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