Alert Dew reader Bob Lamb suggested reposting “The Declaration of Independence, Updated” in honor of our holiday. We took it a step further – here are more Dew stories, which appeared around the 4th of July each year going back to our first 4th in 2009 – a pretty random and eclectic sample of great stories by some truly wonderful writers (apologies to anyone who feels left out). Click on the story title to read more. Enjoy. And please comment.
When in the life of a democratic nation it becomes clear that the government has parted ways with the governed and evinces no intention to reform, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that the governed, i.e. the People, should declare in terms both broad and narrow the causes that impel them toward a separation of their own.
We the People hold to be self-evident the same truths that were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence of 1776, chief among them an inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and we remind the nation’s leaders…
work to be done
The running lights from the boats scattered across the lake looked like a lightning bug invasion. There were dueling fireworks shows; the official Lake Murray display from Bomb Island and the Dreher Island effort several miles to the West.
This was the celebration of our nation’s birthday, Columbia boat people style. Blessing the fleets, dinner at the sailing club, and watching the fireworks, or relaxing on a sandbar with a blonde and some Budweiser, take your pick.
There’s nothing wrong with idealism. Idealists are our dreamers, our visionaries, the ones who keep moving us on toward better things whether we want to go or not. These are the folks who create entire worlds in their heads, imagining how things ought to be in a perfect world while many of us can’t even acknowledge things could be different from how they are.
Today is the 49th anniversary of the televised signing of the Civil Rights Act at the White House.
Leading up to the signing was the case of Brown v. Board of Education which was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court found that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional in 1954. In the ten years that followed the case came the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stunning “I have a dream” speech, symbolically delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1963.
Farting Through the Fence
Right now, a lot of our problems stem directly from the fact that the wrong sort has finally gotten the upper hand; a particularly brutal and anti-democratic strain of American aristocrat that the other elites have mostly managed to keep away from the levers of power since the Revolution. Worse: this bunch has set a very ugly tone that’s corrupted how people with power and money behave in every corner of our culture. Here’s what happened, and how it happened, and what it means for America now.
Knowledge Comes In Unexpected Ways
My old girlfriend, Linda, emailed me recently. She had heard I’d written a book about the shag. “I am totally shocked that you of all people wrote about the shag and beach music. I just cannot believe it!”
She had reason to be astounded. In the early 1980s when she and I hung out, the shag was beginning its comeback from the infamous Dark Ages and she and I mocked the older shaggers as they twirled, dipped, and slid across the dance floor. We had no idea how they had suffered and how they fought to rescue their dance. It was part of the story I would write.
The cookouts and fireworks of July (hope you didn’t eat those deviled eggs that were left in the sun too long) have given way to the box-fan-in-the-window dog days of August.
It’s a time when lifelong memories are made, some beautiful. Others will forever stain that beauty like ink on your favorite blouse.
Making A Difference
The recent Supreme Court decision regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act brought back memories of an experience I had in 2008. That July I volunteered for a Rural America Medical (RAM) event in Wise County, Virginia. RAM is an event organized by Stan Brock, a former television host of a nature program and a world adventurer. These events provide free medical, dental and vision services for attendees. Hundreds of doctors, dentists and optometrists perform their services free of charge over the course of three days.
Lernen aus Deutschland
One of the greatest things this nation has ever done was to rebuild Germany and Japan after the Second World War. Our former enemies are now models of functioning democracy and industrial might. It wasn’t just a magnanimous instinct on our part. We had learned the hard way that retribution against Germany after World War I only paved the way for Hitler, who came to power by exploiting the empty stomachs of Germans.
Once, when asked if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in rock ’n’ roll, John Lennon quipped with characteristic, cruel impudence that his band mate “wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles.” Which of course is not true, as anyone who’s heard some of Paul McCartney’s clunky solo drum tracks can attest. What is true is that Ringo is sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of rock percussionists. He hasn’t always gotten the respect he merits.
Bridge Between 2 Nations
Spanning the miles. Reaching across the centuries. The United States and Canada – two countries that share the world’s longest undefended border – have stood as staunch allies in times of War and peace. On July 4, 2012, the establishment of the southernmost Binational Peace Garden in St. Marys (next to historic Oak Grove Cemetery) further united these two great nations.
From the autumn of 1969 till three years later, I was the news editor of the most militant black newspaper in Atlanta .This city lays claim to be the most race conscious city in the nation. It was the hub of the great revolving wheel of the Civil Rights Movement. Atlanta provided the generals and the grunt troops to the great push to put Ol’ Man Dixie back into his wormy box built by slavery and sustained by segregation.
Have issues? Got problems? Have questions about life, love, homework or even “Kanye West and Kim Kardashian??? You’re kiddin’ me, right? I mean does Kim even know any white guys?” Write [email protected] .
Until about a week ago, everything in my world was fine. In fact, you might even say it was exceptional. I had a nice job in the jurisprudence game, a late model car, good looking wife, smart kids and great standing in the community…
Nora Ephron was forever young and forever funny. And all of a sudden, she’s gone!
So many of us could relate to her writings, musings, movies and books – not to mention a failed marriage or botched film that made her really human to her fans. When I was starting my own writing career in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970s, she was writing essays for Esquire that were always pithy, self-effacing and spot on. If you never read, “A Few Words about Breasts” check it out.
SCROTUS v. POTUS
Breaking News: CJ Roberts tacks left to uphold mandate and Affordable Healthcare Law; then to the right to allow states not to expand Medicaid.
America must have some of the stupidest, least informed and most gullible people on earth, but that is another story. Today the Supreme Court finally announced their ruling that there will be comprehensive reform of our badly broken healthcare system during our lifetimes.
We learned that the 6 percent among us who don’t have insurance and don’t want it are required to have it or face a penalty*; and if the other 10 or so percent who don’t have health insurance, but want it can buy it.
On the third of July, the dog days of summer, 40 days of especially hot and humid weather with little rainfall, officially began. The name comes from the ancient Greeks who believed that Sirius, the “dog star,” which rose with the sun at that time, was adding to the sun’s heat. They also believed that the weather made dogs go mad. The Romans tried to appease Sirius by sacrificing a brown dog at the start of the dog days.
Oh, how I long for the time when politicians lied to get elected. When a Democrat could run as a hawk and govern as a dove. When a Republican would run as a conservative and it meant they were cautious to change and represented traditional values, not the values of a mob. Oh, for the days when we knew the contract with America was not worth the paper it was printed on.
When getting things done was the goal of both parties and compromise was seen as a victory for each…
Neither one is available to explain so I will never know what possessed my parents to send me to summer camp in August of 1960. Our family lived in River Bend, Alabama, during that time, at my dad’s old home place. Situated in an old farm house built in the approximate center of eighty acres, we were in little boy paradise.
Any land that wasn’t cultivated was natural. There were creatures galore residing in thick hardwood habitats bordered by a couple of crystal clear creeks and the Cahaba River. Our world offered so many varied and interesting places and things we could have spent decades there and never stirred up the same trouble twice.
Neil Young was only 25 when he recorded “Old Man,” but it hardly mattered. The mood of his song gently provided a window to the years most of us hope to experience, especially as youthful determination gives way to gratitude for simply being around. Even Peter Townshend will tell you that “I hope I die before I get old” doesn’t have to be taken literally. After all, some people get old way too early in life, without the tell-tale signs expected with aging. But addressing the matter most succinctly was Forrest Rogers, a friend to many in Atlanta’s rock community, when he lamented shortly before passing away, “I hate to miss stuff.”
This is my public comment made 7/6/11 to the GA. Public Service Commission on the occasion of their consideration of Georgia Power’s request for yet another raid on the public treasury in the form of rate hikes to cover anticipated cost over-runs for their nuclear fantasies. They already were granted rate hikes to cover building the new reactors and an additional amount to cover the loss in credit ratings due to pursuing dangerous nuclear technology. You have to hand it to them, they’ve got gall.
Mulling over what to say for this meeting it occurred to me that the creators of this Commission did not choose GPC – Georgia Power Commission. Words have meaning so I was happy to notice what PSC stands for until I remembered George Orwell and how political bodies sometimes engage a practice that has come to be dubbed Orwellian.
Evidence that a person is well on his way to becoming an icon can be found in his name being used, as an aside, to validate otherwise spurious theories by the likes of Stephen Stanley – sitting up in Stamford, Connecticut writing for Market Watch that Keynesian economic policies are (ought to be) about to be replaced.
I don’t question that Warren Stephens, the billionaire banker and Lord of Little Rock, likely agrees with Stanley. He said as much in an interview with the Wall Street Journal – simply referring to Stephens in a caption of an illustration to an opinion piece, is to elevate him to the status of icon as is so often done with Ronald Reagan.
Almost nine years ago, my once and future business partner, the effervescent (that is certainly the nicest thing anyone, his dear departed mother included, has ever called him) talk show host, Mike Malloy, called to inform me of two things. One, in spite of his surprisingly high ratings, he had just been fired from WLS, the 50,000 watt, clear-channel ABC owned and operated AM radio station in Chicago, and two, I was about to get a call from some well-heeled listeners who wanted to put him on the air nationally.
Democrats and Republicans will only agree to changes in the tax codes if forced to by their caucus or in exchange for tax contributions. The debt default is looming, so let’s strike a deal.
- A deal that requires no passage of a debt extension – now, or ever again.
- A deal that protects social programs while creating incentives to make them more efficient.
- A deal that allows a Democrat in the White House and a Democrat majority in the Senate to pass a series of core Republican initiatives – how’s that for reaching across the aisle?
- A deal that will make the business lobby happy and create millions of new jobs for unemployed and under-employed Americans.
This will be my 68th Fourth of July and I am indeed thankful for each one of them. As I get older, I am becoming more sentimental and thankful, for I realize more and more the incredible blessings that we enjoy as Americans.
I have my grandchildren this weekend, which is not an infrequent occurrence, and we decided, at their request, to watch the Chronicles of Narnia Series. The story starts with the evacuation of children from London as the Nazi bombing starts during WWII. It made me realize just how blessed we are in that we never had to send our children away to keep them safe. God forbid that it should ever happen.
Gilda Radner’s 65th birthday was a few days ago. She was born the same year as my late wife Lilian. Both had terrific senses of humor and both were taken from us way too soon. As Gilda wrote in her autobiography: “It is so hard for us little human beings to accept this deal that we get. It’s really crazy, isn’t it? We get to live, then we have to die. What we put into every moment is all we have… What spirit human beings have! It is a pretty cheesy deal – all the pleasures of life, and then death.”
The single greatest dish to come out of Canada is the Butter Tart (sometimes called Taffy Tarts – or maybe just Husband calls them that?). Now, if you know how much I lovvvvve Poutine you will know how serious of a declaration is it for me to make, but Butter Tarts are the awesomest.
Butter Tarts are sort of like miniature pecan pies without the pecans. You make small, very shallow crusts with ultra flaky pie crust dough using about 900 muffin tins. Then you fill them up with a syrupy, buttery filling and bake them.
The public strategy seems straightforward – the minority party holds the national debt hostage in an attempt to force the majority party to voluntarily undo three generations of their own progressive policy. On face value, it seems brilliant.
The Republicans, after all, are largely responsible for deficit and the worst depression since Prozac. When they took power under Bush, there was a $235 billion surplus. When Bush left office, the national debt stood at $10.6 trillion and deficits, based on Bush/Republican approved spending, were projected to increase by $9 trillion in the next 10 years. Of course, those estimates didn’t include 9% unemployment continuing to depress tax collections and increasing unemployment benefits…
Normal English: Main Entry: re·pu·di·ate Pronunciation: ri-ˈpyü-dē-ˌāt Function: transitive verb / Inflected Form(s): re·pu·di·at·ed; re·pu·di·at·ing Etymology: Latin from repudium rejection of a prospective spouse, divorce
1: to divorce or separate formally from (a woman)
2: to refuse to have anything to do with : disown
3 a: to refuse to accept; especially : to reject as unauthorized or as having no binding force
4: to refuse to acknowledge or pay <repudiate a debt
“The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work.” – Ben Stein, The American Spectator
Guten Tag Ben!
It’s probably as big a surprise to you as it is to me that I’m writing, but I just had to give you a little shout out, or, as we said in my day, Sieg Heil!
The bald-headed, naked truth is that I am about to lose it.
I am really good—maybe even extraordinary — at what one might term “the art of loss.” Coats, gloves, hats, golf clubs, car keys, eyeglasses, and wallets have slipped through my watery grip and ‘butter’ fingers with more regularity than I care to admit. ‘Bumbershoots’ are a particular specialty. I have misplaced enough of these to keep a small town bone dry during a monsoon, especially if that small town was, say, the size of Chicago. (That umbrella that you found in your office recently, was more likely than not, lost by Cantrell.) At one time or another, I have forgotten the location of my car, once lost a sofa from the bed of a pick-up truck and once, for eighteen hellish minutes, lost my eight-year-old nephew at the mall!
The “it”—i.e. the item ‘most likely’ to be lost this time — is my new cell phone …
I worked at The Miami Herald in the mid 1970s, the newspaper that was my introduction to big-time journalism, Miami was my first foray into big-city life. The Herald then was fat with pages and news and ambition. Besides several metro-Miami editions, there were a half-dozen aimed at different sections of the state, plus two for Latin America that were flown each night to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Caracas.
New York City journalism had recently experienced a major upheaval with many of the dailies closing, sending dozens of staffers heading south for jobs in Florida. Many landed at the Herald …
First let me say that I admire your dogmatic approach to defending the lies, half-truths, and other space age theories of your fellow conservatives. You are to be commended on your willingness to get down in the muck and the mud– and sling it far and wide hoping it tags someone. It usually does. Wonderful tactic. And when you couple that with an absolute lack of knowledge about anything, you’ve got a winning combination. It’s no wonder folks at the EIV pay you the big bucks. See Rush, only in America could a dullard with a God complex become successful. But let me stay on task here.
I’d like to address your recent comments about me, and this nightmarish recession all Americans are dealing with. Your claim about me causing this terrible calamity to punish white people is correct …
The BP oil spill could decide who wins Florida’s U.S. Senate race, and Gov. Charlie Crist, one of the candidates, wants to let Florida voters decide whether to ban offshore drilling forever in a constitutional amendment. To that end, Crist has called a special session of the legislature beginning July 20 and is pushing his former Republican allies to approve the referendum.
“The rightness of this is so clear, especially dealing with what we’ve experienced in the past 80 days or so in the Gulf of Mexico,” Crist said in announcing the special session. But Senate President Jeff Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican, called the move “political contrivance.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a bill allowing concealed guns in church, but the folks tucking pistols into their Sunday best won’t be just any believer wandering in off the street. No, Louisiana’s packing worshipers will be trained professionals, a “security force” for God, as it were. The new law authorizes people already qualified to carry concealed weapons to bring them to church and other houses of worship if they have passed eight hours of “tactical” training and cleared background checks. The law also requires pastors or other leaders of houses of worship to announce verbally or in weekly newsletters or bulletins that there will be individuals armed on the property as “members of the security force.” The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Henry Burns, a Haughton Republican, had argued that churches, mosques, synagogues or other houses of worship in crime-ridden or “declining neighborhoods” needed the added protection to ward […]
After having a few beers around a campfire, a disciple asked, “What do you think is the best way to impact the most lives?”
I thought for a moment, shrugged and replied, “Suicide bomber.”
Martyrs come in all shapes and sizes. Some wore chainmail and big red crosses on their tunics. Others used airplanes to plow into warships. More recently, folks like to pack vests full of C-4 and a few hundred nails or marbles and strap them to their chests.
Announcer: Fox News. We Rant. You Submit. Now Live From Our News Desk In New York, Far Away From Any Real Americans, Is Bambi Lear, With Breaking News
Bambi: Good afternoon. Fox News has learned of an effort by conservative Christians and Republican Party leaders to amend The Ten Commandments. Let’s go now to our reporter in Washington, Hal Gullibal.
Hal: Thank you Bambi. Yes, today we can now confirm that Republican Party leaders and their conservative Christian supporters are working to amend the Ten Commandments by eliminating the sixth commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill.
My, oh my…can open, worms emerging. Dear Samuel Langhorne Clemens is creating quite a stir: the man who was born a curmudgeon and raised cynicism and tongue-in-cheek wit to a mighty and enduring American art-form. Now his autobiography is to be released — the first version to enter the public forum without being sanitized beyond all recognition. Twain himself instructed his publishers, in 1906, “From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out. There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.”
First of all, you need to understand I’m a low-tech sort of guy. Back when I first started earning money playing with words, I did my work on a typewriter. That’s right, one of those little contraptions that had keys you pounded and a paper carriage that you tossed back into position after typing a sentence or two.
These days, other than my computer and a pretty ancient cell phone, I still remain rooted in the 20th Century. It’s not that I have anything against the magical devices that are being developed today. I simply fear I’ve reached that point of information overload …
With that as preamble, I stand before you today to sing the praises of one of those new-fangled, high-tech contraptions …
Eighty-five years ago this month, during another long, hot summer, Clarence Darrow and Dudley Field Malone, two of America’s foremost civil-libertarian lawyers, defended John Scopes, the high school football coach tried in Dayton, Tennessee, for teaching evolution, in violation of the Butler Act. The Tennessee statute, which had been enacted four months earlier, prohibited teaching any theory that denied the Biblical account of creation.
One of the long-standing traditions of American Independence Day celebrations is the grilling of meats. Hamburgers and beefsteaks are popular choices, but the quintessential Fourth of July comestible is, of course, that most American of foods: the Hot Dog. And hot dog is so much more American-sounding than frankfurter sausage, a name that reveals the Germanic origins of this Cylindrical Meat-Food.
Hot dogs are just one of a vast family of sausages, concoctions consisting of meat, fat, spices (and sometimes non-meat components), packed into a casing and then cured or cooked.
I have seen recipes for panna cotta for years, and frankly, I didn’t understand the point of it. Sweetened cream, set with gelatin? Ew. But when we were in Siena several years ago, I tried it for the first time. OH. MY. This is definitely something whose description doesn’t do it justice. Not at all. It’s just, frankly, wonderful.
It’s the perfect light dessert after a rich meal. It’s just the right touch of sweetness, and when you add berries as I have, you have a light, sweet/tart dessert, the perfect end to a perfect meal. What more can you ask?
During a recent book signing trip, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the homes of two famous Southerners, Elvis Presley and William Faulkner. Elvis, of course, was the king of rock and roll, and as almost everyone knows, his Memphis home is called Graceland. William Faulkner was the king of Southern fiction, and his residence—located just south of Memphis in Oxford, Mississippi—has the pastoral name of Rowan Oak.
So, here we have two Southern boys who made it good. Among other things, they both gave their houses names, they both left this world before their time, and they both recorded You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog. Ok, Faulkner didn’t record Hound Dog, but I have it on good authority that he hummed it a lot, and I think he went to school with one of the Jordanaires.
Let us all spare a moment to bow our heads in silence as we consider the fatal blow that has been dealt to the First Amendment. While this cornerstone of democracy sinks beneath the oleaginous waves of the Gulf, we can only mourn its loss – and ours.
According to CNN reports, the government has issued a new edict that would make it a felony crime for any journalist, photographer or reporter to even approach any oil cleanup operation, personnel or equipment in the Gulf. Anyone who violates this draconian law is subject to arrest, a $40,000 fine and prosecution for a federal felony crime.
Whether or not this is an appropriate venue to air this memory – whether, indeed, the USA is an appropriate venue – I’ll leave you to judge. If it’s not, then my defence might be that I still haven’t entirely come to grips with differences in national senses of humor. Be that as it may, it was Tom Poland’s Riding The Chitlin’ Circuit that brought the memory so vividly back. It was the early 1960s and I’d not long been in the Eastern States trying my music out in a larger, more sophisticated market than in my native, allegedly backward Western Australia. In those days, and still, though to a slightly lesser degree, the relationship between The West and Tassie on the one hand and the more populous Eastern States on the other puts me in mind of the North–South thing here. One side uses the other as a convenient conscience […]
Tourists are flocking to Woldenberg Park in New Orleans to watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper report his nightly “AC360″ take on the BP oil spill. Referring to Cooper as “the blue-eyed heartthrob of CNN fame,” the Times-Picayune reported that about 40 people showed up one recent evening to watch Cooper tape his introduction for the cablecast.
Cathy Parnell and her husband, from Peachtree City, Georgia, took time out from their New Orleans vacation to track down Cooper. “I knew he was here because I watch him every night and I recognized the bridge,” Cathy Parnell told the Times-Picayune. Her husband added, “She just kept saying, ‘That’s the bridge, that’s the bridge.’”
I know and have known lots of veterans. Whether a veteran saw combat or not makes him no less a hero in my mind. If you put on the uniform, you had your posterior on the line for my freedom. On this Fourth of July I’m remembering one of these veterans in particular.
He was a Marine who fought in the pacific in the second World War. Somewhere in the midst of his deployment he was captured by the Japanese and spent several years in a POW camp. He was the ranking officer. As an officer it was his duty to escape as often as possible.
A recently discovered, candid, but politically incorrect draft with last minute changes.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 2^4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for rich^one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and more than equal station to which the Laws of Capitalism^Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Does that mean I have oil on my hands?
Initially my social advocate side decided to boycott when I watched the ocean being polluted as a result of a BP fiasco. I felt satisfaction when I drove by BP stations and few cars were at the pumps. I even found myself sizing up those few who were pumping gas and wondering, “What have YOU got against the ocean?” (I later learned that BP supplies gas to many of my other local gas stations, so going to Quick Trip wasn’t doing sea life a darned bit of good.)
The problem with my boycotting stand on this is that I have a built-in aversion to scapegoating. And my own spiritual journey makes me aware of how quickly we humans project guilt onto others because of our own unbearable fear about being unworthy.
Good writers must, by their very nature, know what bad writing is. That is the premise of the Edward Bulwer-Lytton contest.
Starting in 1982, the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (www.bulwer-lytton.com), a clever and whimsical attempt to find the worst opening line of a novel. Brainchild of Scott Rice, then a student at SJSU, who took it upon himself to find the author of what he considered the worst opening line ever, “It was a dark and stormy night,” the contest has drawn thousands of entries over the years.
That opening line, from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s “Paul Clifford,” goes:
OK, the U.S.A. departed the World Cup a few days ago. So who is America’s team now?
I can’t say, but I do have a good sense of who Atlanta’s team is.
My wife wore her Holland shirt around town today and was stopped over and over by people who told her that they hope this year is the Netherlands’ year.
I often marveled at tales from friends who lived in faraway places like Minnesota and Wisconsin about the brutal winters and their daily battles with snow and ice – places so cold that people would often go weeks without venturing outdoors for any length of time. From heated garage to underground parking lot to skyways between buildings … if you worked at it, they said, you really could get by without coming face-to-frozen face with the arctic-like temperatures.
And from the comfort of my mild-mannered Florida or Georgia winter, I scoffed at the folly of living in such an extreme place.
Well, you know what they say about payback.
Tommy is my favorite athlete of all time. Not Julius Erving, whom I played against for four years in high school, and later had the good fortune to encounter professionally. Not Tom Glavine, the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame pitcher who is the best athlete, in every sense, I’ve ever dealt with as a sportswriter. No, not Dr. J or Glav. My favorite athlete ever is Tom Wilkinson. Even with an eight-year age difference, we were very close from the start. The three words I heard most often at 14 Farnum Street were “Pitch to me!” When Tommy, the youngest of three kids, was born, our Dad, who worked nights, was understandably less inclined to wake up on three hours sleep and play ball with his little boy. Instead … ”Jackie, pitch to me!” In the driveway. That’s where I pitched to Tommy, sometimes for what seemed like hours. And […]
The news earlier this month of the reopening of the Statue of Liberty, once again letting tourists wiggle their way through the iconic figure on Liberty Island, had me tumbling backward to a memorable trip my family took to New York in the early 1990s. Right here in metro Atlanta, of course, we have our own hotspots – Stone Mountain, the Margaret Mitchell House, CNN, the Big Chicken – but eventually most of us Southerners get a hankering to visit the Big Apple. If you plot out the details before arriving, over a long weekend it’s possible to visit the Central Park Zoo and the Museum of Modern Art; dash through The Plaza Hotel and walk along Fifth Avenue; nosh your way through a foot-high corned beef sandwich at the Carnegie Deli and catch a matinee at the Gershwin Theater in Times Square; hop aboard the subway and stroll through […]
I remember the cold bottle sweating in my hand and me not daring to drink that last tasty swallow of sin…
Listen up you godless, spineless, irrational, sushi-eating, America-blaming, terrorist-coddling, morally superior, Hollywood-humping, liberal, defeatocrat, progressive, elitist, Marxist, business-bashing, whining, pinko, tree-hugging, vegan-exalting, crackpot, sanctimonious, stem-cell-sucking, tofu-chomping, out-of-touch, pantywaist, tax-hiking, Obamaton snobs*. This is a defining moment. A tipping point. A chance such as we have never had before. A chance that we, the world, will never have again. This is the moment. It will define the future of our children and generations to come. Forever. This is a planet-changing moment. Life and death serious. We have a narrow window and it will close. I fear we are going to blow it. Grab a beer and watch it on TV. Cheat this chance to make our brief moments here matter. I fear, we are going to damn ourselves to an eventual, perhaps, inevitable oblivion and take everyone with us. You know the litany. The talking points. Stop. Think about them. This […]
I have the uncanny ability to mangle the language of any country I happen to be visiting. This trait is only slightly more pronounced than my ability to mangle English. Late at night on the streets of Paris I was completely lost in a desolate part of the city. A car stopped, a man got out and, hoping to explain my paltry understanding of the language I said: “Je parles Francais,” accidentally leaving out the all important “n’ and pas.” “You speak French!” He exclaimed in beautiful English, intuiting that indeed I did not. Searching through Mexico City for a folk art shop we read about, we discovered it just as the owner was locking the door. “Are you closé?” I said, pronouncing the “e” as an “A” and somehow thinking that might turn it into Spanish. “Yes, we are closed!” the store owner said, not bothering to hide his […]
We had talked on the phone and exchanged e-mails, but I had never met Han Park and wasn’t sure what he looked like. When I arrived at an upscale tea house in Seoul, South Korea, I told the hostess I was there to meet Dr. Park. She dutifully wrote his name on a small, hand-held chalkboard and walked around the room ringing a bell. When she returned, she said, “But, sir, there are so many Dr. Parks here.” I should not have been surprised. Park, like Kim and Lee, is a very common name in Korea. But the Dr. Park I was looking for — and who found me a few minutes later — was a singular man. A professor at the University of Georgia, Park might be the most authoritative expert on North Korea in the United States. For that reason, I took seriously an Associated Press report a […]
Aurianna Pell, the Atlanta restaurateur known as Ria, made her mark serving breakfast and lunch across from Historic Oakland Cemetery. The success of Ria’s Bluebird over the past eight years has helped shepherd the resurgence of Memorial Drive and the Cabbagetown and Grant Park neighborhoods. Pell, 41, is now working on launching another restaurant, one that will offer suave Southern meals focused on wine, mixed drinks and conversation, in the more upscale Inman Park neighborhood. Pell says Sauced, which, as it name implies, will incorporate plenty of sauces in its “low and slow” cuisine, is scheduled to open in the fall. With the economy extremely weak, she picked a tough time to strike out on a new venture. She’s already felt the sting of failure. Another Pell restaurant, Patio Daddy-O BBQ in East Point, closed because of the winding down of the Fort McPherson Army base. The tattooed entrepreneur took […]
Perched at the top of the “V” of the intersection of Laredo and N. Clarendon in Avondale Estates, just east of Atlanta, is the new second location of Savage Pizza. Though the décor of the new restaurant has a modern feel, the familiar comic book character theme from the original Savage Pizza in Atlanta’s Little Five Points prevails. Comic books, a passion of Myron Monsky, one of the partners, have been part of Savage Pizza since it opened in 1990. “The theme resonates with young and not so young children,” says partner Field Coxe, with a wry grin. A large Superman action figure sitting on the counter greets customers as they enter the restaurant and the brightly colored walls are covered with comic paraphernalia. The menu at the family friendly restaurant is the same as the Little Five Points’ location. “We’ve developed a little bit of a brand,” said Coxe, […]
Bastille Day!!! Time to storm the barricades. Or rent these movies: START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME (1969) Donald Sutherland and Gene Wilder star as twins literally separated at birth. One pair goes on to become bloodthirsty aristocrats especially skilled at fencing. The other becomes hapless peasants caught up in the French Revolution. The humor is very late ‘60s-silly, but much of it is still riotous today – especially Hugh Griffith as a senile Louis XVI. And yes, that’s Orson Welles, the BIG man himself, as the pompous narrator. A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1935) Classic Golden Age Hollywood with David O. Selznick tackling Charles Dickens before moving on to Margaret Mitchell. Selznick was the producer, not the director, but as was his wont, he ran the show as much as he could. A clean-shaven Ronald Colman stars as the “’tis a far, far better thing” hero, but Blanche Yurka steals […]
A good friend of mine, Jack (last name withheld to protect the guilty) informed me he has recently bought a gas grill — so I’m writing him to straighten him out. Dear Jack(ass) The art of grilling, for better or worse, is a man’s identity. It’s more important than money, fame or even family. Sell the kids if necessary but hold on to the grill. I mean if you can’t grill a decent pork roast or ribs, what good are you? But over gas!!!??? Hell Damn No! Grilling — real grilling — is not done over gas. You COOK over gas, you GRILL over coals. There’s no compromise on this matter. Working as a male prostitute is more honorable than a man standing in front of an eight-hundred-dollar-chrome-gas-grill from Lowe’s! Gas grilling is uncompromisingly gay. (Please, no insult is intended toward gay men or women who grill over charcoal or […]
In his last public act, Benjamin Franklin presented to the US Congress a petition on behalf of the Philadelphia Society for the Abolition of Slavery asking for the abolition of slavery and an end to the slave trade. The petition, signed on February 3, 1790, asked the first US Congress, then meeting in New York City, to “devise means for removing the Inconsistency from the Character of the American People,” and “promote mercy and justice toward this distressed Race.” The Senate took no action and the House tabled it, claiming the Constitution restrained them from prohibiting the importation or emancipation of slaves until 1808. Franklin, in a public forum once stated that “Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils.” With the submission of the petition, it is said that Franklin […]
If the clock is right, it’s 11:17. Paul Hemphill, chronicler of the unsung trucker and the well sung country star ponders a photographer, Louie Favorite, whose face is partly covered by a Leica. The image he captures resonates of a man at ease, comfortable with and surrounded by his life. The photograph of Jimmy Carter above his desk, an unpretentious bookshelf filled with books of literature and art and a comfortable sofa to ponder it all. Awards hang in the corner, an after thought. A love of the game lines the top of the shelves, a reminder of the start of this writer’s life as a sports writer. Favorite photos, notes and mementos glow in the soft light of a lamp and a drawing of the Bard stands watch, a reminder of the history of his craft. In a sixtieth of a second Louie captured a slice of life and […]
Genuine two-party politics takes some getting used to around Georgia. For most of our lives, winning the Democratic primary was “tantamount to election,” as all the papers used to say. No more, however. The more things change, the more they stay the same is what some might say, though. In many communities across Georgia, winning the Republican primary — with no Democratic opposition — can now allow candidates to coast to what is likely an easy victory in November. Notice I say … “likely.” It’s not a certainty. Even though many candidates had no opposition in their primary elections, they still don’t get officially “elected” until they get at least one vote in the general election — to make it official. That’s not always as simple as it sounds. I remember well a race for county commission chairman in our small town of Blackshear, Georgia back in the mid-1970s. That […]
Let us speak of gumbo.
That’s the inscription in my copy of “The Ballad of Little River” by Paul Hemphill. We were at a book-signing at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion, where Roy Barnes had just delivered a thundering introduction that begain, “Thank God for Alabama!” We all appreciated the double entendre: First, the story in “Little River” made Georgia look good by comparison; secondly, Alabama had given us Paul Hemphill.
The gumbo comment was Paul’s little way of reminding me that, while he had forgiven me, he still had not forgotten the night we had made gumbo in my kitchen. I don’t cook well with others. I was trying a new anti-depressant which wasn’t quite right, exacerbated by the fact that I was washing the medicine down with significant quantities of Jack Daniels.
And I was a pluperfect bitch. Probably one of my best (worst?) performances ever, at something I’m damn good at. The clever insults and putdowns rolled off my lips like little barbed honey drops. I contradicted him on everything about making gumbo, from the quality of the seasoning on a cast iron pot, to how brown the rue was supposed to get, to how much filé to add and when. At the time, I was confident of my brilliance. I didn’t know jack about making gumbo, but that didn’t slow me down.
Of all the countries in Africa, including Kenya, the home of his father and ancestors, President Barack Obama chose Ghana as his one stopping point on the continent and I’m glad he did. I traveled to Ghana on a grant from the NEA and Southern Arts Federation to document former President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to eradicate the scourge of Guinea Worm Disease. Given options of several African countries, I did research and asked everyone I knew with experience traveling to Africa for their opinions. I received a lot of advice, but the statement that came up over and over was that Ghanaians were the friendliest people in all of Africa. I have to concur. In several of the small, remote villages I visited, I was one of the few white people they had ever seen. Walking down dusty streets, people would cross over to greet me, shake my hand and […]
My favorite description of Paul Hemphill appeared in an article Doug Monroe wrote for Creative Loafing. That article now hangs in a frame on a wall at Manuel’s Tavern. Paul “came into his own as a writer at the time Atlanta came into its own as a city,” Doug wrote in the 2005 story. “He became a street-prowling chronicler of life in a Southern town that was blooming into a major-league city.” And what “a street-prowling chronicler of life” in the city Paul was. In later years, many readers knew him best as the author of well-regarded books. But his work as a newspaper columnist in the 1960s was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Reading Paul was simply a privilege. Getting to know him was a privilege, too. I remember once talking with him about how messy life can become and how much emotional baggage people can carry as we grow […]
Take the timeless, transcendent beauty of Michelle Pfeiffer, add a biting, bawdy Kathy Bates, place them in the sublime setting of Paris’s Belle Epoque, and slowly and sensuously stir it all together with the direction of Stephen Frears (“Dangerous Liasons”) in a batter composed of two short stories by Colette. The result: a saucy sweet and tartly tasty French soufflé called “Cheri,” now playing at the Tara Theater in Atlanta. Cheri is a delicious but imperfect dish. It has a bit of a slow start, a tad of miscasting and a somewhat expected plot. But I loved every delectable bite. Pfeiffer is phenomenal in this luscious mixture of grand romance and caustic cynicism….wit and wistfulness. It is set in tres chic Paris during its most beautiful era, and the clothes are awesome. Need I say more? Pfeiffer at 51 is still perhaps the most beautiful actress on film. With a […]
I was at a pool on July 4th at the corner of Independence and Liberty, enjoying a wonderful mixture of lemonade and vodka, and messing with my phone when one of my friends (TPaulin08) launched this missive into the Twittersphere: RIP McNair. Dumbly, I stared at it for a solid 15, 20 seconds, vodka addled mind doing it’s best impersonation of racing. Do we know a McNair? Is it like a 1970s NFL player who I would only know from behind NFL Films music (Sam Spence is amazing)? I stumbled on my phone to ESPN.com, and was met with the headline that Steve McNair was dead. And my first thought wasn’t of his illustrious career, or the four sons he left behind, but my first thought was of Chris Benoit. Dead professional wrestler, Chris Benoit. The Monday night after they found the bodies of Chris, his wife Nancy, and their […]
“God Bless America.” We’ve made it our national hymn and we force our elected officials to recite the words from every podium, on every occasion, every time, else have their patriotism challenged. Patriotism? Where along the way did our nation of immigrants – our masses of indebted, desperate and persecuted ancestors – acquire the belief that the USA’s great wealth is a blessing from God? Which if true would mean, ipso facto, that those who suffer must be fallen from grace? Hmm. Our Country ’Tis of Thee, and as for unbelievers, Let the Heathen Rage. Pope Benedict’s encyclical this week on economic justice skewers this careless attitude toward faith and the economy. It is an explicit intellectual challenge to the moral fragility of a worldwide economy answerable solely to shareholders. And it is a hopeful note for progressives in the Roman Catholic Church – and for the faithful of any […]
It is a summer night in South Alabama, shortly before the 20th Century’s first great collision with hell. Austria-Hungary will declare war on Serbia in five days; within two weeks, the slaughter will be under way on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. The pace of events throughout the world is accelerating like a teamless wagon clattering down a hillside, but as Sarah Clementine Murdock picks up a pencil to write her daughter, time still moves at its immemorial pace.
Clio, July 23, 1914
My darling Belle,
I have been trying to get the chance to write to you all this week; but it just looks like I never will do any thing. I just want to talk to you so much more than to write. I am trying to make Dad some shirts, and it worries me so to sew. I reckon I am getting too old; but I am always tired when I start. I was sorry that Minie wrote you about Nat, for you all have enough there. He is some better I think, all-though he is suffering with his back. They are treating it and going to try to keep from operating if they can help it. I hope so. Anyway, Lucy came back Monday, and brought her aunt and little sister with her; but I enjoyed it. She is a nice good girl, and I enjoyed her company, and she did not mind helping me. You would like her.
As I was hiking into a remote farming village deep in the Bangladesh countryside, a gentle rain started falling. I rounded a curve in the trail and looked into the face of a young girl bathing in the village pond. I don’t consider myself a cutting edge photographer and sometimes the element of my images that makes them work is the effort I took in being there. I have done several assignments for CARE, a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty in sixty-six countries. With their national headquarters in downtown Atlanta, they are ambassadors of the south around the world. Traveling to Nicaragua, my wife and I took a day to explore the Hugo Chavez Barrio outside Managua. I have always found the most generous, gracious people in the poorest areas of a country and this was no exception. We looked into the yard of one of the hundreds of corrugated […]
When I first passed this old bus sticking out of the woods on the side of a winding road in the North Carolina mountains, I was a little lost and a little stressed about finding my way to my destination before nightfall. Yet it caught my eye and my imagination. Several times over the next couple of days I thought of it – the white, the rust, the DayGlo paint is slowiy giving way to the green advance of nature. With only a flash impression, I created a whole fantasy about the bus. Maybe because I recently saw “Hair” on Broadway, I dreamt that hippies had lived in it. They bought it used and cheap and joined a peace caravan. People smoked pot in it, made love, wore tie dye t-shirts and those cool blouses with the little round mirrors. So I went back. Out of my way, but I […]
Sarah Palin should have actually listened to her parents’ refrigerator magnet rather than quoting it: The wisdom of the magnet was: “don’t explain: your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.” Instead she explained – dribbling and mixing basketball metaphors with dead fish, lame ducks, milk and war. (The “we are not retreating” quote that she wrongly attributed to General MacArthur, was actually said by General Oliver Smith during the Korean War.) The astute magnet was right when it proclaimed: “your enemies won’t believe you anyway.” I confess. Upon hearing and reading Palin’s explanation (AKA, justification), I practically ran to our kitchen box in search of the meaning of life. I actually did find most of the meaning of my life in a photo gallery of family and friends, sprinkled with a few narcissistic, magnetic insights: “Take Me to Paris,”Warning, Unapologetic Liberal,“Bon Voyage,” “Hurrah! At Last […]
Parties are springing up all over the United States this weekend. But last week some contributors to Like the Dew got a jump on the celebrations with a gathering at the home of Arthur and Eleanor Ringel Cater in Atlanta. Here are snapshots of some of the people who were there, in hopes that readers can enjoy a virtual Dew gathering of their own. Photos, from top: The hosts, Eleanor Ringel Cater and Arthur Cater, wonder who’s going to clean up the mess after this get-together ends. Clockwise from left, Ron Feinberg, Eleanor Ringel Cater, Jennifer Hill, Tom Walker, Melinda Ennis and Arthur Cater (eating a nacho) discuss great stories they would like to read or write. Arthur interrupts a couple of times to say he really likes the nachos. Conversations about potential stories break out in various corners At left, Lee Leslie talks with an invisible person (who, he […]
His name is legion in the United States of America’s great family album – the veteran who serves youthful years in horrific danger in a distant war, then comes home and never has much to say about it. Unless calling up memories that make us laugh with him. Walter Boone Lucas was such a fellow. With smiling self-deprecation, he would tell of being drafted in Baltimore in 1942, marching on the boardwalk in Atlantic City (hasty mustering of fresh troops) with a broom handle (rifle shortage), in boots too big (no size 6.5 available), then training as a radio technician at Kelly Field in San Antonio but not being immediately assigned like everyone else (his name literally lost by the paper pushers). After all fellow trainees had shipped out, he inquired about his own status, and only then got an assignment. To cap it off, he sailed on a commandeered […]
This week marks the 145th anniversary of the brutal Civil War battle fought at Kennesaw Mountain. What better time to take note of how one venue of that ferociously fought war to protect segregation and slavery has become the picture of diversity? My husband and I have been hiking the Kennesaw trails for almost 20 years and have been increasingly struck by the growing array of accents, languages, skin colors and ages visiting this historic national park. Independence Day weekend presents an opportune time to check this out for yourself. Last weekend, we took the Cheatham Hill trail to Kolb Farm (bordered by Powder Springs Road), and our trek back toward the mountain included a stop at the Illinois Monument – an imposing honor to the Illinois boys and men who died in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. We were stunned that we hadn’t even known of its existence and […]
The view from the finish line in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park of the 2009 AJC Peachtree Road Race, Saturday, July 4th. The weather was perfect. The park beautiful. And the crowd festive. Click here to read more at AJC.com – it is their race and their story.
This was not the barbecue we had in mind for Dewers this fourth of July. A small fire at the LikeTheDew web-hosting provider’s data center on fireworks-eve knocked us offline leaving our readers without their independent morning Dewsletter on Independence Day. It also left many Independence Day stories homeless and now a bit dated. Ironically, the fire demonstrated our dependence, after all. Yes, we are dependent upon consistent technology to support home delivery of The Dew. It is a reminder of the need for back-up systems (we dew – multiple and off-site), alternative providers (we don’t afford), and a preparedness plan (we will) for such unexpected events. Readiness is especially important to small arts organizations, whose ability to provide continuity in the face of emergencies is extremely important. As one “Dewer” wrote, “It’s terrible to be voiceless and powerless, isn’t it? I miss our site.” Another consoled, “…happy to hear […]
Southern families are bound by traditions and rituals. We all tend to do things when and how we have done them before. And the same is true with my own kin. Thus Thanksgiving dinner is commonly served at 2:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and the main course is turkey. The Christmas tree goes up on the first Saturday in December, and it comes down during the first week of the New Year. The Halloween candy must be a combination of Milk Duds and Milky Ways—which is sort of my tradition, in case there are some left the next morning—and the bill of fare on the Fourth of July will invariably be barbecued ribs. And every year, sometime early in March but no later than the 15th, we trim the liriope.
I am using the imperial “we” here, of course.
If you are unfamiliar with liriope, then you must not be from around these parts.
Did you know that more soldiers die from accidents than from active military engagement? A few years back, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Mark Schulz, Word Entertainment recording artist, to create “Letters from War”, a poignant music video that brought home the painful effects of war on family and loved ones. Today, as more and more American Soldiers return home, they struggle adapting to a life and routine that’s far removed from what they faced at war. PTSD, depression, drug abuse, and accident-related deaths are on the rise among Soldiers who have returned from combat. This Independence Day, let’s make more people aware of how they can support these brave men and women as they transition to their new lives. Let’s reach out to families and friends who have spent many months waiting for their loved ones to return home. How can you help? Be a part of […]
Wasn’t it the late-great, George Carlin who asked one of the most profound questions of our age when he pondered aloud, “Why is there no blue food?” It’s important for a theme queen like me to have some red-white-and-BLUE food for July 4th. Bleu-cheeseburgers? Not if there are kids at the cookout. Who can blame them? Appreciation for the flavors of old mold will come with age, so to speak. (See instead a great recipe for Vidalia Onion Sliders below.) The best of blue food It seems that only dessert can trumpet the proud tradition of our grand ‘ole flag when it comes to fare. This is no compromise indeed. Flag food can be created with some of our All-American favorites: blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. This is a concession we can all make in the national interest. And, for that matter, in our […]
The marquee of the famed Georgia Theatre in Athens usually features the names of well-known bands or bands you never heard of but probably will hear of in the future. The theatre has hosted such famed bands as REM, Widespread Panic, U2 and others who got their start in Georgia’s music city. A few weeks ago, the interior of the Georgia Theatre was gutted by fire, although the exterior is still intact. Now, the marquee simply says “Ouch!”
If you’ve had a notion in recent years that Atlanta is getting crowded “inside the Perimeter,” you’re right. Some new research shows that the core cities in America’s largest metropolitan areas have been growing faster than the suburbs outside those cities, which the experts regard as a significant change. And — no surprise — the City of Atlanta has posted one of the strongest records of population growth since 2001 among the 75 large urban areas surveyed. Also no surprise, the worst economy since the Great Depression is partly responsible, although this trend apparently started before the recession and is expected to continue even when the economy recovers. The research by Brookings Institution demographer Richard H. Frey was reported in The Wall Street Journal, and can be accessed here. As with most population changes, this one “is the result of a whole slew of factors,” says the WSJ, citing […]