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NEWS - Summer 2007

Music events this fall: two in September 2007 featuring CLYDE EDGERTON AND THE RANK STRANGERS (Jack King, Matt Kendrick and Mike Craver): Clyde will be reading selections from his past novels and also the one he is working on now (I hope I'm not letting cats out of bags but I believe it's being called THE BIBLE SALESMAN) -- and we will be doing songs from his CD and also from LUNCH AT THE PICCADILLY

Sept. 15th -- fundraiser for the National Fragile X Foundation, Umstead Hotel, in Cary, NC, 8 PM

Sept. 30th -- "Folk Fest XVI: 'Takes to the Air!'" at the Reynolda House, Winston Salem, NC 12-6 PM

Oct. 20th -- I'll be joining Matthew Weaver, and the cast of Piedmont Players' production of Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming for a music show at Keppel Auditorium, Catawba College, Salisbury, NC @ 8 PM. FMI

Nov. 24th -- The Cave, Chapel Hill, NC. with Jim Watson, Bill Hicks & Joe Newberry

Songbird Gets 720,000 M.P.G.

I ran across some amazing statistics in a fascinating article in today's NYTIMES by Natalie Angier about migrating birds:
"Migration is without question a difficult business, demanding that a bird put on massive fat stores to power its long nights of flight. Before departing New England for South America, for example, a Blackpoll warbler, which normally weighs about 11 grams (the equivalent of a half-dollar coin) will in a matter of days at least double its body mass. If you were to take one of these fluffy tublets and blow on its feathers, said Dr. Lovette, you would see bumps of white fat barely held in check by its skin.

Nevertheless, birds are exquisitely efficient flying machines. A bird’s heart is four-chambered, like ours, but as a proportion of its body weight is six times bigger than ours. A bird’s respiratory system, its lungs and accessory air sacs, takes up 20 percent of its volume, compared with 5 percent for human lungs. As Mary Deinlein of the National Zoo has observed, “If a Blackpoll warbler were burning gasoline instead of reserves of body fat, it could boast of getting 720,000 miles to the gallon.”

The fat in a Snickers bar, she added, would subsidize a warbler’s flight from summer home to winter home and halfway back. Throw in a box of Milk Duds and a 3 Musketeers, and even a rail may never again be called thin."

full article
photo: Robert Royce

Farewell Sweet Jane

Good bye to Jane Wyman, a great and plucky film actress who was in some wonderful movies, such as THE LOST WEEKEND, JOHNNY BELINDA, THE YEARLING, MAGIC TOWN, MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION, and Alfred Hitchcock's STAGE FRIGHT.

Not the least of her roles was as the real life wife of Ronald Reagan, from l938 to l949, of which she wisely had little to say. She was also a singer and, with Bing Crosby, had a 1951 hit of the Johnny Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael song IN THE COOL COOL COOL OF THE EVENING.

The Drought and "A Clyde Slide"

According to the drought monitor on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website, the section of North Carolina where I live is now experiencing "Extreme Drought" (red on the monitor) topped only by the "Exceptional Drought" (dark red) which is being experienced in parts of Western Georgia and Alabama. It's pretty bad, folks. It's downright demoralizing. We are praying for rain.

Until then here is a multimedia slide show of my friend and artiste extraordinaire Clyde Overcash, who has donned a pair of fake teeth and is explaining Civil War history and how to mow the yard, old-time style, to a group of little nudkins, back in the greener days of summer: Rowan Museum History Camp

Philly Folk Fester

Had an interesting trip "up Nawth", first to Hyattsville, MD for rehearsal and a house concert with the Stephen Wade band (Stephen, James Leva, Zan McLeod and myself) and then to the Philadelphia Folk Festival, where we were featured artists and also particated in the afternoon workshops. I myself had to (gasp) actually host the "Mountain Song" workshop. I'm not sure why I was tapped for this particular duty, other than the fact that I am from a state (NC) with mountains in it. We performed mainstage Saturday night - a fifty minute set preceeding Mavis Staples. I was as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The Philly audience is large, in the 3-5 thousand range; and there were five camera men on stage to capture our various images for the two huge Jumbotron video screens. Somehow I lived through it without publicly humiliating myself, and for that I am most grateful! (main-stage shot of me at harmonium is by Jamie Downs. It looks like Zan and James Leva are my backup singers!)

I also had the great pleasure of visiting the National Portrait Gallery in Washington and had a wonderful time ogling the art therein. I was particularly impressed with the photographs of Harry Benson. Also included on your left (at my peril, due to possible copyright infringement) is a fetching self portrait of Thomas Hart Benton. Ogle it while ye may, for tomorrow it may be gone.


"Something in me died at Peleliu. Possibly I lost faith that politicians in high places who do not have to endure war's savagery will ever stop blundering and sending others to endure it."
from the diary of Eugene Sledge, a soldier from Mobile, Alabama who survived, barely, some of the worst fighting in the Pacific and died in 2001. from the documentary THE WAR by Ken Burns

Thomas Aquinas wrote, in Two Precepts of Charity, in 1273: “Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.”
Thomas Carlyle on "Happiness": "Happy the people whose annals are blank in the history books!"
"The only happiness a brave person ever troubles themselves in asking about, is happiness enough to get their work done."

"He who is good with a hammer thinks everything is a nail." --- Abraham Lincoln

"The most important critic is time." ---Rouben Mamoulian

There Are Fairies In My Mother's Flower Garden????

Here's a funny pic from the University of Wisconsin's St. Croix Valley Summer Theatre recent production of RADIO GALS. It's a scene from the song There Are Fairies In My Mother's Flower Garden. The production was directed by Rosy Kirk and featured Sarah Parks, Jeanne Voigt, Chelsea Gartner, Carolyn Strauss, Justin DeLong, Jon Stiff, and Paul McMillan. Michael Norman is producing director. The photographer is Jens Gunelson.

Bikram "Hot" Yoga

For the past month I have been taking daily classes in Bikram Yoga, aka "Hot Yoga". I first saw the book by Bikram Choudhury in the library, took it home and read it in one sitting and got on the net and found a Bikram Studio in Winston Salem. I went to my first class the next day and have been ever since. The WS studio is a real haven, and is helmed by three wonderful sunny Southern yoginis: Trudy, Deb and Jen. You go into that wonderful atmosphere and you sweat and stretch and heave and your heart pounds and your lungs expand till you feel like you can't stand it but pretty soon it's over and you're on the wave of a certain kind of (dare I say) bliss that lasts all through the day. Highly recommended but not for the unobsessed and faint-hearted! The Winston studio is bikramyogawinstonsalem.com

David Sedaris on "Old Chapel Hill People"

A friend sent me an article from THE NEW YORKER by David Sedaris on his first job (at the Carolina Coffeeshop) and his first apartment, in Chapel Hill.

"I longed for a home where history was respected-and, four years later, I finally found one. This was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I'd gone there to visit an old friend from high school-and because I was between jobs, and had no real obligations, I decided to stay for a while and maybe look for some dishwashing work. The restaurant that hired me was a local institution, all dark wood and windowpanes the size of playing cards. The food was O.K., but what the place was really known for was the classical music that the man in charge, someone named Byron, pumped into the dining room. Anyone else might have thrown in a compilation tape, but he took his responsibilities very seriously, and planned each meal as if it were an evening at Tanglewood. I hoped that dishwashing might lead to a job in the dining room, busing tables, and, eventually, waiting on them, but I kept these aspirations to myself. Dressed as I was, in jodhpurs and a smoking jacket, I should have been grateful that I was hired at all.

After getting my first paycheck, I scouted out a place to live. My two requirements were that it be cheap and close to where I worked, and on both counts I succeeded. I couldn't have dreamed that it would also be old and untouched, an actual boarding house. The owner was adjusting her "Room for Rent" sign as I passed, and our eyes locked in an expression that said, "Hark, stranger, you are one of me!" Both of us looked like figures from a scratchy newsreel: me the unemployed factory worker in tortoiseshell safety glasses and a tweed overcoat two sizes too large, and her, the feisty widow lady, taking in boarders in order to make ends meet. "Excuse me," I called, "but is that hat from the forties?" The woman put her hands to her head and adjusted what looked like a fistful of cherries spilling from a velveteen saucer. "Why, yes it is," she said. "How canny of you to notice." I'll say that her name was Rosemary Dowd, and, as she introduced herself, I tried to guess her age. What foxed me was her makeup, which was on the heavy side, and involved a great deal of peach-colored powder. From a distance, her hair looked white, but now I could see that it was streaked with yellow, almost randomly, like snow that had been peed on. If she seemed somewhat mannish, it was the fault of her clothing rather than her features. Both her jacket and her blouse were kitted out with shoulder pads, and when they were worn together she could barely fit through the door. This might be a problem for others, but Rosemary didn't get out much. And why would she want to?" more...

Dame Dench

Great article in NYTIMES about Judi Dench Retrospective DVD release. Last line:

At one point in his interview Mr. Eyre posits that “a life in the theater is a difficult one.”

Ms. Dench gives a familiar, dismissive snort of laughter. “Try telling that to a welder,” she says.


Erik Eckholm on TOO MANY PETS

More NYTIMES related information. There was a heartbreaking article entitled "For Poor Families, an Added Burden of Too Many Pets" in the June 30th edition by Erik Eckholm. Erik has written about everything from veterans' benefits, infant death rates in the South, anit-poverty issues, AIDS in Puerto Rico, and also reported on the Iraq war from Baghdad with John Burns and others. Erik also wrote a fascinating piece several months ago about one of the few remaining Delta juke joints as part of his Merigold Mississippi Journal series: "At Night, Farmer Trades His Tractor for the Blues".

If you read the article about "Too Many Pets" and are interested in helping out, Erik sends the following information:

"To help the Rural Area Veterinary Services expand its efforts - they have a waiting list of communities that have requested similar free clinics - see their web page http://www.ruralareavet.org/ or email Tammy Rouse, trouse@ravsmail.org.

Some people wanted to send direct help to the Swetmans. Their most urgent need, if I may put in my two cents, is to get all their animals spayed and neutered. They are also just one of dozens of families in the two counties I visited (Chester and McNairy) that have accumulated large numbers of dogs and often cats, without the ability to provide proper care.

I don't have a direct contact for them and I don't think they have email. I suggest contacting Sherrye McKinney, who is sort of a one-woman humane society in Chester County, where the Swetmans live, and is trying to arrange vet care and help with dog food for them. She could also provide their address if you want to reach them directly. Her email is: Smckin15@aol.com.

Tina Churchwell is in Selmer and trying to raise money for a proper Humane Society shelter and also is busy helping many individuals and families who are taking in abandoned animals, including the other people mentioned in my story. Her email is: tina.churchwell@schefenackerusa.com".

(photo by Josh Anderson, NYTIMES)

Yesterday's Papers:
Spring 2007
Winter 2006/07
Fall 2006
Summer 2006
Spring 2006
Fall Winter 2005
Spring Summer 2005
Fall/Winter 2004/05
Summer 2004
Winter/Spring 2004