D.G. Martin

One on One: Galifianakis – Nick or Zach?

Did you ever feel so let down after an election? Many North Carolina Democrats have been asking each other this question every day since they learned the results of the latest presidential election. Some old timers remember other times when they felt like they had been hit in the stomach by disappointing election results. There are still people around who remember the way they felt after the primary election in 1950 when the legendary progressive, former university and incumbent U.S. Senator Frank Graham lost his bid to keep his office. Others will tell you the empty feeling they felt...

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One on One: Books for New Year’s Reading

So, have you got something about reading more books on your list of New Year’s resolutions? If so, I have some help. Four different books, at least one of which will be right for you. A best-selling inspirational cookbook-memoir by North Carolina’s most celebrated woman these days. A novel set in contemporary times about a half-human, half-bull creature who tries to make his way as a blue-collar worker. A look back at the racial turmoil of the 1960s through the poignant experience of one of North Carolina’s greatest basketball stars, and a literary novel about a troubled marriage that...

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One on One: Keep Calm and Carry On

What can Democrats look for Santa Claus to bring them this year? It has been a bleak holiday season so far. So maybe Santa could bring them something more than just lumps of coal that have already made their way into their stockings hung by their fireplaces with care. Lumps of coal like Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory, the Republicans’ retention of control in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and the N. C. Republican Party’s preservation of veto-proof control in the state legislature. Last week Republicans even turned Democrat Roy Cooper’s victory in the governor’s race from...

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One on One: Facing Lobotomy and Other Stories

When the actions of a mentally challenged teenaged boy begin to frighten other children and alarm their parents, what should be done? By the boy’s family? By the state? Is it time to institutionalize the boy? Are there medical procedures that can eliminate his offensive and dangerous conduct? These questions and these situations can tear families and communities apart. Award-winning poet and novelist Elizabeth Cox, formerly at Duke and more recently at Wofford College, deals with such challenges in her latest novel, “A Question of Mercy.” Set in the North Carolina of the early 1950s, we learn the family’s...

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One on One: Our most important lawyer

The most important lawyer in modern North Carolina history finally has a biography. This week UNC Press is releasing “Julius Chambers: A Life in the Legal Struggle for Civil Rights” by Richard A. Rosen and Joseph Mosnier. If you do not agree with my assertion about the importance of Chambers, read the book, and then we will talk. When Chambers died in 2013, I wrote,  “Simply put, Chambers’s work and the work of others he inspired are directly responsible for North Carolina casting off a culture of segregation and repression and replacing it with one of inclusion and opportunity.”...

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One on One: Politics and barbecue, together again

Did North Carolina barbecue help Donald Trump win the presidency? North Carolina’s barbecue guru, John Shelton Reed, has a theory. More about that in a minute, but first let’s celebrate having two books from Reed about barbecue ready for your holiday giving to friends who love to talk about and eat our state’s favorite pork product. Reed’s new book, titled simply “Barbecue,” is a short, but comprehensive, cookbook that sets out in simple steps how to prepare a variety of meat dishes cooked slowly over wood coals. Soon after publishing “Barbecue,” UNC Press reissued in paperback “Holy Smoke: The...

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One on One: “Bad Girls at Samarcand”

If you asked almost anybody in the world to tell you about Samarcand and you got any answer at all, it would be about an ancient city still existing in modern day Uzbekistan. But if you asked a North Carolinian and got an answer, it might be about a reform school for girls, in Moore County, where some inmates in 1931 set fires that destroyed two residential buildings. The girls were charged with arson, then a death penalty crime, and put on trial for their lives. That story was recounted three years ago in  “The Wayward Girls of Samarcand” by Melton McLaurin and Anne Russell. On November 18, at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association in Raleigh, a new book about Samarcand won this year’s Ragan Old North State Award Cup for Nonfiction. Karin L. Zipf, an associate professor of history at East Carolina University, is the author of “Bad Girls at Samarcand: Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory.” Zipf uses the 1931 fire only as a starting point to tell more disturbing stories. She explains, “The Samarcand arson case and investigation served as a turning point in NorthCarolina’s public policy history. This public policy shift, from reform and redemption to classification and parole, represented a new construction of white supremacy, a racism that defined whiteness more narrowly and stripped its privileges from...

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One on One: Trump, Helms, and Democratic unity

Are there silver linings for North Carolina Democrats after Donald Trump’s sweep in our state on his road to victory in the presidential election? The apparent victory of Roy Cooper for governor, of course, if it holds, could provide Cooper the opportunity to serve the state and to keep Democrats involved in state government. Josh Stein as attorney general and Mike Morgan on the state supreme court are important victories with more than a little silver in the linings. But these are exceptions in a barrel full of disappointments. Hillary Clinton and Deborah Ross, after well-funded and vigorous campaigns fell well short. Two long serving members of the Council of State, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, lost in close races. No incumbent Republicans lost. Republicans also maintained their solid, veto-proof majorities in the General Assembly. But Democrats should take heart. The election returns show that North Carolina remains a purple state, one that is competitive for both parties in statewide elections if they can nominate and finance appealing candidates. And, if they can find something to unify them. The Republicans found that unifying something this year. It was not Donald Trump. Divided on policy and support for their presidential candidate, they united in their dislike of their opponent, Hillary Clinton. “I am not voting for Trump,” my Republican friends told me over and...

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One on One: One Campaign’s Happy Ending

By the time you read this, the election will be over. Some will be licking wounds, others celebrating. While the candidates have been appearing in every corner of our state, I have been traveling, too. I spent October on a non-political tour, campaigning to help bookstores sell my new book, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints.” Thanks to those booksellers and many of you, the book is selling well. It made the Southern Pines Pilot’s weekly Sandhills Best-Seller List for most of the past two months, three weeks as No. 1 in the Paperback Non-fiction category. On the road, I have learned a lot more about other people’s favorite eating-places. People like to talk about food and the restaurants they visit when they are traveling. One question I got at every stop is this: “Have you got Meadow in your book?” People love this buffet restaurant on I-40 (Exit 334) near its intersection with I-95, not far from Benson. Because there are no signs to show the way, some folks think that Meadow is their personal secret stopping place on the way to the beach. They can regale you with descriptions of Meadow’s meats, vegetables in great abundance, and its unbelievable assortment of pies and cakes, all for one modest price. I found out new stories about eateries I included in...

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