author, friend, family man
Not quite a year ago thunderstorms shook the South Carolina Midlands. For those who mark calendars, they rumbled through April Fool’s Day around 4 a.m. Later that morning my friend, Dianne, sent me a text. “We lost Sam last night.” Rains had come to wash away a man’s last earthly footprints. Said his loving wife, Myra, “a renaissance man left us.” I knew what she meant. Samuel Steven Morton and I traveled a bit of road. I first met Sam …
There Is a Season
To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die.
We never thought Sophie would be our last cat standing. Our almost eighteen-year-old aging feline, still a debutante in her own mind, has now bid us farewell…
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…
no ice, no skates, no puck
“I’m open,” I realized as I sped down the cold gray parking lot surface. “But does he see it?”
Growing up a boy on the Jersey Shore in the early 1970’s, baseball was our summer passion. We’d play all day long on a sandlot and then go home and put our uniforms on for that night’s Little League game. In the fall, it was football, of course. No helmets, no pads, barely any rules. However, in the winter, we played street hockey.
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 …
wouldn’t be and never was
We gotta get out of this place
If it’s the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Girl, there’s a better life for me and you
Somewhere baby, somehow I know it
My Aunt Dolly seldom went to the movies, but my sisters and I sat down with her in 1978 to watch the TV mini-series “The Awakening Land,” a fictionalized account of a family who moved into the Ohio wilderness toward the end of the eighteenth century …
stay vigilant but
We’re all exercised by recent events in America, even to the extent of disturbed sleep. I dreamed of America being violated, helpless to resist. This is not just America’s problem; it has the capacity to rock the world. Facebook is crammed with shared misgivings. My American friends, all Democrats, exchange tens of emails daily. Several attended the Women’s March in Washington. We are all in danger of burn-out, so I seek to restore peace of mind.
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.
will it stay airborne?
“Allowing a monkey to drive a race car sounds like an amusing idea, but only to those who have never tried it.” – The Bard of Affliction
The great Airship of State had been flying for 241 years now. It wasn’t always an airliner, of course. Back when it began to function, a hot-air balloon was sufficient to hoist its machinery. As the years flew by, however, and new technologies became available, it eventually transferred itself into ever more efficient aerial transports, the better to float high above the hostile environment below …
whatever it takes
There are many ways that young kids grow with their college experience. If you go away to school, when you’re a freshman, you can’t wait to get back home. Fall break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, summer vacation … They all mean the same thing. Home. If you don’t have a car, you try to arrange a ride or you check the bus and train schedules. Whatever it takes …
hurts our hearts
I imagine what happens next to that march from protozoa to ape to man – just a poof of dust from the increasing implosion of facts-to-lies-to-violence based on nothing but a madman’s brain, and his cunning associate (perhaps with an “s” – just in case there’s somebody else in the room with Bannon?). I wonder, daily, about how much of the planet will still be here …
right to bear cars
Running down pedestrians with your car is wrong. Whether the act is intentional or negligent, running down pedestrians is absolutely wrong. That ethical absolute extends to encouraging others to commit such an act. Unfortunately a couple of Republican lawmakers in Tennessee want their state courts to take a much more permissive approach to vehicular murder and assault. Tennessee State Representative Matthew Hill and State Senator Bill Ketron have introduced…
In 1998 my husband Wilton and I decided to take a trip to Kenya, which fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams of being able to see wild animals in their natural habitats. I had read so many books about life in the jungle and loved Isak Dinesen’s book and the movie Out of Africa. I enjoyed trips to the zoo to see elephants, lions, and giraffes, but always longed to see them in Africa as they were in Born Free.
Remember how Donald Trump spent much of the 2016 election campaign touting his ability to negotiate better deals for the United States? For all the bombast about trade with China and nukes in Iran, and cheering from supporters who probably couldn’t find either country on a world map, it turns out that the international agreements he intended to renegotiate and perhaps junk altogether were with our allies and not our rivals. That’s why Vice President Mike Pence was …
Southerners are said to be obsessed with their own history. It’s true, belying that old dictum that history is always written by the winners. Even now, well into the 21st century, I find myself wading into the murky waters of that Southern obsession with the past, which invariably goes back to slavery and the War.
This obsession animates the 2016 book I have just finished reading, The Making of a Racist: A Southerner Reflects on Family, History, and the Slave Trade, by historian Charles B. Dew …
awakening hearts & minds:
A conference on February 4th in Decatur, GA featured “rock star” panelists, knowledgeable, articulate, even entertaining on a subject that doesn’t readily lend itself to such. This is not a thorough review of the conference but more a collection of impressions.
A talk on Syria by jounalist Reese Erlich, a week later added further to my notes. My attendance at these events was motivated by a lack of knowledge about the situation in Syria…
commander in tweet
I admit to retreating often from the evening news, but the acts reported find me through their effects on my friends.
The physician of a friend is also my physician: he has done grafts for lymphedema on both of us. For us he is a miracle worker. Last week he told my friend that new government regulations just put in place will limit anyone to three grafts to be covered; thereafter, amputation will be covered for those who can’t pay for additional grafts on their own.
heaven help me
Two thousand seventeen has not gotten off to a good start for Yours Truly.
First, there was the dress. No. make that The Dress. It was “The Dress” instead of simply “the dress” because it is for the upcoming wedding of our youngest son, Carson, a brilliant new lawyer (takes after his father) who now calls Des Moines, Iowa, home. Carson will wed Claire Roth in Athens in April. You might recall my column on his unusual Pepperoni Proposal…
crackdown on continues
In a series of tweets and Fox News interviews, President Donald Trump on Thursday vowed to deport Area 51 aliens and answer scores of questions that have plagued the minds of millions who voted for him.
“The people have a right to know, and I’m going to tell them,” Trump tweeted. “I’ve ordered the FBI to send me all of their X-Files.”
At an afternoon press conference in Roswell, New Mexico, before a crowd estimated by the White House to exceed fourteen million …
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.
searched then hugged
Yesterday I mentioned to a British friend my concern (in the light of Trump’s edict banning arrivals from certain countries), that all our political views are frankly on record on social media outlets.
I said ‘It only takes a few minutes to judge a person’s political stance by checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts.’ He thought I was absurd to be concerned. He hasn’t lived in the States or used Facebook so perhaps is not aware of the extent to which people express their views, or that Big Brother is likely reading their mail.
In the 1970s Tehran was one of the few cities in the Middle East where alcohol was available for the local population and tired travelers. The city was cosmopolitan, the Persian people were friendly and the fashions were right out of Paris. Other parts of the country were different, more traditionally Persian and some opposed to the Shah.
Arriving at and departing from Mehrabad Airport on commercial flights was always interesting. The Iranian Air Force…
“Late in 1788, just after Virginia voted to ratify the Constitution and join the union, former Governor Patrick Henry persuaded the state legislature to remake the Fifth Congressional District, forcing Henry’s political enemy James Madison to run against the formidable James Monroe. The ploy failed and Madison won anyway, eventually becoming the nation’s fourth president. Monroe’s career wasn’t over, though: He succeeded Madison as president.” (Library of Congress.)
still the mind – enjoy being
What is happening? I’m watching a movie, a little disturbed by the violence, take a break to pee when suddenly I’m aware … a pang of fear… the conceptual reality-bubble I create to walk around in is burst… I feel vulnerable. I’m standing at the toilet, but the greater world just beyond these walls with its terrible indifference, its marauding criminals, Doppler sirens, terrorists, and accidents roaming the streets … major hostility … and cancer … and it’s true “I” am vulnerable.
It was an interesting year. OPEC was beginning to exert its influence over world oil prices for the first time and generate considerable wealth for its member countries to invest in new industries. My company decided to expand its exports of minerals to the Middle East. I had some business experience in Asia but knew nothing about the Middle East. I was soon to learn. The first challenge was managing the use of two passports and not presenting the wrong one when I entered or departed certain countries…
appealing to baser instincts
I’m no historian, but from the perspective of advancing age, I find fascinating that certain societies produce just the right leaders at just the right time. Think Abraham Lincoln, for example, who evolved during his presidency from defender of the Union to emancipator of the oppressed, a transition marked by the Gettysburg Address, perhaps the greatest oration in American history. Think FDR, who, despite his infirmities, shepherded the U.S. through back-to-back crises: the Great Depression and the Second World War…
who makes such evil profitable?
think the psyche of the South for a man my age carries with it a fading memory of the shame and bitterness of being a son of a conquered nation. My father’s elementary school classes had annual field trips to the Confederate Memorial — a marble double arch inside a small chain-link fence — in Robinson Springs, AL. The names of the dead remain on the aging marker under the damp shade of broad oaks, but the field trips have ended. There is so much more to Southerners than the civil rights struggle…
The kompromat story becomes more plausible with each passing day.
The important information for much of the news audience is that Donald Trump allowed himself to be caught in a classic honey trap, one made all the more embarrassing because it involved a peculiar paraphilia. The accusation is that the president elect paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on him.
rule of the thug
As America enters the Age of Trump, it is important to recognize that what’s happening is not just about Trump, and not just about America. Forces kindred to Trump have lately been ascendant around the world.
We see different manifestations of this same ascendant force that has borne Trump into the presidency in Putin’s Russia, in Erdogan’s Turkey, in Britain’s Brexit movement, in right-wing ethno-nationalist parties across Europe (France, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, etc.), in Netanyahu’s Israel, and in Duterte’s Philippines.
make america ache again
Amid rising concerns among millions of jobless, destitute and desperately angry white males that he is about to cave to political pressure, President-elect Donald Trump reassured his supporters Monday that he still plans to destroy every last vestige of their health care.
“Everybody who voted for me is not going to have to mess with going to the doctor, I guarantee you!” Trump tweeted …
snake oil salesmen
HSA stands for Health Savings Account, which is what Congress wants to substitute for the ACA to get them off the hook doing what they don’t want to do anyway — provide for the general welfare. The “general welfare” is such a plebeian assignment and never done! Privatization, here we come!
The problem is that bankers …
an education is earned
There is no higher calling than helping young people find their way because you care about them and their futures. There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the good of young people is the highest creed. Reward follows service.
Kathleen Cleaveland gave most of her adult life to her students at Hendersonville High School and she served them extremely well.
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 …
no right to give up
One of the challenges Bertram Gross’ book, Friendly Fascism, presents the reader with is this: if your views coincide with those that a major, long-term, well-funded propaganda campaign has aimed to instill, wouldn’t it be prudent to reconsider those views? We don’t come into this world armed with disinformation detectors. We tend to trust those around us and more or less uncritically adopt their values. Born into a Muslim world, chances are you’ll be Muslim. Born into a Catholic family in Italy? …
shoring up our godly cred
At noon on January 20, Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office as President of the United States: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” And then he will add the phrase “so help me God.”
Those four little words are not in the Constitution, but …
We were in the vehicle on the interstate traveling to see my dad for his birthday and to have a family dinner when my sister called to say she thought he was having a heart attack and was taking him to the hospital. Other than a handful of colds through his seventy plus years and one case of food poisoning, my dad had been the ultimate mind-over-matter-vitamin and herb-man. I often wondered if he really had the mind-over-matter power, if he could will his heart to heal.
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 …
He had always wanted to go hunting with his big brother, and this was going to be his first trip. It was also going to be his last.
He got up early. Real early. They wanted to be in position by dawn. Sunrise was at 7:30. That meant they had to leave the house by 6:30, allowing for a half hour drive and a 20-minute walk into position. He was up at 5 o’clock. At least that’s what he told his brother…
Hillary was dead, not dead dead, but dead as a hammer in the world of politics. The Electoral College was dedicated to its duty, and voted according to expectations, with its members then checking themselves into rehab.
It was in this world that The Donald lived. High potentate, head banana, big-wig and man in charge, living large in The Tower while waiting for the residents of the public housing to move out so he could move in, if he decided he wanted to downgrade…
Immediately following the 2016 presidential election, I emailed four German friends: “After 240 years, the great American experiment has ended, badly.”
It’s a grim assessment. I arrived at this discomforting conclusion while raking leaves and talking to a neighbor who served in the Peace Corps in a former Soviet republic. She’s seen failed states firsthand, and America, to her, has that “feel.” And she’s worried her children will grow up in an oligarchy.
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) …
Perpetrators must first envisage crimes before they commit them. Often that entails a fantasy that their intended victims deserve what’s coming for having committed the same crime. Psychological projection helps dodge acceptance of moral responsibility. When the envisaged crimes are political, the fantasies projected onto opponents are often spun as conspiracy theories.
After years of loopy conspiracism from populist conservatism it is easy to overlook the fact that as primary candidate, as party nominee, and even as President-elect, Donald Trump deployed only a few of the many available conspiracy theories to denounce Hillary Clinton…
I’m burnin’, I’m burnin’, I’m burnin’ for you —Blue Oyster Cult
Against a backdrop of clinking glasses and Motown’s “Baby Love,” TVs around the bar flashed breaking news—an airliner had crashed. The conversation shifted from football rivalries to death and friends who had recently crossed the Great Divide. That led to insurers’ euphemistic “final expenses.”
It was a family story passed down to each generation and could have been made into a movie. In the days when the world needed more heroes my great grandfather quietly told the story of his survival from the Crimean War.
My great grandfather John Cobban was born sometime between 1823 and 1828 when he was christened at Keig in Aberdeenshire, named after his father who was a tenant farmer on a 6,000 acre estate beside the River Don. He worked at the Forbes Estate until he left Scotland to join the 93rd Southern Highlanders and fight in the Crimean War…
The day after the election a man wearing a gun in a pizza joint during lunch was crowing to me, “We elected ‘im!” Alabamians – gun-toting and otherwise – did vote overwhelmingly for Trump. But it was not just Alabama, was it? Every rural area in the country voted for Trump. Big money has run over the Democrats since Reagan, crushed lower-income people and used the resulting disillusionment to build a coalition based on ignorance and resentment …
time running out
Recurring floods on Route 80 from Savannah to Tybee Island provides evidence that sea-level rise is already taking its toll. As the climate continues to overheat, primarily due to the emission of greenhouse gases [GHGs] in burning and producing fossil fuels, sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change will get much worse.
To many, the following outline might seem self-evident but given U.S. presidential election results, a review is apparently in order:
1) The elite (1%) rule for the benefit of themselves, their agenda consisting always of the task of maintaining and expanding their power, privilege and profits.
That’s right. I chose a five-dollar word for saying what 50-cent “forgotten” says, for I come to exalt that legendary offspring of a female horse and donkey. The left-behind mule helped build the South and did so quietly without polluting the air. Then the combustion engine came along, and abandonment became the mule’s fate. It had already been condemned to death in many a story for it’s been said no Southern story is complete without a dead mule…
Naw, you don’t have to waste your pamphlets on me. I’ll be voting the Green Lady, just like last time.
I’m old enough to remember having my first Starbucks coffee, on a chill winter’s day back in 1991. So I guess you could say I was a Party man from way back… a whole lifetime ago, seems like.
It was the Citizens United decision that changed everything. Once corporations were considered to be people …
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 …
and a good eraser
“No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil.” – Virginia Woolf
Liam, our four-year old Australian grandson, recently sent us his first handwritten thank-you note. He used a bright orange crayon on a green card. The letters weren’t all the same size, some were backward, and his name took up most of the page. My wife Jody and I laughed, and we immediately put the note on the refrigerator door.
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…
red and black publishing
It’s best to have all types of people making up a nonprofit board.
A good board consists of people coming at problems from several different angles, creating a board of advisers who can successfully lead the institution toward a good path. You want full and fair discussion, and not people who are essentially “Yes” persons who go along with whatever someone proposes.
Every idea that comes up doesn’t need to see the continual light of day.
who's your master?
When I started school outside Atlanta, I had some of the very same teachers who had taught my father years before, in the same oiled-floor buildings. Jonesboro was a small town with a big new highway, and was quickly “developing.” Just like everywhere else in the South, the only blacks at my school were janitors or lunchroom workers. Whites and blacks had never attended school together in the South before 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared school segregation illegal.
I have been away for a while, working on a secret project. You know one those “If I tell you I would have to kill you” kind of things.
It was a good time to be away, not reading or listening to the “making the news” reports. My digital newspaper subscription had expired, the light on the Wi-Fi modem router was blinking red and water had penetrated the internet cable so I walked to the store early in the morning and bought a newspaper.
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.
could it get worse?
For example, here’s what long-time friend and mentor Alabama Senator Hank Sanders had to say about the election in his “Senate Sketches” newspaper article:
I desperately called on my dear mother. Across the chasm of her death nearly 20 years ago, she reminded me of what she said to me and to her many children nearly sixty years ago. I felt her spirit moving within me. I was strengthened. Now, I can go on.
For some two generations now, way too many American liberals have been beguiled by the facile trope of “the Southernization of America,” which blames the nation’s shift to the right since the 1960s on the South’s rapid political, economic, and cultural ascent. If early takes on the 2016 presidential election, which chalk up Trump’s upset triumph to the “revenge” of the rural white voter in traditionally blue northern states and essentially leave it at that, are any indication, we may soon see “ruralization” supplant “Southernization” as the primary threat to political liberalism in this country.
dr. ben carson did what?
Ok, first a quick update: I want to just say I’m very disappointed that it looks as though I did not win either the Electoral College or the popular vote.
My campaign manager Mr. Mittens is digging through the early returns (and his bag of cat nip) in order to find out just where my campaign went south. So, unless the Supreme Court steps in I may not become president this time around. I am also deeply troubled to inform my supporters that my own mother didn’t vote for me…