Friday, November 24, 2006

Patrick Davis - Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County

Last weekend the wife and I went to see the pride of Camden at a benefit concert for Toys for Tots. Patrick Davis is a first-rate performer and songwriter, and I definitely advise seeing him live. Some of his songs are straight-up rock and roll barn-burners, and then he throws in a gospel sing-along like "Amazing Grace" or "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

The Fine Arts Center was a unique place to see him play. Come to think of it, every other time I've seen Patrick, it's been in Five Points - Five Points After Five, Pub on Santee, St. Patty's Day, what have you. This auditorium, by way of contrast, had movie-theater style seats and an actual stage with functional stage-lights. The sad part is that I kinda enjoyed the more "chill" atmosphere of the auditorium.

Also, being a hometown show and all, Patrick's little sister joined him on-stage. She sang "Angel from Montgomery" and accompanied him on a couple other songs. And his dad played electric guitar for most of the concert.

Patrick's first "major" album (pictured) is great, and you can listen to it here, at his website. You can also find it at Manifest Discs and Tapes (and occassionally you can find Davis's "demo" album there, too). My personal favorite tracks are "Maybe Tonight" and "This Life." Take a listen, and buy it for yourself for Christmas. You won't be sorry!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Edwin at Newberry Opera House

Last weekend I finally got to redeem my birthday present from some friends, when we all headed out to Newberry to see SC's native son, Edwin McCain, in concert. I've never seen a bad Edwin McCain show, and I've never seen a bad concert at the NOH, so I knew it would be great.

Here's the setlist, although the order might be a little bit off:

Gramercy Park Hotel
Shooting Stars
See off this Mountain
White Crosses
Rhythm of Life
One Thing Left to Do
Lost in America
I Could Not Ask For More
I'll Be
Radio Star
Take Me
Prayer to St. Peter

Thanks, Micky & Steph!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Halloween pics

In this house, Halloween starts at the beginning of the October when Mama hauls the kids to get their picture taken, and doesn't end until we turn off the porch light on the 31st. In between, there's Boo at the Zoo, pumpkin shopping, a pre-school party, and a couple "grownup" costume parties. Here's some pics of the month-long affair...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween guest column

Rich’s one-man costume party
Guest Columnist

Have you ever seen a one-man costume party?

If not, take a close look at the most recent campaign finance disclosures. When you do, you’ll see that the millionaire who finances the South Carolina voucher lobby is playing dress-up for Halloween.

New York libertarian Howard Rich is busy using an arsenal of disguises to bankroll private school tax-credit supporters here in the Palmetto State.

It works like this: Rich makes the maximum legal contribution of $3,500 to a pro-voucher candidate, under the name of “Bradford Management.” Then he makes another contribution, to the same candidate, as “Spinksville LLC.” And then he makes another, as “Ashborough Investors.” Then another, as “405 49 Associates” — you get the idea.

And there are more: Spooner LLC. Bayrich LLC. Dayrich LLC. 538-14 Realty LLC. West 14 & 18 LLC. 123 LaSalle Associates. Just to name a few.

Some of these shell companies list Howard Rich’s Big Apple apartment as their primary address. Others purport to be located at an alternate address, but have a “principal” address at his New York residence.

One point of all this masquerading is to bypass our state campaign contribution limit. Rich is the kid who solicits candy at your doorstep, changes his mask and knocks again. And again and again and again. Only Rich isn’t begging for sweets, he’s giving out wads of out-of-state voucher cash.

Superintendent of education candidate Karen Floyd’s disclosures, available online at the State Ethics Commission Web site, are an out-and-out Howard Rich costume ball. The Manhattan developer contributed $13,000 to Floyd during the past three months, and more than $55,000 so far this year.

It’s the same trick Rich used to funnel money to several State House candidates in the June primary. It’s the same tired ploy he has used to furnish Mark Sanford with more than $30,000 so far this campaign.

Playing dress-up is nothing new to Howard Rich. His favorite pastime seems to be paying for organizations around the country and disguising them as grass-roots efforts.

There’s “Oklahomans for Good Government.” It’s a convincing-enough name, until you see who funded the group’s million-dollar pet initiative. More than $600,000 came from Rich; actual Oklahomans contributed less than 1 percent to the cause.

Then there’s Missourians in Charge. This Kansas City group masquerades as “grass-roots,” but is also funded almost entirely by Rich. Rich has plowed more than $2.3 million into the group’s bank account; actual Missourians furnished only $150.

And there’s Montanans in Action, an outfit in Big Sky Country, also financed by Rich.

In all three states, courts have removed Howard Rich’s initiatives from the November ballot for reasons ranging from the use of illegal, out-of-state petitioners to “pervasive fraud.”

Which brings us to the Palmetto State. Here, the major lobbying group for Gov. Sanford’s twice-failed voucher bill “Put Parents in Charge” gets squeamish when asked to show its funding. “South Carolinians for Responsible Government,” as the group calls itself, would rather sue the state than tell us whether it is just another deceptively named Howard Rich subsidiary. Like those other groups, SCRG wants people to think it is “grass-roots.” But it’s easy enough to see where SCRG is really rooted.

Howard Rich chairs the “Parents in Charge Foundation,” which calls itself a “key participant” in the S.C. voucher effort. SCRG’s first executive director was a former “field representative” of Howard Rich’s “U.S. Term Limits.”

Rich’s masquerading goes beyond playing sugar daddy to candidates and state puppet groups. His assortment of national funds is as impressive as his list of shell companies. US Term Limits. Parents in Charge. Fund for Democracy. Club for Growth State Action. Americans for Limited Government. Legislative Education Action Drive.

The point is, it’s easy to get tangled in this spider web of out-of-state cash. Figuring out which fund Howard Rich uses to float which puppet group can be mind-numbing. If the groups hide their funding, it can be nearly impossible.

That’s no accident. Besides skirting contribution limits, there’s a more fundamental purpose behind this shell game.

That purpose is to hide the fact that Rich’s initiatives are fueled by an ideology that loathes government, abhors public schools and despises the state laws that stand in its way. It’s essentially Halloween in reverse — the benign masks are there to hide the extremist ideology that lies beneath.

Howard Rich’s cash is the lifeblood of our state’s voucher lobby, and there’s plenty of money available for those who will cater to his cause.

Mr. Shealy resides in Cayce with his wife and children.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

South Carolina State Fair

Our son was too young (and sniffly) to enjoy he fair this year, but his Sissy got a double dose of fun!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Okra Strut Weekend

The Familia Shealy-a went out to Irmo this weekend, for the annual Okra Strut festival. Check out the cover of the special issue of the Irmo News, showing my oldest monkey trying her first piece of fried okra last year!

Something tells me her Uncle Moose had a hand in that...

This year our little cover-girl got to ride a few rides, like the caterpillar and the hot air balloons and the bouncy room. The little guy could only watch.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Monday, September 04, 2006

Cone... gone!

My heart skipped a beat this weekend as we passed by the illuminated neon "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign on 12th Street and headed into Triangle City. Something was awry, and it wasn't just the fact that Triangle City is neither a triangle nor a city. After all, Mount Pleasant is not a mount, nor is it pleasant, and I've never thought twice about it. But I digress.

It was the skyline -- an emblem of my youth was missing. The towering, chocolate-glazed ice cream cone, one of the Seven Wonders of West Columbia, was gone.

Calm down, calm down. The enormous Zesto ice cream cone is only temporarily AWOL.

Apparently, they've had a few inquiries. This explanation was in the window to pacify the unruly masses, and provide a picture tutorial for "giant cone removal."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dylan in Disgusta

We piled in the car and headed to Lake Olmstead Park (home of the Augusta Green Jackets) on Thursday for one of the best Bob Dylan concerts I've seen.

(The best was at the Township, night before Easter, 2004.)

Highlights on Thursday were "Positively 4th St.," "Hwy 61" and "Like a Rolling Stone," but the entire show was smoking.


1. Maggie's Farm
2. The Times They Are A-Changin'
3. Lonesome Day Blues
4. Positively 4th Street
5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
6. 'Til I Fell In Love With You
7. To Ramona
8. Cold Irons Bound
9. Girl Of The North Country
10. Highway 61 Revisited
11. Sugar Baby
12. Summer Days
13. Like A Rolling Stone
14. All Along The Watchtower

Monday, August 14, 2006

More response to column in The State's letters to the editor

Shealy failed to get facts straight before launching attack

Ross Shealy (“On barbecue, politics and what defies parody,” Aug. 1) exemplifies the ignorance and vitriol of the fanatical left.

Mr. Shealy is a coward hiding behind a slippery keyboard. For the record, Mr. Shealy never contacted me and does not know a wit about me, my business or the disease that 20 million people, including me, suffer from. Rather than a doctor’s note, Mr. Shealy needs a lesson in reporting facts. They are:

I have had Lyme disease for 14 years, have been hospitalized on too many occasions to recall (even when appearing pretty in pink). I sit on the Board of Dispoz-o Products Inc., a major manufacturer of plastic disposable products that has done great good for humankind, exceeded only by the greater shame Mr. Shealy brings to journalism. I am a founding director of the Philadelphia Trust Company. We have broken more records for funds under management than Shealy has writing any reputable news.

I have never signed a pledge to support the Alliance for Separation of School and State.

I have a passion for kids, freedom, excellence, learning and the American way. South Carolina would not be left behind if organizations such as the National Education Association would get out of the way.

One of the hardest things I have ever done was resign from the Education Oversight Committee. Maybe I should have asked Mr. Shealy to chauffeur me back and forth between Greenville and Columbia, because I temporarily lost my hearing and eyesight and could have used a good seeing-eye pit bull.

The S.C. Club for Growth knew I was ill and recruited me as a board member. This is one of the savviest groups of people I have had the pleasure to join. It waited for me to get well and work the phones.

So, what else does Mr. Shealy want to know that’s fit to print? He should call me sometime. I’ll be happy to supply the facts, only when he stops writing bad fiction.



Friday, August 04, 2006

Response to column in The State's letters to the editor

Shealy hits bottom by mocking disease

It is always sad when political discourse turns to pathetic name-calling. In that vein, Ross Shealy (“On barbecue, politics and what defies parody”) hit a new low Tuesday when he mocked one of our board members’ difficult battle with Lyme disease.

Karen Iacovelli is a well-respected businesswoman in Greenville as well as an experienced and renowned constitutional attorney. She has served our state well as a member of the Education Oversight Committee, until her health deteriorated to a point where she could no longer serve. I hope and pray that when she fully recovers from this awful disease she may be able to resume her excellent service to our state.

While I disagree with many points in his column, the author has proven himself not even worthy of engaging in legitimate debate. To point out (and argue) with points of fact and opinion are one thing; to make jokes about anyone’s life-threatening illness is morally reprehensible and well beyond the bounds of acceptable civil discourse. Surely, The State would not print opinion pieces mocking cancer or AIDS patients; why, then, print this piece?

Shame on Ross Shealy for his cowardly attack on the health of a public servant, and shame on The State for printing it.

Executive Director
South Carolina Club For Growth

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Today's guest column

On barbecue, politics and things too weird to parody

By ROSS SHEALY, Guest columnist

For almost a year, I published an Internet weblog known as “Barbecue & Politics,” in which I tried to put a humorous spin on S.C. government, politics and culture.

I conjured up the Andrebahn, a fictitious freeway for the sole use of a speedy lieutenant governor. I spoofed our lost AAA credit rating by having the state’s governor and treasurer take out a title loan on the deed to the Palmetto State. Then there was the colorblind merchant who opened the first “green dot” liquor store.

I occasionally reviewed barbecue restaurants — hence the name. But even in the buckle of the Mustard Belt, I found far more political follies to satirize than pulled pork to criticize.

I also found that some aspects of state politics require no parody.

Case in point: the tomfoolery of South Carolina’s voucher lobby as it tries to resemble a native, grass-roots effort. If you aren’t closely following the shenanigans of the group behind “Put Parents in Charge,” I submit that you may be missing out on one of the best political comedies in state history.

Take Karen Iacovelli. This outspoken voucher supporter bills herself as the “director” of Dispoz-o, an Upstate plastic cutlery company. This year, Dispoz-o has forked over thousands of dollars to the campaigns of pro-voucher candidates Mark Sanford and Karen Floyd.

No big surprise. Last autumn, Sanford appointed Iacovelli to the Education Oversight Committee, the group that oversees the improvements to S.C. public schools. Among her qualifications, according to her bio, was her adviser role in “United New Yorkers for Choice in Education.”

Sadly, Iacovelli didn’t even get a full year to impart her Yankee know-how. In March, meddling political bloggers like myself ascertained that she had signed a pledge stating, “I publicly proclaim that I favor ending government involvement in education.”


The oath, curious for someone overseeing public schools, is the mantra of the California-based “Alliance for Separation of School and State” — which I suspect rarely if ever abbreviates its name.

A few days after the revelation, Iacovelli resigned from the EOC, citing health reasons related to Lyme disease. She quickly assumed a more suitable post on the board of the pro-voucher S.C. Club for Growth. In other words, it seems the “tick” involved in Iacovelli’s departure from the EOC was the tick of the time bomb she represented for Sanford and the voucher lobby. It was an altogether peculiar episode, made funnier by the fact that Sanford wants the superintendent of education to be a governor-appointed position.

Then there’s South Carolinians for Responsible Government, the voucher lobby group that calls itself “grass roots,” yet is reluctant to reveal its funding or membership. The group has been notoriously sloppy with such things as numbers and names.

In early May, a spokesman reported a depth of “2,000 grass-roots supporters” to The State. By the next week, the group had ballooned to a “statewide grassroots organization of 200,000 citizens,” according to its guest column in the Greenville News.

From 2,000 to 200,000 in a matter of days. When things grow that quickly, you can bet there’s some manure involved.

The group released a radio ad in June that bungled the pronunciation of its own name. The spot was standard fare, right up to the point when the sugary female voice mentioned “South Caro-LINE-ians for Responsible Government.”

News flash: Neil Diamond doesn’t have a song called “Sweet Carolyn,” and Sandlappers aren’t referred to as “South Caro-LINE-ians.”

If you’re like me, all these “United New Yorkers,” California-based alliances and “South Caro-LINE-ians” trigger your innate ain’t-from-around-here reflex. That’s because, while all the clowning around occurs here at home, the ringmaster of the Voucher Circus hangs his top hat in New York.

Howard Rich is the millionaire libertarian who appears to shoulder the financial burden of the S.C. voucher effort through countless intermediary “companies” based in his SoHo apartment. In addition to bankrolling several would-be legislators, he’s flouted the intent of the state’s $3,500 contribution limits to subsidize the Sanford and Floyd campaigns with more than $30,000 and $40,000, respectively.

To Howard Rich, an “LLC” is a Libertarian Loophole for Contributions. And he has plenty of them. According to the latest ethics filings, Floyd received $14,000 from Rich in one day. On another day, he provided her with a paltry $10,500. All told, he apparently was responsible for nearly a quarter of her contributions for the filing period.

The attempted influence of this one-man voucher lobby is far-reaching, from his position on the Club for Growth “leadership council” to his prop-up organizations in several states, which typically carry grass-roots, native names like Missourians in Charge and Oklahomans in Action.

But we just don’t know if Rich bankrolls South Carolinians for Responsible Government. It’s a huge mystery (wink, wink).

Suffice it to say that when we chuckle at the shoddy radio ads, nutty oaths and erstwhile appointments, we are — quite literally — having a laugh at Howard Rich’s expense. It’s a comedy well worth the price of admission, especially since we aren’t footing the bill.

Jim DeMint probably doesn’t know every word to the musical “RENT,” and the Lizard Man may never actually try to unseat Congressman John Spratt, though both have been dutifully documented in my corner of the blogosphere.

But if, like me, you appreciate a good farce, look no further than the “South Carolina” voucher lobby. It is, in many ways, its own best parody.

Mr. Shealy lives in Cayce with his wife and children. The archives of Barbecue and Politics are at