24 May 2017

[TPC] - The Last Two Editions of The Esoteric South

Howdy, gang! Hope all is well. I realized that I hadn't posted my last two Esoteric South pieces that I do for The Covington News here at good ole TPC. So...here ya' go:

[The Esoteric South] - What the old folks used to say vs. that's what they say

*ed note: originally appeared in The Covington News in May of 2017

What the old folks used to say vs. that's what they say

As a young boy I fondly remember my Grandmother talking oftentimes about what the old folks used to say. The old folks used to say this; this old folks used to say that. The old folks had a lot of things they used to say, and I always got a kick out of hearing about it. As a rule, the old folks were good people who believed in doing the right things and doing things right. They believed in hard work, fair dealing & living the Golden Rule (the original one, not the other one). They sounded like good old folks to me.

One thing that really stuck out to me, as a I child, was just how old these old folks must have been. Because if my Grandmother was talking about them, they had to be fairly old, because my Grandmother was old. But then she'd talk about hearing about what the old folks used to say when she was a little girl. "Man," I thought to myself, "these old folks sure were old!" She would also talk about her Grandfather, my 2nd great grandfather, and the man I was named after, talking about what the old folks used to say, and that got me really thinking about how old these old folks were. But once I heard from my Grandmother that he remembered his parents and other older relatives talking about hearing what the old folks said when they were children...well, I knew that we were talking about some really, really old people here.

The old folks used to say you never should plant your garden until after Easter. Now, I didn't have any real scientific data on this or anything, but I can recount at least a few instances in the past few years where people I knew who planted their crops before that holy day ran into trouble because of a late frost. So, don't plant until after Easter. That's what the old folks used to say.

A lot of what the old folks used to say were basically proverbial sayings, or proverbs. "You can catch more flies with honey than you can vinegar," or, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," and many others of the like. Based on what I've found, at least some of these probably wind their way all the way back to the days of antiquity. Regardless of how old the saying, expression or thought was, it seemed to be carried through generations and generations of existence through oral tradition. Folklore. So, there again, when we're talking about what the old folks used to say, we are indeed talking about some really old folks.

A fair amount of what the old folks used to say seemed to be rooted maybe in superstition, or old wives' tales; however, at least a fair portion of those sayings and beliefs seem to be true. For instance, the old folks always knew that the lunar cycle had a major impact on our lives and many other things as well. Just ask anyone in law enforcement or public health if that is actually the case - they will respond in the affirmative. Chicken soup good for a cold? Scientifically proven. Vinegar for cramps? Works every time. Vinegar for a whole host of other things? Most definitely. There's a lot of stuff kind of below the surface or forgotten about that the old folks knew which would behoove a lot of us to know now, in this writer's estimation.

So, when talking about the "old folks" in the expression - "that's what the old folks used to say" -  just know that we're talking about good, godly & hard working folk going back dozens and perhaps hundreds of generations.

On the other hand, when we're talking about "they," in the expression, "that's what they say," we are talking about an entirely different thing. They seem to be the ultimate & proverbial peanut gallery. Everyone's a critic, and everyone's an expert, especially when it comes to telling others how they should live or do things.

My favorite description of the "they" in that's what they say came from my Granddaddy McCart. I've been hearing about this one ever since I was a kid & I've always loved it. Ole E.M.'s thoughts on this bunch was this: "The 'they,' in "that's what they say? They're the biggest bunch non-knowingest folks who ever walked the face of the Earth." Ha! I've always gotten such a kick out of that one! Unfortunately I never got to know the man who was my Father's Father as he passed on about a year and a half before I came on the scene. As anyone would tell you who knew him, he was about as good as any that was ever made, but he obviously had strong feelings on this particular issue.

They, to use the parlance of the younger folks, seem to be the haters, and we all know that haters are gonna hate. They seem to love to mess with folks, tell them what, why & how they're doing it wrong, but without any constructive criticism or offering up any solutions. Well, I, like almost all of us, have found myself in the "they" camp, but not too often. I try to avoid it.

While stirring this write-up in the mental back burner over the last few weeks, it got me to thinking about some other things as well. This generational divide we've been seeing in our society. These Millennials, though, right? To the older generations, I guess Generation X ain't lookin' too bad these days, are we? 

Of course, there's been a good bit of consternation and agitation on behalf of the younger and middle generations pertaining to the Baby Boomers. To me, all of this is unnecessary. We have our differences, sure, but so much more unites us than should divide us. When you get down to the heart & soul of things, we all basically want the same things for our families, our community & ourselves. At least, I think so.  And for the record, let me just say that while this younger crop may seem a little strange & aloof, many of them seem to be absolutely brilliant. And with the older ones - the old folk - I think you always have to remember everything they've been through. They've seen so much, and I believe they have a lot of wisdom & life experience to give.

You can then look at the big picture of things, and see that there is obviously division in the house, in so many things. Politics, religion, college football teams, etc. Well, I just think we always need to the think about what our country was founded on - the actual mechanism/document, the Constitution - and remember what made it possible. Compromise. And the other key - Communication. Or to quote a Pink Floyd song - "We just need to keep talking."

I think the old folks would agree, and probably so would they. 

Thx for reading 
- MBM 

[The Esoteric South] - God Bless the Folks that Drive to Atlanta Daily

*ed. note: originally printed at The Covington News in April of 2017 

God Bless the people who have to drive to Atlanta on a regular basis 

(*Author's note: This column was originally conceived of and most of it written several weeks ago. As fate would have it, last Thursday as I was finalizing this piece, I, like most of you, saw the horrific events on I-85 on the news. Due to the nature of this column and the subject material involved, a decision was made by the Covington News staff and myself to wait to publish the piece. So now here it is. Hope you enjoy!

So I had to go up to the big city for this thing a few weeks back. I had to be there by 8:30 in the morning, preferably, but no later than 9. I think it was technically considered Sandy Springs, but it doesn't really matter. Regardless of whether it's Sandy Springs, Roswell, Dunwoody, Decatur, or whatever, to me - it's all just Atlanta. Terminus. Marthasville. The Big City. The ATL.

Based on my recollection, I'd only been to Atlanta once in the last couple of years. I don't think I'd even been west of Rockdale Co. during that time. And after studying up on it, I'm pretty sure it's been over a decade since I had to make the trek up there in the morning rush hour traffic. God willing, it'll be, at a minimum, another decade before I do so again.

I had to really build myself up for this thing. For weeks in advance it loomed ever so large on the horizon. I'd find myself talking to someone or doing something and all the sudden it would jump into my mind like a flash - "You've got to drive to Atlanta in rush hour traffic here soon! You sure you're up for this?" I never really was...

But that day came. I set my alarm for 5:15; I was up at 4:47. I was proud of myself because I had fixed up the coffee machine the night before and set it for in the morning. I already had my clothes laid out, too. I was on it! After doing my morning rituals, I was out the door around 6:20. I made a quick pit stop to get a biscuit and found myself getting on I-20 at 6:28.

Things were good at first. Newton County, naturally, was a breeze. Rockdale was too for the most part. The trouble started a little ways past Sigmon Rd. By the time I got to Dekalb Co., it was a hot mess.

Back in the day, I always knew that traffic would start to get sideways once you started approaching the perimeter. But not anymore. Well before you even think about getting to Panola or Evans Mill, it's just a complete catastrophe. A total traffic nightmare. I think it took me almost 15 minutes just to get from Lithonia to 285. By this point, I was starting to sweat my timeline. I was hoping against hope that things would get better on "the loop." LOL, right?

Interstate 285 is where dreams go to die, dear readers, and I'm not being hyperbolic here. A band that I was in back in the day, The Cool Swap, actually had a song entitled, "It's a Jungle, Man; 285 - Can U Dig It?" No, I can't. And I never will. If there is a hell on earth, I think it just may be "The Perimeter."

The trouble started almost immediately. In the past, I could always count on merging into this abomination with relative ease. That's no longer the case. I really had to earn it. For the most part I was going anywhere from 2 to 8 miles an hour unless I was completely stopped, except for those unexplained moments where it would completely open up to about 45 mph or so for about 300 yards until you had to slam on the brakes again.

I saw some interesting things and made some fairly poignant observations during the almost 45 minutes that I had to ride the lightning.

I pulled up next to a fella, dressed to the nines in a high dollar suit and driving a luxury sedan that might have cost more than the house I live in, who was obviously having a heavy, heated discussion on his cell phone. He was talking with his hands like crazy and looked to be almost in tears. I have no idea whether it was work or home related. "This poor, pitiful [expletive deleted]," I thought to myself. "Not only does he have to deal with this ungodly traffic, but he's having to also deal with whatever else was going on, too." And even though he looked like the type of person I'd probably personally despise and someone who may well make more in a couple of months than I do in a year, I felt a profound sense of sadness for him. I even said a prayer for him as I drove by.

A little later on, and I had a different experience. I came up from behind and saw a truck that had a Putnam Co. tag. I'd seen a lot of Dekalb, Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale tags, but hadn't seen such an outlier yet. My curiosity was immediately piqued and I was hoping I'd get the opportunity to peer over and see who this Putnam Co. pick-up truck driver was. By the way, I was still paying attention to the road, for your information. Sure enough, it was kind of country-lookin' fella who was white-knucklin' it and had this look on his face that was equal parts fear, aggravation and disdain. I wished him good luck as I rode by.

And by the way, pretty much everybody out there was on their phone. A fair number of folks were talking on them, most were texting. Lord help us all...

Well, I made it on time. So that was good. But that afternoon, right around 4:30, I had to go home.

The trouble, again, began almost immediately. They were doing work on the road that would take me back to the exit that I came in on. After sitting at the same light for three changes, and seeing all these people going down the road I was on, I decided to just go for it. "I pretty much know where 285 is; I'll be able to figure it out," I thought to myself. What a fool I was. Over 20 minutes later and I finally found my way back to that infernal interstate.

As was the case in the morning commute, I had my car radio set to WSB because when you go to Atlanta you have to have it on WSB 750 AM. Though, like most people, I imagine, I was actually listening to the FM station, 95.5. It seems like it's basically an unwritten law that you have to do that, at least it is for those of us who only do rush hour commutes once a decade.

I always get such a kick out the weather reporters' heavy use of adjectives, descriptions, and metaphors. It's kind of reminiscent of an edition of "Marshall's Music Minute," in a different context. "It's stacked and packed up on the north-side connector." Or, "It's totally jammed at Spaghetti Junction." "The outer loop is a parking lot, people, but it's just a tap of the brakes on the west freeway." Usually I get a kick out of all of this, but I wasn't feeling it when I was in the midst of it. "Smiling Mark McKay," I thought to myself, "I bet that no-account SOB is smiling at all us peons and pissants who are dealing with this cruel and unusual punishment while he's up in his helicopter counting all his money."

The rest of drive back was hellish.

The kicker, though, is this: I had to do it all again the next day.

So especially in light of recent events, I'll have to say it again - God Bless these people who have to drive to Atlanta on a regular basis. Bless your hearts, and we're all pulling for you. 

Thx for reading. MBM