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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.
The 32nd Chinese Export Commodities (Autumn) Fair was held between 15 October and 15 November 1972 and I received an invitation to attend. The political climate was changing in Australia, the USA and China but there still was no formal diplomatic relationship between the countries. Chairman Mao was seemingly in control of China, although the struggle of Mao’s wife and her supporters (the radicals) against Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping (the moderates) was building towards the confrontation that occurred in January 1973.
only sane course
I’m a boomer, so I missed the greatest existential crisis of the 20th Century: The Second World War. My Dad, however, was in the thick of it, helping mop up after the Battle of the Bulge.
In my lifetime, though, the human family has stared down the barrel of two additional crises of existential proportions: the Cuban Missile Crisis and climate destabilization, the latter of which is ongoing. Which crisis has posed the greater threat?
He was not at all like, as Jane Kenyon would say, “a wine glass, weary of holding wine.” During our recent time together, he was at one point on his hands and knees retrieving his confounded new hearing aid that still let him down. As he sat ajar at the table so that his one good ear was pointed my way, he told me that Mildred had said, “Don’t tell anyone.” His dear wife was forgetting too many things and was frightened of what was to come, although she didn’t want to talk about it.
Okay, what’s in the headlines today? Well, let’s see.
Jumpin’ Jehosaphats: There is the idiot woman who was asked to leave a McDonalds because she claimed that the kangaroo, (yes, a fuckin’ kangaroo) she had with her, wrapped in a blanket and riding in an infant car seat, was her “service animal.” Like the rest of you I assumed it must be a “Seeing Eye Kangaroo” but that would be incorrect. She explained to the officer that the kangaroo helps her cope with “emotional distress” and showed him a doctor’s note stating she needed a kangaroo…
With agreement from the Dong Fang Hotel staff, I arranged for a taxi to take me to the Guangzhou Zoo. The PLA driver responsible for my well-being was unsmiling and silent all the way. The hotel staff had told me, and the driver, that I was allowed one hour in the zoo and the driver would wait at the main gate. The zoo was not large so it was crowded and Mao suits were the popular dress for both adults and children. The main attraction, until I arrived, was the panda bear enclosure.
poisoning our wetlands
Dear Alex Atwood,
The problem with the Cons (conservative, contrary, confused, conflicted, concerned, convoluted; take your pick) is that they are negative — against not just change, but most everything else. So, since the world is in a state of constant change, they are “out of step,” so to speak and that makes them both ineffective and angry. It is a mistake to think the Cons we install in public office will accomplish anything positive…
This winter has set record lows in many states, a fact the editor of our conservative local newspaper, and others of his ilk, must be relishing. “There’s no global warming,” I can imagine him crowing. “It’s all a liberal hoax.” Such distorted logic reveals either an appalling ignorance of the meaning of “average,” or a cynical attempt to intentionally mislead.
Truth is, the names bestowed on various scientific phenomena are often whimsical in origin. Nobel laureate (1969) Murray Gell-Mann, for example, appropriated the term quark — one of three elementary particles and fundamental constituents of matter — from a nonsensical line in Finnegan’s Wake: “Three quarks for Muster Mark!”
sins of the flesh
The 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition came last week to the usual uproar. The magazine ran reminders for a month reminding anyone who didn’t want nearly nekkid swimsuit girls sent to their home to let them know. Simultaneously, the parent company ran endless ads on television making sure everyone else could get a copy.
I saw my first naked lady picture when I was ten, in a man’s magazine in the Rexall Drug Store in Demopolis, Alabama. The front cover mentioned uncovered cover girls. I honestly had no idea what that was until I turned to that page.
listen to the words
“I was wearing an orange bathrobe. She was leaning over me in a white men’s T-shirt and tiny white panties, shaking me by the shoulder. Her slender body seemed fragile, secure, childlike, with no sign of last night’s Italian excesses. Outside was not yet dawn.”
As I wind down Haruki Murakami’s novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World, I am deliberately slowing down my pace to savor the language and to listen to its tempo. The music is playing in the words.
The first time I heard the phrase, “the Information Age,” I wasn’t sure what it meant. The best I could figure it meant an explosion in knowledge was on the way. That, it so happens, was true. Two weeks ago I came across this strange unpronounceable word, “paraskevidekatriaphobia.” I googled it and found an online dictionary that pronounces it. It has nine or ten syllables. I gave up trying to determine just how many but it’s a lot. (Read on if you want to know the word’s meaning.) For sure we have easier ways to learn things now, but “the Information Age,” to me means something else. People don’t talk on the phone much anymore. Maybe we are entering the Antisocial Age.
If George Sparks shepherded Georgia State University in its middle years, the major figure propelling the university into the future was no doubt Noah Langdale. He was president from 1957 until 1988, seeing it grow from two buildings with $1.9 million budget and 5,200 students, and offering one degree, to 22,000 students and 20 buildings, a budget of $118 million and with 50 degrees in more than 200 fields. Today GSU could soon have more than 50,000 students, as Georgia Perimeter College is to merge with GSU.
Clearing away the receipts, letters, and documents that cover my desk I came across my own business card with a woman’s name, Pat, and phone number on the back. It brought back a lot of memories. It’s not what you think. It’s a true story that goes back a ways.
I met Pat seven years ago. With no family in town, Pat, like many others, gathered with others at a neighborhood pub some evenings for conservation, a way to keep loneliness at bay. (For those who work all day only to face an evening alone, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. are the loneliest hours of the day. Meeting others provides a balm.)
yin v. yang
It’s a dance I know by heart, this shifting and swaying from the outward world of human entanglements to an inner place of calm reflection. I’m not sure I could stop this movement if I tried, caught between voices calling cause to action and others from far hillsides beckoning me to run away — to fly away and be freed.
All around are people caught in conflict, their caring inching closer daily to anger, with words unheard, meanings misunderstood, and passions unrequited. On issues local, global, and universal, we have shouting like never before.
reflections of the south
HIGHWAY 501 SC: April. Somewhere near Aynor. Having wrapped up a photo shoot in old Ocean Drive, we drive homeward through wind-driven coastal plain silt. Though dust devils obscure 501, a shimmering red and green mirage breaks through. But it’s no mirage. It’s remembrance. Winds subside, sands drop, and Dean’s Produce emerges next to a cornfield mown to beard-like stubble. Dean’s stand of glinting tin and yellow pine glows with honey, but the incandescent red and green jams gleam like St. Elmo’s fire.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
No one in his right damn mind pays “you’ve gotta be kiddin’ me” prices to see a movie -- even if it is an advance showing of a major motion picture. I’m willing today because this little excursion is part of my scheme to throw some serious ‘shade’ –- and some serious ‘cool’ --on a despicably hot summer day. I’ve come to the mall multiplex to match wits with Tom Cruise, to see if I can keep up with the on-screen goings-on in the latest installment of Mission Impossible. Just within the mall, but outside the cinema, the conditioned air smells of popcorn and pastry Read on →
Guns were the cause of three recent tragedies in the South, in Lafayette this week, Chattanooga last week, and recently in Charleston, S.C. You wonder where it will happen next. For it will. What we can’t understand is the continual gun violence all across the country, almost every day in big cities, while the American public nonchalantly goes about its routine activities with little effort to curb these unfortunate incidents. Does the American public not recognize what is causing all these problems? Pure and simple, it’s the prevalence of guns, plus our nation’s inability to curtail the power of the National Rifle Association. (We reali Read on →
The outcome of Christie's recent auction of General Robert E. Lee's precious navel lint left even the most jaded “Lost Cause” memorabilia mavens gobsmacked and whistling Dixie. Not to mention afflicting many frustrated, heart-broken losing bidders with a temporary paralysis that baffled emergency physicians compared to the old-timey Southern Belle "vapors." This dream-crushing auction loss brutalized their very star and barred souls. The awestruck winner of General Lee’s coveted navel detritus, said that he did not consider himself to be the “owner” of the singular holy Rebel artifact; only its humble and devoted caretaker until the treasure is passed on to the next wors Read on →
Many people say that English is the hardest language to understand because so many words can mean different things and we often need a sentence to explain one word in another language. For example, in the US it is quite common for people to publicly “root for the team.” In other English-speaking countries if you are caught doing that you will be arrested. In Australia to call someone “an old bastard” is a term of endearment. But in some other English-speaking countries it could be the first few words in an argument or the last words before a fight. In the US Read on →