Doug Richards is an Atlanta tv news reporter. He writes a blog, live apartment fire. He was on the scene twenty four years ago. There was a riot downtown. Mr. Richards had a bad night.
PG was working in the Healey building that day. He ran an RMS, or reprographic management service, in an architects office. He had a blueline machine, ran jobs for the customer, and had free time. PG did a lot of exploring, and enjoyed the various events downtown. On April 30, 1992, there was an event he did not enjoy.
The day before, a jury in California issued a verdict. Four policemen were acquitted of wrongdoing in an incident involving Rodney King. The incident had been videotaped, and received widespread attention. The verdict of the jury was not popular. The dissatisfaction spread to Atlanta.
Sometimes, PG thinks he has a guardian angel looking over him. If so, then this thursday afternoon was one of those times. PG went walking out into the gathering storm. He was a block south of the train station at five points, when he saw someone throw a rock into a store front. The sheet metal drapes were rolled down on the outside of the store. PG realized that he was not in a good place, and quickly made his way back to the Healey building.
A group of policeman were lined up in the lobby of the building, wearing flack jackets. One of the police was a white man, who was familiar to workers in the neighborhood. A few weeks before the incident, he had been walking around the neighborhood showing off his newborn baby.
There was very little work done that afternoon in the architect’s office. Someone said not to stand close to the windows, which seemed like a good idea. Fourteen floors below, on Broad Street, the window at Rosa’s Pizza had a brick thrown threw it. There were helicopters hovering over downtown, making an ominous noise.
There was a lot of soul searching about race relations that day. The Olympics were coming to town in four years, and the potential for international disaster was apparent. As it turned out, the disturbance was limited to a few hundred people. It could have been much, much worse. If one percent of the anger in Atlanta had been unleashed that day, instead of .001 percent, the Olympics would have been looking for a new host.
After a while, the people in the office were called into the lobby. The Principal of the firm, the partner in charge of production, walked out to his vehicle with PG and a lady in operations. The principal drove an inconspicuous vehicle, which made PG feel a bit better. PG took his pocketknife, opened the blade, and put it in his back pocket. It probably would not have done him much good.
PG usually took the train downtown. As fate would have it, there was a big project at the main office of redo blue on West Peachtree Street. That is where PG’s vehicle was, in anticipation of working overtime that night. The principal drove PG to this building. PG called his mother, to let her know that he was ok. The Atlanta manager of Redo Blue talked to him, to make sure that he was not hurt.
If PG had not gone back downtown the next day, he might not have ever gone back. He was back at the West Peachtree Street office, and was assured that it was safe to ride the train into town. The Macy’s at 180 Peachtree had plywood nailed over the display windows. A gift shop in the Healey building had a sign in the window, “Black owned business”. Friday May 1, 1992, was a quiet day.
This is a repost. The events of twenty four years ago are mostly forgotten in Atlanta. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.
In the time between 1980 and 1994, if you lived in Atlanta you heard about Lewis Grizzard. Some people loved him. Some did not. He told good old boy stories about growing up in rural Georgia. Many of them were enjoyable. He also made social and political commentaries, which upset a few people. This is a fishwrapper friday repost, with historic pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.
PG had mixed feelings about Lewis. The stories about Kathy Sue Loudermilk and Catfish were funny. His opinions about gays, feminists, and anything non redneck could get on your nerves. His column for the fishwrapper upset PG at least twice a week.
In 1982, Lewis (he reached the level of celebrity where he was known by his first name only) wrote a column about John Lennon. Lewis did not understand why Mr. Ono was such a big deal. PG cut the column out of the fishwrapper, and put it in a box. Every few years, PG would be looking for something, find that column, and get mad all over again.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia has a page about Lewis, which expresses some of these contradictions. If Grizzard’s humor revealed the ambivalence amid affluence of the Sunbelt South, it reflected its conservative and increasingly angry politics as well. He was fond of reminding fault-finding Yankee immigrants that “Delta is ready when you are,” and, tired of assaults on the Confederate flag, he suggested sarcastically that white southerners should destroy every relic and reminder of the Civil War (1861-65), swear off molasses and grits, drop all references to the South, and begin instead to refer to their region as the “Lower East.” Grizzard also wore his homophobia and hatred for feminists on his sleeve, and one of the last of his books summed up his reaction to contemporary trends in its title, Haven’t Understood Anything since 1962 and Other Nekkid Truths (1992).
In the end, which came in 1994, when he was only forty-seven, the lonely, insecure, oft-divorced, hard-drinking Grizzard proved to be the archetypal comic who could make everyone laugh but himself. He chronicled this decline and his various heart surgeries in I Took a Lickin’ and Kept on Tickin’, and Now I Believe in Miracles (1993), published just before his final, fatal heart failure.
As you may have discerned, Lewis McDonald Grizzard Jr. met his maker on March 20, 1994. He was 47. There was a valve in his heart that wasn’t right. The good news is that he stayed out of the army. At the time, Vietnam was the destination for most enlistees. The bad news is that his heart problems got worse and worse, until it finally killed him.
Sixteen years later, PG found a website, Wired for Books. It is a collection of author interviews by Don Swaim, who ran many of them on a CBS radio show called Book Beat. There are two interviews with Lewis Grizzard. The first one was done to promote My Daddy Was a Pistol and I’m a Son of A Gun. This was the story of Lewis Grizzard Senior, who was another mixed bag.
PG found himself listening to this chat, and wondered what he had been missing all those years. The stories and one liners came flowing out like the Chattahoochee going under the perimeter highway. Daddy Grizzard was a soldier, who went to war in Europe and Korea. The second one did something to his mind, and he took to drinking. He was never quite right the rest of his life. His son from adored him anyway. When you put yourself in those loafers for a while, you began to taste the ingredients in that stew we called Lewis Grizzard.
PG still remembers the anger that those columns caused … he has his own story, and knows when his toes are stepped on. The thing is, after listening to this show, PG has an idea of why Lewis Grizzard wrote the things that he did. Maybe PG and Lewis aren’t all that different after all.
Atlanta Rising: The Invention of an International City 1946-1996 is on the shelf at the Chamblee library. This book is a history of Atlanta in the modern era, written by former fishwrapper scribe Frederick Allen. This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.
The story begins in 1948. AR is weighted more to the older part of the story. The main text is 248 pages. On page 124, Ivan Allen has just built a controversial roadblock on Peyton Road, which would be in 1962. The further along in the story, the fewer details are included. The first big story is when Georgia had two governors. This is one of the best descriptions of the two Governors controversy around, and does not mention Ben Fortson’s wheelchair cushion.
The mayor at the start of the story is William B. Hartsfield. “Willie B” was a leader in creating the Atlanta Airport, and in building it into the powerhouse it is today. He was mayor until 1961, when Ivan Allen Jr. moved into the office.
AR has many moments of unintentional irony. When you read a book 18 years after it was written, and fifty years after the events in the book, you see things that could not have been imagined before. In 1960, many of the political-business elite thought it was time for Mr. Hartsfield to retire. Among his shortcomings was an indifference to sports. Mr. Hartsfield thought that a new stadium would be too great a drain on the city’s taxpayers. Fifty four years, and three stadiums, later, the power elite is going to build another stadium. Atlanta Stadium cost eighteen million dollars. The Blank bowl will cost over a billion. (In the past year, a plan to move the Braves to Smyrna was announced.)
One of the big stories here is civil rights. Atlanta came out of that struggle looking pretty good. It was a combination of image conscious businessmen, enlightened black leadership, and a huge helping of dumb luck. In 1961, the city was under federal pressure to integrate the schools. The state was firm in opposition, and the city wasn’t crazy about the idea anyway. Then, another federal court ordered the integration of the University of Georgia. Since the people would not stand for messing with their beloved University, the state laws forbidding integration were quietly repealed. The city schools were integrated with a minimum of fuss. (The book tells this story much better than a slack blogger.)
The controversy about the 1956 model state flag was going full steam when AR was written. The book has some legislative records, which for some reason never made it into the fishwrapper. There is no clear cut answer as to why the legislature changed the state flag. It was mentioned that at the national political conventions, you could not have a written sign, but you could wave a state flag. This controversy provided a diversion from gold dome crookedness, and hopefully has been laid to rest.
A man named Lester Maddox sold fried chicken, and ran for public office. AR describes Lester as looking a bit like an angry chicken. Through a series of constitutional convulsions, Lester was elected Governor in 1966. The state survived his tenure. In the seventies, when Jimmy Carter was running for President, Lester said a lot of rude things about Jimmy, helping the smiling peanut farmer get elected. In another turn of fate, Lester Maddox died June 25, 2003. This was two days after the eternal departure of Maynard Jackson, the first black Mayor of Atlanta.
The book ends with the 1996 Olympics looming over the city. Billy Payne led a smart campaign to secure the games for Atlanta. One of his moves was to keep Jimmy Carter and Ted Turner out of the action. After the 1980 boycott, and the Goodwill Games, neither person was popular with the I.O.C. The book was published before 1996. The Olympics were a blast.
As you may have heard, Beyoncé released a new album/video collection. People are talking. Some say it is a work of genius. Piers Morgan liked the less political Beyoncé. Others say that Mr. Morgan’s caucasian opinion is not welcome.
Lemonade is seen by many as an expression of life, and death, in 2016 African America. This is reinforced by opinion pieces like Dear White People Who Write Things: Here’s How To Write About Beyonce’s Lemonade. Some wonder if Lemonade is not an attempt to cash in on some powerful emotions in African America. It is obvious that the work is corporate product, designed to make money. You can express important thoughts, and make money at the same time.
According to Beyoncé’s “creative director,” a white man named Todd Tourso, the performer took an active role in the creation of the product. “Beyoncé’ was really just the fearless leader the entire time. Throughout this process, daily she would shoot for 10 hours, then do a 2 hour show, then go to the studio until 4 or 5 in the morning, then wake up at 7am and do it again. And on top of this schedule she’s completely involved in every creative decision along the way and completely happy and excited and fun the entire time. It was just a really inspiring and contagious energy to be around.”
“According to docs obtained from Louisiana Entertainment, the estimated budget for Lemonade was $1.35 million.” That figure seems a bit low. In any event, that money had to come from somewhere. Beyoncé did not rob her piggy bank to get the production capital. Whoever put that money up is expecting a return on investment.
Another detail that comes up is the number of writers. “According to the liner notes released in the digital booklet, 72 writers collaborated to write Lemonade.” That is a bit misleading. John Bonham, the drummer for Led Zeppelin who died in 1980, got a credit for some sampled material.
72 writers is a lot of paid talent collaborating on a project. It gives support to those who say that Lemonade is corporate product. And, in keeping with the tenor of the times, Vanity Fair chimes in: “To criticize Beyoncé for collaborating in the production of her art is ignorant. It’s probably racist, too, but I’ll let the haters look into their own hearts to determine whether that’s true.”
Maybe the best thing to do is just enjoy, or ignore, Lemonade. Either way, Beyoncé is dancing all the way to the bank. Picture today are from The Library of Congress.
A facebook friend posted a meme this morning. There is a picture of a piece of bread, covered in peanut butter. There is forty point, sans serif, text pasted on the condiment. “If someone ever tells you that you’re putting too much peanut-butter on your bread, stop talking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.” This is a helpful hint repost.
PG dabbles in graphics. When he saw the meme, the first thing he saw were the words “your life” at the bottom. Six longer lines of text were stacked on top of “your life.” This creates a top heavy look. PG made a comment: “A meme is different from a peanut butter sandwich. There are too many words in this meme. If they had stopped after “negativity”, there would not be two words at the bottom by themselves. The result is a top heavy graphic. The words “in your life” do not add anything to the overall message. This is not negativity, this is editing.”
There are more issues with the peanut butter meme. This is a sacred saturday, after a long week at work. If PG wants to write snarky commentaries about a facebook picture, that should be his right. No one is making you read this. If you want to skip the text, and look at the pictures (from The Library of Congress,) go ahead. The images are from the FSA depression era collection.
We live in a selfish society. It is all about “your life.” The concept of scarce goods is not considered. What if there is only enough peanut butter (without the dash) for two regular sandwiches, or one super duper helping? Is it negativity to ask someone to share?
“If someone ever tells you … stop talking to them.” Are two people talking at the same time? Or, is one person talking, and the other listening? Maybe the meme should say stop listening to them. But, we are a self oriented culture. Listening is seen as weakness. Talking is seen as confident action. If someone says something you don’t like, don’t talk to them.
You probably weren’t listening anyway. It is all about you, and your desire to pile on the peanut butter. Maybe that is why it was important to add the words “in your life” to the text. The fact that there was not enough room does not matter. It is all about your life. If this throws the overall picture out of balance, that is too bad.
Today is Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia. It is an ancient question…how to honor the soldiers from the side that lost. They were just as valiant as the Union Soldiers. Considering the shortages of the Confederate Armies, the Rebels may have been just a bit braver.
The issue of Federalism is a defining conflict of the American experience. What powers do we give the Federal Government, and what powers do we cede to the States? The Confederacy was the product of this conflict. The Confederate States were a collection of individual states, with separate armies. This is one reason why the war turned out the way it did.
This is not a defense for slavery. The “Peculiar institution” was a moral horror. The after effects of slavery affect us today. Any remembrance of the Confederacy should know that. This does not make the men who fought any less brave.
It is tough to see the War Between the States through the modern eye. It was a different time, before many of the modern conveniences that are now considered necessities. Many say that the United States were divided from the start, and the fact the union lasted as long as it did was remarkable. When a conflict becomes us against them, the “causes” become unimportant.
The War was a horror, with no pain medicine, and little that could be done for the wounded. It took the south many, many years to recover. The healing continues in many ways today. Remembering the sacrifices made by our ancestors helps.
This is a repost from CMD 2010. Pictures are from the The Library of Congress.
Today is Anzac day. Tomorrow is Confederate Memorial Day. Not all soldiers win.
On this day, one hundred and one years ago, the troops from the British Empire landed on Gallipoli. The Great War had started a few months ago. The British were allied with the French, and the Russians, against the Germans, the Turks, and others. The War started in West Europe. The British decided to invade Turkey as a strategic move. It was a disaster.
One hundred and one years later, Americans know little about Gallipoli. There have many other wars since then. Some of them have been more gruesome, or more useless. Millions of men died in “The Great War.” Today, not one person in ten thousand can tell you what they died for.
There was a movie made about Gallipoli. Mel Gibson was one of the players. Someone said, of the Turks and Australians, that we should fight them there, so we won’t have to fight them here. Australia, and New Zealand, were not fighting in self defense. Ninety years later, that same phrase was used to justify the slaughter in Babylon.
This is a repost. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.
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