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a book review
Eastern Europe and Russia – When the Soviet Union dissolved it left secret police and security personnel suddenly on the outs and without paycheck. Given their skill sets, for many, criminal behavior was the logical next step. The party apparatchiks were often out of work too but some were positioned to advantage. Prior to dissolution, national resources such as oil were sold abroad and the profits fed into the soviet system, keeping it alive…
I think there should be minimum requirements to being a man. Don’t worry; men are a rather small minded-bunch so the requirements wouldn’t be stringent. But there should be bare minimums. And f you can’t meet the minimum requirements, you’ll be asked to move to Canada or Los Angeles.
The case for bare minimums was recently made when I saw an early-thirties male-like person at Home Depot who asked the woman at the paint counter. “How do you open a can of paint?”
the written magic
As I try to understand the need I have to write about what I see and what I think I believe, I find that I continue to narrow the themes that especially occupy me. I’ve got the main ones down to under a dozen I believe–from love and commitment, to friendship and loyalty, to success and disappointment, to fragility and death, with more than a couple of stops in between. Although I’m not convinced it’s an “age thing,” the theme of death seems to be creeping in more and more.
look at me
The first time I realized I was invisible I was 44, arriving at the Spanish border from France. At the age of 20-21 I’d spent 18 months living in Spain. Then I was blonde and foreign, and young Spaniards acted like fruit flies around a ripe peach. It was good for my ego and I got the message that Spaniards like women. I was English and Englishmen look the other way as often as not, out of shyness and ineptitude.
from pompey’s head
From 1954 to 1956 we lived down the street from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Two years was about par for course for living anywhere, but I did get to spend my high school years in the vicinity of 161st Street, albeit in three different apartments. By that time, relocating every two years had become one of my maternal parents fixed habits.
It is said that seven moves are equivalent to a house going up in flames.
Years ago when I was a reluctant warrior on a battlefield far, far away and now almost forgotten, many people died for no real reason. That time was one of great discontent. As Sherlock would say,
“It’s the East Wind that takes us all in the end, the terrifying force of ‘rolling thunder’ that lays waste to all in its path. It seeks out the worthy along with the unworthy and plucks them from the face of the earth. It is both the blunt as well as the sharp instrument, the club and the dagger, precise and without remorse. ”
The “rolling thunder” got many of us, friend and foe alike.
challenged separate but equal
Almost 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education school integration decision, a statue will be erected to honor the Charleston judge who steered the nation toward the landmark ruling. It’s long overdue. Quite frankly, we should be embarrassed that it’s taken this long. U.S. District Judge Waties Waring’s courage and conviction in law helped to transform a segregated America into an integrated land of opportunity. At 2 p.m. April 11 in the garden at the Hollings Judicial Center in Charleston, judges and citizens from around the state and nation will honor Waring, the unlikely Southern jurist who became the social outcast who left town for challenging segregation.
so patently dishonest
Clever public relations officers working somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon have decided that henceforth the Guantanamo hunger strike will be termed a “long term non-religious fasting.” What’s more, rather than being subjected to forced-feeding the “non-religious fasters” are now being treated to “enteral feedings.” What are we to make of such obvious lexical fig leaves?
atomic paradise sequel
During a recent trip to Savannah River Site I toured the ghost town of Ellenton. Since I wrote “Atomic Paradise” Ellenton, an apparition, haunts me. An entire town … moved. In researching “Atomic Paradise” I examined the unexpected exodus of Ellenton’s residents and two things caught my attention. One involves nature; the other human nature.
Nature first. The afternoon I saw Ellenton brushy undergrowth grew where homes had sat. Where people once slept…
savannah river site
Savannah River Site, the bomb plant, sprawls across the land near Aiken—a 61-mile drive from where I grew up. When I was a boy I discovered the woman next door, Miss Ann, made the 120-plus-mile round-trip five days a week. A peacekeeper of sorts, she’d gotten on at the bomb plant. For a long time I knew little about this nuclear reservation.
Years passed. One July day in 1986, a self-assigned writing project took me to Savannah River Site…
The University of Georgia media collection features a handful of town films. The one about Athens, Georgia is the most complete in the sense of presenting the whole community, on the ground and from the air. The description accompanying the offering on the web page is somewhat inaccurate:
Because of its business and housing content, we believe this 16mm color amateur film of scenes in and around Athens was made by Joel A. Weir who was, at that time, Executive Director of the Athens Housing Authority as well as Director of the Athens Chamber of Commerce (1931-1949). This short clip (14 mins.) is excerpted from the full film (approx. 45 mins.) and is silent.
who/what do you read?
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.
That the Crimean Crisis would be exploited by Republican Congressional leaders to criticize President Obama was inevitable. Politics hasn’t stopped at the water’s edge in the United States for a very long time. What wasn’t inevitable was the shamelessness of Senator John McCain’s denunciation of President Obama in a speech to the most powerful ethnic foreign policy lobby in Washington. In a March 4th address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Arizona Republican complained about a “feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.”
act of cultural vandalism
An open letter to my elected, so-called representatives: This present Australian Government is trotting dog-like down the path to destruction behind its conservative counterparts in the US and elsewhere, bent on transforming us into a society where the environment, the economy and the national social conscience are left to the tender mercies of the free market and corporate “self-regulation”.
The feeling of your tires losing traction on an icy road is hard to label. You’d think it might feel like falling, a sudden stop or start, a gut-twisting vertigo as the ground drops away, but it’s not that dramatic. Instead of physics slapping you with your own momentum, you feel, perhaps, like the road has just started lying to you. The motions of your hands and feet, something you’ve felt so very confident in for years, aren’t following through on their promise. You’re clearly steering in one direction, applying just so much pressure to the pedals, but the road is picking motions at random.
war in afghanistan
What would winning the War in Afghanistan look like? America has been at war there for 13 years and you would expect that after thousands of casualties and spending immense sums of our tax dollars something that could be deemed victory would have been achieved by now. Instead of that we are presented with soon to be retiring Rep. Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, chiding the America people and President Obama for not wanting to keep fighting the longest war in our history.
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 business school there is little ambiguity as to the mission, money … profits. In art school it’s a little different. The one I went to required focus, after a year of fundamentals, on one of several options: Advertising, Illustration, Industrial Design (all, you’ll note, with the same point as business school) or Fine Art. Within the Fine Arts, by year three, one selected a major: painting, sculpture or printmaking. Of course everyone knew that “fine art” was a commodity, but it was considered crass to dwell too much on that area. So what, if not money, was the point?
taking god's name in vain
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.
what crawled up your drawers?
Oh, I love it and I hate it,
Every now and then berate it,
The sweet and sunny south where I was born.
— Gina Forsyth
Image in my head: a tour bus arriving in the republic of Biblestan, disgorging a file of daytrippers, like poverty tourists in a Rio slum, at some ramshackle barbecue joint, hiply-shod, fanny-pack-wearing gawkers shocked at the absence of recycling bins by the dumpsters, saying “Gee whilikers!” and “You betcha!”, having their barbecue not too spicy! then waddling off to the Gift Shop for some outrageous corncob art.
don’t delete the expletives
When my boys were growing up they learned rude words from their classmates (school is an education) and naturally I tried to filter out the most offensive. When a four letter word slipped out of their mouths I would always say “Please don’t say that.” After I explained that their meaning was offensive, and if it became their familiar vocabulary it would inevitably slip out when they didn’t want it to (like in front of a teacher), they were pretty accommodating. Their father however replied to my request not to swear in front of the children (without prevarication) “I’ll effing well swear if I want to!”…
pandering to stupid
I live in Georgia. The General Assembly is in session. It is our annual celebration of stupidity, ignorance, pandering, baiting, and hate. It is open season on history, the Constitution, science, mutual respect, and common sense. It is a loathsome time. 40 days and $20 billion in public cash. One party, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for some. This is an election year and our elected cannot legally accept campaign contributions while in the legislature is in session. The pressure is on in the hurry to protect poor little Georgia from big meanie pants Washington. Blame Obama. Praise Jesus. All hail the NRA and Georgia Carry. Cut taxes, but give give give to bidness.
message of every ad
“Forfeit your sense of awe and the world becomes a market place.” — Rabbi Abraham Heschel
“A culture is a people enacting a story,” wrote Daniel Quinn in Ishmael. So Americans, what’s our collective story? Pose this question to virtually anyone and you’re likely to get a blank stare in response. Most of us pay no heed to our mythology. It’s the water we swim in, and we take it completely for granted. Or worse, we discount whatever smells of mythology.
The eagerness that South Carolina’s Haley Administration showed in seeking federal disaster assistance during this month’s Great Ice Storm makes one wonder whether there is any sense to what kind of federal money is OK to take and what isn’t.
You’ll recall that as hundreds of thousands of people lost power and sat in dark homes growing ever colder, Gov. Nikki Haley rightfully said South Carolina was in a state of emergency and requested the federal government to officially designate it as an emergency.
In my outings around town I often see people in their thirties socializing. They run in packs and hop from bar to bar like fleas. They cluster up at festivals watching passersby, pointing, and laughing at others. They run together as couples and they break into male and female packs seeking adventure sure to banish boredom. This phenomenon is not new. We did it when we were in our thirties. Some of you did too. It’s been happening as long as men and women itch to escape the same old same old.
the power to corrupt
James Holland has dug into his archives from his days as the Altamaha River Keeper (ARK) to remind us that it’s not just North Carolina that’s got a coal waste problem.
The Duke Energy coal ash spill in North Carolina has been in the news a lot, as of late. This tragedy on the Dan River in North Carolina started me to thinking about how one of Georgia’s main rivers and lakes may be quite vulnerable to a coal ash spill at Milledgeville, Georgia. The lake is Lake Sinclair and the river that is dammed to create Lake Sinclair is the Oconee River in the Altamaha River watershed.
contrast british and american
“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.”—Auden
There is a distinct British sense of humor, often wry, dry and irreverent. It doesn’t rely on smut to be effective, although we’re amused by suggestion. We like the casual delivery, so leave your eyebrows out of it. Half the fun is subtlety. Brits like me enjoy the unexpected outcome, the double entendre, observations on human nature and misunderstandings; slapstick not so much.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Dear Soccer: Congratulations! The 2014 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 Buenos Aires is not in Spain, 'buenas noches' is not in Natchez and the Amazon rain forest is not Read on →
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 civ Read on →
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. This shift may have grown out of or been influenced by then current scientific theories of how the eye works, but I believe it was based in an emerging self-awareness. The excitement was not about "how" I see but "that" I see. I Read on →
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” possesses an important kind of power, that it is not just an inherent part of us b Read on →