23 November 2017

[TPC] - Past Piedmont Chronicles: The History of Thanksgiving

The History of Thanksgiving

By: Marshall B. McCart 
*Originally published  in"About Covington to Madison" Magazine, Fall of 2010

Hello everyone! Good to be back with you once again. November already! Hard to believe, isn't it? Fall is in full force; college football is hitting the homestretch (and as a UGA man, I'll be “giving thanks” once this season is finally behind us); and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Many people consider Thanksgiving their favorite holiday—myself included. It's all about the gratitude we feel for the things we have and the people we love. Also, the traditional feast of turkey, dressing, and the rest of the fixins is pretty darned good. Some would also argue that while Thanksgiving has the food, family, and fellowship of Christmas, it doesn't have the stress and hustle and bustle that sometimes leads up to the December holiday. Of course, I think the people who say that usually aren't the ones doing the cooking! But what about the history of this wonderful holiday?

We all remember the story we learned in elementary school about the Pilgrims and Indians coming together for the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock. And while it wasn't quite so simple (and maybe not quite completely accurate either), that basic story is pretty much true. In 1621, the Pilgrims, led by William Bradford, had a three day feast to give thanks for their first successful harvest and invited several of the local Wampanoag Indians including their leader Massasoit. Also in attendance was Squanto--the Indian who translated for the Pilgrims and who also taught them how to fish the local rivers and to grow and harvest the corn and other crops that they were celebrating. It was quite a feast and included turkey, deer, lobster, fish, fowl, corn, squash, and cranberries. This type of celebration as well as its Autumnal timing was similar to the harvest festivals that many parts of Europe had been celebrating for centuries.

Going back to the line about the first Thanksgiving not being completely accurate, I say that because most historians agree that it wasn't truly the first one in the new continent. In 1619, English settlers in Berkley Hundred, near Jamestown in the Virginia colony, had a “day of thanksgiving” which was actually more or less a religious ceremony but did not include a feast. However, that still might not truly be the first one either as it has been documented that the Spanish had a thanksgiving celebration starting in the mid 1500's in modern day Florida. Also, in modern day Canada, settlers there started celebrating a “thanksgiving” in the late 16th century. So while the basic story behind the Pilgrims is true, it would be inaccurate to label it as the very first Thanksgiving in what is now America. As an aside, Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving but does so in September.

Another inaccuracy with this holiday is the popular misconception that it disappeared for over two centuries and was brought back to life by Lincoln during the Civil War. While Lincoln did issue a proclamation to make the final Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863, several earlier presidents had done the exact same thing including George Washington and John Adams. Also, many states, particularly in the North, had officially been celebrating the holiday decades before Lincoln.

Thanksgiving did not become an official national holiday until FDR and Congress did so in 1941. They specifically made the fourth Thursday in November (rather than the last) as the date for the holiday. A couple of years earlier, FDR had tried to move the holiday up a week to help spur Christmas sales during the lean times of the Depression. His idea flopped and many people, especially in the South, still celebrated on the last Thursday and jokingly referred to the earlier celebration as “Franksgiving” while some parts of the country simply celebrated both holidays. So after two years and “four” Thanksgivings, FDR and Congress made the change and it has been that way ever since.

There have been some recent trends with Thanksgiving particularly relating to the preparation of the turkey. The big thing lately has been deep frying the bird in peanut oil. Unfortunately, this has also led to Thanksgiving day becoming the number one day of the year for home cooking fires in our country. The experts stress three things. Make sure you're outside. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed out. And make sure you slowly submerse it—don't just drop it in there.

And finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one other thing...just in case there is anyone out there who hasn't heard about it yet. In Louisiana, they eat what they call a “turducken”, in which a chicken is stuffed into a duck which is then stuffed into a turkey and then cooked. That's just crazy! Although, I must admit, I really want to try it sometime. There is also a variation called a “gooducken” in which a goose is substituted for the turkey. Strange but true...

Well folks...that's all I got for this one. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and maybe some of us will be dining on turducken this year!

21 November 2017

[TPC] - Tuesday Check-in: Talkin' C-town East Ward, JDA, et al

[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

(North Covington * 21 November '17) - Greetings, fearless readers, and we sure hope all is well out there. Thanksgiving is just two days away (how can it possibly be late November?) and we're about to start that busy and wonderful five weeks of the Holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, New Year's & all the rest.

So glad you could join us this evening. I like those boots...are those new?

In the words of The Senator, on to the bullet points!

  • So it's been two weeks since the Covington municipal election where we saw another Henderson get into elected office in Newton Co., in the West ward of the home city, and saw what can really only be described as an ass kickin' in the East ward. 
    • Susie Keck seems to be a marvelous woman and it was truly a pleasure to be able to support her and to give her my vote. She was a great candidate, ran a great race, and it's looking like she is going to be a great councilwoman (and naturally we'll be keeping an eye on her & helping to make sure she's doing the right things and doing things right). And kudos to our ole pal, AB. Great work, friend! 
    • Chris Smith. If not for the letter he penned to The Covington News, I was going to just let things slide. I wasn't going to mention the numerous times in the past several months that I did write-ups criticizing him and even calling for his resignation. I wasn't going to talk about how so many folks in and around Covington had just had enough and worked very hard to effect real and positive change here in the home city. I wasn't going to discuss how in a municipal race a 62/38 split might as well be on par with the infamous CC75/DF25 we saw a while back in a BOE race. No, I was just going to let it go. I think I'll just link to this Letter to the Editor that appeared in the past Sunday edition of The Covington News. I thank Chris for his service to the city, but he has no one to blame but himself...
  • The Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton & Walton. Stanton Springs. Baxter. Baxalta. Shire. 
    • For some info for those of you who might not have a backstory on this thing, a good place to start might be with some of fellow Citizen-Journalist MP Pat's pieces over at Tax Dogs/Taxpayer's Watchdog Group. Now there are those out there who think that some of these pieces have been inaccurate, misleading or unfair. Well, I've gotten to know this lady pretty good, and she seems to always have her I's dotted & T's crossed. Her ducks seem to always be in a row, if you will, and honestly - I'm a pretty big fan. However, some of these folks seem to think that there's a lot of innuendo, gossip, hearsay & a bit of conspiracy theory going on as it relates to this long, complicated thing that is Stanton Springs and the JDA (Joint Development Authority) story. Maybe, but as I've mentioned in this publication more than once, it does seem to me that perhaps some things haven't really passed the smell test. Or, at a minimum, that major mistakes and crucial errors have been made. To that point: 
    • The Piedmont Chronicles has been researching and studying on this thing for well over two years now. I have a file that is maybe not quite literally an inch thick (but's it damn sure close), and I have now started the next phase of my investigation. 
    • I have been reaching out to former and current JDA Board members, elected officials, and others in the attempt to get the "full story." Really what I'm wanting to do is construct an in-depth and comprehensive history of this whole thing going all the way back to the late 90s and early 2000s with an emphasis on the "Who, What, Where & When?" So...it's going to be a process. And just like I've done in the past with the report on the Bear Creek Mitigation property, or the breaking story on a certain former county political party chairman and appointed official allegedly guilty of plagiarism - I am going to be doing this strictly by the book and with "just the facts." With that said, I may very well offer occasional commentaries, but they will be labeled as such.  
    • I have spoken with Andrea Gray, legal counsel for the JDA, and will most likely be talking to her again. Maybe a few times. So far, she's been helpful and has answered my questions. 

Speaking of files, The Hospital Authority one is getting thicker and thicker... 

As always, thanks for reading. We'll be in touch soon. 


17 November 2017

[TPC] - Marshall's Music Minute: Amy Rae highlights a great weekend of music

Marshall's Music Minute
17 November '17

Greetings, local music lovers, and it's so good to be back with you once again for the first installment of The Minute you've seen in several months. Nothing has really changed as the C-town music scene is still kickin' it 2 legit, and it just keeps getting better and better. The only difference now is you'll be getting this info right here at TPC instead of another publication almost every week. So get the 411 on who's playing where & when for the weekend of November 18th...

Featured Show: 

Amy Rae live at The Speakeasy at 18th & 21st
Saturday November 18th. 9PM

I've written about Amy several times in previous editions of MMM, and folks I'm here to tell you - she's the truth. An outstanding voice coupled with great songwriting skills and a choice selection of covers makes this a real audio treat, not to mention the fact that she's sweet as she can be and is pretty easy on the eyes as well. Never hurts... But the kicker? It's for a great cause!

From the Speakeasy FB event page:

The long awaited return of Amy Rae to The Speakeasy could not be for a better cause! Walking Home Together and The Friends of Newton County Animal Control are joining forces to raise much needed funds for animal rescue in our county and to save our beloved Sandy's Dog Park that was ravaged by hurricane Irma. We will announce opening acts and additions to the nights performance artists as they register with us. Check back for the latest info regularly and GET YOUR TICKET EARLY. Space is limited!

Tickets can be purchased by emailing TheFriendsofNewtonCountyAC@Gmail.com, Stopping in at Rush Tees and Signs in Covington by Ross or getting in touch with Walking Home Together on Facebook.

Tickets are $20 prior to the event and $30 at the door.

Chris, Jon & Scott live at The Listening Room @ Irish Bred Pub
Friday November 17th. 8PM

Quite possibly C-town's premier group playing at its premier music venue!

CJ&S are just on another level. What they can do as a trio is beyond ridiculous. No matter if it's 70's Soul and R & B, 90's Grunge, or Classic Rock, they lay it down tight, man! And they do so righteously.

If you've somehow not seen these guys, you owe it to yourself to do so. And Friday night's a perfect opportunity - it's a free show courtesy of TLR@IBP. Always a good crowd for these guys so you might want to get there early.

Andrew Brothers Dueling Pianos live at Lahrceny Tavern. Porterdale, GA 
Friday night. 9:30PM

One of my favorite spots in the home county, the Tavern has a real treat lined up for you. These guys are supposed to be unreal. Definitely worth a look.

And don't forget about the other usual musical hotspots in town: 

- Five O'Clock 

- Mystic Grill  

- Amici

Looks like another great weekend of tunage in one of Georgia's hottest music scenes - The COV!

We'll see 'ya around...

15 November 2017

Greetings from TPC; It's Been a While

[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

Howdy, buckaroos, it's your ole pal M.B. again. Hope all is well out there.

As some of you may have noticed, The Chronicles took yet another hiatus as we're prone to do from time to time. I've recently put up a couple of posts featuring a few of my semi-recent write-ups over at The Covington News.

Speaking of The News, I'm still technically a part-time contributor for that publication, but I am no longer doing regular weekly or monthly columns. That publication changed ownership awhile back and they also changed their webpage, so most of my previous columns over the years are no longer available on the internets. However, my "Esoteric South" pieces can be found at a link at the top of the main page; I will also be putting up a select number of my past weekly columns in the near future.

So...it was basically a three month break for me for this time, and once again, I forgot to put up the "Gone Fishin'" sign.

Why the pause? Why the hell not?

But seriously, as I've been prone to do several times over the years, I just had to unplug. These episodes usually coincide with me having a bit of a...dip, shall we say. It's been a core attribute of my essence most of my life. Chasing the world by its tail, as well as my own, and riding the waves that will go up but always end up coming down. Peaks and valleys. Most of my life, just like Jerry Jeff Walker sang about, I'd just let "the high times carry the low," but I'd grown kind of weary of that.

So I've made some changes. For one thing, I haven't had a drink in going on a month. For those who know me, they know that's a pretty big deal. I've basically been a daily imbiber my entire adult life. I've also made some other changes. Basically I'm trying to find that elusive balance that has escaped me for such a long time. Just looking for a good even keel. I'm working on it, and it feels pretty good...

But enough about me.

I'm so glad to be back in the saddle as there's plenty of things going on. Here's a sampling of some of the things I'm working on or will be working on as well as some recent happenings here in the home city & county.

- The Covington municipal election. Chris Smith. Gracious in defeat? Not hardly. That's a piece in the very near future.

- The Newton Co. Hospital Authority. I'm still Ahab, folks, and they are Moby Dick. That's one I've still been working during the TPC break and I hope to have a piece up on that very soon.

- The Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton & Walton. Stanton Springs. Mystery LLCs. Coincidental addresses. Properties being sold to an entity and then sold back to the authority for million dollar gains, being paid for by taxpayers. As this publication has been saying for over two years, this thing stinks to high heaven.

- The Bear Creek fiasco.

- And much, much more...

It's not all going to be politics, ant hill kicking & muckraking, though. I'm going to try to do my best to bring back "Marshall's Music Minute" and "The Alcovy Telegraph," two of my former CovNews columns, here at TPC on a weekly (or semi-weekly) basis. There's only so much time in the day and I am a pretty busy guy, but I'm gonna give it the ole college try. And we're looking forward to some future pieces from TPC contributor Ellis Millsaps.

It's so good to be back with you.

'Til next time,


09 November 2017

Leaving Home: A Short Story

The Esoteric South 
Leaving Home 
A Short Story by Marshall McCart 

The time was the early 1950s. The place was a farm out in the country in the heart of the Georgia Piedmont, and the main characters were a young boy and his Mother.

The boy had been upset for a day or two. He’d been unimpressed with how his parents had brought an end to his latest venture. For you see, his folks, the owners and operators of a fairly big farm, had gotten the first television set of anybody in their part of the county.

Naturally, it was a big item of discussion throughout their community and many had come by to see it. Well, the boy saw a going concern with lots of pent-up demand and upside potential and decided he’d start charging the children in their neck of the woods to watch television. A nickel for an up-front fee and another nickel for each program watched. The boy was excited about this new venture; he felt like it was going to be a real winner.

But his folks were not impressed and brought a stop to it, and they also made their son return the money.

After stewing on it a day or two, he went to his Mother and said he’d made up his mind and felt like it was time to leave home. That he was going to take some provisions and head back to the back pasture and woods on the river and that he’d just fend for himself.

“Well, “ his Mother said, “you’re 9 years old now...maybe the time has come for you to go out on your own.”

“That’s the way I see it, “ said the boy.

“Well...you’ll need some supplies, and you’ll need a way to be able to feed yourself.”

So the Mother helped her son collect some things. Some soda crackers, a can of potted meat, a piece of cheese, his pocket knife and couple other things. Also, some fishing line and a couple of hooks, and proceeded to put them in a red bandana which they tied around a stick.

“This way you can tie your fishin’ line to the stick and you’ll be able to catch you some supper.”

“That’s right,” responded the boy.

So he set off towards the back pasture. On the way he passed his Father and a couple of the field hands working on a piece of farm equipment. His father looked his way and  so the boy yelled out:

“I’m strikin’ out on my own! I’m going to live on the back 40!”

“Alright then, good luck!” his Dad responded back.

The boy spent most of the day just walking around. He went back to the river and came the long way ‘round back to the pond. He’d already eaten up his cheese, crackers and meat, so he figured it was time to do some fishing.

He dug up some worms, tied his line to his stick and actually caught a nice sized crappie. Then it dawned on him - he didn’t bring any matches to start a fire to cook it. How could he have been so stupid! And why didn’t his Mother think of it? Disgusted, he threw the fish back in the pond.

About this time, around 7 or so - this was Summertime, you see - and those shadows started to loom longer. He was running out of daylight. What was he going to do?

“I’ll just go back,” he thought to himself. “I’ll just say I needed more provisions...but now that it’s dark - I’d just have to wait to go back out tomorrow!”

Pleased with himself, he walked back the mile or so to the house, and there was Mother in the backyard who just light up like a light when she saw him.

“Oh, thank goodness, I was just thinking about how I wasn’t going to be able to sleep tonight,” she said. “Not worried about you, naturally, but because I was going to be so nervous about not having you to project me, your Father, and your Sisters...I’m so glad you’re back, son.”

The boy was always quick on his feet.

“Well, yes, Momma, I figured, and that’s precisely why I came back.”

She gave him a big hug and then fixed him some biscuits and gravy.

That night, as he lay in his bed, the boy thought about what he might do the next day. He came to the conclusion that they just needed him too much and that he had a responsibility to the family and the farm. He’d shown that he could go out on his own; it’d be his decision to stick around. So, with a smile on his face, the young man drifted off to sleep...

Vince, Jerry Jeff & Ronald

*modified version originally published in August of 2017 in The Covington News

The Esoteric South 
Vince, Jerry Jeff & Ronald 
a piece by Marshall McCart 

I’ve oftentimes thought about what really influences and makes the person they become. Naturally it’s a lot of things, I think. First and foremost, it seems obvious that family and upbringing are the two most important things, and I was very fortunate in that regard. My parents were great, as were the rest of my family, and I was doubly blessed to have Reba McCart, God rest her Soul, as my Grandma.

Schooling and environment is another key piece of the puzzle in my estimation. To use a line that may seem, politically, to not fit for me, I do believe that it really does take a village. Having that city and county-wide system of support is crucial. And growing up and reaching my formative years in Covington and Newton Co. back in the early and mid 80s was a pretty good thing. At that time, for those of us in town, you went to Ficquett and then you went to Sharp. The bus wasn’t really necessary. We could just walk or ride our bikes.

In our middle school years once we had a little money in our pockets, we could head over to City Pharmacy and get a vanilla malt, or maybe head to People’s, then head over to the Library and read all the old Rolling Stones about Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Who. Sometimes we would maybe read books, too. Quite often we were told to be quiet…

But a big thing, for me at least, and I think for a lot other folks as well, are some of those early influences. You could maybe even call them heroes. And three of the biggest ones for me were the ones I have listed as the title of this column. Looking back on it, I truly think these three gentleman had a major, lasting impact on the person I would become.

I’ve always liked Kevin Butler’s encapsulation of the essence of Vince Dooley. In an interview once, Kevin - probably the greatest kicker who ever played college football - said you always felt good with Dooley on the sideline. You always felt that he had something up his sleeve, or some contingency plan, where he was  going to know exactly what to do when the time came. And it certainly seemed to be that way. In that four year period from ‘80 to ‘83, we won a national championship and three SEC titles and only lost four times and won countless super-close games that sometimes maybe we had no business winning.

I always think about the 1983 season. Herschel, the greatest to ever play the game, had gotten caught up in a trap and had to forego his last year of eligibility. And, no disrespect, but John Lastinger was our QB. This is the same guy who kept pleading with Coach Dooley that maybe somebody else should play that position and lead the team. Well, it was a beautiful ending to a beautiful season when Lastinger made that beautiful option run to beat the heavily favored Texas Longhorns in The Cotton Bowl. Honestly, I still wonder if that was our best win from that entire run.

As a young kid and a huge Georgia fan, Vince was just always kind of this larger than life character. He seemed to always convey confidence and wisdom. I used to really enjoy watching his TV show where he’d recap the previous game. He was a great coach and was a major influence for me.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Jerry Jeff Walker. My Dad was a big fan and had seen him live a few times. Finally he brought home a cassette tape. I was immediately hooked. Seeing Jerry Jeff’s picture, reading about the Great Gonzos, and seeing some of the song titles (especially the one about doing something in the wind), and I was captivated. And buddy, once I started listening to it - I was for sure hooked! “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” “Gettin’ By,” “LA Freeway,” and all the rest. “Gettin’ By,” by the way, is my unofficial theme song.

As the years have gone by I’ve seen Jerry Jeff myself a couple of times and own several of his albums and listen to him quite frequently. To quote a line from the Guy Clark song, “Desperados Waitin’ on a Train,” that Jerry Jeff recorded - “to me, he’s one of the heroes of this country.”

Me and a buddy of mine have spoken frequently about a sub-set of Generation X that we are both members of that we call “Reagan Kids.” Reagan Kids are those of us who were basically born in the 1970s who were reaching our formative adolescent and early teen years when the 40th President of America was in office.

It was in the summer and fall of 1984 that I came to the realization that I was a nine year old political junkie. I was really plugged in to the election. I vividly remember when Reagan was asked about age being a factor in that campaign and he made the classic line about not wanting to talk about Walter Mondale’s youth. I was basically the grassroots coordinator for the Reagan/Bush ‘84 campaign at Ficquett. We were having an in-class election and I was actively doing sampling and drumming up support. A good friend of mine at the time told me he was planning to vote for Mondale because that’s who his Mom was supporting but I was able to convince him to get behind Reagan!

So Vince, Jerry Jeff and Ronnie as three of my biggest influences. That may explain a few things…

17 August 2017

[TPC] - More Thoughts on Confederate Memorials & Race Relations

I've recently found myself, like many others, in an uneasy state of mind the last few days. The events of Charlottesville this past weekend and some of the events that have unfolded since then have been a trying time for many of us. Naturally, thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives during this ordeal.

Like many, I watched these events unfold with horror and sadness. Hate begets hate, and I think that's the point some have tried to make, but in this charged and volatile atmosphere, it seems that almost anything can be construed to violate some construct of what is supposed to be correct, proper or acceptable.

Reprehensible purveyors of hate and evil descended upon a town in which hardly any of them were citizens of and then proceeded to get into it with various people who were in opposition to them. I'm sure a lot of these folks were truly appalled with this grotesque display, but I also feel that some of them were people who thrive off of  hate, and maybe just chaos in general. Identity, mob-mentality & us vs. them politics, where it was all or nothing and ends justified the means, ensued, and then people died while the country looked on in disbelief.


As I've mentioned before, I'm basically a 6th generation Newtonian (my Great Grandfather married a Broughton girl, so we were in Morgan Co. for one of those generations). My Great-Great Grandfather, William Marion McCart Sr., served in the Confederacy as a volunteer in the GA E 53. He answered the call of his state, and, by all accounts, fought valiantly for the "lost cause." He did not, nor did any other member of my family as far as I've been able to discern, ever own a slave. They were poor folk. Dirt farmers, sharecroppers & carpenters.

In 1906 the Daughters of the Confederacy erected a statue in the center of the Covington Square to memorialize those sons of Newton Co. who answered the call of their state, the governing authority at the time, and specifically those who gave their lives. Unlike some memorials throughout the south, this monument was not placed during the 1950s or 60s as a show of defiance against integration or civil rights. That, in my opinion, is an extremely important distinction.

I've oftentimes thought about the discussions of that group of ladies over a century ago. Many of those women, the older ones, probably had a direct connection to that awful chapter of our country's history. One would presume that at least a few of them lost their Fathers during that conflict. Almost all of them heard about it from family members who witnessed it firsthand. That monument is a memorial to those who served in that conflict. That , I believe, should be a vital consideration.

Since June of this year, there's been at least one person who has publicly stated their desire to see that monument removed. I posted about that at the time and recounted a conversation I had with Nancy Shulz, BOC 3 Commissioner. Apparently she's spoken with others who might also have an issue with it, and so have I. It's something that certainly needs to be discussed, and it is being discussed. As I write this, I'm supposed to be meeting with some folks soon to do just that. We need to be willing to listen to one another.

At Tuesday night's BOC meeting, the subject was raised again. I think what Chairman Marcello Banes had to say was spot on. I, like many others, am a pretty big fan of this fella. I think he was a good choice for Newton County. He seems to be a truly free and independent elected official with the best interests of our home county at heart. And like him, I walk around our town a good bit and find myself praying a lot.


I'm of the opinion that the monument should stay. For one thing, it's an beautiful statue. It really is. And the words inscribed on it are also beautiful, and very apropos, in my opinion. On the north side, it talks about the need to furl the flag. How the time had come to move on. But there's also a mention of the "sacred cause" on the east side of the monument that some people have taken issue with. And...I get it. I do.

But for some, just the fact that it's a monument related to the Confederacy, regardless of intent or purpose, it simply needs to go. But I don't agree with that.

As the famous quote goes - "those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." This monument is a part of our history. Of course, some would say that history like this needs to be in a museum, or possibly in a cemetery.

I disagree.

Again, I feel as if it is a key part of our history. But more than that, I think it should stay because it can always be a reminder to all that the Civil War did indeed happen. That brother did fight against brother. A reminder that a critical mass of people at one time gave up on the principles that our country was founded on. In addition to remembering those Newton Citizens who gave their lives and those who fought in the War Between the States, this memorial can, and should, always be a remembrance that we have to keep talking. That we always need to always remain civil. And in this day and age, I think that needs to be in the forefront and should very much be in the public forum.

Moreover, I think this monument can also be a reminder that we are, as our Founding Fathers declared in the Constitution, always striving for that More Perfect Union, but that there have been bumps along the way. That we are, as America, who we are, and that we have a shared and intertwined history. That this beautiful and wondrous idea of Freedom and Liberty, though having come from imperfect origins, has always been striven for and expounded upon by many throughout the years, and that this light needs to always be shone and remembered. And that the South - our beloved homeplace  - was, in instances then & over the years since, sometimes on the wrong side of Justice, and history.

This is not a monument to a specific war hero, nor is it a celebration of the CSA itself. It is a memorial to American veterans, and a reminder of who we are and where we've been.

It should never be forgotten. It should always be remembered.

That is history.

The monument should stay.

06 August 2017

[TPC] - My thoughts on Hospitality & Brown-bagging in the COV

[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

Hospitality and brown-bagging ordinance on the agenda for Monday's Covington council meeting 

(Covington * 7/6/17) - So tomorrow night at 6:30 and the City of Covington Council will be meeting and the big item of discussion will be the aforementioned hospitality and brown-bagging ordinances. There seems to be a general consensus view that this is a good thing for the home city and needs to be passed as long as some major changes are made to the original draft.

The original draft was not worth the paper it was printed on. It was lousy. Some have wondered if that was done by design as to hopefully ensure that it wouldn't pass. That seems plausible in this writer's view. Regardless, those actively involved with creating that original draft seemed to  really miss the mark. What I don't understand it that they were given copies of ordinances from several other cities but then seemed to not even look at those.

There seems to be agreement among many that the original permit fees were way too high. From the outset, it was discussed that this needed to be a "nominal" fee and that this was only being done to supposedly bring us into compliance with state law. I'm still not sure that we needed to do anything, but...whatever. A bell has been rung which can't be un-rung, so here we are.

For starters, many businesses for many, many years have been doing hospitality and brown-bagging. There's a precedent for it. But with this foolishness and politicizing we've seen the last couple of months, several business have had to endure an undue and totally unnecessary business hardship, especially WildArt LLC.

I was happy to hear that so many have rallied to support their cause and their Facebook post which shared the petition showing support for these ordinances reached over 10,000 views within a day of being posted. Also, The Covington News ran a very nice piece about this wonderful local business and its owner, Ann Wildmon, in their Sunday edition today.

But getting back to the ordinances themselves, $50 would be great for the permit fee; $100 should be the maximum. Again, "nominal" should be the key word. As I understand it, there's apparently a few folks out there who feel like the fee should higher since the on-premise permit for restaurants that serve alcohol are so high. Well, I think those permits are too high, but why punish these other business owners that won't be even selling alcohol. Let's push to reduce permit fees across the board. And let's not forget that these on-premise establishments are making fairly handsome mark-ups and corresponding margins with their alcohol sales. And why does it have to be an "Us vs. Them" situation. I know for a fact that a lot of folks attending some of these events where hospitality drinks and brown-bagging might occur are also hitting the on-premise spots - the restaurants. Or, if you will, a rising tide lifts all ships. This is just a smart business decision.

Also in the original ordinance was the completely arbitrary and asinine part about only allowing two 2-oz pours in a three hour period. That makes no sense whatsoever. For starters, we oxidize approx. one drink's worth of alcohol per hour. And remember, we're not talking about distilled spirits. The average pour of wine is anywhere from 4 to 6 oz. I believe, at a minimum, that three 4-oz pours needs to be the number if you have to have something in there. I still say that this is totally unenforceable, so we're really just wasting time here, but I have no doubt that some will insist that we have to have something about it. Regardless, and once again, the original draft was unrealistic and seemed to have no real logic or reasoning behind it.

Another thing that has been mentioned by many and that was covered by the The Covington News in their "Our Thoughts" section from today's paper is the verifiable fact that some people who oppose these ordinances have been calling local businesses who are supporting it and threatening their business, and in at least one case, said they were going to pray to God that they go out of business. That's just beyond ludicrous, people, but while Prohibition ended in 1933, the "Temperance Movement" is alive and well in Covington, GA in 2017.

To me, it's more than just alcohol. There are people in our society, in my true belief, that want to control people through government coercion. It's a desiring for and a love for strong government subjugation over other people. For these folks, the problem is that there ISN'T enough government. That there AREN'T enough laws already on the books. That there is TOO MUCH Freedom and Liberty. That the solution to everything is to just have total and absolute control over everything and everybody.

Well, folks, that's not how it works. This is supposed to be American. I look around and see a lot of cognitive dissonance. I see a system that sometimes is inherently unfair and unjust to parts of our society. I look around and I see the same problems that these other folks see and I have a diametrically opposite view: precisely because there already is too much control and subjugation and not enough Freedom & Liberty is why we have a lot of the issues we face on a daily basis in our city, county, state and country. And I also believe this: the fact that there is oftentimes somebody, somewhere with a vested interest in seeing things continue the way they are. It's the two things we've been seeing since the beginning of time: power and money. Almost always, every time. And I truly believe that. Regardless, things aren't working. In some ways it seems like things are slipping away, that the center is fraying. Perhaps it's time to return to our roots. Get away from the revenue model of government. Cast aside the old model for the old, old model. Get back to the basics.

As I mentioned in my weekly column at The News, I hold to the belief that your rights end where mine begin. And preconceived notions, personal opinions, and possible monetary or vested interests should never be used to compromise the rights of others. It's inherently un-American. And that's the ole .02, friends.

But again, tomorrow night - Monday the 7th - at City Hall. 6:30PM. Let your voices heard, Covington. I'll see you then.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Until next time.

- MB McCart

02 August 2017

[TPC] - Farewell to a Friend: A Remembrance of Col. Bruce Hampton by Ellis Millsaps

Farewell to a Friend 
By: Ellis Millsaps, Contributing Writer 
- Special to The Chronicles -  

Bruce Hampton
April 30, 1947 - May 1, 2017

My friend Bruce Hampton died recently. I didn’t hear about it until after the fact, but then our mutual friends have lost contact with me.
I first saw Bruce when The Hampton Grease Band played in the courtyard of Dobbs Hall, my dorm at Emory in 1969. I didn’t meet him then.
I next saw Bruce at the Uptown Cafe in Atlanta in the mid-seventies. He was doing a standup comedy act in which he pretended to be Babe Ruth swinging a an inflatable woman’s leg as a bat. I didn’t meet him then either.
I met Bruce in the late seventies when he came to play in a poker game I’d organized. We played every Wednesday night for twenty years.
The regulars in the game were Bruce, Mark Methe, who owns Wuxtry Records--Peter Buck was working at his Athens store where he met Michael Stipe, a frequent customer--David Simpson, then chairman of the Communist Party in Georgia, Bob Dorlan, a guy from Minnesota who had a pig valve in his heart until it finally stopped working, and Ben who played for the Atlanta Symphony until they involuntarily retired him, and me.
Bruce didn’t drink or do drugs like the rest of us, but he lived off a steady stream of cigarettes and caffeine. I always assumed he’d done those things heavily at a younger age and reached his tolerance, but I never asked.
Hampton was the smartest person I ever met, and through twenty years of schooling I’ve known some very bright people. He and I would sit at this poker game discussing Iris Murdoch, Howlin’ Wolf, and string theory while he regularly took our money. I concede he was even more abrasively funny than I.
Although he declared his profession to be accounting, Hampton for five decades fronted a variety of cutting edge bands, touring regularly, but usually back on Wednesdays for poker. Rolling Stone raved about The Hampton Grease Band’s initial release “Music to Eat,” but legend has it that it was Columbia Records second worst selling album ever. It was, and is still, ahead of its time. Bruce appeared in the film “Swing Blade” with his friend and fellow musician, Billy Bob Thorton.
Ben, the aforementioned symphony player was old and slow to make up his mind. It was customary for us to wait minutes for him to decide whether he was going to play or bet. We would say his name and still have to await his decision. One Wednesday in the early nineties, we went through this routine for ten minutes before we realized he was dead. When the ambulance took him away we dealt another hand, agreeing that Ben would have wanted it that way.
I tell this story because Bruce died on stage under similar circumstances. You can watch him dying online. It occurred at the Fox Theatre during an encore for a tribute concert honoring his seventieth birthday. Everybody who was anybody in southeastern rock (except for Marshall McCart and Tedo Stone) was on stage when Bruce collapsed. He was such a card that everyone assumed it was part of his schtick and finished the song, but Bruce didn’t get up.

He is survived by three of the six poker players and thousands of fans worldwide.

Ellis was an attorney by trade (now recovering) 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. You can read his past works at TPC by visiting his Contributing Writer page

31 July 2017

[TPC] - Monday Night Check-in: Talkin' Hospital Authority, Water Woes, more Covington BS & More

Thanks for joining us tonight, friends.

So regarding the ORR that the Newton Co. BOC sent to the the Newton Co. Hospital Authority several weeks back - a couple of weeks ago and the authority finally responded...somewhat.

Basically they did a document dump. Hundreds and hundreds of pages of information & data; most of it wasn't what the BOC had requested.

Per multiple sources, the authority seems to be trying to bide their time, possibly hoping against hope that this will all go away.

It won't...


Did you know that Jim Weadick and Troy Brooks have collectively been making about a million dollars a year?

Did you know that Billy Fortson has been paid well north of a hundred thousand dollars per annum from the hospital authority?


There has to be a full accounting and reconciliation of all monies as it relates to the Newton Co. Hospital Authority for, at least, the last decade or so. Anything else should be unacceptable.

Ditto for the Industrial Development Authority and also the Joint Development Authority of Newton, Morgan, Jasper & Walton.

In our estimation, these state-sanctioned authorities have been very responsible for some of the most real damage done to the taxpayers of Newton Co. for years and years. Well, those authorities and then also Wm Thomas Craig, Esq.; but then again - Mr. Craig was the legal counsel for many, many years, per our sources, for all three of those authorities.

Fortunately, it seems as if there is no chance of this story ever going gentle into that good night. Not by the Citizenry, nor, as we understand it, by the current elected officials of Newton Co. (or at least a few of them), and that, my friends, is a very beautiful thing.

23 July 2017

[TPC] - "The Porch," a piece by Ellis Millsaps

The Porch 
A write-up by contributing writer Ellis Millsaps 

~ special to The Chronicles

So I'm sitting on my porch in Porterdale and Bruce Springsteen comes walking down the sidewalk.

This is not a common occurrence.

"Wassup?" I say.

"Wassup?" he responds.

I can't help but notice he's drinking something out of a paper bag. I'm rolling hand-rolled cigarettes and having my morning coffee. So I invite him to join me.

"Wanna sit for a spell?" I ask, channeling Granny Clampett.

"Well yeah," he says. "Doesn't seem like there's a whole lot happening on E. Palmetto St this morning."

"It's early," I reply, and pull up one of my three chairs. Turns out Bruce has a pint of Crown Royal, so I slide the tobacco and papers over.

I've never been crazy about Crown Royal, or Canadian whiskey in general. Seems like a watered down version of the real thing, but this already no ordinary day and all I had before was coffee.

Now I've got coffee and Bruce. Things could be awkward, we never having met before, but we seem symaptico and pretty soon we're chilling, talking about baseball with an occasional reference to Lou Reed when Bob Dylan appears and takes the third seat. 

Our pleasant conversation turns sour as Dylan and I start taking turns seeing who can be the biggest asshole, but at least the conversation is spirited as it ceases to be once Leonard Cohen appears on the porch. He doesn't walk up; he just appears. This is somewhat awkward because there are only three chairs.

Also there's the fact that Leonard is dead.

An uncomfortable silence ensues which is broken by the appearance of David Bowie and Elvis.

Of course they haven't brought any chairs either.

I've had about enough of this.

"Look," I say, "the three of us are sitting here having a pleasant, then spirited, conversation about what an A-hole Bobby is when you three show up. We're discussing baseball and Lou Reed and we're damn sure not having no "Love Me Tender" and we're sure as hell not having any "Suffragette City."

"And what the hell is that song even about anyway, Mr. Jones? And yes - I know your name is really David Jones, and I have no idea what you're doing here, but I don't think you do either, do you, Mr. Jones?"

"Yeah, something is happening here and you don't know what it is," Bob chimes in.

I glare at him.

"I know you think you're a duke and your buddy is a King, but my friend here is the Boss and he says all you dead people should leave. Zimmerman, you can stay if you behave yourself."

Bruce nods and the dead slowly fade from view.

"What was that all about," I ask Bruce.

"I thought you knew. I just got here."

To be continued. Perhaps... 

 Ellis Millsaps 

Ellis was an attorney by trade (now recovering) 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. You can read his past works at TPC by visiting his Contributing Writer page

17 July 2017

[TPC] - Monday Night Quick Bite: Vacation is over - what's the word around town?

Howdy, friends. Hope it's all good out there. Well, I just returned from a week on the Emerald Coast of Florida. I'm tanned up, well rested, and ready to go!

Right quick, I'd like to give thanks and another shout-out to you, fearless reader. My last write-up here covering the hospital authority and the ambulance service here in Newton Co. completely shattered my previous high number post, which, as some of you may remember, was "Bad News Bear Creek," an article talking about how Newton Co. was set to deed back approx. $1.5 million dollar's worth of land. More on that in a bit...

Between Facebook, and the unique views here at TPC, upwards of 5,000 people viewed, 

The old line in the press biz is to never oversell the lede, right? We always strive to do that here at TPC, friends. Regardless, the interest in this is appreciated, and it's proof, in this writer's estimation, that the people of the home county are rallying and ready to effect real and positive change and do away with the business as usual that we've seen for...what, a couple of generations now? 

Someone mentioned to me today as to whether or not I felt vindicated about the hospital authority. After all, for approx. 15 years now I guess you could call me Ahab, and that perhaps that state-sanctioned authority was maybe kind of a Moby Dick for me. Well, like I told this person - yeah...maybe, but whatever. I just want it to get fixed. I go back six generations in Newton, and this is where I intend to stay. I just want things to get right. That's all I care about. Truly. 

As a quick aside, I've had a couple folks ask me about the IDA, the Industrial Development Authority. Well, I know that there's a lot of noise in the system about that as it relates to the Three Ring Circus deal, and maybe there's something there. It hasn't really been on my radar. There's only so much time in the day. But just like the hospital authority, I think there needs to be a serious accounting and reconciliation of all the monies flowing through that authority, but not just here recently. I'd go back several years. And for the record, to properly file an ORR with the IDA (or any governmental authority in Georgia), you have to actually file it with the authority's authorized  and listed agent/secretary.

Going back to the second paragraph in this piece, talking about the mitigation property off of Hwy 11, if you remember, that land was set to be quit-claimed back to the original owners on July 15th of 2017. That was Saturday. I put in a call to Phil Johnson, Atty-at-law, to see if he went to the 3rd floor of the Judicial Annex and filed those bad boys. Knowing him, I'm sure it was done. We'll find out and report back to you. 

So, let's get down to brass tacks. 

Per two sources, the Hospital Authority apparently made history this past week. For the first time ever, they actually sort of followed state law and responded to an information request. As you may remember from previous articles, they'd apparently, for years, just always ignored those requests when they came from private Citizens. Perhaps it coming from the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners may have played a role; however, per multiple sources, the information they gave was not, really, what was requested. At all. 

I'm of the opinion that they Newton Co. Hospital Authority is stonewalling, and I'm not the only one who is thinking that. 

I also think they're playing an old-fashioned game of "Chicken." As a couple folks have pointed out, the optics of the Newton Co. BOC having to sue the Authority in order to get this needed information might look kind of bad. But, then again, this is Newton Co. This is Covington. We had a sitting mayor make CNN for stealing costume jewelry in the 90s. We had a mayoral candidate make state and national news for stealing the yard signs of his opponent just a few years ago... 

"They won't fit, Mr. Bobby!" 

"Nah, they'll go! They'll fit in there!" 
For the last few years, we seem to be a mainstay on the Atlanta news stations. The bizarre and curious case of Wm. Thomas Craig. The former fire chief getting arrested and thrown in jail. The intentional lowering of water levels at Lake Varner. The rotating carousel of county managers. The catastrophe that was the BOC Chairmanship of Keith Ellis. John Douglas. JC. The list just goes on and on, people. Hell, folks, this is just a part of who we are. Might as well just embrace it. Buy the ticket and take the ride, no? If it helps to get things fixed, then what the hell! That's what I say...

In any case, just know that we're on it, and we're here to get the full story. We'll be in touch soon.