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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.”
Ivano Newbill has been a sports hero — a steady force during his student days at Georgia Tech, a star in Europe and good enough to be a role player in the NBA.
Now he’s trying to be a hero of a different sort: an advocate for the campaign against world hunger.
Nearly every liberal in south Alabama turned out recently for the big 85th birthday bash for Martelle Scott. Yes, there are some liberals in south Alabama and Ms. Scott is among the most devoted of them. In addition to being a staunch Democrat and a former Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire, she’s also an active Presbyterian who strongly influenced generations of young people through her work as a youth adviser at Mobile’s Government Street Presbyterian Church. We point that out just as a helpful reminder that being Christian and supporting a right-wing agenda are far from synonymous notions. As the birthday celebrants sipped from a generous supply of wine at the party at the International Trade Club in Mobile, some of the talk centered on Africa, one of Ms. Scott’s abiding interests, but much more conversation focused on the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. Some people said they […]
The motto of the state of Georgia is Wisdom, Justice and Moderation. Judging from the makeup — and the actions — of the state’s General Assembly, however, the motto is not widely followed. In the 1960s, a national magazine wrote that a Fascist would be considered a middle-of-the-roader in Georgia’s Legislature. And remember this: The Legislature at the time was controlled by Democrats. Today, it’s controlled by Republicans, who tilt even further to the right. That’s why we were surprised to read recently, in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution account of a local rally against the (much needed) federal stimulus package, quotes attributed to state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, a Republican from Woodstock. According to the paper, Rogers urged the crowd at the rally to find socialists in office and “kick them out.” “Let’s go after them,” Rogers is quoted as saying. Really? Socialists have been elected to office in Georgia? […]
You read it here first. Louisville will win the national championship in college basketball. We’d be happier to say that North Carolina or even Tennessee or LSU would win. UNC might still have a chance, if Ty Lawson comes back strong and if Danny Green can get on track. Memphis is always a threat and remains a dark horse, but the Tigers’ weak conference means they are untested.
Ode to the Onion, May We Weep with Joy Vidalia, I a-peel to thee, oh Georgia’s springtime fruit, Thou art our southern soil’s most sublime root. Rescue my hors d’oeuvre from meager acclaim Then save my salad from wilting shame. Please deliver my soup from an ordinary fate And emancipate my entrée from a banal plate, For thou art nature’s way of marrying discreet, The opposing flavors of bitter and sweet. Join my recipes for all to savor Your layered sweetness and piquant flavor. I believe a Vidalia onion can make most anything good, so I’m pleased to report that it’s almost crying time again. My beloved tearjerker, the genuine jewel of South Georgia will hit the shelves and roadside stands anew in just a few weeks. I’m preparing for the 2009 Vidalia introduction by re-visiting a favorite recipe that has always pleased friends and family. A delightful, Southern woman […]
Overheard from a man musing over an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about possible plan to introduce Florida panthers into Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp: “If Florida panthers come to Georgia, would they still be Florida panthers?”
It’s been a solid 70 years since Scarlett O’Hara promised herself she’d think about that tomorrow. In the interim, a lot of people have been thinking about Scarlett. There’ve been sequels, musicals, spoofs, a protest parody, anniversary celebrations, even a museum And now there’s another book — likely the BEST book ever written about Scarlett, Melanie, Mammy, Rhett and the rest (aside from Margaret Mitchell’s little best-selling effort). Celebrated critic and journalist Molly Haskell has taken a long hard look at “Gone With The Wind” and the excellent result is “Frankly My Dear: Gone With The Wind Revisited” (University Press, $24). Though she’s lived in New York for decades with her husband, legendary film writer, Andrew Sarris, Haskell was born down South — in Richmond, Virginia. And she attended Sweet Briar College, which says volumes to certain Southerners. True, she’s been fully Yankee-ized, but as those same Yankees like to […]
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The Bible tells us that all evil doers will just die a second death by being thrown into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-15). That’s a shame because I don’t feel all sinners are equal. It just doesn’t seem fair that Hitler, who started World II killing 72 million people including exterminating at least six million Jews should be treated the same way as someone like Mohandas Gandhi who resisted tyranny through peaceful civil disobedience and whose sin was being Hindu (more technically, for not being baptized). I much prefer Dante’s Hell. (Damn. Just for writing that, I’m going to end up with Hitler and Ghandi.) Where things are divided into circles or levels spiral down with increasing pain and nastiness. With punishments so much more inspiring than the just being thrown into a a lake of fire. So let’s start at the top and consider where some of the […]
Exactly when this economic crisis began is arguable. Republicans often suggest that it was left from the Clinton years and point to evidence including excess growth, albeit benign, in 1994 and evidence of excess fluidity being addressed in December 2002. While there was occasional discussion by pundits on talk radio and the Sunday shows, the impending crisis didn’t begin to make the headlines until the Spring of 2008. Noticeably limping before the Masters and coinciding with the Bear Stearns collapse. By mid June 2008, it became obvious that things were not going to turn around any time soon and Tiger Woods announced after his heroic limping playoff victory at the US Open, that he would undergo more reconstructive surgery and would be out for ten months. Reaction on was immediate and has continued. Indymac Bank was nationalized. $300 billion subprime mortgage guarantee was put into law. The Fed nationalized Fannie […]
Contrary to cable news opinion, the automakers don’t want a bailout. The want to make and sell cars. The problem, of course, is that their capacity to make cars grotesquely exceeds their ability to sell them. The economy is bad, so consumers have stopped buying (they will be back when their cars wear out). Their businesses got too big not to fail. Whether it is their fault or not seems an almost silly debate. Was it the dinosaurs fault they became extinct? Sure, the were too big when the meteor hit that brought on the ice age and they couldn’t find enough food. Same thing is going on now. Big change, though, when Dino died, there weren’t people around to try to say they are cute, appreciate their diversity and save him. But based on the movies I’ve seen, I think we are pretty lucky that they didn’t all make […]
Not for what his career (can’t really forgive him for that), but for what he did last week. Cancer survivor Arlen Specter (rhymes with Lector) of Pennsylvania traded his stimulus vote to the Dems for $10 billion in increased funding to the NIH (which had been starved of funding during recent years) most of which will go toward funding 15,000 additional research grants (34% increase). Specter, who has been publicly threatened by Republicans with a primary challenge for doing so, was unapologetic when he said, “I think it’s scandalous that we haven’t done more to cure cancer.” Bravo. Way to go Arlen. This is a big deal. Doing something of tremendous importance toward curing the diseases that are truly non-partisan. As a reward, I promise to try and quit pronouncing your name “Sphincter.”
The Atlanta Journal today reports that Gov. Sonny Perdue is going to provide property tax relief to homeowners. Sounds good, right? Not really. His scheme is use the $460 million in Medicaid stimulus money Georgia is to get, cut what Georgia would have provided to our most needy citizens, cut $99 million from K-12 education and another $20 million from Georgia’s universities (K-12 and the universities we cut $150 million this year already), and borrow $150 million from Georgia’s reserves to do it. Robbing our children. Robbing our sick. Robbing our potential. Robbing our competitiveness. Make me hope there’s a hell.
According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration’s homeowner plan will be announced today: President Obama will unveil today a $75 billion foreclosure prevention program, which the administration expects to reach up to 9 million homeowners. “The plan I’m announcing focuses on rescuing families who have played by the rules and acted responsibly: by refinancing loans for millions of families in traditional mortgages who are underwater or close to it,” Obama will say at a speech in Mesa, Ariz., according to an advance text released by the White House. The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan includes measures to allow homeowners to refinance into loans with cheaper payments, according to a summary of the plan. For example, if a lender agrees to lower a borrower’s payment so that it comprises no more than 38 percent of his income, the government would pay to lower the payments further to 31 percent of […]
The true genius of our so-called founding fathers was more luck than wisdom and more about fear than courage. Rich white male industrialist entrepreneur New Englanders in the same room with rich white male planter slave owner Southerners designed a government to protect the best of themselves from the worst of each other. Land owners knowing they would never vote to tax themselves, set it up so only they could vote. Worried that a president could too easily usurp power to become monarch, they balanced the powers not once, but twice, and added the electoral college just to make sure. Worried that a government sponsored religion could force them to tithe and attend church, they mandated separation of church and state. Worried that a central government would trump their regional fiefdoms, they held on to their state powers. Worried that population could trump state standing and regional culture they created […]
Beneath the fold in Paul Krugman’s column today, was this little tidbit, “The Congressional Budget Office, not usually given to hyperbole, predicts that over the next three years there will be a $2.9 trillion gap between what the economy could produce and what it will actually produce. And $800 billion, while it sounds like a lot of money, isn’t nearly enough to bridge that chasm.” Last your our GNP was about $14.3T, so it represents about 20.2%. Having aced Economics 101, this sounds like the perfect capitalist storm. But before we go there, consider what it means to society and in people terms. Society will lose the benefit $2.9T of good and of wealth that could be produced. A loss to be written off and will not happen. In people terms, it will be a decrease of $2.T in our standard of living that could have been. These things are […]
Standing in the hallway of the White House, while smiling as if he were sharing a private story, Rahm Emanuel, the Cheshire pit bull of the Obama Administration, leaned to the ear of Judd Greg and whispered, “Vote for the stimulus or I’ll break the legs of your children, pull your wife’s eyes out and stick them up your ass.” That, according to imaginary sources close to the situation, is what Greg was referring to when he abruptly withdrew Thursday as the nominee for commerce secretary, saying he had “irresolvable conflicts” over the economic stimulus plan. Rahm Emanuel, who had been a strong proponent of Mr. Gregg’s nomination, sought to play down his decision to withdraw. “It is better that it happened now,” Mr. Emanuel said, “than when you have someone in the government.”
What would a successful economic turnaround look like? Flash forward. Still President Obama lands our helicopter directly in from of the New York Stock Exchange and walks triumphantly onto the floor surrounded by jubilant traders and takes his place on the balcony with a sign behind him reading, “Mission Accomplished.” “The recession is over,” he announces to the cheering throng. Our GDP has grown for two straight quarters (all that is required to claim victory). The markets are bullish. The Dow creeping steadily toward 10,000 again (for those who can afford to be in the market). Loans are being made (to those with good credit). Housing sales are up (for those who have down payments, a good job and unscarred credit). Unemployment down (but many millions are still unemployed). Happy days, again (for the audience of the stock exchange). Shallow Victory. When Bush announced victory, all that had happened was […]
One of the many bad things about men running the world is that size does matter. How you use it is for losers and wannabes. Take this particular economic crisis (please). The banks, insurance companies and Wall Street firms were bailed out because they were too big to fail. It was scale of the stimulus, not so much the details, that mattered to Obama. It wasn’t that we needed $700B for TARP, it was, according to Bernanke, just about the right size for the markets to react to it. Bush was against government intervening in the markets until the size of the crisis was known. Our Treasury is only going to stress test and buy toxic mortgages from banks of the right size (>$10B – there are only 13 of them). Sure, maybe it’s just pecuniary envy, but those average among us are having problems, too. Small businesses are flaccid […]
A house was purchased a couple of years ago for $100,000 and got a $100,000 mortgage. If the homeowner sold it today, they could get about $75,000. The $3,000,000,000,000+ question is, how much is the “asset” worth? Scenario #1: Every mortgage payment has been made on time. The homeowner knows that their house is worth $75,000, even though, they owe $100,000. Under current rules, the banks and the mortgage backed securities which own the mortgage, are required to say the house is worth about $75,000. Since banks have strict capital requirements by the Fed (unbelievably complicated), writing down this asset by $25,000, generally, means the bank will have to raise capital to make it up by selling about $1,000 in new stock or attracting subordinated debt (or other methods) which may be really hard to do when your stock is in a spiral. Meanwhile, investors in the banks and the […]
You’ve heard and read the warnings. Not from nuts, but the Nobel Prize winners. Paul Krugman. Today in the New York Times, he wrote, “Somehow, Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake — of the reality that we may well be falling into an economic abyss, and that if we do, it will be very hard to get out again. It’s hard to exaggerate how much economic trouble we’re in. The crisis began with housing, but the implosion of the Bush-era housing bubble has set economic dominoes falling not just in the United States, but around the world.” Spinning Out of Control. We’ve had serious warnings from serious experts, and yet, the Senate fiddles. Boehner whines. Costello puppets. Blitzer nods. Reid parses. DeMint spins. McCain, well, who cares? The point is, WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING? THIS IS SERIOUS. Screw the bipartisan hope for change. Screw the […]
I’m reminded of a famous scene in “The Paper”… SPAULDING GRAY: Well, I hope you’re satisfied, (bleep)! You just blew your chance to cover the world! MICHAEL KEATON: Really. Well, guess (bleeping) what? I don’t really (bleeping) care. You want to know (bleeping) why? Because I don’t live in the (bleeping) world! I live in (bleeping) New York City, so go (bleep) yourself! I don’t live in (bleeping) Georgia. I live in (bleeping) Atlanta. Sunday’s Atlanta Journal reported that (bleeping) firearm permits are up 79% in 2008 and attributed the increase to fear “that it might become harder to get a permit during the Obama administration.” I am sincerely hopeful their fears are (bleeping) justified, but am embarrassed and apologize for (bleeping) Georgia. They also reported that our (bleeping) Federal government has asked for an $8.2 million refund from three (bleeping) Georgia school districts that included (bleeping) Atlanta who wrongfully […]
Doing for oil what they did for homes. Hard as it may be to believe, but Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have taken some of the no strings billions they got from Bush, Croinies & Company and used $80,000,000 of it to speculate on oil prices. Doing as well here as they did with mortgages, the price of oil, of course, has continued to go down. So to store the oil, they have hired a supertanker at $68,000 a day to sit in the Gulf of Mexico waiting for prices to go up. Read the full story. Obama shoots down Citigroup’s new $50 million jet. There’s no end to the hubris. Upon hearing of Citigroup purchasing a $50 million corporate jet from France with some of the $45 billion they got from TARP, officials of the Obama administration intervened and the jet was cancelled. All hail competent government. Read the full […]
He knew this day would come. He told us he was prepared for it. That he wouldn’t hesitate. This man who has spent his entire adult life in service. Who helped the downtrodden. Picked up the dispirited. Protect the rights and life of all. Didn’t. Whether the decision was active or passive, it was his. Just as if he had held, pointed and fired the gun. Bang. Bang. Twenty-one people dead. Three days into our idealism, surely he broke down in Michelle’s arms. I would have. Video games aren’t real. Predator drones are too real. The CIA surreal. No comment from the White House. None from the Pentagon. Pakistan officials say the dead were pro-Tailban tribesman and Al-Queda militants. Evil doers and their families. Twenty-one mother’s children were executed by our new president without a trial, just a judge. They had no last wish. No moment to repent or seek […]
This week from the People’s Court in Shijiazhuang, China: in last fall’s milk cut with melamine case that killed six babies and made 300,000 sick – executives were ordered to pay multi-million dollar fines; three death sentences; two life-in-prisons; six terms of five to 15 years; and more cases pending (source: Bloomberg). The judge was not specific as to whether the sentences were a result of babies’ suffering or government embarrassment. Let’s compare that to American justice in a similar case: the case of the greedy bankers and fund managers who conspired to water down the mother’s milk of main street with a toxic contamination that has resulted in death, hunger, sickness and government embarrassment around the world. I suggest we let the Chinese courts handle these cases. I know. I know. I know that we shouldn’t outsource precious jobs at the time when American attorneys have no real estate […]