To mark the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Conway (SC) football boycott, Scott Pleasant and I have written a retrospective for the Myrtle Beach Weekly Surge. This article is essentially a preview of our forthcoming book about the incident, Lines of Scrimmage: A Story of Football, Race, and Redemption, which will be published next year by the University Press of Mississippi. To read the article, click HERE. To read the book, hang on for a few months. More information coming soon.
The above photo (taken by Charles Slate for the Myrtle Beach Sun News) captures a scene from a 1989 NAACP “March Against Intimidation” through the streets of Conway. “Fired up! Ready to go!” was the signature slogan of the protests, which grew to become known as the Conway Movement. Barack Obama says that he borrowed “Fired up! Ready to go!” from a Greenwood, SC, woman named Edith S. Childs. Rev. Dr. Nelson Rivers of the national NAACP says that Edith S. Childs borrowed it from the Conway Movement.
As soon as somebody invents one, buy stock in it. In the meantime, treat yourself to a copy of the latest issue of Creative Nonfiction Magazine. In it you’ll find a new essay of mine, “The Botch Job,” wherein I debate whether or not to fix a bad tattoo I once got in a basement on Eight Mile Rd. in Detroit. Should I cover it up? If so, with what? But wouldn’t that be chasing good money after bad?
Here’s a teaser from the piece:
I’ve got a bad tattoo, bad because it represents the flawed execution of an ill-conceived idea. The idea was bad for the usual reasons: I was young, rash, insecure; my aesthetic sense was half-formed at best. How bad is the execution? On a scale of one to ten, with one being “Stabbed in the Chest with a Bic” and ten “The Tattoo Equivalent of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam,” I’d say mine clocks in at about a four (“Drunken Hackery”)—obviously better than two (“Rusty Sewing Needle in Juvi”) and three (“Right Handed Artist Experiments with Left Hand”) but still, it’s not a body feature I’m proud to show off.
To buy a copy of the issue (or better yet, subscribe to the magazine) click HERE.
Back in 1982, when my buddy Colin and I were in 8th Grade, we took the bus to the Ohio Center in downtown Columbus to see Cheap Trick. We sat in the 7th row. We bought bootleg concert shirts (pictured at left). Then we decided to start a band. For some musicians, the spark was ignited when they saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. For Colin and me, it was Cheap Trick at the Ohio Center.
On Friday, October 3, at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, Watershed—the band we hatched on the bus ride home—will be opening for Cheap Trick. The last time this happened was in 1994 (see marquee). The next time will be. . . who knows? 2034?
For tickets to the House of Blues show, click HERE.
To read Colin’s treatise on why Cheap Trick is America’s Greatest Band, click HERE.
For the definitive Cheap Trick sales pitch, from Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Mike Damone, click HERE.
Bending Genre — the ever-stellar blog about creative nonfiction writing, launched as a companion to Margot Singer and Nicole Walker’s excellent book by that same name — has posted a new essay of mine, “Writing in the Major Key.” In this piece I tackle the question of why writers (and songwriters) take ourselves so freaking seriously. Why do we focus on the sad and somber? Why does it seem to be easier to write about the negative? It’s not like we all need to be Jean “A Christmas Story” Shepherd or Randy “Short People” Newman, but there must be room for a little more sweetness and light. In my work, I know there is.
*With apologies to the great Dr. King
I’ve spent the last few months handcuffed to the ol’ computer, hammering out the manuscript for Lines of Scrimmage, exchanging draft after draft with my writing buddy, Scott Pleasant. The book is going well, but my typing fingers (all four of ‘em) need a break. Time to venture outside and play a rock show, or as close to a rock show as one dude with an acoustic guitar can get.
So here’s the skinny. On Tuesday, April 15, I’ll be playing two solo-acoustic sets in beautiful Pawleys Island, SC, at the Pawleys Island Tavern. The show starts at 8 pm, and I’ll be happy to fake my way though any requests you’ve got, as long as you’re requesting Watershed songs. Please come. When the crowd figures out that I don’t know any Jimmy Buffett or Bob Marley, I’m gonna need all the backup I can get.
I’m thrilled to report that my current book project, Lines of Scrimmage: A Story of Football, Race, and Redemption (co-written with Scott Pleasant), is now under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. The publication date is set for the fall of 2015. This fall marks the 25th anniversary of the event the book chronicles (see post below).
I’m currently working on a book about an episode that happened here in South Carolina, in 1989, when 31 of the 37 black players on the Conway High School football team walked away from the squad for the whole season in protest of the (white) coach’s decision to bench the starting (black) quarterback in favor of a less experienced white kid. The boycott divided the town largely along racial lines, and it soon became clear that the incident was about much more than football. It was about the legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and all the other points of tension and oppression that many people in Conway had wrongly assumed were settled.
I’ll have more news about the book soon, but in the meantime, you can get caught up to speed on the 1989 Conway Football Boycott by reading the excellent article that Sports Illustrated ran about it back then. To read the SI story, click HERE.