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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jaguars snare Rattlers at Classic thriller

This article is dedicated to the late Terrell Slayton, Jr., former Chairman and President of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. (1974 photo)

The stands were noticeably half full at the Georgia Dome when the FAMU Rattlers fell under the Southern Jaguars as last minute attempts to tie the game failed.

Mission of 100 Black Men - support and improve the quality of life for African Americans
Florida A&M University was playing without its award winning band backing it up since it was placed on suspension after a hazing scandal left Metro Atlanta native and FAMU drum major Robert Champion Jr. dead after a game played on November 19, 2011. 

The first half of the Atlanta Football Classic was dominated by Florida A&M which scored only 7 points to Southern University's 0. Southern came back in the second half and tied the game 14-14. Then, with 7.01 minutes left in the 4th quarter, FAMU fumbled the football, and it was intercepted by two Jaguars who juggled the pigskin in the end zone, bringing the score to 21 - 14. 

In too many long attempts to release the ball, FAMU's quarterback was left unprotected while Southern's defense excelled at rushing and sacking their opponents. FAMU was unable to succeed in making another touchdown, and the game was called with only 43 seconds to play.

 Frustrated Rattlers near game's end
Half-time entertainment featured Southern's band, which spelled out FAMU on the field in tribute to the missing band; Chaka Khan, Douggie Fresh, and rapper Future. Ronald McDonald was off stage dancing and pointing into the crowd.

The defeat was a massive disappointment for FAMU, the largest HBCU in the U.S. "I can't believe it," said one young attendee while existing the game.  "This was the closest game I have ever seen live," said another person who came to the game with a FAMU alumni group.

Michael McCoy (2nd from l) celebrated his 16th birthday with family and friends at the Classic, an every year event.
The Atlanta Football Classic is sponsored annually by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. Membership in the elite organization is said to cost $10,000. Other partners included Bank of America which donated $50,000 to the organization's scholarship fund, AT&T, Abbott Laboratories, Coors Light , Delta Air Lines, the Georgia Dome, Georgia Power, Home Depot, Liquid Soul Media, MARTA, McDonald's, WalMart, and the U.S. Army.
©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved

Atlanta Football Classic at Georgia Dome

The annual Atlanta Football Classic will kick-off at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta at 3:30 p.m. The game, sponsored by 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Bank of America, and numerous sponsors, will feature Florida A&M University against Southern University.

The Classic is one of the nation's largest Black college football games. Highlights will be posted here after the game.

For more information on the Classic, go to:


Friday, September 28, 2012

Downtown America attracting more residents

Numerous cranes signal progress in downtown Atlanta.
Downtown is becoming a good place to work but also to live, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report revised today.

Metro areas with five million or more people experienced double-digit population growth rates within their downtown areas (within a two-mile radius of their largest city’s City Hall), more than double the rate of these areas overall.

Chicago experienced the largest numeric gain in its downtown area, with a net increase of 48,000 residents over 10 years. New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington also posted large population increases close to city hall.

These downtown gains were not universal, however: New Orleans and Baltimore experienced the greatest population declines in their downtown areas (35,000 and slightly more than 10,000, respectively). Two smaller areas in Ohio ─ Dayton and Toledo ─ also saw downtown declines of more than 10,000.

Other report highlights include the following:

 --More than one in 10 U.S. residents lived in either the New York or Los Angeles metro area in 2010.

--The Hispanic share of the population increased in every U.S. metro area.

--Metro area populations were younger (a median of 36.6 years) than the population in either micro areas (39.3 years) or territory outside either of these areas (41.9 years).

(Photo by Tomi Johnson)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Census Bureau offers $25k challenge

The Census Bureau announces a prize competition under Section 105 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2011, Public Law 111-358 (2011) to create a statistical model to predict the 2010 Census mail return rate of small area geographic units based on their demographic characteristics.

The Census Bureau will use this model for planning purposes for the decennial census and for demographic sample surveys. The model-based estimates of predicted mail return will be publicly released in a later version of the Census Planning Database containing updated demographic data.

Participants are encouraged to develop and evaluate different statistical models and propose the best predictive model for geographic units. The intent is to improve our current predictive analytics. Internet address: <>.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Clint Eastwood backlash calls for empty seats

"Dirty Harry" receives backlash.
When Clint Eastwood made the Republican's day, talking to an empty chair at the their Republican National Convention, he perhaps didn't think of a backlash from potential moviegoers.

Eastwood, 82, portended to be giving President Barack Obama a scolding in his monologue at the RNC, but perhaps he made himself look foolish AND ruined his chances of "Trouble With The Curve" being a success.

Here's the message circulating via email: 
"Clint Eastwood has a movie coming out, 'Trouble With The Curve'.  Yes, the same Clint Eastwood who tried to marginalize our President at the RNC a few weeks ago.  Now it's time to return the favor to Mr. Eastwood.

"Make sure that you are not one of the people sitting in the audience watching this movie.  He used the empty chair to make his point, now we are going to use the empty seats at the theaters where this movie is being shown to make our point.  I have always liked Eastwood's movies until he pulled this stupid stunt.

"Make sure that you send this to everyone you know.  The message has to be sent.  The message:  There will always be consequences as the result of your actions."

 * Photo: gdcgraphics at
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Tesla, electric vehicle company, in the news...

Model S deliveries began in June 2012.
Tesla Motors, Inc. unveiled Supercharger stations this week and announced a follow-on offering of 4,344,930 shares of its common stock.

Constructed in secret, Tesla revealed the locations of the first six Supercharger stations which will allow the Model S, which can go from 0 to 60 miles in 4.4 seconds, to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona.

“We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight, ” said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO.

“Tesla’s Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles, providing long distance travel that has a level of convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes. However, by making electric long distance travel at no cost, an impossibility for gasoline cars, Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” Musk said.

"Every millimeter counts."
On the negative, Tesla stock was down 10 percent, production has been cut, and the U.S. Energy Department has asked the company to provide a speedier repayment schedule. Tesla Motors intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes. As a part of the stock offering, Musk indicated a preliminary interest in purchasing shares of common stock at the public offering price for an aggregate purchase price of up to approximately $1 million.

The company was founded in 2003 by a group of Silicon Valley engineers bent on designing and producing awesome electric vehicles. In early 2008, the Tesla Roadster hit the streets. This year, over 2,300 Roadsters drive emissions-free in more than 37 countries.

Agility and quality beyond expectations
Tesla's goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility. The company also designs and manufactures EVs and EV power train components for partners such as Toyota and Daimler. Headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., Tesla has 2,000+ employees and over 370 full-time, contract and temporary job openings posted on its website.

For more on Tesla, go to:

*Images scanned from sales brochure presented at metro Denver, Colo. store.

©2012 Tomi Johnson. All  rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Baconmania affected by drought and dietary constraints

Baconmania photo by Ilea Johnson
Come next year, there will be fewer little piggies going to market based on grain supplies needed to feed them. Bad news for folks who love the taste of bacon.

But maybe less pork in one's diet will be a good thing.

Recently I attended a Lowering Cholesterol class sponsored by the Kaiser Foundation. As part of the course, "Cholesterol Basics" was the textbook used.

"The key to better heart health is to select meats that are lower in saturated fat... Avoid meats that contain a lot of fat or cholesterol, such as bacon, bologna, salami, sausage, and hot dogs." 

History of bacon in African American diet
Hog photo by Tomi Johnson
Pork bacon used to be a food staple in African American diets during slavery. Sometimes slaves only were given pieces of bacon to take to the fields to consume for lunch. This food was not fresh or refrigerated. Slaves had to eat something, though, and eating bacon was a means of survival.

I guess we should pay less attention to our acquired taste for bacon and more attention to Leviticus 11:7 - "And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you."

My recommendation: If you just can't wean yourself off bacon for breakfast, chose turkey bacon cooked in a little pork bacon grease. Or at least eat in moderation the leanest bacon you can afford. You'd be surprised at what you can do to improve your health. You are what you eat!  

Hog family by Ilea Johnson
©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved

Friday, September 21, 2012

More layoffs announced

Unemployed workers wait for food in downtown Atlanta. (Photo by Tomi Johnson)
The Wall Street Journal reports today that Bank of America will layoff 16,000 workers by year's end.

Here is a list of other layoff announcements within the last three months:
Hewlett-Packard (HP) - 29,000 by end of 2014
American Airlines - 11,000 employee layoff notices delivered (estimate 4,400 actually to be let go)

Alpha Natural Resources of Virginia - 1,200 mining jobs company-wide by early 2013
Arch Coal Inc's of St. Louis - 750 full-time positions in Appalachia

San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California - 730 employees by end of 4th quarter 2012
Lockheed Martin in Salina, N.Y. - 450 to 500 workers
ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, Calvert, Ala. - 197 (143 are hourly positions)
Detroit Fire Department - 164 laid off firefighters (some will be called back when federal grant is received 

Newton Energy Mine in Comfort, W. Va - 116 layoffs
General Dynamics in Scranton, Pa. - 60 workers
City of Hartford, Conn. - 12 middle managers
Best Buy - numerous experienced field service technicians
NHL Florida Panthers - number unconfirmed

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Breaking news: Attorney General Eric Holder cleared of "Fast & Furious" charges

Statement by Attorney General Eric Holder on the Office of the Inspector General’s Report on Operation Fast and Furious
“I have reviewed the Office of the Inspector General’s report on Operation Fast and Furious and the key conclusions are consistent with what I, and other Justice Department officials, have said for many months now:

The inappropriate strategy and tactics employed were field-driven and date back to 2006; The leadership of the Department did not know about or authorize the use of the flawed strategy and tactics; and The Department’s leadership did not attempt to cover up information or mislead Congress about it.

“Beginning in 2011 - shortly after public concerns were first raised about Operation Fast and Furious – I referred this matter to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Throughout the next several months, I instituted significant policy reforms, stronger internal controls and made key personnel changes to prevent the flaws that plagued this investigation, as well as the earlier investigation, Operation Wide Receiver, from recurring. I’m pleased that the OIG report appropriately recognizes these reforms.

“Based upon the information in the OIG report and other related information, I am also announcing additional personnel changes today.

“First, Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director at ATF, has retired from the Department, effective immediately. Ken has served the Department in several important roles for over thirty years, including as a United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and more recently as an advisor on forensic science issues. I want to thank him for his dedication and service to the Department over the last three decades.

“Second, those individuals within ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona, whom the OIG report found to have been responsible for designing, implementing or supervising Operation Fast and Furious have been referred to the appropriate entities for review and consideration of potential personnel actions. Consistent with the requirements of the Privacy Act, the Department is prohibited from revealing any additional information about these referrals at this time.

“Finally, I have accepted the resignation of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, a longtime career prosecutor who most recently served in the Criminal Division where he led our violent and organized crime, computer crimes and intellectual property enforcement efforts. Jason has dedicated much of his career to fighting violent crime and has led highly successful efforts around the country in this effort. The American people are safer because of his work. His commitment to the Department has been unwavering, and I deeply appreciate his 15 years of distinguished service here at Main Justice as well as in Baltimore and New York.

“It is unfortunate that some were so quick to make baseless accusations before they possessed the facts about these operations – accusations that turned out to be without foundation and that have caused a great deal of unnecessary harm and confusion. I hope today’s report acts as a reminder of the dangers of adopting as fact unsubstantiated conclusions before an investigation of the circumstances is completed.

“I want to assure the American people that I, and my colleagues at the Department, will continue to focus on our mission of protecting their rights and their security, and doing so in a manner that is consistent with the high standards of the Department of Justice. This includes continuing to seek justice on behalf of Agent Brian Terry and his loved ones.

“The FBI and the United States Attorney from the Southern District of California have been working for many months with Mexican authorities to identify and apprehend the fugitives involved in the murder of Agent Terry, who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving his country. We now have two men in custody and we will continue to aggressively pursue the remaining fugitives to ensure justice for Agent Terry, his family and his fellow law enforcement agents who put their lives on the line each day to keep this country safe.”
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Breaking news: Unemployment rate in France reaches 10.2 percent

The French Republic is in the news because of an Islamophobic cartoon published in one of its newspapers, however, France also has a problem with unemployment. The unemployment rate is reported to be at 10.2 percent, but that is still less than it was in 1997 when it was 11.20 percent. 

France is the largest country in Western Europe and has a population of 65,350,000.

According to Wikipedia, the Republic of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean has the highest unemployment rate in the world - 78.21 percent. Vanuatu was once a French and British protectorate.

Photo: Chateau Comtal from CIA World Factbook


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney goofed!!!

Romney's remarks are unprofessional.
I don't get Mitt.

If Romney is such a great businessman, why would he alienate some of his future customers, i.e. 47-49% of Americans he said deem themselves victims and living on government handouts?

Do you think Bill Gates would insult his customers that way? Do you think he would badmouth people who can't afford Microsoft stock but can afford Microsoft Office?

Romney is not on Forbes' list of great businessmen. The closest he gets to the list is having billionaires donate millions to a PAC called "Restore Our Future." These super wealthy right wingers want to take us back to Reaganomics days.

I don't think candidate Romney is such a great businessman. Moreover, he would make a lousy President.

Of course, that's my opinion. What do you think?

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

U.S. population tops 314,395,013; more black men incarcerated than once enslaved

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the U.S. population reached 314,395,013 yesterday, which was the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, in Philadelphia.

On Sept. 17, 1987, the Census Bureau estimated the U.S. population was 243,636,172 at noon that day, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. The first U.S. census in 1790 counted 3,929,214 residents.

One alarming statistic facing America is 6% of population are African American males who unfortunately make up over 40% of the U.S. prison population. According to The Root, "More Black Men in Prison Today Than Enslaved in 1850." (Photo by Kurk Johnson)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shell's Eco-marathon registration opens

Students from across the Americas will bring their passion for energy solutions to Houston, Texas on April 5, 2013 when teams will attempt to build a vehicle that can surpass 2,188.6 miles per gallon.
The seventh annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013 is now open for online registration to high school and college students from across North and South America. Shell Eco-marathon is one, visible demonstration of Shell facing, head-on, the growing demand for energy in a responsible way.  From designing the initial concept, to building their innovative designs, this event challenges students to take their fuel-efficient creations and compete with schools from across the continents to see who can travel the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

Held globally in the Americas, Europe and Asia, Shell Eco-marathon is both a challenge and an educational platform that fosters the development of leading technology for greater energy efficiency and transportation performance. From its start in 2007 as a North America focused event, the competition now hosts student teams from Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and for the first time this year, a team from Chile – making it truly an Americas event.

“We are competing in Shell Eco-marathon Americas because we want to get our university’s name in the international circle of energy-efficient design,” said William Zúñiga of the Universidad de Chile. “We are really looking forward to joining the other teams at the competition and have set the bar high for our team’s first trip to Houston.”

Taking place April 5 – 7 on the streets of downtown Houston, the 2013 challenge is already shaping up to be one of the largest events yet with more than 30 teams from Canada, South America and the United States pre-registered, including 16 new teams.

Student teams can choose to participate in one or both of the Prototype and UrbanConcept classes at Shell Eco-marathon. The Prototype class challenges student teams to enter futuristic prototypes and the UrbanConcept class focuses on more “roadworthy” fuel-efficient vehicles. In the Americas event for both classes, teams can use a range of six official energy sources – including fuels such as gasoline, diesel as well as alternative fuels such as hydrogen, ethanol, FAME and battery electric technologies.

Interested teams are invited to sign-up for Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013 and help push the boundaries of fuel efficiency! For more information on all 2013 events across the globe, including additional details on vehicle class requirements, official rules, instructions for registration and details on prizes, please visit the Shell Eco-marathon website at

Employers give pink slips to average of 50 workers per layoff event

Photo by Tomi Johnson
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor reports that employers took 1,340 mass layoff actions in July involving 137,420 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month.

Each mass layoff involved at least 50 workers from a single employer.

Mass layoff events in July increased by 23 from June, and the number of associated initial claims increased by 6,014. Year-to-date mass layoff events (9,425) and initial claims (905,310) both recorded their lowest figures for a January-July period since 2007.

In July, 364 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 44,920 initial claims. Mass layoff data are identified using administrative data sources without regard to layoff duration.

For more information on layoffs, go to:

Importance of fathers; importance of mothers

Iconic image of St. Augustine of Hippo
"All his hopes, however, were suddenly threatened by the death of his father."  Reference to St. Augustine at the death of his father, in "St. Augustine Against the Academics"

I watched a PBS special on frogs last night, and it was amazing how some species of father frogs watch over and protect eggs until they are able to survive on their own as tadpoles.

This is the way of nature, and human fathers who die untimely deaths, are living in prisons, or are absent from their children's lives because of neglect, distance, or anger towards the mother are putting their offsprings in precarious positions, in non-survival mode.

That is why there should be an all out effort to make sure fathers are healthy, employed, and on the scene as nurturers in families. Mothers are also important in the family unit. And for same sex partnerships, the same goes.

How does society protect fathers, mothers, and in all respects the family unit in 2012?

Please comment.

Picture from

Friday, September 14, 2012

Paraolympic team honored at White House

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

(From White House website)
Today, the President and First Lady welcomed the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House to honor their participation and success in this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

At an event on the South Lawn, Mrs. Obama told the athletes that she was impressed not only by the 200-plus medals they brought home, but also by their dedication and hard work leading up to the games.

"I want you to know how inspired we are by all of you -- your passion, your dedication, your courage," said the First Lady. "This summer, people across the country -- including some of the young people with us today -- watched you compete and thought to themselves, you know what, if they can set a goal and work hard to reach it, maybe I can too, and maybe I can go a little farther and do a little better than people think I can. They saw all of you out there giving 100 percent, overcoming all kinds of obstacles, representing our country with such determination and pride."

President Obama -- who shared that he was able to catch some of the Olympic events thanks to mastering his DVR -- told the athletes that they “could not have been better ambassadors and better representatives for the United States and what we stand for.”

This was indeed meaningful since our Ambassador in Libya was killed this week, and his body was returned home today.

Is hope failing?

In very emotional speeches, President Barack Obama and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton welcomed home four slain Americans killed in Libya on Sept. 11. "Hope seems to be fading in the Middle East," said one TV news commentator who knew one of the fallen, Ambassador Chris Stevens.

If you watch the news, it seems the world is going to hell in a hand basket. First Egypt, then Libya became targets of Islamic terrorists this week. Miners and teachers are striking, from South Africa to Chicago. And now, Algeezera is reporting that an unprecedented move had occurred - Japanese nationals have been attacked in China.

Matthew 24:6 - "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come."


New plan to help homeowners


Congress is considering a plan that would help millions of responsible homeowners save hundreds of dollars each month by refinancing their mortgages.

Why refinance?

Today, home interest rates are at historic lows—on average, below 4 percent. The average homeowner could save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s low rates, but far too many borrowers are locked out of a chance to do so. Complicated application processes and eligibility requirements, costly appraisals, and the fact that many homeowners owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home make refinancing all but impossible for millions of Americans.
How would the proposed plan help homeowners?
The plan to expand access to refinance is simple: make it easier for millions of responsible homeowners to refinance, even if they are underwater. The proposal would establish a quick and hassle-free process for homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments and want to refinance—no more tax forms, and no more appraisals—just a lower interest rate, and lower payments each month.
What about underwater homeowners?
When the housing bubble burst, home values dropped, and millions of homeowners who did the right and responsible thing—shopped for a home, secured a mortgage, and made their payments on time each month—were left with houses worth less than they paid for them and mortgages worth more than their homes. Today, many of these homeowners are locked out of refinancing because they are underwater or because their credit took a hit.
The proposal now being considered in Congress will help millions of these families. Whether your home has fallen in value or your credit was harmed, as long as you've been paying your bills on time in recent months and your loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you will finally be able to refinance.
For more information or to chronicle your story, go to:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Uprisings more than response to movie

Sept. 11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya. (U.S. Dept. of State photo)
It has been reported that the recent deadly uprisings in the Islamic world are in response to a mediocre movie, but could more be below the surface of these developments?

I, for one, don't think Muslims around the world react to movies by attacking embassies. Islamic extremists have been identified as the culprits, but I'm not sure of the truth behind these stories. Some think these recent developments are part of a political game plan or backdrop for U.S. President Barack Obama to play his iron hand and prove his power, a way to throw the upcoming election - an excuse to send in the drones. This, too, may be far from the truth.

Is this a continuance of the Arab Spring into winter, a revolt sweeping across the Middle East and Northern Africa tied to being fed up with rulers who ignore the plight of its citizens? Is it a negative response to a U.S. empire building campaign?

The last thing we need is another war in the name of religion.

What do you think???

NBA's Tayshaun Prince launches "TRUE BLUE" wine bottle

Tayshaun Prince, the former University of Kentucky basketball star who played for the winning Detroit Pistons in its championship game the first year he was in the NBA, will help launch a commemorative wine bottle that will benefit the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s child nutrition program.

Elk Creek Vineyards of Owenton will release the first of its True Blue Legends wine bottle series in honor of Prince, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in the 2000-2001 season, on Friday, Sept. 21, at the Elk Creek store at Fayette Mall in Lexington. Prince and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer will be on hand for the festivities.

“Tayshaun and Elk Creek have come together for a great cause – encouraging Kentucky’s children to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle,” Comer said. “Funding from sales of this commemorative bottle will help us in our efforts to end childhood obesity in Kentucky. We’re grateful to Tayshaun and Elk Creek for their generosity.”

Elk Creek, Kentucky’s largest winery, will release 21,000 limited-edition bottles of its best-selling Kentucky Blue Riesling for $21 per bottle in honor of Prince’s uniform number at UK. The bottles will feature graphic artwork by Chris Rosenthal Design bearing Prince’s likeness and signature.

Part of the proceeds from sales of the commemorative bottles will go to Eat to Win, the department’s official “Healthy Habits” program. Prince, an Olympic gold medalist and star for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, is the official spokesperson for Eat to Win, a nutritional education initiative aimed at teaching Kentucky students about the benefits of eating locally grown fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle. To find out more about the Eat to Win program, go to

Prince (c) poses with friends and family in 2009.
The Fayette Mall launch and bottle signing will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 21. Prince also is scheduled to appear for bottle signing events at the Elk Creek store at the Mall St. Matthews in Louisville on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 1 to 3 p.m. and the Elk Creek store at Crestview Hills Town Centre in Florence on Sunday, Sept. 23, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Bottles in the True Blue Legend Wine Series will be available for purchase from Elk Creek’s website,, and at all Elk Creek Vineyards retail locations. Collectors may pre-order bottles in advance online and pick them up for Prince to sign at any of the Sept. 21-23 events.

For more information, call Brad Allnutt at Elk Creek Vineyards at 502-484-5456.

Photo by Kurk Johnson. ©2009. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ink instead of blood: death of a newspaper man

Brumby had a law degree but never practiced.
Today's heavenly headline reads: 
Presses Pause for Brumby
Otis A. Brumby, April 4, 1940 - September 8, 2012

A solemn Celebration of Life for Otis A. Brumby, deceased publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal, was held this morning at First United Methodist Church of Marietta, Ga. Only single tears from me, a fellow journalist, seemed to be shed for someone I had never met. We shared something in common, though: respect for the truth and the printed word.

Brumby succumbed to colon cancer at home last Saturday after a two year battle. The ceremony focused on his love for his wife, family, community, paper, and Lake Allatoona vacation home.
Do not use without permission.
Service - piano donated by Brumby

The Rev. Dr. Sam R. Matthews eulogized Brumby after beautiful piano solos were accomplished by renowned pianist Randall Atchison. The church's Steinway piano was donated by the Brumby family.

"Critics respected him...although his paper was sometimes harsh," Matthews opined. He said Brumby spoke about the Marietta Daily Journal, which he ran for 45 years, in the third person.  "Great newspapers take great owners of courage."  He said Brumby wanted  readers to have a love for answers and to become part of the action.

"He did pay a price," Matthews said, from threatening phone calls and letters addressed to him, his family, and his newspaper.  "But he stood up under all of that."  Matthews said although Brumby had cancer,  he also told him, "I have ink in my veins."

Family comments came from Otis  A. Brumby, III, the only son in a family of four daughters. He spoke of his father's common sense values, conservative K-car ownership, respect for the First Amendment, and high regard for open meetings and transparent government. "He believed we must hold our public officials accountable," Brumby, III said. He is heir to the Brumby media dynasty which includes a string of neighborhood newspapers.

Brumby knew that media lives on advertising more than public opinion and story writing.  According to Conrad C. Fink's book, "Strategic Newspaper Management," Brumby's newspapers concentrate on limited local news, have a circulation of 416,403, and devote 75% of total content to ads. Fink claimed that in 1983, profits were $20 million.  Local PATCH, run by AOL, took a bite from his bottom line over the last two years.

While Brumby rests in peace, though, his paper continues on its journalistic mission.
Do not use without permission.
Attorney Yolanda Smith-Williams, Thomas Carter, and Attorney Joyette M. Holmes posed outside church.
After the service, a host of politicians and business people lingered.  They talked economics and politics. The presses are still rolling in Brumby's town. "Let's try to be worthy of what he left us," Matthews concluded.
Do not use without permission.
Scene outside church after ceremony
Do not use without permission.
Mourners leave church.
There were no seats to be had at the packed 11 a.m. service except in the empty choir loft. There was no body, no coffin at the service, no portrait on an easel, no food for the public afterwards. Some surmised that Brumby, remembered as a humble yet powerful man, was already buried in a tiny cemetery near Marietta and that his family had been escorted to the service by Marietta police. His widow, Martha Lee, exited down the center aisle smiling, motioning to family and friends.
Do not use without permission.
Perry (r) is member of local ministerial group.

There were only three ministers in the pulpit. One black minister, Perry Price, said protocol was not followed when he was asked to sit in the balcony, but he refused.

Even Brumby's goodbyes were not without incident which was fitting for a man whose business was news.

©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

What I learned about love, truth, and Atlanta politics at the Theatre

Actor Danny Johnson holds newspaper depicting Maynard Jackson's win in 1973.*
While Maynard Jackson, the first Atlanta Mayor who happened to be African American, was being elected for his first term which began in 1974, there was a love triangle going on at his campaign headquarters which grew out of the close relationship volunteers had at the office.
This is the plot behind a new play at the Alliance Theatre.
Characters were well defined and lines well acted.*
Before reading the playbill but after witnessing the play, I wanted to draw on my own experience with Atlanta politics before critiquing “What I Learned in Paris” which is debuting at the Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff through September 30.  I am not a native of Atlanta, mind you, and came to metro ATL to live five months after Jackson was replaced in the Mayor’s office, but I knew he was still a giant in Atlanta politics, influencing desegregation of neighborhoods, black entrepreneurs being awarded government contracts, and hiring blacks in positions of power, especially lawyers.

I met Jackson only once at Shirley Franklin’s inaugural ball in 2002, and asked him to take a picture with me. “No, I’m here with my wife,” he said. “Yes, and I’m here with my husband, the photographer!” I responded.  I didn’t get that picture. Now that I think back on it, I suppose Jackson had faced all sorts of shenanigans in his political career and deemed it risky to even be in a photograph with a woman he just met and didn’t know. 
Russell and LaVoy*
Inappropriate love relationships can damage political futures as can lying and deceit. That is the play’s theme. The subplot: a woman’s power is truly manifested when she looks in the mirror without her significant other’s image peering over her.

The lines were well written by playwright Pearl Cleage and seamlessly carried out by the actors who used the stage and props to the fullest. The acting was first rate. Crystal Fox (Evie) plays the vivacious, socialite, enchantress ex-wife. Danny Johnson, who looks and acts like Danny Glover, plays J.P.  January LaVoy (Lena) plays the mediator, no life but volunteer, heavy. Eugene H. Russell, IV plays the high octane counselor who needs advice in the love department. Kelsey Scott (Ann) is young and inexperienced in her character, on her way to a Parisians awakening.

This play probably means a lot to those who witnessed the Jackson political machine, but it gave me a sense of the “wheels of history” that revolved from it. The ending was somewhat predictable, but getting there was quite entertaining.  

It was a great "date night" event. But of course, you have to go see it to decide for yourself.
The set was designed by Brian Sidney Bernbridge. (Photo by Tomi Johnson)
*Alliance Theatre photos from Lobby by Greg Mooney.  ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sept. 11, 2012

Photo of Twin Towers in 1998.
When I remember Sept. 11 morning, I think of loss, rebirth, and hope.

Both my husband and I were out of work when the towers were attacked. He was edging the lawn outside our home, and I was watching the Today Show on NBC. After the second tower was struck, we all knew this was no accident.

Then it was reported that two planes were headed for the Pentagon and some field. I talked to my brother-in-law, a military veteran who lives in New Jersey, and he said the Air force would not let that last plane reach its destination.

Ticket stub
Commentator Al Roker said the towers were built to withstand wind shear but not an airplane bomb. We watched in horror as people jumped, and both towers came tumbling down. 

When I think of Sept. 11, I remember visiting the World Trade Center on my honeymoon trip to New York City. Also, when I think of Sept. 11, I remember to celebrate Mona Sotoodeh's birthday. She is a young, beautiful, Persian American child turned woman in only a few short years. It's also Bubba and Vanessa Calhoun's wedding anniversary.

Brothers Sherman and Kurk Johnson pose outside Trade Center, a major tourist attraction before Sept. 11,  in 1980.
These things I remember with a melancholy smile. There is still beauty and hope for our world.

May war end.
©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Do black leaders face a higher moral standard?

Trenton, N.J. Mayor Tony Mack was arrested today after an FBI probe. 
My first interview as a TV reporter was of Mayor Luska Twyman, now deceased, who was one of many "first" black politicians in America during the 20th century. Twyman was the first black mayor of Glasgow, Ky. and the first African American mayor in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

"Do people expect more from a black mayor?" I asked him in 1978. "Yes, especially my own black community," he said. Mayor Twyman, who worked in office part-time, was elected in 1968. 

People forget, though, that political jobs are just J.O.B.S., however, much power is associated with serving the people in public office.

As such, with microscopes and spyglasses honed on them, do blacks in public office face more scrutiny than whites? Are they held to a higher standard? Are they properly prepared for government service?

What do you think?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Atlanta: City of contrasts - Morris Brown College, Georgia Dome, and ATL Financial Center

College motto: "To GOD and Truth"
When I wrote a story about the demise of church-affiliated Morris Brown College last week, an HBCU which declared bankruptcy last month, one priest friend remarked, "Of course, none of these things (are) as simple as it may look at first glance." (

That's when I decided to drive down to Atlanta myself and take a closer look at Morris Brown to gain perspective on what is important in Atlanta from a structural viewpoint.

Property on Morris Brown campus
Buildings in the college complex are dilapidated and boarded up, with roofs and gutters in disrepair for what appears like years.  Right off Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Vine, the complex is across the street from an elementary school and daycare, the sight of which must be disconcerting to youngsters.  Herndon Stadium, named after Atlanta's first black millionaire, Alonzo Franklin Herndon, sits empty, and tall weeds are growing around the sign as you enter Morris Brown properties.
Boarded up buildings on campus.
Looking at Morris Brown College makes you think you're tripping into the Twilight Zone!

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Associated Press, Morris Brown lost its accreditation and federal funding in 2002 due to a financial mismanagement scandal involving the school's president and  financial aid director. Both were convicted for fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in federal student aid. Financial support was also terminated by the United Negro College Fund. 

But what is just around the corner, only three blocks away, is reality - the Georgia Dome in all her splendor.

  The George Dome is the second largest domed structure in the world. Photo by Dreman1731
Well, if Morris Brown goes under, what a great location for a hotel, restaurant, and gift shop(s) complex filled with Falcons memorabilia. That is probably more valuable than a rundown, historical, privately owned black institution in the eyes of developers.

But again, Atlanta is a city of amazing contrasts.

AFC received Silver certification under the LEED® rating system.
A few miles down the way rises the Atlanta Financial Center (AFC) off Peachtree Rd in the heart of Buckhead.

It's full of world class amenities and the latest technologies.

Skyscraper view outside AFC window
There is no comparison to Morris Brown College and the AFC in architectural design or security. I wonder was anyone in the AFC approached to save Morris Brown, and if so, what did they think of the business decision they made?

Staircase inside AFC in Atlanta
What a site(sight). Where would you rather be? What will it look like in 100 years?

Black youth lounges in AFC's opulence, waiting in the secure dining room for his parents to get off work .
Priorities are placed where we want them. Loss becomes somebody else's gain.
©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.