Living in eastern North Carolina doesn’t usually allow us to have a lot of snow during the winter; but thankfully a beautiful blanket of snow fell early this month. The snow reluctantly fell after a layer of wintery mix and ice so that made the roads somewhat impassable. This caused my wife to not be able to go to her antique/thrift store but the schools being shut down due to the dangerous road conditions allowed Daniel and myself to be home with her. Since we live on a small creek that leads to the Northeast Cape Fear; Daniel and myself set out on our trek the morning after it stopped snowing.
We walked our way through the inches of snow and relished in the site of the sun rising above the snow carpeted horizon. We meandered our way through the woods; walking on the grass that was smothered by the inches of snow. We walked down the snow kissed creek and appreciating God’s beautiful creations. We saw rabbits huddling in their underbrush dens and the melted spots of ground where deer had bedded themselves the night before. Daniel climbed fallen trees and laughed as he caused snow to cascade from the leaves on me as I stood below.
Daniel and myself finally found our way to a small tributary that leads to the creek. I used to sneak off to this spot when I was a child to draw, write or just to relax. Who am I kidding…most of the time when I was a kid, the dominant thought that shouted its way to the forefront of my thoughts was bouncing around the woods with a sword and pretending to be He-Man or Rambo; (I’m a child of the 80s…don’t hate. ;P) but most of the time I used that place to just relax. It brought a sense of calm to me to share that moment with my son. Daniel and myself found ourselves enjoying the solitude of the silence. The lack of traffic out on the road that runs about a mile from our house or maybe it was the fact that we weren’t being distracted by uselessness on our smart phones or wasting our time watching TV. We were just enjoying something that we don’t get to experience that often…and times like those are worth their weight in gold.
Sometimes photos just come into being as if God himself shuffles things artistically into place for our enjoyment. Sometimes the different layers that compose the structure of a photo, through happenstance, we witness the perfect blend of foreground and background and use of negative space. Sometimes, its the background that God has painted. Sometimes its a freshly plowed field. Sometimes its a formation of geese flying over at the perfect time. Sometimes the cat-o-nine tails and over laying branches from a nearby tree fall perfectly in place. Sometimes its the summer’s sun setting behind low lying clouds. And sometimes, just sometimes, despite being critical of yourself for taking ‘random photos’ you just need to stop and take that picture because you know that what you are seeing is beautiful. Sometimes…
A couple of years ago, we found out that they were making a movie in my sleepy little home town of Rose Hill, NC. The movie that they were using part of our town for was the third Iron Man movie. Robert Downey Jr. and the Marvel cinematic universe moseyed into our little corner of North Carolina. The prop people turned the downtown area *which was very minimal* into a quaint little Tennessee town. Forgot to mention that they changed the state to Tennessee but kept the town name. Nevertheless, there are glimpses that we can notice in our every day lives in Rose Hill since the movie makers left town. One specific part that casts itself casually into my periphery every time that I pass it is a converted store front. The store never existed in our town but every time that I see it, I wish that it would have. I see that that the store would have sold comics and other things to fuel adolescent hobbies. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone in my comic collecting if the store had existed back then. Maybe I’d be the owner of it by now. All I know is the visceral longing for something that never was. The only thing that I do know is that the exterior facade of a store that never was still resides on Church St. in Rose Hill, NC.
Robert Downey Jr Iron Man promotional Image by and attributed to Edgar Meritano – Publicada en wikipedia, author sent original by email, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4008669
Toby’s Hobby Shop Photo credit to Chris Brown. 2017.
The first thought that comes to mind when most Americans outside of the South think about NASCAR is not moon shining. Over the years the media has portrayed NASCAR as the Redneck’s sport of choice. Excuse me…they wouldn’t use the word sport. Even though I am not an avid NASCAR fan, NASCAR is a celebrated competition that is as American as apple pie. So grab your smoked turkey leg, crack your Bud Light and let’s drive down pit row to investigate this misunderstood ‘sport’.
Ever since the invent of the automobile, we have tried to make them better and faster. Making them faster means that someone has to be the fastest. From the first automobie race held in the United States that was sponsored by a Chicago newspaper in 1895 to the 20s and 30s when the United States became the place to race. After Daytona Beach, FL became the go to place for fast-round track style racing while the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah had become synonymous as locations to break speed records. Years after Bill France Sr. moved to Florida to better himself during the Great Depression; he founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing after racers needed a legitimate promotion since a lot of charlatans were promoting racing events and skipping town before ever paying the racers their winnings. France sat down with other influential racers and promoters in late 1947 to iron out sanctions, standardize rules, create a schedule, and a ‘final championship’. This led to rules being scribbled down on a bar room napkin and the creation of the “NASCAR” league in early 1948.
From 1948 on, NASCAR grew in popularity. With greats like Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr, to current champions like Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhart Jr, Jimmie Johnson and even the recently retired Jeff Gordon; racers have immense fan bases while merchandise sales (hats, shirts, jackets, replica cars) are a multi-million dollar asset to the NASCAR brand. So how can a sport that has been around since the invent of the automobile and having been organized since 1948 get such a bad rap? How does a sport with a yearly revenue of over $3 billion with an estimated 75 million fans world wide over 3.6 million individual attendants of races worldwide still get a bad rap?
People outside of the set demographic just don’t understand NASCAR. I myself am not a huge fan because I would rather watch drag racing (which is a completely different and misunderstood entity) or football for that matter; but NASCAR has not been targeted to all Americans. In the 1970s, the demographic was the blue collar Americans (specifically
Southerners) who enjoyed the cold Budweiser and Winston cigarettes who proudly sponsored the events. Maybe the negative views came from the fact that stock car racing in the United States can trace its origins back to these Southern ‘shine runners’ who boasted about having the fastest car after prohibition. The possibilities are endless as to why you wouldn’t like NASCAR and maybe you’ll just end up being one of those cynical people that makes jokes about going fast and turning left; but, if you attend a race then you’ll be on your feet with a drink in one hand and a smoked turkey leg in the other…screaming for your favorite driver to wheel his numbered car to the finish line before all of the other numbered cars.
Richard Petty’s 1973 Dodge Charger image by and accredited to dodge challenger1 – originally posted to Flickr as challenger run 527, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5847784
Dale Earnhardt Jr Car on racetrack image by and accredited to USCG photo by PA3 Kimberly Wilder – United States Coast Guard https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=682594
Inside one of the three corners of the Research Triangle Park in the piedmont region of North Carolina lies a quaint yet legendary southern food restaurant that has been serving Chapel Hill since 1976. Thor had heard of the legend from fan’s of his favorite college football team: The North Carolina Tar Heels. The restaurant has been an after game ritual for many Tar Heel fans and Thor had to experience this himself.
Thor sadly witnessed his beloved Tar Heels lose at the hands of the much-loathed Duke Blue Devils; so he and his fellow Tar Heel Fans were in need of some food that would bring happiness to tattered hearts. It was a good thing that Thor was within walking distance of Mama Dips. The southern food restaurant was waiting with open arms to greet the defeated Tar Heel fans and the smell of their home made sweet potato biscuits permeated the air as they walked through the door. Thor ordered their juicy fried chicken and as many fixings as he could imagine. The delicious home cooked taste warmed his heart and refueled his Godly body. Thor devoured his meal and two baskets of those delicious smelling sweet potato biscuits which he liberally slathered with butter.
After his meal was disposed of, his waitress brought forth a platter of deserts to assuage the sweet tooth that he thought could never be satisfied. Upon his request the chocolate pecan pie covered with a heavy dollop of vanilla ice cream satisfied any assuaged sweet tooth. An opportunity to experience such stupefyingly delectable fare brought joy to his defeated heart and made the Tar Heels defeat taste a little better in his mouth. He flew back to Asgard to tell his brethren of the goodness that he had experienced at Mama Dips. He knew that he would return as soon as his next group of adventures relented and allowed him the free time to wander his beloved Earth realm once more.
Thor was called to wield Mjolnir into action due to one of his compatriots trying to steal his sweet potato biscuits.