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My father was what you might call a carpetbagger. Born in the frozen tundra of upstate New York he was selling ads for a newspaper in Oswego when he caught a train south. Saying the only things to do in Oswego were drink whisky, freeze to death and figure out how to get out of Oswego, he took his boss’s train ticket to Raleigh, North Carolina when the boss decided not to go. He worked for the Raleigh Times selling ads and began doing the artwork on the side. When the paper told him that would be part of his job he realized he could make more doing the ads than selling them and quit. He started the first advertising agency in Raleigh, which is still flourishing as Howard Merrell & Partners. He was witty with a love of laughter but was known as a man […]
Every day brings more bad news about business and corporate leadership: A ninth Georgia bank fails. Anger mounts over the arrogance of AIG and the Madoff scandal. People groan that the “customer service” of days gone by has become the lack of service of today. As I walk around my community taking notes, the stories tumble out of my neighbors. They have grown wary of business leadership in general, and the bigger the business the greater their disdain. Used car dealers can take heart. At least, now they are held in higher regard than many CEOs. Even people who still want to believe in capitalism have begun to despair. The strongest believers among them — including a friendly stock broker I bump into from time to time — thirst for some evidence that corporate leaders at least want to act responsibly. But even in this growing darkness, occasional candles are […]
Kentucky-born Abraham Lincoln was a one-term Congressman from Illinois when he was elected president of the United States. Hmmm. That sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it? Like Lincoln, Barack Obama, a one-term Senator from Illinois who was born in another state, ascended to the presidency in a time of crisis. But, as crises go, the one in Lincoln’s day was even more dire, as an exhibit at the Carter Center and Presidential Library in Atlanta shows. The exhibit, titled “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” is one of many around the country coinciding with the 200th birthday of our first overtly anti-slavery president. Obama faces a divided country, with some factions convinced that government needs to play a bigger role in solving the challenges we face while others argue, without offering any other real options, that more government is not the answer. But, so far at least — I […]
This site offers an interactive map to see the current front page of most major newspapers by clicking on a town.
My choices as the best opening lines in Southern literature: “Now in these dead latter days of the U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?” — “Love in the Ruins” by Walker Percy “There was a man and a dog too this time. Two beasts, counting Old Ben, the bear, and two men, counting Boon Hogganbeck, in whom some of the same blood ran which ran in Sam Fathers, even though Boon’s was a plebeian strain of it and only Sam and Old Ben and the mongrel Lion were taintless and incorruptible.” — “The Bear” by William Faulkner “All weekend the two girls were calling each other Temple One and Temple Two, shaking with laughter and getting so red and hot that they were positively ugly, particularly […]
For a moment I walked with giants, or at least posed with one, after watching the tag team duo André the Giant and Abdullah the Butcher humiliate lesser gods in a ring of ropes and canvas. The Cobb Civic Center, offering hope for culture, found dismal attendance for flower shows and art exhibits but filled to capacity Friday nights for wrestling, a primal art form with more resonance in that county. Being the journalist I was and having libated on a six pack, I attempted objectivity but there was none. André stood above all, he was the man, more than man in fact and all hope was lost for the challengers. No Davids in that ring. Hundreds of pounds of flesh and hurt stuffed into a skimpy outfit that would embarrass a Frenchman seemed natural that night and afterwards the unvanquished emerged from his shower and greeted his worshipers. His […]
With Augusta and The Masters winding its ugly, antiquated way towards us again. I have to make a little bit of noise about their as-yet unchanged policy regarding women on those sacred links. OK, so the Masters comes once a year and means something — that I could never begin to understand — to certain Good Ol’ Boys (GOB) whose masculinity is deeply tied to exclusivity and a putting iron. The same fuss about African-Americans was dealt with smoothly (so smooth as to be cruel) years ago. Let one of ’em in … Oh, maybe that kid Tiger Woods. But as the drunk GOB who took my husband as a guest back in the ’90s said about, I believe, VJ Singh, “That jacket” — (you know, the famous green one) — “just doesn’t LOOK right on him.” On the other hand, the, uh, gentleman had complimentary things to say about […]
Somebody please tell me you’re watching these people and they will stay in their cages: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeYscnFpEyA
The storm must have seemed perfect. An issue that had matured since Nixon first introduced it in 1974. An overwhelming Democratic majority in the house. An almost filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate. A Democrat in the White House with 60%+ approval ratings. And polls showing an overwhelming majority of the American people, Republicans and Democrat alike, in favor. Decades of horrific cost increases. A terrible economy. New pressures on business to be globally competitive. A new “transparency” sure to limit the influence of lobbyists. The health insurance industry must have been preparing for the worst. Not a chance. The health insurance industry wants to turn their problem into an opportunity by turning our opportunity into a problem. The recipe is all too simple. ▪ Provide a dash of spin to the party of no that re-defines “universal healthcare” into a requirement for all Americans to buy private health insurance. ▪ Add […]
Before they died I was lucky to photograph these two southern icons: one who paid homage to the heart of white southern provincialism, the other to civil rights when doing so meant putting your life on the line. They were an unlikely pair and had never met before I brought them together but they instantly recognized a soul mate when they saw one and bonded immediately. Lewis Grizzard showed up first and was ready to leave when Hosea Williams finally pulled up in his Cadillac, arriving late and coming from the wrong direction. I rented an old truck as a prop and they filled the back, although Hosea got the biggest share. Perfectly dressed for their parts: Lewis sans socks and Hosea in bib overalls, they dropped their swagger for a snapshot and it was over, both going their separate ways to spout their wisdom in opposite directions.
Sign on a fence enclosing the track at Woodward Academy in College Park, Georgia: “Keep off the track/Athletic Dept.” Volkswagen Beetle riding through Atlanta’s Little Five Points with tail lights that have been transformed into glowing peace symbols. Asked how the bad economy is affecting business at a gallery featuring the work of young Atlanta artists, the sales clerk replies, “Oh, it’s not hurting us. Nobody’s ever really bought anything here.” — Jim Walls and Eleanor Ringel Cater contributed to this column
Before Bono, Buffet and Gates, Millard Fuller was the world’s celebrity philanthropist. Recognized not for the riches he gave away but for building that great vessel of pragmatic spirituality and sweat equity, Habitat for Humanity. Millard embodied the genius of simplicity. No idea was too trivial, too big or too implausible. He made his first fortune, after all, selling mistletoe and tractor-seat cushions with his friend Morris Dees while still in law school at the University of Alabama. His idea in response to the affordable housing challenge was a proposition of such bare-boned beauty that it’s been likened to the joy of frontier barn-raisings. He simply asked folks to go beyond writing the check and come build the house — dig the trench, drive the nail, raise high the roof beam. Global human capitalism: It happens, now, every week around the world — Atlanta, L.A., New York City, Zambia, Ireland, […]
Should have certain ingredients from certain places. This is the reason that my grocery shopping is never a simple task. I go to multiple stores, multiple websites and multiple cities for what I consider to be the best of the best.
Debates rage in Congress, State Houses and on Cable News over government intrusion on business. Talk of bailouts, nationalizing banks, regulating hedge funds, limiting power companies’ pollution, charging fair grazing fees and mining rights on public lands, direct loans to corporations, pseudo-government corporate ownership, government-sponsored investment funds, companies too-big-to-fail, corporate campaign contributions, limiting offshore tax havens, unfair government competition with cable and telephone suppliers over opening up the broadcast spectrum to free wireless internet to everyone, and unfair government competition with private insurers over universal medical coverage (to name more than a few), has brought labels of socialism, big government and anti-business back to the forefront of popular Google searches. So, what is the role of business vis-a-vis government? Before there were corporations, there was government. Before government, there were people. Corporations are allowed to exist only because government gives them the standing. Likewise, at least in the US, government […]
Who are the best actors with Southern roots? This list is troublesome because I keep getting back to that “Southern Thing.” Here’s what I mean: Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty were born in Virginia. That qualifies them, I suppose, but no one thinks “The South” when they talk or perform. George Hamilton was born in Memphis, but … . Therefore, I’ll limit my list to those I just know damn well are Southern. Joanne Woodward (Thomasville, Georgia). Sure she was sensational in “The Three Faces of Eve,” but she was at her sexy Southern girl best in “The Long Hot Summer” opposite hubby Paul Newman. Rip Torn (Temple, Texas). He’s collected a bunch of Emmy nominations for his television work during the past few years — I think he won once — but if you want to see him at his best, go rent “Sweet Bird of Youth.” Tallulah Bankhead […]
Are you ready for some calcio? Sorry about lapsing into Italian. It just came out naturally when I noticed press releases posted on several Web sites today that the Italian soccer powerhouse AC Milan will play a match in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on July 22. I should also apologize to Mexican fans who would probably prefer me to lapse into Spanish and say, “Are you ready for some futbol?” Mexican fans are likely to turn out in force for the Georgia Dome match because A.C. Milan will be playing Club America, a Mexico City squad that is one of the most successful in the history of Mexico’s Primera Division. Associazone Calcio Milan — or just AC Milan to its friends — is not only very successful in Italy’s Serie A league but also has won more international titles than any other club, with the exception of Argentina’s Boca Juniors. Both […]
Like all of you, hoop junkies from Barack to bottom-feeders on the basketball chain, I religiously do my NCAA Tournament brackets every March. This morning, I was exchanging e-mails with my high school coach, the great Mike Cingiser. I was fortunate to have played for Mike in the late ’60s at Lynbrook High School on Long Island. He was a three-time first-team All-Ivy League pick in the early ’60s, Brown’s leading career scorer when he graduated in 1962 and, as head coach of his alma mater from 1981-91, led Brown to its only Ivy title in 1986 and into the NCAA Tournament. As a casual P.S. in today’s e-mail, I asked Mike, “So, how are your brackets?” This was his reply from Callawassie Island, where Mike lives with his wife, the sainted Mar: “I stopped doing brackets in ’87 when Alice Watson, a wonderful lady who was my secretary and […]
1 ) Moving from a region known for racism to a region known for Republicans isn’t moving on. 2 ) “Red” is too close to “redneck.” 3 ) George Wallace and JB Stoner could be our only legacy. 4 ) To prove that Dixiecrats aren’t the same as Democrats (who live in the South). 5 ) Our women are smart and sassy; Molly Ivins, Anne Richards, Shirley Franklin, Kay Hagan, etc. Their women are — well, like Elizabeth Dole. 6 ) It will freak-out Yankees who think we all wear white sheets and live in plantations. 7 ) Atticus Finch was a southern Democrat. 8 ) Maybe less enlightened Southerners would think twice before hauling out their repellent rebel flags. 9 ) FDR chose Warm Springs, Georgia as his second home and took his last magnolia-filled breath in the South. 10 ) Frankly my dear, we do give a damn!!!
Since computer bits replaced paper which replaced precious metals which replaced labor, our monetary system has been imaginary. Value has always been faith-based. Wealth is the large scale accumulation of imagined value. While the commodity markets trade on imaginary quantities of real things, the stock market makes real trades of real things that have imaginary value. Hedge funds make leveraged deals in imaginary risks of imaginary things. It all worked really great for those who trade on greed and fear until some kid in the crowd yelled out that emperor is naked. In reality, there were quite a few in the parade who were only dressed in our imagination. The Bush weak imaginary dollar allowed consumers to buy inexpensive Chinese goods at Walmart, pay for them with credit (aka: imaginary dollars) that was secured by imaginary home values and faith that income and home values would continue to increase. The […]
It is something of a miracle the once plain pieces of paper that came out of this typewriter. Each letter, each word just one more ordinary piece of the English language, but when combined by the hand of their creator, a new way of writing emerged. The south, in all of its misbegotten glory, its pain, love and sorrow carefully pecked out from the imagination of an author who dove deeper into our understanding of ourselves than anyone but Twain. Benji from The Sound and the Fury spoke in hulicinatory bursts of color, shape and light through the soft hammered letters of this machine and fifteen narrators tell the story of Addie Bundren’s death in As I Lay Dying, the words from each narrator passing from Faulkner’s imagination through his fingers and onto inked ribbon forced against paper, one letter at a time. So this typewriter, an early innovation of […]
Duplicity, the new romantic comedy/thriller starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, has a twisty globetrotting plot that takes the stars from Rome to London to New York to Miami to … Dunwoody? Yep. At one point in this convoluted but delightful film (courtesy of Tony Gilroy who also made “Michael Clayton”), there’s a wink and a nod from the once-and-forever sweetheart of Smyrna, Ms. Roberts. Or I at least assume it may have been her suggestion. As she and Owen are trying to find a crack in the seemingly uncrackable façade of a cosmetics giant, they discover the company has purchased a little building in … that’s right, Dunwoody, Georgia. Nothing recognizable is shown, just a generic brick building with something like Dunwoody Industrial pasted on its side. Still, several locals in my audience cracked up. Dunwoody … where high-flying corporate crooks funnel their ill-gotten gains!
Over the hills. Yesterday, I drove 150 miles over the hills and through the woods to my grandmother’s house. “GG.” She’s 103. Lives independent, because all the men she knows are “just too old” and she’s “not planning on any more children.” There’s always a sparkle in her eyes when she looks at you. While her short term memory betrays her more often than the last year or so, her wit never does. Always listening and wanting to make you feel special. To laugh. To smile back into hers eyes. To say as she does that, “she’s lucky,” is an exaggerated understatement. Every day of her life she has been able to say, “I feel great.” She never worried for money and the only job she ever had was “making up my brother’s bed for a nickel a week.” Survived two exceptional husbands – one who laughed to 78, and […]
Here’s some Southern fried video. Please comment and share your ideas for future postings.
Beach Music Medley
Georgia’s House of Representatives, in all its wisdom, voted yesterday against a resolution honoring President Obama and making him an honorary member of the Legislative Black Caucus. House Republicans apparently didn’t
Top Ten Southern Writers: William Faulkner has to be at the top of every list. He is our Nobel Prize winner. “The Sound and the Fury,” “As I Lay Dying,” “Intruder in the Dust,” “Light in August,” the list goes on and on. Even the very late (1962) “The Reivers” has its charm and “The Bear” may be one of the best short stories ever put on paper. Mark Twain. His father was a Virginian, his mother was from Kentucky and he worked on the Mississippi River. That’s close enough, and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” may rank as the first or second best American novel of all time. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” isn’t bad either. Tennessee Williams doesn’t seem to be staged much any more, but he would have to be considered a giant based on “A Streetcar Named Desire” alone. Remember with pride also “The Glass Menagerie” […]
The name of the game was “Nickname.” It was the name game within the game, born 30 years ago during the most magical, maddening, heartbreaking and exhilarating month of the year: March. Specifically, March of 1979, during the grandest of all our American sporting events. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It was conceived, as greatness invariably is, by sportswriters on the road. Guys with too much time on their hands, then-generous per diems and, in post-game hospitality rooms across the country, ample quantities of the sportswriter’s two favorite beers: Free, and Free Lite. The Nickname concept was simple, and simply brilliant: Give sports nicknames to non-sports celebrities. And so today, on this greatest of days, the start of another NCAA Tournament, let us genuflect in honor of … Elizabeth “Fatty” Taylor. And Jonas “Dr. J” Salk. Jack “The Shot” Ruby. Pearl “The Earl” Bailey. And, of course, Walt “No Neck” […]
Here’s a thought. Why not hire Rick Majerus as the next men’s basketball coach for the University of Georgia? He did a fantastic job at the University of Utah. Before that, he put Ball State on the map. A Marquette guy, he’s been an assistant in the NBA. He emphasizes academics. He’s colorful and has been a fan favorite wherever he’s gone and could instantly energize Georgia’s lagging basketball program. He’s now coaching at a second-tier school, St. Louis University. Bring him here, UGA.
I’m probably flailing a dead horse, but is it not true that Southerners, far more than our neighbors from other regions, decorate their cars with bumper stickers, decals, emblems and other items proclaiming some sort of statement, political, philosophical or sports-related? It used to be, in my days of growing up in the distant 1960s and 1970s, that a bumper sticker was a bold thing. In Tuscaloosa, most of those stickers proclaimed the glories of the Crimson Tide football team, and most were admittedly boastful but at least decorous. Now you go to a game and thousands of cars have far more than bumper stickers. My least favorite are those little flags that clip onto the roof or at the top of a window and flap like banshees as the Gator or Vol or Dawgs fans blast down the freeway at 80 hoping to get to the stadium early enough […]
Like kudzu, a Southern accent on film can be a bit overwhelming. And something of a sticky wicket. My own personal worst is Olympia Dukakis in “Steel Magnolias.” She sounds, at best, as if she’s starring in a summer camp production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” Nicholas Cage’s Texas drawl in “Con Air” is pretty dismal too, but Texas is not my territory, accent wise or otherwise. So I’ll leave it to the Texans to decide for themselves. However, here are a few Southern accents, honeyed or not, I’m partial to (and this, please remember, is only a partial list; there’s more to come in another installment): Vivien Leigh: First as Scarlett O’Hara, the quintessential Southern Belle in “Gone With the Wind,” then as Blanche, the quintessential faded Southern Belle in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” She won Oscars for both. Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman in “Driving Miss Daisy”: […]
President Obama has made his picks for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and three of his Final Four choices are from the South. The University of North Carolina, Louisville and Memphis are joined by Pittsburgh. The president picks North Carolina to win the championship in a final with Louisville. In seeding the 65-team tournament, the NCAA selection committee ranked Southern teams this way: 1) Louisville, the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed 2) UNC, which merited another No. 2 see 3) Duke and Memphis 5) Wake Forest 6) Florida State 7) Clemson 8) LSU 9) Tennessee 10) Virginia Commonwealth 11) Western Kentucky 12) Mississippi State 13) Chattanooga, Radford and East Tennessee State 16) Morehead State, which won a playin game with Alabama State Southern teams in the lower tier 32-team National Invitational Tournament were ranked in this order: 1) Florida and Auburn 3) Virginia Tech 4) South Carolina, which has already […]
Top Ten Reasons Southerners Vote Republican:
Republicans love God.
Republicans love zygotes.
Republicans love guns.
Throughout the day, we’ve been hearing from friends who are heading out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Since everyone seems to be in an Irish mood, this seems a good time to offer some lessons — idiosyncratic though they might be — that Atlanta and other Southern cities could learn from Ireland’s capital, Dublin. 1) Cities benefit from encouraging street musicians. They help to create a lively street life. In Dublin, you’ll hear plenty of them as you stroll along Grafton Street, the main shopping area. And, if you can’t go to Dublin, you can get a sense of the scene by viewing the 2007 film, “Once,” in which Glen Hansard of the Irish rock band The Frames plays a Grafton Street busker. 2) Good cities have good bookstores, preferably independent ones. Dublin has more than its share, and my wife and I never fail to weigh down our suitcases […]
Bumper sticker on an SUV at St. Simons Island, Georgia: “St. Simons Island: A quaint drinking village with a golfing problem.” Slightly over-weight businessman (with a long memory) pretending to glide over what used to be the ice rink at CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Bumper sticker on a pickup truck in Brunswick, Georgia: “Lost wife and dog. Reward for dog.”
Gray-haired senior citizen eating a sub at Dave’s Cosmic Subs near Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and singing along with recorded music: “The blues is my business and my business is good.”
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