June 17, 2013
As I peered through the chain link fence that kept me off the 14th Street Bridge, I was really impressed with the transformation of what was never – at least to me – a handsome structure into something that could actually be called beautiful. It served its purpose for a long time as a bridge for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, since 1921, but, to me, its appearance was strictly functional. And… well… ugly. Now, as a pedestrian bridge designed to be in harmony with the rest of the River Walk, it’s easy on the eyes.
Columbus City Planner Rick Jones says it will open in its new incarnation at either the end of August or in early September. It was supposed to be open by now, but structural problems with the approach, which include building the tunnel underneath to connect the River Walk on the Georgia side, caused the delay.
Jones said the city also plans to put in a couple of restrooms in the tunnel area.
The Plaza leading into the approach is scheduled to be completed in 2014. He says that construction won’t prevent the opening of the bridge this year.
June 4, 2013
HERE’S MORE EVIDENCE THAT TOO MANY DON’T
It is very disheartening to see what those who control the Georgia Legislature are doing to our state’s public school system. The evidence became even more abundant when I learned about the tentative Muscogee County School District’s 2014 budget.
The state is cutting MCSD $21 million in funding for the year. That brings to #141 million cut by the state over the past 12 years. How can we believe lawmakers who say they support public education when they do this?
In order to live with the reduced budget, the MCSD proposes, among other things, closing schools laying off perhaps up to 40 teachers, increasing class size, ending adult education, delaying buying new textbooks, reduced funding for computers, supplies, and building maintenance.
The legislator’s claim that the state doesn’t have the money is nonsense. It’s just spending it on other things. We need to be sending to Atlanta lawmakers who truly support public education.
For another take on the problem, go to this link.
May 28, 2013
I saw a sign that said, “Happy Memorial Day.” And that’s all right. Nothing wrong with the day being a happy one. It should make us happy that we have brave men and women who give their all for their country. However, it should not be a frivolous happy, but a serious one.
It’s really a solemn occasion. It’s not the same as Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all who have served in the American military. Memorial Day is a day to honor those who President Lincoln said “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
I heard a veteran say this morning on C-SPAN that on every Memorial Day he makes sure his grandchildren know why we celebrate Memorial Day. No, it’s not just a day to cook out and have a beer with friends and family. It’s a day to reflect on the costs of war and honor those who have paid the ultimate price.
May 21, 2013
When I finished reading in the Rotarian magazine about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic foundation’s gift of $100 million to support polio eradication efforts, memories came flooding in about this crusade which was started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The one that stands out the most for me is when I interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Jona Salk in January of 1958. I was working for WSB Radio in Atlanta at the time. The station sent me to Warm Springs to do a piece for NBC Radio. Mrs. Roosevelt and Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the Salk polio vaccine, were among those who gathered at the small Georgia village made famous by FDR to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
I don’t remember what either of them said, but I do remember the impressions I got from those interviews. Mrs. Roosevelt was gracious and all I had to do was get her started. Her words flowed easily as she enthusiastically talked about the Foundation. Dr. Salk was a lot more reserved and didn’t appear as comfortable being interviewed. That could have been because she was an international public figure a long time before he became one.
Not only did NBC Radio air rhe report nationally, but originated the Today Show with Dave Garraway, and Queen for a Day on NBC TV from Warm Springs that week.
The Rotary Foundation has raised many millions as a global partner with Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the World Health organization, UNICEF, U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The effort has paid off with polio just about eradicated world-wide.
May 13, 2013
As I watch the extraordinary United Kingdom ITV series “Mr. Selfridge” on PBS, I have to reflect on my department store experiences in London. I’m not sure whether I went into Selfridge’s, but I went into a department store in the posh Kensington section of London and bought a British-style hat. I bought the hat so I would blend in with the folks on the sidewalks. It didn’t work. No one else was wearing a hat like that. Everybody was wearing baseball-style caps just like the ones in the good old USA.
I definitely visited Harrod’s and Fortnum Mason. Both lived up to their reputations. They were shows within themselves. Harrod’s is huge, the largest department store in Europe and has extraordinary merchandize displays. Selfridge’s is the second largest in the U.K. Fortnum Mason is not all that big, has only a few departments, but is luxurious and patronized by the Royal family. Queen Elizabeth has visited the store herself. It is also famous for its many restaurants and its high tea service.
Visiting those stores helped me understand why a department store could be a tourist attraction. Harry Selfridge, the American who founded Selfridge’s in 1909, said that he wanted his store to be a shopping adventure. That’s what you get in the world-famous department stores in London.
May 6, 2013
A good story, bolstered by first-rate acting and directing, can still give low-budget movies a good chance to make a neat profit and give mentally adult people a reason to go to the movies. “Mud” is, in my view, one of those very special movies.
Like Mark Twain’s ”Tom Sawyer,” and “Huckleberry Finn,” which inspired writer-director Jeff Nichols, “Mud” is a coming-of-age story about two boys learning about the pains and joys of love and life, with the Mississippi River serving as the backdrop. Twain wrote his tales in the late 19th Century. ”Mud” is contemporary.
Matthew McConaughey, as Mud, who hides on an island in the river because he is wanted for murder, turns in an excellent performance. Tye Sheridan, and Jacob Lofland, as the two young teen-age boys who try to help him, and Reese Witherspoon, as the woman he tries to reunite with, match McConaughey’s performance, with Sheridan standing out as the central character.
We saw it a the Ritz 13, which was doing really big business Sunday afternoon. “Mud” had a respectable turn-out, with adults out-numbering teenagers by a large margin. The reason, thoiugh, was that the parking lot was packed because “Iron Man III” was playing on six screens. I can guarantee you the teenagers were not outnumbered in those theaters. I plan to see it, too. You know, young at heart and all that.
April 28, 2013
And that is especially true if someone else is doing the driving, which is what happened Saturday as some 50 members of the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning traveled on a CSU bus to the Alliance Theater.
We had a great time, not only because “Zorro” is a highly entertaining and exciting musical, with some of the best and most exciting staging I have ever seen, but because of the company. CALL folks enjoy not only learning in classes that have no tests and no required home work, but also in doing special things together.
“Zorro” plays through May 5th, so if you want to see it, you only have a few days left.
Do I recommend it? Definitely! It is a hoot!
April 25, 2013
In defending budget cuts to public education, some always posit that more money will not fix the problem. Well, that may be true if more money is tried as a solution by itself. For more money to work, strings have to attached. One of those strings is that with higher pay comes higher expectations.
However, there is another factor to consider. Less pay, and less money for today’s electronic teaching aids, can certainly exacerbate the problem.
Parental involvement is an important element in motivating children to achieve educationally, but it is not, in my view, more important than a good teacher. How many parents spend six hours a day with school-age children?
Good, dedicated teachers can have enormous influence in changing lives for the better. It happens over and over, and it happened with me. Going to school did not thrill me at all until the legendary Bob Barr took over the Jordan High band. He really knew how to motivate kids. Not only did he motivate me, but he helped me get started in my broadcasting career. When he found out that was what I wanted to do, he connected me with the late Ed Snyder, then an announcer at WDAK, who mentored me and helped me get my first job in broadcasting.
George Corradino, who headed up the Muscogee County School District’s music program for years, did the same thing when he was the band director at Columbus High for my late nephew Jack Gibson. My sister Betty told me that Jack was about ready to drop out of school until George came along. Not only did Jack excel at percussion in the CHS band, his grades improved in all his subjects, and, inspired by George, he went on to become a school band director himself. He ended up getting his PhD and becoming Vice President of Development at Kennesaw State University, which was what he was doing when cancer took him away from us. I run into people all the time who have similar stories.
When I see state legislators and governors slashing public education budgets year after year after year, it tells me we need a big change at the Georgia State Capitol. Education is essential to the future of Georgia’s citizens. Something has to be done. We need lawmakers who don’t just say they support education, but show it with their actions.
April 14, 2013
Continuing my look at the phenomenon of the dramatic rise of the evangelical megachurch, I’m going to t ell you about a Harper magazine essay Blinded by the Right? that had an interesting take on how the big shift started. According to T. M. Luhrmann, who spent ten years researching American evangelism, Christian hippies “begat evangelical conservatives.”
American evangelism goes way back before hippies ever arrived on the scene, he says, “but the hippies changed what it meant to be Christian in America.”
As I attend Atlanta’s Mt. Paran services, I can observe the hippie effect. The rock concert light shows that accompany rock and jazz Christian music all are remenicient of the hippie era. What has changed is the drug culture that went with the hippie music. The drug high has been replaced with the “Pentecostal spiritual high.”
You would never think that hippies would embrace the politics of the political right. But, it seems most of those who joined the Jesus People movement in the 1970s did, and they, and their progeny, still do.
I believe it is safe to assume that not all hippies became Christian evangelical conservatives. But, Luhrmann makes a good case that a lot of them did and had a huge effect on the movement. Churches who adapted to that effect have grown impressively. Perhaps there is a lesson in this for other organizations, organizations like symphony orchestras. More on that in a future post.