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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.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Birmingham Jew attempts to solve Football Riddle in the South

Sports fans, this blog is a work in progress. I'm posting as it evolves so if you like what you read at all, come back August 4 or so for hopefully the perfected version, the final draft. 

                                       A. Billy Fox and Raymond Parker

 I guess a little of it is genetic disposition, calling in talk radio. When we lived in Gaffney, South Carolina my Dad was a regular on Big WAGI FM. Raymond Parker had a live community program two hours every weekday morning. Other than Bob Prevatte's Weekly Fall Friday Head Coaching report on the Gaffney Indians, I guess my Dad was there more often than anybody else. For about five years he would call in from some big national city to give Raymond and Cherokee County S.C. a report on the annual Southern Baptist Convention.

   He and Raymond weren't one in a timin. You could hear em clear in a big circumference for fifty miles including Greenville, S.C. and Charlotte, N.C.

    Opening day of Major League Baseball Dad would go by every year after he dropped me and my brother or sister off for school and take a shot at Quoting Casey at the Bat for Raymond. About the third verse every year he'd get a little fuzzy, Raymond would say how much he appreciated the first two verses and for Billy to come back next year when maybe he could go the distance; in the meantime he'd most likely see him in a few days to talk about some other goings on in town.

    With that in the blood sooner or later I was destined to call the Paul Finebaum show.

   Or as Linda's friend says, Karl Childer's date says in Slingblade,  if you like pricin items as much as I do, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

 Paul Finebaum, born in New York of Jewish ancestry, educated in Knoxville, longtime sports columnist for papers in Alabama, and the last several years a Radio Jock Talk show host now on the verge of iconography with his recent elevation to ESPN afternoon primetime radio and TV, has a new book coming out August 4.

    I've called his show on several occasions since October 2012; had a good start with Bama QB Greg McElroy as One Rhodes Scholar to another. Paul said: "This ought to be good."

  A better though much less read book will come out later this year on SEC Football as religion. It's author Remillard has an easily googled review of Randall Balmer on his new bio of President Carter.

   Here is about the best call I can make; I've already peaked on his show, but wanted to show proof of participation as this blog in progress evolves.

   I come in about the 13th minute on June 30:

                               B.      Finebaum, Rick Bragg, etc. Paul's place
                                 in the World of Southern Lit
                                          and Humor

      Roughly, Paul Finebaum comes in something in the bottom tier of a mid Major. He's no Roy Blount, doesn't come Close to George Singleton though the world's of Singleton's Half Mammals of Dixie overlap. Finebaum;  may best Lewis Grizzard by a tad with Finebaum's better tales, but that jury is still out. In a few years where the consensus rank Finebaum's My Conference, your Conference against Warren St. John's Yellowhammer book may be the defining rank.
    At same time Finebaum who has a law degree from Harvard (I think) is no fool. Had a fun exchange with him on another occasion where he mentioned during March Madness there was a WSJ site that bracketed all this years schools with the most intellectual graduates. Cormac McCarthy at his UTenn, and Zack Galifinakis at NC State.

    Paul did make a feature in the New Yorker and you can't take that away from him. I'll link that article of which Finebaum seems to be very proud at the end of this blog.

                                    C. Nick Saban

    Paul was doing quite well as a Birmingham Post Herald and syndicated talk show host a long time before Nick Saban came to town, but his recent fortunes have gone to much higher places, the one above the stratosphere--isn't that the ionoshphere--in the last seven years of the Saban era at Ubama. If somebody did a content analysis of the Finebaum show the four hours it is on air every weekday afternoon, you'd hear the name Nick Saban at least three times on average every minute. So forty minutes to the hour, for four hours, what's that, that's 480 a weekday afternoon, and a heckuvalot in a year.

    Ron Higgins who has covered the SEC for 35 years had this to say about Saban last week from SEC Media Days second week, this one at ESPN compound in Bristol Connecticut:  Quoting a recent AP story: Higgins said You'd have thought Alabama woulda found somebody a little more stable, quicker--lamenting the string of coaches since the Bear who have averaged out at 3 and half years or so till Saban--than they did but Nick was absolutely the right guy for that job. You have to win there, you have to let everybody know your the boss.BEcause everybody in that state thanks they're a football expert. That's part of the DNA in Alabama. All the fans think they know Football. All the FOOTBALL WRITERS think they know football.You have to basically tell them all to go to Hell

  End Quote

   I tried to read this quote on Finebaum the first hour of the July 31 show but Paul made light of my attempt coming up on hard break at the end of the first hour. His show and his loss on that call but he had other fish to fry.

   He says there is an excerpt out shortly in a major magazine, I'm guessing Sports Illustrated though it may an inhouse puff job with ESPN magazine.

                 D. The Bigger Picture

    On my first call of October 2012 Paul and McElroy were taking notes. I referenced a January 1984 article by Howell Raines in the New Republic on the passing of the Bear and how he coulda pushed George Wallace a little harder. Paul conceded it was one of the best articles ever written about Crimson Tide Football.

     Now 30 years later Nick Saban has a platform to be larger than a football coach. Mike Hubbard--worth about 5 million and more thanks in large part to his privatizing the Auburn Sports network all the while playing the politics of voter suppression ( see his book Storming the Statehouse with the Republican Handshake)--*is the Speaker of the Bama House and his Tea Party Politics could make even Karl Rove wince. Saban does less in my estimation than the Bear whose measure Raines took in the New Republic article.

     There is a story about the Bear's summons to his former QB Steve Sloane to come to D.C. Sloane by 79 was head coach of Ole Miss, but when the Bear Called he flew to D.C. The Bear wanted to talk about Grace, a concept the Bear couldn't quite get his head around according the Keith Dunnivant biograpy.

    The money around the SEC and it's ascendancy with ESPN and now it's own TV network is headspinning. I enjoy the carnival too so I'm a hypocrite along with Paul taking all his money taking distractions to the bank. I part the canvas and look in on the carnival just like the rest of you.

    And then there is Friday Night Lights, the movie and tv Series, The Blind Side, Remember the Titans, Rudy, Radio.... and all the other movies and books. The stories never stop.

    I'm of two minds at this point. It is great entertainment, gets the passions going--have you seen the SEC promo with the song Dixie as Soundtrack; but there is also Alabama's Conscience Wayne Flynt and his long segment on Auburn football corruption in Keeping the Faith, and the Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch has weighed in in the Atlantic Magazine.

      Finebaum was on Gameday set with Bill Murray last fall when Clemson played FSU. I woulda loved to have been there myself with a microphone around my neck in the Hoopla.

   As Connor says in the Road to Perdition: "It's All So Fucking Hysterical."

* Hubbard's son Clayte is an incoming Freshman in Marshall Frady and my alma mater, Furman, in a few weeks.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The legacy of Bill Hull and the FBC Spartanburg Truth Conference

Yesterday in the mail I got the Spring issue of Christian Ethics Today whose current editor is Pat Anderson,  Furman grad of the class of 65, two years after Marshall Frady. Among the many sterling articles in this issue-- including two by my friend Randall Balmer whose recent book looks at the makings of the desertion of many Southern Baptists from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Presidential election--is a tribute to Baptist thinker and pastor William E. Hull by Baptist scholar Budy Shurden.

   The politics of  the Balmer analysis of Carter's defeat is now incarnated in a seminar to be held at Billy Graham and Fox News darling Trey Gowdy home church this September in Spartanburg., South Carolina.

     The Tribute to  Hull, an Abraham Lincoln of religious life in the 20th Century, A Baptist gift to Christendom along with the likes of Martin King, Carlyle Marney, George W. Truett and Upstate South Carolina's L.D. Johnson, is analogous and prophetic to Bonhoeffer's thoughts on the politics of stupidity in the recent Marsh bio the the great 20th Century martyr.  (see my recent blog on that topic)

    Here is one thought of Hull in that tribute.

I tried to make the

gospel creditable to thinking people

of whatever faith or of no faith who

were put off by the mindlessness

that is epidemic in many pulpits. I

knew that my preaching would be

appreciated best by a minority, but

I quickly realized that Christianity

must speak persuasively not only to

the majority who follow but to the

minority who lead.

   But you won't see that display in Spartanburg. They will feature Eric Metaxas whom the Christian Century examines in a piece titled Bonhoeffer Hijacked; and David Barton who was discarded several yeaqrs ago for his views on the founding fathers.

    Giberson and Stephens have taken a caustic look in their book The Anointed.

    Here is hoping Wofford College in Spartanburg, their longtime Trustee Will Willimon, even the editorial staff of the Herald Journal take a look at the ideology of the Tea Party Church at Prayer, informed by Molly Worthen's take on Francis Schaeffer in her new book The Apostles of Reason; Balmer's investigation of the rogue Baptists FBC Spartanburg continue to celebrate; and Joe Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America.

    The Baptists the likes of Bill Hull tried to lead will find FBC Spartanburg's exercise this September nauseating.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Blackberry Theology

  Curtis Freeman, a Duke Div Baptist specialist who has written up my Dad's and my hero Stewart A Newman, is all over facebook today with pics of the blackberries he picked and the wonderful cobbler his wife made.

   Freeman also has a fascination with a copperhead snake that keeps turnin up in his yard. Ron Rash calls em satinbacks, or maybe that's the rattler.

   I got some berries right outside the window here in Bama but my cobbler makers have moved off and I'm suffering, and the logistics aren't working out to get some to Aunt Juanita's cobbler in Rome Ga. I called Cousin Reba but she put me off on Cousin Martha and I haven't worked that out yet.

    Not a perfect telling here, but couldn't let it all pass without a reference to Billy Sunday Birt and my Dad's outtings with High School Principal  Wayne Whiteside in Gaffney in the early 70's. I asked Dad once what those chat were like as they waded out deep into the thicket smelling of kerosene. It was rich conversation.

    You have all the elements, the heat, the humidity, the thorns, the threat of a diamondbacked rattler, human sweat. Ripe mix for revelations of Old Testament proportions.

     Billy Sunday Birt was a serial killer in North Georgia in the 60's, who confessed to 40 murders. He accepted Jesus as his Saviour in the 90s and was taken unshackled to Winder Georgia where his son Baptized him. You got to figure his Godly mother naming him after the biggest evangelist turn of the 19th into the 20th had something to do with it.

     Who am I to judge.

     A friend and I wrote a screenplay fictionalizing those circumstances. There is a blackberry picking seen in it.

     Brad Pitt was raised Baptist out in Missouri. If you can get this blog to him, we'd love to talk if he wants to. President Carter's staffer Jody Powell read well into the story before he died.

    This one's ripe for the pickin.