O Hour, Charleston,SC

Monday, November 5, 2012

North Chucks Own Four Corners of Law

      I was on my way back from Folly Beach the other day to my shop in North Chuck just minding my own business and listening to the latest "Sons of Bill" CD, "Sirens". As I approached the intersection of Rivers and Cosgrove avenues I had the bad luck of being that car that has to make the decision of whether to squeeze through a light about to turn red or wait for the next opportunity.Being as there is a police sub-station on one corner, I chose not to add to the cities tax revenue and stopped.
      People watching as I sat waiting for the light to turn green, it suddenly occurred to me what I was looking at through the wind shield of my old Dodge truck "Traveler". Now I have driven through that intersection thousands of times and had never noticed what had been so obviously  right before my eyes all these years. Then today like the church bell in the Cherokee Methodist steeple it rang to me as true and clear as the Carolina sky. As obvious as it was to me, I knew that only someone born and raised here, in Charlestons poor stepsister to the north could appreciate the irony and humor laid out for all to see.
     Without trying North Charleston had created it very own version of Charlestons famous "Four Corners Of Law". Being who we are, it was inevitable that we had to thumb our nose at the downtown blue bloods and put our own distinctive and of course very colorful North Chuck spin on it.

      I have already mentioned the North Charleston police sub-station that occupies one corner and while its used more as a parking lot for unused squad cars and there is seldom if ever an officer at home it does still represent of course, ,,,,,, City Law.

     On the Southern corner is of course Cherokee Methodist church. Standing as a calm port in the storm, it has catered to the spiritual needs of the blue collar backbone that is the North Area. Sitting in the middle of one of the toughest neighborhoods around its been a life boat to the poor, the sick and the needy......Gods Law

     Diagonally across Rivers is First Federal Savings and loan, It holds the distinction as one of the most robbed banks in the area. I think they even have that printed on their stationary. They do however offer reusable bags with "Postage Paid" address labels for the robbers to take with them to help with recycling. Being insured by federal government they are backed by the full weight of the United States and the federal reserve and as such represent for good or bad,,,,,,,,,Federal Law

     The last corner is a bus stand, but not just any bus stand but a CARTA depot that has been built to one day support an elevated transportation system that will run above both The City OF and The North Area,. Just what we need more empty public transportation only now over our heads and our homes. CARTA the huge unused drain of our tax dollars with their pollution producing empty buses that circle the Lowcountry like neglected Hound Dogs , looking for and begging for someone, anyone to play catch.  Thank you South Carolina,,,,,,State law.

     Just a little different from the elegantly marbled buildings of downtown fame.
Gratefully though the difference doesn't end there. Here is where North Charleston puts her stamp on it. Where as the cities version is admired and photographed by tourist the world over ours is well,,,,,,far more us. You see in the North Chuck version you can arrive by states CARTA bus, rob the Federally Insured First Federal Bank,,,cut across the intersection and Hide in Cherokee Methodist church and prey to GOD that the City of North Charlestons police wont catch you......

                                                          I love my hometown

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Prayer for Parents

                                                          A Prayer for Parents
Always answer a child's frown with a smile,  a tear with hug, and their fear with understanding.  This will one day help them smile at the world,  work through life's pain and see truths through uncertain times.

Help them to listen but not follow, to be the writer of their own lives story. Expect from themselves and not from others and they'll never be disappointed. Never give up their choices and freedoms to others, once lost they can never be regained.

Teach them to speak softly when those around them are loud, because people will always come close to hear a whisper and truths whispered are not soon forgotten.

Explain why kids grow wise who live not in houses, but in homes. Houses are cold,hollow and empty, homes are filled with warmth and love and everyone needs a home.

Tell them to build and not destroy, anyone can tear down, builders don't wait for luck they make it. Never worry about what someone else has, only what you can do to make yourself better. Build the best life you can.

                                                R. Sweat

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Facebook Anniversary

     Today is an anniversary of sorts. One year ago today I set up my facebook page, and while this might seem trivial to most, I have to say that I have come to look forward to to my daily venture into Facebook land.
     After high school I separated myself from North Charleston and most all of my family and friends by working for years on Kiawah and then going to college and working in Florida. Even after I moved back to SC in 1991, I kept a low profile as I worked to start my business, start a family,,,and well just life.
      The last year has given me insights into myself and the something that was missing as I reconnected with classmates, friends, and family. Through your post I've laughed and cried, prayed and wondered as I've learned of your travels and marveled at your successes. The amazing pictures of your families are testaments to how much I've missed. How far we've all come.
     To anyone out there that I've wronged  in my past, I am truly sorry and I can only ask your forgiveness. For my family that I lost touch with,, I have no excuse, only to say that I only hurt myself. To my hometown, I'm sorry that I misunderstood you, and that it's North Charleston  and its blue collar, get out of my face and let me get the job done, hard working Gator Ho!!! ethics that have guided me to now.
     Thanks to everyone who friended me on facebook whether you really ever liked me or not and its a comment on your the size of your heart that you all have been so kind. I promise to play nice from now on. The older I get the more I realize that all of us are tied together  in ways we cant imagine.

                      Good luck,God bless, See you in the Facebook Pages.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Fathers Day

For: Herbert A Sweat Who died in my Arms on the morning of Sunday Sept 2nd 1978

Hey Dad....I know its been a while since we've talked. 
I'm good, 51 now,,,,I know you never thought I'd make it this far, neither did I. Seems like a blink of an eye, and maybe it was but for me its been far too long.

Yes sir, I still hold doors for ladies, and say, please, pardon and of course I remember you teaching me that anyone between 2 and 200 has earned the right to be called mam or sir.

I call my mama everyday and do the best I can to make her smile. I miss my brother, but try not to bother him too bad or too often.
I love my wife and son and I will always be there for them, just as you were for me.....Family,,Family is who we are and they will always be family thick or thin,,, Yes I remember sir.

There are 2 kinds of people in this world, builders and people who tear things down,,,,,Always be a builder. Listen to everything and everyone, then make up your own mind and when you do, stand firm.      I'll try my best, you are so right sir.

Never get rid of anything unless your absolutely sure it can't be fixed again. Never say your car is broke,,I taught you how to use tools for a reason, this is the south we take care of our own, even if that own has a busted water pump.     I loved to be under the hood with you sir.

Always stand up for those who can't stand for themselves, but know theres a difference between those who need help and those who wont help themselves. Pick your fights not by if you can win or not, but by that they need to be fought. I wish you had taught everyone that sir.

Earn the right to live here everyday,,a right paid for by the lives of your ancestors and your countrymen. Always show respect for anyone who puts there life on the line to protect your loved ones. Remember they have loved ones too. I know sir, I am proud that you were a soldier once too.

Work to live don't live to work,,, In the end its not what we have ,but how we lived that will be remembered by the people who count. Remember home is called home for a reason. Never buy anything you can't afford to pay for.....That one took awhile sir, I'l do better I promise.

Always tell your loved ones that you love them,,, You really never know when that chance might be taken away,,,as you know all too well. ,,,,, Thanks dad I wont forget

Pass this along,,,, Yes Sir. I do, I really do to Morgan your Grandson, through me he's learned all the lessons you instilled in me......I see in him what you must have seen in me.

DAD,,,,,DAD,,,,,,DAD,,,,,Happy Fathers day,,I love you and miss you everyday. I hope I've made you proud.

R. Sweat

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Angels,Devils and A Kiss That Never Was

      My wife(Angela) and I will have been together 20 years this July. For those of ya'll who know me you'll find it amazing that in that time we might have had 10 arguments( Of which I was wrong on all occasions). For some reason that I have no knowledge of and certainly have never done anything to deserve, I've been blessed with this angel. Who in addition to being my life's love and best friend is also my business partner. We are literally around each other 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
       The story of how we came to find each other is worth telling.

     In 1982 I was working at Kiawah Island In the recreation dept. as their bike shop manager, and Angela worked in the pool shop at the Inn and Night Heron.
That summer we tried an experiment of renting bikes from the Night Heron Pool shop prior to the opening of our new shop in the park. My brother (Roger) who was working with me spent a lot of time in the pool shop at Night Heron with Angela setting up the rental operation there.
     Roger told me that the pool shop girl he was working with kept asking questions about me, but just having just broken up with a young lady that I had been seeing for 2 years I was in no rush to step back into the dating game. But my brother was persistent and at the end of one long hot workday, Rog shows up with this cute girl with amazing hazel eyes and long blonde hair, not to mention world class legs and a walk that would stop traffic. To my amazement she saunters right up and asks me on a date,,,, shocked, flattered, scared and more than a little impressed I said yes.
       The following Friday I picked her up at her house and we went to dinner at the Sandbar on Folly and then a walk on the beach. I don't know if it was not being very sure of myself or just suffering from "ex-girlfriend hangover syndrome", whatever the reason the timing just didn't seem to be right, so I took her home early to her house on Johns Island. As I walked her to the door a million things went through my head, but at the moment of truth, standing face to face at her doorstep I didn't or couldn't bring myself to kiss her goodnight.
Angela took this as I just wanted to be friends and true to her sweet nature never held it against me.    Fate is a fickle master.
       Two days later at a recreation party at the Styles Point mansion, I met a girl. She was a recreation intern  from the University of South Alabama who later went on to be, first my room mate on Folly Beach and later my 1st wife. Lynda Leigh was from Brewton Alabama and an old and established southern  family (Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the American Revolution, and yes I swear to God Mayflower descendants) anyway you get the picture. So in 1985 we were wed in front of  over 300 guests, Angela amongst them. She had traveled all the way to South Alabama with a group of Charleston friends and on the night before I was wed,  if truth be known we went swimming together, completely innocent.' (I say Skinny Dipping she doesn't remember it that way, but this is my story so Skinny Dipping it was)
       I was married to my first wife for 5 grueling years of verbal combat in which I would literally wake up every morning and say "I'm sorry", just so I could get one ahead. By the end we were masters in psychological warfare. I've heard it said that its not the chances you didn't get, but the chances you didn't take that haunt you and I believe that to be true. Over the years I would have this re-occuring thought about Angela, our date, and the kiss we never had. Always there, it was a constant theme of my dreams. Almost obsession like it was never far from my waking thoughts. For years I kept wandering where I would be today, but for that decision.
     After 5 years of all out war Lynda Leigh and I parted ways. So at the end of my last semester at the University of West Florida I packed a suitcase(I took nothing but the clothes I owned) and moved back to Charleston. My plan, simple,,,work myself to death. I went back to work managing Kiawahs' Bike Shop Monday - Friday, and on weekends I worked for IVS media as a media Tech, at night I delivered Pizza for Alano's on Seabrook. Sleep was becoming a memory as I tried to erase the mistakes of the last five years from my mind.
     One evening while delivering pizza to Seabrooks front desk late, I was amazed to find that the pretty night auditor at the front desk who was waiting for her dinner was non other than the girl I had thought so much about for all those years. After a few minutes of catching up and small talk I knew I couldn't make the same mistake twice, that somehow for some reason I was being allowed to correct a choice made so badly, so long ago. It was my turn this time and I asked her out right there and then. I had to know what I had missed, what had haunted me for so long.
      Angela though would not go out with me until she saw my divorce papers. So we made a date contingent of me bringing the papers when I went to pick her up. So on Saturday night I show up, paperwork in hand, praying for the movie to end so that I might make it back to her front door with enough courage to see this through. That night when I took her home, we kissed for the first time. It was like we bonded, right there and then from two people into one like mind. Gone was the pain and turmoil of the previous years only to be replaced with wide eyed optimism and peace. Two years later I surprised everyone at a table for 12 at California Dreaming, including myself when I asked Angel to marry me and she said yes.

          God if we only knew then what we know now, how much pain could we save ourselves? But the answer is never easy and it's not supposed to be. We have to earn the things we love and fight for those we want and all in all, 5 years with the devil herself was a small price to pay for 20 years with an Angel,,,,My Angel.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Backrooms and Scandals in Paradise

     Let me start off by saying I love the islands around Charleston. The beauty and history are like no place on earth. Hero's, villains,scoundrels and fools have all etched their name in the history and fabric of Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. For better or worse its not the islands fault so don't think I hold a grudge, I don't. Sometimes though, through sheer luck or maybe bad timing you find yourself in a place to see, hear or worse participate in something  that most guest would never believe happened. These things did happen, I was there.
     In the mid 80's I worked as a conference coordinator(corporate meeting planner) for Kiawah Island resort. My office was upstairs of the real estate office in the Straw Market, adjacent to the conference boardroom and the food and beverage office. The economy was struggling that year and our owners, the Kuwait Investment Co. was looking for buyers. This was at the end of a 3 year stretch where the resort had cut back on everything , staff of course, and facilities.
      The main restaurants were in bad need of equipment. Every night the chefs and stewards coated the floors in salt to keep people from slipping, and none of the ovens or stoves functioned properly. With the volume of summer business there was no way to actually clean the kitchen so stewards stayed up all night long with brooms to run off the raccoon's and opossums and rats that would find there way into the kitchens and at times the ovens. This summer was the worse, the fire dept. had to be called 4 times in a week once for grease fires. As luck would have it this was the same week the health inspector made his visit.
      As you can expect the restaurant was relieved of its A rating and given a C (I can't imagine what a D would be). The phones began ringing, from food and beverage to the executive  office with the news of the potential scandal. The CEO of the resort quickly put out a call and the health inspector was stopped at the gate and escorted to the boardroom between my office and food and beverage after 15 minutes in stomped the CEO with a wad of $100 bills and literally threw it at the man and said " I expect this will pay for an A rating" then he walked out without another word. Security walked him over to the Jasmine Porch and waited while he removed the C and replaced it with the paid for A.
                                            Second Story
       Before working in Group Services I worked as a bike shop manager in the recreation dept.. Being one of 4 full time employees you had to do whatever was needed to get the job done. At times I have given the history tour,guided seashell tour, and driven the jeep safari. I've cleaned pools, life guarded, bar tended, and  taught and ran craps & blackjack tables. I've been Santa Clause at Christmas and the Arm wrestler at Halloween, all of these were great but sometimes there are other things not so nice.  Late spring the pool manager left out 1000 lbs of soda ash and of course it rained. If you remember your chemistry, water mixed with contained bags of soda ash makes heat,,,,,alot of heat and fumes.
     I was asked by my boss to help dispose of the noxious chemicals and given instructions as to where and how to do it. We loaded the smoking bags into the beat up recreation van and went off island to a place just past where river road meets Bohicket (now Nancy Kerrigan). We turned off the road onto a small 4-5 acre piece of land that we were told was owned by Kiawah. Waiting for us was an older gentleman with a backhoe and a 10 foot deep hole. While unloading the bags I asked about the wisdom of burying chemicals so close to tomato fields. The reply I got shocked me. The gentleman said, "look around see how everything here is dead". Sure enough in the middle of the overgrowth was a huge barren area. He told me that this was where the resort disposed of waste from vehicle maintenance, Oil and cleaners along with bad batteries from the 100's of golf carts that were in use every day for the past 6-8 years. Still to this day I can still spot that barren spot as I drive by. 
     Just a couple of things I've seen, I haven't told all and certainly not the most scandalous,,,,I'm holding those in reserve. Bottom line people are people where ever you go, good ones, bad ones, happy ones,sad ones. Wow that felt good, to put that in writing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Are We There Yet? There's No Way To Know

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Are We There Yet? There's No Way To Know: Oscar Wilde      Earlier today someone posted the remark, is anyone there? The remark while feeling hollow and wanting also seemed to st...

Are We There Yet? There's No Way To Know

Oscar Wilde
     Earlier today someone posted the remark, is anyone there? The remark while feeling hollow and wanting also seemed to strike a curious cord in my brain.  I had a long lunch break while waiting for a trailer full of bicycles, that never arrived, so I decided to dissect and examine the question a little closer.
      Are we ever there? If we are "there" how can anyone else also be "there" too? To start out you have to decide if "there" even exist. Oscar Wilde's, "life is but a dream" theory postulates that everything is an illusion, but if this "there" is a dream, is it my dream or yours. Possibly its Gods' dream which gives rise to the possibility that maybe its not a dream at all, but a nightmare,but lets not go "there"(wherever  "there" is).
       The Philosopher Descartes said, "I think therefore I am", while Plato believed "I am therefore I Think", one of them or both of them possibly must be wrong, either way if we "are" is not the point,,,,today. What matters is if were "there", and being anywhere for whatever reason only makes us here, but doesn't help us with being "there".
        Physics teaches us that we are composed of billions of molecules that are constantly on the move. If our molecules are constantly in motion this means that we are always on the move and never really anywhere. Were just more likely to be "here" than not, and if were only most likely to be here, we also could only possibly have ever have been "there". Then Stephen Hawkins tells us that we not only exist here but on an infinite number of planes of existence. If we exist in all places, at all times, in every possible variation, does that mean that we'd always be "here" on all planes. Therefore could a "there" even exist? Einstein teaches us that Matter,Time,and Energy are the same thing and if he's right it means that "there" quite possibly might not be a place at all, but rather a "when", a moment in time. The act of being here in this time plane leaves a residual trail of past memories that tied together create a string through time and by doing so a "there",but thinking back on it, most of the time when I was "there", I was actually somewhere else in my mind. Which means I was certainly almost never "there", and that takes us back back to Oscar Wilde.
     People sometimes say, "I wish you were "there" ".  What are they really saying? Does that mean their wishing you weren't here, and now? It's almost akin to wishing someone out of existence. Kind of like when southerners say, "bless your heart" in place of "kiss my ass".
     I was "there", I am "there", I will be"there" are no more certain a statement of location, than the GPS coordinates for the land of OZ. Only to each individual can we truly know where or when we were when we were "there". Our own personal "there" really is, only in time or place, in our mind's eye. Just as each of us have our own  internal vision of what the color "blue" looks like only to us, so to is our understanding of "there". In closing were all "there" just as were all "here", forever tied to one another in ways that we can't even begin to fathom. An unbreakable line of connections and coincidences that layer and enrich the paths that we make from the "there" to the end of the dream, that is life.   In the end I'm glad you were "there",,,,,wherever that is or was.
"There's" No Place Like Home, "There's" No Place Like Home


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Does God Play Jenga With The Universe? Sorry Mr. E...

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Does God Play Jenga With The Universe? Sorry Mr. E...: Ever wonder about all the temporary people that you've known? Everyone has them, Individuals some for better, others not so much, that...

Does God Play Jenga With The Universe? Sorry Mr. Einstien

     Ever wonder about all the temporary people that you've known?
Everyone has them, Individuals some for better, others not so much, that for a short time have an influence in our lives. Like a secondary roll character on the soap opera that is our plane of existence, they come into our lives and challenge us and make us re-examine where we are and who we've become.
     It could be the kid that moved into and then out of my neighborhood when I was nine, that beat me up everyday for a summer, and taught me to always fight back. Or a guy who one summer night taught me 3 chords on a guitar and set off a lifelong love of all music (Rap Excluded,Raps not Music...Poetry ok maybe, but not music) How about that girl in school that I followed around, too shy and too scared to ask her out, who taught me that my heart would never be full until I let someone in. A co-worker who when he moved on left me  copies of  Hunter Thompson's, "Fear and loathing in Las Vegas" and Kerouac's, "On the Road", that's left me with an unquenchable thirst for reading. A banquet bartender at a Florida Hilton who found me at the bottom of a collapsed elevator shaft after 2 hours and lowered me 3 cold Heineken's BEFORE calling for help, showed me small mercies are sometimes the greatest ones and that hope comes in all shapes and sizes. Finally a 8foot tall 600 lb bear that publicly kicked my ass and gave me a whole new definition for the word humility(see other story).
      I earlier called these folks "temporary people", not because their lives are any less important than anyone else. In fact there can be no doubt that I am and we are temporary people in many others lives.  I only mean temporary in the terms of the relative short space of time in which we were able to interact. Just as one match can light a single blade of grass that starts a wildfire, that consumes everything in it's path, these people too race in and out of our world effecting our lives and set fire to all the familiar signpost's that we thought were made of stone only to find out that they like our lives are temporary and fragile.
       Jimmy Durante(yeah I know its an arcane reference) use to end his shows by saying, "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are" . In this spirit I'd like to say thanks to everyone who ever opened a door or just held a door, life is like a game of Jenga , all the pieces count and its up to us to choose wisely. "Goodnight temporary people, wherever you are".

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Water Cycles

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Water Cycles: As a kid, not unlike alot of southern boys I grew up in the water. From Easter to Halloween It's hard to think of a time when I wasn'...

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Coastal Fairs & Wrestling Bears Part 2

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Coastal Fairs & Wrestling Bears Part 2: A man walks into a bear cage. Yeah I know its sounds like a joke and it pretty much was. After all, what match was I for an 8 plus foot...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Stories From The Carolina Coast: Pirate's, Pothole...

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Stories From The Carolina Coast: Pirate's, Pothole...: Stede Bonnets Pirate Flag Stories From The Carolina Coast: Pirate's, Pothole's and Provost Dungeon's : Today I as I headed acro...

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Stories From The Carolina Coast: Welcome To The Be...

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Stories From The Carolina Coast: Welcome To The Be...: First off let me welcome Y'all to the Beach. Please know that Y'all are always welcome...

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Coastal Fairs & Wrestling Bears Part 2

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Coastal Fairs & Wrestling Bears Part 2: A man walks into a bear cage. Yeah I know its sounds like a joke and it pretty much was. After all, what match was I for an 8 plus foot...

Coastal Fairs & Wrestling Bears Part 2

    A man walks into a bear cage.  Yeah I know its sounds like a joke and it pretty much was. After all, what match was I for an 8 plus foot tall brown bear that not only weighed in excess of 600 lbs, but had been taught 15 wrestling moves.  Answer was ,,,,,Not Much.
    Now I am 6'4"-5" and at the time approx. 245 lbs, not exactly a midget and probably in the best shape of my life. In high school I once was given a plaque for bench pressing 350 pounds, and with a stupidity reserved for the young, I would, using my legs pick up small cars from time to time. I thought I was bulletproof. That was before I looked down the barrel of a drunken, agitated giant in a smelly brown coat.
     With tears of laughter still running down his  dirt stained face from the previous challenger's escapade.The carny opened the door for my date with destiny and as the gate closed I noticed that my dignity along with any hope of winning decided to stay outside and watch. They were smart.
      Entering the animals domain I watched as my opponent finished the last of the six pack of beer he'd been given as prize for utterly destroying the previous gentleman, who God only knows why had drifted into his own private hell that night. Now looking for another brew he wondered the edges of the cage occasionally kicking bottles out of the way. The trainer assuming I was going to be some kind of threat to collect his $20,000. bounty I guess, began to agitate the creature. Using his collar he raised the animal onto his hind legs and with a shove pushed the bear into me.( To give you an idea of what it's like, imagine a fully loaded 8' bookshelf covered in the nastiest old shag carpeting available falling on you.) As we fell I rolled away in fear, not wanting a repeat of what happened to the contestant before me. Thinking I was free I stood up, but the bear using his paw hooked a leg and sent me face first to the mat, once again I got up, this time more careful of my partner in crime.
     For two years I had talked about trying to do something no one thought possible, I was going to pick the bear up and as I pulled myself from the slimy mat I saw my chance. Mr. Bear assuming he was done or maybe just hoping that it was cocktail hour so he could continue his bender, slowly walked away in search of another Miller.  Quickly I moved in behind him and YES bear hugged the bear. Fingers barely touching and my face buried in his flea infested fur it was now or never. Moving my feet forward for more leverage and arching my back I lifted with everything I had. To my surprise and and that of the crowd it worked and for 4 or 5 seconds Yogi hung in mid air.  I stumbled forward a few steps before slowly lowering my four legged friend back to earth. Filled with pride I released him from my grip, but as we all know, pride com-meth before a fall and mine was to be epic.
       Something I never considered was the position that I had assumed while doing my work, I was later told this is the same position bears take to mate. In a moment the male monster let me know that he wasn't anybodies bitch. With an island size paw
he hooked the back of my head and flipped me over his back. I flew upside down 5 to 6 feet through the air before being stopped by the chicken wire barrier, before crashing to the ground, leaving a body sized imprint in the cage. Before I could move my foe was upon me and with the effort it takes to shoo a fly he first scooped me in his (no pun) bear arms before once again flipping me over his back. Charging forward we butted heads, cold bear slobber covering my face, the smell of bear breath and alcohol everywhere. Reaching my feet I was once again found myself in his grasp, a toy at his disposal. With a quick twist we rolled over and over across his living room floor his weight crushing the wind out of me with every turn. My mind raced in survival mode I tried with all I had left to break free as the world spun over and over. Just as I was about to give up the hand of God in the form of his trainer intervened and meekly I staggered out, bear hair covering me from head to toe. As a last act of dominance Smokey using both hands picked up an empty beer bottle and after finding no refreshments there, threw it at me. Hitting me in the forehead and  leaving a scar that I still carry today. Branding me for life as one of his cows.
     I think back on that night from time to time and wonder what happened to not so gentle Ben, and I bare(pun intended this time) him no ill will and I hope he feels the same for me. Maybe I'll drop him a line, send him an e-mail and see if he'd like a re-match ,,,,,on second thought I'll let him slide,, he's probably too old and I wouldn't want to hurt him. Maybe we'll just go out and have a beer,,,,,:)  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Whats in a name

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Whats in a name: OK,where do I start? The Name. Gator HOoooo isn't about the U of Florida or any wild life preservation group,or even one of those grea...

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Coastal Fairs And Wrestling With Bears

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Coastal Fairs And Wrestling With Bears: When I was in high school one of the things I always looked forward to every fall was the arrival of the Coastal Carolina Fair. Back in ...

Coastal Fairs And Wrestling With Bears

    When I was in high school one of the things I always looked forward to every fall was the arrival of the Coastal Carolina Fair. Back in the 70's the fair was far different than today. Of course you had all the worn out overused rides,  fixed boardwalk games, and art expos. Fair food then consisted mainly of the mandatory corn and hot dogs, soyburgers  and elephant ears. People watching was the real game, as guys and girls walked the circle of the boardwalk over and over in that familiar mating dance of the over hormoned American teenager.
    The fair back then was also grittier and a little more hardcore. I read once as Pat Conroy described the fairgrounds off  Dorchester road having strippers dancing to drunken groups of men in tents as pickpockets worked the crowd. My fair while I don't remember the strippers was in places defiantly a descendant of Mr. Conroys.
For a buck you could buy a 24 oz beer, and because the drinking age was 18 no one ever carded you. For that same dollar you could get in to see the Vietnamese Drug Addict, a sad little guy in a wheelchair who would look up on you and curse you in two languages. Then there was the bear.
     The bear cage occupied a place of honor in the middle of the concourse. It was approx. 15' by 15', about 10' high surrounded on three sides by jail bars with woven chicken wire from ceiling to floor. The back wall adjoined a trailer where the bear was kept when not performing. Entrance was made by a single door on the side of the cage. The bear himself was a little over 8' tall and weighed in excess of 600 pounds. It had been trained to wrestle and knew about 15 moves, and had beaten  the famous Andre the Giant. The owners of the animal had put up $20,000.00 to anyone who could pin the beast.
      My senior season I injured and years later found out broke my right ankle on the last day of football practice. Though injured I couldn't  or wouldn't miss the fair, so taped under and over my shoe(thank you Donna Higganbotham)  I limped around the boardwalk. That night I was supposed to have had my shot in the limelight,,,,I was supposed to wrestle the bear.  I had spent the previous week bragging that I was going to pick up the 600 lb Kodiak, but now I looked on as others took my place. My friends taunted me for days not knowing how bad my injury actually was and I swore that I would fulfill my promise not just to them but to myself.  Next year......yeah Next year.
        It took a few years but when I was 20 I finally got the chance and as I waited for my turn  to step into the cage I tried to watch and learn from those who went before me. What I learned is something Louis and Clark , Mountain men and Daniel Boone knew,,  DON"T MESS WITH BEARS. Most of the guys before me went down and went down HARD. The bear between matches would wait by his trainer and drink 2 or 3 Miller Highlites while waiting for his next victim. Taking people in alphabetical
order and having the last name of Sweat the bear as you imagined was more than a little tipsy as the poor gentleman before me was about to find out.
        Ahead of me and into the cage entered a small (5'2 and 90lbs) oriental man. To this day I swear I don't think he had any Idea where he was or what was about to happen.  He walked into the cage waving vigorously to the crowd of a couple of hundred of onlookers smiling from ear to ear. Not paying attention to his surroundings he never noticed as the trainer moved the bear into position and raised him to a standing state,,,,towering 3ft and 500 lbs above the helpless contestant the bear moved in. In response to the crowd he turned at the last second, gave a high pitched squeal and visibly jumped a foot into the air in fear. Unable to escape the surprise attack the bear literally
flattened him, pinning him before he managed to wriggle free. As he gained his footing he launched a kung fu attack. Chopping and kicking at the bear he circled  his opponent until the bear stopped all forms of resistance in a single swipe of his massive paw. From then on it was a footrace as my brother in bear arms ran around and around the cage in shear terror  as the audience roared in laughter, trying his best to salvage any honor or dignity,,,,sadly it was all for naught. In a final act of asserting his dominance the master of the cage once again cornered and pinned his prey, this time there was no escape. Trapped against the chicken wire the bear had his way, Maybe it was all the beer or the great chase around the cage but like a bad drunk there was no way he could hold his liquor  any longer and puked all over the helpless mans lap, and then proceeded to re acquire his lunch. Licking the prostrate mans crotch in a frenzy for several minutes the stunned crowd broke out in another round of riotous laughter, the trainer  too was doubled over in the corner,  helpless as he shook uncontrollably  as another wave of laughter rolled over him. Finally wet, humiliated and smelling of bear barf he escaped, running out the door and disappearing through the crowd in a dead sprint, never to be seen again I assume. His ordeal was over,  mine was about to begin.
                             ::::::::  TO BE CONTINUED  ::::::::

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too o...

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too o...: I had the honor to spend a few years in and around New Orleans, pronounced "Nawlins" by the way, in the late 80's early 90's. I cam...

Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too or My Mouths on Fire But I Can't Stop Eating

       I had the honor to spend a few years in and around New Orleans,  pronounced "Nawlins" by the way,  in the late 80's early 90's. I came away with a great admiration for the area, the culture and especially the food. I was taught how to eat Mud Bugs by a young Tulane student. She showed me how break the  tail from the body of the Crawfish and then "Suck the Head" before eating the mini-lobster meat hiding in the tail. We attacked the 3 foot high pile of crustaceans along with 200 of our newest Mardi Gras friends as we waited for the Crew Of Wrecks Parade to begin its winding journey, through the streets of the Crescent City. Covered in Crawfish Juice and Dixie Beer I had the Time of my  life as I savored every sight,  sound and smell  during my first festival and what and education I got that night.
     Being from the South and the Lowcountry I am no stranger to great Southern Cuisine. Fried chicken, barbecue (Mustard Sauce , Maurice Bessingers of course), rutabagas, collards, and  shrimp and grits are preached  in the kitchens of homes in Charleston and embedded in our collective psyche  from the time were born  as much as saying m'am or sir or holding the door for a lady.
       One of the main differences between Cajun food and the rest of the south is the heat to which it is served. Now I'm not talking about temperature of the food as measured by a thermometer , but rather the quantity of pepper, tabasco sauce, or cayenne used in just about every dish, even the sweet tea seems to have a little kick.  I learned over time not only to like,  but grew to love and crave whats been called the cajun trinity, of garlic, onion and cayenne pepper. To the point where I have put hot sauce on potato salad.
     Like the smugglers who brought back the first silk worms from China, or tobacco from the new world I managed to spirit away the recipe for what could be the very touchstone of cajun cooking, Blackened Seasoning. This is not for the faint of heart or those who think paprika is too spicy. My first encounter  with this ethereal concoction  was at K-Pauls when I ordered Blackened Redfish (Spot Tail Bass) and I immediately fell prostrate and  gave myself heart and soul to its worship. While the seasoning gained fame on fish it is equally as good on beef and especially chicken. Now tempting the fates and risking reprisal from the cajun food police, I am now going to pass along this well guarded secret of the Creole Coast.
                                                    Real Blacken Seasoning
       First you need an 8 ounce container with holes in the lid big enough to shake oregano through.

        1.     2 Tablespoons of Paprika
        2.     5 Teaspoons of Salt
        3.     2 Teaspoons of Onion Powder
        4.     2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
        5.     2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
        6.     2 Teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper
        7.     1  1/2 Teaspoons of  White Pepper
        8.     1  1/2 Teaspoons of  Black Pepper
        9.     1 Teaspoon of Dried Thyme
       10.     1 Teaspoon of Oregano

                 Shake well before using

     HOW TO USE:  Lightly coat meat with olive oil then cover,,,I mean COVER  with seasoning until you can't see the color of the food.  Cook,,,,,Grill, Hot Cast Iron Frying Pan, Bake In Oven. It doesn't matter it's all good. Great with New Potatoes, Red Rice, You name it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Snoopy Dancing Through Life

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Snoopy Dancing Through Life: Everyone knows Peanuts, the great Charles Schultz characters that are a part of every Americans families collective psyche. Charlie Brow...

Snoopy Dancing Through Life

    Everyone knows Peanuts, the great Charles Schultz characters that are a part of every Americans families collective psyche. Charlie Brown, Linus ,Sally, Lucy and of course Snoopy and the gang are as much our friends as the the kids next door. From our earliest childhood ,we've loved, laughed and felt their youthful  angst like it was our own. Just like an old friend from our childhood we know that their always with us. As sure as spring follows winter we know that every Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas we will all make that cycle and come full circle to find that we've run right back into the wide eyed optimism of our youth  . Fifty year old kids sitting in front of the TV, but in our hearts were right there in that pumpkin patch with Charlie Brown and Linus still waiting on the Great Pumpkin to rise.
      There is a scene in every story, where snoopy, in a moment of unbridled joy begins to dance. Sometimes with the whole gang, often by himself, nose to the sky, his beagle ears flopping in the breeze, carefree, full of complete and utter happiness. Oh to be a character in a cartoon.
       Unlike our cartoon friends though we have to live in the real world. Cars, cell phones and mostly real life always seem to want to get in the way of our own storybook endings. Hard choices seem to always be followed by even tougher ones, and everyone knows the reward for hard work is well,,, more hard work. I don't seem to remember Charlie Brown ever re-financing his house, or having to deal with an aging parent, or pulling a 100 + hour work week. These things just aren't that much fun, but they are part and parcel of living in today's Twitterworld.  Sometimes its easy to forget that its the joy that we live for. Maybe in our hot-cold, east-west, good-bad world its the daily grind that makes the peace of home and family that much sweeter, just as darkness makes the daylight seem brighter.
      "This too shall pass", to me has always been not only one of the most comforting, but also worrying quotes that sometimes bounces through my South Carolina educated head from time to time. In context not only does it imply that our pain will pass, but also that the joyous times we so carefully and lovingly store away in our memories are fleeting and transcendent . Too easy is it to step on life's carousel and focus on the ride and not the blur of the world as it swirls by seemingly just out of our reach.
     My suggestion is to remember our schultzian counterparts and just step off life's amazing ride for a second and do a little Snoopy Dance every now and again. Sounds simple I know but it's harder in practice than theory. Go home, turn off the TV,the I Pod's, the computer and especially the phones. No e-mails, no Twit's, no texting ,,,,,NO CHEATING.  Pull out a board game or a deck of cards, it doesn't matter. What does matter are the people at the table, and while your there talk,,,,,,,face to face. I'll bet it wont be long before you too will be nose to the sky, beagle ears flopping in the breeze, dancing with your own "Peanuts" gang to sound of Schroeder's Piano.

Or as Charlie Browns Teacher Would Say,  "Whah Whah,,Whah Whah Whah Whah Whah...."

Monday, January 2, 2012

North Charleston, Your From Where?

Cooper River in North Charleston
   Crossing the North Bridge the other day into what used to be the North Area, I began to ponder my hometown and it's name.To the TV news North Charleston is a place to go when they need a quick story on crime or poverty, same with the newspapers. To them were a city of wannabe's,should have been's of, or never was's. A place to collect the cast offs of downtown society, basically were the servant quarters to their plantation at the mouth of the Ashley and Cooper.     I don't see it that way.
     Even before the city was the city, when we were the first district, it was the North Area that did the heavy lifting.  While Downtown attracted the tourist and world wide acclaim, it was the dedicated folks from the other side of the tracks that drove the economic engine of the entire area. How many Parks Auto parts stores have you noticed on the Battery, or any of the other thousands of essential business's that form the backbone of the Charleston area. While the hotels and restaurants of the peninsula maybe world class, its the world class employees that make them tick. If you checked the personnel files of their employees I'd be willing to  bet you'd find alot more home address's from Montague and Spruill Ave's.  than Tradd St.  or  than East Bay. For 200 years we've cleaned up behind and fixed all the messes of our prima donna sister city to the south. Hour to hour and day to day it's our citizens that continue to this day to build both cities.
     Stepchild to the "City Of"(just sounds pretentious doesn't it?) North Charleston committed what amount to it's own version of "Original Sin" when it chose its name. Just like in the world of colleges football,  who can name a great directional city? North New York, West Chicago, South San Francisco? We might as well have been named Nowhere, or the City To Be Named Later, but even these names are recognizable compared to North Charleston. Was it a lack of effort, a shortage of time, or blind ignorance that guided our founders to give us this moniker?
    I've thought about  what I would name our area and I came up with a few suggestions,,,,Cooper River, Chicora, and Iron Dog come to mind right away.Noisette or Port City would also be good choices. All these names though describe where we are, but not who we are. When I think of my home town and its citizen its not the geography but the people that I think of. In that vane If given the choice of what the sign entering the city would say I would have to choose from the following list, HEART,SC, COURAGE,SC, HERO,SC, SACRIFICE,SC BLUE COLLAR,SC, INTEGRITY,SC, DETERMINATION,SC and of course SOUL,SC