Tag Archives: South Carolina

Ode to Bright Stars

We found out Monday that Glenn Frey had died. It will be impossible write about Glenn without superlatives so I won’t resist. To a person, everyone I knew was genuinely shocked. I guess we expected the reaper to first visit the other less sane members of the Eagles. In the end however, I guess the brightest stars are destined to burn out first…and bright his star was.

Quick, do you have a memory associated with an Eagles song?

There were so many. One of These Nights will forever be an 8-Track song. If you have no idea what I am talking about, ask your folks. It will be an 8-Track song cruising on Woodward Avenue in a beige seventies vintage Chevrolet Impala forever. If you are not sure what I am talking about ask Ronald or Roger. Desperado will be the slow dance song which defies the cute sitters at Patrick’s in perpetuity. Ask Tammy or Kim or… if you don’t believe me. Life in the Fast Lane is the song that makes you take your top off, Spitfire convertible top, that is.  Already Gone has broken up more couples than Jerry Springer. If you don’t believe me, ask…

You thought I would blog about her? Nope, sorry.

Anyone with a pulse in the seventies or eighties can name at least one association with an Eagles song. In those decades those songs were prevalent, pervasive and some would say pungent comments about our time. Their lyrics and melodies rang true for another generation fourteen years later.

I know, I went to one of the reunion concerts at Clemson’s Death Valley in the late nineties.

That concert’s attendance was just weird. There were people my age who loved the Eagles but, didn’t really have a chance to see them in concert before the spectacular breakup. There were old people who had probably seen the Eagles numerous times and then there were the kids. Don Henley seems to want to attribute their kid appeal to the rise of classic rock stations. I think he is just too humble to admit the music is timeless.

Whatever the secret sauce, the Eagles doled it out in buckets.

Henley was quoted in a statement a few days ago that Glenn Fry “was the one who started it all…the sparkplug…” I think that is the kind of thing a partner says about his fallen friend. Truth is, the Fry, Henley partnership will go down in the history of American music. To be sure, there were others, Meisner, Walsh, Felder… But, Fry and Henley had the vision. Sometimes by sheer force of will they kept the dream alive.

Until they couldn’t.

In 1980 a couple of years before I graduated high school, it was over. Some of us actually grieved. We always believed and in 94 we were given one more small dose of melodic genius. The Eagles were granted what a precious few will receive in this life, a curtain call. This time, it’s gutwrenchingly final. I think we are sad that another generation will never get the gift of 94. Maybe we are sad the group who wrote the score to our youth is now gone forever. We are sad for Don and the others. We are just shocked and sad. Rest in peace, Glenn.

I Guess My Affair is Over

We have been together for some time. Jennifer, my wife, introduced me to her a few years back. That might be a little strange but, Jen could see we had so much in common. Her brother Joe is a big Clemson fan like me. Like me, she over-visits the upstate of South Carolina. Recharging her batteries involves a cabin on a lake somewhere up there. I can see myself doing the same thing. I have an idea which lake but, I will keep her secret. Our affair is based on mutual admiration, respect and similar history. We are similar in all the things that really matter. Well, mutual to the extent she wouldn’t know me from Adam’s housecat at the grocery store.


Do you think it is kinda weird that I think my wife loves her too? I guess it doesn’t matter. It is over anyway.


I was introduced one morning when Jennifer and I were reading the paper. With my supernatural powers of intuition, I noticed she was sniffling. “I will never read Sharon Randall again. Just read it,” she said sticking a rolled up section of paper in my face like I hadn’t gone outside to do my business. I don’t really read the “Life” section of the Times Daily but, I humored her. I don’t remember the story but, I remember the lump in my throat. It was big as a softball. It was probably a column about her first husband. I remember how Sharon would stop with a sort of literary device to ask me a question. That’s exactly how it felt. She wanted to stop her story a minute to see if I was ok… you know, paying attention.


I have stolen Sharon’s device and I am not giving it back. You can’t make me.


Reading her columns, I always feel like I am listening to a story over her breakfast table. I know the characters of her stories. Joe, her brother, is blind and is a BIG Clemson fan. I know her boss turned second husband. I have heard all of the grand babies’, Wiley, Randy and Henry…


I wish you could have been there the day Jennifer learned I was reading Sharon’s columns on-line, ON THURSDAY.


Jennifer is black-fingered newspaper reader from way back. Without Dead trees and Diet Mountain Dews, I don’t think we would ever make it to church. That morning I grinned, handed her the paper and told her she would probably like Sharon that morning. “How do you know?” I surprised even myself by keeping that secret until Sunday. “Because, I read it online Thursday,” I said without even the slightest hint of guilt.


Ok, maybe I felt a little guilty.


We both have a connection to Sharon’s work that is hard to describe. She seems to have been there. Her accounts of her first husband were a huge solace after my daddy-in-law died. I have no idea why. If someday in my writing I can connect in some small way as she has, it will have been a good day.


I guess you have read by now that Sharon won’t be in the paper Sunday.


SHI will miss our visits. I will miss our little chats. I will miss her family. Now they like the cousins we never see. I don’t know about syndication. I am not sure Sharon will ever grace the pages of the Times Daily again. If it turns out Sharon isn’t coming back, I know more than a few people will be sad.


I know two people whose Sunday morning will never be the same.


Sharon Randall says she is looking into self-syndication. You can read her archived columns and the status of her syndication here.


Scout and Jem all over again

My mom has a signed copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I paint a little so, for her birthday a few years back, I painted her a Mockingbird. I painted the bird on a red background so it would match her book cover. She proudly displays the painting with the book and tells everyone who asks, and some who don’t, that her son painted the picture. She even forgets about how Harper Lee signed her book. This is strange because I think it is one of her favorite books. Harper is not really her favorite author because she really only wrote one book, more or less. But, that is a whole new story that I won’t bore you with now.

I think mom likes the book because it attempts to reach into the cracks and crevasses of our fear. It especially explores our fear of people who look different. Sadly, part of our walk on this earth is to separate, characterize and sort. As babies only a few days old, we instinctively know we must be able to differentiate men (?) and women (lunch). Later we learn things like triangle headed snakes put you in the hospital while the round headed ones just hurt a little.

I guess you have figured out by now that this is not a book report.

As Harper so painfully points out, we in the south have brought differentiation to a whole new level. My best and most personal example of this is the difference between my first and second grade years in the Nashville Metropolitan School System. It seems that the good citizens of Nashville held out for “separate but, equal” as long as they could. The piper finally came around right before I graduated the first grade. When other kids were buying pencils and notebooks my classmates and I should have been buying riot gear and helmets. When mom dropped me off on the first day of second grade, the white parents were out in force. We were lucky they were only throwing epitaphs and holding signs not fit for Sunday School. Once in the class, I met big black Mrs. Battleaxe (not her real name). She quickly informed us white kids that she and those black kids had been on the bus since five that morning and they didn’t need any slack from us. After beating me with a three-foot wooden device designed to draw circles on a chalk board, she informed me that I was a lazy boy that would never have made it at her old school. Soon after that, she told me I was too stupid to pronounce my own name.

You may have spent some time in a war zone and maybe we can compare notes sometime.

This was our reality for months. We were a bunch of innocent seven year-olds, black and white, just trying to survive another day. Finally, mercifully, a truce seemed to take hold. After the adults got tired of war, we kids did what kids do. We began to discuss culinary differences between fried bologna and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We made friends I still Facebook today. Sadly, many of my cross-town brethren have fallen victim to the vicious street. Mrs. Battleaxe even came around a little. She stopped forcing us to listen to stories of the marble steps and golden bannisters of her former school.

Like Harper, you probably know the pain is in the resistance and not the change.

The first step toward a solution is always admitting you have a problem. We have passed bad ideas to our children because we can’t get honest with ourselves. We perpetuate the problem by whistling past the graveyard and by doing so, we continue to fight the same battles. By being silent, we allow people who look like us to force us all to feel the pain of resistance over and over again. Forget the moral arguments if you like. Ignore new covenant if you want. By the way, Jesus’ skin was probably a different color than yours. Seek change because you are tired of the pain of resistance.