The Kudzu Kronicle

Because not all Southerners are the same

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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.

No Margaritaville in North Korea

I wasn’t exactly a world traveler when I joined The Fuller Center for Housing in June of 2011 — unless you count that one night in Windsor, Canada, when I nearly missed the last bus of the night back into Detroit. The bus went through a tunnel under the Detroit River, which I found a wee bit disturbing.

But one of my first tasks with The Fuller Center was to get myself a passport. The Fuller Center works all around the world — in faraway places like Nepal, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, India and a few African countries and a few relatively closer stops such as Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Peru. I didn’t get my passport to go to any of those countries at first. No, I needed to get a passport quickly because my first stop would be North Korea.

It’s hard to believe now, but The Fuller Center had developed an initiative to build 50 homes for families on a farm collective known as Osan-Ri, about 25 kilometers outside of Pyongyang. The plan was to send volunteer teams from the United States to work alongside the North Koreans to develop friendships and trust as much as simple, decent housing. It sprung from a dream Jubilee Partners’ Don Mosley pitched to Millard Fuller, the then-leader of The Fuller Center who saw nothing as impossible.

In the beginning, it seemed to be working. Even after Millard’s untimely passing in 2009, new President David Snell (still my boss today) carried on with the dream as best he could — making four trips to North Korea and bringing back a slew of images from the rogue nation. He was even there for the groundbreaking in 2009 alongside North Korean leaders and families in a festive, friendly atmosphere.

(Click here for my fascinating Q&A with David about his experiences in North Korea, complete with photos from his trips.)

As The Fuller Center’s new director of communications, I was tapped to visit the communist nation and document the progress of this unique project. I wanted to do something different that would capture attention for the work or possibly even go viral on them interwebs. I decided that I would take my colorful acoustic guitar and film myself playing and singing Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” in North Korea. I’m pretty sure that’s never been done. Continue reading

John McCain, Bill Bradley and what could have been in 2000

With all of the hullabaloo accompanying the craziness of the Bush v. Gore general election of 2000, people often forget about the two runners-up in the primary season — Sen. John McCain on the Republican side and Sen. Bill Bradley with the Democrats. I longed for these two distinguished, principled men to face off in an election that they vowed— in a written, signed compact, mind you — that would be about the actual issues without special interests dictating the discussions.

Bradley

I truly believe that those two men could have mostly lived up to their promise of a principled general election campaign — although whether they really could have is a moot point since Howdy Doody and a talking tree got the party nods. I hate that we never got to see that McCain v. Bradley campaign materialize, and politics has gotten uglier ever since. Citizens United threw even more gasoline on that fire.

They had very different views. Bradley’s big issues were universal health care (looks like he was a little ahead of his time on that one) and gun control, while McCain was focused on a strong defense and bucking the political establishment and D.C. power brokers. It would have been interesting — and we would have been much better off with either of them as president.

I don’t agree with many of his political views, but I respect Sen. McCain as a war hero (yes, Mr. Multiple Deferment Trump, McCain is a war hero) and as a principled politician, not a pandering demagogue.  More than once during the 2008 campaign against Barack Obama he put his own supporters in their place when they said they were “scared” of Obama or accused him of being Muslim or being born in Kenya.

(By the way, I always wondered why Obama’s parents would have put a birth announcement in the Honolulu newspapers if he were born in Kenya; perhaps they were laying the groundwork for his presidential campaign from day one.) Continue reading

Hurry up and land this #$%@! plane!

I have mixed feelings about cussin’. Some of you might know it better as cursing, swearing or using foul language, but down South we refer to it as cussin’ — if you do it right, anyway.

There are 26 letters in the alphabet, every one of them perfectly acceptable letters. Yet, you can use five of them to refer to a male body part and have it found perfectly acceptable, but use four of them to describe the same body part and you’re an uncouth slimeball. Who decided that that those five letters are fine but the other four letters are evil? How can one set of letters be wrong if you’re talking about the exact same thing?

I have no idea who got to decide what is cussin’ and what is acceptable language, but there are times when cussin’ is appropriate. For instance, when you stub your toe on the chest of drawers at 4 a.m. on your way to the bathroom, “gosh that smarts” just doesn’t cut it.

I’ve worked with goody-two-shoes folks who think “dang” is a vulgar word, and I’ve worked with people who could use the F-word as all nine parts of speech. And, yes, I know there are supposedly only eight parts of speech, but that’s how good my old boss was at cussin’. RIP, Larry.

I’ve heard it all. Anybody who has ever been a seventh-grade boy knows that a middle school boys bathroom is the most vulgar place on the planet. Those boys may not know what all the words mean, but they’ve heard them and, by golly, they’re gonna use them.

I also spent many years as a sports writer. Not only are most locker rooms filled with vulgarity, but I’ve learned many new cuss words from angry coaches over the years — some directed at players, some at referees and a significant amount at myself. Then there are comedians who can use vulgarity in clever ways or to make a point, although far too many comedians today use it as a crutch in place of actual humor. Most Americans are too easily entertained to be able to tell the difference.

But I have found a place where I don’t want to hear cussin’, and that’s on a plane. On Friday, I had a relatively short flight but was one of the last to board because I changed flights at the last minute. Not only did I have to fight for overhead bin space, but I had to take the last available seat — and I was surrounded by members of a soccer team.

Soccer is a fine sport, though not one I’m in which I’m interested. Any game that can regularly end in a 0-0 tie is not for me. But I’ve never had anything against soccer players. I even had my son try it when he was just 4 years old, but he wasn’t real sure why everyone was running around while he was talking to his imaginary friend.

“Who’s he talking to?” a parent would ask.

“Cassie from ‘Dragon Tales,’” I’d explain nonchalantly. “Duh.”

The problem was that the soccer players on the plane were all boys of about 15 years of age, and far more immature than any other 15-year-olds I’ve been around. They were more immature than kids who watched “Dragon Tales” cartoons. Everything was F-this and F-that as if they had just discovered the word. That same word could be found throughout the book I was reading, but it’s far more palatable in silent reading than from loudmouthed kids in close quarters.

Fortunately, the flight was just over an hour, so I managed to survive. Thank goodness I was able to get to my truck and play a little soft jazz on the way home. It was so peaceful. Well, at least until I hit a traffic jam cause by road construction.

“#%&!” I yelled after it took me 45 minutes to go about 2 miles.

That, by the way, is perfectly acceptable cussin’. As for the boys on that soccer team, I hope that the next time they take the field that they #%&ing lose!

Snowflakes are getting a bum rap

I’ve seen a lot of words used to lump a whole lot of folks into one category in America based upon their political views or cultural leanings.

A popular one with right-wingers is “lib-tard” to describe anyone who views are anywhere to the left of Ann Coulter — which would include everyone from Bernie Sanders to Jesus to Richard Nixon, none of whom are conservative enough in today’s America. (See chart below)

Folks on the left like to throw out words like fascist to describe today’s right-wingers who seem anti-immigrant, ultra-nationalist and OK with discrediting the media if it counters the propaganda their regime prefers, now even cheering physically attacking the media. And while a lot of fascist principles may apply — including giving so much power to corporations and adoration for a single leader — we haven’t quite followed in Hitler’s footsteps.

But there’s a new term that both sides — and those seven of us left in America’s middle — like to throw around: snowflake. It doesn’t sound so menacing. I mean, it takes an awful lot of snowflakes to cause a problem unless you’re an Atlantan trying to drive in an accumulation of more than two snowflakes.

Unfortunately, when you hear the term snowflake today, you don’t think of Frosty the Snowman, snowball fights or Bing Crosby singing holiday songs. You now equate the term snowflake with whiny people who melt when confronted with opposing viewpoints.

Folks on the right’s favorite target to call snowflakes are college students — or as their foes likely refer to them, “kollege stoodents.” They are convinced that if you walk onto a campus of 25,000 students, 24,998 of them are huddled in some safe room where they don’t have to hear conservative viewpoints, while the other two students are falsely accusing some poor drunken frat boy of assault. Continue reading

Ode to Vladimir Putin

There once was a despot named Putin
For Donald Trump he clearly was rootin’
So he assembled a team
And hatched up a scheme
To fool the fools who were doin’ the choosin’

We’ll invent a few stories to start
Even try to make him look smart
If he appears to be bruised
We’ll call it “fake news”
And summon our friends at Breitbart

Alex Jones will lie with impunity
And El Rushbo will scare the community
We’ll feed the insanity
With the aid of Sean Hannity
And make sure that Mike Flynn has immunity

With the help of Devin Nunes
Who sits on the lap of the prez
We’ll keep on disputin’
Any connection to Putin
And deny anything the New York Times says

Without Hillary life is much sweeter
That’s why I had to defeat her
I needed no spies
Just had to spread lies
To those who believe in a Tweeter

With them in an ignorant haze
Their demise is a matter of days
It won’t be from fake news
But the starvation they choose
After tossing all their microwaves.

 

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