31 January 2016

[tpc] - Death of the Thin White Duke: a Piece from Contributing Writer J. Ellis Millsaps

The Piedmont Chronicles

~ est. 2010 ~

Death of the Thin White Duke 

A piece from contributing writer J. Ellis Millsaps 

Special to the Chronicles 


Last week I walked down the main Porterdale drag to Baby Cakes for a pastry & coffee breakfast. 

I pass by Porterdale Baptist where the sign tells me Dickie Johnson is the pastor.

I'm a Baptist - well, more of a Zen Baptist if we're drawing fine distinctions - but this rubs me the wrong way. 

There's no way I'm taking spiritual guidance from someone who calls himself "Dickie." Just not going to happen, or maybe it will right after I employ Dr. Phil as my life coach. 

Then I pass the basketball court with the nine-foot goal where kids, some of whom are grown, are always playing ball. I've probably walked by them a hundred times the past few months and I swear to you I've never seen a single shot go through the hoop. It's like Rozencrantz and Guilderstern are dead. 

Okay, I'm wandering around in this piece ambling my way towards a confession. 

For the last three years or so I've been dormant. Stopped reading, stopped writing, playing or listening to music. I probably played a thousand hands of solitaire. But I have a good excuse. I was drunk (ed. note: it's more like 4 yrs, but yes, drunk). 

I'm not sure why this happened. I'm still pondering it, but I'm pretty sure it has to do with many of my creative collaborators growing up and moving away (see my piece, The Last Days of Wiffleball).

But just as mysteriously the juice came back. I'm pretty sure it's not entirely coincidental that it coincided with the death of David Bowie. Many of my Rock and Roll heroes have died from overdoses, but that's an occupational hazard. Bowie, however, died of natural causes with dignity and while on a creative roll.

And David Bowie was my contemporary. Well, he's five years older, but I see that I need to get my ass in gear.

Five years, that might be all I've got. I don't know what my next incarnation will be be but I sense it will be badass.

So what you gonna do, Da? Camptown Ladies sing this song... 


Ellis is an attorney by trade 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...