Artimus Pyle: A Great Drummer, A Simple Man

If famed former baseball manager and player Leo Durocher had known Artimus Pyle, he might not have been so certain of his noted quip: “Nice guys finish last”.

Pyle, 67, is the original drummer for the classic Southern Rock band Lynard Skynard. He survived the fatal 1977 airplane crash that claimed the lives of 3 band members. For more than a decade now, Pyle has been leading his own group of early Skynard-song players in the Artimus Pyle Band.

Pyle and his bandmates, who produce sets of crowd-pleasing recreated versions of such Skynard staples as “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama” performed earlier this year as one of 22 bands on the Rock Legends IV Cruise. The band had played on the three previous cruises and has already been named as one of the bands participating in the 2017 sailing.

Now while many well-known rock stars (and during their heyday Lynard Skynard was one of the most famous bands on the planet) are recognized for their arrogance or off-putting behavior, Pyle defies that description.

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Bruce Springsteen and Donald Trump: 2 Bosses, 2 Bases, and the Fate of the American Dream

How is a Donald Trump political rally like a Bruce Springsteen concert?

Let me count the ways.

Now I admit before last week, I had never really considered comparing the two. But on Thursday, I attended a Bruce Springsteen concert at the Phillips Arena here in Atlanta with about 20,000 enthusiastic Springsteen fans. Three days later, I was at a Donald Trump for President rally at the World Convention Center just across the street from the Phillips Arena with more than 10,000 equally rabid Trump followers.

Here’s what I discovered:

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Requiem: A Few Thoughts on the Passing of Old Friends

It comes with aging.

As happens more and more frequently since I have entered my 7th decade, two big pieces of the once-completed puzzle of my teenage years have been removed.

Last week, I learned that Bucky Hayes, whom I had known since grade school, had died in his current Tennessee town. A few days after, I found out that George McLaughlin, my 11th-grade history teacher and later fellow teaching colleague at our hometown Bridgeton (NJ) high school, had passed away.

Obviously, as with the deaths of all people whom we know well, there comes a sense of sadness with the finality of their passing. However, today I’m much more grateful than sad since I can keep the memories and lessons I learned from them forever, or at least until the time of my own passing.

At a cursory glance, Henry Allen, or Bucky as everyone called him, and Mr. McLaughlin (or George as I later came to call him) couldn’t have been more different.

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Finding a Meal with a Side of Romance at the Waffle House

Dixie has always demonstrated a dichotomy when it comes to its men and romance.

On one hand,  you have the chivalric, courtly charms of the Southern gentleman as embodied in such characters as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. On the other end of the Southern male spectrum, you have your bromancing, baseball-cap-wearing, fast-car racing, beer guzzling, gun toting redneck with a nickname like Gunner or Bubba.

For example of what we mean take dining. The first type of man can often be found eating on exquisite China in expensive, jacket-required, urban restaurants. The second type usually frequents the numerous diners and dives that dot the South’s highways and rural roads.

Of course, when it comes to romantic settings with a culinary focus, the upcoming Valentine’s Day and its dining is in a class by itself. Now what if you could bring together all the best elements of both elegant eating and diner dining for that special woman (or man) in your life?

Well, you can. For the 9th year in a row, Waffle House – one of the South’s most iconic eateries – will be rolling out white or red table cloths, lighting truckloads of romantic candles, and offering specially tailored menus for its one-of-kind Valentine’s Day experience.

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It’s Always Warmer in the South

During this Presidential election year, we are being bombarded with the results of polls, surveys, and group interviews.

So, in that spirit of questioning, I decided to find the answer to a question that is, at least to me, much more interesting than what stand should we take on relations with Liechtenstein. My query: Are people in the South really more friendly than those in the North?

We’ll begin by establishing my credentials to conduct such a survey. I feel I have much credence as a judge of things Northern since I lived for 55 years in New Jersey (albeit it was in the southern, not the northern, part of the state), 4 years just outside of Philadelphia while I attended Villanova University, and 4-and-a-half years in an extended staycation in Washington, D.C.

I haven’t lived as long in the South. In fact, as I write this article, I have only been a resident of the Atlanta Perimeter for 52 days, 11 hours, and 22 minutes (and 5 of those days were spent on a Rock Legends Cruise with Greg Allman in the Atlantic Ocean). Now while I realize that amount of time doesn’t make me an expert on all things Southern, I believe it is sufficient for the purposes of my study.

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If You Like Hard Listening Music, Then the Rock Bottom Remainders Are for You

While most of Roy Blount Jr.’s public appearances involve his talking about his books or delivering a hilarious lecture on the people and the habits of the South, you can sometimes see him performing with the most literate band in all the land – the not-so-legendary The Rock Bottom Remainders.

The band, which took its self-mocking name from the publishing term “remaindered book” (a work of which the unsold remainder of a publisher’s stock of copies is sold at a reduced price), consists of some of America’s biggest selling authors including Stephen King, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Ridley Pearson, and Amy Tan.

At his appearance earlier this week in his home town of Decatur to discuss his new book Save Room for Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations, Blount briefly talked about the Remainders and his role in the band.

“I really have no idea why I’m there,” he said. “Some of the guys can actually play, but If I even pick up an instrument it goes out of tune”.

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Okra: Love It or Leave It?

While the phrase “meat and three” might confound a Northerner, a Southerner would know immediately what you are talking about – an entree of a meat dish (usually fried, barbecued, and/or smothered in gravy) with 3 side dishes, often accompanied by cornbread and sweet tea.

Of course, there are many southern side dish options – red beans and rice, grits, butter beans, greens, and creamed corn just to name a few. But just like the Civil War once divided the country, the relative merits of one Southern side dish often splits eaters in today’s South. And that love-it-or-leave-it-off-the-table dish is okra.

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