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tale of two cities
Bookends. Pearl Harbor at one end, Hiroshima at the other, enclosing a four-year shelf containing tomes filled with misery, death, and devastation. It was important that I see both ends of that terrible War-Shelf. It took 28 years to go from one to the other.
We visited the rocky coast of Maine the other day and stopped in at the Kittery Trading Post.. Lo and behold, I discovered a cast iron griddle made by a company in Tennessee to replace the one that disappeared from my cook top. Although it would probably work better on a stove with perpendicular burners, the first batch of pancakes turned out pretty tasty.
a land down under
Jeffrey Lee is an elder of the Djok, the clan whose land, Koongarra, was given to them in the Dreaming and is therefore held by the people in sacred trust. Jeffrey is its senior custodian, keeping strong and alive the rituals and ceremony needed to ensure its well-being until the end of time beyond time as it turns within the great cycle of its Dreaming.
Tennessee’s third largest city is quite conservative, as larger cities go. That’s to be expected for a town in the most conservative part of one of the country’s most conservative states. But something a little different has taken place in Knoxville, and now a city once known for its coal-produced gray haze has dramatically reduced its carbon footprint and become one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country for green jobs. And it all started on the watch of an oilman mayor’s watch. This is the story of how that came about, and how it’s still happening.
It was September 1952, and Richard Nixon was in hot water. Nixon was then running for Vice President on the Republican ticket under Dwight Eisenhower. With his campaign people already looking ahead to 1956 with what the Smith System people call the “see the big picture” mindset, his campaign treasurer suggested setting up a fund to reimburse Nixon for expenses relating to campaigning: long-distance phone calls, travel in excess of normal reimbursement, campaign materials, et alia. Contributions would be limited to $1,000 per contributor, with their identities not known to the candidate.
Monday, 29 July, was the birthday of the poet Stanley Kunitz, who was born in Massachusetts in 1905. Today is the birthday of my father, my namesake although he always went by Brooks, our name in common. He was born in southern Ohio, in the Appalachian hills east of Cincinnati in 1911.
Stanley was poet laureate of our country twice, the last time in 2000 when he was 95. He lived to be 101 and published his last book, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects On A Century In The Garden, shortly before he died. My father was a stationary boiler engineer and didn’t quite make it to his 73d birthday. He also liked to garden.
a half-day off.
For a long, long time most stores down South have closed at noon Wednesdays. Mexico has its siestas and we have Wednesday afternoons. Closed at noon Wednesday. It’s a custom praised by insightful folks as a more civilized way to live, a way to give everyone a half-day off. All my life I’ve known that Wednesday afternoons were sacred in towns of all sizes. Round about noon places close and the infamous old slow Southern life style crawls to a stop.
All the rain that has poured down on us in the Atlanta area this year may produce something besides greenery. We may see one of the worst mosquito seasons in years.
Now before you jump in your car to get more high-powered spray, or buy a bug zapper, hold on. There might be another way to combat the vast horde of mosquitoes we anticipate coming this summer. No, nothing sophisticated, nor something you slather on your body, nor a high tech gizmo.
the ethics of living
After the game, the King and the Pawn go into the same box. –Italian proverb
When I was a young boy, I thought I wanted to be a medical missionary like Dr Albert Schweitzer. I remember him being frequently in the news in the 1950s for his work at the Lambaréné Hospital in today’s Gabon, known as French Equatorial Africa at the time.
small town america is dying
The small town is hailed as a place where values and virtues die with the greatest of reluctance. Mayberry comes to mind. It was a sleepy little town where good people and memorable characters lived. The Lincolnton and Lincoln County I remember from the 1950s and 1960s had the Mayberry touch. Folks who long for the Lincolnton and Lincoln County of the 1950s and 1960s can still have it. “Vintage Lincoln County,” a Facebook page shows familiar places and people long gone. Its creator, Garnett Wallace, refers to it as a “community scrapbook.”
“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not, but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter.”–Mark Twain
Reading this Twain quote recently, I laughed but wondered how true it is. I believe the memory issue is a bit like the joke of older people hearing only what they want to hear and pretending not to hear all the rest. Of course, we are all guilty of “selective” memory at times. After all, why not block out unpleasant memories if they’re just going to drag us down.
Sometimes we don’t realize the beauty around us. Another Gwinnettian chimed in the other day, extolling the beauties of Jekyll Island when visiting it the first time, after living in Georgia for several years.
“It’s so beautiful and peaceful,” she said, ready to return.
We should not be surprised that many newcomers to Gwinnett and Georgia do not know of the virtual undeveloped beauty of the Georgia coast. Unlike Hilton Head Island and much of Florida, Georgia’s beaches aren’t condo-ed away from the people.
a more peaceful neighborhood
A recent conversation with Bruce Hampton, a pretty good picker himself, touched on Atlanta’s best-ever guitar players. In the back and forth, there was speculation on how much Joe South had listened to Blind Willie McTell’s recordings. Within ten minutes, I played McTell’s “Kill It Kid” and South’s “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” on the stereo. “How did South do that? How did he think of that?”
Helen Thomas will always be a hero to me. None of that “shero” stuff. You’re either a hero or you’re not, no special designation if you’re a woman. Helen was a reporter, not a reportrix or a reportress. A reporter, a journalist. A real journalist. She covered 10 — count ‘em — 10 presidents. She questioned John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all with the same sharp, penetrating style that made presidents and press secretaries alike uncomfortable because an honest answer might seem very impolitic.
who's screwing you?
The thinning of the cities was no more a happenstance than the thinning of the electoral herd is now. After the civil rights era and the rioting in the cities, the powers that be took fright and embarked on an agenda to distribute the population — build suburbs and roads and sell people cages on wheels to get there. Disinvestment in the cities and the reduction of services was part of the agenda to promote “urban removal” and replace people with commercial structures and parking lots.
a bumper crop
Southerners, it is that time of year again: be on the lookout for friends and neighbors giving away bountiful supplies of beautiful, green zucchini. Watch for zucchini peeking out of slightly ripped plastic bags left swinging on door knobs or sitting innocently in church pews. But tread carefully: accepting zucchini from friends and strangers alike may mean more than one thinks.
My wife Jody just excitedly charged into my “command post” beaming with pride and waving two lovely yellow summer squash in my face. These beauties had volunteered in her compost pile that this time of year is a smoldering mound of leaf mould and “black gold” from our local farmer’s cow pasture. Summer may be hot and steamy, but what could be finer than picking your own lunch.
It seems donkey’s years since I’ve put finger to keyboard to contribute, and I don’t really know why. Like The Dew is always a great read and just as I’ve enjoyed contributing, I’ve enjoyed the many and varied passions of its contributors. But these past few months I seem to have been visited by that come-and-go ennui that seems from time to time to plague anyone involved in creative pursuits, but the packers have been and gone and with them the mood that has prevailed over the past few months.
life lived fully
That which doesn’t kill you reportedly makes you stronger. Or at least Friedrich Nietzsche thought so, as he wrote in Twilight of the Idols. If we’re talking about how life can sometimes sneak up on you in a “gotcha” kind of moment and all of a sudden everything is now up for grabs, the drama seems to play itself out in its own particular ways. This happened recently to a man I know when doctors told him he had an incurable disease that would take him in short order.
leaving home bye bye
The girl just wanted to have fun. Doing whatever her parents said didn’t cut it anymore. She loves the folks but it’s time to go. To leave home. It’s just before dawn, literally and figuratively. Who knows what awaits, but youthful perspective, always alluring, promises freedom and fun. She’d jump right into the adult life where freedom and fun go hand in hand. That was her belief, as she wrote her parents “the note that she hoped would say more.”
it changes you
“Nobody throws up the same way.” With this kind of humor from our instructors offered early on, I knew I was going to enjoy this week-long class for beginning potters taught by Ken and Melody Shipley.
As I’ve done for over a decade, I made my way in late June to Brasstown, North Carolina, in the far western reaches of the state and the home of the John C. Campbell Folk School. You can Google FolkSchool.org and read all about the school…
separate and unequal
Decatur’s Beacon Elementary and Trinity High schools were among the hundreds of equalization schools built in Georgia after World War II. They were constructed in 1955 and 1956 on the site where the city had maintained its African American school, the Herring Street School, since the early twentieth century. In early 2013, three years after receiving a $10,000 historic preservation grant that should have led to the property’s protection, the City of Decatur began demolishing parts of the two schools to build a new police headquarters and civic plaza.
the food we share
Dear Paula: I want you to understand that I am probably more angry about the cloud of smoke this fiasco has created for other issues surrounding race and Southern food. To be real, you using that word a few times in the past does nothing to destroy my world. It may make me sigh for a few minutes in resentment and resignation, but I’m not shocked or wounded. No victim here. Systemic racism in the world of Southern food and public discourse not your past epithets are what really piss me off.
most popular art
It won’t do to call retiring Peabody Awards director Horace Newcomb “Mr. Peabody.” Deserved as it would be, that designation already attaches to the award’s namesake, philanthropist George Foster Peabody, not to mention a certain erudite canine who hung out in the same cartoon realm as Bullwinkle J. Moose and Dudley Do-Right.
“Mr. Television” won’t do, either. Milton Berle acquired that nickname around the same time that young Horace Newcomb’s family was getting its first TV set.
I hate Paula Deen. I despise her. I loathe her. My thesaurus runneth dry with enough verbs to describe my acrimony, antipathy, and animosity toward the woman. I have hated Paula Deen since long before her recent imbroglio. For almost five years, in fact.
black top musing
Driving on back roads and through small towns stir up more than just memories for those who grew up on those back roads and main streets. Questions about where we’ve been and where we’re going nearly always come up … and the answers may be further on down those roads.
Lawyers gave opening statements yesterday in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin. After prosecutors characterized Zimmerman as a “grown man with a gun,” in contrast to the unarmed Martin, the defense issued what may be one of the weakest rebuttals in the history of high profile court cases:
“Trayvon Martin armed himself with a sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman’s head.”
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
I looked over and the strange fact that Pamela Kheto was driving seemed perfectly normal, even though my sole contact with her in the last ten years was a brief meeting in a parking lot where she tried to recruit me for some kind of power-grab at her church. When I looked to the front I saw we were on rough terrain. I felt the bottom scraping on large boulders, finally hitting something huge that threatened to completely tie us up, the edge of a cliff actually, but our momentum carried us up and over, teetering on the edge a Read on →
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." There is considerable cultural wisdom embedded within idioms, fables and nursery rhymes. Consider "The early bird gets the worm," "The Tortoise and the Hare," and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." Which makes the "sticks and stones" adage such a glaring exception. As a child, I broke three bones, once turning my forearm into a stair step by slipping from a swing -- at the zenith of its rearward arc -- onto wet grass. Although traumatic at the time, my orthopedic mishaps have long since healed, and I give them Read on →
Fantastic Meals. Number 95 of the Top 100 (Mostly Southern) Meals and Side Dishes of all Time If you were to ask me if I considered myself a soup lover, I would tell you “No” without even thinking about it. Isn’t it strange how I can tell a lie so easily; how I can fool myself into thinking things about the way I act that have no bearing on reality? I mean—I must be the Grand Marshall of Liars, for why else would I tell people—those both close to me and strangers—that I detest soups, stews, and their ilk? All one has to do t Read on →
Pope Francis' recent encyclical is sending shock waves around the world. In addition to exhortations to the faithful, Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel") packs a scathing critique of "unbridled" capitalism and consumerism. Here's the flavor of the Pope's message: Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. A new Read on →