Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy Bourbon Street

       Gordon grew up destined to protest something.  I guess you could say it was in his genes.  His daddy’d come down to Mississippi from Ohio in the summer of 1966 to help register the blacks to vote.  His name wasn’t Middleman though.  It was Lowenstein.  Middleman was Gordon’s momma’s family name.  Anyway, Gordon’s daddy’d run off to Canada to avoid the draft about the same time his momma, Bettie Lee, found out she was pregnant. He said he was going to send for her when he got settled, but I don't guess they ever heard from him again. 

Gordon was effected by that too I guess.  He never could stay with a job for too long.  Some said it was because he’d never had a daddy around to show him what work was.  Others said it was having to take care of his momma his whole life, after she came off of that motorcycle, that’d done it. 

Bettie Lee’d run head on into a pick-up truck and right through the windshield she went.  She never talked again.  They called what happened to her “organic brain syndrome” but everybody around town just shortened it to OBS.  Gordon was five at the time.

I don’t really know all that much about it.  Everything I know is only second hand ‘cause I wasn’t around back then.  Gordon’s my cousin.  He’s old enough to be my uncle.  He’s only three years younger than my dad. 

Gordon’s been teaching me how to drive all summer.  He did a great job.  I just got my license last week.  I passed the driving test the first time through.

They closed the battery reprocessing plant where Gordon worked the same day.  I guess they can get a better deal getting them made over in China where they don’t have to worry so much about lead poisoning.  So Gordon was at loose ends when he heard about the protests that had started up north in New York City. 

From what he explained, ninety-nine percent of the people in the United States were being held up by one percent of some greedy hogs that were living there in New York on Wall Street. 

“They might as well have a gun,” he said.

Gordon logged on to the Occupy Wall Street web site to have a look.  He gave them some money and watched a little video somebody posted about how to start a protest in your own community.  I watched it with him, but I swear, it was about the most boring thing I ever saw on You Tube.  I thought it was stupid.  A protest in Soso, Mississippi wasn’t going to accomplish much of anything.  What was he going to occupy anyway, the post office?

Gordon saw it different though.  He thought New Orleans was just about perfect for a protest.  Besides, it was the only city anywhere near big enough that was close to Soso.  I thought, maybe he could catch a Saints game while he was down there. 

He said he could get a couple of his buddies, catch the Amtrack, and go down there on Wednesday if he could get me and his neighbor, Mrs. Clanton, to keep an eye on his momma for a few days while he was gone.  I said sure.  Getting away for a little’d do him good. He didn’t have a job to go to right now anyway.  Maybe they could occupy Jackson Square.

He thought about it all day and by that night he was sure that this was a thing that needed doing.  So he went back to the OWS website to let them know what he was intending to do.  OWS thought that that was a fine idea, and gave him some hints about drums, and collections boxes and what to write on the protest signs and all sorts of things like that.

He went out to the garage to paint some protest signs.  He had a lot of paint left from painting the short bus for the Mardi Gras parade back in February.  He made the first sign purple and gold.  He wrote OWS in big letters.  Then stood back to get a good look to see how it seemed at a distance.   OWS looked a lot like the thing his momma had, the OBS.  Maybe it was a sign.  Something was trying to show him what it was that he was supposed to do.  Gordon P. Middleman was going to be a real leader.  He was the founding father of his own protest.  Gordon was going down there and Occupy Bourbon Street to raise money for his momma.  So that’s what he wrote on the rest of the signs. 

 Support your momma

He caught the train on Tuesday.  Nobody else went with him.  I couldn’t go ‘cause I had school.  All our friends had jobs except Wilson, we call him Boo, and Boo wasn’t getting out of jail for three weeks.  Gordon wasn’t waiting.  So there wasn’t any of us that could go with him.  I drove him to the station.  He had a lot of extra signs.  I watched as he put them on the rack above him, then he sat down with that big drum he got from the attic on his lap, like it was a lunch box or something.  That’s the last I saw of Gordon for a while.  I heard from him though.  He sent me texts almost every day.

Day One
Well, my OBS protest isn’t working worth a damn. At first nobody else on Bourbon Street even noticed I was there. I was just standing there by myself with my signs, beating on the drum.  A few people gave me money. Some others spit on me.  Folks stuck Saints stickers on my signs. Tomorrow I’ve got to get some help.

Day Two
a.m. – Slept behind some garbage cans, a guy peed on me. Threw my clothes away and washed off with a hose.

Day Three
Ohhhhh…my head is killing me.  Started on Canal.  I was beating on my drum and a kid with a trumpet and a girl with a violin started playing along.  Next thing I know a seven-foot tall giant in a green tutu, torn fishnet stockings, high heels, and a Tulane football jersey took my green sign and tore it so it only said “Support you Momma” and gave it to a chubby girl in a clear plastic raincoat and nothing else. A boy took a marker and changed OBS on one of the signs to Oh Baby Show me, and off we went, marching along.  All kinds of folk were following us, throwing beads and stuff, girls up on the balconies were pulling up their shirts.  We were sure doing some protesting now.  Police on horses even rode along beside us.  We spent the donation money on some of those tall hurricanes.  I slept on the girl with the raincoat’s couch.

 Day Five
Somebody stole my drum last night.  The girl I’m staying with is a stripper at the JoyLuck Club.  I hope she didn’t give me something.  I only have one sign left and it’s all covered with stickers so you can’t tell what it says.

I didn’t hear anything else for a week or so then Gordon showed up at home.  He said he felt bad about leaving his momma alone for so long but he wasn’t getting enough donations and the raincoat girl threw him out.   After that, he didn’t have enough money to buy a ticket home, but it was worth it.

Gordon and I are both pretty sure he taught those greedy hogs up there in New York a thing or two.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Time Donors Wanted paper book

Well, the book version will be out by the end of the month, available in trade paperback from Amazon and beyond. Scott

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Looking to the Future

Today PRNewswire released the results of a Harris poll conducted 7/11-7/18, 2011 on reading habits in the US. The headline was that one sixth of the population is now using an e-reader of some sort, with the same number projecting that they are likely to purchase one in the next year. Various variables are analyzed but what do they really mean in terms of book sales. I decided to do the math. With the current penetration of the market, and assigning median values of 1.5, 4, 8, 15, and 25 for the number of books purchased per year, we can figure the number of books sold per 10,000 people. That comes out to 45,390 books / 10,000 folks for conventional book sales and 15,030 books / 10,000 people for e book sales. So about a third.

What is interesting is to extrapolate where we'll be if the projected growth in e readers materializes. In that case, conventional book sales would be expected to drop to 37,380 books/10,000 people and the number of e-books should jump to 30,060 e book sales/ 10,000 individuals. So at 30% penetration almost half of sales are of e books. When costs and profit margins are taken into consideration, I think where we're headed is obvious.

Scott Anderson
IsoLibris Publishing

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Uncommon Thread Project

I guess I better explain how there are so many Uncommon Thread shorts coming out. Well, there were a bunch of them that were in a book that is coming out jointly by China Grove Press (Hardback) and IsoLibris (e book) later this year called Una Voce, that was a compilation of work by Dr. Dwalia South and myself. But Una Voce as it was compiled cut off before the death of Dr. South's dear husband Rob, and the things that she has written in the interim are so compelling that I reworked the collection and pulled my own work out, because of the gravity and excellence of the material available from her alone. We had already planned to put columns from my more recent column "The Uncommon Thread" out through the Kindle singles program, but that program has a lot of particular constraints, one of them being that the material should be of an intermediate length that isn't suitable for either a novel or a magazine article. Well since all of these have already appeared in the JOURNAL of the Mississippi State Medical Association, we got rejected on that one. Oh well, because we now have access to the older material and we aren't constrained by the Kindle singles program, we've bundeled collections of 6-10 columns into short format releases that run about 50 pages each. So far I've put together five of them. These will represent about all of the things that I've put out that have a general interest appeal, I don't guess you care about specific issue topics or medically based subjects so these were tossed from consideration. We will offer another collaborative volume next spring of the best of these that will be offered in both hardback, by China Grove, and e book, by IsoLibris. So I hope you give them a try. If you like one, try more. If you have suggestions about which stories are your favorite let us know and that's what will go into the book. You get to determine what we publish. I hope you'll be a part of deciding what we put out. To do it, go to and then click on my page. Thanks, Scott This is your chance to direct what gets put in a book!!!

A new wrinkle in The Uncommon Thread Project

The more I've been thinking about this project, the more I want to encourage you guys, the readers, to participate, so, I think that you should have an incentive to be involved. Anyone who takes the time to read and offer comments on all five shorts will get a signed first edition of the book when it comes out, and whoever sends in the most helpful guidance (judged by the author, me) will get a personal "Thank You" in the Acknowledgements section of the book. To download the shorts go to and go to my page. Scott

Una Voce

Here is the blurb for the book I just edited and put together, it is coming out in November. This is one of the most difficult and intense acts of creation that I've ever undertaken, to create a whole from pieces that are not yours is extremely difficult. Coming up with the obscure bits that are needed to make the whole and assembling them so that they make sense to the reader is a unique art, it is like making a mosaic. A mosaic of words.

  Una Voce - Dwalia South M.D.

 This collection of stories, poems, and letters is gleaned from the writings of Dr. Dwalia South throughout her writing career. Constructed as a compelling narrative to tell the story of an extraordinary life, from her remembrances as a young girl growing up in the hill country on the Mississippi-Tennessee border to her election as President of the Mississippi State Medical Association and beyond as she faces life’s deepest mysteries on both a professional and personal level. It chronicles both her efforts to care for the people of her hometown of Ripley, Mississippi and the effect that her vocation, life, and community have had on her as a person and as a physician.

 Dr. South’s ties to William Faulkner are far deeper than geographic or kinship. Her writing mines the wealth of history and tradition that gave rise to Yoknapataha and all those that populated it. With that same insight she tells the stories of her home state and of medicine.

 Her heartfelt reflection of the people she serves and the lives she is privileged to share changes us, and that is a hallmark of great writing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lost Time

Finished the production work for D. South's book Una Voce. Now all we need to do is finish the cover and it's off for galley prints.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

My '51

Driving my 1951 Chev PU today...woooohoo.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nazz - Hello It's Me - YouTube

Nazz - Hello It's Me - YouTube

Hello, it's me.

La-la-la-la me-me-me-me-me-me-me -de-de-de. I don’t know why I’m trying to sing on a blog, it just happened. See that’s the way things get started around here. Some seemingly dumb thing pops up and the next thing anyone knows we’re off on the hunt, following my own personal hellhounds on the trail of some wispy etherial thread of a concept that somehow starts to come around and turn into a fairly coherent and discernible theme by the time we get to the fence. Welcome to my brain. It’s kind of a dark, squishy, strange place. So watch your step. Stay on the cinguli if you would please, try not to fall into any sulci (we don’t want anybody getting lost), and please, please don’t walk off with any of the memories. Just pour them into yours and let them run back out. I want you to have fun. For me, writing is best when it involves a conspiracy between the author and the reader to go where the story takes you. So, come on, you can trust me, after all, I’m a doctor. Who could you possibly trust more?

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Free Man

I’m back.

Yep, I met with the Editor and they’ve decided to keep me on. So I’ll be writing this thing for another year. I guess that’s good, or bad depending on if you like the stuff I write, or not. This year will be a little different though, for the first time since I started stringing together words for the JOURNAL I’m unencumbered. Well, I’m still emcumbered by nutty thoughts that ping around in my brain, but what I mean to say is I’m not tied up by being on the board of trustees or the AMA delegation or anything official, so if I say stuff you don’t like you can’t hold it against State Medical. You’re welcome to hold it against me but you shouldn’t expect I’ll lose a lot of sleep at night just because you think I’m an idiot. I’m used to that. I have a whole family that thinks I’m an idiot from time to time.

The unencumbered stuff is only partly an accident, I guess. Most of it was my own doing. I did run to be re-elected to our rapidly diminishing AMA delegation…I lost, but I got to give one of the most fun to give campaign speeches I could ever imagine giving.

It was one of those things that comes to you when you’re driving a pretty long way, like Meridian to Tupelo, and you have time to let things roll around inside your head, getting bigger and bigger as you drive. Usually, after you get to wherever it is that you’re going, common sense takes over and you write a real speech, but I didn’t get that chance. See I’d had to run back home in the middle of the meeting to treat an emergency patient, an old friend, who had developed a spinal cord compression in the mid-thorasic spine. Not wanting them to be paralyzed from the waist down for what life they had left, there wasn’t a lot of choice. Anyway I got back to Tupelo, got out of the car and gave the speech, about that fast. Here it is, as best as I remember:

Our inaugural theme for this year is “A Night at the Races”, so in keeping with that theme, I’m going to talk about this election in racing terms. See, as far as medical politics goes, the AMA meeting is the Kentucky Derby. It’s our chance to shine in the national spotlight, and up to now we have. You, the Mississippi State Medical Association, are the riders, and we, the AMA delegation have been the horse that runs the race. Well, next year you’ve decided that it will be best for Mississippi to enter the Kentucky Derby riding on a two-legged pig.

By quitting the AMA you’ve left your delegation with only one delegate and one alternate delegate, the same size as the delegations from Puerto Rico, and the gay and transgender physician section.

So what this election is all about is deciding what two legs you think you need on that pig. Do you want a couple of hams? We surely have our share of hams on the delegation. We can harness the power of those hams and go plowing along through the dirt trying to get around that track. Maybe we need a couple of strong shoulders, we have plenty of those on the delegation too, a little more dignified perhaps. They can pull us along. Or maybe you all want one ham and one shoulder. We can try to find a way to balance ourselves and not fall over in the dirt.

None of these, I submit, is a good alternative. It is a shame is what it is. You want to tell me that the AMA doesn’t represent you, that the delegation isn’t important to you? Well the work of this delegation is directly responsible for you getting checks for 8.1% of your entire gross federally derived income last year. By fighting to require CMS to abide by the congressionally mandated geographic price correction we prevailed. That meant something to you. You put that money in your pocket. Nobody called to say, “I’m not taking this damned money, the AMA got it, and I don’t approve of the AMA.” Destroying this delegation, just to make a political point, when you’re benefitting from the work that it does is shortsighted and stupid.

My friends have told me that this is a suicide speech. If it is…then so be it. Somebody has to tell you the truth. If we get 1001 members of this association, one fourth of our members, to re-join the AMA at least we’d have two delegates and two alternates. While we still probably won’t win the Kentucky Derby on a four-legged pig, I’m betting we’ll eat a lot less dirt.

It was a great time. I got to pound on the lectern and point at people and tell the truth. Who could possibly ask for more?

The election turned out fine. We decided on two strong shoulders, Luke Lampton and Danny Edney. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome…unless, of course, those of you out there reading this listen to what it is I’ve said, and do what it’s going to take to get us a couple more legs to run on.

See ya next time,
One of the hams

Monday, January 3, 2011

Living In The Valley of the Shadow

These words are hard.
Think of them as small shards of crystalline truth;
I throw them out, each alone, and hope you will be struck by them.
Some may stun you with their beauty, some may cut you to the bone,
and some will do both, if I do my job at all.

I’m not always sure why I have been put here to do this job,
too many times I am the angel of death,
but sometimes I am the saver of life.
The war I fight is a war of days.
I can prevail only for a time, since all life ends.
So there is no power at all within my hands,
except to give the gift of moments.
Moments shared, moments that death comes to take.
I can not hold him off forever,
but I can sometimes say come again old friend, old nemisis, old foe.
Come again some other day hence and give us just a few more days to spend together upon this earth.

Sometimes he will listen and go for a time,
Sometimes he won’t, and sometimes the release he brings
is the only comfort that can be hoped for.

One way or another we will all find ourselves trapped in his shadow
for a time,
and all of the philosophies, religions, and beliefs we hold
will rise and fall and rise again like waves on the sea to buoy or drown us
until we arrive at some method by which
we can find a way
to live in the valley of the shadow.