Friday, September 15, 2017

Poles-A Love Story


~Doc Lawrence

The word has a ubiquitous presence in our vernacular: pole beans and pole cats rank right alongside tad poles, pole dancers and pole vaulting. Utility poles are perhaps the ugliest blight along streets and highways, exceeded only in aesthetic revulsion by monk fish. If you’ve been spared seeing this still alive sea creature just before being sliced into overpriced filets, avoid it at all costs.

After days of being in the dark and hearing everything that is wrong blamed on Irma and beautiful trees, I did my own very unscientific observation, and still find myself unable to shed a tear for utility poles with power lines hanging down like dead, rotting serpents. The fallen oaks and pines in my little world, are to be mourned.

Curley Burnell: Jackie Gleason's Twin?
Once young pine saplings are matured on “pole farms” the straightest ones are cut, stripped bare, “cured” in creosote (few things outside a sewage treatment plant rival the stench) en route to subdivision streets and city sidewalks to be planted by what looks like the world’s biggest corkscrew, a preparatory ritual of planting before being adorned with power lines and an assortment of other conduits. The lower 10 feet are popular places for concert festival posters, strange upcoming events low budget political candidates lacking the funds for TV ads. “Ask me how I lost 100 pounds,” or “Bother Love’s Rockin’ Away Sin Revival” resonate on mounted pole placards.

Ever met a pole farmer? Curley Burnell, a retired high school football coach, maintains a pole tree farm in some hardscrabble  land passed along through inheritance since the Civil War. Ebullient Burnell, with a countenance that invokes images of Jackie Gleason’s Sheriff Buford T. Justice in “Smokey and the Bandit,” loves what he does. 

“Utility poles don’t hurt anyone,” he proclaims. “The economic benefits are obvious. How the hell are you ever going to deliver vital energy and communications by going underground?” he asks. What other see as blight, Burnell sees as paradise. “Straight up, reaching towards heaven, just doing what nature intended.”
Ugly and More Ugly

What about downed lines from winds, ice and falling trees? “We’re working on growing taller pine trees much quicker,” Burnell says. “If we can do a mission to Mars, we can grown poles faster and bigger. Count on it.”

Overflowing with information about this otherwise overlooked news story, Burnell believes that something he describes as “virtual current” is on the horizon. “Works like the Bitcoins,” he revealed. “You get it at home on your laptop, pay for it directly, and use what you need when you want it.” What about the poles? Why would you need them if this ever caught on? “Poles will be around as long as we have developers and local governments. Many places in the country still don’t have internet access and not everyone can afford a fancy computer.”

Coach Curley, as he likes to be called, is very likable and totally self-assured. I only wish that Lewis Grizzard was around to ask him the location of good barbecue joints.

Poles have a fan base. Poles make good cash flow. Some may think they have a more exalted place in popular culture than trees and public safety. For those who think they can change anything at the ballot box, or by lobbying or protests, Coach Curley Burnell is waiting on you. He is very formidable and says the Burnell coat of arms warns that his family loves a good fight. “Without our pole farm, we’d have to look at opening a hazardous waste dump. That’s not what we want to do.”

Monday, September 11, 2017

Theatrical Outfit's Hunchback of Notre Dame-A Relevant Classic

~Doc Lawrence

This musical dramatization of Victor Hugo’s epic early on has the ensemble singing, “What makes a monster and what makes a man?” The story addresses the mission of The Cathedral of Notre Dame: Is it a place of sanctuary for only those officially welcome while all others are consigned to exclusion? The Hunchback of Notre Dame opens Theatrical Outfit’s Season of Character, inspired by the observation of the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus that “character is destiny.”
Esmeralda and Quasimodo

With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and book by Peter Parnell,  the actors are deeply embedded in great literature. Dom Jean Claude Frollo (David De Vries) the archdeacon of Notre Dame, has a  mission to save souls from corrupt gypsies after sparing the life of his brother’s deformed child, Quasimodo (Haden Rider), who, from childhood on, is warned to never leave the sanctuary of Notre Dame.

A lonely Quasimodo finally leaves and encounters cruelty with no mercy. The gypsy Esmeralda (Julissa Sabino) intervenes, keeping a mob from Quasimodo, becoming his protector and Frollo’s sexual obsession.

Rider as Quasimodo gives a performance rarely seen on an Atlanta stage. A strong, emotion-filled voice parallels the physical demands of climbing ladders, lifting bodies, fighting off assaults, all while flawlessly singing of loneliness and love. Some moments are truly heartbreaking.

Ms. Sabino was born to be Esmeralda. Is she really a Gypsy after all? Her beauty is arresting and men, good and evil, find her irresistible. Her appeal reached into the audience.

The large ensemble adds depth with an assemblage of voices that when unified, rattled and shook the walls of Downtown Atlanta’s magnificent Rialto Theatre.

This is a large cast backed by the highest quality support. The scenes take on authenticity with Shannon Robert’s magnificently functional set design. The orchestra is talented, seamlessly matching every note of every song.

Julissa Sabino as Esmeralda
The Hunchback of Notre Dame has added relevance now. The nation is grappling with issues that many believed to be settled. Who do we want as neighbors? Would we look down on people who have different skin color or don’t share our religious beliefs? Long ago, Victor Hugo addressed these questions in the confines of a sacred cathedral in the beautiful city of Paris. 

Likely, we would never burn someone at the stake.  But, would a deformed man, otherwise pleasant and innocent, terrify us? Are we even close to judging, in Dr. Kings words, a man “not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character?” 


Through September17. theatricaloutfit.org. (678)528.1500

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Art of Tailgating



~Doc Lawrence

The game is hours away from kickoff but the masses of people, vehicles, tents, grills and tables occupy acres upon acres in lots near the football stadium. It seems that every available space is dedicated to food, cocktails, wines, iced tea and soft drinks.

Welcome to college football tailgating, a national and very friendly outdoor feast that is transcending the actual games in popularity. While the men-more given to beer and hot dogs-weren’t looking, the women, who long ago mastered home cooking and entertaining, came forward with more elaborate dishes, table decorations, wines, sangrias, serving everything in plates and glasses decorated in school colors. 

Women are winning this friendly competition. I’ve strolled through over 60 college tailgating areas over the years and can confirm that some of the dishes I’ve tasted put good restaurants to shame and the quality and diversity of beverages is improving by the week. We owe the girls a nod of thanks.

Photographing tailgating is difficult because of the huge perspective and the fact you cannot arrange the audience and scenery. But, the trained eye of an award-winning artist can accomplish wonders.

Olivia Thomason with her Stone Mountain Village Mural
“I’ve been tailgating,” says Atlanta artist Olivia Thomason, “and I love the combination of hospitality, tradition and serving wonderful food. It has the feel of a good backyard celebration.” With a roomful of trophies going back to her days as a gallery owner, Ms. Thomason recently completed “Great American Tailgating,” a whimsical, colorful interpretation of what she calls ‘the ultimate tailgating experience.” College banners are everywhere. The Goodyear blimp hovers over everything. There’s even a fortune teller selling predictions about the final score.

More than anything, there is overriding joy. In an era when it seems intolerance and nastiness are de regeur, it’s absent here. Olivia Thomason maintains that “these gatherings are almost always friendly and festive. Seniors playing with grandchildren. In Baton Rouge outside Tiger Stadium, I’ve seen folks dancing to live bands. No mater where you go, tailgaters insist you eat their good food and have a glass of something cold and delicious.”

Atlanta writer and historian Dick Funderburk owns some of Olivia Thomason’s paintings. “As someone who doesn’t particularly like football, I absolutely love this painting.”


NOTE: A limited number of 18"x24" high quality prints are for sale. Make checks payable to Big O Art for $28.00 + $5.00 postage and packaging. Include your address. Mail to:

Olivia Thomason
933 Gordon Street
Stone Mountain, GA 30083


Tune in to "Tailgating Down South"- http://speakingoftravel.net hosted by Marilyn Ball.

Monday, August 28, 2017

TAILGATING DOWN SOUTH-BORN IN A BATTLE

~Doc Lawrence

Frank Spence, Skilled Raconteur
It's the ultimate American feast where community literally means thousands gathering on a given Saturday somewhere in the college football stadium lots coast-to-coast. Tailgating conjures wonderful images of laughter, food, beverages, friendly folks dressed to reflect loyalties than often run deep. Here, there is one unifying purpose: feed the masses and win that game.

According to no less an authority than National Geographic, tailgating originated early in the Civil War. Frank Spence, a Nashville native who resides in Atlanta echoes this. Spence, a peerless raconteur now a retired Atlanta Falcons front office executive tells a spellbinding story. "Congressmen and their beautiful ladies arrived just outside Washington to view their 'team,' the boys in blue in the Union Army kick the Confederates from the fields of Manassas into oblivion." Stonewall Jackson's army, continued Spence, turned them back and "they fled back across the Potomac. The civilian revelers quickly followed in what history calls 'The Great Skedaddle,' leaving all the food and Champagne for Jackson's soldiers to enjoy."

One dessert, Charlotte Ruse, was in an abandoned wagon and soon after the end of the war, it was duplicated and served in Baton Rouge.

The celebration was brought home and blended into college football which emerged shortly after the war. Fans gathered peacefully, wearing colors associated with their favorite teams and over the years spread tailgating throughout the country. Today, it's just as much a part of a game day Saturday in Athens, Georgia as Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 The 2017 edition of tailgating kicks off this weekend with the historic double header in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz stadium with FSU taking on Alabama and Tennessee doing battle with Georgia Tech.

I'll be there looking for that gifted kitchen wizard who is talented enough to make and bring along a regal Charlotte Ruse.




Friday, August 11, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright's Florida Masterpiece-A Child of the Sun


Lakeland, a college town of 200,00, is home to the most buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a single site in the world. Florida Southern College brings visitors from the four corners to behold the 12 buildings, all connected by Wright's walkways he called Esplanades. The college is on the National Register of Historic Places and was named a National Landmark of the United States.


Wright the genius was also Wright the enigmatic architect. Controversial, daring, tragic and at all times revolutionary, the American design landscape would never be the same.

The college project became the longest-lasting commission of his life. Wright agreed to create a masterplan for the campus and to design 18 buildings. Ultimately, the college completed 12 structures during the historic 20-year expansion period. 

Described as"learning spaces, working spaces and gathering spaces." other architects have called the campus "Wright's Village" for the sheer number of Wright-designed buildings and because it is the finest example of Wright's style of "organic architecture" anywhere in the world.

Clean lines, natural design elements and locally sourced construction materials are hallmarks of Wright's work. The buildings reflect the unity of all things, and are built to a human scale, with similar construction materials. With the exception of one building, all are linked together by a series of covered walkways that Wright called "esplanades."

Wright's design was radically different from the typical design of an American college campus, an extension of his belief that Americans needed to create their own culture that was not based on classical or European design.

The Florida Southern campus was the first American college campus to be designed in the "modernist" architectural style. Geometric shapes and patterns are seen throughout the campus: circles bisect a rectangle. The Danforth Chapel incorporates triangular patterns and has a triangular-shaped roofline that extends out into a point.

Wright became familiar with local orange groves allowing the land to inspire him. Wright's design confirms that he understood the potential of the Florida landscape, and according to college archives proclaimed that "every building is out of the ground into the light — a child of the sun. Buildings should seem to grow from the earth and belong as a tree belongs."

Wright's first building was the magnificent Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, the spiritual centerpiece of the campus featuring a three-level concrete tower that rises to 65 feet. Each level of the concrete tower has a cutout geometric shape that resembles a "bowtie." That geometric symbol is now incorporated into the design of the official college logo.

The Water Dome, one of Wright's most impressive designs, is not a building. Wright thought of it as a gigantic circular "fountain of knowledge.Wright, in keeping with the mission of a center of higher learning, left a cultural heritage for future generations of Americans. This is original Florida. A  higher life. Wright's gift is his recognition that we are enriched when we stir the imagination.

(Images courtesy of Florida Southern College)




Friday, August 4, 2017

SOUTHERN MEMORIES-FOLK ART TREAURES

~Doc Lawrence

The headquarters for original folk art might just be in the central Florida town of Sanford. Jeanine Taylor’s gallery is located in a historic building downtown where she has showcased many artists of varying backgrounds and styles for years. The South is a trove for this cultural treasure and much of the art at this gallery is a mixture of well-known and emerging.

In other words, it’s fascinating.

Jeanine Taylor Folk Art’s fall gallery show looks at the specialty of memory painting through the eyes of Alabama’s Bethanne Hill, Florida’s Alyne Harris, Ken Gentle from Georgia, another Alabama artist Lucy Hunnicutt, and Atlanta’s Olivia Thomason.

Bethanne Hill’s slightly aboriginal southern landscapes dramatically contrast with Alyne Harris’ snapshots of southern life. Ken Gentle depicts sometimes ominous pastoral scenes of weather danger and desolation. Lucy Hunnicutt uses a bold primary palette coupled with collage to create scenes in jovial motion. Olivia Thomason’s works suggest childlike safety and comforting optimism.

Though all of these artists are considered memory painters, the mood each painter expresses couldn’t be more distinct. These artists portray Southern life but omit all signs of modernity and contemporary technology. Viewers will find common themes: haints, bottle trees, family gatherings, riverside baptisms, line dried clothes, country stores and tornadoes. 

Jeanine Taylor says that the warm southern breeze “will blow strong” for the opening reception for the public on Saturday, August 19th, adding that “sweet tea will be served.”

Jeanine Taylor Folk Art
 211 East First Street
Sanford, FL 32771

407-323-2774
www.jtfolkart.com




Sunday, July 23, 2017

Meet The Maya-James O'Kon's Marvelous New Book

~Doc Lawrence~

Atlanta-based Jim O'Kon's, Corn, Cotton and Chocolate: How the Maya Changed the World, is far more than a history book. It is readable, stimulating and each page seems to spring surprises. O'Kon, a professional engineer with a developed specialty as an archaeoengineer has investigated over 50 Maya sites. Vanilla, chocolate, corn, peanuts, cotton and pineapples are just a few of the Maya contributions from what O'Kon calls "the greatest agronomists in world history."

The book reveals that the Maya were the longest-lived civilization in history, beginning in 2500 BC on a time-line with the ancient Sumerians and terminating in 900 AD during the reign of Charlemagne. Their histories did not converge because the Maya and other world civilizations did not know of each other’s existence. The author describes the Maya as "the phantoms of history. They were the greatest agronomists in world history. Their cultivars nourished the Maya culture and enabled their rapid growth into a society of profound thinkers. After European contact, the inventive products of Maya agronomy were disseminated around the world."

 The integration of Maya cultivars into world cultures, observes the author, has changed the course of world history. "Maya science has changed the world. Maya Cultivars now feed and clothe the majority of the world’s population. They have increased the global population, started wars, overthrown monarchies, ignited the industrial revolution, initiated educational systems, started sports empires, changed the lifestyles of world cultures and have killed more people than all the wars in history. It will come as a surprise that history can be changed by a civilization that collapsed over a thousand years ago. Maya cultivars are living inventions that have become a part of the world's heritage and continue to make history."

For 300-plus pages, readers visit an advanced civilization, left wondering what our daily lives would be without their accomplishments. Their civilization destroyed itself through over-stripping the land, leaving them vulnerable to environmental changes. Our world, advises Jim O'Kon, should adopt a philosophical principle of the Maya: Remember the future to anticipate the past. As the future looms, Maya cultivars are still changelings in world affairs. Our future depends on a balance of the world's population and food supply.

Jim O'Kon is an optimist. His wonderful book is instructive and entertaining.

Available at Amazon.com 








Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blackberry Daze-Horizon Theatre's Dazzling Musical


~Doc Lawrence

After  a concert at Emory University years ago, Wyntonn Marsalis offered his interpretation of the blues, observing that it is a way to defy hardship and hopelessness through the power of music. “The blues,” he said, “helps you to never give in.” Horizon Theatre’s Blackberry Daze is more than a romantic journey into the heart of the South: it is a blues and jazz musical play propelled by powerful energy rarely seen on any stage south of Broadway. 

With a soulful, original music by William Knowles, this musical features 14 storytelling songs, presented in 1920 rural Virginia, displaying the challenges of three Black women, who are either married to, loved or betrayed by a hard-drinking, gambling dandy Herman Camm, portrayed brilliantly by TC Carson who seems created for this role. 
The story is tangled web built around Camm’s deceit while showing him to be, no matter how evil, almost irresistible except when he does the unthinkable to his step-daughter. Still, Camm, described in one unforgettable line as the type of man who was “cockle-doodle-doodling in a whole lot of hen houses,” makes the show, always dapper, looking like a version of Cab Callaway, singing, dancing, prancing his way into the hearts and beds of the many women he takes a shine to.

Sultry songs like “Layin’ It Down” evoke classic music in Porgy and Bess, but are at the same time contemporary, particularly with the outstanding accompaniment of pianist S. Renee Clark and virtuoso guitarist Spencer Bean. The dancing is flawless, the jazz simmers and the blues remain defiant.

Blackberry Daze is playing in the perfect city. Atlanta has a rich history of blues, gospel and jazz. Horizon Theatre’s production absorbs and skillfully interprets this heritage that is as enjoyable today as it was during the night club heydays along Sweet Auburn. An important part of Horizon’s New South Play Festival, it showcases the extraordinary talents of two Atlanta-based writer/creators Ruth P. Watson and Thomas W. Jones II.

The set design deserves praise for authenticity. You cannot overlook the remarkable period costumes. The music is flawlessly delivered. 

If you like your musicals served up with spirit and high energy, Blackberry Daze will satisfy you. It shakes and rattles for almost two magnificent hours.

Through August 27. horizontheatre.com; (404) 584.7450


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fire on The Fourth-A Summer Soiree

~Doc Lawrence~

They gathered in the greater Stone Mountain community just outside Atlanta, bringing gifts of smiles, embraces, barbecue, fresh vegetable sides, tequila, bourbon, beer and wine. From Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia and other far away places, the assemblage included musicians-pickers, drummers and singers-doing their interpretations of Van Morrison, Allman Brothers, Hank, Willie, Merle, The Band, Bob Marley and more from the late afternoon until well beyond the midnight hour.


No nightclub or honky tonk could celebrate America better. These guys were special and this part of North Georgia rocked.

The home and yard is "my spiritual garden," said host Franki Jewell, referring to myths and fables. Magic abounds here, she revealed. The positive kind that enriches mind and body.

The party was in keeping with traditions that George Washington and other Founding Fathers encouraged. Our first president, while commanding the revolutionary army, provided extra rations of rum on July 4 at his expense to his soldiers. John Adams encouraged commemoration with "pomp and parade, guns and bonfires forever more."

In that spirit, Americans, in their own way, privately and publicly celebrated the date America was born with races, fireworks shows, concerts, parades and events draped in red, white and blue.

Here, near the gigantic granite monolith, rock, country, folk and bluegrass music synthesized, fueled by good drinks, wonderful food surrounded by boundless human kindness that would have made Thomas Jefferson very proud.





Friday, June 30, 2017

All American Feast-With A Southern Accent

~Doc Lawrence~

Thomas Jefferson entertained when he wasn't writing revolutionary documents like the Declaration of Independence. He was also a master gardener who introduced the great wines of Europe into America, dreaming that the new nation might become a major wine producing country.
Emmy winner Lara Lyn Carter accomplished a bit of a miracle with her Public TV show, "Thyme for Sharing," by earning access to Jefferson's Monticello for her first episode. Many believe that this accomplishment tipped the Emmy votes in her favor. Before reviewing her original 4th of July Holiday recipes, take a few moments and join Chef Lara Lyn at the home of our third president. It's a perfect way to celebrate the birth of our wonderful country.






The fun is just beginning. Here are the recipes in time to shop, plan and do some advance work.  The Jefferson Culinary Heritage always includes good wines and cocktails. Let's keep everything in America, another way to pay homage to arguably our best home entertainer ever.


Liberty Bell Boston Butt  
5 pound pork Boston butt
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. seasoned salt
Combine seasoning together and rub meat with mixture. Put pork in the crock pot high for 4 hours then reduce to low setting for 4 more hours until it falls apart.


Land of the Free Chicken Marinade
1/4 cup Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 chicken breasts

Mix all ingredients together then pour over chicken allowing the chicken to marinate 2-4 hours before grilling.


        Independence Chocolate  Mousse Pie
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups whipping cream divided
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. confectioners sugar
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
1 chocolate cookie crust
Combine chocolate chips with 1/2 cup of the whipping cream and melt in the microwave for two minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Allow this chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. Stir 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar and 2 tbsp. of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey into the chocolate mixture. In a mixing bowl, whip 1 cup of whipping cream until soft peaks form. With the mixer on high speed, slowly add the chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and mix well. Spoon the mousse into the pie crust and chill for 3 hours. Whip the remaining 1/2 cup of whipping cream, 1 tbsp. confectioners sugar and 1 tsp. of Jack Daniel’s together. Slice the pie into 8 pieces and place a spoonful of whipped cream on top of slices before serving.

Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Baked Beans
1 lb. dry kidney beans
1 sweet onion quartered
4 quarts of water divided
Soak beans in 2 quarts of water overnight. Drain beans and discard the water. In a large pot, cook beans and onion in 2 quarts of water over medium-high heat for 45 minutes. Remove beans from heat, cover and allow beans to rest for 30 minutes.
Sauce
1/2 cup sorghum
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground clove
3 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sorghum, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, ginger, clove, and whiskey. Stir constantly until all of the ingredients have blended well and the sugar has dissolved. Pour beans with the water in a Dutch oven and pour sauce over beans and stir well. Cover beans and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.


Home of the Brave Vanilla Ice Cream
                                                                  1 cup sugar.
                                         3.75 ounce package of French vanilla pudding
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups half and half
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp. Jack Daniels
4 tbsp. pecan halves
2 tbsp. butter


Combine ingredients stirring until mixed well. Pour mixture into ice cream churn and freeze according to machine directions. In a skillet toast the pecans  with the butter and Jack Daniels and drizzle the sauce and pecans over the ice cream when serving.

Wines
Cynthiana is a native American grape. Jefferson was familiar with it and it was first produced into fine red wine in Virginia. Some Southern and Midwestern wineries have truly delicious, dry and food friendly bottles. Georgia's Three Sisters, Bean's Creek in Tennessee, Virginia's Horton Vineyards and Pontchartrain Vineyards in Louisiana produce wonderful Cynthiana that would make Jefferson proud. Also called Norton, it's the state wine grape of Missouri.
Blanc Du Bois was developed in Florida and is available throughout the country. This white wine has aspects of wines from Alsace in France, but it belongs to America.





Monday, June 26, 2017

C.S. LEWIS AT GEORGIA TECH


~Doc Lawrence~


ATLANTA-The play is subtitled "the most reluctant convert," and for nearly two fast-paced hours on a Sunday afternoon Down South the theater audience was ever so close to Oxford University, being taught and entertained by the one-time college Don, author, philosopher, storyteller and inventor of fables, C. S. Lewis. Actor/playwright Max McLean created and starred in the production before a packed house at the Ferst Center for the Arts on Georgia Tech's Midtown Atlanta campus.

The play, according to McLean, was largely Lewis' own words drawn from the large body of published works, but all before Narnia and prior to his marriage to Joy Davidman. McLean, a stage veteran who has starred in "Othello" and played Stanley in "A Streetcar Named Desire," along with many other plays, offered that his Atlanta performance was an exploration of Lewis' dramatic conversion to Christianity.

The script was vintage Lewis: witty, sarcastic, irreverent and at all times simmering with charm and good humor. No road to Damascus moment for Professor Lewis. He became a committed Christian riding to the zoo on a motorcycle with a friend.

Georgia Tech's Ferst Center
McLean heads the Broadway-based Fellowship For Performing Arts, a theatrical company that creates theatre from a Christian worldview. Bringing C.S. Lewis to this wonderfully busy city that honors the arts is a tribute to who we are and a challenge to extend ourselves to become even better. It is, after all, a momentous step toward a higher life.



Saturday, June 17, 2017

FATHER'S DAY MEMORIES

          ~Doc Lawrence~

"The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him."
                                  Proverbs 20:7

It’s not a big day for the fresh flower industry and most restaurants don’t expect large crowds, but Father’s Day carries a lot more importance than the window dressing of festivities. Not to discount tributes-they are important-but fatherhood carries many elements that merit pondering on the day set aside for remembering.

Dad was able to hang on to age 96.

His youth mirrored millions of other men of the era. Leaving the farm during the Depression, he found work in Atlanta and was a member of the construction crew at Bell Aircraft that built the legendary B-29. One of the giant bombers became the Enola Gay. Drafted during World War II, he fought across Europe under Gen. George Patton as a foot soldier in the legendary Third Army, later assigned to another army called the Thunderbirds and mustered out while serving as an MP in New Orleans after a spell as a bodyguard for General Jonathan Wainwright.

My mother had a boy’s army dress uniform made for me to wear when we greeted him at the station where he got off the famous train named The Crescent that connected New Orleans with Atlanta and points north.

He was movie star handsome, dressed fashionably and taught me to tie a perfect Windsor when I was eight.

Education and home ownership came through the GI Bill of Rights. Dad had a high opinion of FDR and Harry Truman and accomplished everything he could to better himself and his family during my baby days. The early years were tranquil and the only interruption was his determination to get a college education which he did taking night classes in college and graduate work in Indiana.

Healthy food was somehow always on the table. We dressed well for school and church, and the one thing he wanted for his three children was a good education. We went to college wherever we chose and honored his wish with diplomas.

He took pride in outliving almost everyone he knew or worked with except for one overbearing tragedy: the loss of his 28 year-old son, an event that nearly did what the Nazi’s could not.

My childhood memories include many fishing trips. Carrabelle, Florida where, at about 10 miles out, I got seasick and prayed for a merciful death. Freshwater fishing in Alabama on the Tennessee River. The pier in Lake Worth, Florida. Big game fishing in the Atlantic and a boatload of trout caught on the Florida’s Indian River. My preference for fresh fish has never lessened.

Baseball, whether I played or we went to see the greatest minor league team in history, the beloved Atlanta Crackers, was prime entertainment. His favorites (and mine) were Ralph “Country” Brown, a speedy centerfielder who never made to the big leagues and Eddie Mathews who did and joined Babe Ruth as the only player to hit a home over the centerfield “Baseball Magnolia” in Atlanta’s fabled Ponce de Leon ballpark.

The old tree still stands and I visit it occasionally, always thinking of the farm boy who survived war, worked hard, served his community well and gave me a jump start in life.

My father was a composite of Robert E. Lee and Billy Graham. A ferocious warrior who loathed war, a Southern gentleman and devoted Christian. A good and decent man who laughed out loud to the great stories from Jerry Clower and Lewis Grizzard.

Precious memories.





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Father's Day Gifts



~Doc Lawrence~      

He taught me how to win graciously and when faced with loss, to accept it with dignity. Fishing, baseball, grilling, hiking, swimming, good grades and good manners were core curriculum at home. Called upon to be the protagonist in much of life’s drama, father’s teach by example. My dad was a beautifully mannered, well-groomed, elegant Southern gentleman who did not suffer fools. I had him in mind when selecting a few gift ideas.
 
Whiskey for Father’s Day?  Handcrafted small batch Bourbon and Rye whiskey are hot items. Russell’s Reserve, a magnificent creation by Wild Turkey’s legendary Master Distillers Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell is a top choice for any father, a simple gift that tells a compelling father and son story. The Russell’s worked side-by-side for more than 30 years. As Jimmy approached his 45th anniversary with Wild Turkey, Eddie created Russell’s Reserve in honor of his father.

Russell’s Reserve, a 10 Year Old Bourbon is deep amber in color with a nose rich in vanilla, oak, toffee and a touch of old leather. The body is huge, and the palate is very spicy with notes of chili peppers, tamarind, almonds and cumin.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon is deeply complex with flavors of caramel, licorice, and vanilla. There will be slightly different characteristics from one barrel to another.
Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye is matured in the distilleries deepest No. 4 char barrels, producing complex but smooth flavors of allspice, pepper and almonds.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye is colored rich caramel and with a balance of spicy pepper, vanilla and caramel on the nose and palate.

My father loved to read.  John Grisham’s Camino Island, soon to be another number one bestseller, is the latest thriller from one of America’s favorite storytellers. The plot includes a theft of the original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald classics like The Great Gatsby with much of the intrigue set on a barrier island in North Florida. Dad will find this book a wonderful accompaniment with a late afternoon Old Fashioned Cocktail.

When was the last time you wrote a letter? Ashley Davis’s poignant A Life through Letters is about his father and his letters to those he loved prior to his death. His words resonate with love and is a gift any father will treasure. Toward the end of his life, despite extreme physical challenges, he composed letters to every person who had touched his life in some way. Empathy, altruism, fellowship, and devotion radiate from the letters, a testament to a father whose legacy might be to inspire fathers to write some letters of appreciation to family and friends.

Playful and colorful Knocks Socks allow cultured, affluent professionals to express their own individuality even when wearing business attire. These visually striking socks are for the man who likes to dress with class and sophistication while telling the world that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. As a Father’s Day gift, they transform a dull gift into something extraordinary. www.knockssocks.com

Speaking of feet, bring fun to Dad’s feet with Gold Toe. Designing socks with the finest yarns for 80 years to ensure long lasting, comfortable wear, Gold Toe, one of the most recognizable brands in footwear, adds a touch of festivity with the Men’s Fashion Singles featuring styles highlighting everything from parrots to paper airplanes and funky stripes.

June is also Men's Health Month and Father’s Day might be the perfect time to kick start a path to wellness. Start with a healthy breakfast with a focus on nutrients. Smoothies are easy to prepare and if Dad isn’t getting his daily fill of greens, add The Synergy Company’s juiced powders to your blended breakfast. Try organic Kale, Barleygrass or Wheatgrass. A premier organic supplement company: www.thesynergycompany.com.

Gobble's Gourmet Dinner
There are times when elaborate dinner preparation just isn’t practical. Appropriately named Gobble features a 10-minute preparation of a gourmet meal that is delicious. Gobble offers a wonderful selection that comes to your door by online order , safely and easy to refrigerate and prepare. The menus are chef creations with a wide range of selections. Order once each week and it arrives shortly with instructions for preparations. A high quality dinner with ample servings. www.gobble.com

My love for Community Coffee goes back to undergraduate days when as a member of the Florida State ROTC Drill Team, I marched in the Mardi Gras Day Parade. Breakfast each morning included cups of Community. Since then, I’ve had a penchant for the robust, rich taste. Dad will enjoy the Red Press Duo Gift Set, featuring a brushed red stainless steel French Press and Community’s Private Reserve Louisiana Blend—a rich, bold blend made with 100% specialty-grade Arabica coffee beans.
 
Pilot Pen has some upscale selections that are stylish and useful. Toss in the meticulously designed  Metropolitan with brass barrel and stainless accents, available in three premium matte finishes and barrel designs. The Gel Roller writes like a fountain pen and is attractive.

Joseph Abboud’s label covers a lodestar of men’s luxury clothing and accessories. Dad will know you invested in quality and beauty when he gets a pair of the Java horn and matte gold metal polarized sunglasses or the supple handmade leather wallet. Add some magic dust with a few silk pocket squares. Available at Men’s Wearhouse and Joseph A. Banks.

Almost everything can be ordered online. I use Amazon, problem free.