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beast in the darkness
Sacrifice zone: a geographic zone that has been permanently impaired by environmental damage or economic disinvestment. These zones are commonly found in low-income and minority communities. (Wikipedia)
I grew up in the shadow of Appalachia. My hometown, Bluefield, wasn’t Appalachia, but you could see it from there. Just twelve miles from home the coalfields began: Pocahontas, VA; then Anawalt, Gary, and Coalwood, WV, in rapid succession, the latter made famous by native son Homer Hickam in his trilogy Rocket Boys, The Coalwood Way, and Sky of Stone.
doing ignoble things
Which party do you think of when you hear the phrase, “defender of the Constitution”? I would wager that members of both parties would immediately think of the Republican Party, because they are the ones who most loudly proclaim their deep allegiance to our founding document.
Yet in recent years, the leaders of the GOP have engaged in an assault on our constitutional system in ways unprecedented in American history…
communion of saints
April 28th, 2016 was the 111th anniversary of Dad’s birth, in Goodwater, Alabama. I’ve spent much time thinking about him — how close we were; how far apart; how we struggled; how we admired each other; how I picked up some of his worst traits and some of his best; how much more I looked like him last summer when I was 78 (on far left below) than I did when I stood at his left in 1981, when he was 76 and I was 44. I was born in Anniston, Alabama in 1936. I was an only child and close to both parents, but genuinely a mama’s boy…
part three of lilian's wish
Emmett never let go of his dislike of dogs. He showed it with muffled and incomprehensible grumbles about Bobbie. He never forgave her for growling at him when they first met. He said he would rather have a snake in the house than a dog. And no damn dog had better ever climb up on his sofa if they managed to get inside his house. Bobbie was a big ungainly soul who had been Lilian’s companion. She was used to having full reign of my house. Emmett never had a clue that she was much cleaner than he was…
love and friendship
A little voice broke the silence and asked: Papa, why are you so sad? I replied that I was not sad but happy. The voice said: Well, why do you have tears in your eyes? They are happy tears, I said, Happy that I am here and with you today. It was April 25, the one day each year we remember and honor those brave men and women, relatives, friends and all of the others who gave their lives so we could be free to live and enjoy an open democratic country. We also remember those whose lives were irrevocably and permanently changed by the many wars…
Many of Chomsky’s recent books are more or less transcriptions of interviews by David Barsamian. They explore questions such as, Why does the radical right oppose social security, both today and at its birth?, and public education, the most recent strategy being charter schools? Chomsky’s take is that these social functions create solidarity, they contribute to community and so undermine the notion, favored by the right, that we’re on our own, isolated individuals looking out for number one!..
satire on the campaign trail
Texas Senator Ted Cruz bucked all political convention Wednesday by naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate instead of one of the five women he’s run around with on the extramarital sex circuit, according to rumors reported in The National Enquirer.
“You figure they had leg up on Fiorina,” quipped one Cruz source. “Turns out maybe Ted isn’t as big a leg man as everybody thought.”
Indeed, according to another source close to Cruz, the conservative evangelical Christian senator chose Fiorina to quash rumors of his extramarital sexual escapades by “picking a woman nobody in America could imagine even Ted Cruz would have sex with.
important first step
The rise of Donald Trump means that the American political system, already sick, could be degraded still further. But – if Trump does become the Republican nominee for president, which looks probable – this danger also presents an opportunity to restore the health of American politics to levels not seen in years.
But seizing that opportunity will take more than defeating Trump because the political pathologies that he represents – such as a Republican base ready to support a proto-fascist candidate…
part two of lilian's wish
Emmett had made his grand entrance into my house in January. By the time spring had arrived, he’d started showing up at my doorstep whenever he felt like it and would blow his horn from the driveway rather than come up to the door. At first, I thought something might be wrong, but he would tell me later that he was just an old man who didn’t walk well so he thought I should come to him. He didn’t vary his greeting much and usually said, “Hey, young fella, where you been? It’s hot out here…
Moving is about more than selling one house and buying another, booking your move and deciding where to put your furniture in the new place. It’s challenge enough to move from one State to another, processing changes of address, telephone, utilities, medical care and all related paperwork, deciding what to give away or dump, misplacing things in the process, but an international move rocks your entire center of gravity.
part one of lilian's wish
Retaining her sense of humor to the end, she asked to be buried in Montreal for several reasons. First, she had developed a keener sense of family, and her uncle and most of her aunts and cousins live in that beautiful city. Secondly, she said she wanted her husband and daughter to pay a proper pilgrimage to see her rather than just pop in occasionally at a more convenient local cemetery. Thirdly, she recognized that Montreal was a European city and after all she was at heart a European. And finally, to all who knew and loved her and would have enjoyed her reasoning, it added to her mystery.
on the surface
I don’t understand race. An anthropologist colleague says, “Louie, race doesn’t exist as a scientific category. At best a race is just ‘a breeding community with unstable boundaries’; and you and Ernest knock the hell out of that one, don’t you!” I see what she means.
Yet racial categories so pervade my life that I cannot hope to understand myself, much less the world, without sensitive and difficult vigilance regarding pitfalls and opportunities.
In honor of extra tax days
Daily green dots appear in the withered brown grass…
“How about getting me a pencil, please? Better not start with a pen. And will you fix me a cup of Earl Gray, with some of those little sesame cookies?”
Bulbs planted confidently months earlier explode in bright colors.
“Where’s that list of interest payments I told you to get? Gosh! We paid that much in interest? Thank God it’s deductible!”
live a creative life
Driving home, I couldn’t help but keep thinking how that poor lady dealt with reaching into her grief box and tossing out a rose thorn every time she had a pretty good day and didn’t think all the time about the loss of her 20-year-old daughter who had taken her own life. Michael, a woodworking instructor, had told our class earlier the story of a special box he had made and given to this lady. The woman was a dear friend deep into grieving over her schizophrenic daughter who let herself be taken from this world for reasons no one really knew…
Dear Senator Sanders,
You’ve done the nation a great service in calling attention to the way Big Money is rigging our politics and our economy. But in focusing so much of your fire at “the billionaire class” and “giant corporations,” you are not waging the battle as effectively as you should. You are a political leader and your battles are in the political arena against political adversaries. Although you rightly oppose the dominance of “the billionaire class,” it is not that class that you need to defeat — not that class that you can directly fight — but rather their political servants.
sweating the sermon
On March 22, I journeyed across Georgialina to Washington, Georgia, to speak to the Kiwanis Club. Prior to speaking, Mr. Steve Blackmon gave me a tour of seven historic homes that had something unique in common. All had been moved in total or in part to their current location. Expect a column on that soon.
Steve reads my columns and he knows that I often write about things that are no more, and so he gave me six unique gifts: vintage handheld fans that had been used long ago in my hometown. You just don’t see fans in church anymore…
The Captain would do it. He’d leave two notes — to his parents and to his wife. He had even thought about the wording but dismissed it. When the time came so would the words. He had tried before but backed out. But this time felt different. Unless something happened he would really do it.
His Colt .45 was in the leather holster on his web belt. He thumbed every round out of the clip except one; put the other seven into the ammo pouch on the belt, and the clip back into the pistol.
A boyhood year spent paralyzed and getting scalded in a kettle of boiling water must do strange things to the mind. Harry must have considered himself a freak. In fact, he would devote his career to writing about freaks. Maybe you’ve heard of Harry Eugene Crews. He came into this world June 7, 1935 in Alma, Georgia and he left it March 28, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida. This son of an indigent sharecropper in Bacon County ascended to writer in residence at the University of Florida. That’s more than remarkable. Were Crews alive, he’d be approaching his 81st year.
Gotta set aside climate change guilt sometimes, do some rationalization. I figure the airplane’s going there anyway, with or without me… and my credit card points make it almost free… so we fly. Got the very last seats, no window but plenty of avant garde audio from the engine just on the other side of that thin skin. We navigate our way to the East Village and though we enjoy a very pleasant visit with daughter and son-in-law, this is about three days of museum-hopping in Yew Nawk. Day 1. MOMA (Museum of Modern Art)…
Eventually, if you elect enough kooks and weirdos to the General Assembly, don’t you figure by the time they find their way around the State Capitol, that they might, just might, introduce some crazy legislation?
It’s impossible to lay blame at any one door. However, these days in Georgia we have many more Republican legislators than Democrats in the 2016 session. (The GOP dominates the Senate 39-17; in the House, there are 118 Republicans; 60 Democrats; one independent; and one vacancy.) When we had Democrats in charge in Georgia, there were more oddball and woeful legislators in the Democratic Party. Today it is just reversed.
rome rejects hate:
What should a citizen do when neo-Nazis announce that they intend to invade your town? That is the question now facing the people of Rome, Georgia. For some the initial response to the impending occupation of their quiet North Georgia community by a hate group from Michigan was to plan to hide and pray that the threat just goes away. Every schoolyard bully knows that denial and pusillanimity are powerful temptations. Fascists and white supremacists count on the paralysis that it produces. Fortunately some Romans didn’t give into the temptations of moral cowardice and instead decided to organize…
port of st. marys
St. Marys, Georgia: A peaceful little coastal town of unsurpassed beauty. It serves as the gateway to Cumberland Island National Seashore, a mecca for tourists who want to experience true Southern charm, and a dream-realized for those seeking a natural environment beyond compare.
Enter developer Christopher T. Ragucci and his Knights of the Green Shield/Worldwide Group. (Cue “Razzle Dazzle” from “All That Jazz.”) They quickly changed the company name to “The Port of St. Marys, LLC” and set about trying to convince the townsfolk and elected officials that turning St. Marys into an industrial barge port would be a blessing and boon to all.
we know who we are
We in Georgia may think we have our problems. Yet recent action by the Legislature in North Carolina puts that state in the ranks of those with reactionary actions flying in the face of reasonableness.
The North Carolina situation particularly vexes us, in that its action made no sense. Legislators there quickly passed an act, their Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which will force public colleges and universities (as well as other public venues and government buildings) to require their restrooms be used only by people whose biological sex at birth matches the sign on the door.
life’s good in the midnight garden
Savannah has a strong heritage when it comes to books, authors, and writers. Published in 1994 by Random House, John Berendt’s Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil shone a strong light on Savannah in the mid to late 1980s.
The book centered loosely around internationally known antiques dealer Jim Williams’s shooting of male hustler Danny Hansford in May 1981. It covered the four murder trials that took place over a span of eight years. Though Williams was acquitted when the dust settled, readers for the most part took great joy in the book’s characters drawn from every level of society…
Back in the sixties, when I was 25, the all-wise, all knowing company management, in a poorly thought-out decision, offered me a third-shift supervisor’s job in the east Alabama cotton mill where I had been working since the age of 16. The fourth generation of my family to do so. In a fit of even greater lunacy, I took the job. My new boss was a hard-boiled character I will call Mr. Ely. Though I had never worked for Mr. Ely before, I knew his reputation. At the mere mention of Mr. Ely’s name, many hard, tough men would curse under their breath; sweet, motherly, sparkly-eyed old ladies would spit.
not just about you
Your recent squabble — with one questioning whether the other is “qualified to be president” — highlights how you two have not been giving us the kind of campaign that would best serve not just the Democratic Party but the nation.
The differences between you may be important. But way less important than that whichever of you gets the nomination wins in November. Two extraordinary aspects of our national circumstance oblige you to allow that priority to dictate how you conduct your campaigns.
Part One left us in the Edgefield General Store, a place with something for everyone, an old fashioned soda fountain, gourmet items, and the talented services of Maine the florist. It was there, near the front door, where two fellows out of Barnwell ambled in claiming they had found a pot made by Dave the Slave. Nancy Gilliam referred them to Old Edgefield Pottery around the corner. Off they went, would-be art peddlers, seeking fame and fortune.