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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Collinsville's Bud Oliver, Reed Cousins and Vanderbilt Magazine

That's Cousin Bud Oliver, though he don't claim me, Cousin S. T. Reed at the top of the Mtn and twice annual Fa So La Singing at Pine Grove Baptist Church.
They Say my Grandfather's Brother Uncle Rock "Roscoe" was a regular back in the 30's and 40's. Bud said they called him "Cake"; cause he was more of a dinner on the ground fellow than a singer.
I took to it here last several years, and my Cousin Jill and her son Marc Vidito were present last August, the 4th Sunday.
Bevvy of pictures in this article, the Collinsville group about picture 17-21

Also see Kiri Miller whose acquaintance I made in 2006

And last summer met a fellow who was staying with Henagar Ivey's for the summer from Bard College on the Hudson where Luc Sante, the consultant for Gangs of New York Teaches.
Sante understands the world of Billy Sunday and water Baptism as you'll see googling his Museum of God and Crime.

From toleration to deep respect and affection; a rich portion of the Century Review of Miller's work below.
What I was working toward when they kicked me out of the local Baptist Church. Maybe some of them will worship with Bud Oliver this August and figure it out.

From the Century review:

Traveling Home, part of University of Illinois Press's Music in American Life series, examines Sacred Harp singing in cultural context. Author Kiri Miller teaches music at Brown University. Her perceptive analysis is informed by her training as an ethnomusicologist, more than a decade of singing with groups all over the country and a half dozen years of monitoring the lively conversation on the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association discussion lists at A keen observer and gifted writer, Miller marshals vivid stories from Sacred Harp devotees to illuminate various facets of the history and practice of Sacred Harp singing, including the one that so moved Ben.
Miller suggests that "rural Southern culture is often as inaccessible and unintelligible to new Sacred Harp singers as shape-note notation, partly because of entrenched stereotypes." She describes learning to sing the notes as "a process of acculturation, and often one of growing mutual tolerance"--even (I would say) deep respect and affection. Sacred Harp conventions draw together urban and rural people, conservative Christians and people of no religious affiliation, young and old people, people with advanced degrees and people with little formal education. In a reversal that makes those who are often stereotyped and stigmatized the authoritative bearers of the tradition, northerners from diaspora Sacred Harp groups travel to the source to learn the conventions of this music and to soak up the old sound from those who are its custodians.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two readings: National Economics and Southern Preachers

Here is an excerpt from a new book on Preachers in the South, focussing on the works of Will Campbell and Flannery O'Connor--reminds me there is also a new book out devoted to the writings and life of O'Connor--with this paragraph dig at ambitious Methodists:

Ramsey also considers the problems that most ministers face on a day-to-day basis. Church administration is the plague of those called to the ministry of "word, sacrament, and order." Someone must organize the various ministries of the congregation, and there is always the danger that the pastor will become captive to church politics. In this regard, he examines The Convention, Campbell's roman à clef about national struggles among the fundamentalists, and The Sunday Wife, Cassandra King's equally acerbic study of ambition among the Methodists.

Here is the link.

My friend Tom Edsall formerly of the Washington Post, author of 1984 New Politics of Inequality, a consciousness raising reading exercise for me in the decade in which I became no longer a promising young man; Edsall put things in best perspective yesterday before President Obama's press conference.
Edsall at naming it "an awful mess."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My righteous sister and Peace in Babylon

I have two occasional phone conversations with my sister, three years my junior and an ordained deacon, in the last several months about fundamentalism and peace.
She sat in a discussion with a Christian missionary who said things are ominous in Pakistan.
I can't disagree with his first hand experience; at same time Marion Aldridge of the SC CBF holds out some hope.

And then there is Bill Moyers journal transcript of Friday night with Karen Armstrong easily googled up; conceding how she has reconciled some with religious conservatives in her own Christian tradition, at same time saying there is a community within Islam with whom we can dialogue.
She says Islam politically has not had the luxury of 300 years in dialogue with the lessons of the Enlightenment. Take Christian Fundamentalists 500 years ago and not too much difference with the folks who cause us concern in that part of the world now.
I don't have the answers, just proud of Aldridge, Bill Moyers and my sister for shedding some light and engaging the conversation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Senators Shelby and Barron Town Hall Meetings

US Senator Richard Shelby and State Senator Lowell Barron had Town Hall meetings in Dekalb County in the last ten days or so and I was present for both; Shelby, March 7 at Noon in Mentone, and Barron Feb 27 at 5pm at the American Cafe in Collinsville.
If you are interested in this blog at all, do check back in 5-7 days or so as I may add a few more nuances.
Both are gifted Alabama politicians who know the audiences I was in well. Whether they are statesmen and will yet use their considerable political capital to leave a legacy of progress in the state; whether they will leave an imprint on the state that would do justice to the legacy of Judge Frank Johnson or Hugo Black, I defer to the likes of Hardy Jackson and Wayne Flynt and Emory's Dan Carter to say.
Jennifer Foster has a great link below that challenges both powerful politicians to do better.
The crowd at Mentone was interesting, about 40 or so, lilly white; and with the exception of myself and about three others all seemed to be of considerable wealth and success.
Good people, who impressed me as having worked a system of merit justly and played by the rules. My take was they are concerned about the country as are the rest of us.
Shelby played my question about Constitutional Reform. I can't say he finessed it dismissively, but did not give me much opportunity to get to the meat of Jennifer Foster's reservations linked below. I held a copy in my hand and was angling to get to the heart of her reservations but he sparred me off to his advantage.
The next morning he was on ABC This Week with George Steph in an interesting panel with the President of the US Chamber of Commerce and Indy Senator Evan Bayh and McCaskill of Missouri.
Shelby is a Master of the Town Hall Setting, and Barron does well himself. To get to the heart of whether they are worthy of the high legacy of Frank Johnson and Hugo Black; jury is still out.
And to the extent that they game these Forums; well it will take a setting where all the participants including the audience come to the event with a sound reading, conversational knowledge at a modicum of Hardy Jackson's layman's History of Alabama, and the Collection of essays History and Hope in the Heart of Dixie.

Till that day, while there is something noble and heartwarming about participating in a discussion where powerful politicians engage in conversation and take questions from "the people"; I don't see where these two town hall events quite rose to a level that advanced the common good near as much as it could be advanced, even in these difficult times.

St. Senator Barron's Collinsville Town Hall Meeting , Feb 27
Here is the way I wish I had introduced my question to St. Senator Lowell Barron who some say outside the governor is the most powerful man in the state.Here is what I wish I had said Friday afternoon at the Town Hall meeting at the American Cafe in Collinsvlle, where about 82 people showed up in threatening weather.Senator, I miss the days when I called you up on statewide public television. We had a good time every 6 months or so there for a while.But they changed the 800 number on me, then cut the program back; and here in Collinsville the locals have changed the locks on me at the local library and the Baptist Church; it's good to see you today and to have a chance to ask this question. It uplifts my spirits a good deal.

I think I woulda gotten a good chuckle as there for a while my call in questions were of some notoriety locally and sometimes provocative.But Senator Barron for the most part, though an artful dodger, was a good sport about it and I guess that is part of his charm and longevity in the state senate.Friday he made mention of our history on statewide TV as he first did in a town hall meeting in Jan 04 and again June 06. I didn't make it in 04 as I'd had some setbacks and was out of state. But we had a good time in 06 on Constitutional Reform Question.I handed him a copy of Opelika-Auburn News column by Jennifer Foster, Friday,
but decided to ask something on another topic when my time came for questions.I asked him how he voted in the Presidential election last fall, and to handicap the Alabama Governor's race upcoming. He played the crowd pretty well; took a pass on Obama's election, named the Bama Gube candidates but didn't volunteer any estimation he had of them.I do give him credit during his Power Point Presentation for the several anecdotes he told about recent conversations with Bama's Gov. Riley about how to address the state's financial crisis. I think he made a strong point about the rainy day fund, telling the Governor's "It's Raining" and now is the time to tap those resources.
Sadly, Barron uses the ruse of the Big Mules to obfuscate clear remedies for the necessity of a Rainy Day Fund in the First Place.
As Hardy Jackson and Flynt and a host of Bama analysts have said for some time--and I have to believe Barron know this--The Black Belt Politicians of the Days of George Wallace and their hirelings in Montgomery and Birmingham are no more a Big Mule than Barron is.
Barron is in the Stable of Big Mules in the State and has been for some time. Principled and deliberate work toward Constitutional Reform is a first step that will make all the other dances on Barron's card outdated to the benefit of us all.
Barron has for the most part quite gracious and hospitable to me on statewide call in programs, in these town hall meetings;even in several encounters where I have bumped into him around the county.
I appreciate it.
Still he is too savvy after 25 years or so in the state legislature not to know where the High Ground is. To that end I join Jennifer Foster in calling on him to do better

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Good Arkansas Bluegrass Gospel

Went to a singing tonight at the Heard these folks,

Pure and authentic gospel with many of the songs written by the family themselves.
I told them I drove down from near the Tennessee state line to hear them sing just NW of Bham, and made two requests; the Song about Momma and the one about Jacob's vision. They got both in for me right away; song Two and Number Seven.
I got emotional on both songs, the one about Momma especially.
These folks played three times in Childersburg, and once in Elba before hitting Maytown where the good folks there were taken with them.
Mart Gray, former Ex Dir of Alabama CBF, good friend of Annie Lucas Brown and now on a state library advisory board, was very favorably impressed as well.
I'm hoping maybe by the end of the year they will play somewhere in NE Alabama, maybe the new Desoto Park amphitheatre or the Rainsville Civic Center.
With proper promotion they'll sellout both venues; they're the real deal; one vocalist easily ranking with Gillian Welch. One fellow who has frequented the Grand Ole Opry since near birth said they are as good as anything he has ever seen at the Ryman, and his brother, a Kidney doctor west of the Mississippi concurs.

Here are the lyrics for Jacob's Vision

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Furman Basketball makes front page of NY Times

Tuesday, March 3.

Story about Pat Conroy of My Losing Season and his reconciliation with his alma mater.
An anecdote about Furman and the 66 season he wrote about in MLS is referenced several times in the article.
Conroy often passed the ball underhanded. Woulda been a wonder to see him play.
In 1990 Conroy was Graduation Speaker at Furman; and almost as controversial as President Bush was last year.
The Southern Conference tournament starts tomorrow in Chattanooga. Furman plays Samford in the first round, but Davidson's Stephen Curry will be the attraction of the tourney.
Speaking Basketball, the new book about Magic and Bird and the 79 NCAA finals, the game that made March Madness is worth a read. I got entranced by it few days ago.

And this stellar story from SI and