(don't know what to say)

A friend of mine in Chicago must have been reading some music news online because I just got the email from him telling me about this:

(from ABH)

Pylon guitarist dies after heart attack

Pylon guitarist Randy Bewley died this afternoon after suffering a heart attack while driving in an Athens neighborhood Monday.

I never knew him but count myself very lucky to have seen a few of their reunion gigs. No doubt many beyond his circle of intimate friends and family will feel something of this loss. It's just sad...


Review of "Cabaret" posted

Hello Athens,

Figured you should know there's a review of Town and Gown's production of Cabaret just posted to AthensTheatre--two more chances to see the show: tonight and tomorrow afternoon. There should be a couple more reviews next week for the Town and Gown's second-stage show as well as the University Theatre production of The Changeling.

Dave H


Free child seat inspections

From the Athens-Clarke County Police:
On Sunday, February 22, from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM, the Athens-Clarke Police Department's Traffic Unit will be conducting free Child Safety Seat Inspections at the Westside Substation, 1060 Baxter St.


Step Into Africa

Sorry about forgetting to blog this in time, but an exhibit that vivifies the AIDS crisis in Africa is scheduled to be going on through the weekend. "Step Into Africa" is a combination of photography, an audio tour, and interactive elements that focus on the life of a child affected by the epidemic. Visitors report that it is more a moving experience than simply a collection of pictures. The event continues through Saturday and Sunday at the Classic Center. Visit this website for more information.

Protest in the air

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) there was protest in the air on North Campus. I walked towards the parking deck on Jackson Street and heard chanting and drum beats over near the President’s office. So I walked on towards the Hubert Bond Owens memorial fountain right outside Old College. The protestors were around the building (forever the Art Museum to me...) which houses the President’s office and other senior administration people. The chants were difficult to make out at first but as I listened I realized the protest had to do with a living wage protest. Today’s Red and Black has a front page article on it if you’d care to read about it. I don’t know if the laughable ABH (Online Athens) webpage/newspaper bothered to cover it or not.

I stood for a moment, listening to the chants, the drum beats, the flute, taking in the whole experience. I have been observing protests on this campus since my teen years. Its part of what makes a college town unique. I feel energized by the protests most of the time. Its nice to see students and others who are concerned and engaged enough to organize and stage a peaceful protest. 

On my drive home, I pondered the goal of the protest. Given the current national and state economies after 8 years of catastrophic presidential rule, just where is the money for a Livable Wage supposed to come from? Damn, right now folks ought to be more concerned with salary continuity than anything else. I suppose its the right and expectation that college students be idealistic. But in the current economy, I think realistic would be a better attribute to develop.


Athens Theatre - February Update Posted

Hello hello,

If you mosey on over to AthensTheatre.com, we've posted the current slate of shows for the month of February, including shows at/by the Classic Center, Athens Creative Theatre, the Town and Gown Players, and University Theatre. Particularly of note, there's a murder mystery event at Two Story Coffee this Saturday evening at 8:30 ($15 individual; $25 for a couple) and an opportunity to audition coming up next Monday and Tuesday (for T&G's Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure).

See you at the theatre,
Dave H

Free programs & discussions (Highlights from the Peabody Awards Collection)

The Peabody Awards Collection will be sponsoring a series of four screenings and discussions during February. These screenings, presented in celebration of Black History Month, are designed to give all of us a chance to have meaningful conversations focused around key social issues such as violence, education, health, and freedom of speech.

Please join us and become part of the conversation!

What: Free screenings of award-winning programs from the Peabody Awards Collection

When: Tuesday nights through February at 7:00 pm

Where: Room 348, Miller Learning Center, UGA

"Dateline NBC: The Education of Ms. Groves" (February 10) What happens to an idealistic Teach for America volunteer when she's sent to a tough middle school in Atlanta?

Monica Groves, the teacher profiled in this documentary, will attend the screening and lead a discussion afterwards.

“Monica Groves is a first-year teacher at a tough urban middle school in Atlanta. Just 21-years old at the beginning of the semester, she is bright-eyed and full of optimism. ‘I haven’t met my students,’ she says, ‘but I already love them.’ Within weeks her optimism clashes with reality. Her students come from mostly low-income families, some are raised only by a single mom or grandparent, others are homeless or live in violence-ridden neighborhoods; these are children who lack even the most basic support systems. Predictably, Monica struggles to maintain control over her classroom. Her initial idealism gives way to a harsh realization that her inexperience is leading her students to a failure she never anticipated. Her frustration with her students’ lack of progress soon turns into outright anger, and her optimism into a severe crisis of self-confidence. Monica is slowly learning that in order to find her voice as a teacher, she must change as a person.

“Monica’s struggle is echoed in the life of her students, and Dateline intimately profiles three of them in this hour. We follow Drew, one of Monica’s smartest students, in his attempt to make it into the school’s prestigious Gifted Program. One of the main reasons behind his eventual success: the forceful 83-year old grandmother who is raising him and his siblings. Another student, Stephen, is homeless, and we track him through his life with his family in a meager hotel room, the promise of a home that turns out to be uninhabitable, and finally the return to a house and room of his own. That Stephen manages to make the honor roll at the end of the year is an inspiration, and as we find out, it is largely due to the quiet influence of his teacher Ms. Groves. And we meet Mayah, a former honor student, who is failing Monica’s class. In scene after scene we unravel the reason behind Mayah’s failure: a father behind bars, a daughter without her best friend and role model.

“In more than 90 days of shooting throughout the school year (and 200 hours of footage), producer/director Izhar Harpaz, correspondent Hoda Kotb and their team explore and expose the realities of life in a troubled American classroom. Granted extremely rare access by the school and Monica herself, and increasingly becoming invisible to the subjects they follow, their cameras capture classroom scenes we’ve all heard about but seldom seen: a teacher’s struggle to be respected, a class’ intransigence and lack of motivation, an all-out classroom fight. But we also witness scenes of hope, of individual success and perseverance, and scenes of a teacher’s undying passion, a teacher who ultimately manages to reach and inspire many of her students.

“To encapsulate a turbulent school year into 38 minutes is impossible. But by simply telling the story, ‘The Education of Ms. Groves’ touches upon many of the problems at the forefront of American education today, in particular the education in low-income communities across the country. It is news magazine journalism at its best."--2006 Peabody Awards entry form.

The series continues next week:

"Out of Control: AIDS in Black America" (February 17) looks at the causes and solutions. Peer educators from AIDS Athens will lead a discussion after the screening.

“The Boondocks: Return of the King" (February 24) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wakes from a 32-year "coma" only to be branded a terrorist sympathizer when he speaks out against the current state of social affairs in this episode of the edgy animated series. Discussion with Freda Scott Giles to follow.

For more information, call Mary Miller at (706) 542-4789

or visit http://www.libs.uga.edu/media/events


Down Memory Lane

Over on my website, I've posted a slideshow of my images from the 2007 farewell softball game between the Barrow Elementary fifth-graders and the teachers. Stop by if you have a minute. -- Bob Brussack


Know Your Rights When Using Your Credit Card

As the economy collapses around us, and people are struggling to keep their jobs, many want to use credit cards when cash flow is tight. So you get to the store to buy a gallon of milk for you family and pull out your credit card. Or you stop by a neighborhood watering hole for a drink to relax your nerves, and you pull out your credit card. The merchant looks at you and points to a sign that says "$10 minimum for credit cards", or one that says "$2 surcharge on all credit card purchases."

Too many times people will say darn (or other words not fit for publication) and walk away. You do not have to. Each of the above scenarios is expressly prohibited in their agreements with the credit card companies. In fact, if you report them doing this, they risk being fined by the companies or losing the right to accept credit cards entirely.

Why am I posting this? Because just this morning we tried to pay a medical bill on the phone using a Visa. It was a $6.44 cent bill, and they refused to take the card because the bill was below $10. I argued the point with the billing services manager who would not budge, even though I explained that I could take the time to report them.

30 minutes later she called back to apologize. She had called VISA directly and found out what they were doing (and had been doing for some time now) was in violation of their agreement.

So do not be afraid to stand up for your rights when choosing to use a credit card. If you want more information about this, or want to file a report when it happens to you, see the VISA web site for information. You can find out how to report for other credit card companies here.

Yes, I generally cut small mom and pop shops some slack as they are struggling too, but everyone is struggling and the rules are there for a purpose (albeit usually to make the credit card companies money).


UGA French Film Festival

The French Film Festival at UGA began on Jan. 26 and will continue for the next five Mondays through March 2. Screenings are at 8 p.m. at the Tate Student Center theater, and admission is only $1 for students and $2 for non-students. More information is available from the Romance Languages department.