What I Learned at the Mayoral Debate

April 22, 2014
Uiversity Hall, Columbhus State University

University Hall, Columbus State University

 

It was much easier to follow the debate on TV than in that sad auditorium. I could understand very little of what was said there because of the sound system and acoustics in University Hall. I had recorded it at home because I suspected I might have a hard time hearing in UH.  CSU is really fortunate that it has those great state-of-the-art theaters downtown now.  

As far as the debate was concerned, Mayor Tomlinson pointed with pride, while challenger Martin viewed with alarm. Surprise, surprise!

 

 

 

And the Classical Beat Goes On

April 13, 2014

Schwob School of Music’s Kaleidoscope again Showcases Brilliant Student Musicians

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Statue of Oscar Peterson at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. Wikipedia says, “It was unveiled in June 2010 by the reigning sovereign of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II.” (Photo by Skeezix1000)

The late Oscar Peterson, who garnered 8 Grammy Awards as best Jazz Pianist, was considered by many musicians to be the greatest jazz pianist in the world. He had been classically trained. He advised his jazz students to learn to play the music of Johann Sebastian Bach in order to play jazz well. 

The Bill Heard Theater was full of classically trained musicians – some who played some swinging jazz - Saturday night, students of the Columbus State University Schwob School of Music, performing the school’s annual Kaleidoscope Concert. Those young people are brilliant college musicians who are being taught by world-class classical instructors, who  are also internationally recognized virtuosos themselves.   They demonstrated those facts for a large, appreciative audience. The different ensembles and soloists sang and played on the main stage, in front of it, and in the boxes, going from one number to the next without applause. The audience had been asked not to applaud until the end of the concert. Once they could applaud, they did so thunderously.

It’s really encouraging that Columbus is giving such moral and financial support to the Schwob School of Music. Columbus has been supportive of serious music since 1855, when the country’s second symphonic orchestra was formed by Mendelssohn’s student Herman S. Saroni . The first one was the New York Philharmonic. Thankfully, that tradition continues.

 

Mickey Rooney Memories

April 7, 2014

472px-Mickey_Rooney_stillThough he wasn’t among the movie stars I interviewed over the years, I feel as though I lost a buddy when I learned that Mickey Rooney died.  That’s because I saw his Andy Hardy movies when they were first-run.  The first one, A Family Affair,  was shot in 1937.  Mickey was 17-years-old, and  I was 6 at the time.  There was no question about it. When an Andy Hardy movie  played between 1937 and 1946,  somebody in my family – sometimes my mom and dad took me, but there were others when either my older sister Betty or Brother Elbert would take me – and I went to  see it.

Judy Garland not only starred with him in three of the fourteen Andy Hardy films, but in some smash hit musicals.  They were never reported as being romantically involved, but Mickey said their love ran deeper than that.  Maybe that’s why they played so well in movies together.

Those movies catapulted him to  being the top box-office draw in 1939. Time magazine put his face on the cover of a 1940 edition, saying, according to Wikipedia, “Hollywood’s No. 1 box office bait in 1939 was not Clark Gable, Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, but a rope-haired, kazoo-voiced kid with a comic-strip face, who until this week had never appeared in a picture without mugging or overacting it. His name (assumed) was Mickey Rooney, and to a large part of the more articulate U. S. cinema audience, his name was becoming a frequently used synonym for brat.”

He proved he could also act in a serious role,  starring as “Young Tom Edison” for MGM in 1940.  He won a bunch of awards over the years, including a Jspecial juvenile Academy Award when the Academy was giving those and a Honoirary Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a few Emmys.

He continued to work in movies, radio  and TV right up until his death, April 6, 2014.  He was married 8 times.  He was surrounded by his family when he died in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.  He was survived by his wife of 37 years,  Jan Chamberlain, eight surviving children, nineteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.  He was 93-years-old.  As Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley sang, he did his way.  He did it very well “his way.

Sailing Where Juan Ponce de León Sailed, Maybe

March 31, 2014

Schooner Freedom

Schooner Freedom

Some historians say he landed at St. Augustine, but others say he landed south of there. The record shows that Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés settled the city in September, 1565. It had been at least 40 years since I had visited America’s oldest city. Besides the fine dining and historical sites,  a highlight this time was sailing on the Schooner Freedom.  It’s a 76 foot long,  double-masted replica of a 19th century blockade runner.  It has something they didn’t, an engine.  The Coast Guard  requires it.  Also, it makes it possible to make at least three excursions a day.  Sailing against the wind and a strong current means almost stranding still.  The trip I was on took 90 minutes.  The skipper did turn the engine off for a little while and used only wind power on the way back when the wind was behind us and the tide going in.

St. Augustine 046

One of most interesting sites at the St. Augustine docks was a replica of a Spanish galleon like the ones that plied the Florida coast between the 15th and 16th centuries.  It’s really looks at home in St. Augustine since Spain used ships like it to bring people and supplies to the city in 1565.  I asked the Freedom’s skipper how it compares in size with one of Columbus’ ships.  He said, “It’s huge.  C0lumbus’ ships were really small.”  He told me that Columbus’ ships were about the same length as his schooner, which is 76 feet.  The galleon replica is 175-feet long.

If you go to St. Augustine, I recommend the cruise.  It was fun.  Also, I recommend the Reef,  a restaurant on Vilano Beach.  My Mahi Mahi was really good; the decor is nautical, and every table has a view of the Atlantic. There are many good restaurants in St. Augustine, but that one really stood out to me.

The Amazing Jimmy Carter

March 26, 2014

488px-JimmyCarterPortrait2The first time I saw President Jimmy Carter was when, in the 1960s, I covered a 3rd District Democratic Party convention at Americus, Georgia.  He immediately stood out as he walked down the aisle of the Rylander Theater auditorium where the convention was held.  His hair style reminded me of President John F. Kennedy’s, as did his radiant smile.  I said to myself at the time, that man is going to make  news politically.  Sometimes I get it right.

He still has that hair and that radiant smile and , at age 89, is still making news.  His advanced years have not stopped him from writing books and going on national TV to promote them.  David Letterman devoted a lot of his Monday night show to interviewing President Carter about world events and Carter’s latest book A Call to Action. 

The book is about the worldwide abuse and violence against women, and how religion has been and is being used to subjugate them. In the book he writes that the depravation of women and girls is the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge.  He says it is “largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare, unfortunately following the example set during my lifetime by the United States.”

To be able to do what he does at his age is quite impressive.  His energy level and ability to  entertain as well as inform was as high as anyone I have seen on the Letterman show. His performance should be an inspiration to senior citizens everywhere.

Read the rest of this entry »

50 Years of Covering Bo Callaway

March 17, 2014

When I covered the late former Secretary of the Army Howard  Bo Callaway’s entrance into national politics in 1964, I didn’t reflect on how his actions were a part of a pivotal shift in American politics.  The Solid South was no longer “solid” for the Democratic Party and was moving toward being “solid” for the Republican Party.  Republican presidential nominee Sen. Barry Goldwater voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Law and carried five Southern states, including Georgia.  Bo Callaway switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party and ran as a “Goldwater Republican.”  Goldwater lost ,  but Bo won easily in his bid to become the first Republican U.S. Representative from Georgia since Reconstruction.

I first met Bo when I covered the 1964 3rd Congressional District election for WRBL Radio and TV in Columbus.  As far as positions on issues were concerned, I couldn’t tell much difference between them. Both Democrat Garland Byrd, a former Georgia Lt. Governor, and Bo were conservatives, and when I asked them if they were segregationists, neither seemed pleased that I asked the question, but both told me they were.  I wasn’t, but, then, I wasn’t running for public office in 1964 Georgia.

Timing is everything, the adage tells us, and, in 1964,  Bo Callaway’s timing was perfect. He went to Washington, but he only stayed two years, deciding he would rather be Georgia’s  first Republican Governor since Reconstruction.  He came close, but in the 1966 Georgia governor’s race that got national attention, he lost to arch-racist Democrat Lester Maddox in a convoluted election that ended up being decided by a Democratically controlled Georgia Legislature, because he got  the most popular votes, but not enough for a majority, which was Georgia law at the time.  (A plurality wins now.)  I reported that General Assembly election  live for WRBL Radio and TV from the Georgia House of Representatives.  What a show that was!

The Republican National Convention in 1973 that nominated President Richard Nixon for reelection was also quite a show.  I decided at the last-minute that WRBL Radio and TV needed to have some Georgia oriented coverage.  Owner and GM Jim Woodruff, Jr. thought it too late because all of the hotel rooms were taken.  I told him we would fly down in the morning and back that evening, that jets were fast.  He said he would call Bo Callaway, who was a member of the Georgia delegation, to see if he could cut red tape and get us some credentials so we could get on the floor of the convention. He did and Bo did.  When we got on the floor, Bo met us, gave me an interview, and took me over to the California delegation to introduce me to then Governor Ronald Reagan, who graciously gave me an interview.

I only asked Bo one question when he was forced out of his job as campaign manager for Vice President Gerald Ford when he ran against  Jimmy Carter for President.  He held a live prime time news conference in a WSB-TV studio in Atlanta, which was broadcast on TV stations all over Georgia.  Since I drove up from Columbus for the news conference, the WSB-TV producer of the program allowed me to ask the first question about the alleged conflict of interest charge reported by an NBC  correspondent.  Bo responded that the charge was false, but he resigned as Ford’s campaign manager in order not to make the election about him instead of Ford.

When he was sworn in as President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Army in 1973,  a WRBL-TV news photographer and I flew to Washington to cover the ceremony.     After we filmed the ceremony,  he gave me an interview for the home folks.  A West Pointer, who had left the Army as a First Lieutenant after the Korean War, was then outranking all of the generals.

When I working at WTVM, I did a series of half-hour interviews for Georgians and Alabamians who have earned “A Place in History.”  When I interviewed Bo,  he candidly answered all of my questions about his personal and professional life without hesitation.  It was a fun interview with his telling me about such things as President Franklin D. Roosevelt coming to his parent’s Harris County home for cocktails and dinner when he came to nearby Warm Springs.  There was one question that caused him to pause before answering.  I asked him, “What was it like growing up as the son of the richest man in town.” Bo’s father Cason and his uncle Fuller, Jr.  owned Callaway Mills in LaGrange.  As best as I can remember it, he said, “Nobody has ever asked me that question before, Dick.  My father made it clear to me that being who I was carried a responsibility with it.  He said that I had to always conduct myself honorably and, if I didn’t, and he heard about it, I would have to answer to him.  I’ve always remembered that and tried to follow his admonition.”

You may wonder why I refer to him by his nick name. It’s not out of disrespect, but because  I consider that he and I were friends.  There are some people that you cover over the years that you can’t resist becoming friends with.  He is one and his political rival, President Jimmy Carter,  is another. I read where he and Bo eventually became friendly.   Recently, at the Rotary Club of Columbus where he was a member,  as he was sitting at the table next to mine in his wheel chair, necessitated by a stroke, he leaned over and patted me on the shoulder when I was among those thanked for participating in a Rotary Foundation fund-raising program.   That was the last contact I had with Howard “Bo” Callaway, who truly earned a place in history. .

Huh?

March 9, 2014

What is huh? in German? Huh? French? Huh? English? Huh? Spanish? Huh? And, in at least six other languages, including Chinese.  I learned that in an article by Arika Okrent in the Smithsonian magazine.  

I looked it up in Merriam-Webster and, indeed, it is a word, an interjection meaning a whole  bunch of things.  It’s all in the way you say it.  Depending on your intonation, it can mean that you’re asking if someone agrees with you, and that you misunderstood or didn’t hear what another person says, or you can use it to show surprise, disbelief, or disapproval.

You can thank Mark Dingemanse and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in Nijmegan, the Netherlands for bringing that to the world’s attention. Huh? is the first “universal word” studied by modern linguist.

Remember, you read it here.

Extraordinary Exhibits at Columbus Museum

March 4, 2014

(Still working on the biggie; meanwhile, a quickie on Columbus Museum.)

Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia
Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia

 

Checking out what’s new  at the Columbus Museum proved a good use of time Sunday.

Not only did I find the Midtown Columbus exhibit especially interesting because the first nine years of my life were spent in East Wynnton, but I was dazzled by the blown glass exhibit on the third floor.

The Midtown exhibit shows post cards of Victorian homes and places like Weracoba Park, popularly known as Lake Bottom, when there was actually a lake with a bath house, bridges, and row boats there. It was drained in 1925. There are also artifacts like furniture and china that date back to the Civil War.  Trust me, it’s worth a visit, especially if you grew up in Columbus.

Whatever you do, though, make sure you go up to the third floor.  You won’t believe what glass blowers can do.  Go when you have plenty of time.  It’s not something you want to do hurriedly.

Mental Telepathy is Here

February 26, 2014

(This is not the “biggie” I told you that I am working on. That’s not ready yet. This is a thought I got when watching The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart interviewing Ichio Kaku about his new book The Future of the Mind.)

It’s been here probably as long as the brain has been here. According to Ichio Kaku, a City College of New York theoretical physicist, the brain’s capacity to emit radio signals has incredible potential. Some of it is already being realized. For instance, Stephen Hawkins, the paralyzed English theoretical physicist, can type and send email using a computer chip attached to the frame of his glasses. That’s because the chip is picking up radio waves from his brain and transmitting those thoughts to a computer.

After watching Stewart’s interview, I immediately bought the Kindle version of the book. I don’t mind contributing to Dr. Kaku’s fortune because I hardily approve of brilliant intellectuals writing scientific books prosaically enough for ordinary people like me to understand. They are probably our best hope of reversing the dumbing down of society by mass media.

I’m Working on a Biggie

February 26, 2014

There is a reason I didn’t make my semi-deadline Monday.  It’s a semi-deadline because, when I  made the semi-promise, I inserted a loophole. I said I would TRY  to have one by each Monday.  I’m working on an in-depth “biggie” for you.  The first installment will be posted soon. I know you’ll be waiting with bated breath.  No, it isn’t spelled “baited.” We’re not talking about fishing, but about being almost breathless with anticipation.  If you already knew that, I apologize for insulting your intelligence.  If you didn’t, you had the pleasure of learning something new, and I’m happy for you.  

 


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