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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.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Patrick Phillips Elegy for the Dying Machine poem deserves better than this silliness

  Through interlibrary loan I got my hands on Patrick Phillips beautiful unflinching collection of poems about things that run their course. I heard him read a few in 2018 or so in Berry Chapel Rome Ga from the same pulpit where I heard James Dickey about thirty years ago mock the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Phillips is a Methodist minister's son who was in Rome Ga to promote his newly minted book on Forsyth County, Blood at the Root,  come to find out the home of Marjorie Taylor Greene, about the lynchings of 1914 and the ethnic cleansing of an entire county, many of whom went to nearby Hall (Gainesville Ga) where a couple possibly coulda been the ancestors of Deshaun Watson.

    But I do not know that for a fact

   Phillips has a great chapter title, a Thirty Karat Son of a Bitch with Spare Parts. It features a fellow who stoked the lynchings in Forsyth and only a few years later found himself in a picture of the Hanging Leo Frank which I understood to have been roped in a meadow that is now under the South Bound Lane of I 75 almost exactly where the Water Park is, about seven miles of Truist Park where the Braves Play.

    My Favorite poem is about friends of Phillips father in decline at St Simons Island who talk about sham funerals and who will dye next while young Phillips tries to be light and witty and they pretend interest in his life that at the moment they find "goddamned irrelevant."

    I thought it grand poem and shared by reading to the voice message of a once promising forty something in Alabama. He felt compelled to concoct a little ditty immediately at my expense and for most of the day yesterday my good intentions were turned into sport between him and a UPS worker and a Methodist woman who compared the Charlatan, the prankster to William Blake himself.

   He Has since deleted his text but his lines were about containment and the monkeys and crackers at the cracker barrel who yearn for the kids meal and the tea for free.

    He is no point, no poet, his tartness with the English language is wearing thin and he is not as cute as he thinks he is or once was.

    He does do a good impression of whats his face in the Deer Hunter who says in the Denzel Washington Movie Creasy is about to Paint his Masterpiece--Christopher Walken--but a four foot something impersonating the great Walken is such a sight gag even that is losing its luster.

    All this to say  Phillips is the clear winner here, the true poet and this two day fiasco more proof of his elegies as it is clear we are all fading, the Read and the Reading. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Winnie Davis, the daughter of Jeff, prominent at Limestone

      Friends I'll be out front with this one, it will be submitted to the Cherokee History and Preservation Society in Gaffney SC where I graduated Elementary School in 1965 and will soon have a brick in my honor on the Commons trail of honorees and patrons.

    I am dedicating this to Becky Spencer Wolfe, Miss Gaffney of 1961 who is stuck in her ways and a true daughter of the Confederacy whether a card carrying member or not. A product of the Redemption of Reconstruction, her views currently on American politics in the correspondence she has had with me the last couple of years is beyong redemption, and her conversations with Sidney Norton and other Gaffney luminaries will not save her.

    I say that in jest but with some sincerity. If the most intellectual of the Class of 1971 of Gaffney High School didnt know who Winnie Davis of the Winnie Davis Hall of History built in 1907 on the campus of Limestone College was named for, the I doubt 95 percent of the natives and current residents of Cherokee County know either. Would be interesting to see how many current trustees of Limestone know.

    That building is part of my dream world, my personal archaeology as I saw it as early as my ninth year, in 1962 when we moved there. As markers go it is there with the historical marker in Hayesville for George W. Truett, the greatest Baptist of the first half of the 20th Century.

   I was Baptized in Hayesville in 1959.

   Winnie Davis is the daughter of Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederacy. I just read the Virginia encyclopedia entry on Winnie and her Mother Varina. It is fascinating.

   Four years ago I read the historical fiction Varina by E L Doctorow. Ive been a fan of Doctorow for some time and loved his The March, about Sherman from Atlanta to NC. Would be a grand three hour movie but would likely cost 100 million, but a scence of the fifty mile long avalanche of people going through South Georgia to freedom through the swamps of low country SC and Columbia and a river of mule carcasses in the Fayetteville NC River would be something.

    But I wonder if Winnie ever came to Gaffney promoting the Lost Cause with her Father. She became the namesake for the Daughters of the Confederacy and Gaffney was chocked full of that mentality in the sixties.

     Great line in the novel Varina. Varina has fled Richmond in a different Party from Jeff Davis and they had agreed to meet again in Florida and possibly flee to the Caribbean. But they were caught in  Georgia. But a few days out by train Varina's party gets to Charlotte. From there in wagons and on horseback they go into the Carolinas heading for Abbeville. About the second day a scouting party from the group go out.

   Reporting back Varina asks to their situation, whereabouts, the lay of the land.

    Fellow Says, : "We're in South Carolina, who knows their standards."

    Here some 170 years later with the likes of Becky Wolfe, I'm still trying to figure it out. Has been a mystery to the likes of Marshall Frady, Joe Crespino, Vernon Burton and many others.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Billy Ivey has written a book; I have suggestions for him and the Heifners

I was thinking about Billy Ivey and his Heifner fans this morning before it registered with me he has written a book to be released soon. Check the website A Sea Between Us.

    So what follows is coincidental and in no way meant to diminish his moment of first publication. I intend to read the book eventually, the topic is just not at the high end of my interests. From what I have read about the book I do wish he could follow up with as much scrutiny on Alabama, the likes of Will Ainsworth and Katie Britt etc cause Joey Kennedy,John Archibald, Kyle Whitmire  and others need all the help they can get with the ignorance, the fundamentalism the chasm between the Bama Honors program and the mediocrity of the rest of the state where the SEC doesnt mean much at all except for the underbelly of the Trump Base.

   Saban does try on occasion to say something

     Here is why Billy and the Heifner boys entourage are on my mind. Billy's Dad played Baseball at Vanderbilt, and Billy has this napkinism thing going on buttressed by his time with Chic Fil A. I think Billy flew in with Dan Cathy to Jasper Missouri a year after the F 5 tornado eviscerated the town to open a brand new Unit. I always thought that was a high point for Chic Fil A's Americana, a great touch to help revive good American people who had faced tragedy, a God Mom and Apple pie kind of day.

     I am satisfied Billy and the Heifner boys made higher than I did on certified tests along the way from ninth grade assessment to SAT and ACT and tests for Grad school. I am not worried about it and applaud them. Marshall Frady wrote better though all of them write well.

   What I want them to do, where I feel lonely, is talent like this, especially ones who like to pontificate in a playful sort of way need to read better books. Here is a list I don't think they have touched: Denis Johnson, Train Dreams; The Saddest Words , latest on Faulkner; Tyll, novel by Kehlmann with James Wood Review in the Guardian; Azar Nafisi, This Republic of Imagination; Jill Lepore magisterial history of America, These Truths--Todd owns a copy but hasnt read it yet; Joe Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America; Steve Oney, a Man's World, collection of essays of the 70s and 80s. And Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker on The South and American Politics.

    Dan Cathy needs to read the last one especially, come to Samford with Billy and discuss it. God Bless America as a refuge for Cuba and other dark places in the world, but lets see if we can be a little more prophetic with Bama and our back yards.

     Congrats to Billy. I still think his bass fishing eldest ought to go to Charleston in a couple years and have a nice evening with Sarah of Callie's Biscuits third generation. And Billy and Dan come up to Furman for an evening with Billy Graham's Grand daughter and a representative of Trey Gowdy's FBC Spartanburg, maybe Trey himself and lets work on the nuances of the Trump Base. 

   Michael Gorra, The Saddest Words, William Faulkner's Civil War.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Clemson trustee Nikki Haley compared to Rep Boebert; SC House and Abortion

   I doubt if Nikki Haley has much more on the ball than Rep Boebert of Colorado yet her political life that caught fire with an endorsement from Sarah Palin propelled her to the UN and the Clemson Board of Trustees and then she begat Herschel Walker for the Senate in Georgia with the help of Mike Hubbard who flipped Alabama and got his son to the golf team of my alma mater and that of Marshall Frady.

     The state house in SC is holding hearings on abortion. Here are some things they most likely will not consider cause most of their Baptist preachers don't know their hiney from a hole in the ground, and if you start there with the wordagod, it's likely your legislation is not gonna be the best western civilization can produce. And Clarence Thomas is on the Supreme Court.

    Here is the low bar as recently described by a piece at Baptist News Global which is a product of the best and Brightest Baptists in the Southeast. That group does not include Trey Gowdy's FBC Spartanburg.

     Boebert to use George Wallace phrase is not a dimes worth of difference between her and Tim Tebow's Eagle Forum Momma, Nikki Haley, and the Fellow in Horry County who was raised in a cinder block home and took out Trump GOP resistor Rice.

     Here is what us literate Baptists are thinking about the sick, soul molesting, inadequate to the moment GOP

    Quoting:  First, Boebert reminds us that being elected to any public office does not bestow any special knowledge from which the person can draw upon and expound upon.

Second, Boebert inspires us to understand how high someone can rise with a GED education. While one’s education is not the decisive factor in what one can aspire to accomplish and in fact accomplish, unless one continues to grow one’s education by self-study, one can end up with limited knowledge and unlimited influence.

So in the last few weeks, Boebert has shown us how little she understands the faith she professes and, most recently, the Constitution she has sworn to protect and defend.

    So in SC the GOP perfunctorily are holding hearings which amount to some version of I remember the day Uncle Henry tolt me Momma came in all knocked up and said we're gonna have her hell or high water no matter what George did to me that awful day. And everybody is gonna cry cause Lucy Letitia story should be the law for every woman no matter their circumstances or decision making process cause of what Uncle Henry told that day.

    Here are some things for the SC legislature to consider. The Politics of the anti abortion crusade are based on a lie, on Mendacity and there is nothing the Heritage Foundation can do to make it pretty. Randall Balmer has spelled out how Paul Weyrich saw in the late 70s how abortion, guns and later CRT could replace Lee Atwater's Race baiting as the new big pay day politically to get your average white boy to the voting booth. Explain that to the extended families of the mostly people of color who play football for Clemson and South Carolina. Have a town Hall with Nikki Haley on the panel, and Eric Motley of the Aspen Institute moderating.

     A Great South Carolinian, Frank Harrington, longtime trustee of PC in Clinton said the Weight of Protestant Theology comes down on the side of the Mother. Invite his Daughter and Thomas Brittain's Daughter Jan, and other literate Methodist and Baptist ministers to come speak on the Mother's behalf. You can find literate discerning Baptist ministers through the Alliance of Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

    Or just read Baptist News Global, Good Faith Media, and like minded outlets of the Methodists and Episcopalian churches.

   Lowest common denominator politics will eventually get you a lowed common denominator state that even Mississippi can t crawl under or Alabama and the third Quarter Dixie Land Delight. And all the Pat Conroy festivals and Hub City Bookstores and world's largest outdoor BBq whole hog bachnallia and watermellon contest won't be able to Save you cause your Undies will be showing flamboyantly on your Very Shallow mockery of the Vision of Jefferson and Lincoln and Frederick Douglas and Benjamin Mayes.

Friday, July 01, 2022

My Patriotic Sermon for this July Fourth

   I went to Furman University on a Brooks scholarship for church related vocations. Well Everybody knows I never became a Preacher but I hear the voices ever so often. I have no pulpit and what follows is more of an outline, not a finished product, but I think a few preachers will read it and may use a nugget or two next year.

     I was telling a Furman classmate last night about an emotional read in 87 in Collinsville, Alabama as I was reading Taylor Branch first installment of his thousand page trilogy of the Civil Rights movement. This English major who told me John Crabtree would lower your grade by a half for every grammatical error you made in the several assigned essays in his famous Shakespeare course, even disputable commas. But he asked me what I thought of King's famous quote the Moral  Arc of of the Universe is Long, but it Bends toward Justice .

   I told him I thought it was true, especially in the historical context of the mid sixties, which might turn out to have been  the apex of the American Experiment. We have fallen a long way with the Soul Molesting Donald Trump and his lackeys.

    King made the comment in Montgomery in 65 which Marshall Frady and others say mighta been the apotheosis of his Pilgrimage. Just Two years after his I have a Dream Speech, which was within six weeks of Kennedy in Berlin just twenty years after the WW II . The Promise of those two  monumental adjustments , America defeating Communism as it rang true among the hundreds of Thousands in Berlin in 63. Kennedy himself said for a Moment he thought the platform might be crushed by the throngs in the exhuberance and ecstasy of the Moment. And then King on the Washington Mall speaking a hundred years after the Civil War, speaking truth to Power about Slavery and Jim Crow. America hasnt been there since.

   I remember about ten years ago when July 4 fell on a Sunday. I was in the Upstate and went to hear Jeff Rogers at FBC Greenville. First time I heard the story of King beginning to flail around that Grand Day on the Mall and he could hear Mahalia Jackson from Just behind him : "Martin tell them about the Dream, The Dream Martin let the people hear about the Dream".

    Now we have shallow half assed Trustees like Nikki Haley at Clemson abetting the manufactured weaponization of Critical Race theory and William Timmons of Christ Church Episcopal buying in. And the gun runner Jeff Duncan a founding member of the 2nd Amendment caucus and Dabo Swinney's Congressman.

    Ask those folks  who know nothing about Azar Nafisi and Jill Lepore. I asked Bob Jones Grad and likely next School supe of SC Ellen Weaver about it Saturday afternoon at Stax Omega. She didnt know anything. Never heard of the historial Lepore nor read her sterling piece in New Yorker on Parents and History in the Public Schools. Her sister was nice and polite but as ignorant as Ellen.

    And then there is a Miss  Gaffney  Becky or Regina   Wolfe or something  of the GHS class of 61 a year before Joe Wren. She wants to pontificate, refuses to read, but go out of her way to remind me in whatever platform possible she will vote against anybody I vote for no matter Her friend Sidney Norton would vote with me. And sadly like Ellen Weaver, folks like her are the majority of local school boards across the state of South Carolina and in the Southeast.

     Good place to stop for now. If you really love America you will want to make life learning to understand its promise, like Abe and Frank Johnson, Harper Lee and her sister Alice, My Mother and her father, a Lincoln Republican, Barack Obama who unlike Beauty Queen Wolfe has a reading list, On and On.

    So God Bless the America of Obama and Rahul Mehra, Esther Dawkins, Maria Moreno and Luis Segura, Jeff Graves and James Clyburn, J Paul Beam and anybody who has enough sense not to have bought into  MAGA of the last four years and its witless after effect.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

From Rubbers to Casey Mattox America

     Casey Mattox is a friend from Collinsville Alabama. I was his substitute teacher in the sixth grade and now after UVA and Boston College law school, marinated in the culture issues of the religious right, he is now a lobbyist, legal consultant for the Koch Brothers.

    In  1992 or so with his pastor John Morgan and wife Gloria and several others mostly students who wanted to get a day out of class he went to Montgomery Alabama March for the Fetus. John and Gloria were devout Francis Schaefer types on the matter of abortion and for the last 40 years take three Sundays in January to indocrinate their Sunday school class and double down on the pulpit with their inerrant view on the matter.

    Problem is only one of their four sons seem to agree with them, and one married a girl whose first cousin worked for Planned Parenthood in Georgia for twenty years.One went to Duke and sought counsel of the great Methodist, Will Willimon.  Two went to UVA with Casey and one of them on the Yale Div School where he had a semester with Randall Balmer now at Dartmouth; Balmer a leader scholar of evangelical politics in America who has traced the right wing anti abortion politics to Bob Jones tax exempt resentments for being unable to  see people of color as equal to Strom Thurmond and George Wallace White Man.

    And who knows where Girl Scout Woman of the Decade, the Town Matriarch who taught one of the best home ec Departments in the state for thirty years for girls who numbered about 16 to twenty in their graduating classes. It is pretty clear where the Girl Scouts are on abortion, and I imagine Martha leans with them over her pastor and his wife. But after thirty years amongst them I can't say for certain, such are the ways of small towns and Baptist churches, critical thinking and discernment.

     Poppy Bush 41 was called Rubbers, such was his enthusiasm for birth control until Reagan and Neshoba county got a holt of him, and Lee Atwater and his N Word Memo of the early 80s . That's according to Maureen Dowd in today's scorching opinion piece in the NY Times on the Super Negro Clarence Thomas married to his whiter than white Birch Society bride Ginni. What a pair. Read the piece and see if you can do it without flinching looking away.

    My Presbyterian Hero, the Great Frank Harrington, in Atlanta the friend of Bill Self and Martin Luther Kings great friend Joseph Lowery , said The Weight of Protestant Theology comes down on the side of the Mother. That rings true for my progressive Baptist friends at Good faith Media and Baptist Global News. Also rings true for Frye Galliard and Cynthia Tucker in their recent much celebrated book on Southern Politics becoming the template for Rove and Atwater Strategies that brought us to this moment in the afterglow of Trump's America.

      I read Stansell, Holy War, New Republic ten years ago that concludes the politics of the Anti abortion movement are chocked full of mendacity. I think I got enough walking around sense to know mendacity is not a Christian Virtue.

    I got voted out of the Collinsville Baptist Church where my Mother was baptized and her side of the family goes back to the 1840s. I imagine if Casey Mattox were in town for this July Fourth, the pulpit would be given over to him for a Victory Celebration. Like they said in the Movie the Road to Perdition, it's all so fbombing Hysterical.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Are Jeff Duncan, William Timmons and Ralph Norman Legitimate Americans?

 Maybe I dont understand, comprehend the English Language but I think that is what the panel on Meet the Press Sunday was asking in the last 20 minutes of the show when it came to the question of illiberal democracy in the wake of the first round of the Insurrection committee on National Television except for Tucker and fox news.

     Here is a snippet of that conversation:


          On Republicans though, what was really telling is on Wednesday, the day before this hearing, or it might've even been Thursday, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked over and over again at a press conference if President Biden was legitimately elected. And he refused to say. January 6th, he said, but now he won't. And the reason is, is because this is so politically treacherous for Republican base voters for actually a Republican leader to come out and say that – who knows full well that Biden was legitimately elected – to actually say it.


So that's cowardly and it's even more cowardly after the Georgia primaries because the Georgia primaries, you had one-on-one confrontation between the stop the steal candidates and Republican establishment, including Brad Raffensperger, who did probably more than anyone prior to Liz Cheney to directly confront, and Vice President Pence, to directly confront the president. And they won. They beat their MAGA primary challengers. And yet still, still these Republican officeholders in Washington are retreating from that question. They're terrified of that question. And yet, Georgia just demonstrated that there's a chance here to break the Republicans free.


And that to me is one of the – and Eddie, without pushing you into an answer, I kind of feel like the real measurement of success or failure of these hearings is how strong Donald Trump's grip is on the Republican Party in six months, not today or in a year. You know, I didn't know Tom Rice was going to vote to impeach. I don’t think anybody here – Tom Rice? Everybody had to quickly look up --


We thought it was a mistake.


– who's Tom Rice?


We thought it was a mistake. Yes.


People thought it was a mistake. There are going to be a few people moved by this who say, "You know what? I'm off the train. This was horrible."


Right. So I think there are folks who have made their decisions, right? There are folks on the left, and folks on the right. They've made their decisions. But there are these people in between. There are these folks in the middle that we're always talking about, these Independents that we're always talking about, right? What does it mean for the committee to connect the dots? You know, I'm a professor. You know, we tell our students when you're writing your paper, "This is how you organize it. Tell me what you're going to do. Do it, then tell me what you did." What we saw on January 6th, they laid out the blueprint, the general architecture, the road map for what we will hear. So by connecting the dots narratively, they may convince folks. But I want to say this really quickly. We need to stop believing that some of these folks on the Republican side are actually democratic actors.


Meaning small D?


They are not democrat – they are illiberal. And when we treat them as typical opponents, we're actually contributing to the problem because some of these folks are using the democratic process to undermine democracy itself.

      It is clear to me Upstate Republican US Congressman in SC are playing that game. They are dancing with the devil on the thin ice of democracy. The continue to embrace the charlatan Trump. Way passed time for folks of influence in the region including the CBF, Westminster Prez in Greenville, the trustees of Furman, Wofford and Clemson to address this matter in language even school board trustees in Greer and Inman and Laurens can understand.

   Embracing Donald Trump is not patriotism, in UnAmerican, and worse molesting the soul of America for generations to come.