voice of the people
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 […]