18 March 2019

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: Revisiting "The Equalizer"

I knew it.  I just KNEW it.  The paddle, also know as “The Equalizer,” has yet one more tale to tell.

My children always went to sleep with a “Night Story.”  From the day they were born, it was a given.  That was our wind-down, swap gears from day time to sleepy time ritual.  Our favorite stories were written by Dr. Seuss.  “A B C’s,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “The Cat and the Hat”…  They are all ingrained in my mind.  Memorized.  Stuck in there forever.  Heaven help me...

Who ever thought Dr. Seuss and The Equalizer would meet?!?

I can’t remember which Thing it was.  I can’t even remember the infraction.  I CAN remember having one of my children over my knees.

They met.  Dr. Seuss and The Equalizer.  I don’t think they intended to, but it happened.

The paddle made its “pop” and stopped.  It didn’t just stop, it stopped –hard-.  

“The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play,” my butt didn’t get paddled on that particular day.  (Paraphrased from “The Cat in the Hat”)

Yes, one of the Things put a book in his pants, over his butt, knowing he was going to get paddled.  It was a Dr. Seuss book, stuffed in the back of his jeans.

It’s really hard to discipline a child when you’re laughing so hard you’re crying.  I have to applaud the ingenuity, though.   

- Bess Tuggle

17 March 2019

[MB McCart] - A 2nd Report on the Newton Co. GOP Situation, One Week After the County Convention

A week ago this publication ran a piece about the results of the Newton County Republican Party (NCRP)'s County Convention in which the current leadership retained control of the organization in the midst of a concerted effort by an alliance of several groups & factions (heretofore known as the "Green Badges"; thenceforward to be known as "the resistance") that wished to "take over" the party for a myriad of reasons.

My piece at the time, and its precursor, created a bit of a fuss & ruffled a few feathers apparently. Well...what can you say? I am me, after all, and this is TPC, so...

Exempting the whole Sam Hay thing (you can go through the 300+ comments on the infamous Facebook thread to get more on that if you care to, though I wouldn't recommend it), in today's write-up I was wanting to wade through all of the the different perspectives & opinions, mainly from the non-current-leadership side, in order to get that REAL Story that I'm always seeking.

Unfortunately, there isn't as much to report as I'd like. Of the seven people I wanted to discuss this with, only one was willing to talk with me. The others seem to have gone radio silent. Oh well.

With all of that said, here's what I've got for you good folks today.

  • Based on what I can gather it seems as if the resistance didn't know what they were doing, that they didn't have even a basic understanding of the Georgia Republican Party (GRP) bylaws, NCRP bylaws, the adopted Standing Rules of the Convention, nor even a casual understanding of Robert's Rules of Order.
  • I've posited this to at least five persons, and only one has responded. When asked if any member of the party, and particularly any member of the current Executive Committee, had said that proxy voting could be used at the Convention, the one person I spoke with admitted that no one had. The resistance had just assumed. No, that's not how it works. Now back in February, each precinct - during their caucus - could write in the names of additional delegates who were not in attendance that day but that could attend the convention in March, but they HAD TO ATTEND. That is how it works.
  • Another thing mentioned was that the resistance didn't really understand the first important vote of the Convention, and that was the adoption of the rules of the convention, though it was explained & a print-out of said rules were made available to all delegates, alternates & spectators. Well, as I said in last week's piece, that's where you really know what numbers you are dealing with. It gives you a feel for the lay of the land, so to speak. To recap, the vote on that was 40 to 25. Later, the vote for Executive Committee was 39 to 29.
  • And to follow up on last week's article - it's all about the numbers. Either you have them, or you don't. 39 is 10 more than 29, and three above a majority. The numbers don't lie; it's all about the numbers.
  • And finally, my question as to whether or not anyone in the resistance offered up a compromise slate? The answer on that apparently was no. 

For what it's worth, I believe a couple of folks were turned off by the fact that at least one person on the resistance side had said that Karen Brooks, part of the Scott Jay slate, was not running for reelection. Based on my research, that was never the case, so either somebody lied, or somebody was misinformed. Either way, folks don't like stuff like that. Actions have consequences.

Finally, in my in-person interview with the one resistance member, it seemed as if they just felt like it was unfair, and that the party should have done more to help explain things such as rules, procedure & how conventions work.

Well..imagine this. Imagine having the numbers 3-to-1, and imagine knowing the rules like the back of your hand, then imagine the ruling party simply broke the rules, or just made up new ones as they went along. Imagine how bad that would suck. Pretty bad, right? That's exactly what happened in 2015 at the Newton Co. GOP County Convention. 2013 was basically the same.

Nobody said life was fair; however, the big difference was this: the convention 8 days ago was done in accordance with all of the rules. It was all on the level. It's all on video & audio & several folks, this writer included, were taking detailed notes.

As I mentioned to a couple of members of the County Committee the night before the meeting, why not look at a compromise slate? I was then reminded that there were several instances in the forms of messages, social media posts, and other communiques that the goal of the resistance was to "take over" the party. The same party that had quadrupled membership over the past three years & that was comprised of many good folks & many "real" Republicans (not damned "libertarians" like me. BTW & FTR - I've not been a member of the Newton GOP since March of 2017; I haven't been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2012).

And that's the rub, I think. It turned a lot of folks off. Actions - and words - have consequences.

Also, why didn't the resistance offer up a compromise slate? That's a good question. Probably because like everything else - they didn't know! I'm sure it wasn't their fault. Individual responsibility? It's 2019 now, who needs any of that. Hell, they could've called me. I would have told them. But none of them did.

To close, I think the biggest problem the resistance may have had is that two of their members may have overplayed their hand. One, a raging bull in the china shop of sensibility & fair play of the home city  for some years now, and the other, a sister of another mister who just can't seem to get out of her own way sometimes.

Creating a Consensus isn't easy; actions have consequences & the numbers don't lie.

Thanks for reading. 

- MB McCart 

[MB McCart] - Covington Council to Discuss Occupational Tax; Possible Changes Hopefully on the Way for Hairdressers & Barbers

Greetings, Citizens.

Hope all is well out there. As this publication has written about a time or two, the practices of the City of Covington as it relates to occupational taxes has drawn the ire & consternation of many for many reasons, namely that the city - unlike just about any other city in Georgia based on my research - exercises in what can only be described as double taxation in which they require that any salons, barbershops, etc. have to to pay for a occupational tax/business license, but then also require all individual hairdressers & barbers working in that establishment pay for their own occupational tax license fee, to the tune of $100, as well. 

C-town Representin'!

If that seems inherently unfair to you, it's because it truly is. 

Why not make anyone out there making money pay an occupational tax? Because, really, in the big picture, that's what the tax is - a tax on anyone undertaking an occupation. Well, they kind of do that actually, they just make the employer pay for it. Every business in town pays a tax every year that includes a maximum flat fee amount (more on that in a future piece) & then an additional amount per employee.

Pretty rotten, right?

To be honest, there's a fair number of folks (and I'm one of them) who simply think that there shouldn't be an occupational tax at all, for anything, but I'm afraid the barn door's wide open on that one, or, if you prefer, that that's a bell that's been rung for far too long (at least given the current dynamics of things), but, if we're being honest here, the City Council with a majority vote could do that very thing...

But let's stay realistic.

So as it is, and based on my research this didn't really get going until a few years ago, but the city decided that all individual hairdressers & barbers - working as independent contractors - should be required to pay this tax, and not just the establishment itself that they worked out of.

So...what's the road ahead? How do we fix this? Well, I'll tell you how it can be fixed. The City of Covington Council can, with a simple majority vote, balance the equities of things by mandating that any independent contractor working out of an establishment that that already pays an occupational tax license fee does not have to pay this fee. It's the only fair & equitable position for the city to take. And to that point...

It was just brought to my attention that this issue will be discussed at the next City of Covington Council meeting: 

| Monday 3/18/19, 6:30PM | 
Covington City Hall
2194 Emory St. Covington, GA 30014

I know many folks are planning to attend this meeting including Ms. Casi Cowan, a hairdresser in town that recently renewed my interest in this situation, as well as the one & only Wain Stowe, with whom I've discussed this issue a few times over the years. I'm definitely planning on being there as well. Hairdressers & Barbers Unite! When it comes to effecting change in the political arena, there is most definitely strength in numbers. Make sure to get to that council meeting tomorrow night & bring the kids, some friends & a few of your kin. At a minimum, it's just good free entertainment (though not really). 

Also, I suggest reaching out to your representation on the council. I know pro-Freedom-Fella & friend-of-the-program Josh McKelvey supports making a change, but he needs at least two others to vote with him. Let's set things right, friends! Be there tomorrow night.

As a final aside, if the city does make this much-needed, no-brainer of a decision, I'm thinking it's going to cost the city anywhere from $10,000 - maybe $15,000 in lost revenue. Out of a $132 million budget, we are talking about a decrease in funds of approx .0001 of the total budget. 

Seems like it should be a slam dunk.

Look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow night.

- MB McCart 

14 March 2019

[Perrin Lovett] - The Most Special Resolution in the World: House Resolution 183 (2019), The Craven Admission of Total Failure Act

*ed.note - as is always the case, just a quick reminder that the views expressed by author P. Lovett do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of The Piedmont Chronicles, nor its staff or Editor, M.McCart. This piece is...heavy, and could very well be construed by some to come across a certain way; however, as a fierce, fierce defender of the 1st amendment, I never had any doubt I wouldn't publish it. Or, if you will, I may not agree with what you say, "but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." As always, we appreciate you reading The Chronicles. - MBM

 The Most Special Resolution in the World:
House Resolution 183 (2019), The Craven Admission of Total Failure Act

Not too long ago, freshman Congress Critter Ilhan Omar (D-Somalia) Tweeted something about “AIPAC,” or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It was something about the inordinate amount of influence the group and its constituents wield in the United States Empire. The lovely little lady from Mogadishu (really) has since deleted the Tweet, but not before it caused a considerable stir amongst the perpetually perturbed - a stir replete with 10,001 cries of “anti-Semitism.” You might have heard something about all of this.

What better way to refute claims that Jews in America hold too much power and influence than to have the entire American House of Representatives [SIC] vote to condemn one woman for daring to suggest that Jews in America hold too much power and influence.

That’s just what they did. Find ye HERE the Roll Call vote, number 108, 407 - 23 in favor of House Res. 183, the waaaay-too-long-entitled Condemning anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States [Act].

The 23 rodents who voted against the Resolution did so because they felt the measure should have concentrated solely upon “anti-Semitism,” rather than on the laundry list of grievance groups actually included. The 407 rodents who voted in favor - including Omar (to her credit?) -  did so only after adding a laundry list of offended minority groups. (More on that in a moment).

Not to suggest, in any way, that Jews really do wield ridiculously outsized power in America, this is the second time, this year, Congress has entertained legislation to affirm Jewish supremacy. The first was S. 1 (2019), which passed the Senate 77-23 and which, should it become law, could conceivably outlaw columns like this one. (Your author simply quakes with fear). Yes, as the numbering insinuates, this was the first Bill brought in the Senate this year - a Bill dedicated to the authority, the supremacy of a foreign power. America first?

Now, for the laundry list:

Whereas the first amendment to the Constitution established the United States as a country committed to the principles of tolerance and religious freedom, and the 14th amendment to the Constitution established equal protection of the laws as the heart of justice in the United States;

Whereas adherence to these principles is vital to the progress of the American people and the diverse communities and religious groups of the United States;

Whereas whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse;

Whereas white supremacists in the United States have exploited and continue to exploit bigotry and weaponize hate for political gain, targeting traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence;

… blah, blah, blah, more bullshit …

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world, including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance;

13 March 2019

[Ellis Millsaps] - Let There Be Light

Memoir Chapter IV

Hi kids! What time is it ?”

“It’s Howdy Doody Time/ It's Howdy Doody Time/ It’s Howdy Doody Time/ It's Howdy Doody Time. (Sung to the tune of tra la la boom-de-ay.)

The TV came when I was four years old or possibly younger. I was four years old in 1956, the year Elvis first appeared on Ed Sullivan, an event I remember. The TV came on the back of a flatbed truck, down Summer Hill through the black section rather than from the street we always took to town.
The fact that I remember this from such a young age shows what an impactful event this was in my life. From that day on I watched that box for some part of almost every day until I left for college at seventeen.
Suddenly into my life came Mickey Mouse, Captain Kangaroo, and a new world of Saturday morning cartoons. The Mickey Mouse Club had some boring musical routines, but I was guaranteed a Disney cartoon and episodes of Spin and Marty or The Hardy Boys. Captain Kangaroo was mostly uninteresting, a progenitor of Mr. Rogers, but we did get a cartoon. Saturday morning however was splendid: Mighty Mouse, Fury, Circus Boy, Sky King, Sea Hunt, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, a smorgasbord of entertainment for a preschooler.
There were also Saturday morning westerns: The Lone Ranger, Wild Bill Hickok, The Cisco Kid, Roy Rogers. I watched all these programs and enjoyed them, but not as much as the cartoons.  It wasn't until the deluge of nighttime westerns came in the late 50s that television really changed my worldview.
I didn't then consciously realize that in these TV shows people weren't making decisions based on their fears of the afterlife, but I gladly saw myself living in their world while I simultaneously lived in my church world.
Going to church had always been fun for me. There were kids my age to play with, my father was the hero, and I was doted over by the congregants.  But when it became apparent that prayer meeting kept me from Wagon Train, and Training Union stood between me and Walt Disney Presents, I cast my lot with television over the church, although unless I was lucky enough to run a fever I was always in church.                                                                                                                                                   
And revivals? They could wipe out a whole week of Maverick, Bronco, Wagon Train, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot and Rawhide. These cowboys didn't mess around, no silly “Oh Cisco” and “Oh Pancho” or “Wait for me Bill.” These prime time cowboys were who I wanted to be.                                                                                                                                                 
I wanted to be Flint McCullough. I wanted to be Bret Maverick. I was a cowboy and when cowboys ride into town they don't look for the church. They go to the saloon, a practice I've emulated all my adult life.

11 March 2019

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: Critters!

Critters have ruled my life for as long as I can remember.  I would say my adult life, but that wouldn’t be fair.  It goes back farther than that, and I’m no spring chicken.

I remember a pet frog.  Can’t say I remember his name, but he was my pet.  I made him a leash and harness (yes, a leash for a frog) and took him –everywhere-, including day-camp in the summer.  My frog saw the pond at day camp and decided to head for higher waters.  He escaped the leash.  I dove in the pond after him, but alas, he preferred the wild.  I, on the other hand, got in trouble for riding my bike back home, soaking wet, smelling like pond water.

Frogs were kind of a thing with me for a while.  If I saw them I had to catch them.  McDonalds had a –really- cool Happy Meal toy that looked like a watch, but you could store stuff in them.  Yep, frogs went in there.  They also went in my pockets.  I know my mother has a strong heart.  I heard her every time she pulled laundry out of the washer, and I forgot to take the frogs out of my pockets.  

We’ve had dogs, we’ve had cats, mice, rabbits, snakes, birds…

My boys’ decided to take down a bird nest once, and they put it in the bathtub.  I’m not sure if their intentions were to take care of the birds or get out of bath time, but there the chicks were.  For anyone that doesn’t know, some baby birds can eat their weight in worms – daily.  It kept the boys’ busy for a summer.  I don’t want to mention the shape it left my bathtub in.  Yuck!

Our current fur-baby is spoiled rotten.  He gets a Milk Bone with Reddi Whip on it every day.  Every single day.  He’ll pout until he gets it, too.  

Critters have just always been normal part of life.

The nuts haven’t fallen far from the tree.  

Supper was a ritual at my home.  Butt’s in the seat at 5:30 p.m.  If you snooze, you lose.  

Thing 4 developed an affinity for bugs.  He wasn’t picky.  As long as the bug couldn’t fly away, he was happy and I was too – I didn’t have to track it down and squish it.  As we sat down to supper, I asked Thing 4 to take the bug out that was crawling up and down his arm.

The answer was “But, Mama – that’s my ‘fwend’!”  Sometimes you just can’t win for losing, and sometimes losing is winning.  

- Bess Tuggle

10 March 2019

[MB McCart] - Recap of the Newton GOP County Convention

*3/11/19; 4:30 PM - updated w/ a correction: in the "Scott Jay Slate referenced in the piece, J.Thorton should have read: "H.Thoerner." It has been added. Our apologies. 

Cobbled Consensus of Disaffected Delegates Fails; Current Party Leadership Retains Control Amidst Huge Turnout

It was a mild, pleasant Saturday morning when I arrived at Academy Springs Park & I could tell almost immediately that there was going to be a big crowd in attendance for the Newton County Republican Party's County Convention. And this was the big one, which happens every other year, where in addition to voting for delegates to the Congressional District conventions & the GA GOP Convention, the Executive Committee of the county party was also to be voted on.

Against better judgement I actually went in to the parking lot though I saw cars everywhere, it even looked like the American Legion Hall's parking was full, but I got lucky & found the last open spot.

At approx 9:45 I was standing in front of the Lions Club building, where the convention was being held, talking to an assorted cast of characters, when an issue arose. With me. I'd previously reached out to the county party about getting press credentials but they weren't doing that since any guests or spectators were welcome; however, these "guests" had to pay a $10 convention fee & I was made aware I'd have to pay that.

I didn't pay the fee. But it got worked out.

The convention was gaveled into session promptly at 10AM by the party Chair, Scott Jay. He announced several candidates & elected officials that were present including Josh McKelvey, Covington Councilman, and Ken Malcolm, candidate for Sheriff of Newton Co.

There was a hold-up with the Credentials Committee, apparently owed to in part because of a new system being used by the state party. After a 10 minute recess, the committee's Chair, Ms. Leesha Jay, announced a voting body of 70 persons.

Around this time is when the floor leaders of the "Green Badges," the aforementioned disaffected party members, first had issues. Apparently they were under the impression that they'd be able to utilize proxy voting at the convention.

So once that was settled, the convention was actually able to really start. Josh McKelvey was voted as Convention Chair & he appointed Sid Haggard as his Parliamentarian; John Southerland was voted as Convention Secretary.

Then, as it always is in any County, Congressional District, State Convention, or really any assembled body, it was time to vote on the Convention Rules. This always tells you the real numbers, and - as I explained to a few folks once everything was said & done - it's all about the numbers. Either you have them, or you don't.

After some confusion as the procedure & a feeble attempt at enacting a roll call vote, the assembled body voted - by standing count - 40 votes to 25 in favor of adopting the rules as presented by the county party to be the Standing Rules of the convention. The 40, by and large, included the current party leadership & several of the party regulars; the 25 was mostly made up of the Green Badges, Song Alliance, --CRAZY SAMMY HAY-- & the Smith/Fleming contingency.

And there it was - the numbers. Either you have them or you don't.

It was all just a formality after that. The Executive Committee of the "Scott Jay" slate (Jay, K.Brooks,J.Thorton H.Thoerner, M.Maner,D.Thompson,J.Southerland) passed by a vote of 39 to 29.

After that vote, and with a tip of the hat to a very solid showing of the Green Badges, Convention Chair Josh McKelvey stressed that the party needed EVERYONE in that room moving forward. "We need more members," McKelvey said, "We need more energy."

The Councilman did a fine job!

There was another recess as the nominating committee needed time to sort out the delegates for the State & District conventions. It was during this time that some of the candidates for office spoke. Ken Malcom talking about his upcoming BBQ Fundraiser on March 28th which will be at the Lions Club & Academy Spring Park. Clay Ivey also spoke & James "Tim" Walden, the guitar pickin' Preacherman, whipped the crowd into an almost Church-like frenzy. I mean, he really did well!

Malcom's BBQ Fundraiser will be on March 28th at the Lions Club at Academy Springs

Back in session, the party seemed to really try to come together & coalesce as several party regulars - including ole AB - gave up their delegate spots to folks like Carla Ferry & others, so that they could have more of a say at the State & District level. It was a classy move.

And then the kicker was the closing speech by Mr. Sid Haggard. Well...I'll put it to you this way: after hearing that wise man give that speech, it almost made me wish I was still a dues-paying member of the NCRP. Almost...

It was a great day, I thought. Everything was done in accordance to GRP & NCRP bylaws, the Convention Rules, and Robert's Rules of Order. This was a clean convention. All aboveboard, though I understand the Green Badges will be appealing it because, after all, this is Newton County.

Thanks for reading.

- MB McCart

08 March 2019

[MB McCart] - TPC Real Politick: GA SOS Office Makes Politico; Newton GOP CC on Saturday

Some days back, after Covington resident & current FreedomWorks legislative director Jason Pye co-wrote a letter raising concerns with the Georgia Secretary of State's proposed plan for new voting machines, Jordan Fuchs - Deputy Secretary of State of Georgia & former political consultant with Landmark - took it upon herself to call Mr. Pye out on social media.

Image result for jordan fuchs georgia
Jordan Fuchs, Georgia Deputy Secretary of State

In a questionable move to have even done this in the first place, Ms. Fuchs then decided to double down after Pye responded & as more & more folks got involved with the thread. That's when I got involved & made a few comments. Even Mr. Rountree himself, the leader of Landmark, got in on the action. That's when I reminded everyone that they ran the Secretary of State's political campaign & then Ms. Fuchs took the job of Deputy Secretary of State. You know, good ole fashioned Georgia politics!

Image result for jason pye georgia

As I said in the thread, the general behavior & antics of the Deputy SOS made me question the general caliber & judgement of this Constitutional office that is the custodian of the Great Seal of Georgia, and that also oversees corporations, some professional licensing & elections. Really, the more it went on, the more bizarre it got.

Under the radar there was much chatter going on & sure enough a couple of days ago national outlet, Politico, ran a story on it authored by Eric Geller in which he made pretty clear his take on things with a few tweets.

And finally after about 5 or 6 days, somebody got through either to Fuchs or Raffensperger himself, and the original Facebook post was taken down. Again, questions about judgement & efficiency of that office if it took that long to take it down, because, really, it was that bad. But, Geller's got screenshots. So does Pye. So do I.

Newton GOP, County Convention Time, Baby! 

So this Saturday is GA GOP County Convention day throughout our great state & it's looking like we've got a real humdinger coming up. As Mr. Fred Wheeler, one of my political mentors, always would say - "it's just good cheap entertainment." These proceedings are open to the public, and the press, and Yours Truly will be there to get that REAL Story.

Some interesting dynamics at play here.

The former outsiders, a group I was a part of for several years (and still am in spirit), after spending a long time trying to defeat the mean old establishment (Delia [God rest her soul], Bill P. et al) now find themselves in the role of...well, the establishment, in the literal sense of the word. Though by many accounts they've seemingly done a fine job of building back up the membership after it had dwindled so bad with the former establishment, it looks as if there are two distinct factions looking to take over the party. Based on my research, they are as follows:

- The cheerleaders & disciples of the previous establishment (the Smiths, Fleming machine, etc.)

- The SONG Alliance crazies folks

And then you've got the biggest group, I believe, our old friends - "The InBetweeners." These folks are truly in the middle, the GDI's, if you will, and ultimately it'll be up to them to decide in which the direction the county party goes.

And where does crazy Sammy Hay fit in with all of this?

Questions abound.

Lots of moving parts. Lots of excitement! I'll be there!

- MB McCart

07 March 2019

[Past Piedmont Chronicles]: The Esoteric South: 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 

201 Wins; 6 SEC Championships

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.

The Songwriter of "Mr. Bojangles" & "Pissin' in the Wind."

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.”

I'm a Proud Gen X/Reagan Kid

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... - MB McCart
Well...that's an interesting question! 

06 March 2019

[Perrin Lovett] - The Magic and Majesty of Tweetsie Railroad

*Author's note: The following article originally appeared at my blog, back in December of 2015. Yes, it’s a rehash. But, the titular subject warranted a brief mention, here, a few weeks back. Wanting to elaborate, I spent the better part of an afternoon digging up this forgotten gem. (That sounds better than “I was busy and had a head cold…”).
When it chances to rain I sometimes don a high-quality, hooded raincoat emblazoned with a “12” logo patch. People occasionally inquire as to the meaning and origin of the garment. I love telling the tale.
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, about halfway between Blowing Rock and Boone, just off U.S. 321, there is the most remarkable hideaway. There one will find a tiny, tiny little (very small) amusement park on the side of a mountain.
Disney World it most certainly is not (praise God). It is a chapter from an older, homier book of Americana. It may be the ultimate roadside destination, a place to shame South of the Border or Wall Drug. Tweetsie Railroad is one of my absolute favorite places anywhere. Time stands still in the mountains.
Tweetsie started in the 1950s and, instantly finding perfection, hasn’t changed.  I first went there in the very late seventies and was awed. Many years later, when my daughter was a tiny tot, we decided to visit the park for a family getaway.  I was over-awed this time. Tweetsie was (and is) the only place from my childhood that is exactly the same as I remembered it from my youth. It literally converts you into a little kid again.  More magical than any kingdom.
The name from crafted from the defunct East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. Tweetsie is also the name of old No. 12, the park’s flagship steam locomotive. Yes, they have real, full-size, and fully functional trains. No. 190, The Yukon Queen, puffs along on alternate days. The trains are the preeminent attractions.
(No. 12 in the station. Picture by Perrin).
All day long these fire-breathing beasts of iron and steel haul delighted families around the mountain. The passenger cars are manned by cowboys. About a third of the way around the train stops at a little village. The cowboys get off and engage in gunplay. Sometimes it’s the result of a robbery. Later the show stops at a fort where another battle unfolds against a tribe of hostile yet inept Indians. Cowboys and Indians in the 21st Century. The fun is neither political nor correct, yet fun it is.
(Picture by Perrin).
A chairlift carries patrons to the top of Miner’s Mountain. There, and down below, are a variety of shows, acts, rides and entertainment. Up top the summit is ringed by a smaller train ride. The smaller train enters a tunnel and stops so folks can watch mice ride around on an even smaller train. A train within a train within a train.
Behind the mine tunnel is a petting zoo filled with animals. Good, inexpensive carnival food abounds. Midway up the mountain is an arcade, a ferris wheel and a race track. Special occasions are common, including dog shows and Thomas the Tank Train. Thomas is there in the late spring: full size too. He’s propelled by No. 12 at Mr. Tophat’s request.
Tweetsie is open from early April through Halloween. UPDATED FOR 2019: Opening Day is April 5th. Tickets are $50 for adults and $32 for children (toddlers enter for free). Season passes are $125 an $85, respectively.
Fall is, in my opinion, the best time to visit. The scenery is perfect and the temperature is always ten to twenty degrees cooler than the lowlands. The park is open at night around Halloween for the Haunted Train experience.
This is truly an old-fashioned family-friendly place. There’s something for everyone. I have been many times during different seasons and always had a grand time. The type of thuggery and foolishness too common these days is simply not tolerated. I’ve never seen anyone out of line. I suspect the cowboys would shoot any hooligans.
Accommodations, from rustic cabins to modern hotels are all over within a ten-mile radius. Boone and Blowing Rock offer numerous other fantastic activities. Everything up there is clean, safe, refreshing and jolly. The smell of wood fires, pumpkins and apples permeates the air. The sounds are of laughter, wind in the trees, and falling water.
Tweetsie even boasts a number of convenient Cigar smoking locations. The towns are also Cigar friendly. Boone hosts a few small tobacconists while the gas station in Blowing Rock has a well stocked Humidor and a decent wine selection. Good food and ale is available in plenty. Blowing Rock even has a local brewery. The place to eat at is The Peddler Steakhouse. They have the finest beef and fare and are operated by attractive coeds from App State.
Plan a trip if you can. Again, I really recommend the fall. Do be mindful of Appalachian State home football games on fall Saturdays. Even on game weekends, early planning will provide a room reservation. I think the place would even benefit the modern micro-aggression obsessed set. Initially, duct tape could ensure they don’t complain about the cowboys and Indians. The tape could be removed when they start laughing along with the normies. Highland therapy for the soul. Perfection incarnate. Plan a visit soon.
*The National Affairs meddling shall resume next week.