Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category


Coming in 2017: The Death Channel

Friday, December 30th, 2016

With all the focus on famous deaths in 2016, here is a programming line-up for The Death Channel.*

7:00am – The Dirge: Who died yesterday and why you should care.

8:00am – Miss Diagnosis: Death Channel’s original hospital-based, comedic soap opera featuring a young doctor’s life, relationships and consequences as she often treats the disease and kills the patient.

9:00am – Not Dead Yet: Documentary interviews of old or sick celebrities you may have forgotten about, but are amazingly still alive…for now.

10:00am – Reapers: After the funeral, these treasure hunters go through celebrity estates and attempt to buy unique and collectible items from the heirs. Will they make the deal and make a profit?

11:00am – Great Deaths in History: Will your death be this amazing? Not likely. The most amazing, record setting and impacting deaths in modern history (now in color).

Noon – Mortal Meme: The latest online buzz on dead celebrities and dark humor.

1:00pm - At The Buzzer: Highlights from the careers of famous, recently dead athletes.

2:00pm – Death’s Door: America’s most popular cemetery tour show takes you to St. Louis #1 in New Orleans and Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

3:00pm – Ash to Ash: the Ash Brothers show you DIY coffins and going green with embalming.

4:00pm - Death Watch: Whose death will we be discussing in coming weeks or months? The latest on celebrity disease and addiction so you’ll be prepared to mourn. Get your recommendations of the day for songs to listen to, movies to watch and books to read so you’ll be properly prepared to grieve a celebrity’s passing.

5:00pm – The Bereaved: A Hindu Pandit, Christian Priest and Atheist Scientist bring on guests to debate “where are they now.” Today’s episode: the panel concludes a famous singer is likely in purgatory and suspect a certain movie star has been reincarnated as an ugly starfish. See the starfish!

6:00pm – Pale White Horses: Dead Celebrities’ Pets – This week’s episode looks at a cat that inherited a Hollywood estate and a famous author’s dog, missing and a suspect in his owner’s demise.

7:00pm – Stygian Shores: In this episode of the award winning death travel show, see the best Caribbean islands to die on.

8:00pm – Dead Today: Live programming recapping who died today.

9:00pm – Re-Autopsy: Conspiracy and murder in the great mysterious deaths of history featuring experts on the mafia, intelligence agencies and aliens.

10:00pm – Swan Song: The best songs of musicians who died in the last month.

11:00pm – Dreamless Sleep: Live programming from inside a celebrity coffin in this eight-hour broadcast of silent darkness.

*The Death Channel replaces the Scary Clown Channel on your local television provider.


Ole Miss & Charlie Bowdre from Young Guns

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

One of my favorite movies in my youth was “Young Guns” featuring Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid. This week I learned about a connection between one of the Regulators portrayed in that movie and the University of Mississippi.

Last year while on business in DeSoto County, I took the opportunity to swing by the county archives to do a little digging on an extended branch of my family tree for an interested distant cousin. The ladies at the archives were extremely helpful and when leaving, they asked me if I’d like to become a member of the Genealogical Society of DeSoto County. I did and I now receive their quarterly newsletter “DeSoto Descendants.” This week’s edition included an article: “The Life and Times of Mississippi’s Charles Meriwether Bowdre” by Ralph C. Kennedy.

If you saw Young Guns, you might remember Charlie as “the pugilist” member of John Tunstall’s Lincoln County Regulators. He married a young Mexican girl but died near the end of the movie during the Battle of Lincoln when the Regulators fought their way out of a house under siege by L.G. Murphy’s men and federal troops. Billy (Estevez), Josiah “Doc” Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland) and Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) escaped and appeared in the sequel, Young Guns 2.

"Did you know pigs is as smart as dogs? It's true. I knew this guy in El Capitan who taught his pig to bark at strangers." -Charlie in Young Guns

"Did you know pigs is as smart as dogs? It's true. I knew this guy in El Capitan who taught his pig to bark at strangers." -Charlie in Young Guns

It turns out, Charlie Bowdre was born in Georgia and moved to DeSoto County, Mississippi when he was three years old. The Bowdre family became one of the most prominent families in the area. Per the article:

On February 5, 1866, Charlie Bowdre and his first cousin, Stephen Pettus Bowdre (1848-1930), applied and were admitted to the freshman class at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). They were two of nine Bowdres to attend the University between the classes of 1859 and 1879. University of Mississippi records for the 1867 Sophomore Class indicated the Bowdre cousins took basic courses in Greek, Latin, Math, Logic, Rhetoric, Composition, and Declamation (theatrical style speech). The boys did reasonably well in all their classes; although, Stephen was a slightly better student. Both Charlie and Stephen were listed in the Class of 1870 as “not graduating.” “Not graduating” was a rather common status for young men studying at the University during this time period. Many young men only attended the university for a year or two. A later University of Mississippi survey listed both young men as “cotton factors” (brokers) in Memphis, Tennessee.

Charlie went west and opened a cheese factory in Arizona with his new business partner, Doc Scurlock. One of their employees was Henry “Kid” Antrium, an alias of who would later be known as Billy the Kid. The cheese factory failed and eventually the three made their way to Lincoln County, New Mexico and the events of the movie.

Unlike the movie, Doc also married a young Mexican girl, the half-sister of Charlie’s bride. And Charlie lived on into the events of Young Guns 2. In YG2, Doc is captured out east where he had become a teacher and was brought back to Lincoln for trial. He eventually died in an ambush by gunmen under leadership of Sheriff Pat Garrett. In reality, Doc moved to Texas where he lived until he was 80 and died a prominent member of the community. It was Charlie who died in the ambush, not Doc.

According to Wikipedia (sourced to Robert M. Utley’s “Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life”) “In the last seconds of his life he stumbled and fell towards Pat Garrett repeating the phrase, ‘I wish…I wish…’”

Charlie is buried in the Old Fort Sumner Cemetery along with Tom O’Folliard (also a character in YG2) and Billy the Kid. While the exact locations of the bodies is disputed, the three share a headstone and as told in the epilogue of Young Guns, above their names is chiseled “Pals.” But, according to an article by Mental Floss, it turns out this wasn’t an old Regulator inscribing a tribute. The headstone was likely devised by the local Chamber of Commerce in 1932 to take advantage of tourism following a 1930 movie about Billy the Kid.


Charlie Sullivan campaign songs

Monday, September 9th, 2013

I acquired another campaign album recently, this one from Charles Sullivan’s 1963 gubernatorial campaign.  Sullivan, a district attorney from Clarksdale, first ran for governor in 1959. He ran again in 1963 and lost to Paul B. Johnson, Jr.  In 1967 he ran for and won the office of lieutenant governor. In both those campaigns, he supported a local wet option when it came to liquor in Mississippi.

In 1971, he ran another time for governor and lost to Bill Waller.

He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1978 and lost in that Democratic Primary as well. 

Before all these campaigns, he was on the ballot for President of the United States in 1960 under the banner of the Constitution Party of Texas. It was during 1960 that Sullivan crossed Senator Jim Eastland for his support of the national Democrats and John Kennedy.  For the next two decades, that fight impacted Sullivan’s political campaigns. Sullivan was a general in the U.S. Air National Guard and served in World War II and Korea. He died in a plane crash in 1979.

The Charlie Sullivan for Governor campaign album from 1963 features a personal message on one side, and three songs on the other side: “S-U-L-L-I-V-A-N” by The Cee-Jays, “Sullivan’s The One” by The Mud Creek Three and “Sullivan’s for Me in ‘63″ by The Sullivan Singers.

Sullivan embraced entertainers on the campaign trail. Erle Johnston writes in “Politics: Mississippi Style” about the 1963 campaign and Sullivan:

About ten days before the first primary, Sullivan shocked his opponents and impressed the voters by drawing over 10,000 people to the Mississippi Coliseum at Jackson to hear him speak and enjoy the music of the George Jones band, as well as performances by the top male and female singers of the year. Charter buses brought people from all over the state. A friend of Sullivan’s, producer Lester Varnado of Nashville, arranged the program. Although the musicians performed without compensation, Varnado paid the local musicians union a fee based on what it would have received o nthe existing scale. Sullivan already had made political history with a giant parade that drew thousands of people to his home city of Clarksdale. Former Ole Miss and professional football star Charley Conerly was parade marshal.

Here is a previous post with campaign songs from Ross Barnett, John Bell Williams and Cliff Finch & here is a post with a couple of Jim Eastland songs.


MS LEG - 5 Dem reps run for mayor & special elections update

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Of the five Democratic legislators seeking to serve their hometowns as mayor, two will be for sure returning to the legislature this next session. Representative Chuck Espy (House 26) lost to businessman Bill Luckett in the Democratic Primary on May 7 and Representative Omeria Scott (House 80) lost in the run-off election in Laurel.

In Holly Springs, Representative Kelvin Buck (House 5) defeated incumbent Mayor Andre DeBerry in the Democratic Primary.  He faces no general election opponent and when he resigns to become mayor, it will trigger a special election.

In Vicksburg, Representative George Flaggs (House 55) edged out his five opponents (including the incumbent mayor) to win the primary without a run-off. He will face independent Daryl Hollingsworth in the June 4 general election but is expected to win.  He had previously said he would resign early to spend full time campaigning.  Whenever he does resign, that will trigger a special election for his seat.

Representative Billy Broomfield (House 110) advances to the June general election against independents Dobbs Dennis and John Mosley, Jr.  Broomfield defeated incumbent Mayor Aneice Liddell in the Democratic Primary.

I don’t have context on past cycles on whether this is an unusual exodus of legislators to the municipal level. One story line could be that Democrats, in the minority for the first time, are looking for other opportunities now that Republicans control the House of Representatives.  But political folks often look for narratives even when one does not exist.  While the GOP in charge may have contributed to the search for greener pastures, at least two of these representatives (Flaggs and Espy are both committee chairmen) worked well across party lines and Flaggs had previously sought to be mayor. I would think the motivation, as is always, a mix of local opportunity, more time at home, an increase in retirement, a desire to serve their neighbors and a little frustration at being out of legislative power as well.

Democrats would be hard pressed to claim these particular races as partisan victories as three resulted in the defeat of Democrat incumbents.

New mayors will take office July 1.

# # #

Below is a running and periodically updated list of legislative special elections in 2013 in Mississippi.

January 8 - House 59 (Rankin) Election: Scot Allen; Benny L. Hubbard; Bradley Lum; Brent Powell - WINNER: Powell (BLOG POST: MS House 59 Special - Finance Reports: Powell & Lum leading)

January 15 - Senate 16 (Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha) Election: Angela Turner Lairy; Kenny Fowler - WINNER: Turner-Lairy (BLOG POST: MS Senate 16 Special - Campaign Finance Reports)

February 5 - Senate 28 (Hinds) Election: Tamarra Grace Butler; Cindy Ayers Elliott; Marshand Crisler; Sollie B. Norwood; Antonio Porter; Kathy L. Sykes; James Stewart; Tommy L. Wallace II; Cassandra Welchin - RUNOFF: Crisler & Norwood (BLOG POST: MS Senate 28 - Special Election - Campaign Finance)

February 26 - Run-Off for Senate 28: Marshand Crisler; Sollie Norwood - WINNER: Norwood (BLOG POST: Senate 28 Run-off today: Crisler, Norwood)

March 12 - House 36 (Clay, Monroe, Lowndes) Election: Jimmy Davidson, Bobbie Davis, Karl Gibbs, Rev. Eddie Longstreet, Dr. Roderick Van Daniel, Jeannie Johnson Staten. RUNOFF - Gibbs & Longstreet (BLOG POST: House 36 Campaign Finance – Not Much To Report)

March 26 - House 11 (Panola, Tate) Election: Marshall Bartlett, Anderson Boothe, Lataisha M. Jackson, Ederic L. Kerney (BLOG POST: Bartlett, Boothe lead fundraising & spending in House 11 special) RUNOFF - Boothe & Jackson

April 2 - Run-Off for House 36 (Clay, Monroe, Lowndes): Karl Gibbs, Rev. Eddie Longstreet (BLOG POST: Longstreet leads Gibbs in campaign finance for House 36 runoff) WINNER: Gibbs

April 16 - Run-Off for House 11 (Panola, Tate): Anderson Boothe and Lataisha Jackson (BLOG POST: Whoever wins House 11 will be youngest legislator) WINNER: Jackson

May 28 - House 95 (Harrison, Hancock): Candidates: Tommy Ballard, Sherri Carr Bevis, Grant Bower, Patricia H. Willis (BLOG POST: House 95 special - Willis self funds with $25K; Bevis gets political insiders) WINNER: Willis


That Jim Eastland watches over like a mother

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Last month I looked at some old campaign songs from John Bell Williams, Cliff Finch and Ross Barnett.

The University of Mississippi has a couple of campaign songs for Senator Jim Eastland posted online that I thought I’d share as well.

This 1954 song, “Cotton State: Roll On Mississippi, Roll On” by the Mississippi Ramblers was a reelection tune from Jim Eastland.

Roll on you Mississippi, roll on.
The world at last is gazing upon,
Not that river but that state,
That Jim Eastland watches over like a mother,
Industry has moved in, the wheels of progress busily spin,
Farmers, too, look to Jim
Now is the time, to vote for him
Let’s send him back to Capitol Hill,
Roll on you Mississippi, roll on.
What once were byways, now are highways,
Up and down and cross the state,
And it’s a fact son, not only Jackson, but Mississippi as a state is great.
Roll on you Mississippi, roll on.
The world at last is gazing upon,
Not that river but that state,
That Jim Eastland guards and guides and watches over,
Schools and colleges too,
Are not the old frame buildings we knew,
This and more, Jim has done (yes sir!)
From his desk (where?!) in Washington,
So send him back to Capitol Hill
Roll on you Mississippi, roll on.

Also, from the Digital Library at Ole Miss is this 1972 campaign commercial song.

It is awful. It sounds like a 1970s coffee commercial.

Let’s all get together and reelect the one who takes pride in Mississippi and serves everyone,
Shows pride in his nation the work that he’s done for Mississippi, Senator Jim Eastland
When Mississippi has a need, Jim Eastland’s there.

My column this week in the Madison County Journal (and other newspapers in the state) will revisit the campaign songs in the previous post.


Campaign Songs: John Bell Williams, Ross Barnett & Cliff Finch

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

I collect political memorabilia: buttons, signs, push cards, bumper stickers and the like.  I cradled a Cliff Finch campaign lunch box I found at a flea market for $4 like it was the Holy Grail. But I’ve been really excited about a handful of campaign albums I’ve acquired including ones from John Bell Williams, Ross Barnett and Cliff Finch.

I uploaded some of these songs to YouTube, so if you enjoy political history like I do, you can listen as well. I sprinkled the songs with images of the men and their campaigns. It should go without saying, but to be clear, I don’t support the campaign issues (Barnett is explicitly segregationist) but I find them interesting as political history and education purposes.

John Bell Williams Is A Fightin’ Man by Jim Hopkins performed by Bob Cates & The Dixie Six (Superior Records) - John Bell Williams Campaign for Governor of Mississippi 1967

Roll With Ross by Houston Davis - Ross Barnett Campaign for Governor of Mississippi 1959

Little Carroll’s Last Stand by Houston Davis performed by the Jerry Lane Orchestra - Ross Barnett Campaign for Governor of Mississippi 1959

Lets Roll Again With Ross by Houston Davis performed by the Magnolia State Quartet with the Jerry Lane Orchestra - Ross Barnett Campaign for Governor of Mississippi 1967

When Good Ol’ Ross Goes Rolling In by Houston Davis performed by the Magnolia State Quartet with the Jerry Lane Orchestra - Ross Barnett Campaign for Governor of Mississippi 1967

Riding on the Cliff Finch Train by Freddie Aycock & The Country Gentlemen - Cliff Finch Campaign for Governor of Mississippi 1975


Natchez Trace and War of 1812

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Senator Roger Wicker’s column this week discusses the role of the Natchez Trace during the War of 1812, of which we are celebrating the 200th Anniversary beginning this year. You can check it out here: War of 1812 Bicentennial Honors Unique Part of Mississippi History: Natchez Trace Played Important Role in Defending America’s Freedom.

It caught my attention on Twitter for several reasons.

First, I remember as a congressional press secretary sending out columns on tax reform, federal highway funding, energy policy and while those are important they can also be quite boring. From time to time we would do columns or press releases on other topics and from experience, people in Mississippi LOVE the Natchez Trace. A good release on the Trace would generate so many more hits than an update on reforms to Medicaid. So while some may question the importance of the subject, I know, folks in Mississippi enjoy this kind of thing. I enjoyed seeing the release and I hope Wicker’s office gets positive feedback on it like we used to get in my previous career.

Second, I am one of those people I describe above. If I want to know about new Federal Communication Commission licensing, I’ll search that information out. But I enjoy reading about Mississippi history; I love the Natchez Trace; and this column is a brief diversion from routine work.

Third, I have a personal connection to just this topic. (I promise you, there is no need to read further as the rest of this is of interest to only me, my family and random genealogists. You have been warned.)

Two teenagers from Tennessee, John Keith around 19 years old, and John Lock around 17 years old, fought in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 where General Andrew Jackson combined his forces with city citizens, and pirates under the command of French privateer Jean Lafitte.

Keith served in the Second Regiment, Pillow’s West Tennessee Volunteers as a private in Caperton’s Company. Lock served in Major William Russell’s Regiment, Samuel Cowan’s Company of the Volunteer Mounted Gunmen attached to General Coffee’s Brigade.

After the Battle of New Orleans, the two men traveled back to Tennessee together on the Natchez Trace. Both were mustered out at Murfreesboro on June 5, 1815 and each earned $122.23 for their services (Lock got an extra $78 for the services of his horse).

Years later, Lock’s daughter Mary Ann (“Polly”) married Keith’s son Joseph (later called “Ole Mean Joe”). Their son Andrew Harrison Keith is my great-great grandfather. Sometimes traveling the Natchez Trace, I wonder what it was like in 1815 as two of my great-great-great-great grandfathers - today just high school aged - traveled back from the Battle of New Orleans to their homes in Tennessee.

Wicker’s column today brought back those thoughts and likely will spur a trip down the Natchez Trace in the near future.


American Chestnut: Appalachian Apocalypse

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Many of my friends and colleagues are amused intrigued by my fascination with the American Chestnut tree and my membership in the American Chestnut Foundation. Because the chestnut blight struck so fully and quickly, few realize today the role that tree played in the ecosystem and economy of the hills and mountains of the Eastern United States.

Here are two great videos under 15 minutes a piece that look at the history and impact of the American Chestnut.

If you would like to know more about or support the efforts in restoring the American Chestnut Tree through a blight resistent breeding program, please contact the American Chestnut Foundation.


Fancy Farm, Kentucky

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

[Update: 08/11/2009 - As you can see, they've pulled down the very funny video that targeted Jack Conway, but not before it got the attention of Kentucky political writers: WHAS-11: Jack Conway's "SOB" comment gets new life on Comedy Central, YouTube and the Louisville Courier-Journal: Online video pokes fun at Conway speech - TV comedian Colbert also lampoons attorney general]

I took a trip to Kentucky last weekend to watch their preeminent political event of the year: Fancy Farm.  The town of Fancy Farm hosts a church picnic that benefits St. Jerome Parish featuring games, bingo, hundreds of yards of bbq mutton and pork, an RV camp, and plenty of political campaigning and speaking.

Politics at Fancy Farm make the Neshoba County Fair look downright polite. From the moment a speaker gets on stage until exiting, opposition campaigns and audience participants heckle and boo and yell. Meanwhile, the candidate is calling his opponents everything but a child of God.  Signs and costumed operatives surround the speaking shed which reserves a large section for the statewide media which never neglect this opportunity that cane make or break a candidate. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a governor or a dog catcher, when you reach your time limit they turn off your mic and crank up banjo music to drown you off the stage.  So it is wise to watch the clock.

We had a great time watching the candidates for U.S. Senate.  Incumbent Republican Jim Bunning has announced he will not seek reelection. Some speculate he made the announcement days before Fancy Farm because in the end, he didn’t want to have to endure the ordeal of speaking there again. But regardless of timing, his decision has been in the making for a while now.  The front-runners on the Republican side are two-term Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Dr. Rand Paul, son of Congressman Ron Paul; the Democratic front-runners: Attorney General Jack Conway and Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo.

I was surprised that Jack Conway took the occasion to cuss at the church picnic. I’m no prude, but when he referred to himself in his speech as one tough SOB, I was puzzled. To me, it seemed to be one of two things.  Either it was a calculated decision to compensate for some perceived softness - he wanted to knock down a negative perception that he was not tough.  Or it was a hasty and erratic choice of words in response to pressure from hecklers. Either way, it did not seem a wise campaign tactic.

Here is an opposition clip - I imagine generated by Mongiardo campaign - as a result, somewhat entertaining.

And, Jack Conway even made the Colbert Report. His segment began around the 5:57 mark and runs to about 7:19.

To add insult to injury, Jack Conway did not watch his time. He was drownded off the stage by Kentucky banjo music. What a way to go.


Watching McCain Debate

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Friday night in Belhaven in Jackson, Mississippi I hosted a debate watching party for McCain supporters (and maybe one or two undecideds). WAPT and WJTV both covered the party with live broadcasts.

Here are two videos from WAPT from the event:

WAPT: Voters Weigh-In On Debate

WAPT: Republicans Watch Debate

Here are a few shots of some of those in attendance.


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