Friday, April 22, 2011


         Scarlett and Rhett Greeted Fans Here

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA– Dance events inspired by Arthur Murray, a tribute to “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell, Atlanta’s largest book club, and a salute to famed rock impresario Alex Cooley are planned events commemorating memorable milestones from this city’s Georgian Terrace Hotel’s first 100 years.
The year-long anniversary celebration for 2011 kicked off with a VIP luncheon at the hotel. Retired journalist Joseph Gatins, whose family built the hotel and owned it for decades and who spent his childhood living in the hotel with his family spoke to civic and media guests detailing his family history and recollections of the hotel in his book entitled “We Were Dancing on a Volcano.”
Opened in 1911, the Georgian Terrace helped establish Atlanta as the birthplace of the New South, and a destination for travelers worldwide. New York architect William L. Stoddart designed the 10-story, butter-colored brick structure in French Renaissance style with turreted corners, one-story Palladian windows, white marble columns, elliptical staircases and Italian tiled floors. It was hailed as the city’s “Paris hotel” and marked Atlanta’s growing sophistication.

Clark Gable Greets Fans At Georgian Terrace
The Georgian Terrace’s long relationship with the “Fabulous” Fox Theatre across fabled Peachtree Street bonds its deep ties to the performing arts.  In yesteryear, such superstars as opera legend Enrico Caruso, Hollywood legends Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Leslie Howard and Tallulah Bankhead, plus President Calvin Coolidge, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Enrico Caruso and legendary actor Clark Gable enjoyed its grace and convenient location. Today, any number of celebrities like George Clooney and Betty White can be seen in the lobby and gourmet restaurant.
On December 15, 1939, the Georgian Terrace ballroom hosted the reception after the first showing of the movie “Gone With the Wind,” attended by the foremost celebrities of the day: Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Vivian Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Olivia de Havilland, Claudette Colbert, Victor Fleming, Louis B. Mayer and David O. Selznick.
The Georgian Terrace is inviting the many Atlantans who to celebrate those milestones and become a part of its next 100 years. Monthly events will begin in May with ballroom dance parties. This summer, the hotel will host a reception for the VIP premiere of the Georgia Public Broadcasting documentary: “Margaret Mitchell-American Rebel.” Plans are under way for a private all-star tribute to rock impresario Alex Cooley in July. Arthur Murray dancers from throughout the U.S. will gather at the Georgian Terrace August 4-6 for a ballroom dance homage to the man who ignited the ballroom movement in America here while attending nearby Georgia Tech. In September, “Atlanta’s Largest Book Club” will hear a reading and discuss Joseph Gatins’ memoir. Finally, in October, the Georgian Terrace will invite 100 of Atlanta’s most influential business and civic leaders to a black-tie gala that will mark the end of the historic first 100 years and kick off the next 100 in style.
The elegant Georgian Terrace has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986.

Friday, April 15, 2011




By Doc Lawrence

Passover is an appropriate time to become more familiar with the delights of Kosher wines.

Kosher wine, said Mitch Schneider who lives in Israel and is well versed in this subject, “is produced according to Jewish dietary laws, called Kashrut. All the appropriate wine making equipment, tools, and storage facilities must be used exclusively for producing Kosher wine. Beginning with harvest, only Sabbath observant Jews are allowed to work in wine production. Only certified Kosher products like yeast can be used.”

Schneider, a career wine professional, offered a few Kosher wine nuggets:  “With some Kosher wine,” he observed, “you might see Mevushal on the label. "  He explained that this literally means boiled or cooked. “Back in history, the Jewish people would boil the wine in order to make it unfit for idolatrous use. Even if an idolater touched it, the wine would still keep the status of Kosher. Today, we use the process of flash pasteurization to make the wine Mevushal. Flash pasteurization is a very, very fast process in which the wine goes through a continuous flow while subjected to temperatures of 160 °F to 165 °F.”

I asked if the terms Kosher and organic were related? “I don't believe they are,” Schneider replied, adding that “in Israel, Yarden Winery produces an organic Chardonnay from their Odem Vineyard. In America, Baron Herzog Winery is not certified organic, but many of their wines come from sustainably grown, low spray grapes.”

Obviously, with all the diversity inherent in wine for over six thousand years, there are aspects of Kosher wine that should attract everyone who loves good wine.  Mitch Schneider believes that Kosher wine should have the same appeal a non-Kosher wine brings. “A Chalk Hill Cab that is Kosher,” he said, “will taste like a Chalk Hill non-Kosher Cab. I know many people won't even try Kosher wine, but the truth is, when tasting a wine, whatever your preconceived notions you had in your head will effect the taste of the wine.”

Schneider claims that there are amazing Kosher wine available today from around the world. More than a few, he states, “are being written about and rated in top wine magazines and winning top medals in various competitions. The days of sweet concord wine are gone! Today, Kosher wine is something to be proud of like any other wine.”

Schneider said to look at Vodka. “There is a Kosher certification on Stoli. Why? Simply for the marketing aspect. No one thinks of Stoli as the Kosher Vodka. Likewise, don't think of Kosher wine as sweet concord wine.”

Here are some of the superior Kosher wines Schneider said to look for in the American marketplace: Castel Winery from Israel – “Their Grand Vin label is amazing.” Hagafen Cellars from California – “Look out for their Pinot Noir.” Borgo Reale Moscato and Bartenura Moscato.- “Two wineries, one wine - both delicious and refreshing from Italy.” Yatir Winery from Israel plus Goose Bay from New Zealand-“their Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, and very well balanced.” 

I hasten to endorse the outstanding Yarden Mount Hermon Galilee Red Wine (2009) from Golan Heights Winery

What about Bordeaux? Or Burgundy? Schneider quickly responded, “we sure do have them,” referring me to two sites: and Kosher French Wine importer.

Enough said. It’s time to pour a glass of Kosher Margeaux and, although we are in different countries, wine begins a promising friendship and transcends notions of time and distance.


Monday, April 11, 2011



By Doc Lawrence

CARTERSVILLE, GA-The Booth Museum of Western Art has the elegant feel of New York City’s Lincoln Center. Instead of music, there are paintings, carvings and statues galore, displayed in an impressive space that garners well-deserved critical acclaim. It was the perfect place to meet Mort Kunstler, easily the most respected and popular Civil War artist in America. Kunstler, a Brooklyn, New York native who still calls New York state home, has a growing audience due in part to the just-launched Civil War Sesquicentennial, a monumental, multi-state commemorative spanning the next four years.

"War is Hell." Atlanta is destroyed
What makes Kunstler’s works both valuable and popular relates to his remarkable skills as an artist and the high quality of his paintings. First, he would be an acclaimed artist no matter the subject. Technique, accuracy, color, detail are uniformly striking. Romantic or nostalgic scenes, which Kunstler paints to perfection, are notable for a Norman Rockwell-like touch. Created on Kunstler’s canvass, Lee, Jackson, Grant, Sherman and foot soldiers are credible and all too human.   

Mort Kunstler says he never pretended to be a historian. “I’m an artist,” he told me during lunch in the museum, “and I got into the Civil War as a result of one painting about Gettysburg that became very popular. I found that there is so much about the war that most aren’t aware of and that really prompted me to paint what I found interesting.”

James McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Battle Cry of Freedom praised Kunstler and his works:  “Of all the artists working in the Civil War field, none captures the human element, the aura of leadership, the sense of being there and sharing in the drama, quite like Mort Künstler. He has that enviable talent of being able to re-create history on canvas and to translate events into art.”

You don’t just see a Kunstler Civil War painting, you behold it. Most are powerful and the emotional impact is not predicated on battlefield blood and gore which Kuntler usually avoids. One memorable painting is centered on the casualties from the battle of Frericksburg. A  hospital is so overcrowded that the wounded spill onto the grounds.. While attending to wounded Union soldiers, a young Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, takes time to serve hot broth to a wounded, grateful Confederate soldier. Nearby, poet Walt Whitman is nusing another injured U.S. Army soldier. “Acts of compassion,” says Kunstler, “weren’t uncommon and I like painting them.”  

It would be normal to think you’ve seen some of Mort Kunstler’s works before. Chances are you have. His works are in museums, national parks, bookstores,  galeries, corporate collections and homes coast to coast. To this day, I’ve yet to see wall calendars half as good as those featuring  Kunstler’s paintings. “Three come out every year,” he revealed. “I think they do well.”

Presented to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Mort Künstler’s Civil War Art: For Us the Living exhibition at the Booth Museum traces the history of our Nation’s greatest conflict through the paintings of one of America’s greatest historical artists.  The exhibit, which continues through early September, features more than 40 major paintings, plus preliminary sketches, documentary photographs, studio artifacts and other objects Künstler uses to create his masterworks. One painting, “War is Hell,” is in the Booth Museum’s permanent collection. You can almost feel the heat and hear the cries of despair during the burning of Atlanta in 1864.

Mort Kunstler maintains a friendship with Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr., Civil War historian and author of Stonewall Jackson—The Man, The Soldier, The Legend. Robertson , who has wriiten much of the text in the book collections of Kunstler’s paintings, said that “Mort Künstler is the foremost Civil War artist of our time – if not of all time. To study his paintings, is to simply see history alive.”

The Booth Museum of Western Art is a worthy destination for those who love art and history. It is one of Georgia’s greatest cultural treasures. The family-friendly environment mirrors the easy-going charm of Cartersville, a dynamic city with wonderful restaurants, locally-owned shops, and good sidewalks made for strolling. Just off I-75, the museum is an easy drive from Atlanta or Chattanooga.

More information:

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Major League Baseball’s First Designated Hitter


By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-Druid Hills High School’s baseball program honored its most famous alumnus, baseball great Ron Blomberg, at a ceremony between the Druid Hills Red Devils' double-header with the visiting Decatur High Bulldogs and Greater Atlanta Christian. The amazing feats by Blomberg were recalled during the festivities, making a solid case that some of his achievements may never be equaled.


Blomberg, a giant among Georgia’s many sports successes, graduated from Druid Hills in 1967 and was a standout in football, basketball and baseball for the Red Devils. Also in 1967, he was the number one pick in the country by the New York Yankees in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and went on to enjoy an eight year career with the Yankees and the Chicago White Sox.

But it is was one position, an inaugural of sorts, where Ron Blomberg made his lasting place in baseball’s rich lore: He became the first Designated Hitter in big league history. In basball, unlike no other sport, such hallowed moments are never forgotten.

Nicknamed "Boomer," Ron Blomberg batted left-handed and threw right-handed, playing first base and right field and after his playing days became the manager of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox in the Israel Baseball League.

During his time at Druid Hills, a highly-respected school comfortably adjacent to the Emory University campus, Blomberg was more than an all-star in baseball, football and basketball. He remains the only athlete ever chosen for the Parade All-America teams in football, basketball, and baseball. He received 125 basketball scholarship offers, and John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach at UCLA, paid him a recruiting visit. Roger Couch, Blomberg's Druid Hills basketball coach, said he was “the finest basketball player I ever saw — high school or college."

Blomberg also received an astonishing 100 football scholarship offers.

During his eight year major eague career, Blomberg compiled an impressive .293 batting average.

Monday, April 4, 2011



“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."
                                      Bart Giamatti

ATLANTA. Baseball commands loyalty like no other sport. It embodies the American soul. During Civil War off days, both Union and Confederate soldiers played intramural baseball. It has always been a game associated with children, connecting generations with the days of innocence, green grass, fresh air and things cooking on the grill. From its earliest days, heroes emerged. Atlanta natives will tell you that Bob Montag, Dick Donavan, Chuck Tanner, Country Brown and the immortal Whitlow Wyatt, remain heroes from their championship seasons with the Atlanta Crackers, minor league baseball’s most famous and successful team and part of the Braves’ organization.

Brian McCann

At the north end of Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon Home Depot/Whole Foods parking lot stands an ancient and sacred magnolia, Atlanta’s Joshua Tree. This remaining connection to the baseball park once there lives thanks to activist Atlanta school children and sports fans who prevented its execution by crazed developers. Touch it, they say, and you can feel the presence of legends like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Eddie Mathews. Dekalb’s Tobie Grant had magic powers which she used to do good. When I was young, she told me to pray under its branches, something I still do when life gets complicated.

We’ll miss Bobby Cox, but Fredi Gonzalez, a native of Havana, Cuba, is big time, classy and can really coach. The combination of new kids and the veterans make this season interesting.

The Braves are very improved and the race to become champions makes the six-month season fun. This is a game that defies rules of logic and reason. Like Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”