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happy birthday to me
“Old Age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” –Fred Astaire
It’s finally happened to me… I’m now the Biblical threescore and ten years old. I went to bed after a great meal, wonderful evening with my ever-loving wife Jody, some funny conversation, a little mystery on the telly and woke up… well, I didn’t feel any different.
Monday, Day One: newly merged Southwest Air/Air Tran offered the best price, $144 one way Atlanta/New York City. The sore butt that kicked in about halfway, and lingered, suggests one of the reasons – but the thrifty, I’ve learned, endure the affordable. The relief of wheels thumping good ol’ runway quickly faded, replaced by the stress of navigating around outside my current comfort zone. Once the new terrain becomes familiar, the zone expands and that’s when the fun starts.
That hawkish Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have once again blasted President Barack Obama for an insufficiently bellicose foreign policy barely qualifies as news. Of course they did. That is what they do. The scorpion always stings the frog halfway across the stream. What is worth noting is the rationale offered they present for a much riskier American foreign policy.
Above my family homestead in the East Tennessee foothills is an old, abandoned cemetery. I admit I’ve never seen it, but I think about it often. I imagine the worn stone markers neck deep in leaves in the fall or peeking out of the winter snow like early hyacinths. In my imagination, I never bothered to name these people, much less engage in meaningful character development. I don’t know them in any sense of the word; I just know that they are up there, tucked deeply in an earthy hollow waiting for whatever comes next.
She somewhat resembled the retired but not really old men who can’t wait to don their big blue hats and disappear into the basement for long periods to “work on” their elaborate model train sets. Like them, she could easily slip into a fantasy world where objects of interest were always smaller and at times had to be willed to be seen. She could spend hours gathering moss and twigs to build fairy houses and would then sit quietly nearby waiting for occupants. Little did she suspect that if you make them, they don’t necessarily come. And she was nearing forty.
Hollywood died last week. No, not that Hollywood, not that Hollywood of a lesser kind–that Hollywood out in La La Land. Rather, it was the real Hollywood, the iconic cherub-cheeked, perpetually smiling man, who cut hair and worked magic over at Murden’s Barber Shop in southwest Atlanta, Ga for almost forty years. Even for some of the legions who know him, ‘Charles Allen Lattimore, Sr.’ could be the answer to a trivia question on TV’s Jeopardy quiz show: ‘What is Hollywood’s real name?’
The project involved dropping a few yards of crush and run into the holes in our driveway and using rakes, shovels and old peoples’ sweat to spread it smooth. The final step was cranking my ancient Highlander and slowly packing the gravel. I rolled the windows down and energized the newly installed Alpine replacement radio. I am now using advanced technology and had filled a thumb drive with stuff from my youth. Up and down the driveway I slowly drove, trying to hit each spot of spread gravel. By random serendipity, the first tune was by an old group called the Hour Glass formed long ago by two brothers.
de facto heresy
“… if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming … You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe than man controls something he can’t create.” – Rush Limbaugh
Conflict between faith and science is as old as science itself. In 1543, Copernicus’s great work, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, laid the groundwork for a new model of the cosmos, with the sun, rather than the Earth, at its center…
handmaiden of segregation
Why do we care what happens in Ferguson, Missouri? Because on some level we recognize that if any one group or community can be officially deprived of their human and civil rights without restraint, then it can happen to any other group or neighborhood. Sea Island, Georgia is proof. Sea Island, Georgia has been turned into an exclusive neighborhood. Random visitors are turned away at a guarded gate and even residents driving off the island must pause and wait for the barricade to rise and let their vehicle pass unscratched.
increasingly cynical prism
At this time in my life I am beginning to view so much of what is happening around me through an increasingly cynical prism. As a friend is quick to point out, though, that behind every committed cynic there is a disappointed idealist wondering what happened to a world that once seemed so good and full of possibilities.
I blame Shakespeare for part of my mental dyspepsia. It all began back in university when a supercilious professor dressed down a fellow student for misspelling the bard’s name. Now after reading Bill Bryson’s book Shakespeare: The World As Stage …
For today, a different perspective, learning from history. Reading Winston Churchill’s massive six-book history of World War II gives new insights into that war, at least for me. For instance, it appears that my main interest was the fight against the Germans, by the English, Russian, French and Allied forces. Perhaps others had more interest in the war in the Pacific Theatre. Even I, as one alive during World War II, remember the massive fighting emanating out of the Philippines, in the Coral Sea area, Okinawa and Iwo Jima,…
In his poem The Cabbages of Chekhov, Robert Bly had me again when he wrote that,
“William Blake knew that fierce old man,
irritable, chained, and majestic, who bends over
to measure with his calipers the ruins of the world.”
Despite such a fierce image in his poem, Bly has that way about him where he can rescue you in the end from all the bad news that comes tracked in on the dog’s paws.
long in the tooth
“Blah, blah, blah…, sir.” All I really hear is the “sir.” It’s the cashier at a sparkling new CVS who first catches my ear. ‘Course, she’s wearing glasses. Maybe the lenses are fogged over and her vision’s obscured, I wonder. She’s mistaken me for someone older. “Honest mistake…could happen to anybody,” I mumble under my breath.
not a spectator sport
That’s how the attendees at the Glynn County Democrats’ Annual Dinner want everyone to think about our state. Georgia is a democratic state. Republican rule is just a blip, the result of Democrats being too generous and thinking the other side ought to have a chance to win.
That, in a nutshell, was the message from the five candidates and two surrogates who showed up for the Glynn County Democrats’ Fish Fry last evening. They obviously weren’t expecting 240 people and the catering service took some time catching up. But they did and everyone was satisfied. There wasn’t room for the key lime pie, anyway.
Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
Or so Bob Dylan says in “Dignity,” a song he wrote in 1988 after learning of the death of basketball great Pete Maravich. Dylan has a point. Dignity isn’t an item or commodity that can be replicated and mass-produced. It’s a quality of fortitude and bearing, guiding one on how to respond whether the news is good or bad. The one possessed with dignity feels for others and thinks carefully on the consequences of his actions. Sometimes a dignified action doesn’t pay off materially. It can also be misunderstood.
the southern life
My husband is from Western North Carolina. That part of the state is kind of like one of those remote places along the Amazon where the natives live in isolation from the modern world and have their own customs and language. I am positive that it is the only place in the world where the word “They” is an exclamation of surprise or disbelief. Rather like the all too common “Fuck” is used today, “They” can be tailored to a custom response. Said very slowly, while shaking the head, “TTHHEEEEEYY”, means agreement. Tacking Lord on the end signifies extreme amazement, “They Lord!”
August 13th is National Left-handers’ Day. I will celebrate quietly. I’m not sure about my sister; she is also a southpaw. That means our parents created two left-handed children, well above the national average of 10 to 13 percent. If you believe human traits are the result of parenting and choices from our youth, my parents did something radical to create this high percentage of southpaw children, something I wasn’t aware of. If you accept science, and think we are preprogrammed with certain traits then it was a matter of chance.
make love stay
I read recently that the woman was so hateful that you could light a cigarette from her glare. There was just some deep hurt or plain orneriness about her that made her a Fukushima Daiichi that refused to cool off. When looking at the tabloid in the supermarket rack, I noticed that her mop of big hair needed some untangling and definitely a good scrub. She sat there showing a tattoo on her fleshy forearm bearing witness to whatever meaning was hidden beneath her skin’s impression of a tractor trailer. And she sure looked pissed.
better angels of both parties
“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” — Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert
When was NASA’s finest hour? Most would say, “The Apollo moon landing.” As a bit of an insider, I have a different take. NASA’s finest hour, hands down, was the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. Two and one-third days into the nominal nine-day voyage, a ruptured oxygen tank left the spacecraft crippled, the mission in shambles, and the lives of three astronauts in jeopardy. Mission controllers, engineers, technicians and astronauts worked around the clock to stabilize a dire situation and work the impossible, bringing Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise home alive.
The apple was no ordinary apple. It was a Red Delicious and it had been cut in two and shared with her some fifty years ago. The man who cut it was her grandpa and he was confined to a wheelchair soon to die of multiple sclerosis. She and he were alone in the house and he rolled his wheelchair up to the refrigerator, managed to get an apple out, and then expertly used his pocket knife to cut it in two and then scoop out the seeds, coring it before sharing it with her. Back in those days on the farm no one had store-bought apples and certainly no one peeled, cored or cut the crabapples that the kids would pick directly from the tree, wipe on their jeans and eat on their way to the field to herd the cows into the barn for milking.
looking for light
When retrospective gaze spies sense in hitherto presumed nonsense of blind alley
Do we not at times, looking back on periods in our life when we felt lost and confused, recognize sense emerging from nonsense, meaning emerging from what had felt meaningless? Think back to the weeks, months, maybe even years when it felt we were wandering, squandering, floundering.
unfit to eat or drink
Too little too late? Georgia is one of those states where there is much bruiting about “local control” and how the people who live there know better what’s good for them. This editorial from the Brunswick News lays it out nicely: “In this country there are laws against stealing land, but that doesn’t stop the federal government and its oversized bureaucracies from doing it. They accomplish such thievery simply by changing the rules whenever they get a hankering to do so.”
in the name of balance
I have claimed that America now faces one of the most profound crises in its history, but unlike with the other major crises, this time our national conversation has not focused on discussing what’s gone wrong and how it might be set right. If I’m right, what does that say about the performance of the press? Our founders instituted special protections for the press not because they had a love for journalists, but because they recognized that a free press is necessary for the maintenance of a free society.
“I just opened up the Sunday morning paper to the Religion page and was stunned that my little county, including the county seat, had eighty-four different Baptist churches! Why so many and what kind of folk could harbor such nuanced differences in a particular denomination that they could be spurred at any perceived slight to go out and found another church to match their theological shoe size perfectly?”
So began Lady X, one of the nine of us seated around a large table at a recent writers’ symposium. The topic was the “fine art” of cobbling together your far-fetched yarns into comprehensible tales that have a point and won’t lose your reader.
united we stand
At first blush, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street appear as bookends: opposing grass-roots movements on the political right and left, respectively. At second blush, the Tea Party seems the more successful. In the 2010 mid-term elections, one-third of Tea Party-backed candidates won, reclaiming the House for Republicans. And an unknown Tea Party libertarian just defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s GOP primary. Occupy’s one obvious success is searing the 99 percent meme into the national consciousness. But a look under the hood of each is instructive.
u.s. media coverage
Listen to those defending Israeli violence against the Palestinians in Gaza and what you hear is denial. They cannot deny the facts and instead deny their emotional and moral significance. They agree that the Israeli military is bombarding Gaza and that thirteen hundred have been killed as a consequence. Rather than admit that the bombardment constitutes a humanitarian disaster and heinous war crime, however, they leap to the rhetorical devices of blaming the victim and condemning the condemner.
There’s a simple reason why small turnouts at elections bother me. Simply put: Low turnouts run the risk of having a small pinch of the electorate choosing our public officials. With a small number of people voting, splinter and fringe groups can dominate the election. This can produce elected officials representing these way-out views, often not in step with the main-line, middle-of-the-road process it takes to let our government function best. It doesn’t matter is the electorate if one third right, one-third left, and one-third in the middle or independent.
Worthy of Comment
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