Category Archives: Featured Guest Writer

Tom Campbell: A Witness To History

(Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared in our sister publication, The Locust Fork blog.)

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Guest Column
by Tom Campbell

NEW YORK — Few people ever have a chance to be arms’ length from greatness. As a lifelong fan of Alabama football, I feel lucky to know that I’ve been a witness to an event that will become a part of Alabama’s fabled history.

To have had such an opportunity twice is remarkable. On both occasions, I tried to burn each detail into my memory because I knew the events before me were celebrating a legacy of pride and greatness.

Two celebrations of excellence of historic proportions for the storied University of Alabama football program will endure in my memory.

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Tom Campbell
Mark Ingram will carry the Heisman experience for the rest of his life

Over 25 years ago, as my last official act as student body president at the University of Alabama, I attended the funeral of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. As sad as Bryant’s funeral and grave site procession were, the Alabama family celebrated a man whose impact upon his players, coaches, university and fans proved immeasurable.

Economic times were hard then, and folks rallied around the prowess and class surrounding the football institution Coach Bryant built. During a time when people were losing a lot — jobs, bonuses, homes — Alabama football offered fans in the community something to be proud of and helped people feel like winners. Despite the celebratory remembrance of Bryant’s life and career, this event nevertheless marked an end.

Now, decades later, in the midst of a terrible economic climate, I had the opportunity to observe another event crucial to the history of Alabama’s football program as a special assignment reporter for the Locust Fork News Journal. However, this celebration, at the announcement of the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, marked a new beginning rather than an end.
Before the announcement of the Heisman winner, the press was treated to a banquet dinner in Times Square. Surrounded by the five finalists, their esteemed coaches and a legion of legendary figures from football history, I felt like the room was filled with electricity and promise. Pluck and grit and winning attitudes really had made a difference in the lives of these young men and their proud coaches, and I was inspired to see the culmination of a football season filled with talent, drive and teamwork.

In each of the five young finalists, Tebow, Ingram, McCoy, Gearhardt and Suh, I saw student athletes brought to this level not only by their physical prowess but also by the humility and class that comes with winning character. Each finalist was being celebrated for personal greatness. Each young man was supremely self-confident. But to a man they exuded gratitude for their God-given talent and appreciation for the coaches, programs and teammates who allowed them to shine. None appeared to express an air of entitlement or arrogance.

Of particular interest to me personally, was of course Mark Ingram. The Flint, Michigan, native turned Alabama standout sat before me with poise and polish. This young man had a brilliant turnout in what may well be a National Championship season, and it was easy for me to forget that just a few miles east of Times Square, Ingram’s father awaited transfer to prison — that Ingram achieved this accomplishment amidst personal turmoil and hardship.

Equally hard to believe was the fact that Ingram has achieved this honor as a sophomore. I wondered if he would follow Tim Tebow as the second Heisman winner to earn that distinction as a sophomore.

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Tom Campbell
Alabama’s Nick Saban winks as if he knows a secret after Ingram dodges a question about the Heisman Curse

Before the result was announced, the pride Coach Nick Saban exuded for his player proved infectious, and I found myself forgetting my journalistic objective for attending the Heisman banquet in the first place as I hoped to hear those two words revealed, “Mark Ingram.”

Would this be one more mark of greatness for the University of Alabama football program? Would Ingram prove himself a formidable opponent on the national stage? Would Saban continue to create his own legacy at Bama, marked as much by the quality of the character of his players as their domination on the football field? Would their affiliation with the University of Alabama continue to be a rallying point of pride and celebration for fans in a time of financial difficulty for many in our state?

And the answer was yes.

Mark Ingram was awarded the Heisman — a storybook beginning for what surely will prove to be a heralded football career.

And I was fortunate enough to witness another legendary chapter in the story of the Alabama football program.

Roll Tide!

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A Trip of Many Firsts

Photo by Latoya Shelton
Walkin’ — A contingent from the University of Arkansas at Monticello walks in The Big Apple over Spring Break.

** Editor’s Note: Through the generosity of an unidentified donor and the New York Times’ American Democracy Project, five students from the University of Arkansas at Monticello made a trip to New York City for Media Pro Workshops and the College Media Adviser’s annual spring conference. Four of the five had never ventured north of Missouri; one had never flown. Here’s her story for your late Spring reading.

Photo by Ron Sitton
Lady Liberty — Linna Jones poses in front of the Statue of Liberty. Her trip marked many firsts in her life.

By Linna Jones

Many thoughts ran through my head, while packing for what would be the first plane ride of my life. I took this first flight to New York City and the upper part of the East Coast. I took my first trip to the airport as the passenger and a first of many new experiences. I feared the airline would lose my luggage or I might get motion sickness as I sometime do when traveling by car. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I would react to the plane and I didn’t know what world was behind those nylon dividers at the top of the stairs, where people checked their ticket to go through to board at the Little Rock National Airport. I watched people going into the nylon maze before, but I never passed that point. I knew everything would be a surprise.

Before the Airport

I started packing in the afternoon of March 11 for the trip; I selected my clothing carefully knowing I might meet many people in the world of journalism.

In the big black rolling nylon suitcase on the floor, I placed the sorted clothing items into the bag starting with my slacks and blue jeans. They filled a narrow rectangular section of the bag, with empty space in the shape of an L around them. Next, I placed my shirts in the L folded neatly as possible to fill the empty space. I folded my black-hooded fleece sweater and placed it in the left corner of the suitcase where the lid opened to expose the inside space.

I then packed my white New Balances wrapped in a Wal-Mart sack to keep them from getting dirt all over the clothes. I placed my toiletries or anything else that would cause a mess if the contents leaked in gallon freezer bags. As always, I packed two Ace bandages just in case I twisted my ankles. In another Wal-Mart sack, I placed three books; two for my literary journalism class and one just to read, if I wanted to.

After I packed all that I thought I needed, I still had a little room in the suitcase so I put a pillow in there, too. I heard that items in suitcases may be displaced during travel and handling, so I shook it to see what would happen inside the suitcase. The contents shifted out of place without the pillow. The pillow steadied the contents and filled-up the empty space.

Just in case, I packed a carry-on with a change of clothes, a pair of shoes I could walk in, a scarf and hat (in case it was cold when we arrived) and my homework that needed to be done.

The next morning, I checked out of my dorm room and went to weigh my suitcase. I parked my car behind the Baptist Collegiate Ministry building on the day of the Wellness Fair. Vehicles packed the parking lot of the John F. Gibson University Center. Jeff Peebles, a Public Safety officer, pulled up by that time in his squad car; he guessed the weight of my suitcase, after picking it up, to be 38 pounds. Peebles overestimated the weight by three pounds; it weighed 35.

I returned to find my Buick Roadmaster blocked in by another car and I tried every possible way to get it out. Eventually Beth Dillard, a resident in my dorm, offered to move the red truck on the right side of the car. I feared I would hit the car behind me by not having help in backing up. Another member of the BCM walked up and he backed it up for me while I watched how close he got to the car. Finally, he backed it out and I thanked him for his help and started on my way to Star City to meet my mother.

I arrived at the Star City Nursing Center 30 minutes later and met my mother and fellow church member Janice Mizell, who rode along to drive my car back home. I entered through the double glass doors and turned down the right wing of the nursing home to visit my grandmother in her room of white cement blocks, white Venetian blinds and tan divider curtains. This time, she didn’t know I was, but I talked to her anyway. “Who are you?” she asked. “I am you ornery old granddaughter,” I said. She looked at the ceiling never turning her head. She often kept her eyes closed, because she is blind. I told her I was going on a trip. She still didn’t know me and at times, decided not to talk. I told her I loved her and I left. I walked down the hall to visit another resident and then I left.

We loaded the car and started on our journey to the airport, but we stopped at my father’s work place to pick him up. My mother drove right by it saying she sometimes missed it and we turned around and turned onto a dusty gravel road. She turned left on another gravel road, out the window we passed barren fields not yet planted for the year. We finally turned in the shop yard, where tractors were parked under open-air tin-roofed sheds and parked in front of the shop with a concrete floor and particleboard walls on the inside. My mother took out the overalls and dress shirt she gathered for my father and he changed. While he changed, I placed my toothbrush and other items I forgot to put in my luggage, out of my black leather carry-on and into my suitcase.

Soon we traveled on our way to Little Rock. Anxious and excited, I looked out on the road and at familiar scenery of empty fields, railroad tracks paralleling the highway and the beginnings signs of Pine Bluff passing by my window. We passed by Pine Bluff and traveled to the Wal-Mart to eat at a Burger King near it. From there, we traveled on to Little Rock and to the airport.

Little Rock National Airport

We arrived at the airport an hour and a half earlier than the 3:30 p.m. meeting time. Mizell and I carried in my carry-on, heavy coat and big black suitcase into the airport. We stopped by a seat where we entered and sat down. My mother and father came in after they parked the van. We sat near the baggage check area for the airlines and watched as families with small children, men and women in business suits and other travelers walked by carrying or rolling their luggage. We sat in front of Delta Airlines check in and I tried to remember which flight our group was scheduled to fly on. I forgot to bring my flight itinerary and it set on my desk in my dorm.

I went and asked about where to check my luggage at Delta Airlines and the attendant ask my name and for my identification. She told me the flight was with Northwest Airlines. I decided to wait for everyone else to arrive before I printed my ticket and checked my luggage.

I kept a close eye on my luggage. I heard of unattended luggage being stolen, even if left for a minute. I sat with my mother, father and Mizell and talked while we waited.

At one point I left them, I felt the need to move, and walked up steps to the gift show on the second floor. I walked in the brightly lit space filled with books, reading materials, candy and snacks, post cards, Razorback memorabilia and other items. While there, I talked to a staff member of an airline. I asked him questions about flying, one of them being, where can I get my wings? “It all depends on the airline and you have to ask the flight attendant,” the man said. We spoke for a little longer and parted. Before I left, I bought two packages of peanut butter and crackers for the plane in case I needed them. I waited to buy water until I was on the other side of the nylon maze. I descended the stairs and again joined my party and continued waiting.

Soon after, everyone arrived and we checked our bags. We walked down to the end of the room to the Northwest Airlines’ counter. I waited in line and showed my ID to the attendant and he even didn’t weigh my bag. He lifted and said it weighed below 50 pounds. “How can you tell?” I asked. “I deal with bags all day, I know,” he said. I didn’t question him and then tried to print out my tickets, and didn’t have a clue about what to do.

After I asked what to do, I slid my debit card in the machine and with help found my way through screen taps I printed my ticket. I collected one and walked off thinking I had all of them. I didn’t and a woman called my name and said I left my ticket. I thanked her and put the tickets into an envelope and safely into my purse.

I then stood in line to have my luggage scanned, which was by the ticket machines and divided lanes of the Northwest counter. They took my luggage. Ronald Sitton, the journalism adviser, collected numbers from the parents of the students just in case something happened.

Pretty soon, the time arrived to go and I handed my keys over to my mother. It felt strange not to have them hanging from my belt loop, but I decided not to take the chance and lose them. “Have fun and be careful,” mom said. “I love you.” I hugged my mother, father and Mizell and walked off with the group to get ready to board the plane.

Photo by Latoya Shelton
St. Paul’s Chapel — Flanked by Danielle Thomas and adviser Ronald Sitton, Linna listens intently to UAM alumnus Chester Johnson describe St. Paul’s Chapel’s role in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and Ground Zero.

The Nylon Maze

The second floor of the Little Rock National Airport hosts a gift shop, a restaurant and the entrance to the terminal. Looking at it, the nylon strips and the poles extended from the beginning of the little room to the scanning machine. The strips and poles reminded me of a maze. I looked at this barrier before as a person merely dropping someone off, but I never walked into it, only away. It seemed like a mystery, a portal into another world. I walked up with three other members of my group and waited in line to get our tickets checked.

As I waited I watched the man checking tickets; he looked like he enjoyed his job. He laughed and joked with the passengers as he looked at the tickets. When I finally reached him, he greeted me with cheerful tone and expression. He looked at my ID and asked, “Did you know your license was about to expire?” I said I knew, but I didn’t have time to renew it. I also knew I would be back in the state of Arkansas before it expired. We spoke for a few more moments and I walked through the maze of nylon bands

The room where they scanned seemed blank with only white, black and grey as the color scheme. I approached where they scanned the luggage and other personal items; I watched a man remove his shoes and contents from his pocket and place them in a grey plastic container. A woman working with the TSA, the security for the airport, repeatedly shouted a warning “Remove all liquids and gels from you carry-on. If you don’t you will hold up people behind you,” the woman said. Danielle Kloap, a fellow classmate, dug into her bag and pulled out a bottle of water. The woman told her to throw it away. Kloap looked unhappy about this, but she threw it away. She removed her shoes and placed them in the plastic bin with the contents of her pockets her purse and her gels and liquids.

When a free space opened up on the counter, I picked up a bin. I removed my shoes and placed them in the bin along with my purse and coat. I guided the bin and my carry-on to the scanning machine and put it on the conveyor belt when they told me. I walked through the metal detectors, and collected my things on the other side.

I picked up my carry-on, coat, cell phone, purse and other items from the bin and put on my black loafers. I almost stopped for a minute, surprised by a long room with multiple sitting areas for the flight gates and restaurant for people to eat. I followed Kloap, Michael Thomas and Michael Ford, because I did not want to be left behind or lost. They stopped at Quiznos. I bought a bottle and I paid $2.62. For some reason the price didn’t shock me; I somehow expected it to be high. I placed the water in my purse and walked to keep up with the group to get to our flight gate.

The Flight

The time soon arrived to board, each passenger showed the flight personnel their ticket and they scanned it. The group and I walked down this long tunnel, which connected to the door of the plane. I carefully stepped into the plane and a room that looked like a long tube met my eyes. Blue seats three wide lined the sides of the plane creating a narrow aisle. Passengers found their seats and put their luggage in the overhead compartments.

I sat between Latoya Shelton and Kloap and it looked like we were close to the wing. Shelton sat down first and then I clumsily sat down and then placed my luggage underneath the seat in front of me. Shelton looked at me “You’ve never flown before have you?” she asked. “No,” I said. I soon found my seat belt and put it on. I remember staring ahead looking at the interior of the plane and it felt like the plane was moving, creeping at a slow pace. I looked out the window and saw the ground moving like a movie, except I was the one moving. I watched the ground and the people or objects move out of the window as they taxied the plane onto the runway.

When it reached the runway, I heard the engine power up and felt the plane slowly gain speed and rise. Each time the plane ascended, my stomach felt like a gymnast doing back flips. I closed my eyes and took deep breaths to ease the queasy feeling in my stomach. My head felt like it was about to explode from the pressure, but the gum I chewed helped. The plane soon leveled off and I pulled out my journal to write down some notes and occasionally I looked out the window.

The plane passed over fields and waterways. The view reminded me of the satellite view on Google Maps or a patchwork quilt of greens, browns, blues and whites sewn together with turn rows, and drainage ditches. I looked at one of the fields as we passed and it had water furrows, wavy lines, like a rice field.

In about an hour, the plane reached Memphis, Tenn. I looked through the window and at the earth to see the city, which looked like a mini city built by a child from Lego blocks. I saw a silver pyramid out the window and as the plane turned in the sky, I saw it from multiple angles. When the plane was finally cleared to land the details of the landscape, houses, cars and even the side of a FedEx truck became more readable.

We arrived at Memphis International Airport around 5 p.m., but a delayed flight kept us there for two hours.

To New York

The plane soon arrived to carry us to LaGuardia and the island of Manhattan. The passengers boarded the plane and the plane allowed passengers a little room to move. Kloap and I moved to different rows than the number on our tickets read and I sat comfortably with three seats to myself. The nauseating feelings I felt the first time didn’t happen this time. I sat by the window watching the ground move beneath the plane.

During the two-hour trip, I attempted to do a little homework and completed some of it.

I looked out of the window, when the plane approached New York City. I looked at the glow of the lights and saw patterns among the buildings, street lamps and other illuminating devices. As we flew around the island of Manhattan, I saw the tall buildings, and the lady liberty herself. I took pictures of the lights from the view out of my window and prayed the pictures would turn out all right; they didn’t.

As the plane flew lower to the ground my head felt like a balloon with too much air. I popped one of my ears, but I couldn’t pop the other one. The captain came on the intercom announcing our arrival and said the weather was about 30-40 degrees, colder than when we left Tennessee. The plane finally landed and we exited the plane and went to collect our luggage. After finding all of it, we rented a SuperShuttle van to take us to The Roosevelt Hotel on Madison Avenue at 45th Street.

In New York

My view of New York City came somewhat from the movies and television shows I watched. I expected it to be cleaner; I don’t know why. The height of the buildings amazed me for the first few days and then the older buildings fascinated me more with their architecture and style.

The buildings made me feel small, but it was the people I met and some of the things I experienced that really stood out in my mind. St. Paul’s Chapel stood out among all of the tall buildings. From the outside, the chapel looked small among the high rises around it, but the inside made some of the biggest churches I’ve seen look tiny. I felt like I was walking with the forefathers of our great nation and the volunteers and firefighters of Sept. 11. Chester Johnson explained what happened during the attacked on the World Trade Centers and how St. Paul’s Chapel helped when they were needed most.

Times Square — Linna stands on Times Square, which is a long way from Gould, Ark. (Photo by Sitton)

For the longest time, I wanted to see a Broadway play. I got my chance to see one the night of March 15 and proved to myself that I could walk New York City by myself. I knew “Mary Poppins” might be playing in New York from a friend who saw it in London told me it was coming to the United States. By this time, I walked with others to Times Square enough to know where I was going, but I was still unsure. I wanted to see the show and after a nap, I bought a map and asked for the best way to get there. A bellhop at The Roosevelt Hotel showed me on the map and I began my walk to the discount ticket booth, where I thought I needed to buy my ticket. I passed the familiar sights on my way to my destination. When I arrived, I found out I needed to purchase the ticket at the theater. When I asked where it was he told me it and then I asked what was near it. He told me to look for “Champs.”

I started my walk and asked a couple of times if I was going in the right direction. I soon saw the word “Champs” in red lights and turned right. I saw the New Amsterdam Theatre and to my surprise a McDonald’s I saw on the Food Channel one day. It looked like a theater, too, all-lit up in lights. I remembered the cable program saying they changed a large amount of light bulbs to keep the thing lit.

I walked up to the theater and up to the ticket booths and asked the cost of tickets for Saturday and Sunday nights. The man quoted a Sunday ticket being $120, and then he said there was a ticket for $80 in the mezzanine section that night. I said I would take it. I pulled out a $100 bill and paid for the ticket. I looked at my watch; it read 7:30 p.m. and the show started at 8 p.m. I went next door and bought a chicken club sandwich. The inside of the restaurant looked like the backstage of a theater, just like the program described. I soon returned to the New Amsterdam Theatre. I rode the elevator to the mezzanine section of the theater and found my seat. I waited for the show to start.

Two women and a man from Spain sat in my row. I tried to talk to a woman beside me and found out she didn’t speak English. The young woman with an accent explained that her mother didn’t speak English and the daughter often translated for me. I tried to speak to her in what Spanish I remembered, but I used broken Spanish and probably slang.

The play soon began and color met my eyes and the beautiful music and talent met my ears as I watched and listened to the performance. I remembered some of the scenes from the collector’s program I saw over a year ago and looked at my own. At times, I sang along with the actors and other times I just soaked all of the color and song I could in my mind.

After the night of the play, New York City poured out new sites. I watched another play: “Chicago.” I met a woman and other volunteers who collected money for the homeless and an elderly woman who watched the crowd carefully to cross the street in safety. I walked across with her. I looked upon the face of the Statue of Liberty and felt short standing beside a bronze replica of her face. I only came up to the wide part of her nose.
I even tried a little white wine, only two sips though, but I will save that story for another time.

Saving The Jena Six

A Guest Commentary
by Michael Ford

CROSSETT, Ark. (Sept. 20) – With incidents like the recent ones in Jena, La., the South deserves its reputation as being the most racist region of the United States. Any white person that hangs a noose anywhere should face prison time. The white students responsible for the nooses at the Jena high school didn’t even get expelled, but merely suspended for three days. I got suspended for five when I skipped a day of school in junior high.

If it was up to me, it would not only be illegal to hang nooses, but to fly the confederate flag. I hear Southerners ramble on about the importance of their heritage. It’s unfortunate that said heritage consists of close-minded, racist bigotry that any decent person should be ashamed of. Instead of admitting such and trying to improve upon the ignorance of their ancestors, many Southerners celebrate it, tricking themselves into thinking it’s something to be proud of.

Blind allegiance, patriotism, etc., is the root of all evil. We should be striving to improve upon the ways of those who came before us, not mimicking them in a celebratory fashion.

For those unfamiliar with the story I speak of, I submit to you these videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_rntP6iw4U

Refusing to Evolve

A Guest Commentary
by Michael Ford

CROSSETT, Ark. (Sept. 15) – A study published this week in Nature Neuroscience and reviewed in Slate Magazine verifies something most intellectuals already knew: Liberals are smarter than conservatives.

“In a rapid response test—you press a button if you’re given one signal, but not if you’re given a different signal—the authors found that conservatives were ‘more likely to make errors of commission,’ whereas ‘stronger liberalism was correlated with greater accuracy.’ They concluded that ‘a more conservative orientation is related to greater persistence in a habitual response pattern, despite signals that this response pattern should change.’”

Does anyone really find this surprising? A habitual response pattern merely indicates someone who is strongly resistant to change, or as they like to call themselves, traditionalists. It still bothers me that the word tradition has positive connotations for most people. For me, tradition has always meant “refusal to evolve.” Shouldn’t we all be constantly looking for new, improved ways to do things, rather than repeating ourselves, calling it tradition and tricking ourselves into believing it’s a good thing.

America still practices quite a few traditions that any decent, open-minded person should be ashamed of, such as only allowing opposite sex to marry, not giving women the right to choose, selling anyone a gun, mistreating immigrants and, of course, invading third-world countries to obtain a finite resource while ignoring genocides. Conservatives would suggest we do those things simply because, well, it’s tradition. However, at one time, slavery and not allowing women to vote was also American tradition.

That said, you would think everyone would conclude that change is good and tradition (or habitual responses) is bad, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case. Back to the study …

“‘Liberals are more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses.’ The study’s lead author, NYU professor David Amodio, told London’s Daily Telegraph that ‘liberals tended to be more sensitive and responsive to information that might conflict with their habitual way of thinking.’”

When I think of habitual responses, I think of the response I get when asking conservatives why they still support President Bush: “He’s a good Christian man that’s against abortion!” The irony in such a response is staggering considering the president is responsible for thousands upon thousands of deaths. If I was going to support Bush, I would at least come up with a more believable reason, such as his contributions to the English language.

Dog Fighting. Michael Vick. Enough Said.

A Guest Commentary
by Kevin Sims

NEW EDINBURG, Ark., July 21 – I’ve been holding off blogging on this subject, not for any personal feelings or research purposes, but because of my work schedule. I came to the conclusion that interns are the immigrant workers of the professional world.

If you are a sports fan, even just a very casual one, you have heard something about the subject of my blog. It’s been in the news for months, but it just picked up a lot of momentum. I’m talking about the Bad Newz Kennels, Michael Vick’s dog fighting business.

For heading up a dog-fighting ring, the federal government indicted Vick. This would be news worthy enough to blog about, but I want to talk about the grisly details that were published about it.

I’m no PETA supporter or any type of animal activist. The closest confidant I have while I’m struggling to become a writer is, and I respect the hell out of him. We don’t see eye to eye on most things, but I respect his opinion. That being said, you don’t have to even like animals to be completely disgusted about the situation.

Dog fighting is bad enough. You train a pit bull to fight other pit bulls, sometimes to the death; by abusing the hell out of it till it’s the meanest son of a bitch that ever walked the earth. Once a fighting dog, it can never be anything else. It’s trained to kill and it will.

Let’s just say dog fighting is legal and ethical for a moment. Let’s call it the animal equivalent of Ultimate Fighting. When a Bad News Kennel dog lost a fight, the people who run the kennel would kill it. Lets say hypothetically that is legal and ethical too.

But it is how they killed them that makes me sick to my stomach.

These sick fucks didn’t euthanize the dogs; they tortured them to death. A quick shot to the head I would even be cool with. No these low lifes strangled the dogs, hung them with a noose, drowned them or shot them to make sure they suffer. When they felt really creative they hosed them down with water, brought out a pair of jumper cables and electrocuted the dogs to death.

I may be a little off base, but I’m pretty sure torturing animals is like the first sign of being a psychopath.

You can argue all you want about how cows and chickens are mistreated when they are slaughtered for food. You can argue that hunting is unethical, and keeping wild animals in pens is wrong. At least they have purpose.

What’s the purpose of building a miniature gallows to watch a dog strangle to death? It serves no purpose and who ever does that deserves to be punished at the fullest extent of the law.

Now I’ve heard every argument someone can make on Vick’s innocence. I don’t care if he wasn’t the one fighting the dogs. I don’t care if he didn’t put the cement slippers on Fido. He owned the house that the animals were kept, where his friends who ran the business lived and the land that these heinous acts were committed. His property has a dog fighting stadium on it.

You cannot tell me he didn’t know what was going on. I don’t live in or own any of the houses my friends and family live in, but I would know what was going on if they had 50 pit bulls penned up. I would know if they got off for torturing cockroaches.

If a man knowingly owns a building that is a whorehouse, he is just as responsible for prostitution as the pimps and whores or the people that run the business.

The only way Michael Vick is innocent is if Bad News kennels is just a breeding business or these heinous acts weren’t committed on his property. Convicted or not, unless they prove what I just said, he is a piece of shit and the NFL should punish him.

I’ve heard this was a race issue. Being black doesn’t make dog fighting or torturing animals acceptable. I don’t care about his upbringing or race; he is still a worthless human being. Seriously, that argument is saying that by being black you a genetically programmed to torture animals. Do you really want that associated with your race?

I’ve heard it argued that it’s a regional thing and it’s acceptable in the South. No; it’s not. I’m as Southern as it gets and if someone asked me if I wanted to go with him to a dog fight I would kick him in the nuts and beat the crap out of him for exploiting man’s best friend.

I’m can’t claim to be an animal rights activist but I’m an avid dog lover. I didn’t know how much I loved dogs till I got Saban, an ugly yellow mutt whose only true talent is meeting me at my car everyday for the past year and a half every time I pull up from either school or work as happy to see me as anything could be. I don’t care how bad my day was, when I pull up and Saban meets me, I can’t help but feel better. It is so wonderful a feeling to know you have something in life that can never disappoint you and will literally pee on itself with excitement to see you.

I know killing and torturing dogs are not as bad as killing and torturing a human. I never claim that it is, but it’s close.

A dog didn’t get the nickname “Man’s Best Friend” just cause it sounded cute. Nothing that exist is as loyal, affectionate and personally absorbed as a dog. No human can be these things to another human as a dog is with its owner. I don’t care if you’re in the greatest relationship ever with the perfect mate, they are not happy to see you every time you open the door. I don’t care if you are the most loving parent in the world, your life will never be as completely centered around your child’s life as a dog is to its owner, if they are treated right.

You maybe a cat person or some other kind of animal person, your relationship with your animal fails in comparison with what a dog has with its owner. Not even close.

To get this kind of affection all you have to do is get a puppy, keep it fed and scratch its ear every now and then. It will worship you. That’s all it takes.

Torturing any kind of animal for the pleasure of torture is wrong. I actually commend PETA for protesting outside of the NFL office hoping to inflict some sort of punishment to Vick. I really hope it’s not just PETA. I hate that organization, but I’d picket with them if I could.

You know it is a horrible situation when an avid deer hunter sides with PETA. That’s just how horrible a person Vick is.

Vote and Matter: Don’t and You’re ‘Mad as the Hatter’

Editor’s Note: Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men is routinely listed in the top five novels in American literature, although it appears to have dropped off the radar screen of the masses in today’s so-called “conservative” TV-driven American culture. It is still available in book stores and worth the read, especially for the middle class and working poor who are often misled by politicians who really do not have their economic interests in mind. It may be “the culture stupid,” but the remake of this movie should be at the top of their list to see before the Nov. 7 election.

Movie Website and Trailer

Key Quote: “If you don’t vote, you don’t matter.”

by Henry B. Rosenbush

Charismatic, controversial and mendacious best describes the life of Huey P. Long, whose political career included tenures as railroad commissioner, state senator and finally governor of Louisiana (1928-35). His assassination in the State Capitol building on the evening of September 8, 1935 has historically been attributed to Dr. Carl Weiss, although evidence culled in the 1990s suggests that Dr. Weiss was framed. Trained in law, Long’s journey to the gubernatorial mansion was filled with personal corruption, but on the other side, Long brought numerous benefits to his dirt-poor state.

Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer winning novel, All the King’s Men was a scathing examination of Populist Southern Governor Willie Stark’s rise and fall. The novel inspired four films, the 1949 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Actor (Broderick Crawford) and Mercedes McCambridge (Supporting Actress), a 1953 version produced by James Cagney, the 1989 Paul Newman version “Blaze,” a comedic retelling from the point of view of stripper Blaze Starr, the recent 2006 film with Sean Penn, two made for television adaptations, a TV special, an opera and an excellent Ken Burns documentary in 1987.

While the 1949 film remains the best of the lot the most recent version at least was released during the upcoming election season. It’s a shame that this one has slipped quietly away, dropping off the top 50 list last week. Roundly panned by critics (of 134 national reviews it only received 14 positive nods) for myriad reasons; casting numerous Brits in the roles of Southerners, murky subplots, a shaky narrative, well, you get the idea.
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