Macon's Crossroad Writers' Conference
set for Oct. 4
Special to GwinnettForum
MACON, Ga., Sept. 23, 2008----The same streets strode by Little
Richard and Otis Redding, James Brown, the Allman Brothers, Jason
Aldean, and Young Jeezy have likewise been walked by Flannery O'Connor,
Tennessee Williams, John Oliver Killens, and Sidney Lanier. The
same small, Southern city where Miller Williams was encouraged to
pursue poetry left a sizeable impression on his daughter, musician
Lucinda Williams, which is obvious in her hit song "Car Wheels
on a Gravel Road ." These are but a few of the creative lives
affected by the strangely inspirational and enigmatic attractions
of Macon, Georgia.
On Saturday, October 4, Macon welcomes writers to the Crossroads
Writers' Conference. Held in the historic downtown district as a
living tribute to the city's rich literary history, the conference
brings together some of the finest talents in the country to guide
writers young in the craft as they face their career crossroads.
Author Stanley Booth, the conference's honored guest, moved with
his family to Macon before embarking on a career that made him a
confidant of the Rolling Stones, a friend to fellow Waycross-native
Gram Parsons, and witness to Otis Redding as he and Steve Cropper
penned Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay. Twice included as
a fictionalized version of himself most recently in Neal Pollack's
rock novel Never Mind the Pollacks, Booth is a noted music
writer whose striking prose centers on the humanity of his subjects.
"I don't write about music; I write about people," he
Celebrated novelist Joshilyn Jackson, whose work has been praised
by The New York Times, Boston Post, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, heads the list
of featured panelists. She's joined by Ad Hudler, whose upcoming
Man of the House continues his humorous exploration of gender
role reversal at home and its psychological fallout. Of Macon, Hudler
says, "It was living in this beautiful, quirky city that first
inspired me to write fiction."
The conference also proudly hosts two very distinguished poets.
Ezra Pound Poetry Award-winner Alice Friman, author of The Book
of the Rotten Daughter, Zoo, and Inverted Fire, will
travel from Milledgeville where she is the Poet-in-Residence at
Georgia College and State University . Fresh off the recent publication
of Cities of Flesh and The Dead, Diann Blakely comes
to the conference with three books and the Alice Fay Di Castagnola
Award from the Poetry Society of America.
Coming the most distance to Macon is Carlo Rotella, who serves as
the director of the American Studies Program at Boston College .
His work garnered him Guggenheim, Howard and Du Bois fellowships,
the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award and placement in The Best
American Essays collection. Author Jeffrey Vasseur and poet
Marty Williams round out the list of traveling panelists.
For a complete list of panels and a schedule of all events related
to the Crossroads Writers' Conference, please visit the Website,
The Crossroads Writers' Conference is organized by volunteers in
partnership among Macon State College, the 11th Hour, Georgia College
State University, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the Macon-Bibb
Convention & Visitors Bureau, and NewTown Macon.
Upcoming SPLOST program deserves passage by
Editor and Publisher
SEPT. 23, 2008 -- It's always gratifying every four years to see
the big turnout for the Presidential Election. Though we sometimes
wonder how much input a president has on our country, it's still
good to see as big a number of people as possible voting their choice
of our nation's leader.
Another key question that Gwinnett voters will decide in the General
Election is the future of the local Special Local Optional Sales
Tax for country infrastructure. Voters will be asked to continue
the penny sales tax, which is anticipated to bring in $850 million
over five years.
What? "Over five years?" That's right. It's regrettable
that the county commission decided to allow the added penny sales
tax commission over a five year period. In doing so, the county
got it wrong. They could have proposed the sunsetted SPLOST program
for four, five or six years. They chose five, and we feel, got it
That means that in five years, at a time when there is not a general
election, the next SPLOST tax vote will come up. With it a special
purpose election, fewer people will turn out, meaning that the chance
always rises that such a tax could be defeated. We feel the SPLOST
program is a good move, but always feel that such a vote should
only come in General Elections when the greatest voter turnout will
take place. That goes along with our philosophy of "Trust the
people." Getting out the most people for such a vote is one
way to trust the people. Requiring a vote at an off-election year
time is no way to trust the people.
We urge Gwinnett voters to approve the five year SPLOST on November
4. Not only will they be voting for perhaps the best way to fund
vitally-needed buildings and roads, but by allowing a sales tax
for these project, Gwinnett effectively taxes visitors to the county
who are purchasing goods here to help pay for the infrastructure
that the visitors and locals routinely use. That's a big aspect,
since it is estimated that 40 percent of sales in Gwinnett is to
Of particular interest in the 2008 vote for the continuation of
the SPLOST program is that it anticipates that $95 million will
be used for an expansion of the county's state and superior court
areas. While the design is not finished for this project, it is
expected that the expansion will take place on the East Wing of
the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center (G-JAC).
When you remember that the funding for the G-JAC building came
in 1986, and then recognize that the wing for the court space has
not essentially been expanded in these 22 years, when the county
has gone from 274,000 to today's nearly 800,000 people, you can
imagine the impact this has had on our court system. It's facilities
are overcrowded, and vitally need additional space.
That same case of "vitally needed" goes for other capital
improvements needs, for roads, recreational, public safety, libraries
and for infrastructure improvements in all 15 cities.
While we lament that the commission decided to based its 2008 SPLOST
program on a five year collection period, it's still a vital and
necessary proposal that will face the voters on November 4. We urge
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about lack of info on Canada-Mexico merger
Editor, the Forum:
A campaign exposing and calling for a halt of a merger of Canada
and Mexico has been organized. This news was not reported by either
the mainstream media or by conservative talk radio hosts, but the
2008 Republican Platform specifically states official party opposition
to a North American Union (NAU) and a common "North American
currency!" This is a sign of progress for those of us who hope
to expose and halt these New World Order schemes dead in their tracks.
The exact language can be found on page nine of the 2008 Republican
"Our strong ties to Canada and Mexico should not lead to
a North American Union or a unified currency."
John McCain thus far has said nothing about the NAU. A mere mention
of the NAU and a North American currency will not make this a major
issue in the 2008 presidential debates or in the next Congress.
And nothing in the Platform calls for a halt on construction of
the NAFTA Superhighway. Visit the NAU War Room and read more about
the Republican Party's rejection of the NAU and a common North American
currency in its official 2008 Party Platform.
-- Debbie Willis, Peachtree Corners
seeks input for potential 2009 SPLOST program
Gwinnett County Government is seeking public input on transportation
projects that could be funded by the 2009 Special Purpose Local
Option Sales Tax.
The County has mailed out more than 1,200 letters inviting residents
to attend a September 30 organizational meeting for a Citizen's
Project Selection Committee. This committee will help pick and prioritize
transportation projects that could be funded by the sales tax extension,
which will come up for a vote in the General Election on November
The letters are just one part of the plan to receive public input,
according to County Administrator Jock Connell. "We hope to
generate a great deal of interest and assure diverse representation
on the committee, so we're sending letters, talking to the media
and putting information on the County's website," said Connell.
The meeting is to be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the auditorium
of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, located at 75
Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.
Brian Allen, the county's transportation director, says that the
purpose of the meeting is to select committee members and alternates
to represent six major interest groups. Three members will represent
Gwinnett homeowners and there will be one representative each for
the following: business leaders, environmentalists, developers,
schools and civic leaders.
"The attendees will split into groups and self-select their
representatives," Allen said. "The meeting will be facilitated
by Dr. Jim Feldt, who has worked in this area of moving meetings
along for more than 25 years."
The committee's immediate role will be to review and prioritize
the prospective project categories and to share information with
the constituent interest groups. This committee will help maintain
open lines of communication between the County and the public and
help maximize the benefits of the sales tax proceeds, according
Additional information is available online at www.gwinnettcounty.com
or by calling the Gwinnett Department of Transportation at (770)
concludes Lawrenceville series
Friday, September 26, Lawrenceville will host Athens'/ Atlanta's
own Randall Bramblett Band for final Moonlight and Music concert
Leavell of The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers Band, has
called Bramblett "In my opinion the most gifted and talented
southern singer-songwriter musician of the past several decades."
The Randall Bramblett Band is a rare combination of songwriting
and musicianship. Throughout the years, they have created a tremendous
buzz and rave reviews wherever they perform. For more information
on the Randall Bramblett Band you can visit them online at www.randallbramblett.com.
The concerts and lawn seating are free to the public. Reserved
tables are sold out! The concerts will be held on the Historic Courthouse
lawn at 8 p.m. Bring a picnic or dine at one of the restaurants
on the Square.
Garrison Keillor to
appear Sept. 26 at Mitchell House
Acclaimed author Garrison Keillor, host of A Prairie Home Companion,
a radio and live performance series, will be at the Atlanta History
Center's Margaret Mitchell House on Friday, September 26.
There will be a reception at 6 p.m. and the program will begin
at 7 p.m. Lois Reitzes, of WABE's will introduce Mr. Keillor. He
is also the author of more than ten books, including The Lake
Wobegon Days, Pontoon, and News from Lake Wobegon. Keillor
lives in New York City and Saint Paul, Minn, with his wife and daughter.
Keillor will tell about Clint Bunsen, who for six years has run
the Fourth of July parade in Lake Wobegon, Minn., ensuring that
bands, fireworks, and 1,000 men and women in red, white and blue
make a dazzling spectacle for the townspeople, the governor and
CNN. The town is excited, until they hear about Clint's plans to
run for Congress. They're embarrassed for him. They know him too
well -- his unfortunate episodes with vodka sours, his rocky marriage,
and his questionable friendship with a 24-year-old woman. This same
young woman is dressed as the Statue of Liberty for the parade,
but the rumor is that she's naked underneath her costume and that
her torch contains a quart of booze.
Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days is the Atlanta Burning
Book Club's September pick. Admission to hear Keillor is $15, though
Margaret Mitchell House and Atlanta History Center members get in
for $10. Prepayment is required; call 770 578 3502 to make a reservation.
Ballet's Nutcracker to have live music again
Gwinnett Ballet Theatre (GBT) will presents its 27th edition of
The Nutcracker for eleven public performances held December
6 through 21. Eight of these performances will be danced to the
accompaniment of the live, professional Gwinnett Ballet Theatre
GBT's traditional interpretation of this favorite holiday classic
will include classical dancing, a live magician, and colorful sets
and costumes. GBT utilitizes the talents of its pre-professional
company plus a cast of 80 young students from its non-profit school.
The GBT Orchestra conductor, Predrag Gosta, is also the artistic
director of Atlanta's highly esteemed New Trinity Baroque Ensemble.
Performances will be given at Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. Dates
and times are as follows:
- Saturday, December 6 at 2:30 and 7:30.
- Sunday, December 7 at 2:30.(The above will be
performed to recorded music.)
- Friday, December 12 at 7:30.
- Saturday, December 13 at 2:30 and 7:30.
- Sunday, December 14at 2:30.
- Friday, December 19 at 7:30.
- Saturday, December 20 at 2:30 and 7:30.
- Sunday, December 21st at 2:30.
It isn't just the students, professional and pre-professional dancers
who get in on the action! For the past three years, GBT has invited
some of Gwinnett's most visible business and social personalities
to appear onstage as one of our "Celebrity Mother Gingers."
Mother Ginger is a character in the second act, a very tall "woman"
with a huge skirt. Underneath the skirt a dozen small dancers, called
"Polichinelles," are hiding. Once onstage, they dash out
from underneath the costume and entertain the audience with dance
and gymnastic feats. Mother Ginger's role is simply to smile and
In reality, the Mother Ginger volunteer enjoys these three minutes
of fame at a small "price." A great deal of stage makeup,
a big wig, false eyelashes and a false bust are all a part of the
package. Mother Ginger stands on a platform and is literally wheeled
onstage by stage hands who also keep the apparatus steady. GBT is
happy to say that they have never "lost" a Mother Ginger
This year's Celebrity Mother Gingers are still being recruited,
but so far the list is impressive: Paige Havens of Spitfire Media
Group, Cheryl Gee of Gwinnett Center, Demetrius Jordan of United
Way, and Jeffrey Scott Bailey of Suwanee Performing Arts have all
agreed to appear. And just to top it off, Atlanta radio's 680 on-air
personality John Kincaid has also just signed on to appear as Mother
Ginger. A complete list of "CMG's" will be forthcoming.
Tickets for December 6-7 are $20 for adults, $15 for students and
seniors, and $10 for groups of 10 or more. Tickets for December
12-21st are $27 for adults, $22 for students and seniors, and $18
for groups of ten or more.
Tickets can be obtained by calling Ticketmaster at 404-249-6400
or by visiting any Ticketmaster location or the Gwinnett Center
For more information contact GBT at 770-978-0018 or visit www.gwinnettballet.org.
- An invitation: What
Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your
best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have
read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus
what book you plan to read next. --eeb
Gov. Smith aims
state toward "New South Economy"
M. Smith, a lawyer, Confederate colonel, and Confederate congressman,
served as Georgia's governor from 1872 to 1877. Smith rose to the
chief executive office on the tide of reaction against Radical Republicanism
that toppled Governor Rufus Bullock in 1871. Smith's election marked
the end of Reconstruction in Georgia and the beginning of more than
a century of Democratic Party rule.
James Milton Smith Jr. was born on October 24, 1823, in Twiggs
County. He was educated in Culloden in Monroe County, where his
father farmed and preached. Smith worked as a blacksmith studied
law, and by the 1850s established himself as an attorney in Thomaston,
in Upson County. In January 1861, three weeks before Georgia seceded
from the Union, he won the Flint Circuit Superior Court judicial
election but opted for Confederate military service with the Upson
After the war, Smith won a Muscogee County state representative
seat in the conservative landslide that restored the Georgia General
Assembly to Democratic control. When the "Redeemer" legislature
was seated in November 1871 in the wake of Governor Bullock's resignation,
Smith was elected house speaker. On December 6 a party caucus chose
Smith to be the Democratic candidate for governor. Republicans called
a boycott of the election, and in what was virtually a no-contest
election on December 19, Smith was elected governor with a mere
39,000 votes out of the state's more than 200,000 eligible voters.
In the regular quadrennial general election of 1872, Smith overwhelmed
Republican Dawson Walker with a landslide victory of more than 60,000
votes. Smith inherited a poor state that was saddled with debts.
The legislature repudiated millions of dollars in bonded debt, and
Smith proposed ways for the state to improve economic productivity
and increase revenue while reducing expenses
Historians generally identify Smith's administration as furthering
the agenda of Georgia's Bourbon Democrats, or "New Departure"
Democrats, who aimed Georgia toward a New South economy adapted
to the ex-slave society's priorities of white supremacy and rigid
control of labor.
Smith suffered a stroke and died after a long period of illness
on November 25, 1890. Married twice, to Hester Ann Brown (who died
in 1880) and Florida Abercrombie Wellborn, Smith had no children.
He was buried in Gainesville's Alta Vista Cemetery beside his first
What this means is
that everything is always in motion
"Because things are the way they are, things will not stay
the way they are."
-- German Communist and dramatist Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956).
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