D.G. Martin

Thanksgiving and Happiness

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Why? One reason is that it is one of the very few days we have saved just for families and friends. We have done a better job of keeping the Thanksgiving holiday from getting away from us. It has not yet taken charge of our lives. No dressing up with new clothes, no cards to mail, no gifts to buy and wrap, no parties, no alcohol, no high expectations to be crushed, no embarrassing failures to do the right thing. Somehow we have mostly kept it centered around our family dining table. I like...

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Celebrating connections to winners of the North Carolina Awards

Finally, something to brag about, I thought as I made my way to the annual dinner for the presentation of this year’s North Carolina Awards. These awards recognize contributions in the fields of fine art, literature, public service and science. I am always amazed to learn about the accomplishments and contributions of the award winners each year. But most of them usually have been strangers to me. Not this year. Of the six winners, my family and I have close connections with four. This year’s recipients were Tony Abbott of Davidson for Literature; Dr. Anthony Atala of Winston-Salem for Science; Senator Jim...

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An important author’s struggles can help his readers

You can’t go home again. This is what Thomas Wolfe learned after his thinly disguised autobiographical novel cast some of his family and neighbors in Asheville in unflattering roles. It is always dangerous for a successful writer to base fictional characters on real family or neighbors. Like most of us, these people cannot be expected to appreciate unflattering portrayals or the publication of their carefully guarded secrets. Even more risky is what Henderson native David Payne has done in his new memoir, “Barefoot to Avalon: A Brother’s Story.” Payne, who now lives in Hillsborough, has written five highly praised...

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Pushing Spellings into the pantheon, not the trash bin

Let’s help her all we can. That is what I am telling my friends in the university community when they express displeasure at the selection of Margaret Spellings as their new president, or when they complain about the UNC Board of Governors’ presidential selection process and some of its other recent actions. First of all though, you should know that I am a friend and big admirer of the current university president, Tom Ross. By all accounts, he has done, a masterful job. Even though the current board of governors signaled the end of his presidency a year ago,...

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Who said this about whom?

The candidate “has the knack of doing things and doing them noisily, clamorously; while he is in the neighborhood the public can no more look the other way than the small boy can turn his head away from a circus parade followed by a steam calliope.” Can you guess who was the target of this comment? I would have guessed Donald Trump, but it was written to describe Theodore Roosevelt, who shared Trump’s flamboyance and strong ego. The following quote sounds like what Republican congressional leaders were saying about Barack Obama after the 2014 and 2010 congressional elections: “Our...

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Good for Nicholas Sparks, good for North Carolina

“My books are all different,” Nicholas Sparks, the No. 1 New York Times best selling author who lives in New Bern, told a group of 500 fans at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Alumni Center last week. Except, he says, for two things. One is that there will always be a couple in love. The other is that the story will be set in North Carolina. With Sparks’s books selling more than 100 million copies worldwide, a lot of people have learned a lot about our state. Then there are the movies and television programs based on the books. These have put...

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Wearing a Black Doctor’s White Coat

“Why do black people suffer more health problems than other groups? What do these challenges mean in their everyday lives? How do their struggles play out before a largely white medical community? How can we begin to solve these seemingly intractable problems?” Dr. Damon Tweedy raises and discusses these questions in his new book, “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine.” Another question he asks, “Do I have a special role to play as a black physician?” He responds with stories from his own experiences. Dr. Tweedy is now an assistant professor of...

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Jim Martin as a Catalyst

I know the kind of candidate the Republicans need to beat Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic candidate in next fall’s presidential election. It is not any of those running now. That party needs somebody smart who can get along with the far right in the party without frightening the middle-of-the-road voters in the fall. They need someone with proven experience in politics and government who is still not an ordinary politician. Former North Carolina Governor and former U.S. Representative Jim Martin, if he were 10 years younger, could be that person. Martin’s successful campaigns for Congress and governor...

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Seeing a sheriff’s real challenges through fiction

Just what does a North Carolina sheriff do these days? Retired District Court Judge Stanley Peele, writing about Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood, says that the concept of law enforcement officers has changed from “authority, power and prestige” to one of problem solving. Peele quotes Sheriff Blackwood, “When people are in distress, when they have gone sideways, they look to the police to solve their problems. Police are people and people are police.” Blackwood recently explained to me his efforts to encourage his deputies and other staff to emphasize their service responsibility and to avoid being heavy handed when...

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His most hopeful book, says Ron Rash

Ron Rash, Western Carolina professor and author of five previous novels including “Serena,” captures his beloved North Carolina mountains at their best. And their worst. In his new book, “Above the Waterfall,” his main characters, though possessing overwhelmingly positive qualities, have flaws that complicate our admiration for them. For instance, there are two narrators. One, Les, is a respected and effective sheriff. However, he takes small but regular payoffs from the local marijuana growers. The other, Becky, is a park ranger, whose love of nature and service is clouded by psychological damage that occurred when she was a child...

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