Monday, July 30, 2007

Mom and Dad, I'm OK

Love ya.

And greetings from Australia, my kinda place.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And the Southern Cross

I'm leaving for L.A. tomorrow morning, then for Australia on Thursday. So I probably won't be posting for a couple of weeks, although you never know. Does Al Gore allow them to have the Internet over there?

Anyway, like many jackass Americans I plan on re-enacting most of this episode of the Simpsons while I'm in Australia:

In fact, if I don't get punched in the mouth by a Marine while I'm over there, I'll consider the entire trip wasted.

And, yes, I already checked. Toilets in America flush counter-clockwise.

Take care.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Spc. Daniel E. Gomez

These last three posts go together, and I had no way of knowing that would happen. This will be in tomorrow's paper:
A soldier from Warner Robins was killed in Iraq last week, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Army Spc. Daniel Enrique Gomez, 21, died Wednesday with three other American soldiers when their vehicle was attacked in Adhamiyah, Iraq, the department said.

"Right now we're kind of at a loss for words," Gomez's sister, Marian Gomez said Sunday night. "But I think Daniel's life was like a lesson. All the things he's been through in such a short time ... what we learned from this one situation was that you're here one day, you're gone the next. We hate to say it, but we're another statistic."

Marian said her brother attended Warner Robins High School, where he played football and was active in the ROTC. He was a company commander there, she said.

"He was well loved," Marian said. "We had a vigil last night and tons of people showed up. More than we ever expected. He touched a lot of people's lives."

Gomez would have been in Iraq a year next month, said Marian, who is in the Coast Guard. He had been home recently, but returned to Iraq in early June, she said. He has a younger brother who is 13 and his father served in the Air Force, she said.

The other soldiers killed in the attack, according to the DOD, were: Sgt. 1st Class Luis E. Gutierrez-Rosales, 38, of Bakersfield, Calif., Spc. Zachary R. Clouser, 19, of Dover, Pa., and Spc. Richard Gilmore III, 22, of Jasper, Ala.

As of Sunday, at least 3,632 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,977 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

I talked below about feeling like a vulture some times. We found out about this late. So at nearly 10 o'clock on a Sunday I started calling every Gomez in the Warner Robins phone book and asking if they knew a soldier named Daniel.

At about the dozenth call, his sister answered the phone. Daniel Gomez deserved to have his name on the front page of The Macon Telegraph tomorrow, in the top story, with the biggest headline.

And he deserved to have someone who knew him speak. I'm grateful to Marian for doing so, and for sharing her brother, again.

Something she said struck me, but it didn't make the story. You know how you pass something in a store, maybe it's a card, or a small gift - something that reminds you of someone? Those things mean a lot, she said.

"Don't pass it by," she said.

This world will chew you up and spit you out. And, in the end, all we really have are the people that we care about.

Please be careful out there

And wear your seat belt. All it takes is the wrong instant of lapsed control and your life can change forever. This will be in tomorrow's paper:
A horrific interstate wreck killed two members of a Lizella family Saturday evening and injured the other four.

The entire family was ejected from their Chevrolet Suburban when it flipped on Interstate 75 just south of Ashburn in Turner County, according to the Georgia State Patrol. None of them were wearing seat belts, according to the patrol.

A baby boy was in his car seat, but the seat wasn't buckled into the car because his father had the child on his lap to attend to him, senior trooper David Grantham said.

When emergency personnel arrived at the scene, family members were in the road and the baby, still in his car seat, was crying, Grantham said.

Vickie Fortson, 38, was killed instantly, Grantham said. Her 4-year-old daughter, Tamara, was dead when she arrived at Tift Regional Medical Center.

The father, Lamar Fortson, had surgery and is recovering today at Tift Regional, according to nursing supervisor Carol Thurber. The baby, Victor, and 9-year-old Ariel Fortson, were taken to another hospital. Erin Fortson, 7, was treated in the emergency room and is OK, Thurber said. She is with family members at Tift Regional, Thurber said.

"Big, supportive family," Thurber said.

It appears the Suburban ran into the median just past a lane-shift in an interstate construction zone, Grantham said. Victoria, who was driving, over-corrected and the vehicle flipped, he said. It was about 5:45 p.m. on a clear evening, the road was dry and alcohol is not thought to be a factor, he said. Grantham said there was a little bit of luggage in the vehicle, but he wasn't sure where the family was traveling from.

"Just one of them things. ..." Grantham said. "The children's what really affects you."

Bentley and Sons Funeral Home has charge of the arrangements.

These stories are hard to write. I don't have to do it often because I focus on politics these days. But every now and then I pull a Sunday shift, which is mostly calling police departments and trolling for terrible things that happened.

Being a cops reporter, and writing these things every day, is tough. I did it for about a year and a half at a paper in North Carolina. I knew it was time to get out when I was talking to a woman whose son had been gunned down in the street, and I realized that I didn't care. I had become numb to it.

I rationalized this with an old proverb: "You can't weep for everyone when you live next to the graveyard."

But the truth was I felt less human.

The Telegraph's cops reporters and photographers get called to some pretty grisly scenes, and it happens pretty often. They get called vultures and other mean things because they're trying to get the story.

I assure you, they're not doing it out of some sick, personal curiosity. They're doing it because those same people who call them names will read that story first in the morning paper. Stories about crime and death are almost always our most read stories online.

I've known reporters who filed a story, then broke into fits of sobbing over some of what they wrote. And you do feel like a vulture sometimes, and you want to ignore things.

But you don't, and then at night you feel a little hollow.

I decided a long time ago that writing about other people should make you feel terrible quite often. And that anything less than the truth, no matter how terrible, is an insult to life.

If you pray, please pray for the Fortson family.

Like it's the very last day

Is there any other way to live? And do we ever really do that?

I'm gonna tell you right now
Like it's the very last day...

Friday, July 20, 2007

The way soldiers should be treated

I saw this in the paper this morning.

It's about a bunch of people who make sure soldiers returning from Iraq have someone to greet them when they get back to America. That's bad ass.

A friend of mine was killed in Iraq last year, and a group called The Patriot Riders showed up to ride their motorcycles in the funeral procession. Then they stood quietly and watched the entire burial of a young soldier they never met.

Between them, and the folks who lined the roadways in Athens waving flags and holding their hands over their hearts, let me tell you: It meant a whole hell of a lot to her family.

The immortal # 62

The boys at Georgia Sports Blog have some YouTube up of Charley Trippi, who some old timers swear was the greatest athlete Georgia ever produced. Look at the highlights. Then consider that he played defensive back, running back, quarterback and baseball, and there's an argument.

Bear Bryant said he was the greatest safety to ever play in the South. He also won the Maxwell award, which goes to the country's best offensive player. Plus, anyone whose resume looks like this:

National title -> World War II -> Undefeated season -> No. 1 draft choice -> pro football hall of fame

has a pretty good resume.

I met Trippi once, and asked him why he wore the #62, which is odd for a defensive back or a backfield player.

He said it was because "the guy in front of me got 61."

Seriously, folks, as soon as time travel is invented (shouldn't be long now) I'm headed to the 1945 Oil Bowl to see a play listed in the Georgia Media Guide as "Trippi's Immortal Punt Return."

Here's my December, 2005, interview with Trippi from The Telegraph's archives:

TELEGRAPH: You spell Charley with a y. Is there a story behind that?

TRIPPI: Never really discussed it. Just to put down Charles doesn't sound athletic. Charley sounds athletic.

TELEGRAPH: In 1946 you guys went 11-0 but Notre Dame was generally considered the national champion. It that something that bothers you --- then or now?

TRIPPI: As long as you win it doesn't make any difference. We felt like we were champions in our own way. Notre Dame always got preference in everything.

TELEGRAPH: What about the number 62? I don't know about back then, but now you wouldn't see a safety or a halfback wear No. 62.

TRIPPI: Lot of people ask me about that number. Well, when I was a freshman the guy in front of me got 61, I got 62. And I kept it. There's no fascination with the number or anything, I just took what they gave me. Back when I played at Georgia we didn't negotiate numbers with (Coach Wally) Butts. ... I'd be afraid to go see Coach Butts and say, 'Hey, I want a different number.'

TELEGRAPH: Give me one story back from your days as a player.

TRIPPI: We played in the Sugar Bowl, New Year's Day '47. Normally (in New Orleans) you feel like you're going to be living comfortable. We slept in the Tulane gym on cots the night before the game. Coach Butts was going to make sure nobody got out of line.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Some questions there are no answers to.

There's not much I can add, except that I didn't know Erick could write like that. And if you'd like more information on this terrible, terrible story, the article is here.

"The Needham hex holds true."

I love pieces about "super fans" who clearly aren't anywhere near the stadium on game day. When they're delusional fools from Auburn, so much the better.

Perhaps the best line in a sea full of gems: "It's an imaginary orb."

Yes, it is.

God bless the boys at Georgia Sports Blog, for bringing news of this mouth-breather into my life. And everyone feel free to forget that this guy was one of our own.

"Because, if you like weed, you should have some at your house."

A buddy of mine sent me this in light of Michael Vick's indictment, which I'm sure you heard about, so I won't link it. Still hilarious.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Also, it goeth before the fall, I hear

I've been stressed lately. Because of work, which is OK because I think the news is important, and worth worrying about.

But I'd rather be cool and steady, like a monk, or Coach Richt.

But, more generally, I think that pride leads to stress.

And I think that about most of the things I get upset over in life, this can be said: That's a silly thing to get upset about.

Seriously, the guy is James Bond. AP image from the 2002 Sugar Bowl.

Nothing finer in the land

I'm going to write up a story that a friend of mine told me about his "business trip" to Austin, where another friend of ours lives. I'm trying to figure out if these stories, hilarious when we tell them, stay funny in print.

For the purposes of this blog, their names will be "Red" and "Black," for reasons that should become obvious.

My buddy Red had to go to Dallas and Austin for business, including some sort of convention with a bunch of Texas sheriffs.

So he goes to see our buddy Black Friday afternoon in Austin, and they hang out for a while at his place, which I imagine involves beer. They head out for the night.

Red told me they went to the nicest steakhouse in Austin, which he said is comparable to a Ruth's Chris or another really expensive steakhouse. Red wore shorts. Black had on a backwards baseball cap.

They sat at the bar for about two hours. Then they decided to have dinner.

After dinner they headed outside, thinking it was getting late. The sun was still up. So they were standing there, trying to decide how best to spend the evening. And Black says "Strip Club."

If you didn't say "Of course" there, stop reading.

Two hours later I got a call from Red. Most of it was unintelligible. He called me back a little later from a cab, where he and Black were doing Georgia cheers. I hung up shortly after I heard Red say "Yeah, I'll go to Europe with you. Are we gonna blank some blanks in Europe?"

I hung up. I figured it wouldn't get better than that. But I talked to him again on Sunday.

After the strip club Red and Black headed to a dueling piano bar. Why has not been explained to me.

As they walked one of the pianists had just finished playing the Texas fight song. You should probably already know where this is going.

They gave the piano guys $20 to play the Georgia fight song. They got up on stage and gave the Texas "hook 'em horns" sign, upside down. Red tells me this is "like flipping someone off in Texas."

So after the Georgia fight song plays, some of the Texas folks are trying to pay the piano guys to play the Texas fight song again. Trust me, they messed with the wrong idiots.

Two hours and $400 later (not including whatever they spent on their own drinks and drinks for what I'm sure was any lady in the bar) the bartender announced that "It looks like we've got a Georgia bar right here in Austin, Texas."

Damn straight.

As my buddy Red said: "It was me and Black's bank account versus the bar's, and we won. Or lost."

Red had to go to his convention on Saturday. He said every sheriff in Texas wears tight jeans, a big belt buckle and a hat.

He was so hungover he could barely speak.

Paging Marisa Miller

Someone asked me yesterday what I wanted in a woman. It seems like a hard question, but really it's not.

All I want is someone who sees right through me.

And also hot.

Sittin' around, waitin' on an airplane
Don't know how to fly, but that's OK
Got me a pilot, and she's going my way
She's got wings, she's got wings
-Widespread Panic

Monday, July 16, 2007

The person I'd like to be

Saturday evening I went to Target to pick up a couple of things. As I pulled into the parking lot the bottom dropped out of the sky, so I put on my jacket as I got out of the car.

There was a pretty young redhead (a little too young for me, relax, Cindi) under the overhang, waiting out a storm that simply wasn't going to let up. She was wearing a casual black dress that was still a little much for a shopping trip to pick up laundry detergent and fabric softener.

Maybe the dress was all that was clean. I don't know. Anyway, I thought about offering her my jacket so she could go out to her car, then she could drive back to the front of the store and hand it back out of the window.

It would have been a simple thing to do. But I didn't do it. "She'll think that's weird," I decided. So I smiled a "hey, it's really raining" smile at her and walked by.

Well no more of that. I want to be the person who makes a fool of himself, if that's what it takes, helping others. The one who is overly chivalrous. The one who stops for people on the side of the road. The one who takes the extra moment or two on a busy day to make people happy.

Of course, I've always wanted to be that person, so we'll see how it goes. If you know me, feel free to hold me to this.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Here Whitesnake goes again

This was on the radio when I got in the car this morning. Is there a guy my age who didn't love this video as a kid?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Go read Danny's blog

There's not a ton of downtime in my work day, but when there is I like to check up on Danny Gilleland, the senior photographer here at The Telegraph. By the way, The Telegraph has an impressive photo staff, particularly for a paper of its size.

Danny puts up some of his favorite photos, and along the way gives advice to aspiring photographers.

This is my favorite string of pictures from Danny's blog.

Unalienable (as long as you have a lawyer)

While I'm ranting about commercials...

I saw one for the State Bar of Georgia last night. I assume the point it was making was: Lawyers = good. But the idea behind it was patently ridiculous.

The commercial said that, without lawyers to defend it, the U.S. Constitution was just a piece of paper.

Not to split hairs, you know, like a lawyer or anything, but I don't think that's true. Allow me to quote from the Constitution itself:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, dor ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States.

I skimmed the rest of it, and must have missed the part that said "You know, as long as there are lawyers. If there aren't, you can just use this as scrap paper to take phone messages on."

I guess I'll call the state bar to give them a chance to comment on this.

Furthermore your affiant sayeth not.

I think it's the music that does it.

If I seen another iphone commercial I think I might ikill Steve Jobs.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Me, I probably spilled whiskey

The other day the guys at Georgia Sports Blog put up video of Odell Thurman's 99-yard interception return from the 2003 Auburn game.

Paul Westerdawg called it "the loudest thing I've heard in Sanford Stadium."

That's tough to say, but hard to argue with. Normally I'd just link to their post, but there's a story about this play I've always loved.

A buddy of mine was in the bathroom near the student section when it happened. He said he heard this incredible roar and, when he looked up, the concrete girders above him were shaking.

He said the sound was amazing and continuous. But after about 6 seconds it got even louder and he thought the stadium might come down around him.

"Whoa," he thought. "I missed something good."

Very true. By the way, we won that game 26-7.

Dan Patrick leaving ESPN

I just heard Dan Patrick say on his radio show that he's leaving the network Aug. 17. And ESPN has confirmed it to The Detroit Free Press.

Damn shame. The guy's entertaining.

"The ancestors in Heaven are crying."

The forgiveness, responsibility and strength of character it took to be a part of this blows me away. This is how things change. Let's have more of it.

Descendants of slaves, slave owners reunite in south Bibb.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The 2007 Atlanta Soap Box Derby

I took the ole moving picture camera to the soap derby in Atlanta this weekend. A friend of mine invited me to it, and some friends of his put this thing on. I'm amazed how well they pulled it off.

Wish I could say the same for the video, but there is footage of people wrecking.

And Molly Hatchet.

Friday, July 6, 2007

"We were out of it and gone. Miracle!""

Basically, I got nothing today. Luckily this, from a couple of weeks ago, is awesome.

Run Lindsay.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

More fireworks

A shot I took.


I went last night to see the local fireworks show and my friend (and fellow reporter) Jennifer Burk shot some video. By the way, dogs do not like fireworks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Civil Disobedience and Democracy in America

AKA what government should be, individualism, a counter-friction to stop the machine, the tyranny of the majority and Civil Disobedience, bitches.

From Civil Disobedience:
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? ...

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

From Democracy in America:
When I refuse to obey an unjust law, I do not contest the right of the majority to command, but I simply appeal from the sovereignty of the people to the sovereignty of mankind. Some have not feared to assert that a people can never outstep the boundaries of justice and reason in those affairs which are peculiarly its own; and that consequently full power may be given to the majority by which it is represented. But this is the language of a slave.

A majority taken collectively is only an individual, whose opinions, and frequently whose interests, are opposed to those of another individual, who is styled a minority. If it be admitted that a man possessing absolute power may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should not a majority be liable to the same reproach? Men do not change their characters by uniting with one another; nor does their patience in the presence of obstacles increase with their strength. For my own part, I cannot believe it; the power to do everything, which I should refuse to one of my equals, I will never grant to any number of them.

Happy July 4.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Great moments in voicemail history

I meant to post this over the weekend. A buddy of mine called about 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning (aka early in the Saturday evening drinking hours) and left the message below. No names unless he asks me to include it. He knows who he is. And he's hilarious.

"Hey, mother $^@$er, this is God. And I've decided to kick you out of the universe."

While I'm at it, a couple of other gems from my friend:

About a guy with a hangover: "He looked like the dinosaurs after the bomb went off."

And on women: "We win some and we lose some. And we always lose more than we win."

America the beautiful

This Sunday we ran a compilation from Middle Georgia folks about what makes them red, white and blue. I had a few beers and wrote my own essay.

This being America, no one stopped me. May the idea that is this country echo forever throughout mankind.
I love our National Anthem, our flag, the opening lines of The Declaration of Independence and the idea that all men are created equal.

I love cold beer and whiskey and the smell of a grill. I like closing my eyes on a Saturday in October and hearing friendship all around me.

I love The Crisis, by Thomas Payne, and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau.

I love Rock and Roll and The Blues. I love the way that even people who hate each other most days will stand together when needed, like a family that's been insulted.

I know that we can never be conquered. And that, though we may sometimes be our own worst enemies, our better angels will get the best of our demons here in America, my home, my country, this land that I love.

I love the fact that America is not a place so much as an idea.

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, over the land of the free and the home of the brave?

It sure as hell does.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

And you have heard that it was said

For some time now I've been working on an essay about the difficult necessity of turning the other cheek, and how violence begets violence.

There are a lot of drafts. As if I could improve upon the book of Matthew, or the teachings of a thousand wise philosophers.

I'm reading a book now called "Strength to Love." It's a collection of some of Martin Luther King Jr's sermons. I recommend it. I'm going to excerpt here from a sermon called "Loving your enemies."

There is so much hate in this world. I don't know much, but I know you can't fight it with hate.
Probably no admonition of Jesus has been more difficult to follow than the command to "love your enemies." Some men have sincerely felt that its actual practice is not possible. It is easy, they say, to love those who love you, but how can one love those who openly and insidiously seek to defeat you? Others, like the philosopher Nietzsche, contend that Jesus' exhortation to love one's enemies is testimony to the fact that the Christian ethic is designed for the weak and cowardly, and not for the strong and courageous. Jesus, they say, was an impractical idealist.

In spite of these insistent questions and persistent objections, this command of Jesus challenges us with new urgency. Upheaval after upheaval has reminded us that modern man is traveling along a road called hate, in a journey that will bring us to destruction and damnation. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, the command to love one's enemy is an absolute necessity for our survival. Love even for enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of our world. Jesus is not an impractical idealist: he is the practical realist.

The sermon goes on to delve into the difficulties and practicalities of forgiving an enemy. I found it very enlightening. And depressing, because I can't see most people actually doing it. Is our country not now engaged upon a war of vengeance?

I'll excerpt a bit more. Dr. King was speaking primarily of the civil rights movement, but the words speak to so much more. And the "non-cooperation clause," so to speak, leaves room for physical force to protect the people, and the right, when they need protecting. It would appear that I am not a complete pacifist.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says "Love your enemies," he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? ...

To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. ...

Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him. May we in the twentieth century hear and follow his words - before it is too late.