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you'll think you're in africa
July 24, Thursday afternoon, 3:30. The July sun bears down with no mercy. The humidity’s high and the terrain rough and remote. To the northwest a cloudbank promises relief but relief never comes. We drive on in no need of windshield wipers.
Robert Clark and I are miles from city life headed deep into the Francis Marion National Forest. To reach our destination, we turn off US Highway 17 onto State Highway 45. We drive for miles looking for Halfway Creek Road.
On Tuesday, July 22, Glenn Beck spoke from some 700 movie screens to Americans who paid admission to hear him attack the “Common Core.” The “Common Core” consists of standards, offered to the states, defining the knowledge and skills that American school-children should learn at each stage of their education. Beck’s move here reminded me of “The Music Man,” the con man in the musical of that name who comes to an Iowa town to fleece the good people there. What Beck and the con artist in “The Music Man” have in common is that to accomplish their own hidden aims they tap into the anxieties that parents have regarding their children.
grass is always greener
You get a hint of the problem. Of course, the article I’m referencing was published way back in 2001. But, the mindset is telling. The author, who was employed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, dismisses one kind of grass as a bank stabilizer because: “Fescue tends to clump in our climate and wither in droughts. It fades in hot, dry weather, which lets weeds, brush and other noxious vegetation grow. Fescue is simply not a turf type grass.”
t-party vs. country club republicans
More than a century ago the “forgotten man” of Mississippi and across the South — the farmer, the common worker — decided he’d had enough of “Wall Street speculators who gambled on his crop futures; the railroad owners who evaded his taxes, bought legislatures, and over-charged him with discriminate rates; the manufacturers, who taxed him with a high tariff; the trusts that fleeced him with high prices; the middleman, who stole his profit.”
waging peace. fighting disease. building hope
I recently had the pleasure of roaming about the grounds of the Carter Center in Atlanta. It was an early Sunday morning before any of the buildings were open and I had the place pretty much to myself except for one lady who volunteers there and was fidgeting around in one of the small side gardens. I didn’t tromp over the entire thirty-five acres, but I covered enough to be impressed with the design and the number of large Oaks that provided much needed shade from the bright sunshine and heat.
touched by better angels
There were superficial reasons—when he thundered on the political scene at the Democratic Convention in 2004 and then rode on the wave of that thunder to his election in 2008—to compare Barack Obama with Abraham Lincoln. There was the Illinois connection, for instance, and the gifted orator connection, and the “new birth of freedom” connection. Add to these the evident high esteem, even reverence, held by Obama…
and politically correct bullies didn’t rule
My high school years unfolded in a time when hanging out at drive-ins and burger joints was all we had. We played 45 RPMs by the Beach Boys and William Jan Berry and Dean Ormsby Torrence. You know them as Jan and Dean of “Dead Man’s Curve” and “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” fame.
words of love
This past weekend, my wife Jody and I attended a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac performed at the Blackfriar’s Theater in Staunton, Va. Just to hear the language was well worth the one-hundred forty mile round trip. Although I don’t have the skill to read it in the original French, Anthony Burgess’ translation which combines blank verse, prose, and rhyming couplets held our attention for the nearly three-hour performance. He created a contemporary sound for a play written in 1897…
dispirited liberals – part 4
Every human culture, it seems, has had some notion of the sacred, and has placed that notion at the center of its worldview. From this, we can conclude several things: 1) that a sense of the sacred – like other universals, such as language and music – is an inherent part of our humanity; 2) that therefore we can conclude that this sense has served the cause of life of our kind through the eons in which we developed; and 3) that the experience of “the sacred” …
One night about three years ago when Jake was five, I was settling him to sleep with a book about Chicken Licken. I hadn’t met her before but Jake knew her well. When we got to the end of the book and he asked for another story, I was too tired to fetch another book, and didn’t want to disturb his sleepy state, so I made up a variation on this theme. We lay with our eyes closed, imagining.
out of ego
The French Impressionists attempted a rendering of what they saw, an “impression” yes, but the interesting aspect is best illustrated by Seurat’s Pointillism. Interesting because in the late 1800s there was a shift in emphasis among painters of an adventurous nature, what came to be called the “avant-garde,” from the “subject” depicted to the “act” of perception…
I knew I liked him early on by the way he told a joke. He had timing and delivery and the punch line was not telegraphed. Whenever I get off my mountain, I’m alert to serendipitous opportunities to meet such people and to get a peek into their lives. So on a recent trip to Atlanta for a couple of woodworking classes, I had the pleasure of spending a few nights with a dear friend in Asheville, one of the world’s finest and most civilized of cities. My friend is also a fine lady and like her adopted city, most civilized…
all in this together
How did it come to this? How did our political life in America get to be so drenched in hostility? While reading an article about how “anti-environmentalists” are spending thousands of dollars to alter their vehicles to increase the smoke they produce, I came across this statement from one of that group, who call themselves “coal rollers”: “If [Obama’s] into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not.” And it’s not just the president they’re hostile to, it’s also those Prius-driving “librels” who…
dispirited liberals – part 3
But the sacred is something that Liberal America, by and large, has not been tapping into. That was not always true. One can sense the sacred in the words of FDR, for example, engraved in the granite in that memorial on the National Mall. (And FDR was not shy about going toe to toe against his enemies, whether it be to help make the nation a better place or to stop the predations of the fascist powers against much of the world.) That was then. But if one listens to the voice of Liberal America in these times…
world cup futbol
Dear Soccer: Congratulations! The World Cup has been truly great. You`ve really outdone yourself this time around. As it turns out, you really ARE a ‘beautiful game.’ You’ve had boffo TV ratings and you’ve inspired a resurgence of U.S. national pride. You’ve even raised our awareness of geography — such as the fact that South America is not really “… Alabama, Mississippi and the parts of Georgia that ain’t Atlanta” as many Americans previously thought. We learned other things too, such as…
a childhood tradition
Last month I was on assignment in a remote place, the kind of place where you see trucks and tractors but few cars. Farm territory. I parked along a weedy, poorly maintained road and as I stepped from the car I saw a sight from childhood. A tangled thicket of briars with succulent, shiny blackberries glistening like onyx pendants. Red berries, hard and yet to ripen, waited their turn for sunshine to do its magic.
dispirited liberals – part 2
Liberal America’s disconnection from the power of the spiritual dimension is not only manifested in this hopelessness I’ve heard from people. The costs of this condition go a lot deeper. Indeed, it is through Liberal America’s “dispirited” state that this side of America’s political divide has played an important role in letting destructive forces wield so much power in our political system.
lifting the veil
I am not an attorney. Indeed, the entire contents of this article is to be considered nothing more than what it is, an observation and rant regarding the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision and a potential unintended consequence thereof. As a citizen, I am entitled to make observations about any damn thing I choose. This is just such an observation and not legal advice and, again, I AIN’T A LAWYER.
Many a late night, with my waning energy, I’ve eased into day’s end with crime fiction under my lamp. Once a friend challenged, “You read so much of the genre, why don’t you write one?” What a great idea. So I did, called it Arrival, set it in Atlanta. Raymond Chandler, the dean of the detective story, once remarked that, in order to advance the plot or produce some drama, mystery writers more often than not, wander into a territory where credibility is thin and shaky.
dispirited liberals – part 1
Some of my liberal friends say they have lost all hope for American democracy (and a great many others act as if they had).
They see that the Money Power is wresting power from the American people and, with the help of the Supreme Court, making it ever harder for the people to retrieve what’s been taken from them.
As the US futbol team moved from regulation into that mysterious realm known as extra time during the elimination World Cup match against Belgium, I was attending the Richland (SC) County Council meeting. Minutes before the meeting kicked off, one of the council members found the streaming broadcast on his county provided laptop. Belgium scored and he was confused as to why the madness continued. In American sports, sudden death means sudden victory.
the great war
Now that I have come to the end of Paul Fussell’s book The Great War And Modern Memory, I continue to think about the quote he cites describing a British soldier’s discovery of a pocket Bible lying open next to the body of a fellow Tommy killed at the WWI battle of the Somme. The soldier says, “it was open at the eighty-ninth Psalm, and the only legible words were: ‘Thou has broken down all his hedges; thou has brought his strong holds to ruin.’”
a court gone wrong
It is now something approaching settled law in the United States that corporations possess “personhood.” Corporations possess the right to freedom of speech and now, thanks to the Hobby Lobby decision, possess the right to a religious conscience and the right to exercise that religious conscience free of government interference.
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
The Lie: Up is Down, Night is Day. The dark spirit can lead people to see the world in a very different way than it is. There is indeed a very big problem with the Republicans, I say to the Tea Partiers, but it is the very opposite of the RINO problem you see it as. What a display of brokenness of consciousness, to see things as the very opposite of what they are! Thad Cochran isn’t aligned with the Democrats…
voice of the people
Alert Dew reader Bob Lamb suggested reposting “The Declaration of Independence, Updated” in honor of our holiday. We took it a step further – here are more Dew stories, which appeared around the 4th of July each year going back to our first 4th in 2009 – a pretty random and eclectic sample of great stories by some truly wonderful writers (apologies to anyone who feels left out). Click on the story title to read more. Enjoy. And please comment.
hairy legs and all
Standing before the array of shaving products made and marketed especially for women is astonishing. Who would believe that there were so many types of razors, not to mention the creams and lotions to be used pre, post and (I guess) during the shaving process. The products all claim to result to silky smooth legs and underarms, as well as keeping one safe from nicks and cuts. I stand before the expansive display and finally walk away without making a selection.
a big fan
If you are anything like me, and, believe me, I fully understand if you hope you are not, the approach of August 1, 2014 has great meaning. On that day Netflix, the mad geniuses of the television/internet interface, will bring us the fourth season of The Killing.
The Killing was canceled twice during its first three seasons on AMC. It was revived after season two by direct subsidies from Netflix and, again, after season three by Netflix taking over all responsibility for production and distribution. It should, therefore, come as no surprise…
Worthy of Comment
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"The House [of Representatives] has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren. ... We are a sovereign nation, and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people." --Cyril Scott, President of the Rosebud Lakota ("Sioux") Nation I was to have been one of 400,000 protestors gathered for the People's Climate March in New York on Sept. 21. Alas, a knee injury sidelined me. As a consolation prize, a friend bought me Naomi Klein's This Changes Read on →
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.” Twenty-five percent or less. This is the great triumph of the Republicans—and all the greater because it absolutely defies comprehension Read on →
A couple of weeks ago I cited some comments by Big Oil shill Anastasia Swearingen to the effect that, basically, there’s just no downside to drilling for oil. Whenever, wherever—it’s all good. She was excoriating the federal government for its stubborn unwillingness (so far) to grant drilling leases along the Atlantic Coast to the oil giants standing in line. What’s the hold-up, guys? I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? Just look at the Gulf, says Swearingen, where pessimists predicted an “uninhabitable wasteland.” But thanks to all the time and money BP has put into restoration, today the Gulf is faring “be Read on →