Yes, I know it’s a label, not a sign. This was how your whiskey, bought from your friendly pharmacist, would have been labeled during prohibition. James S. Robinson was one of the first pharmacists in Memphis, with a business at 2nd and Madison in what is now the Apothecary Building.
Michiko Kakutani has a really moving review of a new Johnny Cash biography, by Robert Hilburn, that is as good as anything I’ve read for describing the strengths of Cash’s music. It begins:
Johnny Cash’s life was a country song full of love and loss, passion and heartbreak — grief, loneliness, guilt, faith, melodrama and striving for redemption. His rough childhood and youth, and turbulent struggles with addiction and family tumult, gave him empathy for sinners in search of salvation and all those who had done hard time or known hard times. His plain-spoken writing and gritty, soul-deep singing transcended musical genres and gave voice to ordinary Americans’ experience of adversity. He was that rare outlaw beloved by soldiers and student protesters alike, by rock ’n’ rollers, convicts and devotees of Billy Graham’s crusades.
As Bob Dylan said of Cash and America: “He is what the land and the country are all about, the heart and soul of it personified and what it means to be here, and he said it all in plain English”; if “we want to know what it means to be mortal, we need look no further than the Man in Black.”
The whole thing is worth reading.
Longtime Oxford folks may remember Abbie’s Irish Rose, one of the first bars in Oxford, that opened in what had been the lobby of the Henry Hotel, later renamed the Abbey (because it had windows from a prior occupant of that space, the Methodist Church), in the mid-70s. Its owner, Merrell Williams, came to town driving a Bentley and with a lot of stuff that was the remnants of an English pub. He set it all up and opened, I think in the Summer of 1975. I don’t think he lasted a year there, the bar closing down (later to reopen, one of a long sequence of ends/beginnings at that location), and he moved on. Williams wasn’t heard of thereafter…
Until the release of stolen tobacco documents erupted on the scene. I can’t remember when it dawned on me that this Merrill Williams was that Merrill Williams; it was certainly by the time Micheal Orey published Assuming the Risk, his account of the tobacco cases, and did a reading in Oxford where he brought up Williams’ tale.
A central part of that story was Dickie Scruggs’s acquisition of the tobacco documents, and the (no-showing-up required) job, house and sailboat Scruggs gave Williams.
Others may remember that Williams would occasionally arrive and begin commenting on the old Folo blog with regard to one Scruggs-related matter or another.
Williams died on November 18, 2013 at 72. In his New York Times obituary, after noting that the theft of the documents was a central part of the tobacco litigation, the Times notes:
The episode was further complicated when it became known that Mr. Williams had accepted a house, two cars, a boat and a $3,000-a-month no-show job from the lawyer leading the charge against the tobacco industry.
When Mr. Williams came to work at the firm, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, in January 1988 as a $9-an-hour paralegal, it was his latest stop in a checkered career. …At the law firm, he was one of a dozen employees assigned to review thousands of boxes of documents that Brown & Williamson, the nation’s third-largest tobacco company, had squirreled away over the years. …
Mr. Williams started smuggling documents out of the law firm around Christmas 1988, stuffing them in an exercise girdle he wore under loose clothing. … In April 1994 he met with Richard Scruggs, a personal injury lawyer who had won enormous victories over the asbestos industry. In Orlando, Fla., he showed Mr. Scruggs about 4,000 pages of documents that he had stashed with a friend.
It was Mr. Scruggs who gave him the house and other gifts and arranged for a job that did not require him to show up. Mr. Scruggs denied that the gifts — or loans, as he sometimes characterized them — were a quid pro quo for getting the stolen documents. But when The St. Petersburg Times asked him if he would have been so generous if Mr. Williams had not provided the documents, Mr. Scruggs said: “That’s a hard question. I don’t know.”
My mom grew up in the region around New York– born in Hartford, Connecticut, and childhood in Connecticut, Long Island, and other places in the area before her family moved to Jacksonville, Florida when she was a teenager. So perhaps I grew up viewing the balloons and all from the Macy’s parade as a bigger thing than other kids growing up in the South.
This week, I showed her the internet sites with photographs of creepy balloons from the early years of the parade, and asked her if that was her memory of it.
She said she’d never seen the parade as a child, and explained why, with this memory: Standing in a window at (I gather) age six or so, watching as her parents and her younger sister drove away, headed to the parade! It seems that the one time her family went to the parade, mom was ill with glandular fever (now called mononucleosis) and could not go, and so her parade memory is watching from the window as everyone left her.
I’ve been cooking since just after 8… There’s a 20 pound turkey in the oven (see above) stuffed on one side with sausage, pecan, chanterelle, sage, white bread, and on the other with cornbread, giblets, chili poblano, etc.; there’s double-rich stock cooking since late last night for gravy.
First thing this morning I made a wild persimmon pudding (there’s rum hard sauce for that), a close sibling of steamed plum pudding (I’d been harvesting persimmons for that one, and removing seeds is a pain). Roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole topped with pecan streusel, mashed potatoes, and, because my father always requested it, green olives.
For more photos from a distinctly creepier era of Thanksgiving parade balloons, go here.
This New York Times op-ed piece about cooking, family, and Thanksgiving brought tears to my eyes.
On the first night, my father made chicken piccata. Flour and lemon, bouillon cubes, the funny-looking hammer. He had no idea what he was doing.
Read it all.
Canseco’s musings on Twitter range quite widely. This week, for instance, he recounted being stopped by a police officer and having to explain why he had diaper-wearing fainting goats in his vehicle. Earlier this year, he explained how he thought gravity used to be weaker, which allowed dinosaurs to be “nimble.” You should also know that he thinks it’s time for a younger man (or woman!) to be Pope, so that stuff can get done. Some of his thoughts are either cryptic, over my head, or both.
Thanks to Dr. X for alerting me to the goats.
The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that, while Dr. Arnold Smith is undergoing continued examinations concerning whether he is competent to be tried, his attorneys are preparing an insanity defense for the prosecution of Smith for hiring killers to attempt the murder of Greenwood lawyer Lee Abraham.