THOUGHTS ON CHARLOTTESVILLE...

August 16, 2017
THOUGHTS ON CHARLOTTESVILLE...

My wife Melissa, son Joshua and I were in Monroe, Louisiana, sitting in the living room of our dear friends Win and Lisa Eckert last Saturday, talking about any number of things - most of them far removed from this place we (sometimes grudgingly) refer to as “the Real World” - when we got the news about the act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Like so many others - like anyone with even a trace of human decency in their soul and a modicum of gray matter between their ears - we were horrified and angered at the news. Horrified at the death of a 32-year-old paralegal and the injury of 19 others whose only “crime” was taking part in an event intended as an exercise of their First Amendment right to free expression.

Horrified, too, at the thought that any one person could be so filled with hatred towards his fellow man that he would be moved into driving his car at high speed into that crowd in the first place.

And angry that, here in 2017 - just over five decades after Dr. King’s speech at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the march from Selma to Montgomery, and so soon after the two-term administration of a man whose presidency owed so much to Dr. King and those who stood beside him - we should still be witnessing such hatred, still be mourning such needless death, still be having to have these conversations at all.

But perhaps our greatest anger was over the response (or, more correctly, the lack of an appropriate response) from the man who has succeeded the aforementioned president.

In what was almost certainly the poorest example of “presidential leadership” in recent history - perhaps in my lifetime - the current president issued an essentially generic condemnation; rather than speak out forcefully against domestic terrorism and specific groups who use it to advance the cause of their hate-fueled dream of a segregated America, he made a misleading and ultimately insulting comment insinuating that both sides were to blame.

Only after a massive outcry from the public did our president finally - in a carefully worded speech obviously written by someone else, and utterly devoid of any kind of genuine emotion - condemn the vile inhumanity that lies at the heart of Saturday’s attack in Charlottesville. But then, as been well documented and discussed and condemned by everyone from Dan Rather to John McCain to James Corden, Palpatine Incarnate turned around the very next day and went back to his “both sides are to blame" narrative, going so far as to invoke the menace of an “alt-left” fringe that until that moment I hadn’t even realized exists.

And while the outrage over Palpatine’s comments has been overwhelming, it has been by no means universal. Throughout the day, for example, I have seen post after post online complaining about the lack of similar outrage over the Black Lives Matter movement. Not one of those posters has been able to offer solid, factual evidence to support the alleged equivalence between efforts to stop the killing of African-Americans and the goals of white supremacists who’d like to see them dead but, hey, let’s not let a little thing like reality get in the way of a good old-fashioned neo-Nazi hate fest…

If there is anybody out there who truly believes that there is no difference whatsoever between a torch-wielding mob chanting slogans taken from the leader of an evil regime we fought a World War to defeat, and a group of freedom-loving Americans protesting against a resurgence of that particular brand of evil, then I have only two words for you: You’re nuts.

This special brand of stupidity has always existed in America, unfortunately, in spite of the lofty goals and eloquent words of the Founding Fathers - and the best efforts of those who have fought to make good on those lofty goals and eloquent words.

But all too often it seems that we either forget, or try to pretend it isn’t there.

Until we are confronted by an event like Charlottesville. Until we hear the words and see the actions of those who march on our city streets, at our places of education and even our houses of worship, with hatred in their voices and violence in their hearts.

It should not take a moment like this for us to remember that “We the People” means ALL OF US, no matter how I may be different from you or you from the next guy or him from that woman over there across the street.

It should not take the senseless death of a Heather Hayer to remind us that the whole concept of America was predicated on the ideal of creating a place where people of all races and all persuasions - ethnic, religious, political, sexual, economic, you name it - truly are entitled to the same rights and expectations of basic human dignity, thereby keeping the promise inherent in the words of the Declaration of Independence: "All Men Are Created Equal.”

If I love to be a million, I will never understand why that concept frightens some people so...

 

ERB MOVIES OF THE 1970s

June 19, 2017

As Phillip R. Burger pointed out in an essay included in the 2005 Bison Books reissue of Richard Lupoff’s Master Of Adventure, 1975 was a particularly good year to be a fan of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.

For one thing, it was the centennial of ERB’s birth, which meant that much attention was being paid to the author and his works. As part of the centennial celebration, Irwin Porges finally published his long-anticipated (and definitive) ERB biography, Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man...
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THE TARZAN NOVELS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

June 16, 2017

This project grew out of my son Joshua’s stated desire to read the entire run of the authorized Tarzan novels - the original series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and those ERB Inc.-sanctioned novels by Fritz Leiber, Philip José Farmer, Joe Lansdale, Will Murray and Michael S. Sanford - more or less in the order in which they take place. When Josh announced his intent, I decided to compile this chronology for the purpose of helping him and other fans who might be considering a similar reading pr...


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A NOTE FOR MY MOTHER...

May 3, 2017

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Me and my mother, Romania Sue Small, circa 1963-64.



I am told that a certain member of my family apparently did not appreciate my sharing the following story at my mother’s funeral last Friday. 


I have to admit to having been somewhat baffled by this response. Certain things being what they are, certain people being who they are, perhaps I shouldn’t have been. I don’t know. 


Everyone else seemed to appreciate the story, and had nothing b...


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31 YEARS AND COUNTING...

April 6, 2017
APRIL 5, 1986, Kankakee First Church of the Nazarene, Kankakee Illinois.


Once upon a time, a boy and a girl from opposite sides of town met and fell in love…

The year was 1978. Jimmy Carter was president; Styx and the Electric Light Orchestra were two of the biggest rock groups in the country; and nearly a year after its release, Star Wars was STILL the numbest popular movie in America.

One Sunday evening in late April of that year, a teenage boy met the girl of his dreams at church. He was a ...

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JUST A RANDOM THOUGHT...

February 22, 2017


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AN EXPERIMENT IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY...

February 17, 2017



Faster than a speeding bullet? 


Ha!! Hardly… 


More powerful than a locomotive? 


Nope. Guess again. 


Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? 


Not even on my best days back when I was young and thin and full of energy – and even if I could, I'd most likely crash on the way back down. So, wrong again - but thanks for playing.


Who am I?


This is not a question which can be answered simply, for I have worn many hats within the space of what seems to have been a relatively short sp...


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GIVE THE GIFT OF READING

December 1, 2016

I have always loved the written word – reading it, writing it, at home or at school or at the office or sitting in the back seat of one of Mom and Dad's old Volkswagens when I was a child – and it has been my great fortune to have been able to turn this love into something resembling an actual career. (Much to the surprise, I'm sure, of a certain fifth grade teacher who once made the mistake of telling me that I would never amount to anything… but that’s a discussion for another day.)...


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HAIL TO THE CHIEFS...

October 28, 2016


By this time next week it will all, at long last, be over. The American people will have spoken, and - barring any last-second temper tantrums, court challenges or some other kind of monkey wrench thrown into the works - we will know who the 45th President of the United States will be and, for better or worse, we’ll be getting our first real glimpse into what the next four years may hold for our nation.


But I don’t want to talk about the election or the candidates anymore. It’s just go...


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DID HE REALLY SAY THAT?

October 27, 2016

Something rather... disquieting, I think, would be the most appropriate word in this particular instance... occurred to me last Wednesday night as I was in front of the TV watching the latest episode in this sitcom we are rather euphemistically calling the Presidential Campaign of 2016.


I have been alive now for just shy of 53 and a half years... a little more than half a century as the eagle flies. During my lifetime, America has seen one president assassinated, another president resign, a ...


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About Me


John Allen Small John A. Small is an award-winning newspaper journalist, columnist and broadcaster whose work has been honored by the Oklahoma Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, the National Newspaper Association, and the Oklahoma Education Association. He and his wife Melissa were married in 1986; they have two sons, Joshua Orrin (born 1991) and William Ian (born 1996). Mr. Small is the News Editor and columnist for the Johnston County Capital-Democrat, a weekly newspaper headquartered in Tishomingo, OK. He obtained his nickname, "Bard of the Lesser Boulevards," from a journalism colleague - the late Phil Byrum - in recognition of the success of his popular newspaper column, "Small Talk." (In addition to the many awards the column itself has received over the years, a radio version of "Small Talk" earned an award for "Best Small Market Commentary" from the Society of Professional Journalists in 1998.) John was born in Oklahoma City in 1963; lived in the Bradley-Bourbonnais-Kankakee area of Illinois for most of the next 28 years (with brief sojourns in Texas and Athens, Greece, thrown in to break up the monotony); then returned to his native state in 1991, where he currently resides in the Tishomingo/Ravia area. He graduated from Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in 1981, and received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais in 1991. The years between high school and college were a period frought with numerous exploits and misadventures, some of which have become the stuff of legend; nobody was hurt along the way, however, which should count for something. In addition to his professional career as a journalist he has published two short story collections: "Days Gone By: Legends And Tales Of Sipokni West" (2007), a collection of western stories; and "Something In The Air" (2011), a more eclectic collection. He was also a contributor to the 2005 Locus Award-nominated science fiction anthology "Myths For The Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe," edited by Win Scott Eckert. In additon he has written a stage play and a self-published cookbook; served as project editor for a book about the JFK assassination entitled "The Men On The Sixth Floor"; and has either published or posted on the Internet a number of essays, stories and poems. He has also won writing awards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Library of Poetry. He is a past president of the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce in Tishomingo; was a charter member and past president of the Johnston County Reading Council, the local literacy advocacy and "friends of the library" organization; served as Johnston County's first-ever Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator in 1994-95; served two terms as chairman of the Johnston County (OK) Democratic Party; and has taught journalism classes for local Boy Scout Merit Badge Fairs. He is a member of the New Wold Newton Meteorics Society.
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