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I have a young friend named Gus. He is in second grade at school, just starting out in life, and doesn’t hold back in letting us know what he is thinking. I have another friend named Gus who is ninety-four and confined to bed in a nursing home. He has dementia, so we don’t know what he is thinking, but he responds with a smile when someone talks to him. My older friend Gus hasn’t met the younger Gus and doesn’t know who I am anymore. When I telephone the nursing home to ask if he needs anything the nurses are reluctant to tell me because they “don’t have his chart in front of them” or don’t know who I am.
tuesday, april 21
To begin with, we’re not talking about that super-smart cartoon dog who had a pet boy, though someone named Sherman does figure prominently in the topic at hand. We’re talking about the other Mr. Peabody, George Foster, namesake of the media awards that the University of Georgia has been handing out since 1941.
Submissions to the Peabody competition over the decades have piled up to embody a remarkable collection, some 90,000 kinescopes, 16 mm films, tapes and DVDs, all now stored in a huge, climate controlled grotto beneath the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library on the UGA campus.
At least not in Glynn County, Georgia. Nor, I suspect, many other places where duplicitous Republicans reign. In some instances, “protection” is a euphemism for extorting money that you shouldn’t have to pay out, if our public servants were doing their job. The Mafia and home insurance come to mind. Which is why, when the term is used by those whom we’ve hired to “serve and protect,” we are relieved to think that, at last, somebody’s doing their job. Think again.
The great satirist, song writer and pianist Tom Lehrer had me wondering about and laughing at his songs even as an adolescent just beginning to appreciate the sardonic view of life. Who could hear and ever forget his black humor in “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park”?
Although separated by time, he and I both served in the Army as “enlisted scum” and both achieved the rank of “Specialist Four,” which he described as “a corporal without portfolio.” He held onto his identity as a sartorial dandy even draped in his wrinkled and ill-fitting uniform, describing his olive drab duds, “If it was good enough for Robin Hood, it’s good enough for me.”
The guitar symbolized the entire day. A four string Fender electric bass resembling those currently popular among rock star wannabees and Hipsters. You pay a few hundred extra and the manufacturers ‘distress’ it. Makes the instrument appear well-worn, as if the owner has played every day for decades. Like Willie Nelson’s old acoustic, minus the bungee strap.
I asked Owen if that was how it happened. He smiled a little then got a wistful look in his ancient eyes. “Yeah, it’s been distressed. The first bass I ever got.”
walking among ghosts
Saturday, March 28, the day before we laid Mom to rest, was busy. People bringing food, funeral service details, and other matters kept us on the go. Later, as things settled down, I felt the need to spend time alone and the best place to do that was in Double Branches on Aunt Vivian’s farm. It was a beautiful day, the sky a deep blue. As I drove to Double Branches, wonderful childhood memories returned. As a boy, I spent many a day there fishing in the ponds, exploring the pastures and woods, riding an old mule, and playing baseball with childhood friends Jabe, Joe Boy, and Sweetie Boy.
religious intolerance act
For years, you have heard people in the South say: “Thank God for Mississippi!”
They meant that were it not for that state, their own state might rank 50th out of 50 states in some category. Mississippi has traditionally ranked 50th in educational attainment, family income, education and other indices. These other states of the South were mighty pleased that their own state didn’t rank below Mississippi. Of course, their state might rank close to Mississippi, but not dead last.
true to oneself
The arrival of the Great American Backyard Bird Count a few weeks back prompted a once-a-decade bird-feeder cleaning. I have a couple of the dome-over-dish type, and since I look down from my loft-office window, I figured I could count better if I could see through those weather-stained, mold-splotched domes. Should I do the cylindrical one, too, while I was at it? No. Obvi. Foul as it might have been, the cylinder had no apparatus to block my view…
Harvey was two years old when his mother died. He was the youngest of ten children and had little schooling because his father didn’t believe it was important. Harvey’s father had arrived from County Cavan about 1858 with his Scottish parents and five siblings as refugees from the famine that had spread across Ireland. He was twenty seven years old when he married for the first time and forty seven when his wife died leaving him with eight children …
My friend, Jack deJarnette, was a frequent contributor to Like The Dew. He was a retired United Methodist minister who came to the cloth by way of respiratory therapy.
Jack and I met the first day of the 9th grade at Georgia Military Academy in College Park. (GMA is now Woodward Academy.) I was stone cold alone sitting in study hall when Jack and I started talking. A lifelong friendship was born.
In England the bookies William Hill are giving odds of 4-1 (a tumble from earlier 14-1) on the new royal baby being named “Alice”, unless it is “Arthur, Henry or James” (all at 20-1.) If it’s Alice the pay-out for the bookmakers will be eye-watering. My first reaction to reading this today was to feel dubious about “Alice” and to shudder at “Arthur.” I wondered how they could admire names that made my mouth turn down at the corners.
It’s all about association.
down on the farm
The premise is simple: pigs raised on the ground instead of concrete pens are happier pigs and produce better and tastier meat. That’s the theory at Thompson Farms here in Dixie, Ga., where Andrew Thompson produces pork, selling almost all his production to Whole Foods stores throughout most of the South. There’s a local connection: he is the brother of Mike Thompson, an attorney in Technology Park/Atlanta at Peachtree Corners.
tooting my alto
When I first heard the music of Bob Marley years ago, the Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, guitarist and philosopher, I found myself moving to the music. Somewhat to my surprise, I seemed to be responding automatically to his enlightened suggestion to “lively up yo’self.”
Music has always been a challenge to me. I guess part of the difficulty has been my insistence on wanting to know how it works rather than just sitting back and letting it work on me. Too much left- and not enough right-brain dominance.
a northern princess
My father, born in the northern English port of Liverpool (a likely landing place for sea farers) was tall, blonde, with piercing blue eyes, a Roman nose and flat back of the head. As a girl I fantasized that he was of Viking descent, and I a northern princess with a fine thermostat: I was never able to tolerate a hot climate, feeling moribund when the temperature is above 85 degrees and at my best when there’s a nip in the air.
arboreal sartorial choices
When I was young, Mamie Lattimer lived across the street from my grandmother in Jackson, Mississippi. Her yard could only be charitably described as a jungle. My grandmother loved it. In the summer, you weren’t sure there was really a house there. Crepe myrtles, hollyhock, lantana (in the one sunny area), nandina, magnolia, and other assorted bushes, shrubs, and bulbs not readily apparent covered every inch of the corner lot. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really appreciated why it was Dar (my grandmother–short for Darling Darling. Proof your grandkids will call you whatever they damn well please)…
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.
In 1972 I had waited two years to receive an invitation to visit China and then four days to get a seat on the train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. The travel time to Guangzhou, via Hong Kong, by commercial airline and train, was about twenty-six hours. In the years that followed I made many trips to China. Each time the visits became easier, there was no waiting for invitations to visit the country. In the 1980s tourism became a major source of income for China as the country opened up to the western world…
all the way
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…
The reports of a settlement on Sea Island, Georgia, are disturbing on many counts, not the least of which is that the Sea Island Company no longer exists. Not only have many of the assets of the bankrupt, family-owned firm been acquired by an artificial body that called itself “Sea Island Acquisitions,” as if acquisition were an honorable enterprise, but that Limited Liability (little responsibility) Corporation has now morphed into an alphabet string that’s not even a pronounceable acronym, SIA PROPCO II, LLC…
efficient and painless
“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.
meet april moore
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 $60,000 donation from the Koch Brothers.
In 1979, I traveled to Beijing for a quick visit and the following year to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin to visit potential sites for a joint venture manufacturing company with Chinese partners. Discussions were held with provincial governments and the newly established China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC). CITIC had been formed in 1979 as a State owned investment vehicle by Rong Yiren under the approval of Deng Xiaoping to bypass the existing bureaucracy. Its aim was to attract foreign capital, technology and management techniques…
Once upon a time it took thirty pieces of silver to sell out a man. Now, in the electronic age, when all precious metals have been replaced by paper or electric currencies, millions of people, some not yet born, can be sold out for next to nothing. That’s progress. Some people work to conserve the environment and to prevent further pollution and degradation of the organisms that make up the basic web of life. Others are content to simply exclude their fellow man. Still others promote financial interests by making some lands inaccessible…
Sometimes the universe surprises you. A few months ago, I received an email from independent filmmaker Frank Huguenard. Having read some of my posts on the science of consciousness, Frank wanted to know if I’d consider being interviewed for a film on that subject. Cautious (and camera-shy), I was a bit wary and politely asked for more information. Frank suggested that I view his three previous films — Beyond Me, Beyond Belief, and Beyond Reason, each available through his website BeyondMeFilm.com.
most beautiful words
As a young boy doing my homework while staying over with a favorite aunt, I was puzzled by a word and asked her where her dictionary was. She looked at me with befuddlement and finally said she didn’t have one. I thought that odd, but continued to ponder away at the word “sundry” which I also thought odd, and just assumed in my youthful innocence that it was simply a misspelling for “Sunday.”
I’ve always had lots of dictionaries lying about, even foreign ones since my late wife was a professional translator.
It’s been called the best country store in South Carolina. You can buy Virginia cured hams there, and you can buy gas, diesel, propane, shotgun shells, wrenches, and frying pans. Why you can even buy hog heads for headcheese, red hash, fig jam, hoop cheese, Blenheim’s Ginger Ale, and cheap wine there. As country stores in this part of the South go, it’s famous. Its fame, in fact, earned it a spot in the esteemed Southern magazine, Garden & Gun. So, if you have a hankering to see a genuine survivor, an honest-to-goodness country store, get in your car and drive US 521 to Salters, South Carolina…
An email from my brother with only a name in the subject box means one thing; someone died. I knew who it was without opening the link. For those of us growing up together, there was only one Bubba. He wasn’t the stereotypical bubba of redneck lore. Roger Banks was built like a gun safe. Short and stocky, with calves like most guys’ thighs, Bubba appeared strong and solid at first glance. He exceeded expectations. Few of the folks who attended classes with him knew he once took violin lessons or wore two tone loafers with white uppers for a time. Likely everyone who passed him in the halls knew he was a bad ass.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner had a big-time influence on me as an adolescent as did my father who never met a funeral he didn’t like, especially if it took him back to the hill country of Appalachian Ohio where he had been raised. Even now I remember as a boy following a group of men carrying the casket of a man my father had known when he was a boy. The memory is still clear of them slipping and sliding along the dry creek bed en route to a spot in the woods where a Read on →
The European settlement of Australia began as a penal colony and about 162,000 convicts were shipped there between 1788 and 1870, most of them in the first 60 years. From 1831 to 1840, the free settler arrivals outnumbered convict arrivals and by 1850 there were 156,000 convicts in Australia and 187,000 free settlers. The largest number of free settlers (587,000) arrived in the 1851-1860 period, attracted by the Victorian gold rush. The convicts and free settlers were mainly from poor backgrounds in the London area or subsistence farmers from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Transportation to the penal colony was harsh Read on →
New York City was cold and uninviting when the Greyhound bus arrived late in the afternoon. It was two days before Easter and light snow had fallen leaving the streets wet and slippery. On Sunday, the Easter Parade down Fifth Avenue attracted a huge crowd and at night Times Square was alive with flashing neon signs and people celebrating. It was my first visit to the “Island of Many Hills” (Manhattan) and I had a lot to see. I rode the Circle Island cruise boat, took the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, climbed the stairs into the Read on →
My current inconvenient and woeful truth is I've got the mother of all colds. This misery has all my senses confused and discombobulated …and there’s no relief in sight—at least none that’s not days away. It is times like this that my 'inner-small boy' wishes Aunt Lula was still around… Lula wasn’t my real aunt. You certainly couldn’t find her name anywhere on the official family tree, the one Mom kept folded up in the family Bible. But in Mom’s heart, my Aunt Lula was as official as any blood-relation; the two had been close friends forever. In my youth, anyone who was a close Read on →