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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, May 27, 2016

Uncle Jess Nease, Lee Smith's Dimestore and Marble cake

      My friend Lynn Arve of Upstate South Carolina doesn't see her name in print as much as Penny Cooper and Karen Ellers and I do so want to mention her at the outset as she is anxiously awaiting this blog.

   Weekend of May 22 on Ga NPR's Two Way Street I heard a grand interview of Lee Smith re her new memoir Dimestore. Was already aware of Smith as the author of the tantalizing scene in Oral History, and the snake Handling novel Saving Grace which is set good bit of the story in Newport Tn where I was born. She is the wife of Hal Crowther, himself a fan of Marshall Frady; and Lee as she said Sunday is great fan of my friend Ron Rash so she runs with the right crowd. And she has a great story in this charming new book about Eudora Welty as well as Lou Crabtree so I'm all in.

    Her story about Eudora Welty covers Welty's short story The Worn Path and Marble Cakes. I'll let you read the book for context but hope Smith's eyes find this tale of mine about one of Newport's finest Uncle Jess Nease, of the Bethel Baptist Church community and Parrotsville.

    Wayne Whiteside once met Jess Nease so that was one great moment in American History right there.

    But this is Uncle Jess Story.

    I guess he was born in the 1890s, never owned a car and walked more than a mile if somebody didn't pick him up across the hills of East Tennessee ever Sunday to get to church. He's one of the most memorable characters --and there were many including Aubrey Dickens and Sadie Kiser and a host--my Dad ever had in a congregation an otherwise anonymous Saint if there ever was one.

     My Dad visited him often after leaving Newport in 56 or so. I cant remember if he was still alive when we got to nearby Knoxville in the late 70s or not.

    But he always kept a caramel or marble cake under the bed. That was a high point of all dad's visits when Uncle Jess and the wife would offer some cake and then go under the bed.  Seems like they always had one.

    Marble cakes are central to Lee Smith's telling of the Eudora Welty visit to Hollins College in the 60s that changed the course of Smith's writing career.

     Ralph Stanley and Mother Maybelle Carter are in this book too. I've already recommended to Martha Barksdale as Im convinced she'll resonate with memories of Graves Hardware in Collinsville which made an impression on the life of my Uncle Bill Jordan. Great stories. Good read and hope many of you will google up the Two Way Street Interview, an education in itself.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bolivia Sharapova, Rick and Bubba and Russ Moore and the Atwater "Nigger" memo

    Before I get started let me go on record and say I like Rick and Bubba. We talked a few years ago about Anniston native Buckshot Willet and her avuncular downline Melanie Oudin who had a big splash in the French Open in 2009 and won Mixed Doubles with Jack Sock at Us Open few years ago and whose sister played four years at Furman and graduated 2015.

   And Olivia Odum, intern from Samford, Bolivia Sharapova as Rick and Bubba want to call you, walking around sense of the likes of Rick and Bubba is not what a good Baptist liberal arts education is about. For that know the legacy of recent Samford President Tom Corts, and find Ft Payne Alabama's Cherilynne Crowe, Samford and Vandy grad now with the Baptist Joint Committee in DC. Also Kate Campbell. They know what a Baptist is. R and B do not.

    But as for their fundamentalist Babdiss religion politics to quote Randy Newman in his exquisite 1972 tribute to Lester Mattox, Rednecks, They Don't Their Ass from a Hole in Ground.

    They said on the radio on my birthday Weds or was it yesterday, in an interview with SBC's ERLC Russ Moore Hillary Clinton was "morally Unqualified" to be President of the United States.
    Well find  Molly Marshall and explain that to her.

    Every matter in this election cannot be melted down to race politics but Rick and Bubba have some interesting conversations to come with the players in the Southeastern conference 75 percent or more of whom are people of color. Tell Them Rick and Bubba and Russ Moore Hillary Clinton is "morally unqualified" to be president of the United States when her lifelong heroes and mentors have been the likes of Marian Wright Edelman, Judge Frank Johnson and Maya Angelou. Since the early 70s her inner circle has included Taylor Branch--incidentally, Olivia his father is a Samford grad--the Pulitzer prize winner for his 1,000 plus page trilogy on the Civil Rights era. Explain that to Derrick Henry and his Mother and let us know how that conversation goes.

    Will link as I already have  to R and B's fbk wall my friend Randall Balmer piece Sunday in the Washington Post about the origins of Russell Moore and Mohler's reign in the SBC to the Birch Society and white Citizen's Council of the 60s.  Patterson and Pressler did it with Jesse Helms and Birmingham's Albert Lee Smith and Adrian Rogers of Memphis went along for the ride. Dallas Jeffress predecessor WA Criswell addressing Baptist pastors in SC in 56 said "now you wouldn't call a Chigger a chiggerow now would you?"

    In Princeton Wuthnow's Rough Country, you find the quoted "nigger memo" of the late Lee Atwater showing how the babdiss heroes of Rick and Bubba morphed race politics into the politics of abortion and prayer in schools and creationism and other fallacies that make up the so called "Christian Biblical" world view of their babdiss faith leaders and all their gibberish. See Giberson and Stephens The Anointed.
   For Rick Burgess expertise on Mormonism and Babdists, see Harold Bloom and the "masquerade" the Bible became for the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Let's panel this fall R and B with some folks who actually do know their ass from a Hole in ground on these and other matters.

   In the meantime Peace and Love and Have a Blessed Day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 18 53 makes me 63

    I'll be 63 tomorrow and the short version is as Uncle Fremont said I had two good years in 78 and 83. Well 1985 wasn't all that bad and I took in a few City Stages in Bham in the 90s.

   I was gonna go to Rome Ga tomorrow and have a Hoagie Carmichael at Schroeders and see the new tennis courts out near Berry but the weather is not gonna cooperate. So I may celebrate on other days in tribute to the sixth decade of breathing air on the earth.

   Thirty years ago I kissed a few girls and danced a little, played in the burger king tennis tourney and kept the Gaffney High netters overnight in Columbia SC as I was the only one to make the semis. We got to see Little Big Man in the state capitol compliments of me.

   I've read some books and rode my bicycle further than I thought I would in my 40s and did some thinkin while I was ridin. Tried to get Brad Pitt to produce a sure Oscar winner the collaborator and I concocted but had to settle for an interview with Ron Rash that got published in Baps Today.

   I could go on but at some point it would be ridiculous.

   No major regrets other than never able to achieve financial independence. As Paris Trout said you get something (time) you give something up (money).

   I was thinkin about copying two credits from high school annuals; one my friend Rajesh Mehra in my junior year of High School, and the other anonymous from my senior year. She got it about right saying I was the most amazing wonderful person she'd ever met. And Rajesh had some insights too.

    But I left the house without the reminiscin book so maybe next year.

    I remember several 18ths over the years. 8th grade when Tommy Jones and I lit candles in the lunch room at Gaffney Jr High; 82 in Pike County Ga when Momma and Daddy still claimed me, 72 walking through the student center at Furman and then 75 when I thought my days getting thrown in the lake were over and the struggle that proved group overwhelming to my valiant fight right out of the cafeteria one of my most sacred places.

  Bob Dylan helped me celebrate my 50th in Birmingham and I saw Gillian Welch that night too.

   My sister was kind with a party for my 50th though a week late and the Bama delegation was small.

     Three movies tell my story in parts, Joe Gould's Secret, Jude, and another one I cant remember right now.  Maybe it was the novel Stone Arabia I was thinking of had I been West Coast. See those too and know Stevie though nobody can completely know another; that's why people write novels.

   So God Bless Momma and Daddy. I did what I could and to quote Pearl Jam: "I'm Still Alive!"

Friday, May 13, 2016

Rick and Bubba's Bad Theology, Bad Humanities and Politics

      Rick and Bubba of Jacksonville State University are taking their piss poor theology and half assed political moral leanings to new fundamentalist lows on their four hour radio carnival. They are syndicated throughout Bama and Mississippi and the Southeast.

    I called the White House this morning hoping to get in touch with Melissa Rogers on staff there, a Grand literate Baptist with roots in the Church of the Covenant in Birmingham.

     Long story short Rick Burgess half ass Scripture quoting and political assertions don't past muster. I am convinced they don't past muster with the late Tom Corts of Samford, H Brandt Ayers of the Anniston Star, a long time guiding light at JSU; Hardy Jackson, the Christian and well respected History proff there, nor the legacy of the great Alabama Republican Judge Frank Johnson.

    Bubba helped bring the Davis Cup to Bham. Proud of them for that and I enjoy them when they pontificate on things they know a little about like the Andy Griffith show or the Bear and Golden Flake potato chips. But when they get passed their limited area of expertise, the bad grammar aw shucks bull shit is a callous on the improvement of the state.

     To paraphrase Connor in the Road to Perdition, if it weren't "all so fuckin hysterical" it wouldn't be some harmful to the work of Jesus Christ as Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King understood it. But after a while a diet of this horseshit is dangerous and has a cascading effect for the unraveling of the Country.

    They talk about mannin up all the time. Let Jax State have them on two hour panel this fall to talk about their horse manure with Hardy Jackson, David Matthews of the Civic Center, Mark Wilson of Auburn University Democracy Project, even Nick Saban and let's get some some perspective on the dangers of Burgess and Bussey half assed fundamentalist  understanding of Scripture and the work of Christ in the world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bonhoeffer's epiphany

   Reading Bonhoeffer Monday night, the chapter on the young scholar at 25 and his University days studying Harnack and Schleiermacher and Barth, I was taken back to the fall of 72 when under the tutelage of Albert Blackwell I was introduced to Shleiermacher.
    Then some forty years later reading a chapter I hadn't focused on in the first read of Charles Marsh's a Strange Glory for a moment I had some insight of what might have been had a taken a more disciplined academic course.

   This mind you in the company of Jeremy Bell, a constable in Collinsville Alabama in Jacks. He was two tables over wordless as best for the both of us given the court Fee system in Alabama and the jackboot.

   But I digress. I don't have the time to do this justice as I suggested to a loved one by text this morning who "encouraged" me to blog.

   But I will return to the promise and genius of Bonhoeffer soon, who drove right in front of the house on old hwy 11 when Momma was seven in NE Bama.

      On page 51 and 52 of the Marsh bio he looks at Bonhoeffer's insight into synchairein, or shared joy. Building on Harnack's take on the joy of the Resurrection, Bonhoeffer gives the apostle Paul a social dimension.
    Marsh asks how may history have changed had the German church been able to grasp and incarnate Bonhoeffer's insight of 1926. Find this biography and read the full treatment in the evolution of Bonhoeffer's life and faith.