STAT OF THE WEEK: The Big Peach Is Juiced!

4 Feb

ATL_downtown view• Atlanta again has topped the list of the country’s most in-demand moving destinations, according to Penske Truck Leasing Company. It’s the sixth year in a row that Georgia’s capital city has earned top honors, which are based on the compilation of requests for one-way moves in 2015.

• The news comes not long after Atlanta was named No. 1 on the “Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2016” list and best of “The 10 Best Cities for Web Developers,” the latter “by a huge margin,” according to Sparefoot.

• Also, Atlanta was named a top 5 ‘market to watch’ in “Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2016,” an annual report put out by the Urban Land Institute and PwC.

Going Deep

21 Jan

In honor of MLK Week, let’s go deep beyond appearances and petty differences to the content of our character:

• “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people,
or gifted people, but for deep people.”

― Richard J. Foster

• “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

• “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

― Abraham Lincoln

• “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

― Martin Luther King

 

An unsolicited but definitely not unappreciated photo a California PR friend sent this week of the MLK Memorial in our nation's capital.

An unsolicited but definitely not unappreciated photo a California PR friend sent this week of the MLK Memorial in our nation’s capital.

Top 5 Reasons Why Last Weekend Could Top the Holidays

16 Dec

WestminsterWins!_1215I don’t usually order my weekends rare, but last weekend was quite special. Late December, you are on notice: the bar has been raised.

  1. With one kid at her grandparents’ house and the other at a Girl Scouts function, I was able to sleep past 9am on Saturday. Glorious!
  1. The wife & I dined out and outside. In mid-December. We also grilled out during the weekend. Did I mention back-to-back pizza events to close it?
  1. The Lee Ladies and I got to celebrate my out-of-town godchild’s Sweet 16 birthday, which happened to fall on…
  1. The day her sister performed for the last time in the Nutcracker of Middle Georgia. A 10-year veteran of the annual production, my oldest niece performed beautifully in Macon, Ga.’s Grand Opera House, a 131-year-old theatre once graced by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Houdini, Will Rogers, Bob Hope and George Burns. When asked if she liked the Nutcracker, my 2-year-old said, “No, it had rats in it.” :-)
  1. My high school football team won the state championship for the first time since 1978! “They were able to reach so high because they were standing on the shoulders of giants, red-headed giants who played circa 1988-1992,” my brother and fellow Westminster Wildcat football alum quipped. Go ‘Cats!

History and Hers

11 Dec

Four score (in years) and several days ago, an Atlanta writer said, “In a moment of weakness I have written a book.”

That book was “Gone With the Wind” and the author, of course, Margaret Mitchell. Well ahead of her time, Mitchell became famous for writing about well before her time.

The colorful quote about her 1,048-page Civil War epic came on the anniversary of another famous piece of writing, this one all of 270 words. A great writer who doubled as president, Abraham Lincoln issued the succinct yet epochal Gettysburg Address on the same November date.

Abe’s “Gettysburg Portrait,” which would become the model for the Lincoln Memorial statue, was taken on November 8th, 1863, 37 years to the day before Mitchell’s birth.
Relics in The Lee House

Relics in The Lee House

Reflections on Fear, Faith and Family

30 Nov

A Google search on ‘fear’ produced 499 million results while one on ‘faith’ netted 534 million. A search for ‘family’ produced nearly five times those results combined.

When watching “The Roosevelts” documentary recently, I was reminded of FDR’s famous inauguration line: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear, unfortunately, can be a great motivator. It’s been used to drive nations, including our own, into war. Despite the facts, many are shamelessly using fear regarding the Syrian refugee crisis after the recent Paris terrorist attacks.

There’s a hole in the world tonight
There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow
There’s a hole in the world tonight
Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow

— Eagles

Like many, I’m constantly working on faith (more) and fear (less). It’s been quite a year of hardship for families, testing even the strongest person’s faith. We can only imagine the adversity of those Syrian families displaced by a failed government, nihilism and war. The depth of their despair deserves a deeper understanding and level of compassion from the rest of the world, most of all from a “nation of immigrants” and the “land of opportunity.”

Life is so much more than a sound bite, stump speech, headline or Internet meme. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? In our hurried and harried lives, we can’t even make it to the third paragraph of a news report!

Family strife was not limited to foreign lands. On consecutive days last month, I heard the following comments: “I didn’t do anything wrong and now I’m gonna see half of my kids” and “My mother went to her grave hating me.” Not long after that I learned of a Facebook friend whose cancer-stricken fiancé turned his back on their relationship.

Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable,
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket.
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it.

— Indigo Girls

Like it or not, human error is part of the deal. It takes so long to build a good career, reputation and family… and so little to harm them. But we must strive for those things that make us bigger and more connected to others: faith, understanding, kindness, thankfulness, etc.

‘Thanksgiving’ naturally gets thrown around a lot this time of year. It is more than just your family feast or words on a Hallmark card. It should also be found in our actions reflecting faith, hope and love. If we’re truly thankful for the day, for our country and for family, shouldn’t we live it? For making a difference, embracing our nation’s founding principles and, above all, living for something bigger than ourselves.

We’re all in this world together
Life’s a gift that we have to treasure
Happiness, now that is the measure
Love is the remedy

— Zac Brown Band

 

What Has Happened to Our Country?

29 Oct

Belushi_fromMPTVimagesIt’s no country music for old men… or anybody really excepting Bud Light-swilling sexists and ambition-challenged basement boys. Welcome to “Bro Country” where trite is right and all is banal!

“Here in Nashville the songwriters keep making Twinkies because lots of people like Twinkies,” Jason LeVasseur, an award-winning performer who has opened for John Mayer, Train, Dave Matthews Band, Ludacris, Maroon 5 and other chart-topping acts, told BLeeve Blog. “Unfortunately, there is no nutritional value in a Twinkie. But they sure are easy to package and sell.”

Here are some lead lines from recent country radio “hits”:

Hey girl, what’s up? — Old Dominion

Hey, y’all, what’s going on? Been waiting on this all day long. — Cole Swindell

Hey, girl, I’m just a small town run around. I get my kicks out on the outskirts of town. — Canaan Smith

I don’t know if you were looking at me or not. You probably smile like that all the time. — Sam Hunt [talking, not singing, BTW]

But Hunt is actually singing in this, um, timeless anthem: “If you’re gonna be a homebody we’re gonna have a house party!”

Sweet Fancy Moses! Makes me want to pull a John Belushi on the whole lot of ‘em! Even widely accomplished and respected Brad Paisley has caught the bug… but I’m sure Bro Country fans think he’s “crushin’ it.”

John Mayer had this to tweet about one performer/songwriter: “Jason Isbell is the best lyric writer of my generation. He lives at a level where even great writers can only visit.”

And, you guessed it, the former Drive By Truckers band member is nowhere near country radio!

“I don’t think country [radio] artists believe their songs,” LeVasseur added. “The creative process, both musically and lyrically, is based more on market research than art. For the industry and the artist to survive, it is more important to find a song that can sell rather than a unique creative piece. Music and lyrics have the power to help us better understand ourselves. But when the artist who creates the piece does not feel anything for the piece, other than its potential profitability, where does that leave us?”

It leaves us with commercial saviors such as the brilliant Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum and ol’ reliables Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. And do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper for the luminous likes of Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Knight, Slaid Cleaves and the Blue Dogs.

In his book “A Walk in the Woods,” Bill Bryson describes a prattling, annoying fellow hiker as “awesomely brainless.” Although it was a long, tough slog the author did manage to find his moments of peace and inspiration in the country.

 

 

“Here’s your guitar back, Bro Country.”

The Soundtrack of My Youth

27 Sep

Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, an Atlanta-based rock band and the soundtrack to my Roswell, Ga., youth, was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame this weekend.

Local bands that captivate during one’s formative years always hold a special place in a person’s musical memories. Somehow DNC went even beyond that level, with the bassist’s mother having been my mom’s long-time hair stylist and then the 30-year-old band providing me the opportunity for my debut rock video appearance!

[Don’t blink around the 3:44 mark!]

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