ONE KING TO ANOTHER….

Sheila O’Malley celebrated B.B. King’s birthday yesterday with an appreciation centered around B.B.’s extensive quotes regarding Elvis. Since I like to point out the stupid stuff people say about Elvis around here, I thought it would be nice to link to this so you could read the thoughts of somebody who had something smart to say. (Well, a couple of people actually: Sheila and B.B.)

Hey, it can’t all be gloom and doom around here!

SO HOW GOES IT WITH THOSE STATUE REMOVALS?

Moving along nicely, I’d say. A few bumps in the road, still some recalcitrant politicians here and there, but progress is being made.

For now, The UVA President is hemming and hawing. But there’s a pretty good chance by this time next year, ol’ TJ’s measure will have been taken and his monuments will come a tumblin’ down. How can one defend a secessionist slaver after all?

Wonder whose side we’ll all be on then?

Take it Gene…

 

THE GODMOTHER SHINES FORTH (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #117)

I was doing some rudimentary research on Don Williams, the country giant who passed yesterday, and was reminded that he was in the Pozo-Seco Singers, a pop-folk group who stirred up a little dust in the sixties. It was one of those tidbits that I used to know but had forgotten.

What I didn’t know was that Don and company had recorded a nice version of Chip Taylor’s “I Can Make it With You”…

Well that’s one way of doing it and The Hard Times, who were the house band for Where the Action Is, followed right along…

And then there’s the Jackie DeShannon way. If anyone needs proof Jackie’s a genius–and, despite a couple of big hits under her own name and dozens more as a writer, the Lost Voice of a generation she, as the assembler of the essential ethos of both folk rock and the singer-songwriter movement, did more than a little to define–consider this Exhibit A….

I would point especially to what she does with the repeated line There’s a future for me and understand what it means to interpret a song.

Or, if you prefer, claim it.

IRMA UPDATE….

It looks like whatever effects I’ll feel will be late Sunday into Monday. If I go dark for a couple of days do not be alarmed! (That might include not responding to comments for a while if, for instance, the power goes out for an extended time.)

Mostly good news on the family front. My niece who lives in Naples (which now looks to be dead center of the storm’s landfall) has safely evacuated to her husband’s folks in Georgia. Another niece who was on vacation in Disney World with her family left this morning (a day ahead of schedule) and, as of dusk today, they were nearing the Georgia line (a trip that would normally take about three hours). My best friend from work, who lives on the Gulf Coast of the Panhandle, has evacuated to Georgia with her family and pets as well. My sister’s family on the east coast of the peninsula is hunkered down, but they’re lifers who have ridden out many of these and are experts in prepping for the worst. I’m still slated to see only the west edge of the storm, hopefully after it has worn itself down some, so things are about as good as they could be all things considered.

Bottled water is back in supply and being sold at normal prices after some price-gouging yesterday.

It’s all good for now. Take it Karen….

ME AND IRMA (So Far…)

Thanks to all who have checked on me and my status per the Mother of All Hurricanes. As of now, it looks like my area (the Florida Panhandle) won’t get anything worse than some outer band winds and rain. However, I have family on both coasts of the peninsula, so all thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

May as well play the unofficial Middle Finger to Hurricane Season anthem, which is, naturally, about a volcano, because that’s how we roll in the Eye of the Storm (until, you know, it actually hits)….

FAMILY BAND (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #117)

[NOTE: I’ve posted this video before, but in a different context. It felt right to post it again because it’s context grows by the year. So maybe call it re-found in the connection.]

I’m a sucker for hope…but it’s exceeding rare to pull up a modern clip of some group doing one of their old hits from the prime days of Rock and Roll America (50’s, 60’s, 70’s) and find it enlarged. As often than not, if there’s an exception, it’s because the Cowsills got together in some environment where they were being well-recorded, like this clip from a concert they gave as a benefit to their cancer-stricken brother Billy, who had been the group’s resident genius-in-training until their father kicked him out of the band (and the house), killing their career just as the “family group”  ethos they had more or less invented was taking off.

Believe me, no post-millennial reunion of the Jacksons, Osmonds, DeFrancos or Partridge Family ever has or could produce anything like this….let alone while playing their own instruments.

(Barry Cowsill, at the far right, would vanish in Hurricane Katrina a year later. His body washed up two months later. The others got the news of Billy’s death while they were holding Barry’s wake. I’ve heard about life being a bitch…but serendipity? It’s a bit much!)

HURRICANES (Memory Lane: 1985, 2017)

When Hurricane Elena struck the Florida Panhandle in the fall of 1985, my parents were the region’s appointed Home Missionaries for the Southern Baptist Convention. Since their appointment in 1979 (at the ages of 59 and 60 respectively), my mother’s health had declined to the point where she was nearly bed-ridden (she would pass away twenty months later, in the Spring of ’87).

When it came to handling things like hurricane relief, it probably didn’t matter. That was my father’s gig in any case.

For those who don’t know, one of a home missionary’s primary jobs is to make sure the people who need help in the wake of a disaster get it.

From wherever it’s available.

Over two million people were evacuated in the face (and wake) of Elena, more than half of them in Florida. The Panhandle was the hardest hit area of the state and, though the population base is small, the evacuations along the Gulf of Mexico were almost ubiquitous. Small population base, sure, but that only meant a small support base as well.

In that environment, my Dad, the ex-carny, was in his element.

Give him a problem to solve–in this case, how to get needed supplies, mostly blankets and canned goods, from a mix of willing and somewhat reluctant suppliers, to the shelters (mostly churches and high school gyms) in the small towns twenty and thirty miles inland (just off the floodplain of the Apalachicola Bay)–and he would make it happen.

Of course, there had been some long and short-term preparation. We were living in Florida, after all. Hurricanes come with the scenery.

But the scale of Elena, lingering and lingering, constantly changing directions, losing force before it retreated into the Gulf and gathered for another push, made it a tough challenge.

Let’s just say many went without.

Those who got help, mostly got it from my father. I didn’t hear that from him. I heard it from all the people in Baptist circles who, when I was introduced as his son, asked me to personally thank him for what he had done, in one small town after another. I heard it a dozen times in church settings (all the more remarkable because I had stopped going to church except for special occasions like the Thanksgiving Dinners my friend Lillian Isaacs, the person who started the first faith-based Literacy and Citizenship programs in the United States, used to invite me to at First Baptist of Tallahassee–she invited me not least because I was my father’s son), some of them literally two decades after the fact.

Always the same:

“If it hadn’t been for him…”

My dad never spoke much about it except to shake his head whenever he remembered the reprimand.

The reprimand came from the Florida Baptist Convention a few weeks after the shelters had been emptied and people returned to their homes. (Dad had caused many of the shelters to be opened in the first place because, as the home missionary in a region where, in those days at least, Southern Baptists probably outnumbered all other faiths and denominations combined, he was best positioned to provide information to pastors and church boards who otherwise would have had little idea of the scale of the immediate need, not to mention assure them that blankets and food would be delivered, even if he didn’t yet know from where, no matter how many refugees they took in–there are times when being an ex-con man comes in handy, even in the service of the Lord).

The leadership of the Florida Baptist Convention took a dim view of missionaries who used their discretionary funds to do things like purchase blankets for people turned out of their homes. They weren’t really fond of doing it for church members. And they were especially not fond of doing it for just anybody who needed it.

It was all part of a new attitude inside the hierarchy of a church body that, like most Protestant denominations, had been famously non-hierarchical for most of its existence. (Just as an example, the church I was raised in, in another part of the state, split four times before I was thirteen, always over matters of hair-split doctrine–such arguments are the Protestant’s version of “Don’t Tread on Me.”)

The new hierarchy was going to do what all hierarchies do and restore order. In this case to things like disaster relief and prison ministries. Henceforth, my dad was told, before any money was spent, funds would be doled out through proper channels only, with all appropriate forms signed in triplicate.

Meaning henceforth, all aid would be distributed to the “right” people, through the “right” channels.

My dad was enough of an old Carny to know that meant after the right palms were greased.

Sort of like the Midway.

Or your average friendly government bureaucracy.

It was a small incident. Everything was smoothed out at the national office in Atlanta, where Dad still had friends. He was allowed to work past my mother’s death and serve the ten years that provided a small pension and cheap medical insurance (which he paid for another twenty years, until he cancelled it nine months before he had a stroke. the implications of which are still with me).

But it was redolent of larger issues, roiling under the surface of the times.

The state convention’s view was already the prevailing one. By the time Dad retired in 1989, it was unchallenged. It was all part and parcel of a new “Conservative” takeover of the church, the formal part of which Dad had witnessed at a National Convention–in Houston, as it happened, at the old Astrodome–which, among other things, would lead to being hog-tied to the Republican Party from 1980 onward (contributing to the humiliating defeat of one of our own and a dark turn from which the country has not recovered, which is another story for another day) and a marked de-emphasis on prison ministries.

My dad had an opinion about that, too. He told it to anyone who would listen.

“If we’re not there, someone else will be.”

Maybe something worth thinking about the next time you hear about a terrorist who converted to radical Islam–or Marxism–in an American prison.

So he had to settle for winning the Battle of Hurricane Elena….and not being forgotten by those who told me, all those years later, “If it hadn’t been for him….”

But every time there’s a major hurricane, and the inevitable petty politicization swirls all around, I always think about Dad and send up a prayer for whoever is fighting the good fight now–irrespective of their faith or lack thereof–and dare to hope that maybe this time, we’ll get it right.

Thinking of Houston, then, and knowing where Dad would be, tonight, if he could…

 

INTERESTING TIMES…

No really. Here’s the latest column from Alfred McCoy, author of The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, the definitive book on CIA involvement in drug smuggling across the years and the miles. (I recommend the original edition: the update, titled The Politics of Heroin, is padded with many newer details which merely restate the thesis and provide ample proof of the axiom that less is more….I do look forward to his new book which is plugged at the link.)

Please note that, in other recent columns, McCoy has seemed to express support for the Security State in its incarnation as the support structure for Barack Obama’s bid to become the third American Grand Master (after Elihu Root and Zbigniew Brzezenski) of the Great Game and its subsequent appeal as the one force capable of keeping Donald Trump from abandoning the Empire Obama (in McCoy’s estimation) so skillfully preserved.

People are strange, but his current piece is still well worth reading–back to basics so to speak.

After you’ve had a chance to read it, be sure to check back

I promise Gene will still be here….

So will Eddie…

THANK GOD WE’RE ALL RATIONAL HERE….

….And confining all efforts directed at statue removal and defacement to those Confederates, like the ones found on Mount Rushmore…

And in amongst George Washington’s officer corps….

…In hotbeds of Reactionary Secession like South Dakota and Ohio.

Must say I’m really relieved. I thought for a minute there things might get out of hand!

Take it Gene….

and, since YouTube keeps insisting, take it Eddie…