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The Dong Fang (East Wind) Hotel was on Liuhua Road, between Liuhua Lake and Yuehsiu Park with its Chenhai Tower. Even though it was not close to the Chinese Export Commodities Fair, it was favored by the British and European traders. In 1972, the Dong Fang was a multi-story non-air conditioned building set amongst what must have been beautiful gardens. It was quiet, away from the Pearl River traffic. Beside the hotel was a rough field used by the foreign traders to play rugby, soccer and volleyball during the Fair.
stop going backwards
Georgia’s General Assembly began Monday. Watch out! Few of us are safe from its machinations!
You can be sure with the super majority that the Republican Party now has in the Legislature, we will see many proposals aimed at reducing taxes, that will give the rich more power, and forget the underprivileged. In other words, more of the same.
Terry and I were enjoying an unabridged, non-scripted evening together; our first in many months. Suzy has known him longer than me and likes to accompany me when I meet him for drinks. That isn’t true where my other friends are involved. Tom and Rick she could give a rat’s ass about seeing. My partner bristles at the idea that the “dynamics change” when she is present, but it’s true. With Suzy in attendance the conversation is driven by her interests. Terry and I, on our own, drift among subjects like a rudderless sailboat. No direction, no fact finding, no censors.
culture of obedience
The saga of Don Siegelman, the former popular democratic Governor of Alabama, who was convicted and imprisoned on largely trumped up bribery charges and whose prosecution has been, so far unsuccessfully, appealed continues to befuddle his supporters. That’s because, I would argue, Siegelman having supporters, who believe in his innocence, does not carry the weight with the judicial system they might think. Rather, it’s because he has supporters, who are likely to be impressed and depressed by the effort to break him and grind him down, that his persecution seems worth while. It’s not senseless at all.
grandma's weapon of choice
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “fly swatter” as “an implement used for swatting insects, typically a square of plastic mesh attached to a wire handle.” Really? I beg to differ. An honest-to-goodness fly swatter is made of screen-wire. Remember those? Both my grandmothers wielded those instruments of doom with an Olympic fencer’s skill. They were pros. How many times did I watch those ladies pull off a trifecta: dispatching three flies with one swat.
last bus in china
It had been a busy four days in Hong Kong after an interesting landing at Kai Tak Airport. There was only one approach to Kai Tak, up Victoria Harbor, turn north east across the Kowloon Peninsula towards Kowloon Peak with its blinking red light and make a sharp ninety degree turn over Mong Kok. The plane flew just above the streets of Kowloon, between the tall apartment buildings with their protruding bamboo poles holding the day’s laundry, and the wing tip almost touched the laundry as the plane dropped suddenly in its final turn onto the runway…
In 1971 I was a twenty-year old Mississippi college sophomore, terminally shy with a stutter and an undeclared major. What career choice did I have that didn’t involve actually speaking with people? Milton, a fast-talking, pimply-faced senior, said he had just the ticket for a shy guy like me. “How are you ever going to be a success if you’re afraid to open your mouth?” I shrugged. Milton was a student manager for a sales company that hired college kids to work during the summer.
black sheep bootlegger
In the riverbed between Edgefield County, South Carolina, and Lincoln County, Georgia, a copper still sleeps in the ooze gluing two states together. That still, the last vestige of a moonshiner’s art, belonged to my grandfather. How it ended in the Savannah River is a tale of brotherly salvation.
Every family—if it will admit it—shuns some relative from its past. Mine is no exception…
rock, soul & blues
The surprising thing about Joe Cocker’s recent death might be that he made it to 70. The human body can be most resilient.
More than half his lifetime ago, the obit for Cocker was likely being held in readiness at newspapers and periodicals throughout Europe and America. The reportage, even in Rolling Stone, by 1972, gave readers the impression that Cocker was trashing his career while on the way to becoming rock’s next drug casualty. This was only three years after his triumphant appearance at Woodstock.
Do I need me some inspiration as I face the new year? Heck yeah, and I’m getting it from a few good women.
Did you see Ursula Le Guin’s remarks as she accepted the Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 2014 National Book Awards the other week? The clip is on YouTube, but in the meantime, picture a small, silver-haired woman with a kind and deeply lined 85-year-old face lobbing a grenade into a roomful of tuxedoed publishing-industry bigwigs. Those people didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. I promise: it’ll be a long time before that much truth gets told inside of six minutes again
I read recently that the American novelist, poet, and composer Paul Bowles once said, ”We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
our friend floyd
We took Christmas dinner to Floyd in southern Pennsylvania yesterday. Although he said he was continuing to feel “tired” most of the time and had a bit of trouble breathing (probably a lingering effect of the pneumonia he suffered before Thanksgiving), he seemed more alert and active than what he was at Thanksgiving. We’re never sure if he enjoys the meals that Jody prepares, but he always finishes everything and is pleased that she packages up the leftovers for him.
frozen in time
My first visit to China was in April 1972 but the journey started much earlier. China, then referred to as The People’s Republic of China (PRC), always had been a country of great interest due to its size, population and potential market for raw materials; so in 1970 and again in 1971 I contacted Minmetals in Beijing (Peking) seeking an invitation to attend the bi-annual export commodities fair. There was no reply.
Wow, it was great to get your card, man. Years been slipping by, right?
Anyhooby, we’re all good here. Ruthie pulled a twofer this summer—finished school and married Ben, pretty much on the same day. You’ll be happy to hear that Ben has accepted the responsibility of keeping music at the center of our little family. What about Jakob? Looked like the Wallflowers’ reunion album did well. And touring with Clapton? Helloooo. Of course, none of that changes the fact that you have a child who’s 45 years old.
says it all
Each December, about a week before Christmas Day, I rummage through my electronic junk box and find my Christmas CD. I’m fussy about Christmas music. Don’t like anything too corny or elevator music-ish, nothing from Russian winter tales or other “traditional” Christmas events, and I don’t like to start more than a week before the actual day we celebrate. I’ll take my homemade Christmas CD of rock and roll Christmas songs from the Sixties until Christmas music started sucking and play it while I’m driving through the minefield of harried, distracted moms and elderly grandparents who only venture out this time of year…
window into a national past
The excitement and acclaim that greeted both the Peachtree and the Broadway premieres of producer David O. Selznick’s adaptation of Gone With the Wind seventy-five years ago this week seems genuinely cringe-worthy today, after multiple indictments over recent years of Margaret Mitchell’s novel as racist and historically distorted. Mitchell is clearly culpable on the first count, although by no means uniquely so, but latter-day critics who charge her with distorting history would be well advised to consider the history she had to work with and, in some aspects, even undertook to revise.
a stain on values
Those are some of the emotions I feel after hearing of the way the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States has treated people in detention in the War on Terror. For this to be happening in a nation that says that all individuals have certain human rights, no matter what their station, the CIA actions are the highest of hypocrisy, which also goes against the basic principles that the American people hold high.
My-my-my, how times have changed in your and my lifetime! Back when I was young, our home was in a tiny, small town. To drive to our church on Sunday, about eight miles, we were riding in a model 1940 automobile, and past a grist mill. Most of the time, the drive was easy with no complications. However, after any sort of rain, first going down one Middle Georgia red clay hill, then crossing a creek where the mill was, then seeking to go up the next hill, a distance of about a mile altogether, was not necessarily a joy ride.
Photo of the Week
My friend and co-author, Robert Clark, and I long planned to give readers a look at the Southland and its abundant beauty, unusual charms, and fascinating stories. We came up with “Closed Wednesdays” but never got it off the ground. Too much traveling, too many book-related events, and life’s way of throwing detours in our path got in the way. We stepped back and thought things over and decided to offer readers something a bit shorter. Seems today’s hectic pace discourages many from reading long pieces. Robert’s idea, “The Photo of the Week”…
What kind of idiots shell out, or commit themselves to borrow, two hundred thousand dollars for a row house and then sign on to a “warranty” that warrants nothing other than their responsibilities as buyers and owners? Rubes from the hinterlands of Georgia, mostly, but also a bloke in New South Wales. Imagine!
I have written earlier about the mortgage notes that condition a loan on the buyers of property ceding their civil rights to the financier — e.g. on a standard Georgia form the borrower…
I arrived in Beijing on an old Boeing 707 China Air flight in November 1978 after a week in Japan. The entry formalities at Beijing Airport were slow but considerably quicker than the Shenzhen Railway Station where I had previously entered China from Hong Kong. I caught a taxi from the airport to the Beijing Hotel on Dongchangan Jie. Taxis were a new experience for me in China, previously it was the “foreigners bus”. The Beijing Hotel had a long and fascinating history. It was built as a five-story brick building in 1915 and two years later a seven-story French style building was added.
begins with halloween
It’s that time of year again. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about … the holidays. Some see it as the song claims “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” … But others among us are just left wondering. First it’s the sugary shock of Halloween. Then it’s surviving the Thanksgiving glutton-fest. Followed by a tsunami of high-octane shopping you can’t afford, partying, last minute gift buying, a morning of exchanging gifts you don’t need, a mad rush to return the gifts you don’t want, more shopping and finally a drunken evening, ending with new year’s resolutions and false resolve to quit your shameful and glutinous behavior as soon as the thunder in your head subsides…
children of the enlightenment
When he gasped to take a breath and to stop swearing in his fractured English, he told her he had a “fucking shit life” and that she was a filthy whore who would die a horrid death. Spitting out more vitriol with each breath, he finished his rant by saying, “You will lose this war.” Perhaps time will, if it hasn’t already, prove him right. Certitude rang out from this Algerian jihadist who had been captured by Afghanistan’s tribal Northern Alliance shortly after the American onslaught following 9/11 . At this point, however, the “interview” was concluded when she said, “That may be, but your own war is over.”
demand an end to excuses
“A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it.” — William Penn
The iconic images of recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri — after the police shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen — have left Americans of all ilks wondering: Is this America? Military Humvees, still in camouflage and mounted with machine guns, in the hands of municipal police. SWAT teams of police in full riot gear, bristling with automatic weapons, pointed at a lone protestor with hands up. Have we become a police state?
sights & sounds
It’s the second week of January 1999 and the McCartneys are visiting Atlanta. But not for a concert. On this trip, Heather McCartney is unveiling her line of houseware items at the America’s Mart, and Paul is there to guarantee his daughter ample media play. After helping to promote Heather’s rugs, cushions and other items arrayed with designs inspired by the Huichol and Tarahumara tribes of Mexico, Paul and his son, James, make a smooth exit to explore the side streets of Atlanta. According to Paul, James, then 21, wanted to “visit the funky side of town.” So into the car they climbed; it would be a short ride.
rational, regulated, justifiable
Sure, it can be fun. Dede, for instance, is a terrific hater. Her favorite verb is “hate.” I hate winter. I hate the Falcons (not just this year). I hate this sink. I hate all the fiction in The New Yorker. But none of this hating amounts to anything. It’s just her vivacious way of expressing herself. My guess is that most of us take our hating a little more seriously, a little more warily. We’ve seen the power and the glory, you might say. I hated a guy I was in graduate school with. No reason. I just did.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
When my cellphone rings, the opening notes of The Thrill is Gone signal me. I will have to consider changing that now. The author and singer of that song has moved on to Rock and Roll Heaven. B. B. King died in his sleep Thursday after nearly a year in hospice. I can’t imagine anyone was surprised; death happens to us all and this one has been imminent for quite some time. But hearing him tell me the thrill is indeed gone might be more than I want to hear every time my phone rings. The first time I saw B. B Read on →
You couldn't wait to retire. Could. Not. Wait. In the run-up to retirement, you took stock any number of times. Don’t misunderstand, you told your inner-self for a zillionth time, you enjoyed your career. You did. (Well, mostly you did.) You’d survived every economic downturn since the Nixon Administration (there were six of those suckers), two Middle East oil crises (gas lines stretched to the horizon), more company budget cuts than one cared to count, four company down-sizings, three company right-sizings, two mergers, one hostile takeover, the big real estate crisis and a remarkable number of new business fads, every one of whi Read on →
"Nothing is precious except that part of you which is in other people, and that part of others which is in you. Up there, on high, everything is one." -- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin At the root of the culture wars lies a fundamental dichotomy in worldviews. Which is more essential to humanity: the individual or the collective? The philosophy of Ayn Rand, as articulated in her novels The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), undergirds one extreme of the cultural divide. Rand, a Russian Jew who immigrated to the U.S. in 1926, espoused a libertarian philosophy that leaves the individual unencumbered Read on →
Ironically - let us begin with a Joke. Man walking along a road in the countryside comes across a shepherd and a huge flock of sheep. Tells the shepherd, "I will bet you $100 against one of your sheep that I can tell you the exact number in this flock." The shepherd thinks it over; it's a big flock so he takes the bet. "973," says the man. The shepherd is astonished, because that is exactly right. Says "OK, I'm a man of my word, take an animal." Man picks one up and begins to walk away. "Wait," cries the shepherd, "Let Read on →