Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whipping Up Shrimp and Grits

By Baynard Woods


“It’s the Boss,” Barvetta Singletary whispered away from her mouthpiece when we walked in the room. That’s how people in his office refer to Jim Clyburn—either as the Whip, or the Boss.

Kristie Greco, his Communications Director, quickly ushered me back out into the hallway.

“The Whip is back in South Carolina today, but he has Barvetta on the phone to talk about something. Healthcare, probably,” she guessed.

It was a good guess.


A lot of people wonder what happened to healthcare. Not Barvetta Singletary. She carries it around with her in a big white binder.


“I should have better biceps,” Singletary joked when she finished her call.

As Clyburn’s Policy Director, a health policy specialist, and a trained nurse, Singletary is partly responsible for crafting the bill that the Whip will bring to Obama’s February 25 bi-partisan meeting with members from both houses of Congress. Like the President’s proposal, the binder that Singletary has been lugging around is modeled after the Senate’s previous bill, without some of the things “that the public is obviously not happy with.”

One of these things—also scuttled by Obama’s proposal—is the generally unpopular “Cadillac” tax on fancy insurance policies. “But the major areas are very similar in that we want to improve insurance for those who currently have it,” she said. “Companies won’t be able to rescind coverage-”

Singletary’s cell-phone rang. I took the opportunity to look down at the binder.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Constitutional amendment crazy

Legislators making liberal use of constitutional amendment process



Anybody care to guess how many bills are in the legislative hopper to amend the state constitution?

A dozen?  Twenty? Thirty?

Try more than 80.  By our count, state lawmakers since last year have filed 83 bills that seek to amend the state constitution.

These bills seem to fall into three categories:

Legitimate uses of amendments. Several proposals seek structural changes to the constitution, a flexible document that sets a general vision of our state government.  This category of proposals can’t move forward by just passing a new law.  There needs to be a change to the constitution.  Example:  Changing the process involving constitutional officers, such as adjutant general or agriculture secretary.  Some say these officers should be appointed and become part of a governor’s cabinet because it’s time to modernize government.  But because these are constitutionally-mandated offices, the only way for them to become appointed is for the constitution to change.  Currently, there are 17 bills that would impact various constitutionally-elected offices.

Lazy amendments. Several bills seek to change the constitution for measures that could really be handled by law.  Examples:  Proposals to limit government spending or increase use of reserve funds.  State lawmakers don’t really need the crutch of a constitutional amendment for these kinds of ideas.  They just need to have fiscal and legislative discipline to stick to priorities.

Political amendments. Several constitutional proposals are political ideology or legislative matters cloaked as amendments. 

SAY IT'S SO, TIGER

Why does Tiger Woods owe us an apology?

by Ted Rall

Let's assume that all the accusations of serial philandering are true. That no waitress was safe from his charms. What right do we, the public, have to be upset?

Woods never presented himself as a pillar of moral virtue. He marketed himself as a great golfer. His job was to knock balls into holes--which he did. He didn't cheat at golf.

Nowhere in America lives a kid who looked up to Tiger because he thought he was faithful to his wife.

Woods wasn't some right-wing hypocrite. He didn't preach. His church was the Chapel of Sports Excellence.

Apologize? What for?

I'm not even sure he owes his wife an apology. According to various reports (although I fathom not how said accounts were sourced), Woods' wife lost interest in sex after having kids. If she turned colder, oh well. Things happen. Tiger didn't have the right to demand that she put out. But he had every right--the duty, even, if there was to be any chance of his keeping his family intact from divorce--to have some fun on the side.

If Mrs. Woods wanted it ten times a day, on the other hand, he owes her an apology. Her. Not us.

Yet the media is tearing Tiger a new one. "The fact that he isn't allowing questions and is positioning his friends and handpicked reporters as props [at his tele-apology] is the height of arrogance," publicist Nick Ragone told The New York Post. "At some point, he'll be shamed into doing a true mea culpa." Another PR flack said: "He didn't think enough of his fans back then [three months ago, when the scandal broke] to do the right thing."

"Mea culpa"? What for? "Think enough of his fans"? How is Tiger's sex life the business of his fans? Although, personally, I was surprised to find out he was straight. But I digress.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stop Voter ID

The real voter fraud is going on in the Statehouse

By Will Moredock

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It's as predictable as the first robin in the spring. The General Assembly is in session and Republicans are squealing like monkeys in a mango tree to pass some kind of voter ID bill.

We've been down this road before. It was a bad idea last year and the year before and the year before. And it looks like a good way to get the state embroiled in a big, hairy no-win lawsuit and spotlighted again on the “Daily Show.”

But damn the logic! Damn the expense! The GOPers are moving ahead with reckless abandon. And they're serious this time! The 2008 election scared hell out of them with a record black turnout and they are not going to let that happen again.

What we are talking about here is a bill that would require registered voters to show a picture ID at the polling place before they are allowed to vote. And why would the Wise Ones in Columbia do such a thing?

Ask a GOPer and he will tell you that it's to prevent voter fraud – you know, where somebody pretends to be somebody he's not in order to vote. Ask him to show you an example of said voter fraud in South Carolina and he will give you the kind of deer-in-the-headlights stare that Sarah Palin gave Katie Couric when the CBS anchor asked the vice presidential candidate what newspapers she read.

You see, there are no known cases of voter fraud in South Carolina in recent decades. And you could count all the cases of false-identity voter fraud in the whole country on your hands. Despite all the ranting and railing of the right wing media, despite all the allegations and imputations against ACORN, no one has ever said that the community organizing group was trying to commit false-identity voter fraud. The worst thing they were found doing was getting false signatures on voter lists – names like Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse. I think these frauds would be stopped with or without a voter ID.

As Charleston attorney Armand Derfner told Statehouse Report recently, “We’ve never had a complaint of that kind of fraud.” The real fraud, he said, is this proposed law.

Derf

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Transparency in Cayce

In an effort to make budgetary and spending information more accessible to taxpayers, the City of Cayce began posting monthly revenue and expense reports on the city Web site in May, 2009. The city also plans to provide monthly check registers.

The new transparency program has been an ongoing controversy among Cayce City Council members and Mayor Elise Partin. Some city legislators are concerned about what exactly should be posted online and what the mayor should or should not post about her expenses.

“There’s no downside to providing citizens information about what their government is doing,” Partin says. “There are certainly many ways to do that. Councilman Steve Isom felt strongly about having the monthly check registers online and we’re excited about it. Monthly financial reports have been online already on the city’s website and now this offers an additional outlet.”

While there is still no agreement about what exactly should be included in the online check register, Isom said he wants to ensure maximum financial transparency inside city government. He also recently chided Partin, who he said initially rejected the measure.

“Words and actions must match,” Isom said.

Cayce resident, Edward Caldwell, believes the controversy among council members stems more from political jockeying than concerns over fiscal responsibility.

“I feel like there is a classic ‘stalking horse’ game inside the council,” Caldwell said. “It is a classic political strategy.”

In politics, a junior politician often acts as the “stalking horse” to promote the interests of a senior politician who remains silent in case the actions would damage him or her. If the measure proves to be popular or politically beneficial, the senior politician takes credit.

Meanwhile, the financial transparency issue remains unresolved in Cayce and city legislators continue to debate the issue.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is Jim DeMint Among the Chosen?

By Baynard Woods

Jim DeMint believes in the sanctity of the family. He lives in Christ. South Carolinians would be surprised to learn that DeMint may not mean the same thing they mean by these words.


The Fellowship Foundation, an influential religious group, held the National Prayer Breakfast last week. The Foundation is also called the Family.  Governor Mark Sanford brought a lot of attention to the secretive group when his scandal broke.

The Foundation’s spiritual leaders, Doug Coe and his son David (who is not, unfortunately, David Alan Coe) knew of Sanford’s affairs. They helped him. Jeff Sharlet lived with the group and wrote a spectacular book “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power” about them.

According to Sharlet, David Coe guided John Ensign, the RepublicanSenator from Nevada who screwed an advisor’s wife and then paid him off for it, through the entire process. Sharlet was at the house when the younger Coe asked one of their members, “Let’s say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?”

According to Sharlet “the man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. ‘No,’ answered Coe, ‘I wouldn’t.’ Why? Because, as a member of the Family, he’s among what Family leaders refer to as the ‘new chosen.’ If you’re chosen, the normal rules don’t apply.”

The personal ethics part is surprising. But the political view is even weirder. Sharlet reports that Doug Coe often talks about the “totalitarianism of God.” Apparently, he doesn’t mean this figuratively.

On Salon.com, Sharlet makes this astounding claim: “Counseling Rep. Tiahrt, Doug Coe offered Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden as men whose commitment to their causes is to be emulated. Preaching on the meaning of Christ’s words, he says, ‘You know Jesus said ‘You got to put Him before mother-father-brother sister? Hitler, Lenin, Mao, that’s what they taught the kids. Mao even had the kids killing their own mother and father. But it wasn’t murder. It was for building the new nation. The new kingdom.’”

You might think that DeMint’s connection with these people is just the Kevin Bacon variety, like Obama and Weatherman Bill Ayers. No.


DeMint lives in the Family’s infamous house on C Street. Reportedly he pays about six hundred dollars a month to live there, along with Senators John Ensign, Tom Coburn and others.


Sure, but maybe it’s just a convenient and cheap place to live.   Actually, DeMint said that living at C street was one of the “best parts of being up here,” in Washington.  He said: “I have a small group I meet with, and we continue to pray and encourage each other.”


Best Songs Of Protest!


Greetings!!!  Black History Month is underway and the time keeps rolling.  A big thank you to every person out there reading this CCP, and to those around the world for helping out your fellow human beings.  May God bless you all tremendously.  The Grammys just wrapped and this one was definitely a testament to ‘Power of Woman’.  Much love to Beyonce’ (6) for breaking the Grammy Award winning record (5) previously held by Lauryn Hill for winning the most statues. Lil Wayne has dropped his follow-up to Tha Carter III, Rebirth (you be the judge?).  Being that this is the 1st quarter of music releases, labels are working gearing up for February & March dates, I figured I’d give you a list of the 5 best songs that speak to the ‘revolutionary’ in all of us.  Although I wish you would (Ha!)…don’t take my word as law.  People are still at war, losing their livelihoods, without food & water, lying dead, and the President is still being typecast and blamed for problems he’s not responsible for.  The greatest ‘Song of Protest’ has yet to be written. Let’s get it!!!!


5 Best Songs Of Protest!!!!! (In No Particular Order)

Public Enemy- Fight The Power….I’m a Hip Hop head for life, so you knew this had to make the cut.  Created as song to appear on the seminal film, Do The Right Thing by Spike Lee, this song has become a cultural and generational anthem.  Dubbed by VH1 as the greatest Hip Hop song of all time, I am hard pressed not to disagree.


Bob Marley- Get Up, Stand Up…Appearing on the 1973 album, Burnin’, this song was written by the late Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley and the magnificent Peter Tosh.  Becoming the last song that Bob Marley ever performed live (he died Sept. 23rd, 1980), this song has lasted the test of time in relating to the common man that you should never CHOOSE to remain on your knees.  Get Up, Stand Up!!!!


John Lennon- Imagine… “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.  No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man.  Imagine all the people sharing all the world…” Minimalist, yet poignant.  Almost the rivaled the Nefertiti with its beauty!!!


Donny Hathaway- Someday We’ll All Be Free/Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On/Sam Cooke- A Change Gonna Come….Although it is 3 separate songs, the all entail the same message.  Life is a b*tch right now, but the ‘Sun’ always comes out.  Some of the greatest songs ever recorded!!!


James Brown- Say It Loud! (I’m Black and I’m Proud)…James Brown literally and physically was the soundtrack to Civil Rights movement.  Nuff Said!!!


WORDS OF WISDOM

Remain strong as you strive to remain free.  Stay Up!!!!

DJ Kingpin-Villain Of Vinyl        kingpinvillianofvinyl@gmail.com

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lucero at NBT Monday

Lucero needs no introduction in these parts so, we’ll keep it short and sweet: The boys from Memphis roll through town next Monday. Still touring 1372 Overton Park, their first release on a major label, and arguably their strongest release to date. Promises to be one of the more kick ass shows to come through Columbia in a while.  (Interested to see if we hear anything from Ben Nichols’ latest solo release The Last Pale Light in the West, inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s brutal epic novel Blood Meridian.) Catch them in an intimate venue while you still can.

Glossary, from Murfreesboro, TN, opens the show. They are somehow mellow and power packed at once.

Expect lots of beards, beat up Telecasters and songs about whiskey. In fact, just go ahead and take off work the next day.

Monday Feb. 15

Lucero

New Brookland Tavern

8 p.m. doors

-Todd Morehead

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Taco Bell Edition

Dear Mexican: Why do so many Mexicans work for Taco Bell and El Pollo Loco? Don’t they know they only add a false credence to the belief that this is Mexican cuisine? The bastardizing of the truly great and diverse food of Mexico by the money-hungry corporations of the U.S., I feel, contributes to the overall misconception about the diversity and culture of the Mexican people.

A Fat White Boy

Dear Gabacho: If you’re going to malign poor, defenseless multinationals, at least do it right. El Pollo Loco—a charbroiled chicken chain, for those of ustedes who don’t yet live in ever-metastasizing Aztlán—was originally created by Mexicans for Mexicans, and their straightforward pollo plates really aren’t that guácatela. And Taco Bell, for all its sins, at least acts as a gateway drug for gabachos to learn about semi-Mexican flavors without forcing them to necessarily hang with wabs (that will happen when their daughters bring home some cute day laborer). No hard figures exist on how many Mexicans work at Taco Bell or El Pollo Loco, but if trying to better laraza’s image and culture was the main reason why Mexicans try to find jobs, we’d all be applying at Univisión.

Dear Mexican: Why do gabachas and gabachos get fake tans, lip enhancements, fake breasts; take salsa classes; hire Mexican housekeepers who will take care of their children and teach their kids Spanish; love Taco Bell; spend their time off in Mexico; buy land in Mexico; drool when they see Salma Hayek, yet spend all their waking time thinking about how to get rid of us and send us back? I would call that gabachismo: the irony of hating what you don’t have.

An Honorary Mexican

Dear Gabacho:‘Mano, I haven’t heard such a great repudiation of gabacho hypocrisy when it comes to Mexis since discovering Taco Bell’s profits dropped when it used a Chihuahua as its mascot!

Dear Mexican: I have been a regular customer of Taco Bell for at least 25 years now, and I have to ask: Do Mexicans consider the fare available there (or ever refer to it) as “Mexican food”? While I know that there are some of us of European descent who are outraged at the number of illegal immigrants (undocumented workers?) here, I can’t help but wonder if the popularity of Taco Bell actually helps to subvert anti-Latino feelings to some extent or other.

El Burrito Grande

Dear Gabacho: Let’s deport out of our minds the ironclad idea that Taco Bell isn’t “Mexican” food, or somehow a sui generis phenomenon. It’s a regional variant of Mexican cuisine, just like green chile-anything is the domain of New Mexico and southern Colorado, the puffy taco a staple of San Antonio, and why the fish taco first dominated in Southern California by way of Baja. That Taco Bell and its progeny have proven so ridiculously popular is a good thing because what gabachos don’t realize is that just before the Spanish hijos de puta finally conquered Tenochtitlán, the Aztecs cross-bred the pinto bean with a strain of Montezuma’s Revenge that ensures eternal worship of all things Mexican, from cheap labor to cheap food. Keep eating those enchiritos, America!

IN MEMORIAM: This column is dedicated to Taco Bell founder Glen Bell, who passed away two weeks ago at age 86. May God grant Bell the afterlife’s eternal reward—unlimited horchata, regional Mexican treasures like mole negro and aguachile, and certainly not what la campana sells—that’s served in the cafeteria of Gehenna.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Saturday's City Paper Pick

Tis the season, once again.  The season for eye patches, rum drinks, and naughty jokes about what Captain Hook does with his infamous appendage.  That’s right folks, PIRATE FEST 2010 is almost upon us!  As in previous years, this year’s one day festival is a daunting bill of ten big time local acts from a wide range of genres.

This year’s show is marked by the headlining appearance of Jacob and I.  Columbia’s own Google success story is riding high in this new year bringing all of the instrumental goodness and fun spirit that‘s made them a fan favorite.  Other top-tier performers include Athens, GA favorites, Venice is Sinking as well as Columbia post-punkers, Calculator.

Versus the Robot, Tunguska, Wicked Tim, You Me and Us, Dance Commander, Kill Anties, and We Sail at Dawn round out this year’s cast of pirate performers.  From the list of varied talents, its easy to see that this year’s lineup has something for everyone.  And as always, dressing as a buccaneer is certainly encouraged.  Catch all of the festivities at the New Brookland Tavern on February 27th.  Be there or be walking the plank.                                                     -Samantha Hoy

Regional Briefs


CHESTER

Inmate in hot water over pool picture

A Chester man is back in prison after a news report revealed photos of him swimming in a pool and working unsupervised while he was a trusty at a county jail.

George Wise, 61, was originally sentenced to 12 years for felony DUI. According to a report by WSPA-TV, Wise, a former auditor, was allowed to leave the prison to help the city of Chester with its finances. But, Wise wasn’t properly supervised as required by state prison rules while working at City Hall and apparently went for a swim in a city swimming pool while serving his sentence.

FLORENCE

Trigger fingers crossed over Renegade Hunter Act

Florence resident, Kathy Andrews, told the Florence Morning News that renegade hunters have made life miserable around her home during hunting season, often trudging through her yard in large groups behind packs of baying dogs. Sometimes they fire shots within proximity of her home, she said. She posted no trespassing signs that were torn down and law enforcement did nothing. Andrews said she now escapes to a beach house during hunting season.

But a new bill, called the Renegade Hunter Act, would impose fines on hunters who intentionally trespass on another person’s land with hunting dogs and a firearm.

Andrews said she hopes the final version of the bill will be similar to a law in Georgia that requires a hunter to have at least 1,000 acres before a hunting dog can be released.

“...One hunter told me, ‘Dogs can’t read signs,” Andrews said to the Morning News.


“Well, if a dog can’t read a sign, the dog needs enough land to run on.”


In response to her complaints, some hunters have started to taunt her, she said. Meanwhile, the Senate has passed the bill to the House for consideration.

Handheld mirror used for bathroom peeping

A Florence area man was arrested after authorities said he used a small mirror to peep under public restroom stalls and record people using the bathroom.

Police said Simpere Broach, 58, didn’t seem to target specific victims and would hide in restroom stalls and videotape most anyone who used the neighboring toilet.

“If you went into a stall, he got you,” Florence Police Maj. Carlos Raines told the Florence Morning News.

Broach was arrested after an 11-year-old boy noticed the mirror poking under his stall while using the restroom in an area department store.


GREENVILLE

Man steals car at police chief’s funeral

A South Carolina man has been accused of taking a purse and stealing a car from a funeral home during the wake for a former police chief.


An officer working security for the visitation witnessed the theft and pursued the suspect. The man crashed into a light pole a short distance away.


Lucien Howard, 48, has been charged with burglary, grand larceny and driving under the influence.

SPARTANBURG

Clerk of court at receiving end of trial

Spartanburg County Clerk of Court, Marcus Kitchens has resigned after he allegedly removed drugs from an evidence room and sold them.

According to police, Kitchens was arrested after paying a man $3,000 to find a buyer for the drugs. Instead the man notified the DEA.

Kitchens is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Letters to the reader

Dear wives,

Researchers recently found that moderate beer consumption may strengthen bones and help fight osteoporosis. We’re not sharing this groundbreaking data because osteoporosis occurs primarily in women. Nope, we’re taking a long moment to gloat after having toiled for centuries under the weight of your nagging! That’s right! A couple of brews is actually good for you! Oh, and this is the best part, ladies: you can continue to sip your diet cola and point out our beer guts. A study also found that drinking just two cans of soda per week could double your risk of pancreatic cancer. I’ll take a belly and man tits over that any day of the week, baby! BOOM! Done! See you at Louie’s.

Columbia City Paper

Dear Cupid,

Could you please help RNC Chairman, Michael Steele, get laid this year? When we got his email about GOP-themed Valentines Day cards, we started to worry. Granted, some of them are actually pretty witty and take jabs at anyone from Al Fraken to Acorn. But, if your relationship --scratch that-- if your life has gotten to the point where your idea of romance comes with Joe Biden’s mug and a bad pun attached, well ...actually not even an ancient Roman love god can help.

Columbia City Paper


Dear GOP,

Well, well, look at the Tea Party folks, now. Looks like your Frankenstein’s monster has escaped the lab and is now running amok in the village. The spectacle you guys created for a couple of weeks worth of sound bytes now considers itself a de facto party in the Conservative movement and has traded the Samuel Adams costume for a power suit and red neck tie.

“I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me,” the monster says. “My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.”

Thus, Sarah Palin appeared on TV at the Tea Party convention. ...And now there are two! Brah-hah-ha-ha!!!

Columbia City Paper


Dear waving restaurant baby,

Yes, we see you. Everyone in our section sees you. You’re not exactly subtle. Listen, I’m trying to coax my date into the hot tub after dinner and you’re blowing it for me. Somehow you’ve captivated everyone else, but I see right through it. ...There you go again. I’ve been waving for 33 years, asshole! See! Why isn’t anyone looking at me?!

...Did I just yell that out loud? I did? Great.

Columbia City Paper

Candidate Neal Jones

By Judit Trunkos


Richland Co. candidate, Neal Jones, talks

education, environment and the Confederate Flag


Columbia City Paper sat down with Dr. Neal Jones, Democratic candidate for the District 80 (Richland County), to discuss his political program and his views on major issues, such as the confederate flag, education and the environment.

Jones has been living in lower Richland County for the last 11 years and will challenge 10-year incumbent Rep. Jimmy Bales of Eastover in the June 8 Democratic primary.

Columbia City Paper: On your website you write about how the Confederate Flag is actually hurting South Carolina economically. Could you elaborate on that?

Neal Jones:


The Confederate Flag is part of white supremacy and it is a symbol of a heritage of hate. The flag was flown by troops defending slavery. This flag deeply affects the image of our state.


It simply means we are still living in the past and we cannot pass it.  The state of South Carolina is losing a lot of money because of organizations, institutions and businesses boycotting us because of the flag at the Capitol building.


Josh Drews

By Judit Trunkos

ART + Cayce’s new exhibition presents monotypes by printmaker Josh Drews.


Drews, a South Carolina native, is an art teacher who specializes in monotyping, a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The technique produces one unique print, or monotype, and because most of the ink is removed during the initial pressing it is not designed to produce multiple prints.

Drews says the technique allows him to be very expressive with mark-making and color.  After printing the initial product, he refines the marks, adding details and other special features, allowing the piece to emerge into the final product.



“Creating monotypes provides a sense of freedom that I have yet to find in any other medium,” he says. “I love creating an interaction between rendered subjects and expressive backgrounds.”



As a child, Drews would spend hours sketching characters, creating his own comics, and drawing everything from cowboys, to dinosaurs, to robots and superheroes. His passion for action figures and powerful images followed him to art school. After graduating from Winthrop University with a BFA in General Studio Art, he was offered the opportunity to teach visual arts at Spring Valley High School.

Drews’ works project a lot of energy and movement. The dynamic prints make the room become alive and energize the environment. The print titled “AXEhammer2” symbolizes Drews’ style and energy.  It is powerful and projects strength as well as a little loss of control. The colors further highlight the dynamics of the image, emphasizing the passing moment and spontaneity.


Similarly to Kandinsky, Drews uses colors with the intensity of harsh sounds creating the effect of background noises. In the case of “AXEhammer 2,” for instance, the light blue, burgundy and red colors seem to indicate the sound of the hammer striking on an object creating a flat sound. The dynamics of the hammer and the background thus working together to ultimately produce the final image and its soundtrack.

The gallery opening is Thursday, Feb. 18 from 6-8 pm and the artist will answer question about his artistic process and production from 7:00 p.m. The show will run through March 18th opening a new year of art in the City of Cayce.


By Judit Trunkos
ART + Cayce’s new exhibition presents monotypes by printmaker Josh Drews. Drews, a South Carolina native, is an art teacher who specializes in monotyping, a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The technique produces one unique print, or monotype, and because most of the ink is removed during the initial pressing it is not designed to produce multiple prints. Drews says the technique allows him to be very expressive with mark-making and color.  After printing the initial product, he refines the marks, adding details and other special features, allowing the piece to emerge into the final product. â€œCreating monotypes provides a sense of freedom that I have yet to find in any other medium,” he says. “I love creating an interaction between rendered subjects and expressive backgrounds.”  As a child, Drews would spend hours sketching characters, creating his own comics, and drawing everything from cowboys, to dinosaurs, to robots and superheroes. His passion for action figures and powerful images followed him to art school. After graduating from Winthrop University with a BFA in General Studio Art, he was offered the opportunity to teach visual arts at Spring Valley High School. Drews’ works project a lot of energy and movement. The dynamic prints make the room become alive and energize the environment. The print titled “AXEhammer2” symbolizes Drews’ style and energy.  It is powerful and projects strength as well as a little loss of control. The colors further highlight the dynamics of the image, emphasizing the passing moment and spontaneity.Similarly to Kandinsky, Drews uses colors with the intensity of harsh sounds creating the effect of background noises. In the case of “AXEhammer 2,” for instance, the light blue, burgundy and red colors seem to indicate the sound of the hammer striking on an object creating a flat sound. The dynamics of the hammer and the background thus working together to ultimately produce the final image and its soundtrack.
The gallery opening is Thursday, Feb. 18 from 6-8 pm and the artist will answer question about his artistic process and production from 7:00 p.m. The show will run through March 18th opening a new year of art in the City of Cayce.

The Ticking is the Bomb

Review By Baynard Woods


Nick Flynn’s “The Ticking is the Bomb,” begins with the juxtaposition of the ultrasound image of his unborn daughter and the photographs taken at Abu Ghraib and it moves in eccentric circles around these two poles. He hopes that it will be a story of “the dark days before she was born, and how her coming was a way of light.”


The book is characterized as a “memoir,” and Flynn certainly has an interesting story, some of which he chronicled in his previous book “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.” His father went to prison and his mother committed suicide. Later, Flynn worked at a homeless shelter and, there, he got back in touch with his father, now homeless.  Flynn traveled and settled in Rome. He loved a lot of women, lied to some of them and would ultimately have a baby with one.


But Flynn’s personal drama is not the great thing about this book. In fact, it sometimes threatens to overwhelm the real story. The obligatory addiction passages sound like a hundred other memoirs (“After I’ve stopped using (again), after I’ve found my way back into folding chairs in anonymous church basements…“). It is the structure of the book rescues it from the clichés of the genre, makes it more intense, more poetic (Flynn is a poet), more real. The short, titled chapters are not arranged chronologically. Instead what Flynn calls “image clusters” allow scenes to gather unexpected gravity as the narrative bits loop around and reflect off of each other.


Flynn’s book begins with a discussion of images—the ultrasound the Abu Ghraib—but it is not about images at all. It is, in fact, about the differences between bodies and images.  Flynn complains that filmmaker Errol Morris’ New York Times articles about Abu Ghraib seem more concerned with the photographs than the reality. The ticking might be the bomb, but the photo is not the torture.


That isn’t Flynn’s only beef with Morris, who recently released the film “Standard Operating Procedure” about Abu Ghraib.  Flynn is amazed that Morris only shows the stories of the torturers, the Americans. Flynn does not talk to the torturers. He goes to Istanbul to listen to the testimony of the tortured.


And yet, he does not tell us their stories.  Not really.  Flynn’s story is not about Abu Ghraib any more than it is about his unborn child. It is about his reaction to these things. This would be a real disappointment if his reactions were not so interesting, entertaining and instructive. “The Ticking is the Bomb” cajoles the reader into feeling the world more deeply and this is what makes it tick.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Legislature should back off on search, I.D. bills

Something’s fishy in Columbia with two bills that directly impact our constitutional rights.

In one, state lawmakers want to start so-called “warrantless searches” to allow police to search people on parole or probation without the hassle of getting a search warrant.  In another, legislators want to require photo identification for voting, a practice that could dampen turnout among more than 300,000 people who don’t have such identification cards.

In both cases, state legislators want to use the strong arm of the law to impede people’s civil liberties.  What’s fishy is that these efforts are being backed strongly by Republicans, the party that preaches the gospel of limited government.

“When they say they believe in less government, watch what they do, and not what they say,” warns Charleston civil rights lawyer Armand Derfner.

First, let’s look at warrantless searches.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, a Democrat, started the push for warrantless searches to help cut down on crime in Charleston.   If police can search any probationer or parolee any time, proponents believe the threat of searches will discourage those folks from returning to a life of crime.

In the original version of the bill, warrantless searches extended to private homes that a probationer or parolee might be in.  In recent days, the House deleted that provision to deal with the very real concern that police would be able to get into anyone’s home without a warrant.  Now the proposal calls for searches in cars or in the public if an officer deems it necessary.

But it’s a slippery slope.  If we allow police searches of parolees and probationers without a warrant, what’s to prevent future proposals to take away more constitutional rights from unreasonable searches and seizures in the future?

“It’s government reaching too far,” said one of the few Republican legislators against the bill.  â€œThey’re finding an end run around the Fourth amendment.

“The problem is it’s not narrowly tailored for what they say the intent is,” said the lawmaker, who asked for anonymity.  â€œThe repercussions are great as it relates to innocent third parties.  Nobody is trying to protect the right of people on parole or probation.  The concern is the impact on third persons who have done nothing wrong.”

State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, notes the whole idea of warrantless searches is odd since getting a warrant isn’t really that hard if police have a suspicion of wrongdoing.   Rather than mess with constitutional rights, perhaps authorities should better use existing laws, such as setting higher bonds for probationers or parolees who get in trouble, he added.

Next up:  photo identification for voters.

According to the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, there are more than 178,000 registered S.C. voters who don’t have a state-approved photo I.D. or driver’s license.  Requiring those people to get more identification for voting would cost about $1 million and could create longer lines at the polls, the League says.

More importantly, requiring photo IDs is solving a problem that really doesn’t exist.  Derfner said the state already has adequate identification requirements.

“We’ve never had a complaint of that kind of fraud,” he said, later adding that the voter I.D. proposal “is just a fraud because there’s no need for it.  The only reason they want to do it is cut down on voters.”

State League President Barbara Zia said the proposal is something that, if it passed, might be held up by the U.S. Justice Department because of the state’s history of discriminatory voting practices.

“The current bill covers only voter impersonation and the fact is there are no documented cases of such voter fraud in South Carolina,” she said.

What’s interesting about the whole controversy is that just a few years back, Republicans squawked about national identity cards as an intrusion into a person’s privacy.  And while some still are against national IDs nationally, the playing field seemed to change after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Regardless, fiddling with people’s constitutional rights of being able to vote with few barriers and being able to exist without unreasonable searches is dangerous.  State lawmakers need to seriously consider how they are proposing to take away citizen rights before proceeding with either unnecessary bill.

Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report, can be reached at:   brack@statehousereport.com.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wellington Causes Brown Surge



[caption id="attachment_925" align="alignleft" width="213" caption="Does DeMint secretly read City Paper?    Ask him."][/caption]

I had something really good planned for this week. Everything was going great. Joe Wilson is safely ensconced as a one-hit-wonder (For everyone in Columbia, he’s still an A+ asshole but in the national consciousness his “You Lie!” is already part of some “Remember the Aughts” television nostalgia special). There was nothing juicy about Lindsey Graham in “Game Change” (although I can’t resist referring to the passage where Cindy McCain interrupted something John was saying and the Senator turned to her and said “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck” flipping her the double bird, both hands, big time—it’s hard to imagine mild-mannered Lindsey as best-friends with a guy like this, much less wanting him to be President). Yep, everything was going well.  And then came the special election in Massachusetts. Lindsey Graham, being the decent fellow that he (sort of, sometimes) is, warned his own party “If you are a Republican in a red state, don’t think this can’t happen to you.”

Unfortunately, what he means is that Republicans like Bob Inglis of SC’s 4th District may lose this year to a more conservative Tea Party Republican challenger. That means that DeMint may try to Rubio moderates. I am referring to the Big D’s personal attempts to oust Charlie Crist in Florida in favor of his own “Tea Party” insurgent candidate (Why, South Carolina voters may wonder, should DeMint care who is the governor of Florida?)

But why not, really? Mr. DeMint seems to be on a winning streak. Remember a couple of weeks ago when he held up the nomination of Errol Southers for the head of the TSA? DeMint was alone in this obstruction… and yet, just a couple days ago, Southers withdrew his nomination. The Democrats had sixty seats and haven’t been able to do a damn thing. And DeMint, with his steely eyes and weird grin, can overturn U.S. policy (Honduras) or hold up nominees whenever he pleases. Apparently one stubborn SOB can keep things from happening.

The next day, Mr. DeMint claimed responsibility for Republican Scott Brown’s victory in the Senate race in Massachusetts. Casting himself yet again as General Wellington, who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte, DeMint claimed responsibility for the victory, reminding Americans that he said that Healthcare would be Obama’s Waterloo and would “break him.”  When Brown won, DeMint told the press “I do believe that was a call to arms early in this race. I was one of the first who was willing to take the president on directly on an agenda that I thought was out of control.”

Now that his Wellingtonian beefing seems to have caused a Brown surge, DeMint served up his old statement like left-overs saying “If the president and the Democrats don’t get the message from Massachusetts, it will be their Waterloo.” He was so pleased with himself that he surely had crème de menthe for dessert.

Still, you’ve got to hand it to DeMint. He is a skilled politician. He knows how to make theater. You can see this if you search for DeMint on the social-networking site Facebook. There he has 24, 435 fans as a “politician,”  but only seven fans as a “government official.” (As an author he only has five).  This has got to make you wonder. Is DeMint’s grandstanding actually good for the people of South Carolina? Is he really a public official, or is he a Tom Delay politician who wants to be in the spotlight so badly that he will eventually end up on “Dancing with the Stars”?

The Duke of Wellington may have defeated Napoleon abroad, but he was not so popular at home. He was in fact known as the “Iron Duke.” No, not because of his steely resolve or his iron will. But because he had to put up iron shutters to protect his windows. People hated Wellington so much that they tried to throw rocks and bricks and trash through his windows every night.

Well, DeMint is up for election this year and we’ve got more than sticks and stones. I’ve been trying to get an interview with DeMint since I started writing this column, but he continues to rebuff my advances. Readers of the City Paper should demand that DeMint give an interview to the paper. You should bombard his email and telephones with messages so that he will have to put up his own electronic iron shutters.

Since most people read City Papers in bars, take another drink and call DeMint’s office to demand that he sit down with someone from the City Paper (ideally me). Then, when you’re done, call again. It’s evening and weekend hours on your phone—unless you drink in the day. And if you have a smartphone join my facebook group “DeMint should talk to the Columbia City Paper” (not to be confused with all of the other Jim DeMint pages, including “DeMint for President 2016” and “Jim DeMint is a Douche”). All the info is below.

Senator DeMint contact info

Columbia: 803-771-6112

Washington: 202-224-6121

To leave an electronic message you can go to


You can join my own facebook page Jim DeMint should talk to the City Paper at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=268479741251

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Old Friendship, New Ideas


By Judit Trunkos

Walking into Gallery 80808 the day before the opening reception, I found four busy artists, who were putting the final touches on a new group exhibition at Gallery 80808. David Yaghjian, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly and Stephen Chesley had exhibited together before.  Long-term friendship and art brings these artists together every year to showcase their new works.

Stephen Chesley’s new pieces shed light on his deep interest in other modern artists, especially abstract expressionists.  In order to perfect the depth and the dynamics of his brush strokes on canvas, Chesley fills sketchbooks with practice stroke studies to explore the usage and effect of negative space and dynamics.  At this group exhibition, he actually framed some of the best brush stroke compositions individually.  Chesley’s group of oil on paper, collectively titled “Kline/Zen,” introduces some of these unique brush strokes.

“Isolating the brush stroke, taking a piece out of the whole, shows that the piece is really equal to the whole,” Chesley says, giving a nod to the method Franz Kline used in the 60s.  â€œJust as Pollock’s work might appear chaotic at first, it is very well controlled by the artist.

Art-lovers in Columbia all know David Yaghjian’s “middle aged man” figure, who has been appearing in his work in the most unexpected and psychically unbalanced positions and situations. This year Yaghjian unveils new developments for his figure and begins to use trees as the main focus of these paintings.  According to Yaghjian, trees are still symbols for life and for the connection between heaven and earth, but they seem to appear more frequently as the main themes of his works. Yaghjian has also created wooden sculptures for the exhibit.  The wood and crayon pieces reflect the artist’s unlimited search for new ideas and the experimentation with new materials.

“Using crayons and chalk is like using kids’ tools. Allows me to discover new materials and have fun with them,” he says.

Mike Williams, best known for his abstract depictions of fish, features his new works inspired by nature and wetlands.  His mostly abstract paintings developed new lines this year, but he just had to add the fish figures to this background to finalize his work.  To further toy with the reciprocity of his works, Williams painted ”Across the Fish” in a way that his “Fish” sculpture fits into the painting perfectly.

“I am always trying to progress the work, trying new things,” he says. “There are no formulas. I just paint as I go.”

The character, Raggedy Ann, appears in most of Edward Wimberly’s exhibited works.  Even more surprisingly, the fictional character created by Johnny Gruelle has no connections to childhood or the story itself. Wimberly paints what he feels fits into the composition without having an ideological or compositional plan in mind.  Often Wimberly starts with one character or group of characters, which might not even be at the center of the canvas, and develops the rest of the composition afterwards.  In the painting titled “Evening on the Farm” Wimberly portrays a farm house in the background at night with a number of dancing and moving creatures in front of it.  Raggedy Ann dances with a ballet dancer in a pink tutu while a group of cheerful monkeys interact with the dancers.

“I paint things that do not make any sense,” Wimberly explains. “Afterwards, I look at the composition and try to understand it. But I do not know what I will end up painting in the beginning. I think it is boring to know what I will paint, before I paint it.”

This group exhibition is always a blast and will be featured at Studio 80808 until February 2.


Old Friendship, New IdeasBy Judit TrunkosWalking into Gallery 80808 the day before the opening reception, I found four busy artists, who were putting the final touches on a new group exhibition at Gallery 80808. David Yaghjian, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly and Stephen Chesley had exhibited together before.  Long-term friendship and art brings these artists together every year to showcase their new works.Stephen Chesley’s new pieces shed light on his deep interest in other modern artists, especially abstract expressionists.  In order to perfect the depth and the dynamics of his brush strokes on canvas, Chesley fills sketchbooks with practice stroke studies to explore the usage and effect of negative space and dynamics.  At this group exhibition, he actually framed some of the best brush stroke compositions individually.  Chesley’s group of oil on paper, collectively titled “Kline/Zen,” introduces some of these unique brush strokes.“Isolating the brush stroke, taking a piece out of the whole, shows that the piece is really equal to the whole,” Chesley says, giving a nod to the method Franz Kline used in the 60s.  â€œJust as Pollock’s work might appear chaotic at first, it is very well controlled by the artist. Art-lovers in Columbia all know David Yaghjian’s “middle aged man” figure, who has been appearing in his work in the most unexpected and psychically unbalanced positions and situations. This year Yaghjian unveils new developments for his figure and begins to use trees as the main focus of these paintings.  According to Yaghjian, trees are still symbols for life and for the connection between heaven and earth, but they seem to appear more frequently as the main themes of his works. Yaghjian has also created wooden sculptures for the exhibit.  The wood and crayon pieces reflect the artist’s unlimited search for new ideas and the experimentation with new materials.“Using crayons and chalk is like using kids’ tools. Allows me to discover new materials and have fun with them,” he says.Mike Williams, best known for his abstract depictions of fish, features his new works inspired by nature and wetlands.  His mostly abstract paintings developed new lines this year, but he just had to add the fish figures to this background to finalize his work.  To further toy with the reciprocity of his works, Williams painted ”Across the Fish” in a way that his “Fish” sculpture fits into the painting perfectly.“I am always trying to progress the work, trying new things,” he says. “There are no formulas. I just paint as I go.” The character, Raggedy Ann, appears in most of Edward Wimberly’s exhibited works.  Even more surprisingly, the fictional character created by Johnny Gruelle has no connections to childhood or the story itself. Wimberly paints what he feels fits into the composition without having an ideological or compositional plan in mind.  Often Wimberly starts with one character or group of characters, which might not even be at the center of the canvas, and develops the rest of the composition afterwards.  In the painting titled “Evening on the Farm” Wimberly portrays a farm house in the background at night with a number of dancing and moving creatures in front of it.  Raggedy Ann dances with a ballet dancer in a pink tutu while a group of cheerful monkeys interact with the dancers. â€œI paint things that do not make any sense,” Wimberly explains. “Afterwards, I look at the composition and try to understand it. But I do not know what I will end up painting in the beginning. I think it is boring to know what I will paint, before I paint it.” This group exhibition is always a blast and will be featured at Studio 80808 until February 2.

Bauer should drop out of gubernatorial race

By Andy Brack

Let’s give a big hand to gubernatorial candidate Andre Bauer:  He’s wrapped up the intolerant, racist, elderly vote with recent comments linking government assistance to stray animals.   Maybe all the lieutenant governor now has to do to garner the GOP nod is expand his base by speeding more cars, crashing more planes and punching more walls.

What he really should do is save the state from four years of being the continuing butt of national jokes.  How?  By dropping out of the governor’s race.  Regardless of your political party, South Carolina just can’t afford Bauer’s immaturity and mouth to get in the way of where the state needs to go.

After years of bad behavior with planes and cars, Bauer’s mouth has finally caught up with him.  At issue is his deplorable comment last week on taking away government assistance for people who didn’t pass drug tests or attend PTA meetings.  At an Upstate political gathering, Bauer recalled his grandmother telling him to stop feeding strays:  â€œYou know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better.”

In a Sunday story in The Greenville News, Bauer said he didn’t regret the comments, but said using the “stray animals” comment probably wasn’t the best metaphor.

By Tuesday, the spin was in full control.  He told The State in a story printed that morning that he regretted the comment because it was being used as an analogy, not a metaphor.

By Tuesday afternoon, he was throwing more gas on the fire by “explaining” his comment about strays to the S.C. Radio Network:  â€œâ€œIf you can’t take care of them, take them to the animal shelter. But what happens when you feed them all the time and they become dependent of the food and you go on vacation?  They’ve learned how to not take care of themselves. They’ve become dependent on you, so what happens to them? I should have never used that metaphor. I never dreamed people in the media would try to turn this thing around instead of saying ‘hey let’s have an honest discussion.”

Bauer’s words have been roundly criticized and are, as the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg wrote “not some kind of Democratic overreaction.”  The Rock Hill Herald said he was reckless and used “spectacularly insensitive language.”   Bauer was “not only cruel and derogatory, but counterproductive,” according to the Myrtle Beach Sun-News.  And Warren Bolton at The State, who said he ate free lunches when he was in school, noted Bauer’s remarks were “an affront to every parent and child who might not come from financially stable homes.”

What’s bothersome, though with Bauer’s cycle of telling the comment to a friendly Upstate audience followed by not regretting it, regretting it and then saying it again, is the very real possibility that what he did was a calculated political move to inject some life into a dull, somewhat sputtering campaign.

Like him or not, Bauer long has been a determined, savvy campaigner who shouldn’t be underestimated.  Just ask Sen. Phil Leventis or former Rep. Robert Barber, both of whom narrowly lost to Bauer in statewide races.

But Bauer’s brand of unenlightened, retail politics isn’t what will move South Carolina forward.  Leaders of all political stripes are calling for real leadership in wake of the disaster of the Sanford years.  And real leadership is not something that Bauer has shown through the years.  Instead of governing, he’s been the eternal candidate who has run his mouth.

South Carolina deserves better from its next governor than someone who kowtows to the lowest common denominator.  After the last week, it deserves just about anybody but Andre.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:  brack@statehousereport.com.