The Kudzu Kronicle

Because not all Southerners are the same

No questions allowed

My latest column in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (also shared by the Macon Telegraph here) begins with a question as the headline: “Is it time we replaced America’s national anthem?” This, of course, predictably produced knee-jerk angry reactions when shared on the Ledger-Enquirer’s Facebook page,  including one suggesting I should no longer be breathing. (Thank you, James E. B. Miller of Columbus, Georgia, for that one. I can see why you are a valuable employee in the security industry — you gotta know when to take folks down, such as for asking a question.)

Also predictable is that most of the angry folks — if not all — clearly didn’t (or can’t) read the commentary. No one is quite so vociferous in America these days as the ill-informed or ignorant-by-choice. I love it when the angry clueless masses scream at me. However, I actually respect those who disagree after thoughtful consideration and perhaps even the consumption of the written word — beyond the headlines, where so few dare to tread nowadays.

The California NAACP prompted the column idea by calling for replacing the national anthem. I thought that seemed a bit of an overreach and planned to sarcastically offer a multitude of silly suggested replacements. However, after reading more about “The Star-Spangled Banner,” I realized their proposal at least warranted a second look. It’s amazing how reading can help alleviate knee-jerk reactions.

But no. In today’s America of required nationalism and forced patriotism — gee, I wonder where in history we can look for something similar — you can’t question. Submit. Accept. Bow. Pledge your allegiance. Or get out.

I will suggest to those who will not allow even the question “Is it time we replaced America’s national anthem?” that when you’re singing along with your fellow patriots to “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the next football game, don’t sing these six words toward the end: “o’er the land of the free.”

Because, obviously, freedom is not a concept with which you agree.

READ the column here

You never forget your first real concert

Last night I took my 17-year-old son to his first real concert — Poppy at a small club called Vinyl in Atlanta. If you haven’t heard of Poppy, she’s an unusual YouTube sensation, more of a visual and sound experiment than a true music star. But she does have an album out and is now touring smallish clubs with most shows selling out.

It’s not my kind of music. The crowd is not my crowd. But it is fairly innocent, and the fans loved it. My son was among those at the front of the stage, while I stood well in the back. If you were there, you may recall having seen an old guy in a Georgia football t-shirt. That was me. Trust me, no one else looked like me — which, granted, may be a good thing for them. The important thing was my son had a blast. That’s all I cared about.

My first real concert as a teenager was in Columbus’ old Municipal Auditorium in 1987. I also was at the front of the stage to witness the tribute to debauchery provided by Murphy’s Law, Fishbone and especially the headliners — the Beastie Boys. It got out of control enough that the cops shut it down, which only enhanced the Beastie Boys’ reputation, much the way slapping those “explicit content” labels helped sell more dirty records. (Probably not the goal Tipper Gore was pursuing with that effort.)

I also had a blast at my first concert, but I didn’t have much fun explaining it all to my parents the next day when the stories and images from the show made the rounds of Columbus media. I remember Columbus DJ Bear O’Brian banning them from airplay on his station after everything he witnessed. As an adult, Bear was repulsed. As a kid, I was thrilled.

But now that I’m an adult, I’m glad my son didn’t start his concert-going with a show like that. Poppy’s weird, and the music is for people who like computer-generated sounds. But she didn’t throw beer on people, didn’t have half-naked girls on stage and the cops didn’t have to shut her performance down.

I think they may have been too weirded out.

Don’t know Poppy? Well, here’s a clip from a show a few days ago. Brace yourself:

Gun lovers make a good point

Another mass shooting. Another good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun. Another call for everyone being armed everywhere. The left and right reacting predictably. As they say, if you can’t make meaningful changes after Sandy Hook, you never will be able to.

Every time this happens, the gun lovers point out — accurately  — that laws won’t prevent a bad person from getting their hands on a gun or from doing evil things with a gun. They say gun laws won’t help. Even paying attention to that key term — “well-regulated” — in the Second Amendment won’t help.

They have a point. No amount of laws can prevent gun violence entirely. In fact, they are so right that we should take it a step further. For instance:

  • We should eliminate laws against speeding. I see people speed every single day that I drive. Few get caught. The laws aren’t stopping them. And any new laws to curb speeding are really just a slippery slope toward the government ultimately confiscating our vehicles.
  • No more laws concerning sexual misconduct. From our president’s happy little hands to Harvey Weinstein’s casting couch, it’s obvious they aren’t working.
  • Theft should be legal. Well, except my gun, of course. You can have it when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
  • Speaking of cold, dead hands, murder should be legal. There are nearly 16,000 homicides per year in the United States — 70 percent by firearms. Murder is against the law and keeps happening.
  • The same folks who resist laws to restrict firearms usually are for laws restricting abortions. Won’t they keep happening anyway like they did before it was legalized in 1973? Well, maybe not so much. Abortions last year hit their lowest level since 1973.
  • I definitely agree with their “laws don’t work” stance when it comes to drugs. The drug war has not worked and has, in fact, exacerbated the problem. It makes the drug trade more dangerous but also more profitable. It has treated an illness as a crime and ruined families. And it has increased the rates of theft, murders and firearms violations.

So, they’ve got a point. Laws don’t prevent crime from happening or stop bad people from doing bad things. Let’s just turn America in a constant episode of “The Purge” — but let me buy an AR-15 and a gazillion rounds of ammo first, please.

The media’s Trump coverage a case of apples and oranges

President Jimmy Carter made waves this week when he told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, “I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about.”

This, naturally, made right-wingers jump up and yell, “See! Totally unfair! Fake news! Banana, banana, BANANA!

To this, I say, “APPLE!” Um, I mean of course the media treats Trump differently. Trump is different. Trump ran on being different. He also ran on being tough, which makes me wonder why he’s so whiny and snowflakey.

Granted, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News all have devolved from news outlets into punditry platforms. They don’t cover important issues like the tax plan and health care the way they dwell on middle school playground issues like, “Ooo, did you hear what he said about you? He called you a dodo head! What you got to say about that?!”

But real journalists — most of them coming from or still at print-based organizations — are covering the issues and that makes them seem harder on Trump. When they seem hardest on Trump is when they use his exact, harsh words — mostly in the form of Tweets.

But while we’re comparing the treatment of Trump to the treatment of other presidents. let’s be sure to remember that: Continue reading

Founding fathers wanted somebody to be ‘well regulated’ in the 2nd Amendment

The question is “Who?” (1) Who are America’s founding fathers referring to in the Second Amendment — individuals or militias? And (2) who taught these folks how to write a sentence?

Here is the exact wording of the Second Amendment as ratified by the states: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

First of all, the term well-regulated should be hyphenated. Second, the whole darn sentence should have been rewritten by someone who spoke English as their first language or at least broken into two sentences for clarification. Here are some options, Thomas Jefferson, if you’d like to take another stab at it:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms through a well-regulated militia (which is necessary to the security of a free state) shall not be infringed. Or ... Continue reading

The world is ending … again

In case you haven’t heard, so-called Christian numerologist David Meade says that September 23, 2017 (OMG, that’s this Saturday!) marks the beginning of the end of the world. Again.

Meade claims that a constellation will appear over the skies of Jerusalem on Saturday marking the beginning of the end as the planet Nibiru — which you’ve never heard of because it doesn’t exist — hurtles toward Earth, a rendezvous that will bring all kinds of end-times disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and new Rascal Flatts albums.

You might not have heard about it because the world has ended so much in the last few decades that it’s hardly even news anymore. (Although, the Washington Post did see fit to report on it here.) I thought when end-times nut Harold Camping died after a couple of failed predictions that maybe folks would take a break from predicting the end times. Myself, I don’t want the surprise ruined, so I wish they’d keep their Biblical mathematics to themselves.

I do have a couple of questions about Saturday’s beginning-of-the-end:

(1) This won’t interfere with the Mississippi State at Georgia game on Saturday, will it? This is a huge SEC showdown, and I’ll bet anyone a million dollars that the Bulldogs will win.

(2) What time should I start making margaritas? I’m not going through the apocalypse sober.

The only sure thing about predicting the end of the world is that someday someone will be correct. It happened with the predictions of Brangelina’s breakup, and it’ll happen with this, too. I’m not going to worry, though, until Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un release a joint Tweet predicting the end of the world. When that happens, I’m running for the tequila.

10 Jimmy Buffett songs perfect for your Hurricane Irma playlist

I love the beach. Unfortunately, I live three hours from the nearest coast.

But, thanks to Hurricane Irma, it looks like I’ll have a tropical Monday here in Perry, Georgia. Of course, Irma should be merely a strong tropical storm by the time it gets here as the ensemble models have her tracking right over my house. Ben Jones at WMAZ-13 TV in Macon just reported, “We see Irma hitting Chris Johnson’s house and Margaritahill starting about 9 a.m. Monday. And speaking of ensemble models, we expect Chris to be modeling an ensemble featuring flip-flops, cargo shorts and a Margaritaville shirt with the sleeves cut off about that time — in other words, his formal wear for this special occasion.”

As a Parrothead, I’ll be sure to greet Irma properly with a margarita in hand and Jimmy Buffett tunes playing. I’ll have to make sure these 10 hurricane-related songs are on the playlist. (If you have any that should be added, let me know in the comments below.)

Bama Breeze (2006)
This song was a tribute to the legendary Flora-Bama, a collection of bars on the Florida-Alabama line that got mostly blown away by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It has since been rebuilt.
Sample:
In 1984 Mick Jagger passed through town
Bought the house a round
Signed his name on the wall
In the ladies bathroom stall

Nobody Speaks to the Captain No More (1986)
“Floridays” was Jimmy’s best album of the 1980s.
Sample:
He was a fugitive with a pseudo name
Lost his mind in a hurricane
Coconut upside his head
People said he’d be better dead

Perrier Blues (1978)
This was off Jimmy’s first live album, recorded at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre — with a broken leg, no less. He said he wrote it while in a hurricane hole in Nassau, Bahamas, riding out a storm while listening to a Jackson Browne album.
Sample:
Ridin’ high atop the main mast
Harbor stretched out below
All day I’ve been feelin’ kind of half-assed
So I asked the boy to lower me slow
Lower me slow

Landfall (1977)
This is off the “Changes in Latitudes” album that spawned the hit “Margaritaville” — and the billion-dollar industry surrounding that made-up place. My grillin’ pad is called “Margaritahill,” and I expect a cease-and-desist letter from Jimmy any day now.
Sample:
`Cause I’ve seen incredible things in my years
Some days were laughter, others were tears
If I had it all to do over again
I’d just get myself drunk and I’d jump right back in

In the Shelter (1971)
The subject of this song from Jimmy’s folk-singer days wasn’t hiding from a hurricane, but a lot of folks are right now. This is from the “High Cumberland Jubilee” album that the producers “lost” because they didn’t want to release it. Miraculously, they “found” the tapes after Jimmy hit it big.
Sample:
Past the boutique
down the alley to the river people pass her by
Sits on the big gray rocks takes off her boots and socks
And knowing what she will do next
Just starts to cry

No Plane on Sunday  (1986)
Irma and Harvey have left a lot of folks stranded near airports wondering when they’re gonna be able to leave. Folks who fly to Caribbean islands and third-world countries likely can relate to this song.
Sample:
You can throw your luggage down
Lose your cool and stamp around
But there’s nothin, nothin you can do
Wipe away your girlfriend’s tears
Go to the bar and have some beers
There ain’t no way the bird’s gettin through

Last Man Standing (2002)
“Far Side of the World” is Jimmy’s best album of the 2000s, although that’s not saying a lot. This wasn’t the best song on it, but I hope to be still standing after Monday.
Sample:
Gonna be the last man standing
People crashin’ on the sofas and passed out on the floor
But the last man standing
Sayin’ bring on a little bit more

Survive (1979)
Again, I just hope to survive through Monday — along with Margaritahill, my grill, the house, my electricity, etc.
Sample:
I play the stereo loud
When I’m away from the maddening crowd
Smokin’, jokin’, clowns we all are

If It All Falls Down (1986)
I’m expecting an awful lot to fall down on Monday — just hope it’s mostly small limbs.
Sample:
Never wanted to be
A part of history
I have my days in the sun
A beach bum, a man for all seasides
Guidance counselor said
Your scores are anti-heroic
Computer recommends
Hard-drinking calypso poet

Tryin’ to Reason with Hurricane Season (1974)
Off “A1A” — which Buffett purists consider the definitive Buffett album — this is one of my go-to strumming songs on my guitar. Easy and, of course, breezy.
Sample:
Squalls out on the gulf stream,
Big storms coming soon.
I passed out in my hammock,
God, I slept way past noon.
Stood up and tried to focus,
I hoped I wouldn’t have to look far.
I knew I could use a Bloody Mary,
So I stumbled next door to the bar.

And, yes, Parrotheads, I left 2009’s “Surfing in a Hurricane” off this list on purpose. It may be the most literal song about an actual hurricane, but it is simply awful. Awful.

Intolerable ignorance

If you don’t know that the headline in the image above from the propagandists at YourNewsWire.com is untrue, there’s probably no point in reading any further. You’re hopelessly ignorant and can’t be helped at this point.

This obviously fake news story is spreading far and wide today. A Facebook friend posted the above link today. I knew they were conservative as well as Trump apologists and I know they hate “mainstream” media, but I had no idea their ignorance rose to this level. This is akin to believing that the Sandy Hook Massacre was staged as part of an effort to round up your guns.

We shouldn’t have to explain to people that there is not a child sex ring at the bottom of a D.C. pizza joint. We shouldn’t have to explain to people that NASA does not have a child slave colony on Mars. We shouldn’t have to explain to people that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old. We shouldn’t have to explain to people that James Fields, the 20-year-old white supremacist moron who drove the car in Saturday’s deadly Charlottesville attack, is not a Hillary Clinton supporter nor a pawn in some grand scheme to keep right-wingers from having freedom of speech — as the fake news story purports.

And unlike President Trump, who leveled blame on “many sides” Saturday, these kinds of baloney stories come primarily from one side — the far right. Ironically, they also come primarily from those who scream “fake news” at legitimate media while sharing easily disprovable propaganda as “evidence” against accurate reporting. These people are anti-science and anti-reason.

Unfortunately, these gullible people also vote — apparently in surprisingly large numbers based upon what happened in November of 2016.

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