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-+*When we arrived back in Shanghai and walked into the lobby of the Shanghai Mansions, I noticed it looked different to when we left two days before. The lobby seemed much bigger and where a wall opposite the reception desk had been before there was a large doorway. Before carrying my bags to my room I looked inside the doorway and saw a billiard table with an old man in a black uniform racking the balls. My friend, Toddy, also noticed the new room and we agreed to meet back there as soon as we dropped off our bags.
it can work magic
-+*I come from a long line of accomplished nappers. My grandfather, after presiding over his generations at the family lunch on Saturday, would take to the couch at the far end of the one big room and, while the adults talked their loud talk and grandchildren one after the other let the screen door slam shut behind them on their way outside, would stretch himself out and immediately settle into a gentle snore.
My mother raised five children. For her the nap was an elusive dream…
-+*Your dollar or your word? Which would you rather give or receive to satisfy an obligation? A dollar isn’t just tangible and guaranteed, it’s definite and final in the sense that there’s no reconsidering, waffling or fudging down the line. When you hand over a dollar, the deed is as good as done. The national currency introduces an element of certainty into relationships that might otherwise be fraught with ambiguity. Dollars let people, who don’t know each other very well, get along.
So, what happens when dollars are scarce?
-+*According to art historian Sam Hunter, Pop Art is an “original and irreverent parody of the imagery and artifacts of commercial culture.” The germ of Pop Art lay in the work of one of Abstract Expressionism’s finest painters, Willem de Kooning. His use of women as points of departure for painting triggered work by other artists which brought back “subject matter” into painting. San Francisco artist Richard Diebenkorn produced paintings in the 50s which resembled Abstract Expressionism with a geometric division of the picture within a portrayal of interior scenes and landscapes.
climate change is real
-+*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 Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. So wowed am I by Klein’s singular accomplishment that I dedicate this post to an unsolicited review. For those who may be unfamiliar with Naomi Klein, she’s a brilliant, 44-year-old Canadian journalist and activist. Two of her previous books — No Logo (1999), a critique of globalization, and Shock Doctrine (2007), an exposé of “disaster capitalism,” neoliberalism’s dark underbelly — were international bestsellers.
it was a paradise
-+*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…
-+*It was a relatively young (37 year old) senator from Augusta with modern ideas who brought Georgia out from under the influences of the Talmadge machine, when he became governor in 1963. Carl Sanders brought modern politics to the state, moved the state to new heights and set the tone for forwardness and moderation that, indeed, made Georgia the capitol of the New South.
He ran against a key Talmadge protégé, and former governor, Marvin Griffin, a staunch segregationist. We remember it well.
on the myriad paths
-+*It’s the broken slat on the chair that will keep our recent visit to Floyd focused in my mind. The soon-to-be ninety-nine year old husband of my late cousin Mildred lost his balance a few weeks back and misjudged the placement of the chair when he thought he was about to sit on it at the dining room table. He lives alone in his “cottage” at a retirement complex in southern Pennsylvania, so there was no one there to help him get up. Of course, he couldn’t get his cell phone to work so he lay there for a while before he could muster the strength to get back on his feet. While he lay on the floor, he “talked” to but not necessarily with Mildred.
-+*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.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
It is reasonable to believe that the state senator in our part of Virginia is being groomed to do for Virginia—or I should say do to Virginia—what Scott Walker has been doing to Wisconsin. This state senator’s name is Mark Obenshain. In the election of 2013 he came within a hair of winning statewide office as Virginia’s Attorney General. Now there is much expectation that in 2017 he will try to become governor. Here is an important clue regarding what it would mean for him to succeed in fulfilling that ambition: in his Attorney General race, Mr. Obenshain was helped by a $60,0 Read on →
Some of my readers at Gwinnett Forum have asked if I was serious about requiring that the Georgia General Assembly meet only once in every two years. In short, you betcha! Why? Because most Georgians will tell you that nothing is safe when the Georgia Legislature meets, as members introduce all sorts of measures that negatively impacts its citizens, most bills only benefiting some local constituent. Major case in point: while the state government seeks cuts in school budgets (read as taking away bus driver’s health insurance, while raising the salary of judges), they dance around a billion dollar sales tax rebate f Read on →
Pardon me for a personal reflection today. Those of us who grew up in Middle Georgia, and in particular in Macon, are saddened today. You see, an institution which succored us from our earliest memories as a kid, burned down Friday morning. It was the Cotton Avenue location of Nu-Way Weiners, a Macon institution for 99 years, and second oldest hot dog stand in the nation. Though there are seven other locations in Middle Georgia, Cotton Avenue was where it was founded, and many of us remember eating there before we began school. When I was coming along, you could get two Read on →
"The Stone Age came to an end not for a lack of stones, and the oil age will end, but not for a lack of oil." -- Ahmed Zaki Yamani, former Saudi Arabian Minister of Oil, 2000 The Great Transition has begun. I know, because our household is part of it. I speak of humanity's transition from the bondage of addiction to fossil fuels -- addiction that has fouled our air and water, disrupted our climate and ravaged our earth -- to the liberation of renewable energy. You're looking at our house. On February 4, we installed a 12-panel solar photovoltaic (PV) array Read on →