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saved his life
Al is a crusty New Yorker who moved to our very waspy Republican stronghold here in Central Florida about 10 years ago to open a small cabinetry and carpentry shop. My wife and I own a small cafe here that we opened one month after President Obama was elected. Our very risky venture – on opening day I think we had $100 to our name – was fueled in part by our enthusiasm for what we saw as a turning point in American history. Now it’s five years later and we’re still open, we’re crowded almost every day and everyone in the county knows about us. We can’t claim to any profits yet…
gave gouthern boys a fine ski
Back in the 1960s when I hung out at Georgia’s Elijah Clark State Park, the cool guys were into water skiing. I got into it too and learned to slalom. That was a big deal. Learning to take off from shore standing on one leg was an even bigger deal, and I did that despite my most ordinary ski’s limitations. No matter how well you skied though, not having a big name ski rubbed a lot of luster off your accomplishment. A Dick Pope Jr. ski, however, carried cachet. A cheap ski? It might as well be a plank.
we were soldiers once and young
Of all the distinctive experiences in my life, there have been only two that have totally brought me to a halt, changing my landscape to the point that the line before and after are dark and broad strips as though made with a blunt and heavy magic marker. There is no ambiguity that the line is one of separation. One was my tour of duty in Vietnam from 1968-69. The other was the death of my late wife, Lilian.
It is striking in its unique and haunting simplicity. The concept is most distinctive, and in its own way, reassuring. Just looking at it calms you. The setting is a busy place with traffic rushing nearby, and often, airplanes overhead. It’s difficult to get to during business days, but amazingly simple during weekends. We refer of the Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C., the first memorial to 9-11, created to remember and honor those people who perished when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Moments before, I’d accidentally dropped the TV remote. The thing must’ve flopped on the floor at some crazy-ass angle and flipped the channel to something else. I’d been laughing at a Saturday afternoon Three Stooges Marathon. Now, at the very top of the hour, an announcer, Jim McKay tells me I am about to enjoy “…the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
“This we know: the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” — Chief Seattle, 1854
On January 31, the Department of State issued its environmental assessment of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. If built, the KXL will transport petroleum from Canada’s Alberta tar sands to a neighborhood near you. At least that’s the hype. The safe bet is that the oil will be sold to the highest bidder…
A recent article in the Journal of Wine Economics by Duquesne University Economics Department associate professor Pavel A. Yakovlev and graduate student Walter P. Guessford offers research findings so obviously pleasing to conservatives that you might wonder whether they were perpetrating a hoax. What their findings show is a positive relationship between measures of the ideological liberalism of a state and measures of how much alcohol was consumed in a state for the years between 1967 and 2010.
he had soul
Mr. Goff. Not “Tommy Goff” or “Tommy” or some dorky nickname — Mr. Goff didn’t have nicknames. A bandmate once made the mistake of calling him Mr. Goof — nobody ever said that again. No, there was nothing else really conceivable: he was Mr. Goff. He was the best teacher I ever had, and one of the handful of truly extraordinary people I’ve met in life — and a legion of former students scattered over the world would say the same.
why the memorial offends
Ordinary Gentlemen blogger Nob Akimoto’s “Guide” to the recently reignited controversy surrounding the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is mislabeled. What he has actually penned is an “Apology” for war criminals and those who honor them. That is unfortunate because trusting readers may misunderstand why the memorial deeply offends some many people all over the world. The first clue that a bait and switch is being perpetrated is the deployment of that classic piece of illogic called special pleading.
useless on ice
A dozen years ago, during the early spring, I was visiting my son in Pennsylvania. Among the scheduled activities was an opportunity to see my ten year old grandson play basketball that Saturday at the local YMCA. Upon rising that morning and peering out the bedroom window, I felt a tinge of disappointment. A dusting of snow had come during the night. I walked down to get coffee and expressed my regret to my son. He looked at me with surprise and confusion until he realized what I meant.
What is it with Republican governors and traffic jams? Up in New Jersey, we’ve got Chris Christie’s staff ordering up some “traffic problems” for Fort Lee, perhaps as a prank, and in Atlanta, Georgia, we’ve got Nathan Deal and the Mayor of Atlanta hosting each other at lunch while the traffic all around the city flops around in slush.
something is wrong
The state of the Union is crap. 20% of the country is doing OK. 1% is doing fantastically. 0.001% is doing so well it’s criminal, literally. They don’t own everything yet but they do own all the politicians, judges, regulators, academics, and reporters. So they’re getting there. The other 80%, the rubes, the muppets, the serfs, are mired in an undeclared, ongoing depression. 50 years on I can safely state that the War on Poverty has been won. The poor have been defeated, the middle class conquered.
If you didn’t read my column about how a mule’s kick ended up killing eight people, you are in the minority. Of all the columns I’ve written over the last four years none have generated quit a stir like this one. It began to show up on Facebook. People began to share it all over the place and Augusta radio personality Austin Rhodes came across it. He read the entire column over the air on WGAC. The floodgates opened up.
in the same boat
In electoral politics, the establishment point of view attracts hefty campaign contributions from the, well, establishment. Conversely, and obviously, anti-establishment points of view do not. Establishment comes in suit and tie, as if to declare the area off-limits to the imagination, though politicians of the female variety, apparently for reasons of their traditional, established, status as decorative objects, are granted some leeway here, a dab of color there. Otherwise, no suit and tie?
physician heal thyself!
When I was in college, the hippie kingdom railed against the hated Military-Industrial Complex. The MIC, they felt sure, was more than happy to wage war in Vietnam and rake in beaucoups of money. Making bombs to make a buck. Oh the outrage. Well where are hippies when you need them?
Today we have another MIC wreaking havoc on us: the Medical-Insurance Complex.
The tipping point of the 2012 presidential election may have been the unauthorized release of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” speech. Preaching to a closed and select group of the well-heeled, Romney complained that 47 percent of Americans “are dependent upon government,” “believe that they are victims,” “believe that government has a responsibility to care for them,” “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing,” and, perhaps worst of all, “pay no income tax.”
every scar tells a story
Back in a simpler, better time… In my case, five scars bring back memories of Dr. Weems Pennington Sr., a doctor who epitomized what a family physician should be. He was smart, kind, funny, and kept many of us rolling despite an excess of maladies, ills, and accidents. He had a way of teaching you to be courageous no matter what bedeviled you. He’s been gone for seven years but he lives on in the hearts and minds of many, and he always will.
the peabody decades
The fighting in Vietnam was such an evening-news fixture by the mid-1960s that writer Michael J. Arlen dubbed it the “living room war.” On the entertainment side, the networks were skittish, unsure what stance to take. Even with Korea standing in for Vietnam, M*A*S*H didn’t arrive on CBS until the fall of 1972. The weekly dramas Tour of Duty, about infantry soldiers, and China Beach, focused on Army nurses, didn’t appear until 1987 and 1988, respectively, more than a decade after Saigon had been abandoned.
Times Are Changin’… Give a little thought to this conjured scenario. Bob Dylan and Bernie Taupin are both private, reclusive types who have managed to share many of their thoughts, visions and talents with the world. Such endeavors require the proper introspection. Therefore a logical spot to take in and digress on the world is the window booth at Manuel’s Tavern, located at the corner of North and North Highland Avenues in Atlanta, Georgia.
book banners be warned
It’s a memory that refuses to die and it took place on the front steps of the old brick high school that overlooks Buddy Bufford Field back home. Angry classmates swarm around Skipper Hardin and me, furious because we had the gall to read Charles Darwin’s books on the theory of evolution. Even worse we were so bold as to talk about Darwin’s theory in class. Blasphemy! They thought Darwin’s books should be not just banned, but burned.
I wouldn’t be writing about this now but for the 1996 Olympic Games. They were in Atlanta, you may recall, although probably the only thing you remember is the bomb Eric Robert Rudolph planted at Centennial Olympic Park. We didn’t know that at the time. Instead, we all blamed a luckless security guard who probably kept the death toll at one when he spotted Rudolph’s bomb. But before that, there was Cobb County.
not so lame duck
The phrase “media bias” is used when someone does not agree with how a news organization presented a story. News organizations themselves accuse other news agencies of various biases, particularly with regard to where an organization falls along the liberal-conservative continuum. Fox News accuses the mainstream media, of which Fox apparently is not a part, of a liberal bias. So-called progressive organizations such as MSNBC accuse Fox News of having a conservative bias. When it comes to media bias, point an accusatory finger in any direction and you’ll likely hit a target.
Every Blue Moon or so, comes another heretofore unfathomable, unthinkable, damn near frightening moments that causes me to come to the stark realization that life as we know it has very likely just changed forever — and nothing will ever be the same. The first of these moments I remember came in the Seventies when somebody came up with the bright idea you could actually charge people fees for stuff that had previously been free forever…
quality of life
From the time I was ten running and biking were part of my life and that led to football quite naturally. Like many Lincoln County boys, I played for the Red Devils. Ran track too.
Not long after graduating from Georgia youth-induced laziness set in. Why exercise when you are young and weight gain is no big deal? I went through a stretch of seven years where I did nothing as exercise goes. Then one afternoon a couple of guys asked me to run with them.
“When fascism comes to America it will be carrying a cross and wrapped in the flag.” — attributed to Sinclair Lewis
Dr. Danny Pruett, my dad, passed away peacefully on January 4, his three grown children by his side. He was 90 and had willed himself back from the brink so many times that we began to think him invincible: heart attacks, bypass surgery, hips replacements, ruptured diverticulum and esophagus, multiple abdominal and back surgeries, atrial fibrillation, and more.
how’s your neuroplasticity?
At 76 I find my brain getting foggy at times (along with most of my peers) during tasks which I once saw clearly. My main concern is to avert dementia which debilitates and aggravates us and them. So I was interested when a brain training product on the internet introduced itself to me. I read the blurb, played a couple of simple but stimulating games and recognized that this could help keep me mentally limber; then I hesitated about the expense.
The Hawk has come South and Hell has frozen over.
I can’t prove these two events scientifically but I am very sure both happened in the last few days. Suddenly, the area to the south of the Mason-Dixon line is the freeze-framed Land of Petrified Cold. Mother Nature has turned into a frigid, heartless, cold-blooded shrew.
It hasn’t been this cold since…
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
When they were small my husband used to say, “With a mother like you, Columbus would never have discovered America.” I knew I was over-anxious and didn’t want to burden them; I could barely contain my anxiety when small boys walked along a pier by the sea peering down at the fish (I couldn’t swim) or stood on a cliff’s edge (I suffer from vertigo) but I could keep quiet about my night vigils when they were growing up. In their late teens and early twenties (it’s legal from age 18 to drink in British pubs) they sometimes came in drunk and I relie Read on →
A fellow writer asked me yesterday: What do you read? Which writers do you value? Who influences your style? This knocked me for six. It’s a Big Question. I have a long history in libraries and five bookcases stacked with a lifetime’s paperbacks (cheapskate) and short of trawling the shelves for authors’ names which often escape me, I didn’t think I had time to respond. IRS accounts waiting on my dining table reproach me every time I walk past doing something more interesting. But this intriguing question slipped into my mind’s cogs as they surreptitiously rotated. First off, I admit the guilty pl Read on →
HB 1023 and SB 377 are now slithering through the dank halls of Georgia’s government. These bills would allow business owners to openly discriminate against gay Americans by denying them employment or services: banning them from restaurants, hotels etc. (Translation: anybody who wishes to discriminate against someone for any reason need only say that it’s because it’s part of their “personal religion”.) The so-called "Preservation of Religious Freedom Act" would, in effect, permit any individual or for-profit company to ignore Georgia's anti-discrimination and civil rights laws. Legal experts warn that such "religious-freedom" bills are so vague and all-encompassing that they fling the doors wide Read on →
Chip Wells, 43, an 11-year veteran at the 5,200-worker Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, says the recent bad news coming out of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, did nothing to deter him and fellow pro-union Nissan workers from their campaign to join the United Auto Workers. “People think that derailed us,” says Wells, who works in Nissan’s paint department, “but we think it made us stronger. That plant (in Chattanooga) was only opened for two years. They’re still in the honeymoon phase.” The UAW “made some mistakes and they realize it,” he says. “The demographics were different. Here labor rights are civil rights, act Read on →