Friday, September 23, 2005


There has been an ongoing debate in the media since the Katrina disaster about poverty, it's causes, its relation to race and geography--not to mention it's political implications. Even as the president, in a startling moment of clarity on the issue, was acknowledging the fact that poverty continues to be a major issue, his shills and minions in the media and elsewhere were already gearing up the machinery of spin. Those on the left, smelling blood in the water, went on the offensive as well touting President Clinton's success in dealing with the issue of poverty--how there were less poor people under the Clinton administration than during the first four years of the Bush administration. Blah Blah Blah...

Poverty continues to be an issue that politicians are loathe to discuss in a substantive way. They speak in sound bites. They feign empathy and affect a sympathetic posture that says to people, "I feel your pain..." Genuine responses, however, by policy makers to the stark images of poverty and privation in recent weeks have been more akin to stunned, sucking silence--a deer in the headlights reaction. The reaction is, as I like to call it, as if one had been "snake bit." While the events surrounding Katrina were the result of a natural disaster, it is entirely approriate to take this opportunity to discuss the issue of poverty while we have the attention of our nation's leaders. We must, in this country, finally recognize that how we treat our nation's poor is a reflection of our very basic values as Americans. How can we preach to others in the world about freedom and democracy and human rights while we continue to ignore our own failures.

The issue of race and how it relates to poverty is also extremely hard to ignore. When Matt Lauer on the TODAY SHOW stated that the images of people clamoring for food at the Superdome reminded him of images from Somalia I was actually sort of stunned. He was right... Not because it was a scene of hungry people fighting for food but because it was a scene of hungry BLACK people fighting for food. The black faces wailing and pleading for help on our television screens remind us that we still have far to go.

If we are going to talk about these issues, let's talk about them. Let's have an honest discussion... Let's deal with the failings of public education and unfunded national prgrams intended to improve it. Let's talk about the war on drugs and how that war has largely been a war on our nation's urban black population. Let's talk about how property tax increases in newly "gentrified" urban areas force many black people out of their homes. Let's talk about the lack of comprehensive sex education in this country that would help curb the number of unwanted pregancies among poor women. Let's talk about the need for child care opportunities for working mothers. Let's talk about making the minimum wage a living wage so that it keeps up with the rising cost of living. Let's talk about the ridiculous cost of healthcare and the cost to taxpayers of caring for the uninsured. Let's talk about re-vamping our welfare system so that it's more efficient. Let's reduce corruption in state and local governments that make it harder for poor people to be heard. Let's talk about job training. Let's talk about no more tax cuts for the wealthy. Let's talk about sacrifice. Let's talk about the war...

These are issues that aren't some abstract idea on an editorial page or on some radio talk show. These are issues that stare at us every day whether we notice or not y'all. We ignore these issues at our great peril.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I was culling through some old pictures this morning and came across this picture from our May trip to Edisto. Edisto Island is a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina. As many of you faithful readers may or may not know, I am a hard-core South Carolinian. It is the most beautiful state in the union and Edisto Island is the most beautiful place in South Carolina. It's a smaller fishing community that hasn't been totally overrun with development and people. I have a lifetime of memories of Edisto...

This picture was taken from the back yard of my uncle's family house, better known as The Pink House. Ironically, it was taken the day that Mandy and I were very sure that the IVF hadn't worked. It was an appropriately gloomy afternoon and there was a shrewd bite to the air as we sat on the beach. Still, the clouds were lovely--perfect cold grey. As we were getting ready for supper, I took a walk by myself and snapped a few pictures... This is by far my favorite.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I spent last night at our church
sort of playing host to some new friends from Louisiana. We have a family of about eleven people living with us at St. Paul at the moment. About three weeks ago, we all knuckled down and prepared to recieve about fifty evacuees from New Orleans. We began stockpiling supplies, bedsheets, food, toiletries, etc... Two weeks later, eleven people is all that we have taken in. I think some people have preferred to stay with family, others in hotels and still others have returned to Louisiana to search for loved ones. There is a possibility, however, that we'll start taking in more people as they get turned out of their hotels and their money runs out. We'll see...

I had a great time. Besides talking about the horrors of the flood and the even worse horrors of the aftermath, we talked about much more pleasant topics like eating rattlesnake and just how bad the Saints suck. They've been here two weeks and I think that they are starting to get a little frazzled. Willie, the matriarch of the family, is showing signs of stress related discomfort. The teenage boys, Jamar and Derrin are having a difficult time adjusting to a new school and new life. They never know from one day to the next just what fate is going to throw at them.

Still, they love to visit and talk and laugh. After a few minutes, I felt like I was sitting around the table at my grandmother's house in Orangeburg, SC. I bored all of them to death with the latest ultrasound pictures of my son and we talked about all kinds of stuff that had NOTHING to do with the flood or Katrina.

At about 12:00 midnight I went to rack out in one of the sunday school rooms. I slept great except that I woke up in the middle of the night convinced that someone was in the room with me... I swear, I think that they got ghosts up in that church!

Friday, September 16, 2005


I just can't resist those RAISING ARIZONA quotes!
We had our 20 week ultrasound today!!! Mandy, me, mandy's mom and her stepdad were all there for the big reveal. Of course, we were very much interested in finding out the sex--which wasn't difficult to determine once the "wee wee" popped up onscreen (Huston, we have a boy...). It was hard to miss actually. Many of our friends with children were very careful to remind us that the sex isn't always easy to see in an ultrasound. Well... Let's just say there wasn't much left to the imagination. His little pecker was just out there as plain as day. It's a boy alright!

The doctor did say that it "appears" that it's a boy--meaning, there is a chance that what is seen in an ultrasound isn't always what comes out. Confused, I had the urge to ask whether a baby with what appears to be a bona-fide penis at 20 weeks has ever come out a girl. I decided to keep that question to myself. Mandy later explained that he probably meant that in VERY RARE cases some babies are born with both male and female sexual characteristics. Okay. Hmmm. Should I worry about that too? That's going to make things awful confusing in kindergarten.

Anyway, he has all of his appendages--arms legs fingers and toes. He has a well-formed brain, heart and liver. He looks like he's going to have very long legs just like his momma.
He also, as this picture shows, appears to be blessed with a beautiful big nose like his daddy--AND his momma. Mandy and I are interested to see all the neat stuff like whose feet he's got and who he looks like, whose eyes he has and what color hair he ends up with. In all the years we tried and tried to concieve, all of the "treatments" and injections, the disappointment, the mourning... It all seemed to melt away as we watched our beautiful baby boy on that televison screen. Earlier today, I was thinking about that May afternoon that we sat on the beach at Edisto, convinced that the IVF hadn't worked, that we were back to square one. It was the longest drive of my life, that drive from Edisto to Atlanta. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach--repeatedly. Still, I hoped a tiny, teeny, miniscule little bit that it had worked. The next afternoon, we recieved the best news ever. The journey continues--and continues.

Anyway, we have a baby boy on the way and I am hoping I am up to the task of being the model dad. I can't help but worry I'll end up like Glenn in RAISING ARIZONA... The one who went in to adopt "...on account 'a sumpin went wrong with my semen." I'm sure I'll do great. Anyway, I thank God for this blessing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Yesterday, the senate judiciary committee heard an opening statement from chief justice nominee John Roberts. In his opening remarks, he stated, "Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules, they apply them." He went on to add, "'s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."

An over-simplification? Possibly. I would hope that decisions regarding affirmative action, abortion rights and other important issues likely to be before the court would merit a more lengthly deliberation than the split second it takes to judge a ball or strike. Based on what I've read, he will likely be confirmed. He has broad support from both Democrats and Republicans... We'll see...

Monday, September 12, 2005


In an effort to show a little more discipline in my daily life, I have decided I will post a blog entry a day whether I really have anything to say or not.

First, Mandy and I are going for an ultrasound this week to check on the progress of the baby. Of course, odds are that things will be totally fine and that we'll have a healthy boy/girl on the way. Still, the sinking feeling that things might not be okay--the nagging doubt, the gut-wrenching worst case scenarios... It's hard to ignore. Mandy and I have been waiting so long for a child. I just want everything to be okay--not perfect, just okay. A healthy baby and a healthy Mandy. Mandy is doing GREAT. She is eating everything in sight and starting to look like a pregnant woman. It's hard to imagine her NOT being pregnant! She has struggled a little bit with some indigestion, etc... Still, she is looking and feeling (mostly) great. I am hopelessly hopeful.

Creatively, work wise, I have just completed the book on Francis Marion. It should be out this October for sure. Since I've finished it, I can now focus on getting my portfolio out there. I have several idea of where I want to send my work. For the next couple of days, however, I am going to take some time to clean up my studio and relax a little. This book really did kick my ass! I really do need some time to regroup and look to horizon to see what else is out there!

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 09, 2005


I am not an editorial cartoonist but I play one on this blog. Geez... The devastation wrought by the hurricane and flood in New Orleans/Gulf coast is matched only by the devastation wrought by the spectacularly incompotent FEMA. It's saddening and horribly unfair... And don't think that we don't notice that the vast majority of the displaced are poor people of color.

Natural disasters happen. They just happen. Hurricanes. Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Floods. They are occasional reminders that we are merely stewards of our planet, not masters of it. Still, in the midst of such suffering at the hands of nature, shouldn't we take great comfort in a certain, swift response from our government? Shouldn't we EXPECT aid and comfort? Instead what we get is a lot of blame and "non-blaming" blaming. Political Leaders abdicating responsibility as they try and maintain a death grip on their job. It sickens me... Badly done.