner’s art, belonged to my grandfather. How it ended in the Savannah River is a tale of brotherly salvation.
Every family—if it will admit it—shuns some relative from its past. Mine is no exception…
Worthy of Comment
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