Tuesday, September 20, 2011


               STONE MOUNTAIN PARK

By Doc Lawrence

Gov. Nathan Deal at Stone Mountain Ceremony

The Civil War and its impact on the military and civilians of the states involved in the conflict came to life at Stone Mountain Park. Representatives of the Southern states of the Confederacy came to the highly popular park just outside Atlanta to rededicate the 13 terraces located near the base of the granite monolith.

The event, part of the park’s Civil War Sesquicentennial program, was launched by welcoming remarks from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal who, with the carving of Southern heroes Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson as a backdrop, praised Stone Mountain Park for its continuing appeal to tourists from throughout the world and meaningful, relevant historic preservation.

The representatives shared stories about the human side of the Civil War never before told at Stone Mountain Park, impacting young and old alike, and the new educational markers at each terrace highlighted the respective state’s deep participation in the events of 150 years ago that are being commemorated through 2015.

The participants with their fascinating stories included a North Carolina sailor and the role of the Navy during the Civil War, a female soldier from Missouri who fought alongside the men and where she fell within the ranks, the life of a young lady at a women’s college in Columbia, Tennessee with a display of gowns that a lady might wear. Kentucky featured a skilled presentation by a re-enactor portraying Kentucky General Simon Bolivar Buckner who discussed his friendship with General U. S. Grant.

The heralded Eighth Regiment Band, entertaining guests with impressive Civil War period music, magnificently represented Georgia. The spirited band uses instruments of the era and is headquartered in Rome, Georgia.

It was early on a late summer morning and the grandeur of the event seemed to touch heartstrings. The eloquent Hermina Glass-Avery, a professor at Kennesaw State University also spoke. “These moments bring us together as we remember, enabling us to better understand and to honor the power of redemption,” she told the audience.

Florida has its own distilled spirit-Vodka:
Salsa like no other:

Thursday, September 15, 2011



NEW YORK, NY - Earlier this year, California wine expert James Laube wrote that “Inglenook is to Napa what Margaux is to Bordeaux – one of wine’s crown jewels.” On September 24th, Christie’s New York will offer wine collectors a rare opportunity to bid for some of these “crown jewels,” as the auction house presents a special selection of legendary bottles direct from the private cellar of Inglenook owner Francis Ford Coppola, including two bottles of the legendary 1941vintage.This autumn’s auction coincides with a particularly exciting period for Inglenook, marked by Francis Ford Coppola’s recent reacquisition of the historic name and the appointment of a new
Estate Manager and Winemaker, Philippe Bascaules. Inglenook is an important cornerstone of the Napa Valley. Ever since itsinception in 1879, Inglenook founder Gustave Niebaum promised to make wines that would “be sought for by connoisseurs and will command as high a price as the famous French, German and Spanish wines.” His dream was made a reality by the legendary winemaker John Daniel Jr., who produced the estate’s highly acclaimed vintage wines from 1933 to 1964.

Since purchasing the property in 1975, Coppola has tirelessly reconstructed and restored the estate to its former glory. The upcoming auction at Christie’s, appropriately codenamed “Renaissance,” offers fine wine collectors the opportunity to purchase bottles so rare that only a handful remain in the original cellars at Inglenook. To mark the occasion for posterity, successful bidders will receive a handwritten note from Francis Ford Coppola with each bottle purchased, in custom-made wooden box designed specifically for this sale.

These legendary vintages are among the highlights of Christie’s day-long auction on September 24 at its Rockefeller Center saleroom. A truly unique offering is a bottle so rare that the estate would only part with one: the 1935 vintage from the “Golden Era” of John Daniel Jr. wines (estimate: $600 – 800). Equally rare is Lot 56 – a two-bottle lot of the celebrated 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon – a wine James Laube has called “among the greatest red wines ever made” (estimate: $8,000 – 12,000). Christie’s wine specialists agree, noting that the 1941 vintage can rightly take its place among vinous legends like the 1945 Mouton-Rothschild, 1982 Lafite Rothschild, 1900 Margaux, 1961 Latour and 1989 Haut Brion, some of the most celebrated, most valuable and longest lived Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines in the world today.

Sanford, Florida is a folk art center:

Monday, September 12, 2011





By Doc Lawrence

SANFORD, FL-Florida’s interior is very different from the resort glitz of Miami Beach. In vibrant Sanford, you find what tourism officials call original Florida, a place where settlers came and stayed and even today, food reflects the agriculture of the state. Here, farm to table isn’t a marketing slogan, it’s a way of life.

Jeanine Taylor’s renowned art gallery in downtown Sanford specializes in folk art. Self-taught artists you want to know have their works here: Missionary Mary Proctor, O.L. Samuels, Purvis Young, Ruby Williams and Woodie Long. The spectacular landscape paintings of the fabled Florida Highwaymen are also exhibited. .

Some that grab your attention are by Ab the Flagman. I met Ab, a bright and soft-spoken man, a decade ago along the banks of the Black Warrior River near Tuscaloosa, Alabama at an event called Kentuck, for over 35 years a folk art weekend like no other. Ab’s flags made of scrap wood attracted many others and me and after a chat with the artist I became a fan.

Since that day, I’ve seen Ab’s flags throughout the country. Now, there’s one on my wall.

Versatility best describes Ab. An accomplished blues singer, guitarist and composer, his band, the X-Miss America’s can lay down a boogie or wail about love and loss, all within the confines of a honky tonk. “The Blues has no boundaries,” Ab said.

Born into a military family and raised in Georgia, Ab became enamored with the American flag at a young age. When he was seven, his father died and the flag that draped the coffin took on new meaning.

Like many folk artists, Ab uses found objects, often uncovering his materials from abandoned barns, mills and factories in the South.

Ab's work is found in many prestigous public and private collections, including Orlando’s House of Blues, the Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and the Orlando Chamber of Commerce. He was commissioned by the Atlanta Olympic Committee to make several large scale flags to hang in the 1996 Summer Olympic Village, a recognition that his flags symbolically capture the spirit of America through grass-roots inspired themes.

Sanford is an easy drive from urban Orlando and laid-back Titusville, a nationally popular fishing and outdoor recreation destination on the Indian River. Like similar Florida cities, Sanford has its own identity and local food is a rewarding culinary adventure. There are mom and pop cafes and diners where breakfast is still celebrated with a touch of yesterday

From Key West to Pensacola, Florida folk art is somewhere. The artists range from memory painters to visionaries who communicate with worlds we don’t always understand. The artists are muticultural and mirror the richness of Florida’s population. Much like the frustration of trying to definine the blues, jazz or even rock and roll, folk art doen’t lend itself to an easy description. For collectors, that may be a compnent of its visual and investment value.

Sanford is vibrant and livable. Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery is a top attraction and the art inside is spellbinding. When Ab isn’t looking for wood and creating his amazing art, he’s playing the blues. If he’s not wailing at a honky-tonk somewhere, there’s a good chance you’ll meet Ab.

There is no doubt you will see his works on the walls. These are not your ordinary flags.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011



By Doc Lawrence

STONE MOUNTAIN PARK, GA-Many claim that this particular yellow daisy is not only indigenous to this giant solid granite mountain but can be found nowhere else on earth. With that kind of advantage and exclusiveness, a festival was inevitable.
This weekend marks the 43rd edition of the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain Park, the largest outdoor arts and crafts show in the South held September 8 – 11. An end of summer chance to enjoy food, music, outdoor fun and shopping.

Featuring an army of artists, the Yellow Daisy Festival is consistently voted one of the nation’s top arts and crafts shows and remains unchallenged as one of America’s favorite and best attended park events.

The Yellow Daisy Festival features 425 crafters and artists from across the U.S. The artists are selected from a pool of applicants by the Yellow Daisy Jury to display their distinctive hand-made work in categories such as pottery, fabric, painting, jewelry, sculpture, dolls, photography, fine arts and crafts and traditional arts and crafts.

“One of the best things about the Yellow Daisy Festival is seeing the same shoppers year after year,” said Wendy Thomas, Stone Mountain Park Special Events Manager. “Generations of women come in groups to spend the day shopping and socializing; it is a unique aspect of this event.”

The annual celebration attracts an estimated 200,000 guests to the four-day event.

In remembrance of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, select Yellow Daisy Festival crafters are donating a piece of their artwork to be sold in a “We Remember” display. All proceeds from these sales will go to HeroBox, (http://www.herobox.org/), a non-profit organization that supports deployed American service members.

Climb the mountain; watch the flights at the International airport, marvel at Atlanta’s skyline and gaze at the Blue Ride Mountains. At night, count the falling stars. For fine dining, it’s a short distance to the elegant Marriott Evergreen Conference Resort.

I’ll be there, walking, interviewing, photographing and buying creations that will brighten the walls of my nearby home. I hope to meet many of you.

Tailgating recipes? Favorite tailgating photos? See this for details about getting them published free: http://www.winesdownsouth.com/tailgating/Tailgatin.pdf

Thursday, September 1, 2011




 By Doc Lawrence

DECATUR, GA-There’s always music, food, beverages and the usual festival fare, but this magnificent city offers much more. Pedestrian friendly sidewalks with street lamps, courthouse lawns perfect for sitting, park benches, an increasing number and variety of truly wonderful restaurants and one of Georgia’s top wine shops, Doug Bryant’s Sherlock’s.

 Decatur is a city within a city, surrounded by Atlanta's suburbs and adjacent to Emory University. The hometown of New York Times' best-selling author Roy Blount, Jr. and The Indigo Girls, this is a town where reading, the arts and the higher life is promoted and celebrated. The perfect spot for this edition of the Decatur Book Festival, the annual Labor Day holiday event that is cranking up this Friday.

This year at the festival, Theatrical Outfit — Atlanta’s third oldest professional theater company — will present two separate stage offerings: a full-cast performance of selected scenes from Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s world premiere drama The Green Book and a first-ever workshop of Tom Key’s stage adaptation of Eudora Welty’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Optimist’s Daughter, with original music composed and performed by musicians/vocalists Kate Campbell and Caroline Herring.

The Green Book was a manual informing African American tourists of safe places to dine and lodge during the tumultuous Jim Crow era—an important book in more ways than one. As part of a special presentation at the Festival, Theatrical Outfit and the Center for Puppetry Arts will share and discuss their two new productions “The Green Book,” and “Ruth and the Green Book,” both written by Calvin Ramsey, who will also be joining in the discussion.

The Atlanta Opera has commissioned a one-hour children’s opera around the famed tales of Brer Rabbit — popularized by Joel Chandler Harris — for its 2011-2012 season, and the Festival will have a special presentation about its development and creation as well as a sneak peek of some of the songs.

Take time to visit the Dekalb History Museum in the Old Courthouse, and walk the paths of the Old Decatur Cemetery. Agnes Scott College is peaceful and will remind you of places of higher learning in Europe. Decatur High School, one of Georgia’s oldest institutions, has a proud history that increases each year.

Decatur is a progressive city that spends energy and resources towards making living better. It has few counterparts in the South and you can ride the MARTA rail smack-dab in the middle of everything.

More information: www.decaturbookfestival.com
Read about the place where the March to the Sea began: