I’ve long respected and admired the acting talent of Matthew McConaughey, especially in his performances in Dallas Buyers Club and True Detectives Season One. After listening to his reading of Greenlights in audio form and obtaining the printed book (Crown Pub.), I feel I better understand the man himself and am even more impressed with his talents, as I’m sure you will be too if you read (or listen) to it. As McConaughey says in his opening, this is not a traditional memoir, but rather an approach to life, a playback based on adventures in his life that he considers significant, enlightening, or humorous, and he encourages the reader to subjectively adopt his experiences and advice to shape or change his or her view of reality or to change.
I am sure your encounter with Greenlights will increase your awareness of life, begin or continue your own journal, resurrect your own family memories, cause you to notice bumperstickers, (his unique spelling), plan your own wild adventures, increase your determination to reach goals, and inspire you to create and express yourself in poetry, song, or art. This book is a reminder that there can be as we say in Cajun Louisiana: Joie de vivre.
Tales on Tuesdays by the Bard of the South: March 8, 2022
You, who are on the road / Must have a code that you can live by—Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
Every Tuesday, in my blog and on my Facebook pages, you will find one of my tales that I hope will feed your imagination, inspire you to discover and develop the greatness I believe is in you, to make you think, and to nudge you to create something personal, beautiful, and important in some way. A tale is defined as, a fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively presented. This is my first tale, written with a nod to NCIS character Jethro Gibbs, who after years of life and career experience developed a code to live and work by. I decided to post of few of my own rules that are important to me. I hope to collect enough of these rules to create a book eventually. Let me know what you think,
Do the hard things first.
Be the last to believe gossip about a friend and not the first.
Give people space and privacy after a tragedy, especially when a family member dies. You don’t need to know all the details. If they want you to know, they will share it with you.
Nothing changes unless you do something different.
When you do something wrong and are confronted, admit it. Do not lie or place blame on others, Be a man and admit your error and face the consequences.
Learn from Confucius. He believed in these principles:
a.Devotion to family and friends
b.Love and benevolence for humanity
c.Reverence and respect for ancestors. (This is described incorrectly and negatively by Westerners as “Ancestor Worship.”)
d.Education, cultivation, and discipline of the mind.
e. Government should be the servant not the master of the people.
f.Men should think for themselves and stand up for what is right.
g.The elderly should be treated with honor and respect.
h. Men should be gentlemen, civilized, and demonstrate integrity. A person should be judged according to his or her own abilities and not by noble birth or government position.
There seems to be no end to the protests regarding any attempt to present anything positive about American history and the people who had roles in that history. The WOK mindset finds wrong everywhere through their nitpicking spins on the facts, including the recently erected statue of Tomochichi in Atlanta. In the Monroe Newstarr, an article by Michael Warren entitled “Atlanta statue dismays Muskogee (Creek),” Warren says some tribal historians of the Creek have issues regarding the statue. Those opposed to the statue claim:
It’s incredibly inappropriate.
It presents an offensive and historically conception of Native Americans as primitive savages.
It glorifies a heavily mythologized figure, whom the Muskogee say initiated a century of ethnic cleansing. The critics claim Atlanta is “erasing them again, acting as if they vanished without a fight after handing over their land and heritage
The article finds fault in Tomochichi supplying slaves to the British and promising to return any escaped negro slaves,
Here’s my general observations about this article: Yes, the statue shows Tomochichi in a loincloth instead of buckskin breeches and long white shirt. Yes, he probably did generally wear western style clothes (as did the Seminole), but the loincloth is also accurate as Creek warriors would fight nearly (or often totally) naked when in battle or hunting. The statue honors a Creek leader who basically is responsible for founding the city of Savannah by giving the British permission to build there. He did not give ALL the Creek lands away.
He also did not initiate ethnic cleansing. If anything really started the Creek (Red Stick) war, it was the Fort Mims Massacre when 500 settlers (many Southern Creek among them) were attacked and horribly killed and mutilated by hundreds of Northern Creek. The Creek wars are proof that the nation did resist. Besides, much of the Creek nation had intermarried with the Scots and Irish, and they were sent also on the Trail of Tears.
About slavery: The Creek nation, just like other Native American tribes, as owned and took slaves, enslaving both blacks and Native Americans. There was no innocent party on the topic of slavery.
No statue can present all facts (whether good or bad) of a person. Statues can make the viewer think and research who the statue represents and their place in history. Would it be better to not know anything about Tomochichi? Whether tribal historians like it or not, Tomochichi is a part of Creek history. Are there other Creek leaders who should be represented as well or instead of Tomochichi?
Blood Diamonds of the Lost Bazaar: A Novel by Rickey Pittman, Bard of the South
My new novel will be released this year. To give my readers and writer friends a little taste of some discoveries they will make, I’ve included a list of the epigraphs I’ve used to set a tone or to encourage thinking or personal memories. If you read my other novels and short stories, you already know that I am fond of using epigraphs. Most are directly under the chapter number, but a few of the Krio proverbs are also in the text as quoted by characters. I hope you will find the Krio proverbs as delightful as I did. The Krio language is English based and is Sierra Leone’s de facto national language. I encourage you to do an online search of Krio. At the end of my list of epigraphs, is a short video that will teach the basics of speaking Krio:
Chap: 1 When Diamonds are a Legend,/And Diadem—a Tale—IBrooch and Earrings for myself/Do sow, and Raise for sale—Emily Dickinson
Chap. 2 The song is done, the words remain.—Krio Proverb
Chap. 3 If you look into the bride’s face, you’ll know that the bride is crying.
Chap. 4 People say I am ruthless. I am not ruthless. And if I find the man who is calling me ruthless, I shall destroy him.—Robert Kennedy
Chap. 5: I believe there is no sickness of the heart too great that it cannot be cured by a dose of Africa—John Hemingway.
Chap. 6 A stranger doesn’t know a bad road.—Krio Proverb
Chap. 7 The heart is not made of bone—Krio Proverb
Chap. 8 Enter quickly, leave quickly: If no one sees you, then ghosts will see you. There is always a witness.—Krio Proverb
Cap. 9 If a person isn’t used to dying, once he dies it will be hard to wake him.—Krio Proverb
Chap. 10 African art is functional, it serves a purpose. It’s not a dormant. It’s not a means to collect the largest cheering section. It should be healing, a source a joy. Spreading positive vibrations.—Mos Def
Chap. 11 If you are going to the hill to make a sacrifice for the devils there and you meet them on the way, will you still go?—Krio Proverb
Chap. 12 If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents.—Krio Proverb
A dance that makes a person poor, you nah forget the song.
Chap. 13 The memories we make with our family is everything.—Candace Cameron Bure
Chap. 14 Adoption is a journey of faith, from beginning to end. — Johnny Carr
Chap. 15 I’ve seen the future and it is murder.—Leonard Cohen
Chap. 16 A bad husband is better than an empty bed.—Krio Proverb
Chap. 17 If you’re not dead yet, you haven’t heard all the news.—Krio Proverb
Chap. 18 Songwriting is too mysterious and uncontrolled a process for me to direct it towards any one thing.—James Taylor
Chap. 19 Sometimes life gives you a second chance . . . It’s what you do with those second chances that counts.—Dave Wilson.
Chap. 20 A true friend is never truly gone. Their spirit lives on in the memories of those who loved them.
Chap. 21 I grew up among wise men and found that there is nothing better for men than
Chap. 22 You can recognize a person’s tribe by the way he cries.—Krio Proverb
Chap. 23 The role of the artist is to not look away.—Akiro Kurosawa
Chap. 24 Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music. –Jimi Hendrix
Chap. 25 As you sell yourself, so the world will buy you.—Krio Proverb
Chap. 26 I can resist everything except temptation—Oscar Wilde
Chap. 27 The jealous are possessed by a mad devil—Johann Kaspar Lavater
Chap. 28 Without hearts there is no home.—Byron.
The turtle wants to box, but his arms are too short
Money in the hand, back on the ground.
Chap. 29 On the streets, unrequited love and death go together almost as often as in Shakespeare—Scott Turow.
Chap. 30 Stalking is a cruel and incessant crime with often terrifying consequences.
Chap. 31 Salomé, Salomé, dance for me. I pray thee dance for me. I am sad to-night. Yes, I am passing sad to-night. When I came hither I slipped in blood, which is an evil omen; and I heard, I am sure I heard in the air a beating of wings, a beating of giant wings. I cannot tell what they mean—Oscar Wilde
Chap. 32 If they carry you on their back, you won’t know that the road is long.—Krio Proverb.
Chap. 33 When a cunning man dies, it’s a cunning man who buries him.—Krio Proverb
“Orchids of the Everglades” by Rickey Pittman, Bard of the South
In the quiet of the mysterious Everglades,
Where there are no roads or footpaths,
I discovered many orchids,
Mother Nature’s Masterpiece!
Plants with beauty in this unexpected place,
Living on trees blanketed with moonflowers.
Orchids are millions of years old—colorful, showy and fragrant,
Exotic flowers finding nutrients in air and water,
Sought by tourists, authors, and orchid thieves.
I saw the Cowhorn, once removed by wagonloads,
With its unique stems, flowers, and fruits,
The Butterfly, with its small yellow petals,
The Clamshell, dark in color but
With white and yellow inside,
The Nodding Ladies Tresses,
A wild orchid with a distinct fragrance,
The Butterfly, with its small yellow petals,
The Longclaw, with brown spotted leaves,
The Grass Pink Orchid, bearing
Up to ten flowers on each plant,
The Fakahatchee Beaked Orchid, living on logs,
That suddenly appears when swamps are low,
And the elusive, and much sought Ghost Orchid,
With no leaves, but a large white flower.
Here’s a website on orchids you may enjoy: https://ntbg.org/everglades-orchid-conservation/
EPIGRAPHS FROM UNDER THE WITCH’S MARK by Rickey Pittman
An epigraph is a short quotation, phrase, or poem that is used at the beginning of a piece of writing that suggest a theme or suggest a mood or used to steer the reader’s mind in some direction. I like to use epigraphs in my writing, sometimes before every chapter in a book or novel or at the beginning of short stories or poems, directly under the title. Here is a list of epigraphs I used in my novel, Under the Witch’s Mark: (Ordering information is below)
I always take a chance. I can’t just play safe. Dancing on the edge of the precipice—Jimmy Page
Today, I felt pass over me a breath of wind from the wings of madness.—Charles Baudelaire
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.—Rudyard Kipling
The groves were God’s first temples.—Bryant
Part at once; all farewells should be sudden, when forever.—Byron
Hello, Satan, I believe it’s time to go.—Robert Johnson
Dreams are a world of the dead in the hues of life.—Felicia Hemans
Dressing the wound hurt. Everything that has happened to me since has hurt.—Herman Hesse in Demian.
A woman whom we truly love is a religion.—Emille de Giradin
Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, and the land was polluted with. blood.—Psalm 106:37-38
Here’s information on how you can order Under the Witch’s Mark!
When I lived in Naples Florida for two years (80-82), I met and became friends with many in the Cuban community of South Florida. I found Cubans generally to be very devoted to family and possessing a strong work ethic. Here’s a few important anecdotes that I recall:
I interviewed one American (married to a Cuban) who was actually part of the Bay of Pigs invasion, sponsored and supplied by our government, but after endorsing the initial landing, President Kennedy abandoned any support and the invasion failed miserably. The Cubans never forgave that betrayal and are to this day largely Republican politically, detesting the Democrats. My friend was one of the captured and spent time in a Cuban jail. His story was not a happy one.
One family that were members of my church were farmers who lived on the Isle of Pines. When Castro took power, their two boys were taken from them and sent to the state school for which education, which consisted of some classes and half a day’s work in the fields. One was drafted into the Cuban Army and sent to Angola. He was never heard from again. I wrote a poem titled, “They Took the Baby Away,” published in a political magazine entitled, Voice of Freedom. You can read the poem and more about this family HERE:
Once, I needed to pick up someone at the Miami airport. The night before, I attended a Church of Christ congregation in Miami and spent the night in the church building. I was so impressed with the members’ warmth and love and they gladly shared stories about their lives in Cuba. I may add stories to this post from time to time. I’m searching for some photos to go along with the stories.
These are just a few of the stories I could share, but if you would like to read more, I would recommend the following books:
Freedom Flights: Heirs of the Cuban Revolution Tell Why They Grew Disenchanged with Castro, and How they Were Obliged. to Flee His Regime.
I lived in South Florida (Naples) for a couple of years and there I encountered and learned much about Cuba and the thousands who had managed to flee Cuba. Last night, I watched a Netflix movie, WASP NETWORK, and this brilliant film revived many memories and feelings I had experienced as I worked among and with the Cuban community. The 2019 film is based on a book, The Lost Soldiers of the Cold War: The Story of the Cuban Five, (a book I just ordered). Oliver Assayas wrote and directed the movie. Much of the dialogue is in subtitled Spanish. The actors’ performance (including Penelope Cruz) is amazing. The plot is based on the lives and experiences of Cuban spies operating in South Florida in the 1990s. There are no happy endings for the Cuban Five.
The film has several (sometimes conflicting) threads. The movie reminded me of the fierce hatred Cuban emigres held and still have toward communism and Castro, of the harsh reality of lives for those who live in Cuba and how their desperation to escape the miseries of communism is so great that they will risk everything and launch out on rafts to cross the 90 miles to America. The film reveals how the Cuban community plans and organizes rescues missions for those making the crossing.
More observations of the Cubans and my experiences among them in future posts. Here’s a video trailer for the movie!