Stanley at Shiloh

September 30, 2007

The cover of today’s New York Times Book Review features a wonderful book review of Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer by Tim Jeal. The reviewer is Paul Theroux, one of my favorite travel writers.

Under the heading of I Didn’t Know That comes the fact, revealed in the review, that the man who famously “found” Dr. David Livingstone (but never uttered “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”) fought in the battle of Shiloh. Theroux writes:

“. . . (Stanley) joined the Confederate Army, in a local regiment, the Dixie Grays, in 1861. He fought at the battle of Shiloh, was captured by a Union patrol, clapped into prison at Camp Douglas and given the choice of fighting for the North or rotting. He changed sides, marched under a Union flag, then deserted and sailed to Wales. . . .”

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Florida sinks–Tennessee rises

September 30, 2007

The Wall Street Journal has an article that describes how retirees now prefer other states, including Tennessee, over the Sunshine State. The same qualities that attract tourists–controlled growth, pretty towns, parks and bike trails–will lure these out-of-staters who come to town with money to spend.


Lawrenceburg’s Fred Thompson

September 30, 2007

The Boston Globe has a nice piece today on Fred Thompson’s formative years in Lawrenceburg. Seems that his path toward the presidency began inauspiciously with his girlfriend becoming a teenage mother, which resulted in Thompson marrying into a family and becoming influenced by his wife’s grandfather, a Republican attorney known to his family as “Pap.” Writer Michael Kranish describes how the older man shaped Thompson: “The Lindsey household became an intellectual and political feast for Thompson. Pap engaged Thompson in conversations about the nation’s state of affairs, with Pap defending the positions of the Eisenhower administration. One day, Pap gave Thompson a book: ‘The Story of My Life,’ by Clarence Darrow.”

Can you imagine a Republican in our time handing out a book about evolution’s biggest foe?

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Grand new opera for Nashville

September 27, 2007

Coming on the heels of the Nashville Symphony’s triumphal opening of the $123.5 million Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the city’s major opera company has announced plans for a new, $6 million opera house.

The Tennessean has a story on Nashville Opera’s new digs, which will open in the Fall of 2008. Having these new structures–and the fundraising campaigns that built them–so close together demonstrates the health of the arts in Middle Tennessee, the generosity of donors, and perhaps a need to give Nashville its old nickname: Athens of the South.

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Photo from Nashville Opera


Roger Brashears: keeper of the Jack Daniel’s fame

September 27, 2007

While in Chattanooga, I touched base with Roger Brashears, the head of public relations at the Jack Daniel’s distillery. He has worked for the distillery since 1963–Mr. Jack was only there for 29 years–and fits perfectly with the down-home image so carefully tended by Brown-Forman, the corporate owners since 1956.

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Red State Update: Is it good for the Tennesseans?

September 27, 2007

Every time there’s any sort of Tennessee or Southern-based humor, any laughter on my part is always followed by an unsettling thought: does this make us look bad?

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Smoking ban begins on Monday

September 27, 2007

Knoxville’s Metro Pulse has a good cover story today on Tennessee’s smoking ban, which begins on Monday.  Halting the smoking in restaurants and other public places is great.  Tennessee has such good food–and good cooks–that it has been shame to let smokers foul the air for so long.

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