Category Archives: My Journey

Chapter 63: A Sense of Place from “My Southern Gothic Life”

There is a new post up on my other blog:


I just got home from home…

First of all, you have to understand that home is a complex term for me.  It’s more a feeling than a place….

I just spent the weekend in Lexington, Virginia where I went to school at Washington and Lee University.

I just realized it was also my first home…

More:   Chapter 63: A Sense of Place | My Southern Gothic Life.

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Filed under My Journey, Scott's Commentary

Chapter 52: Sex in the South: Part 2- The Queen of the South | My Southern Gothic Life

New post up on my other blog,….

Here’s a brief excerpt and a link to the full post…

Like fashion, new movies, ethnic food and just about everything else, the Sexual Revolution came late to Danville, Virginia.

However, given the sexually repressive atmosphere, it should be no surprise it led the way in one area:  Outdoor Porn Drive In Theaters.

via Chapter 52: Sex in the South: Part 2- The Queen of the South | My Southern Gothic Life.

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Filed under Entertainment, History, Movies, My Journey, Scott's Commentary, Style, The South, Virginia

Chapter 50: Party at the Hot Sheet Hotel | My Southern Gothic Life

New post up on my other blog…

Here is an excerpt and a link to the full post:

Like most conservative, religious cities, Danville had a lot of Hot Sheet Hotels.

By this I mean, cheap hotels that did a lot of business during the lunch hour and early  evenings. No one really seemed to spend an entire night there…

There was a long history of this in Danville, starting with the infamous Cliff’s Cabins on Riverside Drive and carrying on to this day.  I still see dozens of hotels advertising rooms for $29.95 a “night” every time I drive into town.

One of the favorites was always the Shamrock Motel on Piney Forest Road because they had parking in the rear where cars couldn’t be seen from the street.  The old Holiday Inn was also popular since the parking lot was so big and spread out.  And people could claim they were just having lunch in the restaurant…

More:   Chapter 50: Party at the Hot Sheet Hotel | My Southern Gothic Life.

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Filed under Danville, My Journey, Scott's Commentary, The South

Chapter 47: Surviving the Sub Debs | My Southern Gothic Life

New post up on my other blog:

I briefly mentioned the Sub Debs in one of my previous posts and said I was not even going to try to explain them. I am, probably foolishly, going to retract that statement and give it  shot.

I remember once trying to explain Sub Debs to a Hollins girl, and soon to be New Orleans Debutante, during a fraternity party when I was at Washington and Lee.  Once I finished the convoluted explanation I am about to attempt again, she looked at me and said:  ”That’s the silliest thing I ever heard of.  Either you are a Debutante or you’re not.  There is no in-between.”

Like most folks, she just didn’t get Danville, Virginia.

via Chapter 47: Surviving the Sub Debs | My Southern Gothic Life.

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Filed under Danville, Entertainment, My Journey, Scott's Commentary, The South

Chapter 46: The Evolution of One Southern Liberal or Some Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day | My Southern Gothic Life

I have a new post up on my other blog.

Here’s an excerpt and a link to the full post…

As we approach the Holiday recognizing the contributions of Dr. King, I always tend to think about where we were, where we are and where we have yet to go.  To me, this is a day to stop and think. And remember.

As a Southerner of a certain age, I just can’t let this day pass without comment.  I don’t see how anyone of my generation can.

I grew up in the South before integration and during the Civil Rights Movement.  I’m not sure if I even spoke to a black person, other than our maid, before the schools were integrated when I was in the 5th grade.  People seem to forget the South in the early 1960′s was like South Africa under apartheid.  It was a very separate and scary place.  Everyone–and I mean everyone– had their place and society tried to keep them in it.

I think the late, great Molly Ivins said it best.  Molly once wrote:  ”I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point — race.  Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.”

via Chapter 46: The Evolution of One Southern Liberal or Some Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day | My Southern Gothic Life.


Filed under Danville, History, Holidays, My Journey, Politics, Race, Social Commentary

My Thoughts: Why Politics Matter

I’m tired of people saying Politics doesn’t matter and tuning out of the Political process.  Not only is this an abdication of responsibility, it’s stupid.

Politics does matter and the votes taken in various elected bodies do impact everyone’s  life.

In fact, Political decisions impact almost every aspect of day-to-day life.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Drafting young men during the Vietnam War was a political decision as was ending the Draft.
  2. Going to War with Iraq and Afghanistan was a political decision.
  3. Creating Social Security and Medicare was a political decision.  Destroying them could be, too.
  4. Ending Slavery was a political decision.
  5. Granting Women the right to Vote was a political decision.
  6. How much money your hometown gets for roads and economic development is a political decision.
  7. The books and curriculum used to educate your children in public schools is a political decision.
  8. Financial Aid for College is a political decision.
  9. Whether or not you can park your car in your yard or put a ratty sofa on your front porch is a political decision.
  10. How much you pay in property, sales and income taxes are a political decision.
  11. Whether your food is safe and how this safety is assured is a political decision.
  12. Whether you have adequate Health Care is a Political decision.

These are just a few impacts off the top of my head.  So when I hear people say they aren’t voting or that one side is as bad as the other, or that it just doesn’t matter, it pisses me off.

Admittedly, I am passionate about this…I used to work in Politics and spent a good deal of time in Washington and Richmond.  I have been “behind the curtain.”  I’ve smoked cigarettes over cocktails at the Congressional Club with now Speaker John Boehner and ridden the back roads of Virginia with Senator John Warner.  I know neither side is perfect and I well know how the “other side”-for whom I used to work- manipulates the process and puts out false information.  I’ve seen the decline in civility by both sides and made my well-known choice.

I came to the conclusion that the Republicans look backwards with fear while the Democrats look forward with hope.  I’ve also reached the conclusion the Republicans cater to the wealthy and Corporate elite- as do the Democrats to a lesser degree.  This is an informed, fact-based decision I made as part of my personal journey.  You can disagree with me, but you can’t call me uniformed or accuse me of not thoroughly examining the issues to reach my decisions.

I also think we have a moral obligation in America to ensure our elected officials don’t forget the poor, the sick, the hungry, the elderly, college students hungry for learning but limited in funds and the homeless.  I think one of the main purposes of government is to ensure we have safe, reliable transportations– by road, by air and most urgently by train.  I think the government should level the playing field by allowing those who are born to less have the same opportunities as those who are born with more.  I think the government should ensure our food supply is safe, but not over burden local growers.  I think a lot of things…

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I do expect them to be involved and to make fact-based decisions.  I can respect that…

I can’t respect people who tune out facts or don’t do their own due diligence.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Several Elections have been decided recently based on just a few votes difference.
  2. When given the facts, more people support the policies of the Democratic party, but more Republicans vote.
  3. Not voting for the Legislative branch of Government impacts the Executive and Judicial Branches.  Elected officials appoint and approve Supreme Court justices. Sometimes Judges decide Elections.  It’s all connected.
  4. When you vote, you have an obligation to know what the person you are voting for really stands for- not that they are the cutest or most telegenic or that you just know their name or Party.

For Democracy to work, you must have an informed, active electorate.  I hope people are paying attention to what is going on in Washington, the State Houses and the Supreme Court.  These decisions do matter and do impact your lives.

The Elites count on people being confused, misinformed and lazy when-and if- they vote.  It’s up to us to prove them wrong.  We haven’t done a great job the last year or so…

I may be dreaming, but here are a few things that I think would help rectify the situation:

  1. Get the big money out of politics.  Block Corporate donations and self-financing wealthy candidates by leveling the playing field.  Move to Public Financing of Elections with each qualifying Candidate having the same amount of money to spend.
  2. Require the Television and Radio stations to run an equal amount of adds for each qualifying candidate and/or Political Party.  Remember, the airwaves are Public Property that is leased to the media.  We need to make them do their civic duty and not just profit off a broken system.
  3. The media needs to do its job and check facts and call attention to mis-representations of facts- and lies- by all Candidates, Politicians and Parties.  I would love to re-implement the Fairness Doctrine- if for no other reason to put Fox News out of business- but that is impractical.
  4. Separate News from Entertainment.  The line has blurred too much….
  5. End Corporate monopolies of the Media.  Limit the number of media outlets that any one Corporation can own.
  6. Encourage people to check the facts on reputable web sites and from other non-mainstream media sources.  Form non-partisan grass-roots groups to educate them on how to do it…
  7. Enforce the Separation of Church and State.  Churches and Religious organizations who become involved in Politics should lose their tax exempt status.
  8. Encourage the growth of Third-and Fourth- Parties by making it easier for their candidates to get on the ballot and have appropriate funding.
  9. Require a fixed number of debates for all offices.  Don’t let politicians hide behind adds.  Put the public and media spot light on them all.
  10. End the revolving door between elected officials and lobbyists.  Elected Officials should not be able to lobby their former colleagues.  This is how the  insider Boys Club perpetuates itself.
  11. Develop and enforce ethics rules at all levels of Government.  With real, still penalties and not slaps on the hands.  Independent boards should manage inquiries and not political cronies.
  12. In Politics, just like in other areas of life, we need to encourage civility and reasonable debate- not encourage blood sport and boorish behavior.
  13. Make it easier to vote.  We need to find a secure way to vote via the internet.  We need to extend and expand early voting.
  14. We need to be confident all voting machines are secure and not subject to manipulation.
  15. Focus on encouraging more voters, not suppressing voters.

We need to encourage people to pay attention by restoring trust in the media and elected officials who represent the Public Trust.

This is not a game.

It is not a reality TV show.

Bottom Line:  Get serious, people!

Discuss among yourselves….


Filed under Education, Health Care, History, My Journey, Politics, Race, Religion, Social Commentary, The Economy, The Environment, The South, Virginia

2010 Blog Year in review

I just got these stats from my Blog Host and thought I would share them.  Thanks for all your support!


The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2010. That’s about 29 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 536 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 545 posts. There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb.

The busiest day of the year was September 3rd with 145 views. The most popular post that day was Margaret and Helen.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for worst colleges in america, lost in the 21st century, worst colleges, providence gap review, and karen carpenter.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Margaret and Helen September 2010


Nine Worst Colleges in America | Educated Nation | Higher Education Blog September 2010


Welcome to My Blog December 2009


Dr Laura Schlessinger, Leviticus and Homosexuality: The Famous Open Letter July 2010


“Providence Gap” at Triad Stage: My Thoughts and Review June 2010


Filed under My Journey

Steve McSwain: 10 Mantras for a More Meaningful New Year

This is an interesting article, from Steve McSwain,for people who don’t do resolutions, but still look to the New Year as an opportunity for self improvement and awareness…

A mantra is a sound, syllable or group of words which, when recited, are regarded as capable of producing spiritual transformation (or so says Wiki). Actually, mantra is a word common in the eastern world and is itself made up of two words: man meaning “mind,” and tra meaning “instrument.” So, a mantra is “an instrument of the mind.”

In eastern religions, and to a lesser degree in the mystical traditions of Christianity, meditators use mantras to center themselves and so bring health and wholeness to the inner self (or, greater unity between the mind, body and spirit). Benedictine monks regularly use scripture in this fashion. For example, they might recite in meditation over and over again the words, “The Lord is my shepherd” (from the 23rd Psalm).

In my own experience, I have made it an every-morning practice to meditate and recite the following mantras. This is the first time, however, I’ve actually written them down. This was itself a wonderful discipline.

In many respects, a New Year’s Resolution is a kind of mantra. But, like mantras, resolutions must be practiced daily if you’re serious about them becoming your way of living. Which is why, my first mantra is…

More, including the actual Mantras:   Steve McSwain: 10 Mantras for a More Meaningful New Year.


Filed under Holidays, My Journey, Religion, Social Commentary, Yoga

Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac: Dreams

Flashback to my  college years…

Fleetwood Mac “Rumours” was one of THE albums of the era….

The timeless Stevie Nicks sang “Dreams”…

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Filed under Entertainment, Music, My Journey

Chapter 44: Christmas With the Grannies | My Southern Gothic Life

Another new post is up on my other blog.  I’m rather prolific this week…

All the Christmas Drama and mayhem at our house was off set by the simplicity of Christmas at Granny’s.

By this I mean, my Mother’s Mother, not my Father’s Mother, who was safely packed away to the State Hospital for the Insane in Staunton and, later, Petersburg.

But we did have to go visit my Father’s Mother, Granny Susie, AKA Susan Catherine Rush Michaels,  sometime around Christmas.  This was always an ordeal.

This was before there was an Interstate Highway to Staunton, so we had to travel along winding mountain roads to get there.  With not many restaurants or gas stations to stop.

A few times, my Great Aunts wanted to go along.  Aunt Lily and Little Mary were her sisters and her brother Joe’s wife, Big Mary, usually went along, too.  The one trip I remember was when we still had the station wagon- before Daddy flipped it coming home in an ice storm from Earl’s Bar and Grill.  They were all lined up in the back seat in their black wool coats, hats and white gloves.  Aunt Lily would always pack her lunch and refuse to share it.  When I was about 5 or 6, I asked once and she told me I should have planned better.

Link to full Post:   Chapter 44: Christmas With the Grannies | My Southern Gothic Life.

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Filed under Danville, Holidays, My Journey, Social Commentary, Style, The South, Virginia