It's been five years since Hurricane Katrina
ravaged the Gulf Coast and flooded New Orleans. The Crescent City has
been slowly rebuilding, but there is still much to be done. It's been
tough for a lot of the survivors, but there have also been some good
When I visited Mississippi in February of 2007 (a trip dedicated to
research and interviews for my book, Believer Poet: The Mission and
Early Life of Ahrend H. Walters (more here), I saw firsthand a lot of the
devastation still prevalent a year and a half after the storm. Katrina
forever changed certain things about the region, but I've been
impressed with the fortitude of the many good folk who live there. You
can find out more about the stories of people who lived through this
hurricane at HurricaneKatrinaNews.org. Be sure to investigate Heart Like Water, a memoir by Joshua Clark containing hundreds of survivor
stories. The book has become a finalist for the National Book Critics
Perhaps it is timely to recall this speech and its theme at this
crucial point in our nation's history. And it behooves us as well to
remember the Civil Rights movment of the 1960's. Eyes on the Prize
tells the definitive story of the civil rights movement and is a
series that has aired on PBS (more here).
Concluding a Life Story Book or Video
One of the most challenging parts of a life story book or
videobiography is how to wrap it up. The final chapter needs to have
substance, to sum up and to express something of great importance.
That's not easy to do, particularly if the subject is still alive. It's
not the end of life...just the end of the life story (so far).
One of the things you can do is comment on those things that matter the
most. Your philosophy of life, what your hopes and dreams are for your
family, your children, the future. If you are telling your story to
another make sure that you discuss this. If you are the personal
historian it behooves you to come up with some good questions for these
A bit of honesty. I've had quite a long week and while I know how
important it is to maintain consistency in sharing life story ideas,
insights and techniques I've been, well, just too busy and tired to do
much posting. And, yes, I'm feeling a bit of guilt about that.
Out of this self reflection is the lesson that we all need to take time
to prioritize and do what needs to be done. Writing here is important
and a privilege. It's also important to take time for other things
(family, friends, school and the myriad projects I have going). Even
taking more time to do some good reading.
So since I just "pulled back the curtain" a bit here...take heart if
you aren't getting all of your "to do" list done. Do what you can. But
live and experience life fully. That type of living is not making
checkmarks next to tasks - it's being conscious and present to each
Girl Scouts Oral History Project
Back in June I
commented about the Boy Scouts of America commemorating
their 100th anniversary this year with special merit badges. In 2012
the Girl Scouts will turn 100 and they are preparing for their
centennial by creating an oral history project.
The project will be filmed and they are looking for Girl Scout alumni
to share their experiences and
they will use current girls scouts to interview those alumni. Should be
an interesting project. You can get more info here. And if you
share your story I think you should at least get a box of cookies!
There are certain rock bands that have flown under the radar of mass
commercial success, but by my own inner rating mechanism were as good
as it gets. One of those bands was Little
Feat, a group my college buddy (and later radio colleague)
John Florence introduced me to. Man, that band could groove! They were
funky, rhythmic, soulful and eclectic. Lowell George had a sinewy slide
guitar style and a vocal styling to match. The keyboards by Billy Payne
were New Orleans jangle-jive jumpin', Paul Barrere was a killer second
guitar (later to assume first guitar prominence after Lowell's sad
death in 1979), the bass playing of Roy Estrada was a steady bottom
beat that thumped it just right and Sam Clayton had some fine
But it was the special drumming rhythms of Richie
propelled the song beats to another level. To me he was highly
intuitive and I just loved the way he played drums. Sadly Richie has passed away from liver cancer. He was awaiting a transplant,
didn't come in time. However, as a lasting legacy we do have his
numerous great musical contributions of
Hayward (he also did a lot of studio work). I will always love Little
Feat. Their music reaches me in the depths of my soul. I was fortunate
to see them in concert the first time during that
wildly expressive mid-to-late 1970 time period and it made a
impression on me.
Check out this Little Feat performance of "Cold, Cold, Cold" from the
Pinkpop Music Festival in the Netherlands in 1976 (courtesy of YouTube.com) to hear Hayward's
fine drumming sensibility.
Do you recognize any of these names: Morrie Yohai, Edwin Perkins, Arch
West or Walter Diemer?
They are all inventors of "junk food" - or guilty pleasures, if you
prefer. Morrie Yohai was a World War II veteran who passed away
recently (July 27) at the ripe age of 90. He's responsible for Cheez
Doodles. You can thank Walter Diemer for thousands of happy bubble
blowing kids. While an accountant for Fleer Chewing Gum Company in
Philadelphia he came up with Dubble Bubble gum. Edwin Perkins invented
Kool-Aid and Arch West gave us Doritos.
Despite the "less-than-nutritional" value of such foodstuffs these
people are part of our culture's history. Personal products often
contain fascinating stories. Andrew Smith has discovered this and
published the Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food. I just gave you
some fun cocktail party chatter or water cooler talk. Share and watch
your friends chew on that bit of Americana. You can read more with the NY Times story by
Manny Fernandez, Let Us Know Praise the Great Men of Junk Food.
Hiroshima - 65 Years Later
Sixty-five years ago today the United States dropped an atomic bomb on
the city of Hiroshima in Japan. Along with the bomb dropped on Nagasaki
it effectively brought about the surrender of Japan and the end of
World War Two. Ending the war was good. Nuclear death - um, not so much.
The United States sent a delegation this year to the anniversary
memorial services in Japan. That's a first. Let's hope that we - all of
mankind - can move towards a nuclear weapon free world. For your
thoughts I give you a link to the Hiroshima Peace Site. And thanks to
adekun's Japan blog for the image below (adekun.com) The blog contains
information on the Hiroshima
Peace Memorial Park.
Remember those classic
viewfinders of your youth? If you are (ahem) in
my age group you probably do. Mattel made the Viewmaster and I
loved looking at the pictures through them. Insert a circle of photos,
click to move the viewfinder to each photograph and see it in 3-D.
Brian May, guitarist for the rock band Queen (who also is quite the
scholar with a PhD) has finished up a project that utilizes
stereoscopic photography of a 150-year old village in England. He's put
together a book, "A Village Lost and Found: Scenes in Our Village", and
packaged it with a 3-D viewer he and his collaborator, Elena Vidal,
created (available from Amazon). Pretty impressive stuff
for a rock guitarist (did I mention he
has a PhD?). Story here.