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D.G. Martin

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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Not over until it’s over

Are the legislators really going home soon? Finally! Over the weekend at the UNC-Chapel Hill vs. N.C. A&T football game, House Speaker Tim Moore was all smiles as he confirmed news reports that legislative leaders had struck a budget deal that could lead to passage of a state budget this week. Getting a two-year budget for the period that began July 1 is the one thing that the legislature has to do before it goes home. Once the budget passes and is signed by the governor, everything else can wait until next year. At least theoretically. Actually, there are...

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A baptism stirs memories, 135 years afterwards

When would a baptism in a small church in Wilmington be so important that it gets reported in the newspapers? It happened in 1880 at Fifth Street Methodist Church and again at the same church 135 years later on August 30, 2015. Here is the report from the November 7, 1880, Wilmington Star announcing an event that would ultimately change the course of Chinese history: “Fifth Street Methodist Church: This morning the ordinance of Baptism will be administered at this church. A Chinese convert will be one of the subjects of the solemn right [sic], being probably the first...

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Eating with the locals near the water

How do you find a home cooking restaurant that is both near an interstate highway and on or near the water? It is not easy. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about one of them, Holland’s Shelter Creek Restaurant near I-40 and adjoining a tributary of the Northeast Cape Fear River near Wilmington. There are lots of other great restaurants along our Outer Banks, Crystal coasts, and other coastlines, but, except for I-40, none of the state’s interstates passes near our coastline. This means that interstate travelers looking for a local eatery near the water are out of...

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Trump, Romney, and Terry Sanford

How did Donald Trump make Mitt Romney president in 2016? That is the question some pundits could be asking each other next November when they try to figure out how the president-elect, who had taken himself out of consideration for the Republican nomination in early 2015, became a winner. What will be the answer to that question? It could go something like this:  Romney still wanted to be president when he dropped out. But he was smart enough to know that many Republicans viewed him as damaged goods, a loser, and outdated. He saw many of his 2012 supporters...

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“Little Rivers” meets “Interstate Eateries”

How is Bland Simpson’s upcoming book, “Little Rivers and Waterway Tales: A Carolinian’s Eastern Streams,” helping me write my book about local eateries near interstate highways? I will tell you in a minute. But first a few words about the author and his book, which comes out next month. The multi-talented Simpson is a professor of writing at UNC-Chapel Hill, a long-time performer and songwriter for the Red Clay Ramblers, and a prolific author of fiction, coastal memoirs, and what he calls “non-fiction novels.” In earlier work he combined his memories and story-telling gifts with the experience and knowledge...

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