31 January 2023

[Local Business Spotlight] - Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill: Covington's Live Music Destination Location


7189 Turner Lake Rd 
Covington, GA 30014

Covington, GA's Live Music Destination Location

By: MB McCart, Editor 

As this publication has written about a time or two over the years, Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill is one of Covington's favorite spots. With a "Cheers" type vibe where everybody knows your name, an amazing staff & some of the best food in the home city, perhaps the the best part of this wonderful establishment is its support & prioritizing of local live music. 

Every Friday & Saturday night, as well as most Sunday afternoons, local music lovers can catch live shows from a variety of artists performing multiple genres. 

All one need to do to realize this is to check out their top-notch & busy music schedule for the month of February. 

Here we go: 

Friday February 3rd, 9pm - Cornbread 

Some real-deal Country right here, this crew is one the regular favorites at Five O'Clock. 

Always high energy - always a big time. If you're in the mood for some of that good, classic stuff, this is a must-see show! 

Saturday February 4th - Spanky's Monkey - music starts at 9pm 

This well known & highly regarded power trio will be bringing their high-octane Rock & Roll back to the bar & folks are excited as this is always an exciting show. 

This band has been around since back in the day & always impress w/ their ability to sound more like a five-piece & then also for their knack of breaking out some nice deeper-cut rockers as well as hitting on a few other genres. 

Mainly, more than anything - it's PARTY! music. 

Spankey's Monkey - Tearin' It Up!

Sunday February 5th - The C-Town Blues Revue 


If It's Good To Ya' - Sho gotta be good for Ya'!

In the spirit of full journalistic disclosure, your semi-esteemed Editor is a part of this Acoustic Blues group & I'm proud of it. 

Playing on Sunday from 3 to 6pm - what we affectionately & humorously refer to as The Old Folks Show - this band features 20-yr old guitar prodigy Ethan Rogers as well as one of the best Real-Deal Blues singers you'll ever likely see around here - the one & only Kiley Kemp. 

Playing tunes ranging from Albert King, BB King, Howlin' Wolf & Muddy Waters to Hendrix, SRV, Willie, Zeppelin & all points in between, this is a superior musical experience. 

Bonus points: Larry Germaine of Fat Matt's Rib Shack fame will be sitting in on acoustic bass! 

Friday February 10th - Joe Olds Band

Joe Olds -This guy's Legit, Y'all! 

Joe Olds, who is a self-proclaimed Country Boy at heart, is known all over Georgia for his bonafide country stylings & voice that will "take you to Nashville" every, single time. 

Add to that a kicking band that doesn't miss a beat & you will see why Joe is one of the most popular live musicians in the Georgia Piedmont. 

You won't want to miss this one, folks. And usually when he plays at The Five, it fills up fast. Consider calling 770-385-3060 to make reservations. 

Saturday February 11th - Stand Up Comedy Night 

Yes, that's right. It's not just live music that you might find at Five O'Clock, they're known for having some comedy shows & showcases here & there as well. 

Some of you may remember that C-Town's own & touring Comedian Matt Lumpkin did a show w/ a fellow performer just a few months ago. 

Greg & them are real excited about this one as this Showcase features 7 different comedians performing multiple sets. 

Like to laugh? Better ease on down on Saturday the 11th. 

Sunday February 12th, 3 to 6pm - Payne & Trouble

(Followed by the Five O'Clock Super Bowl Party & Extravaganza!)

This unique & extremely talented trio has developed a strong following all throughout our neck of the woods. With nice & well-phrased playing as well as some beautiful vocal harmonies, what really sets these guys apart is their mix of songs. 

They can hit you w/ some really nice originals, turn around & do some Eagles & then surprise you w/ Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" (have you ever heard that one covered around here?). 

I know several musicians & music lovers who always make a point to check these guys out as they usually play at least a Sunday every month or so at The 5. 

Payne & Trouble


--Look for a second piece here at TPC in approx two weeks that will contain expanded write-ups of the entertainment for the last two weeks of February at Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill-- 

In the meantime, here's the schedule for the last two weeks of February: 

Friday February 17th - Upgrade Band - Real Deal R&B and Soul Music

Saturday February 18th - Chris, Jon & Scott - One of my (and everybody's) favorite local groups! 

Sunday February 19th - Hunter Grayson - such a talented young man w/ big things going on

Friday February 24th - The One. The. Only! 

 A M Y   R A E!!!

By all accounts - She KILLED IT at their last show!

(And look out for a future dedicated piece in this space on this amazing talent)

Saturday February 25th - Dirty Truth 


So again, look out for that upcoming piece that will have expanded write-ups for each these acts performing the final two weeks of this month, & keep an eye out for TPC's upcoming advertising campaign for Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill (and remember to check out their Facebook page at the first of every week to check out their delicious & nicely priced lunch specials). 

Alright, gang, until next time! 

MB McCart 

24 January 2023

Saying So Long to The Bitteroots: A Fitting Farewell to a Great Band

 By: MB McCart, Ed. 

This past Saturday, the 21st of January, this author was able to attend the farewell performance of one of my all time favorite groups - The Bitteroots

The Bitteroots
Photo by Kelly Thompson Photography
(use w/ express permission)

As bassist & founding member Bill Taylor said - capturing my sentiments exactly - while this was certainly a celebration of a great 15 years & its corresponding legacy, it was, ultimately, a "bittersweet" moment. 

I'll never forget the first time I came across this kickass crew. January of 2016. Quite simply by chance, the Missus & I had taken a road trip to Milledgeville, GA to stay the night & check out the scene & came across this incredible group that we'd later learn had a fellow Covingtonian in it - the aforementioned Mr. Taylor. 

The sounds were sensational, and the songs were excellent. 

The Bitteroots perform at their Farewell Show @ Eddie's Attic 1/21/23

Over the years I've followed The Bitteroots intently & have written about them a time or two, or three or maybe even four in this space (also wrote about them in my old Covington News column). 

When I heard the news that after a decade & a half the band had decided to call it a day, I was certainly sad; however, when we found out that they were going to be doing a farewell concert, I immediately told my wife (this was months ago) - "we've got to go to this!" 

And so we, along w/ my brother & his wife, did. 


I've been to some killer shows over the years dating back to the late 80s. Some highlights would include The Who in 1989; Page & Plant in '94; Willie Nelson in 2006 at The Tabernacle & several dozen others. 

The show we witnessed this past weekend was high on the list. Like, probably Top 10. Seriously. 

It was such a great way for such a great group to go out. On Top. Kicking Rock & Roll ass w/ reckless abandon. 



The Bitteroots formed in 2008 & was comprised of Mike Davis, Michael Koetter, Daniel Shockley & Bill Taylor. Bill & Mike, on bass & drums, respectively, would be the two band mainstays throughout the years & were always an amazing rhythm section. 

Early on, the band was mainly just a vehicle for hanging out & jamming, playing the occasional show here & there. It was a few years later when the magnificent Laura Dees joined as lead singer that the band really got going. 

The One & Only - Laura Dees

Later, the other key pieces of the puzzle - Derron Nuhfer on sax & the incomparable Kyle Bryant on guitar - is what lead to The Bitteroots really blossoming & becoming one of the top bands in Georgia. 

Over the years the band would add & lose pieces, sort of a natural ebb & flow you see w/ many bands that make it for the long haul, and there were others who also contributed along the way including guitarist Greg Sims until the final incarnation for the last few years would see guitar gunslinger PJ Poellnitz join Davis, Dees, Nuhfer & Taylor as the final edition.

Well, at least until the final show...

Saturday 21 January 2023 

As I said at the top, this really was one of the better shows I'd ever seen. 

Original drummer Mike Davis was unavailable, so Michael Beavers, a well known, highly regarded local drummer, filled in, w/ the ace in the hole being the addition of Allgood percussionist Rob Sumowski (that dude was LIT!). 

It was really great, too, to see Kyle Bryant join the band for a few as well as Greg Simms. 

From those opening notes of This Town, that old familiar feeling returned, and the band proceeded to get a couple hundred thousand feet above sea level for the next almost two hours. 

The played all of the classic hits - Memo, Defenseless, Desperate, Try Me Again, et al, but they also broke out some deep cuts (Pete from their second album) & some newer tracks (Let's Go amongst a couple of others). 

While the band had always developed a reputation for playing at least a handful of great & eclectic covers in each show (The Meters, Huey Lewis, Springsteen, Zeppelin & all points in between), they decided that for this one - the last one - they'd only do one. They went w/ a great selection - Dolly's Jolene

Saturday's Set List

And by the time you got to hearing about that 'Preacherman' in the finale the crowd was lathered up into a righteous frenzy.

Again, it was just outstanding. 

You can listen to the soundboard mix of the show here if you'd like. 

The Road Ahead

For starters, in my interview w/ him on Sunday, Bill basically said never say never & he's thinking that you might just see a reunion show a few years down the line. 

For the record - I think that'd be a fine idea. 

Also, you may see one more album release - perhaps a mastered live version of this show - fairly soon. 

As for the players, 

As some of you reading this may know, per usual, Bill will be keeping himself busy w/ his multiple other music projects as will Derron, who stays busy playing, but especially working the controls in the studio. PJ is actively on the market for a new project & w/ his skill set I don't think he'll have any trouble finding something that suits him. 

And then that takes us to Laura. That incredible force of nature. As I understand it, she may be taking a break from the music. I sure hope it's not for too long. 

I'll go w/ Bill's words the day after the show to close this piece: 

Last night was our 200th show and our 40th show at Eddie’s Attic. After everyone had left last night, we were all out on the Eddie’s Attic patio, and we all raised our glasses to the fun times, incredible shows, memories and stories from road trips, favorite moments, favorite shows & writing songs. We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more. There were truly so many high points with this band over the years.
But mostly, last night was about friendship. Many times in the past, I would enjoy the road trip just as much as playing the show. So many miles and miles of laughing and telling jokes and listening to music.
There were a lot of laughs, memories, stories, tears, magic, and love in that room last night. It was truly a special night to close out 15 years of this amazing band and chapter of my own personal musical journey.
Thanks to all the fans who supported us for so many years. You are the ones that made this all happen made it so much fun for us.
Thanks again everyone for an incredible 15 years. I will cherish the memories.

Long Live The Bitteroots!

- MB McCart

16 January 2023

[TPC REAL History] -- Card Game Gone Bad: Murder on The Covington Square in 1888

By MB McCart, Ed. 

As has been documented in this space as well as the TPC print editions in both About Covington to Madison magazine & The Covington News, by the 1880s, Covington - now at around 60 yrs old - had developed into a "Boomtown" of sorts. 

Lots of activity, lots going on, and much to the chagrin of the Temperance Movement, lots of drinking & gambling.  

Covington, GA 

As previously written by your humble, semi-esteemed Editor: 

An interesting and little-known aspect of Covington's history was mentioned in my very first column. By the 1880s, Covington had become somewhat of a “wild west town” and had upwards of a dozen saloons and drinking establishments. Some of these included hotels and general stores, but several were just straight-up whiskey joints where cards could be played and various types of “entertainment” could be found. Liquor could also be bought by the bottle at general stores and druggist shops. The increasing influence of alcohol did start to cause some problems and by 1882, when a man named Will Smith killed two men after drinking and playing cards, the prohibition movement started to pick up some serious steam in Covington and Newton County. 

So after that you're probably assuming that I'll be writing about the Will Smith affair (Wild, Wild West, indeed!) but you'd be incorrect in that assumption. I'll be saving that for a later piece. 

No, for this one we're going six years into the future - to 1888 - and the story of CH "Charles" Echols and the attempted murder Samps Cohen & the murder of Tom Thomas

The Home City in the early 20th Century

On Sunday November 18th of 1888 two "sporting men" (professional gamblers) came to Covington in order to make some money playing cards as the city had a strong reputation as a major gambling hub. These gentlemen were Samps Cohen of Madison, GA & Tom Thomas of Gainesville. 

The two were planning on staying for a few days so they took a room at The Pitts House Hotel on the southeastern corner of the Square (the current site of The Lula Building & American Real Estate University). 

Two days later, on the evening of November 20th, a high-stakes, big-money poker game was commenced at Brown's Livery a block north of The Square on Usher St. This game was attended by the aformentioned Messrs Cohen & Thomas, as well as locals Ike Brown, Evan Lunsford, Hamp McDonald - and most notably,  - CH "Charles" Echols. 

This poker game would last well into the overnight hours ending approx around 3:30am. Previously, Echols had left due most likely to being out of money & went to McDonald's Clothing Store, where he & Hamp McDonald (his family owned it) were employed, purportedly to go to sleep. 

However, McDonald later testified that he ran into Echols right around 3:30am as he was heading to the store to sleep & assumed that Echols was going walk home to go to sleep. 

According to eyewitness accounts, Echols walked east across the Square & met Cohen & Thomas, and asked if they could play another poker game or two, and to possibly spend the night in their room (apparently Echols had gotten some additional funds to be able to play). 

The out-of-town Sporting Men agreed & the three were seen by witnesses  going to the upstairs room. 

Cohen had instructed the hotel staff to wake them at 6:30am. 

When an employee went to their room at that time, a gruesome scene was seen. Thomas was leaned up against a wall completely covered in blood from his head to his waist "breathing in guttural, sobbing gasps." Samps Cohen, the Madisonian, was on the bed also covered in blood w/ his "eyes rolled backward until only the whites were visible, and he was tossing & moaning in delirious agony." 

Medical help & assistance from the authorities was quickly sent for. Eventually two local doctors were on the scene to try to save the lives of both men, which seemed likely would be a tough task. Also, a basic investigation was begun. 

Tom Thomas, the North Georgia man, was too far gone. He expired very shortly after the doctors had arrived. But, beyond expectations, Samps Cohen would fight & pull through. 

Almost immediately the murder (and attempted murder) weapon was found in the room - a 3 ft long Wagon Standard made of dogwood (commonly known at the time as a Buggy Stick). 

What, or who, wasn't found was one CH "Charles" Echols... 

After interviews & eyewitness accounts, the authorities put out a warrant for Echols before noontime. And according to one of the hotel porters, he had seen Echols holding a Wagon Standard when he first got to the hotel. 

Echols was quickly arrested & put in jail. 

Naturally, this was already scandalous, but what made it especially scurrilous was that Charles Echols was part of The Echols Family. At the time considered to be one of the most prestigious & wealthy families in the home city (some of you reading may be familiar w/ The Echols House in North Covington, a block north of the RR tracks on Hwy 81). 

One would think based on the previous reading that this would be a slam dunk and Echols would be tried & found guilty of murder. 

Well, you'd be wrong on that...

From the beginning, Echols swore that he ended up changing his mind & decided to leave shortly after getting to the room in order to walk home and that both Cohen & Thomas were perfectly fine when he left. While there were multiple accounts of him having arrived there, no one could swear to whether or not they heard anything or saw Echols leave. At the time, Cohen was in no state to make a declarative statement (and that would continue indefinitely as his injuries would be life-lasting). 

What it came down to really was this - while there was a ton of circumstantial evidence, there seemingly was no direct, "beyond a shadow of a doubt" evidence. 

Later in the trial, an apparently ineffective & incompetent prosecution, along w/ conflicting statements by local Hamp McDonald as well as attempted murder victim Samps Cohen ultimately led to a "Not Guilty" verdict. 

Eventually another charge for assault was filed & Echols was found guilty on that one, but by then he had moved to New York City & for years would actually be considered to be on the lam

It wasn't until 1900 - 12 years later - that the legal issues facing Echols was resolved. When it was all said & done his sentence was suspended & he owed a $1000 fine. 


Just my thoughts, and kind of reading between the lines here, but it seems to me that CH "Charles" Echols most likely got away w/ murder through a combination of incompetency of the authorities as well as perhaps just a general sense of unimportance. After all, the murder victim was from Gainesville. And again, this was a wealthy & well connected family. Perhaps that played a role? Again, just the ole $.02 & all. 

Well, alright, hope you enjoyed that. A little slice of murder is always good for a good read. And look for a dedicated write-up on that other 1880s card game that resulted in murder on The Covington Square down the road here at TPC. 

As always, thanks for reading. 


*Ed. note: most of the research for this piece came the book, "Main Street Covington," w/ additional support from "History of Newton County" & old newspaper articles. 

22 December 2022

Perrin Lovett: A Christmas Fire To Make The Good Victorious, a Tom Ironsides Tale

*ed. note: For those not in the know, you can read more about the incredible Tom Ironsides here, here & here . As I understand it, Perrin is about to rerelease The Substitute - the first Ironsides novel - w/ a new publisher, and we should see the second installment in the not-too-distant future. 

 ~a Tom Ironsides tale by Perrin Lovett~

~~Christmas 2022~~

Saint Thomas of Aquino College, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, December 22, 2022…

As the low December sun dipped behind the mountains, their afternoon dance complete, the slow-drifting refracted beams of stained glass light faded from the chapel wall. Several of the older congregants and more than a few of the youngsters noted the departure, with at least one mind wishing the ephemeral decorations good evening and goodbye. The tall, commanding speaker, standing in the middle of the steps before the altar, wearing a dark suit, an unusual tie, and a genuinely delighted look, took the shadowy spectacle as the signal to conclude his presentation.

‘And so,’ he said, ‘in summation, it has been, all the news of the outside world notwithstanding, a wonderful year both at the collegiate level and, especially, at our nascent little school. By the way, my earlier remarks, just to be clear, about quote-unquote wisely investing the center funds in something called FTX, that was a joke. I didn’t think enough of you laughed at the time, not in here, and it was difficult to gauge the online mood.

‘Speaking of that, what a testament! There may, in fact, be great things ahead for our concept of internet-assisted homeschooling. A note was passed to me some minutes ago, and it seems we have just over two-hundred families, benefactors, and friends joining us via the video call function. From as far away as the Helvetic Confederation and Slovakia, I might add. I regret to inform those of the digital set that they, unfortunately, will not be able to directly partake of the sandwiches, punch, and cookies which we’ll enjoy momentarily.’ Here, a peal of general laughter erupted.

‘My apologies,’ he said with a chuckle. ‘Perhaps that’s the next grand step in technology. But again and again, thank you all for coming this evening, all of you watching nationwide, worldwide, and everyone within these walls. I’d like to especially thank our tech department friends for making the wider conference possible. And I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my classics students and the other young academicians who stayed several days after finals to help. The younger kids love all of you, they look up to you, and your assistance has been beyond important. Critical, if you will. And if I’ve missed anyone, then I offer a great, all-encompassing thank you!

‘Just before we wrap this show up and commence our Christmas partying, a final word about those unpleasant secular and spiritual matters, the ones that have dogged us particularly hard of late. In an optimistic spirit of defiance, I offer you this inspirational challenge: There is no cure for this evil, but by the giving of greater force to the good hand. The righteous cause must be strengthened with might to resist the wicked, to defend the helpless, to punish all cruelty and unfairness, to uphold the right everywhere, and to enforce justice with unconquerable arms. Oh, that the host of Heaven might be called, arrayed, and sent to mingle in the wars of men, to make the good victorious, to destroy all evil, and to make the will of the King prevail! So wrote Henry van Dyke in his story of the Christmas Angel in 1905. In his young century, and in ours. Fear not! Our side is just too strong; they can’t win. Merry Christmas, everyone!’

The gathering then removed to the adjacent events center for further merry festivities. Tom inched to the back doors of the chapel and greeted everyone again as they disembarked in search of food and drink.

‘What a wonderful message, all of it,’ someone said. ‘I always loved van Dyke, and you did his words great justice.’

‘Thank you. It’s easy in a beautiful setting filled with gracious people.’

‘The virtual crowd enjoyed the show,’ a techie told him. ‘You had them overload the chat box! I emailed you all eight hundred messages for later, just like you asked.’

‘Thank you! Couldn’t have made it work without your help.’

‘You’ve made quite the start in only three years, Colonel,’ a woman said.

‘Time flies when you’re making progress and having fun!’

‘Public speaking might be your thing, sir. You should teach or something,’ one of his classics students said.

‘Yeah, I need to look into that.’

‘I knew you were trouble when we hired you,’ a Regent said. ‘My kinda trouble.’

‘All I’ve ever really been good at.’

‘What did you do to those state DOE people from Raleigh?’ another professor asked.

‘Get with me after the break about that.’

‘I like your tie, Doctor I,’ a little girl from the day school said. Her mother stood behind her, alternately smiling and biting her lower lip, and conspicuously batting her eyes at Tom.

‘It’s daffy just like us,’ he replied while ignoring the maternal flirtation and looking down at the Santa hat-sporting Duck himself.

He entered the hall last, walking and chatting with Oak Moreland. ‘I have to meet this woman, Chief,’ he said in response to some new information. ‘I suppose she’s behind these subtle changes in your ways. Have you noticed?’

‘No,’ Oak said. ‘Well, okay, I do notice her, shall we say, positive influences. I have also noticed a few things about you lately, boss. Are you aware that you, just now and three times, called this place the center? Didn’t I tell you? The Ironsides Center has a ring to it!’

‘Huh? Maybe,’ Tom said. ‘I’m more interested in seeing if a ring pops up in your life. Then you two can get on with the, you know, adding more kids to our programs.’ 

‘One step at a time, man! But, kids— Did you ever think, back in the old days, about your recent reason for being? I could always have seen it coming, but literally seeing it now, meeting her and all, is something different.’

‘Honestly,’ Tom said with light reflection, ‘back then, I didn’t even count on making it to retirement. Now that I’m here, I gotta admit this is the best part of life! Babysitting is the funnest job I’ve ever had, and kind of a reward for the trials of parenting – that first great go-round. Maybe a reward for any of the good work we might have ever done over all those mean years. You’ll find out before too long, one day, my friend.’

‘When will mommy and daddy be back?’ Oak asked.

‘Tomorrow, straight up from Charlotte,’ Tom said. ‘They took Jessica with them, her and her new positive, hopefully-speaking, influence, what’s-his-bubba. Bringing a college shuttle bus full of relatives, in-laws, and out-laws back with them. Thankfully it won’t be quite as many as last Christmas or the overkill year before. Got some folks scattered about this year. Oh, and I’d best remember to top that thing off before we return it. Wash it. Details.’

‘Can Todd drive it okay?’

‘Yeah. I mean, he was man enough to marry Vicky, so a box truck with seats shouldn’t be too bad. Who knows? Maybe she’ll drive. But not me! Cause I got something, somebody a whole lot more important right here!’ The men stopped and looked down at the gala’s smallest and youngest participant.

There, surrounded by college kids and swinging from Carmyn’s arm, was Tom’s pride and joy, his newest, funnest reason for being. She was named after Tom’s late mother, she was almost eighteen months old, and she was possessed of a constant bubbly precociousness. Her big brown eyes gleamed happily up at her grandfather before rapidly drifting over to Oak’s large, smiling face. She started hopping up and down and calling: ‘Bear! Bear!’

‘Hey, baby girl!’ Oak exclaimed as he bent down to her level. ‘Grrrrrr.’

‘You do look like a big, old grizzly,’ Tom said. ‘Especially with the beard.’

While the hulking man happily allowed many a tug on his beard, Carmyn proudly said to Tom, ‘not a peep from Meredith the whole time! She’s the perfect child. I’m not even sure she knows how to cry or fuss.’

‘She also failed to laugh at any of my jokes,’ Tom said with faux ruefulness. ‘Nor did she show any interest in my new Greek rhetorical powers.’

‘Gee, babe, that was all Greek to me too.’

Along with his usual Latin quips and French aphorisms, Tom babbled on in Greek a little more, or tried to, in between visits here and there around the room. He and Carmyn decided, along with an ample contingent, to simply make a dinner of the various finger foods, scrapping their earlier plans to dine in Boone. And so, perhaps an hour and a half passed pleasantly in the company of many good, intelligent, and interesting people. 

15 December 2022

Ellis Millsaps: Just Da

*ed. note: well, we took another extended break. What can I say? "The [fellas] in the point ain't changed." But, we're back! I've got a Covington history article that will hit next week & then Da's got another Cranky English piece lined up for the last week of the year. 2023 is gonna be a big year for TPC. Da's novel will finally be published & we will be getting back to at least weekly (or close to it) posting then. As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy! - MB McCart

 When I come in from the porch and my five-year-old grandson is visiting, I walk back toward the kitchen to see what he and his grandmother are plotting. He runs up to see who's arrived and  invariably says ”Oh, it's just Da.”

 Just Da here reporting on whatever is on my mind at the moment, in this case my previously announced project to read all of the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction. There are 89. As of today I've read 55.

( When did football players start wearing their pants as shorts above their knees? This must have been going on for a while but I'm just noticing it.)

 I've had some off ramps from just knocking out the list. Specifically where a winner was part of a series I've read more of the series. First with Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres which is the first of a trilogy spanning a century in the lives of a midwestern family. This would be one of my candidates (the trilogy) for the Great American Novel, as differentiated in my mind from the best American novel, a list which would be led by Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, All the King's Men and others. In my conception, for a novel to qualify as the Great American it needs to cover generations of American life. My choice is Raintree County by Ross Whatley.

(When did it become permissible for football players to push their ball carrier forward? Hasn't that always been against the rules? When did they change this rule? In 2007 Google tells me the NFL changed it and ten years later the NCAA followed suit. It's still illegal in high school. I don't see why they changed the rule anywhere. I’d always assumed it was a basic safety precaution to keep the ball carrier from being squeezed like a capitol policeman between insurrectionists, but evidently the change hasn’t resulted in an increase of injuries.)

Other winners which set me off on a tangent are The Good Earth and Dragon's Teeth. The Good Earth is the first of a trilogy by Pearl S. Buck. It was always on my high school recommended reading list but never appealed to me because it was written by a presbyterian missionary,and I assumed incorrectly, telling of the conversion of Asians to christianity. In fact it is nothing of the sort. There are no significant western characters in the trilogy.

 Miss Buck spent most of her childhood in China. Chinese, she said, was her primary language.  All of the point of view characters in her work are Chinese and speak from that perspective. The story spans several generations of a family dealing with corrupt government, first on the warlord level and eventually leading to the Communists who centralized corruption to a new national style. I learned a lot of Eastern history from reading it. I highly recommend it. Except that it's written by an American in English it might qualify for the Great Chinese Novel.

( I've played or coached baseball most of my post  nine-year-old life and I've never seen a high school or rec ball player foul a ball off his foot. I pitched quite a few innings and there was never time called for a player to hobble around and walk it off. This happens several times a game in MLB. I have no plausible theory to explain this phenomenon.) 

I have a lot to say about the aforementioned DragonsTeeth but I think I've gone on long enough for now. Hasta la vista.

Ellis "Da" Millsaps is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved...


09 September 2022

Ellis Millsaps: Fall Ball

 *Ed. note: Da wrote this article on 9/5

A month left in the season and the Braves are only  one game behind the Mets– we've been as many as nine and a half games behind.  The bad news is we may not overtake them.,

It’s mostly intra- divisional play the rest of the way but beginning Tuesday September 5th the Braves begin a nine-game west coast road trip, the sort of trip that has wrecked our hopes in the past. If we survive that we can still win our fifth straight division title.

 If that doesn't work out the good news is we're still a lock to make the playoffs because the rules have changed to require three wild card teams. No more one game do or die to determine the fourth playoff team. The top two division winners will receive a bye through the first round. The other four teams face off in two best-of-five series leaving four teams for the divisional series.

The Braves or Mets will have home-field advantage against the number two wild card team, likely the Phillies.

 One thing this means is we get more postseason baseball with the World Series running into November. Hopefully it will pit two teams from warm climates or domed stadiums.

 In other rule change news the ghost runner rule will be gone next year, but after hearing John Smoltz say he likes the rule, that it makes the game more entertaining (And keeps baseball announcers from having to work overtime and give us free baseball?), I worry that it may come back. My understanding is that any proposed rule changes must have a two-year waiting period, but I may be wrong.

 Other changes likely to come soon are robot calls on balls and strikes and a pitch clock. Both of these changes have been instituted successfully in the minor leagues. I'm fine with both of them because unlike the ghost runner they do not actually change the rules about how the game  has been played for going on two centuries nor the many records established. 

Also next year infield shifts will be banned. I don’t like that change but even worse is a change to be tried out in spring training limiting how deep outfielders can play.

Addendum to Fall Ball

My faulty memory told me we had been 9 and a half games back when we had in fact been 10 and a half behind the Mets on June 1.

Additionally I neglected to mention a little noticed rule change.  Teams may now use electronic signals sent from the catcher to ear pieces worn by the pitcher and middle infielders. I think the practice has been universally adopted replacing the finger signals which with a runner on second became long and  complicated. This combined with the pitch clock should achieve the desired result of speeding up the game.

Ellis "Da" Millsaps is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved...


26 August 2022

Mic Check, One, Two. Is This Thing On? TPC is Back; Recent News; Upcoming Publication of "Good Cop Bad Cop"

 By MB McCart, Editor 

Greetings & Salutations, Fearless Piedmonteers, and we sure hope all is lovely out there. 

Well, it's been a bit, hasn't it? Your semi-esteemed editor had a combined extended walkabout, summer sabbatical & vision quest. 

As previously mentioned, I've moved my political ramblings over to my Substack  & that's going. 

For me personally, here at the ole site, I have been working on a few pieces, all of which are local history related, w/ a side of Murder! Should be getting the first one out here next week w/ hopefully another one by the end of September. 

Editor Emeritus Ellis "Da" Millsaps is still on board & he's got a few things coming down the pike as well including another of his much beloved baseball pieces. So keep an eye out for that. 

But the big news is this: 

After a couple of false starts here & there, the publication of Da's novel - "Good Cop Bad Cop" will finally be happening w/ Yours Truly as publisher. Our projected release date is November 1st, 2022. The book will be paperback format & will be available from Amazon. It'd make for a great Christmas gift, ammarite? 


Moving forward, Ellis & I will be shooting for at least one piece each here per month w/ a "Past Piedmont Chronicles" rounding it out for an average of three a month. 

You can totally count on us! 

So, stay tuned & we'll be in touch soon. 


MB McCart