Monday, December 16, 2013

Mouth of the South

About 10 years ago, right after I'd turned 50, my kids were old enough to get in and out of the tub without my help. And given my bride, Tybee, is a teacher, Nate and Rebecca had access to far better help with their homework than their daddy could provide.

Feeling just a bit superfluous around the old hacienda, I began frequenting open mics in Winston looking for places to play my songs. Lo and behold, the music scene in the Twin Cities was far more robust and vibrant than I ever imagined.

Along the way I met and got to know some wonderful musicians who, almost to a person, became even better friends. Two of my best friends in the world, Johnny Hoots and Bubba Spear, have been playing with me off-and-on for about five years now. You saw how good they are if you were at the book launch for ACC Basketball Book of Fame on Sept. 11.

We go by different names. Sometimes we're the Slaves to Fashion, sometimes the Pair-a-Dice Palookas, sometimes the Spudtowne Tuberdours and sometimes, when I'm feeling especially political, we're the Whiny Billionaires. Well when we play the soundtrack to ACC Basketball Book of Fame, we're the All-ACC Hotshots.

We got together over a Bubba's yesterday to sand down the set for a show we have scheduled for Friday, Jan. 3 at Chelsee's Coffee Shop on Trade Street in Winston. Hope you guys can make it, and as an added enticement, we videotaped a version of one of the tunes, Did the Mouth of the South Really Write Porn?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Frosty's Gone

It's been awhile since I've tended to this blog, and I could make an excuse of how I've been busy with my real job, what with basketball season stomping in before football season was over and the resigning of one football coach and hiring of another. But truth is, I've just been lazy.

Also I wanted to give the Hansbrough song a good run at the top of the page. It gained me some traction, which was great to see.

But along the way I've continued to write the soundtrack to my book. I know I come off as a pretty upbeat kind of guy, which is for the most part an accurate description. But life is not all swishes and dunks, and sometimes, even in the toy department world of ACC Basketball, life can suck and death can suck worse.

My latest is a sad one, about the most tragic death the ACC has ever known.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


If the Atlantic Coast Conference really wanted to show some class, it would have a Bard. I'm talking the original definition of the word, a person who travels around memorializing great people and great deeds with verse and song.

I've been writing sports for a daily newspaper since the fall of 1972, and if my public school education doesn't fail me that means I've been at it for going on 42 years. But I won't be writing for a daily newspaper forever. 

So when I'm done with that, I want to be a Bard. The ACC needs to hire me for the job. Once all the other conferences see how awesome it is to have a Bard, they're going to have to have one too. In time, it'll be a whole new industry. And the ACC can always say it had the first -- me.

Here's a sample of my credentials for consideration. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tough Crowd to Pick a Fight With

So much of what I know about life I learned from the Andy Griffith Show, but only from the black-and-while episodes before Barney had departed Mayberry for Raleigh and his corner room at the Y.

Anyone looking for moral guidance and common-sense advice could do much worse.

Recently I saw the one where the bad kid, Steve Quincy, shows up in town and turns Opie and all his buddies into young hooligans. Opie knew it was wrong to steal apples from Mr. Foley's store, and he knew it's even worse to throw those apples and knock out street lights. But Steve Quincy was bigger than Opie, and Opie, truth be known, was scared of him.

Since this blog began, I've tried to play the role of Steve Quincy. I want to stir something up. It's been way too quiet, too placid, too harmonious for my taste..

Want to fight? Then step across this line.

Really want to fight? Then knock this chip off my shoulder.

Really, really want to fight? Then step inside this circle.

I've been waiting for somebody like Opie to come along and be willing to do all that. I've drawn the line in the sand, I've placed the chip on my shoulder, I've traced out the circle.

I've awarded Tyler Hansbrough more points than David Thompson (even though Thompson was the better player).

I've made no allowances in my formula for players who were eligible for only three seasons, instead of the four available to any player since 1972-73.

I've even shown the temerity to leave one of the all-time great guys to play in the league, Walter "Sweet D" Davis out of my Hall of Fame entirely.

What do I have to do? Steal apples and break out street lights?

From the day I came up with the idea for The ACC Basketball Book of Fame, I was warned of all the grief I would catch from those who disagreed with my method of selection.

My response was always "I hope so.''

And here I am, a good six weeks after the publication of my book, still hoping.

Surely by now you've read something in the book that got your blood a'boiling. Surely by now you've got a bone to pick.

Surely by now you just have to give me the what-for about something.

That's what I'm here for. That's what the blog is here for.

Where are you?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tracking the Worthies Worthy Enough

A problem I confronted in writing a book on an ACC Basketball Hall of Fame was how to extend the possibility of enshrinement in said august body past the publication date.

When other players comes along to collect enough awards points for induction, as they surely will, I knew I wasn't going to be able to publish a new edition just to include them.

Of course when The ACC Basketball Book of Fame is in its 15th printing, having been translated into five dozen languages, such problems will take care of themselves.

Until then. . .

As good a reason as any for the blog you're reading is to keep the Hall of Fame dynamic -- and not let it become static. This way, when a worthy (James or otherwise) becomes worthy enough, I'll make a big deal about it on this blog. I can even do a bit of research and whip up a chapter on the player and include him alongside his fellow Hall of Famers here until the next edition comes out.

Better yet, we can all, together, track the progress and prospects of every ACC Player toward the ultimate reward of being included in my book. To assist such endeavors, I've posted the Awards Points Formula used to determine admission to the Hall of Fame in the railing of this blog. Just scroll to the right and down, and there it is -- right below the list of Hall of Famers I've recently added as well.

A cursory check of the qualifications of current ACC players suggests I'm not going to have to worry about any of this anytime soon. The guy who has made it further than anybody down the path through the Portico of Prominence toward the Golden Threshold of the Hall of Fame is Joe Harris of Virginia, who picked up 325 points last season as the fourth-leading vote-getter for first-team All-ACC. But because he'll be a senior, Harris is going to have to have a monster year to make it all the way.

It's certainly not outside the realm of possibilities. By being named ACC Player of the Year (200 points) and getting the most votes for All-ACC (400 points), Harris would be in range for induction with 925 points. That way, he'd only need to be named first-team All-ACC Tournament to make the cut. And if he made second-team consensus All-America along the way, he'd be in without a sweat.

Harris should not despair. The ACC Book of Fame is full of players (Tyler Zeller, Nolan Smith, Jared Dudley and Josh Howard just in the last decade) who barged their way into the Hall of Fame with monster final seasons.

James Michael McAdoo has not been the mega-star for North Carolina many predicted he would be, but he did make second-team All-ACC last season with the 10th most votes, for 175 points. And he does have two seasons remaining, if he chooses to take them.

The smarter money may be on Olivier Hanlan of Boston College, who collected 150 points last season as a freshman. Hanlan was the ACC Rookie of the Year (100 points) and second-team All-Tournament (50 points). And the fact he has three years remaining -- if he chooses to take them -- gives him far more time than Harris.

The smartest money yet may be on a freshman entering the ACC this season, say a Jabari Parker at Duke or an Isaiah Hicks at North Carolina. But the prospects for Parker, Hicks or any member of the incoming class would be contingent on a) being as good as advertised and, b) being willing to hang around college basketball long enough to accrue enough awards and accolades.

All of this is something I'll be keeping my eye on as the 2013-14 ACC season unfolds. I wouldn't mind you keeping track as well.

Let's keep track together.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Keep the Beer on Ice Joe, Be Home Soon

The hometown boy is heading home.

By dark tonight I'll be off down I-40 to the west, over Black Mountain into Asheville and snaking my way southwest deeper and deeper into the mountains until I finally reach my home of Franklin. Returning to where I spent the first 17 years of my life is always a great joy, made all the more so by the opportunity to catch up with my brother Joe, his bride Pam, their daughter Sara Frances and whatever assorted critters and ne-er do wells that might be around.

I've never been home to Franklin that I didn't have a grand, rollicking time, so you can see why I'm looking forward to the trip with such great anticipation.

I'll be uptown (and if you've ever been to Franklin, you'll know why it's called that) at Books Unlimited Saturday (Oct. 13) by 10:30, and plan to hang around as long as they need me. If you're a Franklinite reading this, sure hope you can make it on by. We'll have us a time.

That's certainly what we had last night at Park Road Books in Charlotte, where a healthy gathering turned out to sing Sail With the Pilot and talk ACC Basketball. As always I met some new friends, but it sure was great seeing some old ones like Ron Morris, the esteemed columnist for The State newspaper of Columbia, and author of the invaluable ACC Basketball: An Illustrated History, and John DeLong, my close friend and running buddy for years and years with the Winston-Salem Journal.

And just when the festivities started to flag, in roars the one and only John Dunlap, a proud denizen of Spudtowne, with his family, which I was so happy to finally meet. John had a few stories as well, and we laughed until our ribs were sore.

I'm sure we'll do the same tomorrow at Books Unlimited. It's an occasion you don't want to miss.

And to get myself in the traveling mood, I'm posting the newest song to be included in my soundtrack for ACC Basketball Book of Fame. It's a blues tune about a basketball program, Wake Forest, that has experienced its share of the blues in recent seasons.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Every Book Needs a Soundtrack

Just lately I've been cranking out one song after another on players and coaches in ACC Basketball Book of Fame. I know, I know. No one writes a soundtrack to a book.

Maybe not, but what's that got to do with me?

Some of this energy has to come from the company I'm keeping at our book signings. Met a bunch of great new friends, but it's the juice I'm getting from the Spuds that are showing up, my best friends in the world from a long time back, that has recharged the batteries. We were all living in Chapel Hill in the 70s, all single and all up for anything and everything. And we had us a time.

Keeping that kind of headlong pursuit of kicks, kicks, kicks, year after year after year, requires the kind of stamina I can no longer sustain. But I can still rally to the occasion on occasion, especially when I look up a see the likes of Robert T. "Bobby D" Donnan walk through the door over at the Barnes and Noble in Durham last week..

I hadn't seen Bobby D in way too long. Back in Spudtowne, we wrote a lot of songs together. Never really co-wrote, we just wrote side by side and helped each other along. I'm not sure it's such a good idea to start telling you too much about Bobby D because I wouldn't know where to stop.

But I will say that Bobby D's take on life is not always one I would have thought of, but I'm always mighty glad somebody did.

Bobby D is a busy man these days. He's so busy he says he can't take the time to write a song, at least not the way anyone other than Bobby D might write a song. He said he's willing to download one, if any are available. And he said that it's the damnest thing, but from time to time some are. He writes his songs in one torrent. He downloads them. I might have to try that some time.

I'm nudging Bobby D to help me write the soundtrack to my book. I figure I need a few more tunes, and any written by Bobby D would be one less on me. Maybe he'll download a couple and we'll have our road show out on the road by spring.

The photo at the bottom of this post is actually one of inestimable Bobby D taken by our long-time Spud pal Laura J Toler. It's fitting you only get to see a slice of his profile, for Bobby D always was the L'Angelo Misterioso of Spudtowne.

But in the meantime I'm making my rounds around North Carolina this week. The fun can be had in Cary Tuesday at the Barnes and Noble at 760 SE Maynard Road at 7, and in Charlotte Thursday at Park Road Books at 4139 Park Road. That signing also starts at 7. Then this weekend I'm heading home to Franklin for Saturday's book signing uptown at Books Unlimited at 60 East Main. I believe we're starting in the morning, around 10:30 and we'll be there as long as they need me.

I got to warn you. I will have my guitar. And I will be insisting you raise your voice in a rousing rendition of Sail With the Pilot. And if you really beg me, I might even play version of my latest called:
(Think real greasy blues riff going on with harmonica)

Rodney, Randolph and Tim

The Deacons had descended
To the bottom of the ACC once again
They had 5-3 Muggsy Bogues and Mark Cline
And the personnel quickly got real thin
Dr. Hooks brought in Dave Odom
To get the program back up and running again
Which is what Dave proceeded to do
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim.

They never played together,
Now ain't that a shame
But from the day Rodney and Randolph showed up
Til the day Tim Duncan played his final college game
The Deacons could take on any team in the country
And on the right night with the right breaks
The Deacons could win 
(spoken: With the possible exemption of Kentucky).
It was a Golden Age at Wake Forest
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim

From the day he walked on campus
Rodney Rogers was a man
When you take the court with Rodney as your teammate
You know just where you stand
He poured in 35 points in Cameron
In front of his family and friends.
It was a Golden Age at Wake Forest
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim

Sitting in the locker room with Randolph
Who was always as forthcoming as he could be
He said I can't imagine anyone having more confidence in themselves
And if I could it wouldn't say very much about me
Yeah he left Jeff McInnis a sprawling

While he motioned for him to get up
And drained another three on him
It was a Golden Age at Wake Forest
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim

Tim Duncan was from a different planet
At least he wasn't from around here
Never saw a human show less anxiety
Never saw a human show less fear
Now Tim was going to be Tim
You just had to know that about him
It was a Golden Age at Wake Forest
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim

Hope to see you this week.

                                                         (Photo by Laura J Toler)