Archive for December, 2008

When the Old Way is the Better Way

December 31, 2008

 

Georgia 85

Georgia 85

 Once again, I became totally frustrated driving to and from the Atlanta area on I-85. Remember when I told you about running into one of temporary concrete barriers when I drove back at night in the rain? That was the day after Thanksgiving.  Well, when I drove up weekend before last to Smyrna for my great-nephew’s wedding,  while driving through the construction area near Newnan, I ran off the road,  ending up with screeching tires as I turned back onto the road.  It was hairy.

  I decided, that’s it. When I drive back to Columbus, I am not going to use I-85. I’ll take the old slow way on Georgia 85. I did and I don’t think it took me much longer to get back, and it was a lot more pleasant.  I just about had the highway to myself most of the way, and it was nice to ride through the small towns like Gay and Manchester. They appear to be frozen in time.  Gay and Manchester both looked the same way they looked 40 years ago.

  So next time you head to Atlanta, let me suggest you go the old way. It’s a lot quieter and easier.  Admittedly it takes a little patience when you drive through the small Atlanta suburbs like Fayetteville and College Park because it seems like there are a hundred traffic lights to slow you down, but the peaceful drive that you get the rest of the way is worth it.

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A Personal Note

December 29, 2008

I’m back.  I’ve not posted anything for days because I have been ill from a reaction to a sulpher drug and just didn’t feel like it. I’m a little better so I can talk with you some again.

Though not feeling well at all, I have been able to enjoy the Christmas holidays with my family. My son Rick, his wife Marian and my two grandsons, along with one  of my grandson’s  girl friend, all came down from Cumming, Georgia to be with me on Christmas evening.  We gave each other gifts, but once again I was struck with the fact that the real gift is being with someone at Christmas. We had a grand time.

And I had another grand time when my four stepsons, one wife and three grandchildren came down Saturday to celebrate the holidays. Again, the greatest gift was simply their presence, and the delicious Mexican chicken soup in which one sqeezes fresh limes, with some killer cornbread, which was prepared by one stepson.

Hope  your Christmas was a great one,  and let me wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

State Senator Seth Harp’s School Merger Plan Gets National Attention

December 17, 2008

    Republican Georgia State Senator Seth Harp of Midland, a Columbus, Georgia suburb, may not get anywhere with his proposal, but he is getting a lot of attention in the big national newspapers in the country.  His plan to merge two historically black colleges with two historically white ones in Albany and  Savannah to save  a  lot of money, and further reduce racial segregation in state-run colleges and universities,  raises some interesting questions. 

State of Georgia)

Georgia State Senator Seth Harp, Republican, Georgia Senate District 29 (Courtesy: State of Georgia)

   Harp, who is chair of the State Senate Higher Education Committee, wants to merge historically black Albany State University with historically white  Darton College, and historically black Savannah State with Armstrong Atlantic, which is predominantly white.  He says it will go a long way toward cutting expenses, which is going to have to be done because the state faces a $2 billion deficit.  

  He is getting a lot of flack from supporters of the predominantly black  state institutions of higher learning who complain merging the schools would end their historic identity. Harp told me he doesn’t understand the complaint because  Albany State University and Savannah State University would be the names of the new universities.  It will simply mean that the student bodies would be merged. 

    This story is getting attention in big papers like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others.  It does raise an interesting question. If racial integration America’s public schools, something supported by black civil rights leaders for a very long time, is the ideal, why hold on to the racial identities of state-supported predominantly black universities?

  Senator Harp says, “It would be a big step in ending racial segregation in state-run schools.  Not only that, we want to improve academic performance in the schools, because I want all of Georgia’s young people, of all races and creeds, to be properly prepared to have productive,  successful lives.”

  It appears that the State Board of Regents is not interested in Harp’s plan and does not have it on its agenda. But, that hasn’t stopped Harp. He plans to keep pressing his point.  He says he is getting a lot of support for the idea from blacks and whites alike, and points out that Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Pulitzer Prisze winning editorial page winner Cyhthia Tucker, who is black, supports his plan.   She wrote, “Institutions supported by taxpayers should be diverse, educating men and women of all colors and creeds.  There is no longer good reason for public colleges that are all-white or all-black.”

   That makes sense to me.   As far as the economic element in this delima,  saving money by such things as mergers that possibly improve the shools…well, that makes sense to me, also.   The big cuts are coming.  Sen. Harp told me that when the legislature goes into session in three weeks, “It’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

CSU Educators Elected Chair and Vice-Chair of Musocgee County Democratic Party

December 16, 2008

  A person nominated from the floor is the new chair of the Muscogee County Democratic Party Committee.  Backed by Alice Pate,  current chair, John Van Doorn, a Columbus State University political science professor,  was recommended by the nominating committee.  But supporters of former Columbus State University psychology professor Jeanne Dugas, nominated her and made speeches in support of her.

Jeanne Dugas, newly elected chair, Muscogee Democratic Party

Jeanne Dugas, newly elected chair, Muscogee Democratic Party

  Pro-Dugas speakers pointed out all of the dedicated, hard work she has done for the party over a number of years, and said she had the experience to lead the party.

  Pro-Van Doorn speakers told of his  ability to represent the party well in the media, pointing out his impressive appearance on live TV election night.  Being backed by Pate and former Chair Frank Myer, a Columbus attorney, Van Doorn got nine votes, the same as Dugas.  Myer called for a meeting of the two candidates, himself, and Pate. They worked it out, came out of their caucus and made a motion to elect Dugas chair and Van Doorn vice-chair, and the other four officers by acclamation.  That’s what happened.  

John Van Doorn, newly elected vice-chair of the Muscogee County Democratic Party Committee

John Van Doorn, newly elected vice-chair of the Muscogee County Democratic Party Committee

  Dugas promised to work hard to keep up the momentum that the party has gained with Pate as chair.  And Pate pointed out that the local party fared very well in the November 4th election, Muscogee county electing a district  attorney and sheriff,  plus giving President-elect Barack Obama a smashing victory in Muscogee County. Obama finished 19 percent ahead of Sen. McCain in Muscogee County, though McCain carried the state because of his success in the suburbs and rural areas.

Colin Powell on Columbus, Phenix City, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh

December 12, 2008

 

Gen. Colin Powell Parkway, Phenix City, Alabama
Gen. Colin Powell Parkway, Phenix City, Alabama

 Colin Powell Parkway in Phenix City, Alabama signifies how much has changed since 1963.  Former Secretary of State  Powell, who became a four-star general and Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when serving on active duty in the Army,  was pleased by that  honor because it demonstrated how much Phenix City and Columbus has progressed in race relations since he was at Fort Benning in the 1958 and 1963.

  In an interview on the Academy of Achievement website in 1998,  Powell recalled his experiences in the Columbus-Phenix City area right after he had returned from Vietnam.  At Fort Benning, “You could go anywhere, live anywhere, do anything you wished to do. But as soon as you went over the hill, and down into Columbus, Georgia, it was a totally segregated existence.”

  It was duirng that time that  he lived in Phenix City, where he is now honored, because housing on post wasn’t available.  One day, working on his house, he  decided to take a break to go to a drive-in restaurant in Columbus to get a hamburger.  He said a young lady came out to take his order.  She looked in the car and asked him if  “I was a Puerto Rican, and I said ‘no,’   Then she asked me if I was an African student studying at the Infantry School.”   He told that he was an American, to which she replied that  she was sorry but she couldn’t bring the food to him, that she couldn’t serve it to him in his car,  that  he would have to go around to the back to be served.  He told her, “Thanks, but no thanks,”   and left.

    When he came back to the Columbus-Phenix City area a few years ago, he found different cities, cities that honored him for his service to his country. I heard him speak at the Rotary Club of Columbus during that visit, where he was roundly applauded, and after that, went to Phenix City to be honored in a ceremony naming the parkway after him. 

  He stayed in the  news after he retired from the Army when President George W. Bush appointed him Secretary of State.  Powell was, and still is, a Republican.  But, he thinks the party must change if it  is to remain viable, and that it should stop following the advice of Rush Limbaugh, who, he said, “appelas to our lesser instincts, not our better ones.”  He also thought it is a mistake to follow the leadership of Alaska Govenor Sarah Palin.  He  told this to  CNN’s Fareed Zakharia  in an interview that will be aired Sunday at 1 p.m.

How Will I Celebrate Alabama’s 189th Anniversary?

December 11, 2008

  Sunday, December 14, 2008, the State of Alabama will be 189 years old. What are you going to do to celebrate?  I think I’ll go over to Idle Hour Park  because that is the part of Alabama that appealed to me the most when I was a child.  That’s when you could get on a Columbus city bus and ride it to Idle Hour Park in Phenix City.

  If it were the older park of my childhood, I could celebrate by going swimming in the pool, which is where I basically learned to swim; or, I could go to one of the two ballrooms and maybe do an anniversary waltz or something.  That’s right.  Two ballrooms.  One of them also doubled as a skating rink.  Maybe you’d skate up until it was time for the dance, which featured live bands and had one of those turning balls with tiny mirrors that reflected colored patterns on the walls and ceiling.  I could also celebrate by bowling, or having a hamburger in the restaurant next to the bowling alley. 

  I suppose the most memorable thing about Idle Hour was when I jumped off a whirligig type of thing on the playground and broke my leg.   Funny, how the bad things are always more vivid than the good ones.

  Frankly, the old Idle Hour didn’t have much class, but it was a lot of fun. The new Idle Hour does have  class, with the walking trail around the pond, manicured grounds and quaking ducks providing a really beautiful place to walk.   Back in the old days, the park, owned by Roy Martin, featured an inboard, expensive, furniture-quality wooden, fancy speedboat.  I think for $5.00 you were sped around the lake one time. Probably took 45 seconds.

 I won’t be able to do that, but maybe I’ll walk around the pond as the way I’ll celebrate  Alabama’s 189th birthday.

  Now, you may ask why I haven’t mentioned the illegal slot machines and casinos with roulette wheels, poker, craps,  and blackjack tables that were operating during my tender years.  They didn’t have any of that at Idle Hour Park. It was strictly a family place, though you could buy a beer if you were old enough. They did have  slot machines in other places, though, sometimes in a grocery store, and in the casino at Southern Manor night club. That was where Columbus’ Fate Leebern was murdered.  Yes, it was quite interesting to be able to go across the river to participate in those illegal vices, but I don’t think I’ll celebrate it.

Let’s Hope NBC’s Experiment with a Prime Time Jay Leno Show Works

December 10, 2008

  Finally, one of the networks has realized that there is a prime time audience for talk/variety shows. I have been saying for years that most nights the best things are The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the David Letterman program.

Jay Leno (U.S. Navy Photo)

Jay Leno (U.S. Navy Photo)

  I have been watching them in prime time for some time now. I simply record them and play them back when I want to see them.  When Leno moves to 10:00 p.m., I’ll record the shows for at least 2o minutes so I can fast forward  through all of the commercials. Digital video recording is one of the bext things that happened  to TV program consumers. 

  I’ll get to see the whole show by a little after 11:00 p.m., which is ideal because I’ll be able to watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart at about 11:10,  again sans commercials.

  NBC is going to save a pile of money because the Tonight Show is a lot cheaper to produce than scripted dramas.  The Tonight Show is NBC’s most profitable progam. So the prime time audience gets what television does best,  talk/variety, and NBC will save a lot of money, but this move will hurt the Hollywood studios that produce scripted dramas.

  I do hope that Jay will feature guests such as stand-up comedians, musical groups, and singers, a little more and him a little less.  I like him, but I also like variety.  Also, I’d like to see more of his unusal cars.

Jay Leno in his Hispano-Suiza 8 (Photo by Alan Light)

Jay Leno in his Hispano-Suiza 8 (Photo by Alan Light)

STRIKE UP THE BAND

December 7, 2008

  The music river keep abundently flowing in our area. Last night, we were moved by the great performance of the Three Irish Tenors at the Bill Heard Theater. Those guys are magnificent tenors and they just soared with the great Chritsmas and Irish classics.

  Now, it’s time to support our local folks and attending the Bob Barr Community Band 20th Anniversary Concert at Jordan High. I attended the last rehearsal for the concert and I believe you will enjoy it. 

  How special is it? Well, Conductor George Corradino told me, “Dick, the band will be wearing tuxes.”  Well, I guess I’ll have to break mine out so that when I emcee the concert, I’ll be in harmony with the band. I emceed the band’s very first concert 20th years ago so George asked me to do this one.

George Corradino rehearsing Bob Barr Community Band

George Corradino rehearsing Bob Barr Community Band

George Corradino Keeps Amateur Music Alive and Well in Columbus

December 6, 2008

   If you want a good example of just how active a person pushing 80 can be, look no further than George Corradino. He teaches two classes at Troy State University’s Phenix City campus;  conducts the Bob Barr Community Band,  which rehearses just about every Monday night; leads the choir at St. Anne’s Catholic Church; plays for funerals and weddings: and leads the 17-piece Cavaliers Big Band.

George Corradino and the Cavaliers playing a luau dance at the Mr. and Mrs. Club, Columbus, GA

George Corradino and the Cavaliers playing a luau dance at the Mr. and Mrs. Club, Columbus, GA

  Just get a load of what he is doing this weekend. Tonight and tomorrow, he is leading the Cavaliers in a musical drama at Evangel Temple called “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” The band will provide the music of  World War Two  for the play.  It will be a nostaglic look at WW II and feature the music and famous radio shows of the 40’s. Having been eleven years old when the war started, I remember those days vividly, those war years Chistmases,  and plan to be at the Sunday evening performance.  Tonight’s performance is at 6, and the Sunday performances are at 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 pm.  

Evangel Temple)

"I'll be Home for Christmas" pamplet (Courtesy: Evangel Temple)

Then Monday, George will be interviewed at noon on WRBL and I’ll be on the 5:30 WTVM newscast to talk about Monday night’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert by the Bob Barr Community Band. On top of conducting the band, before that, he will direct the music at St. Anne’s for a mass.

  “You like to stay busy, don’t you,” I said to George.

  “I always have, Dick. And I just love doing what I do.”

  And what he does is provide a tremendous music service to this community. My hat’s off to him.

  Hope to see you at the Bob Barr Community Band Twenitheth Anniversary Benefit Concert at  7:30 p.m, at the Jordan High auditorum. Admission is $5 and the current band gets the proceeds. Since I emceed the very first concert in 1988, George asked me to do this one. I’m honored.

Passionate Blogging

December 4, 2008

  Maybe I’ve been doing this blogging thing the wrong way. Instead of trying to post a well-written think piece, I should simply give vent to my passions and not worry about details like literary excellence. That’s what I took from Arianna Huffington when she was interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. She was on the show to plug her book on how to blog. It’s titled The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging.

  She said the key to successful blogging is to write about your passions, and to not worry about a blog post being a finished product.  In other words, don’t spend a lot of time trying polish your posts.

  I don’t spend a lot of time doing that, but I do try to make the post readable and get the grammar as correct as possible. I take a few liberties and sometimes use sentence fragments because that’s the way I speak and just about everyone else speaks. I remember one of my English Literature professors saying that before you can get away with breaking the rules, you have know them. She said, “When you are writing for me, you have to convince me that you know the rules. Don’t break them.” I don’t claim to know the rules flawlessly, but I’m not being graded by her any more so I’ll break the ones I do know when I feel like it.

 Arianna said that when you blog you should write about your passions. Once I figure what they are now, maybe I’ll concentrate on them. They have changed over time. Once I was very passionate about being an actor.  I acted in a few plays for Theater Atlanta when I was working at WSB Radio, and I appeared in a number of Columbus Little Theater productions before CLT morphed into the Springer Opera House, and then a few more productions there. I decided that the pay for all that work wasn’t adequate.  All the local actors did it for “the love of it,” but the Springer started bringing in outsiders who did it for the money. Once a dollar value was put on playing a lead in a play, I decided, no pay, no play.

I definately had a passion for being a radio announcer, which I satisfied by doing it, and when television came to Georgia, I decided I had a passion for that and did it for more than forty years. I got paid for that so I knew I was valuable. But, that passion has been satisfied and I don’t have it any more. I could still do it because…well, I know how.  If I came up with a specific topic I wanted to do a documentary on, I could become passionate about it.

I am passionate about my family, my children and grandchildren, and I have occasionally written about them, but I don’t want to invade their privacy so I keep that to a minimum.

I still love music, good theater, music, literature, art, and my interest in football has been rekindled. I am enjoying the Falcons this year. Maybe it’s because they are winning a few games. Also, I have been watching Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Auburn games.  Alabama is awesome. “Awesome” is a much over-used word, but, in this case, it really is an accurate adjective. I was glad they beat Auburn because losing six in a row in that classic rivalry made me feel sorry for them. The same with Georgia Tech and Georgia. Tech had lost seven in a row. That’s too much so I was glad they pulled off that three-point win.   

And, yes, I am passionate about politics, and I do occasionally write about that.

Maybe I’ll make Arianna happy and buy her book, or maybe I’ll check it out at the library and save the money, or maybe I’ll ignore it. It will just depend on my passion about it.