Sunday, May 25, 2014


The term “Hillbilly” is often misunderstood. The word is mainly used to insult those considered ignorant or out of touch, however, the word quote, unquote hillbilly has a rich heritage. The term did not come into play in the United States until 1900, when a New York Journal article defined the hillbilly as a “free and untrammeled citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he can get it, and fires off his revolver when the fancy takes him.” As it was in 1900, so is it today, New York professes knowledge of subjects that they may or may not know anything about at all. Usually, hillbilly is applied to people who live in the Appalachian region of the United States. Due to the rugged terrain of the area, the people who populated the land were very isolated. It was not until WWII when the men were called to war and the advent of the television in the 1950’s that the region was exposed to all the advances of the twentieth century. Many notable and respected public figures came from humble “hillbilly” beginnings. A short list will include entertainers Lucille Ball and Patsy Cline, author Cormac McCarthy and scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. The common misconception is that the mountain people are ignorant as they have not had the educational advantages that most cities offer. Nothing can be further from the truth. The skills an Appalachian or hillbilly may possess could be ones that save the world in a crisis. Hank Williams Jr. refers to these skills in his song, A Country Boy Can Survive. “We can skin a buck, we can run a trout line, and a country boy can survive.” The talents the song lists are the ones that would be called into play should anything disrupt our comfortable state of electronically assisted, instant gratification way of life. Historically, Americans are the original rebels. Our ancestors left Europe to seek freedom to worship, freedom to live as independent people in a free land. The original colonists were not conformists, neither were they looking for a free ride. They immigrated to this land to make their own way and live by their own rules. Long years before Jefferson wrote America’s declaration, a group of Appalachians shocked the King of England and were labeled “a dangerous example for the people of America” due to their fierce independence and unwillingness to submit to any will other than their own. That American spirit lives on in all who may fall under the title of hillbilly. It is the strength that has built a strong country that is the beacon to all in the world that yearn to live free. It is the original pilgrim that put God first in their lives without consideration of who likes it or does not. Hopefully, it will be the spirit that will save the unique formula that is or was the United States of America. To quote Hank William Jr’s song again; “We say grace and we say Ma’am, and if you ain’t into that, we don’t give a damn.” God Bless the USA, again.

Novacaine Society as published on It was pointed out to me today that people in society today have put themselves in a cocoon of isolation. It is a prison of their own making, utilized for both physical and emotional protection. Everyone has a cloak of silence wrapped around themselves, shutting out opportunity for real time human contact. They employ their cellular devices whether alone or in a group of friends. Eye contact is not as common as it used to be. Just meeting people in public seems to be much harder than it should be. It could be fear, it could be lack of confidence, but more likely it is fear of intimacy. How many times have you seen a group of “friends” at a restaurant for a meal together? How many times do each of them check their electronic communications? Sometimes conversation comes to a complete halt as everyone is more engaged in technical chatter. This social malady is a symptom of the disease of lack of community. This does not apply to every town or city, of course, but the lack of community has created a vacuum in society. It has given rise to a virtual society of placebos, such as dating services and social networking sites. These sites give people a way to feel that they are connected to others without really putting themselves out there emotionally. It gives perfect opportunity for a false sense of community. Even dating has fallen victim to this virtual reality. Observing young people in high school, they spend a great more time as texting couples, rather than actually talking. In years past, if your love interest didn’t call on the phone, so there was an all-night discussion about anything and everything, it was not a real relationship. They get together by text and they break up by text. Families have become less nuclear and more spread out to several states. This is often an economic necessity but families are the heart of community. Without community, people do not feel the sting of the consequence of moral boundaries. In times past, certain behaviors were frowned upon by society. There was an amount of local peer pressure that kept undesirable behaviors at bay. If one wanted to indulge these behaviors, community disproval was often harsh. Albert Einstein warned us of this emotional numbness. He said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Another great quote is from a song by the Eagles, “So oftentimes it happens that we live our lives in chains that we never even know we have the key.” Tomorrow as you buy your morning coffee, smile at the person next to you. Make a real time connection.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I like to listen to music when I am critiquing my writing, or if I am writing. No matter if I am happy or sad, it would be safe to say that music gets me centered and in a creative mindset. It keeps sane as well. I was at my favorite coffee shop last Friday, going over a manuscript. I had my headphones on and I was in the zone. I put on the Queen channel. For you young folks, Queen was an innovative group from England that came out in the 1970’s. Their first hit was “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It featured Freddie Mercury as the lead singer. He was a powerful vocalist and could play piano with a light touch that would melt your heart. He was a dynamic entertainer, a sexually attractive man with the worst teeth that you have ever seen. Somehow, that overbite seemed to contribute to his overall charm. To say that Freddie Mercury and Queen were trail blazers in alternative music and dress etc. would be rather an understatement. In fact, some of what they did and said, I did not even understand until I was well into my thirties. (We were totally na├»ve growing up in the mountains of WNC.) All I knew was that I liked it. Freddie Mercury died at the age of 45 from bronchial pneumonia as a complication of AIDS. He had remained silent on his condition until the day before his death to protect those close to him. However, he went public at the last to throw the disease into the light in hopes protecting others and searching for a cure. Now, when I play the videos, I feel a vacuum has been created in the entertainment atmosphere. The award list of his professional career is too long to name, but it can be summed up in one word, talent. I miss Freddie.