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"It's Raining Men, Hallelujah!"

Jonesborough TN -- My hometown since 1998 celebrates Independence Day with a three-day festival -- called Jonesborough Days and instituting its 38th annual occurence with an overall participatory crowd estimated at 60,000 in a community whose resident citizens number just a little over 5,000 --beginning on the morning of the Fourth with a colorful and musical parade of heartwarmingly extravagant and sometimes humorous displays of patriotic colors participated in by very elderly women and men through reigning area beauty queens, including "cutest kid," to small children and babies. In celebration of this year's theme, "Farmin' on the Fourth," a young man carries a little son on his lap as he manoevres a decorated International Harvester down Main Street. A grandfather does the same on his John Deere with a grandson. Two "trains" constructed of painted 55-gallon drums on wheels with seats cut out of the tops and strung together with heavy utility wire carry two and three years olds, a few looking a little grumpy in the sun and ordered chaos of motorized vehicles, horses mounted and drawing surries, people clapping, cheering and waving, and frequently manicured dogs barking. Two horses are accoutered on their front legs with outsized denim bib overalls. A clown prances by a few gentlemen on the sidewalks dressed as Uncle Sam with tall red, white, and blue tophats and a large middle-aged woman costumed in turqoise as the Statue of Liberty.

It is all led by a flatbed carrying service veterans followed by a smaller construction with Sam Burke of the Jonesborough Novelty Band and Mudbugs and Steve Cook, founder and coodinator of Music On The Square, playing folk and patriotic songs, and the Davy Crockett High School marching band followed by their baton twirlers. The crowd flows into the street as the parade disappears and fans out to kiosks of beautiful and fascinating handmade crafts, fragrant foods, games for children including the traditional three chances for $1 to dunk a teenaged boy-man sitting on a chair over four feet or so of water, face-painting, and a large inflated water slide. I'm wearing a navy designer tee with a heart of stars and stripes on the front, and quite a few other people are wearing shirts and outfits similarly displaying colors of the Union in various designs. There are three venues with continuous live music changing about hourly: a main tent, an outdoor cafe with umbrella-covered tables and chairs in the International Storytelling Center plaza, and an open jam in the park behind the reconstructed log home by Main Street's Presbyterian Church.

John Markopoulos, also a long-time friend of retired art professor John Lysle, previous ACR contributor, and pony-tailed Greek-Italian artist/owner of a wonderfully overwhelming art and antique shop in the restored Sisters Row, welcomes me in from the store's front porch and we talk about his upcoming participation in the next ACR update until Steve Cook comes in joining the conversation and I leave soon to enjoy the Benedict Trio of a tall, gray-haired man on mandolin and banjo, a younger woman on guitar (they harmonize), and a heavy-set older woman in long flowing brown fiber skirt and white tunic playing virtuoso fiddle. She leads in for a few songs, including "The Tennesee Waltz" and "Whiskey For Breakfast," which she notes, laughing, that she doesn't recommend. Later, in the main tent a version of the Novelty Band with tech professor Sam Burke on electric bass and a young dark-haired woman in jeans, occasionally holding her young daughter, are singing and playing with a drummer and guitarist. Belting out a solo version of "You Made Me Love You," with a few gutteral vocal exclamations in appropriate places, she brings down the house.

There's a Native American Village on Inn Lawn Park hosted by the Intertribal Council where I'm treated to warm and delicious hominy and cornbread by three women sitting on chairs in the shade of a tree and then sit close by the babbling riffles of the town creek, talking for quite awhile with an older polio-disabled Cherokee man from Wise County, Virginia. He laments that younger ones are entranced by computers and drugs, uninterested in mountain hiking, fishing and hunting as he and his older friend sitting nearby still are. All the participants are wearing traditional native dress. When the dancer with his face painted mostly in thick black stripes comes over, I say, "You look very frightening," and we both laugh. A native booth in the crafts area carries tee shirts emblazoned with a photo of four Cherokee men holding formidable rifles imprinted above with "First Line of Defense." I want to buy one but the woman manning the booth who barefly speaks or understands English says they're $15 each, over my budget, so I buy a $2 painted wooden angel for my dining room Christmas tree and a variegated stone pendant for the same price a little ways down the lines of tents and tables. A shy teenage woman stops me and says, "I love your jewelry," as I laugh and show her my lastest purchase. Another woman at a table agrees with me, smiling, that Jonesborough is heaven on earth, "the world before The Fall," as musician, storyteller and department chair Dr. Joseph Sobol once put it.

On the way walking home with my crafts treasures and free little plastic American flag, I pick up the free Voice: magazine for women, thanking God one more time for being here, along with a small request, from my throbbing right ankle vibrating sympathetically particularly, that the Divine not rain and lightning on me, or anyone else, from darkening and rumbling clouds until we're all safely sheltered. Arriving home dry and unelectrified, I turn on the stereo to listen to my newest Selena CD and rest the aching soles of my feet a little while browsing through Abingdon, Virginia's Highlands Festival pamphlet I've also picked up free, detailing performance and crafts to be presented there freely to inexpensively (from $16 per show to $5 for a day's live music pass) July 26th through August 10th, beginning with the Hunt Family Fiddlers from Ireland -- "dancers, singers and champion fiddlers" -- and ending with Barter Theatre's enactment of The Who's musical, "Tommy." Ah, the glorious Mountain Empire.

In the evening, I drive back for a blues performance which begins with five band members gathering in a circle with arms around each other bowing their heads and praying beyond hearing of the audience for quite awhile. Then they break and Lightnin' Charlie hits a hard sliding lick on his electric guitar, leading in the enthusiastic saxaphone, electric bass and drums players. Magic has begun. They get into their music and message without applause breaks for the next two high-energy hours. Charlie is tall, lanky and long-legged with a body in constant rhythm covered in a white suit and Stetson hat. His wife, the harmonizing singer on a few songs and dancer sitting with the audience otherwise, is small with longish dark, wavy hair and wearing a blue and white sundress. At one point, she says into her microphone, "I'd talk, but I'm too shy." Between songs, Charlie reminds us that we're still the greatest country on earth, not because of governments but because of our people, and that we couldn't do what we are doing in Iran or the Sudan, for instance. Speaking of gas prices and their effects, including keeping many from traveling vacations this summer, he extolls the joys of home, quotes the Biblical promise that, "We who are last will some day be first," and launches into Otis Redding's "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay," "Pretty Woman," and a rousing version of "Honey, that's it! I quit! I'm movin' on."

Charlie then introduces a few original bluesy gospel songs from his latest CD of them by saying, noting that many artists do, "The Lord wrote it. God's still in business." The first says, "He's a life preserver, people, when your ship is going down.... Call on Him before you drown." Asking permission to perform another gospel, he sings, "I'm gone again, don't want to live in sin no mo'...." followed by a song to his wife and then notes, "You don't have to worry about your heart; it's going to last you the rest of your life" before singing the 'good news' song, "Say The Word and you'll be free; spread The Word and be like me; say The Word...." He and the bass player then switch to acoustic guitars for "I'm a blues man; Charlie is my name; I am what I am and the blues are to blame.... The blues sent me an angel, introduced me to my wife...." Some of it's played and sung very softly, so we have to listen attentively to the words, well-enunciated. Switching back to their electric instruments and encouraging the audience again to get up by saying, "Everyone can dance to this, even a white guy like me," they then lead in to a slow, sexy version of "Sea of Love" with couples from young to aged swaying together before pots of plants and flowers arranged at the foot of the stage.

Charlie puts down his guitar and walks over to an electric piano at stage left with a story about friend Jerry Lee and his pubescent cousin-wife Myra, after charging into "Whole Lot Of Shakin' Goin' On." Reclaiming his guitar, the band ends with an a capella hymn by them and Charlie's adult in-law family, a verbal tribute to World War II veterans, in service and not, who saved the world for freedom with their sacrifices, and a blues medley of "America," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Dixie," "Battle Hymn," and "All My Sorrows." You gotta hear this guy! And if he's performing in your area, give yourself a boost and an incomparable treat. This is someone you really want and need to meet!

Lightnin' Charlie has been performing for 25 years, has two young children ("When something's wrong with my baby, something's wrong with me"), CDs, an autobiographical book, and started playing acoustic two years ago free in nursing and assisted living homes. He says that, regardless of cognizance levels, the elderly respond and want to hear rock and rousing blues only. As I stand up to leave an attractive young blonde woman holds up her tiny and adorable mulatto daughter with short, curly, light brown hair, fixed with a bow, to watch a train go by. Her daughter's face transforms in delighted expressions of awe at the sight and sounds as a young black man unfolds his daughter, sprawled out on his lap throughout the performance, to get up and go home.

More of the same continues all day and evening Saturday ending with the Johnson City Community Concert Band playing by the Visitors Center at 9:30 before fireworks there start at 10:00 p.m. The Band begin with "America" and soft orchestrations of Americana, playing "Battle Hymn," "Dixie," and "America" as town fireworks start exploding in the clear and humid night sky. We're all given disposable glasses that enhance spectrum and size of displays falling in sparkling splendor toward our upturned faces. The band starts up again with hymns from all four services in the order of Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force, ending with "Halls of Montezuma," before quitting again for awhile. Picking up after fireworks are through with the usual skyborne bangs and spangling explosions, they play "Stars and Stripes" as the crowd begins to disperse from sidewalks, grass, and Boone Street. I walk back up the hills with a few rest stops in this micro San Francisco and pause by the apartments' play area where three daddies, despite worldwide economic woes, have spent possibly their cumulative last week's salaries on professional level fireworks which they've been setting off the past few nights until the wee hours for about a dozen kids and other onlookers throughout the town. Happy Fifth!

The program closes with gospel on Sunday afternoon ending with the African-American Bethel Christian Church Choir and last performance of "Charlotte's Web," performed popularly by area children at Jonesborough Repertory Theatre for $3 per ticket. In concert with the Town of Jonesborough, all the events have been co-sponsored by 17 major companies and corporations, their names gratefully listed on the community website as well as programs distributed to residents and visitors.

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June 6, 2008 -- On my way downtown, I stop by a corner gas station for cigarettes. A slim middle-aged man is sitting on the concrete walk, legs outstreched and back leaning against the building. We exchange smiles and nods as I pass to go inside. On my way back, he says, "Goodbye," smiling again as I, responding likewise, get back into my car and drive away, wondering if I'll have trouble finding a place to park. I don't, am within two easy walking blocks of where I've looked forward to being this Friday evening.

Johnson City's Blue Plum Festival, June 6-7, reminds me a little of the "teeming, steaming streets" of Boston MA's, or NYC Greenwich Village West's, Little Italy. People of all description and dress throng through Main Street, its sidewalks and side streets, old stores and restaurant/bars. It's legal then to drink beer outdoors, and I buy a draught lager for $4, joking with the bartender that at that price I certainly won't get drunk. White-awninged tents set up in the streets offer products from fresh-baked spanikopita bread loaves ($4) to very reasonably priced and awesome "Renee's Italian Tiles," beautiful landscapes and gardens painted on used and framed window panes ($40-$65). I ask if she has a gallery or her work is on sale anywhere, and she says kind of bashfully, no, she's just getting started. I assure her she'll do well with that art and cost, and she smiles and says, "Do you think so?" I assure her it's true, tell her about the two antique art stores in Greeneville, and walk on toward the jazz stage at the east end of Main, passing a large table giving out free copies of that day's Johnson City Press newspaper with the headline "Obama brings message to area" and a large color photo of the Democratic candidate speaking, surrounded by crowds, before a large, hanging American flag. I take one, and a copy of the two-day festival program event and time listings.

A young woman in a long bright blue dress is playing flute center stage with men on bass and guitar to either side of her. A lone, slim, middle-aged man in the cleared area before them is dancing a kind-of Hindu-ish, Celtic, modern ballet. People stand against the shops and sit on the small raised concrete beds of mulch and trees that line the sidewalks, listening, talking and laughing in small groups. There's a heavy, light-skinned woman with heavy bright makeup and nearly black hair in a long, tight white dress chatting with friends and another larger woman pushed, smiling, in a wheelchair by a young man. One thin young woman in jeans, holding her daughter in a dress up before her chest, lets her down gently to the street.

I've met an old friend from 40 years ago, John Lysle, a now-retired and very spry 70-year-old Asian Art professor, at the Johnson City Art Council's First Friday exhibit and reception, where outstanding art is on display, including the long, rectangular, colorfully-painted and decoupaged "In The Beginning There Was Music," which catches my eye. An old friend, Dale, from Nolichucky Campground, and I encounter and recognize each other with surprise, restating our names since we've both forgotten, and catch up on each other's lives briefly, as we stand and munch on goodies by the reception table. She is retired on early Social Security now and takes classes at ETSU, hasn't been back to the campground in years. John and I trade divorce war stories, and then he re-introduces me to Jody, a very pleasant and warmly outgoing woman with homes in Wyoming and near Milligan College. We recount tales and agree there's nothing more important on earth than long-time women friends with whom to experience all of life, which intereferes with our strictly organized plans. Parting we agree to try to reconnect at Jonesborough's Music On The Square the following Friday before she returns to Wyoming for the summer.

In the course of conversation, John says, "You're not one of those feminists who hate men, are you?" I laugh, since it's obviously not true, and say, "No. Some of my best friends are, and always have been, men." He laughs as I add, "But I am a feminist." I leave for the Nelson Fine Arts Gallery's exhibit, and we reconnect off and on, ending up at ETSU's gallery on Tipton Street, which has closed. The openers for Doc Watson begin to play around 9 p.m., as John leaves for his car, after we agree to meet at the Jonesborough Library one day so he, a contented computer illiterate, can see ACR and a little piece he wrote for it years ago about guns and their history, a long-time hobby interest of his. I tell him I used to own a World War I German Mauser, and he's impressed, disappointed that I don't still have it. We laugh about it's "kick," and he describes the construction of a black-powder rifle, saying it takes five days just to make the barrel right. He's going to the Native American Festival at Sycamore Shoals National Park in Elizabethton the next day, and I say I've been to it, enjoyably, in a few previous years but won't make it this time due to other obligations. We talk briefly on the phone with his woman friend, who has called from Atlanta where she's staying with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

Realizing that oncoming fatigue won't last me through waiting for Doc Watson's appearance, probably around 10 p.m., I regretfully/gratefully retrace my steps past bazaars selling exotic daffodils in pots ($15) and hand-lathed bowls and decorations of variegated woods (don't even check the prices because I know they're out of my range), looking forward to being back in the live-in art gallery I call my apartment. Walking toward my car, I pass a young white couple embracing as he comforts her for some harm, and a pale, chunky family of one woman and two younger men standing in a circle by a full shopping cart and holding hands while she prays out loud. I smile and say, not aloud, "Thank you, God," as I cross State of Franklin Road to the parking lot on Roan Street by two young black men talking and walking jauntily together. Back home, I settle into the couch with a glass of wine, musing over different people, things and events I've just encountered and experienced.

June 7 -- An unusual and edgy band, The Penny Dreadfuls (now Heathcote's Sorrows), is performing their original music as I walk down Roan Street into the Festival area. The woman singer -- with black hair, black-and-white polka-dotted dress, and red heels -- is dramatically and uniquely fabulous. The male singer on electric guitar is a great, well-controlled baritone with a long black ponytail. With shoulder-length curly red hair, the keyboardist is very serious when playing, and the drummer is out-of-sight. After the performance, I add my name to their e-mail address list for notification of upcoming venues. They're also selling a CD, along with others, in another area and the guitar player says it isn't available in stores.

From Russo's lively New Orleans-style ("Laissez les bon temps roulez") restaurant and bar and outdoor cafe I get a chilled Diet Coke in a bottle for $2, having sworn off $4 beer, and meander onto Main Street where the husband of "Renee's Italian Tiles" is manning the booth alone tonight. I point out my two favorite artworks and ask how they've been doing. He lists some things they sold and tells me that they were very successful with them in Italy, where they lived for five years. "Oh," I say, "What were you doing there?" "I was in the Navy for 22 years." "That's a good service." "I loved it. They can call me back anytime. I'd go in a minute." "What's the longest you were ever out at sea?" "Three months." "Seems like it would be uncomfortable to be crammed together like that, sardines, for so long." "No, it isn't. There's a lot of comraderie." And he lists amenities, too, aboard ship, among which he lists aircraft carriers. "So," I continue, "You're retired? You just do this now?" "Oh, no. I work full-time as a handyman kind of. And get these windows for Renee and make and put together the boards for the wood screens she paints, too." "What did you do in the Navy?" He lists some jobs, including commanding a kind of special operations group and being a bodyguard for an Admiral. Some potential buyers come up, and I drift off toward the food tents.

On entering that area, I stop at a table and sign up to be an organ donor, receiving a free good-sized black tote bag, a square refrigerator magnet, and whirring plastic child's toy, all imprinted in large letters with "Give Life." The food's kind of expensive for someone who isn't really that hungry, although it varies enticingly from Greek specialties to Chinese and includes elephant ears and mixed drinks like Pina Coladas. I walk back instead toward the music stages and end up watching and listening to the locally popular and wonderful all-male Jazz Doctors: trumpet, alto and tenor sax, drums, electric guitar, bass, and keyboard. The piano player has shoulder-length gray-white hair, glasses, a black beret, and is a crazy man. He makes faces constantly, moves his mouth, jumps nearly out of his seat and back again, and toward and away from the keys, totally into the beat and what he's playing. The trumpeter, a large, tall, heavy man, is the band leader. Alto sax is a young black man, much applauded during his solos, and the bass player has won a Grammy for sound engineering. Toward the end of their performance a few seven- and eight-year-olds with shiny, sequined headgear come up and throw brightly colored metal bead necklaces out for the audience to catch. Some greedily gather dozens. I have two, which I requested as one of the throwers passed me by. Calming down the crowd, the Jazz Doctors (actually Dick Davis--sax, Mark Thie--piano, Jerome Heitman--guitar, Martin Walters--bass, Dr. Rarde Sanderbeck--percussion, and band leader Dr. David Champouillon [Bach Trumpets Performing Artist, ETSU trumpet professor and director of Jazz Studies, and director of the TN Tri-Cities Jazz Festival] --trumpet and flugelhorn) start playing again, a slow sad-serious rendition of "Over The Rainbow," and the watching faces look nostalgic and a few with a soft smile. As they pick it up again, I'm feeling a little sleepy and decide to wend my back home, passing a table of agates and crystal in vari-colored shapes and see a cardboard box with irridescent broken pieces in it. The depressed-seeming small middle-aged man with sandy hair mumbles that it's glass when I ask. Questioning further, he says it's iron-oxidized to bring out the natural shapes and shades inside of it. He holds one to the light for me to see how the colors change as he moves it. I'm entranced and buy three useless but beautiful shards for $5.

Having as nearly always emptied my pocketbook of cash, I stop by the corner grocery store near my home to charge beer and steak, sit again on the couch and think about what I've just participated in, experienced, and seen.

The crowd had been smaller than the previous evening, but more varied yet in shapes, styles, and hairdos. One slim young woman with lovely red wavy hair half way down her back was wearing a tangerine-flowered, loose, long dress and looked like something out of Victoria with her pale, perfect features. A large young man was carrying very close to his chest a one- or two-month-old baby with thick black hair, and a very tall, thin older man with shoulder-length white hair and mustache smiled and moved to the rhythm of The Penny Dreadfuls. A small, 30-ish woman beside me on one of the raised concrete sidewalk beds danced enthusiastically while sitting down to the Jazz Doctors' songs. All the performers got cheers, applause, and dancing encouragement as they played and sang with intermittent "Yeah!"s for anything that struck them as particularly outstanding. The heat and humidity had been fairly formidible, but hadn't seemed to slow anybody down. Altogether, it's a fascinating town.

Community supportive and culturally aware donors for the event ranged from corporate, like BB&T and First Tennessee Bank, through private business, like Nelson Fine Arts Gallery and Johnson City Press, to individual, all thanked with their logos where available on the back of programs distributed and the most generous having large signs posted, particularly on the front of band stands.

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mountain empire happenings/events -- regional on-going and upcoming events/happenings
freely distributed magazines and newspapers -- appalachian visitors centers
inter/national cultural events/happenings

mountain empire happenings/events

  • Abingdon VA -- art shows and receptions at the William King Regional Arts Center, particularly presentations and lectures related to Spirituality in Art; Arts Array film series at the Cinemall; Martha Washington Hotel furnishings and art; Historical Society of Washington County Museum in the old train depot building; delicious meals and drinks at Withers Hardware Store restaurant/bar and The Tavern; artists working and displaying at The Arts Depot

  • Asheville NC -- art exhibits at the Woolworth Walk and revolving monthly at Blue Spiral 1; Malaprops poetry chapbooks, author presentations, and cafe shop; regional art, worldwide magazines, used books and free ones, along with magazines and newspapers at Used Books; tour of the home of novelist Thomas Wolfe

  • Black Mountain NC -- extraordinarily diverse art collections at the Sourwood and Seven Sisters Galleries, and at the Center For The Arts

  • Elizabethton TN -- holiday festivites at the Carter Mansion; art shows and receptions by the Watauga Valley Art League at Sycamore Shoals State Park

  • Flat Rock NC -- tour of poet Carl Sandburg's home, lake and goat farm

  • Greeneville TN -- revolving monthly art shows and receptions at the General Morgan Inn; choral and orchestral presentations by the Music Department of Tusculum University; fascinating buildings, furnishings and information at Andrew Johnson National Historic Site; diverse antique shopping at A Gathering of Friends and the Antique Mall; eclecticly diverse art at the James-Ben Gallery

  • Johnson City TN -- Directions of ETSU's Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, with performances by their bluegrass band, and Positive Thinking presentations by Dr. Roberta Herrin, CASS Chairperson, for ACL (Alliance for Continued Learning, sample program schedule) classes; art shows and receptions at ETSU Reece Museum and Slocumb Gallery, Nelson Gallery and Arts Council; buffet and lecture presentations by ETSU's Women's Studies Department; varied performances by individuals, combos, bands, and orchestras sponsored by Music Departments at East Tennessee State University, including those at the Carnegie Hotel and Conference Center, and Milligan College; revolving monthly art displays at the Library; Ballet Magnificat! performance at Milligan's Seeger Chapel and theatre at its new Elizabeth Leitner Gregory Center; Seniors and Head to Toe Women's Expos at Freedom Hall; multi-cultural festivals and films at ETSU; Library book fairs and author presentations; Blue Plum Festival of outstanding music and crafts; meals and drinks at Russo's and Numan's restaurant/bars; and delights from Atlantis multi-cultural arts store

  • Jonesborough TN -- regional art displays revolving monthly at the Visitors Center; Music on the Square Friday night performances by artists from all over the Mountain Empire; holiday festivities for Hallowe'en and Christmas, including the parade; vast Sunday Flea Market with vendors from all over the nation and world occasionally; bluegrass festival along the Nolichucky River at Daniel Boone Park; Library fundraising book fair, author presentations, and dinner buffet for Friends with performance by musician/storyteller/professor Joseph Sobol; stellar foods at Dogwood Lane, Main Street Cafe, The Bistro and Ice Cream Parlor; goodies and live music at Cranberry Thistle; and multi-cultural joys at Museum Store

  • Kingsport TN -- art shows and receptions at the Renaissance Center and Main Street Arts Council; P&J Antiques on Broad Street

  • Weaverville NC -- Magnum Pottery and Miya Gallery with new monthly art and receptions

    "Why I'm In Love With Good Will"

    "When you shop at The Salvation Army Thrift Stores, you'll find great deals on clothing, furniture, electronics, home goods and more. You'll have fun finding that one-of-a-kind treasure. And you'll help the environment by taking part in the recycling of good quality, usable items. You'll love saving money on so many great things -- but what you save goes beyond dollars and cents. That's because every purchase you make will help save people in need from hunger, poverty, homelessness and hopelessness."
    -- Salvation Army in Tennessee's Johnson City, Elizabethton and Erwin

    Proud of my political incorrectness, I've gathered a goodly collection of fur coats in differing lengths and styles. It's unfortunate that the dear creatures died, but the immortality of their beautiful skins and hairs attests to their once lively glory. Five dollars on sale for a near-new, near-perfect multi-mink with generous red fox collar and a vampish style balances the overwhelming splurge for an antique quilt from India. For twenty at the markdown ring I can accouter myself for spring. That allows the Chinese seafood bar or maybe even the Amerasian paradise with hand-hewn and painted inlaid tiles and artful walls. Designer shoes are four-fifty and name brand leather wallets and purses one dollar each. With the money saved, I might spend a night in a fancy hotel with sauna and a sushi bar. Near-date meats and veggies at half-price compliment the bargain-priced plates with lattice-gold rims I couldn't resist from the indoor mall that's good to visit on gloomy days. The sight of pink-spiked coiffures and platfrom shoes inspires me to test each department store perfume, including those for men, until I've run out of exposed body room. Economies of scale and balance are pleasing. I'm as content with piles of free and lively alternative press as the leather-bound collector set of Emerson. A silver-plated flower vase thrown lavishly into a dumpster of rusted metal and broken jars gleams cheerily with real and artificial flowers I've gathered here and there. I've found a window hanging in green linen, too, for three dollars. Perhaps a different color and fabric on each opening to the world will allow a brief vacation out of state to sample parks and offbeat shops, flea markets, antique emporiums and ... more thrift stores.

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regional on-going and upcoming events/happenings
some strongly suggest advance tickets and reservations

freely distributed, mostly monthly, magazines and newspapers
distributed through art and visitors centers, restaurants and shops

appalachian visitors centers
providing free brochures, magazines, newspapers,
and staff for travel directions and area information

Alabama [Huntsville and Birmingham] -- Georgia [Rome] -- Kentucky [Ashland and Middlesboro] -- Mississippi [Tupelo] -- New York [Binghamton] -- North Carolina [Winston-Salem and Asheville] -- Ohio [Portsmouth] -- Pennsylvania [Scranton, State College, Pittsburg, and Cumberland] -- Tennessee [Knoxville and Chattanooga] -- Virginia [ Bristol] -- West Virginia [Wheeling and Charleston]

For help in choosing a destination and traveling or moving, check out the federal government's high-tech and multiply informational atlas.

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inter/national cultural events/happenings


The Power of Positive Thinking

The very affable, attractive, and charismatic Roberta Herrin, PhD, Chair of Appalachian Studies and Services, ETSU, presented on the morning of March 13, an engrossing and inspiring lecture to the Alliance for Continued Learning class at Carnegie Library on the Johnson City Veterans Administration grounds. Among her helpful observations:
  • there's a new field called Positive Psychology and the new ETSU department chair is a graduate of that;
  • we live in an "instant gratification" society -- based upon external, rather than internal healing -- of discontent and unhappiness, with a market created for selling solutions and encouraging the identification of more and more physical and psychological problems and an enveloping, pervasive message of fear, guilt, violence, threats to our health in every way brought to us particularly through media -- radio and television, newspapers especially.
  • maybe it's time for humans to follow the great teachers of the ages -- Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Ghandi, King -- or for the demise of humanity
  • Oprah has a new Web seminar based upon A New Earth
  • we spend a lifetime "trying to get it right"
  • there is a magnetic energy, which can and has been measured, attached to thoughts, which become a field and can even go through steel walls. We all vibrate, like tuning forks. Turning one on will turn on all the others at the same frequency because the same wavelengths attract each other
  • a total identification with the material is defined as evil
  • forgiveness means "it doesn't matter"
  • in response to stress, we can turn on anabolic endorphins or adrenalins
  • malice makes us literally sick; laughter and joy heal
  • we should react to each other as spiritual beings, not physical bodies
  • we have eternal souls in temporary expressions of flesh, an inner voice, and a stream of consciousness which are not the same as the self
  • there is a universal mind of pure energy which creates us
  • some good books are Power Versus Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior; The Eye of the I, and I: Reality and Subjectivity; Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao, by Wayne Dyer (2007); The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (2006); Feelings Buried Alive Never Die.... by Karol K. Truman (1991); The Power of Intention, by Wayne Dyer; Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth, by T. Harv Eker (2005)
  • Grabhorn has a four-step process for channeling positive energies: identify what you don't want; identify what you do want; get into the feeling place of what you want; expect, listen, and allow it to happen
Dr. Herrin also distributed a chart of the energy released by different emotions/levels, etc. Those at the top around 1,000, like Ghandi, release enough to affect 10 million people. That's the course of [God-View] Self, [Life-View] Is, [Level] Enlightenment, [Log #] 700-1,000, [Emotion] Ineffable, and [Process] Pure Consciousness. The next lower course is All-Being/Perfect/Peace/600/Bliss/Illumination which affects 1 million people. The lowest level is Despising/Miserable/Shame/20/Humiliation/Elimination and the next up above that is Vindictive/Evil/Guilt/30/Blame/Destruction. I brought up the holocaust and she said that some of the survivors felt a release in having lost their personal possessions, but nothing about the physical and psychological harm to people personally and in their seeing, in some cases, relatives and friends harmed and/or killed. About being a victim of crime, she said the stress at the time must be off the scales but it's what you do about it afterwards that counts and heals. After her presentation, a sampling of members from ETSU/CASS's Bluegrass Ensemble played for half an hour to an enthusiastic and grateful group of around 40 mostly retired or semi-retired participants.

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Whisk me away -- Where the heck am I?

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Original material A Country Rag, Inc. April, 1996, 2008. All rights reserved.

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