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In the summer of 1968 a man walked into Dad’s saw shop gushing about a guy making beaucoups of money. College was out for the summer and I needed a job. The next thing I know, Dad and I were sitting in Augusta’s Bell Auditorium waiting for pitchman, Glenn Turner, whose company, Koscot Cosmetics, needed door-to-door salesmen, the gullible preferred.
From the back of the auditorium a chant took rise … “Money!” “Money!” “Money!” “Money!” “Money!” “Money!” and then men cut cartwheels down the aisles all the way to the stage.
who am i?
As part of my winter endeavors, I have ventured off with Dante on a journey through The Divine Comedy. So far, so good, but as my wife often asks, “Why?” I am not a religious person, at least in the conventional way, so why indeed am I stumbling along in a fourteenth-century conceit of a man’s mid-life crisis? As it turns out, I am following a Georgetown University on-line class which is serving as my guide, my own Virgil.
I’m not going anywhere. I got a lot of family in Georgia, and besides, there’s plenty to love here—mountains, sea coasts, the change of seasons, not to mention all those wonderful things about the South as a whole, like collard greens. But dang—sometimes you just have to yearn for bluer pastures. The election returns have been officially dissected, and it turns out that our two bright young Democratic standard-bearers, Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter, received “25 percent or less of the white vote.”
Abstract Expression emerged in the late 1940s, growing out of the influx of European artists fleeing fascism, and the theories they brought with them. It was the second wave of European modernism, the first not having caught on here 30 years earlier. The idea of painting “automatically”, without thinking, without plan, drawing from that part of the brain where we dream – that Surrealist notion was used by the Abstract Expressionists but they left out the dream images, they just “automatically” put paint on canvas and moved it around until it seemed like time to stop.
a sweeter side of appalachia:
This morning, my friend Lusy stopped by my office with a nasty cold and a warm, sixteen ounce can of Surge; I gladly hugged him. As he sat the Christmas-colored can of heavenly proportions on my office desk, I thought to myself, “There it is. My childhood is sitting on my desk.” Waves of memories flooded my mind. I closed my eyes and remember frozen nights spent sipping Surge by the fireside even as the frost formed on our shivering backs. I recalled the punch drunk pleasure of all-night binge gaming sessions, playing Diablo II with now-lost friends and my seemingly endless supply of Surge cans.
or driving me crazy
I live in Macon, Georgia, a small city (population: around 100,000, 99,957 of whom don’t know how to drive) some sixty miles from the traffic hell of Atlanta. Don’t get me wrong: I love Atlanta. It’s the home of the Braves (insert The Star-Spangled Banner pun here), the Falcons, the Varsity, the High Museum of Art, Coca-by-God-Cola, and many other wonderful things. Its traffic, however, I can live without.
sugar creek plantation
Back in 1937 when Gene Talmadge was finishing his second two-year term as governor of Georgia, he took a big step. For Miss Mitt (his wife), he built a new home on U.S. Highway 341, between McRae and Lumber City, in his home county of Telfair. In today’s world, this residence looks much like a Southern 5-4-and-a-door, with two-story white columns, red brick, and set about 100 yards back from the highway in a grove of pine trees. But it wasn’t built in today’s world, but constructed 77 years ago when most people in Telfair County probably didn’t have running water…
modern day samaritans
The light ahead was red, and no one was close behind, so I slowed to let the man who just darted across two lanes of traffic finish his dangerous dash to the wide concrete median strip on my left. It was a blustery day, with northwest winds biting harshly under the dense, dark clouds of a late fall cold front pouring into Georgia. All of which made this man’s shorts, light windbreaker, ball cap, and open-heeled clogs seem woefully inadequate for the day upon us.
atlantic coast pipeline
It’s hard to talk in the same breath about the outstanding natural beauty of the Shenandoah Mountain and the plan to cut through it with an Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Yet the 550 mile Gas Pipeline proposed by Dominion Resources is a real threat to the natural, recreational and water resources in the area. It would drive through the southeastern portion of the Shenandoah Mountain in the Braley Pond – Hankey Mountain area. If the pipeline is approved, this could make a portion of the Shenandoah Mountain Proposal ineligible for designation as a National Scenic Area.
When Mozart was three, the story goes, he watched his father give his sister a piano lesson, after which he sat down and played it from memory. Sometimes genius shows itself early.
There is a museum in Barcelona of Picasso’s work. When he was only ten years he was painting small neighborhood scenes – a view of a road on a hill, some chickens… He was already doing several paintings a day, a pattern he maintained most of the rest of his 93 years.
get money moving
Money, the life-blood of the nation
Corrupts and stagnates in the veins
Unless a proper circulation
Its motion and its heat maintains.
– Jonathan Swift
For the first time since 2009, the rate at which the dollar moves through the economy on its way to becoming part of the Gross National Product has increased. The Federal Reserve data collectors had to extend the number out three digits to get there. But, from a low of 1.381, we’re now up to 1.386.
mix it up
You spend a lifetime in your body, so why not enjoy it? Now, some consider their body simply as a vehicle to transport their head from point A to point B. Others are quite focused on and interested in engaging and using their body. Obviously, some activities, like sex, are very body-centric. That said, a happy body means a better sex life – and vice versa.
Beyond sex exists the practical matter of relying on our body to get around and help manage our life. After sleeping, sitting, and standing, walking represents the next level of activity for the body.
pain in the ass
I’ve been getting older for awhile now. The whole thing starts happening around the time I’m six years old, though truthfully, it’s entirely possible that my aging could have started earlier. (But since this is my account of the story, we’ll agree it started on my sixth birthday, the one where I was all dressed up in new Roy Rogers regalla as I blew out candles and wished for a birthday pony that never showed up.) For years, ‘my aging’ rolled along in more or less an orderly fashion and at fairly comfortable pace. I paid scant attention to it — except for birthdays, of course. Truth be told, even at an early age, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the concept of relentlessly getting older.
Why the Republican sweep in Georgia? Mainly, the voting in our state, and seemingly all across the nation, was purely anti-Obama in nature, as the Republican political operatives clearly convinced the electorate that the leadership by the President is missing. In Georgia, the Democrats had charged ahead with two well-known names to run for the top offices, and many were thinking this showed a stronger Democratic Party rebounding from its previous meager showings. This perceived strength held throughout the race at the polls with neck-and-neck results causing eyebrows to be raised.
Dada was an art movement which reacted to the madness of World War I. The artists were saying, in essence, if this is what rational thinking brings us, let’s try a little irrational. Scientific theories were also in the air that would soon lead to the ultimate rational achievement, the atomic bomb.
The movement was made up of artists and poets, sculptors and writers, initially in Switzerland. They would hold events where three or more poets would read different poems at once. They might disrupt symphony concerts by standing to lecture or shout nonsense. The most extreme Dada act was suicide, or even murder.
we are here to help
When my phone rang a couple of weeks ago I glanced at Caller ID to avoid predictable requests for my generosity. I’m too polite to turn people down without explanation, which wastes my time and theirs. Sometimes they are so persuasive, I’m sorry I answered. The screen announced a caller with a “Private number” so I answered the call. A recorded Asian voice introduced himself as “Stephen Wright”, immediately arousing my suspicion.
Shame on us, the American People. Giving more power to a Republican Party that has has been blatantly indifferent to the good of the nation. Never in American history has there been a party so consistently destructive in its impact on America. Indeed, it is hard to find an instance these past six years when the Republicans have even tried to be constructive, tried to address our national problems…
In Glynn County, Georgia, I recently discovered, the county planning staff has been passing off amendments to the master plan, drawn up by developers, as their own. At least, we still have an elected County Commission involved. In East Texas, it turns out, developers set up new taxing districts that then sell bonds to finance their projects by holding elections in which a single vote is cast by someone who’s been moved onto the land just to satisfy a legal requirement. The Dallas Morning News has been covering the scam. No wonder voting has become a big issue in Texas.
Next Tuesday, when you go to vote, you’ll be faced with two constitutional amendments on the ballot, plus one resolution. Today let’s examine what they are, and comment on them. But first, realize that you may be like many Georgians: complaining on why you are being asked to decide such complicated measures. We feel it’s because of two reasons.
Western Artists at the turn of the 20th century were faced with an emerging modern era, which they enthusiastically embraced or scornfully dismissed. Young Picasso was an enthusiast, attracted particularly to Paul Cezanne’s paintings, which were, in part, geometric simplifications of the subject, whether a portrait or landscape. Picasso developed this to its logical conclusion, and beyond, in ways that would probably have scandalized Cezanne. This was Cubism.
In order to regain its moral and spiritual passions, Liberal America does not have to to embrace the forms traditional religion has used to represent the issues of good and evil. That reconnection can be achieved, by moving further forward along the path of rational, empirically-based scientific knowledge.
In other words, the path of evidence and reason can provide us good answers to those vital questions of value — answers that can connect us to those deep parts of our human core from which comes the passionate intensity required for this urgent battle.
another dark wood
In a class on Dante I’m currently enrolled in, Professor Frank Ambrosio of Georgetown University quoted the nineteenth century philosopher Friedric Nietzsche that human beings, as far as we know, are the only animals that make promises. I only add that humans are also the sole ones who break them.
According to Ambrosio, Nietzsche puts the significance of human promising and its place with regard to freedom this way: “In man, nature set itself the task to breed an animal worthy of making promises.”
finley, dylan and the beatles
John Lennon and Charlie Finley arguing over money and how many songs the Beatles would play at a concert Finley was promoting? It was a moment worthy of what the great satirist, Edward Sorel, might have dreamed up for one of his great Atlantic Monthly illustrations. As John Lennon often said, “You had to be there.”
Recently my wife and I attended a reunion of her first cousins (and their spouses). These cousins are the children of the children of a couple of Swedish immigrants who settled in Iowa to farm in the late 19th century. What a wonderful family event! Just enough people to fill all the seats around a table not so big we couldn’t all converse together. In all our time together, there wasn’t a single hurtful word. Even the spouses, like me, were embraced in the family feeling, all glad to be together.
are we so gullible
Despicable. That’s the only word for it. I refer to the recent official email “Responding to the Ebola Crisis” of October 17 from my congressional representative, Bob Goodlatte, of Virginia’s 6th District. It begins by stating that “Ebola now spreading in the United States is of extreme concern [emphasis added].” The update then goes on to imply that millions of Americans have lost or will lose their health care under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)…
People like Bill O’Reilly call upon people to raise themselves up while helping keep a foot on their necks. Conservatives like O’Reilly do have some kernels of truth on their side. They rightly think people should develop good character, including virtues such as discipline and responsibility for oneself. And they are rightly concerned to assure that social policies don’t discourage people from developing such virtues.
down the drain
The ethical man keeps his hands to himself and does not destroy what he admires and loves. The ethical man does not subscribe to the excuse that “you always hurt the one you love. The ethical hurts no-one at all. Most of the electorate is probably too young to remember the perverse responses Jimmy Carter’s admission of having lusted in his heart occasioned among Republicans. In retrospect, it seems rather obvious that people, who live and die by the euphemism, were ready to believe that Carter had uttered a prevarication…
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Early Sunday I walked outside to dump the compost and ran smack dab into one of those perfect December mornings—the world awash in new yellow light, deep blue sky through leafless branches. My anxious mind was reassured: It’s still here. I can still touch it. I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled down with my e-paper, only to read that America’s nuttiest nutbar, Wayne LaPierre, is still on the loose. Talk about transcendencekill. Not to blame the messenger, but it was the AJC’s Alan Judd who took the opportunity—two years after the Newtown shootings—to analyze the NRA’s confusing attitude toward the mentally Read on →
Sure, it can be fun. Dede, for instance, is a terrific hater. Her favorite verb is “hate.” I hate winter. I hate the Falcons (not just this year). I hate this sink. I hate all the fiction in The New Yorker. But none of this hating amounts to anything. It’s just her vivacious way of expressing herself. My guess is that most of us take our hating a little more seriously, a little more warily. We’ve seen the power and the glory, you might say. I hated a guy I was in graduate school with. No reason. I just did. And I mean Read on →
When he gasped to take a breath and to stop swearing in his fractured English, he told her he had a “fucking shit life” and that she was a filthy whore who would die a horrid death. Spitting out more vitriol with each breath, he finished his rant by saying, “You will lose this war.” Perhaps time will, if it hasn’t already, prove him right. Certitude rang out from this Algerian jihadist who had been captured by Afghanistan’s tribal Northern Alliance shortly after the American onslaught following 9/11 . At this point, however, the “interview” was concluded when she said, “That may be, but your Read on →
We left Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport for Guangzhou where we spent three days before flying on a small CAAC Ilyushin 14 aircraft to Guilin in the Guanxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The airplane was noisy, basic transportation and typical of Russian-built commercial aircraft. We nicknamed it the Friendshipski because of its similarity to the Dutch-built Fokker Friendship commonly used by airlines for service to small airports. The view as we approached the Guilin area was spectacular. Perfectly shaped limestone mountains rose straight out of the countryside, providing an eerie landscape and seeming to almost touch the wheels of the airplane. While I t Read on →