Our American Free Enterprise System

[Rooting through that box from the liquor store where I toss my writings and doodles, I found a bunch of cartoon sketches from 30 years ago.]

This one, called Understanding Our American Free Enterprise System, has a guy at a chalk board pointing out the larger size of a normal mouse brain compared to the way smaller mouse brain invented by a guy named Herman Stienway. The caption says Herman Stienway couldn’t build a better mouse trap so he built a stupider mouse.
— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

Jonesville History: De Soto

Taking a lesson from the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu, I’ve been gathering intel on my surroundings—most recently Jonesville history. Get this: Hernando De Soto strolled through here in 1540.

That’s right. It’s believed that Spanish explorer/conquistador Hernando de Soto passed through the Jonesville area in 1540 while leading the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States. He was the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River.

Here’s an excerpt from information gleaned from the Internet…

“…on Monday, the seventeenth of that month, they (with De Soto) departed from there and spent the night in a forest (near Jonesville); and on Tuesday they went to Guaquili (Spartanburg), and the Indians came forth in peace and gave them corn, although little, and many hens roasted on barbacao, and a few little dogs, which are good food. These are little dogs that do not bark (opossum?), and they rear them in the houses in order to eat them. They also gave them tamemes, which are Indians who carry burdens. And on the following Wednesday they went to a canebrake (Inman), and on Thursday to a small savanna (Landrum) where a horse died (probably of starvation); and some foot soldiers of (Captain) Gallegos arrived, making known to the Governor that he was approaching.”

Perhaps they slept in my back pasture, the one called “The Bottoms.” Who knows what all they did back there: Bonfires, howling late into the night, taking pot shots at the moon.

Just like me.

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Jonesville History: Peg Leg Jackson

Here’s another Jonesville History lesson related to music…

[Stolen from Wikipedia…]

Born here in Jonesville, South Carolina, Arthur Jackson, known as Peg Leg Sam (December 18, 1911 – October 27, 1977) was an American country blues harmonicist, singer and comedian. He recorded “Fox Chase” and “John Henry” and worked in medicine shows.[1] He gained his nickname following an accident whilst hoboing in 1930.

Peg Leg Sam taught himself to play harmonica as a small child. He left home at the age of 12 and never stopped roving. He shined shoes, worked as a houseboy, cooked on ships, hoboed, and then made a living busking on street corners. He lost his leg in 1930,[4] trying to hop a train but made a peg out of a fencepost, bound it to his stub with a leather belt and kept moving.

He joined the medicine show circuit in 1937, often performing with Pink Anderson—from whom Pink Floyd got its names. His ability to play two harmonicas at once (while one went in and out of his mouth) made him an attraction; he could also play notes on a harmonica with his nose.

Two of my neighbors in Jonesville, wonderful old fellows well into their nineties, recall fishing with Arthur as boys and running into him later, in Chicago, on their way to WWII while Arthur was traveling. They’ve shared some great stories about their childhood friend and I’ll add them here later.

— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

A Toast To Hardships And Imperfections

[Found this while cleaning out some files on my laptop. Originally dated September 10, 2015]

 

Wanting to explain my surprise and excitement over a batch of wine derived from the Pineapple Hill “test vineyard”, I went looking for something Hemingway had said about trial and error… I ended up at a blog post about kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with seams of gold such that the container is made more beautiful than ever. What a perfect metaphor for where I am, finally, in my life now after having been, for the longest time it seemed, the poster child for “Stuff Happens”.

First, the transition to rural South Carolina from city life wasn’t as easy as planned (more on that another time –I’m writing a book called Blue Rubber Pool). Then, in rapid succession, my dog died, then a good friendship ended, then the recession hit as I was building an unusual house with an already unpredictable construction budget, then I lost my mom and daughter while, also, my dad slipped deeper into dementia. Then some other things happened too. Let’s just say I could write the sorriest country song ever.

All I could do was keep breathing. Keep forging ahead (like a sailboat pressing on, tacking back and forth, sometimes even backtracking and sidestepping, to cross a spot of snotty sky and pissed off sea). And, when I could, to clear my mind, go out to the pathetic little vineyard to tinker with its raggedy grapevines.

What you need to know, here and now, is that I once killed a 27-year-old Bonzai tree after owning it less than two weeks. My thumbs are not green. I do some things very well but other things not well at all. There’s a lot of hit and miss involved. For instance, some of my grapevines died slow horrible strangling deaths due to poor soil conditioning or not enough water. Others went down in the blink of an eye (weed wacker …or lawn tractor). And every year the making of the wine itself got better only enough to give another try next time (it’s amazing how even the seemingly thinnest of screw ups causes vivid red to become rusty brown practically overnight).

If you’ve seen The Replacements, you know what is meant by “quicksand” (the sudden arrival of an inexplicable force that pulls you down in a succession of setbacks). Others might call it a rut. Or bad karma. For me that succession of bad things that happened felt as if I’d walked into a giant sticky spider web and, no matter how hard I tried, couldn’t shake it off. Or like attempting to dislodge a streamer of toilet paper stuck to a shoe exiting an airport restroom.

But this year the grapes were good. Despite the drought, the deer, the weed wacker and all else, they were bigger and tastier and more abundant. And for the first time, a sampling of last year’s juice (between rackings) tasted just fine.

And a bunch of other great things have opened up around me –causing the world to feel like a meadow full of wildflowers again.

I will always miss the people I’ve lost …but I’ve discovered in myself the presence of a new resilience. Or, getting back to kintsukuroi, I’m improved from having been broken.

I’ve labeled this latest batch of wine “Pineapple Hill Blended Catawba Puerto”. Every glass is a toast to hardships and imperfections.

 “The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.”
Ernest Hemingway

Here’s a link to that blog about kintsukuroi

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Notes on Folly Beach South Carolina

Folly Beach, South Carolina, is believed to come from an old English word meaning “clump of trees”

According to legend, six pirates chests were buried between two oak trees on Morris Island and were believed to still be there by the time of the Civil War.

  1. George Gershwin wrote the musical “porgy & bess while staying there, including the line “Summertime, and the living is easy”. And judged a beauty contest

1955 While renting a cottage on Folly, Elmer “Trigger” Burke (the man who killed Joseph “Specs” O’Keefe of the $1.2 million Brinks robbery) was arrested by the FBI at the corner of Erie & Center Street

The first surfers showed up in the 1960s (Pat Thomas).

Palm reading was banned in 1964.

— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

Jonesville History: Horseshoe Robinson

Today’s Jonesville History lesson connects the dots between Pineapple Hill in Jonesville and Morgan Square in downtown Spartanburg.

Morgan Square was once the center of Spartanburg. The first jail, courthouse, businesses and taverns were there (as far back as 1781). Today it includes the original town clock and the 1881 Daniel Morgan monument, from which the square derives its name, but the shopping and restaurant district has expanded far to the east along Main Street.

Daniel Morgan, now the protector of Morgan Square, is considered by some to be one of the most gifted battlefield tacticians of the American Revolutionary War. He’s credited with the British route at the Battle of Cowpens –now a national park, nearby and well worth visiting.

The confrontation at Cowpens was loosely portrayed in The Patriot starring Mel Gibson.

# # #

Mel Gibson’s character in The Patriot was based on South Carolina’s Francis Marion (aka The Swamp Fox”)

# # #

The Upstate had its own “Swamp Fox” hero: “Horseshoe” Robinson.

The book about him is considered a bit more more fiction than fact. But one of its most exciting tales involves Horseshoe Robinson in Jonesville.

According to legend, Horseshoe Robinson was captured by the British and held prisoner in Christies Tavern in Jonesville. The ruins, on private property, are a short walk from Pineapple Hill.

In my opinion, if you have to be held prisoner, a tavern would be an excellent spot for that.

Anyway, our hero Horseshoe managed to escape through a secret trap door and, from there, ride away to many more adventures in that exciting moment of time, place and folklore.

# # #

Horseshoe Robinson was an early ancestor of the Robinsons in Union County and across the Pacolet River in Cherokee County. Crystal is one of these Robinsons.

The family name has also been spelled Robeson and Robison. (It’s spelled two different ways on the same road not far from Pineapple Hill: One end says Robinson Farm Road, the other says Robison Farm Road.

# # #

— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Anejo Tequila (my Austrian nun)

In the pantry this morning I happened to notice a fancy gift bottle of limited edition anejo tequila.  It was hidden behind the cat food. I’d forgotten it was there. It had been given to me by a client in Dubai. We were setting up to promote a new eco-resort in Romania where Uzi-toting bodyguards were necessary and where bribes had been handed out like Mardi Gras beads.

I find it amazing that, when you consider the situation at Pineapple Hill—the vacationing lifestyle in general and some of our freewheeling guests in particular—that bottle of tequila has remained as tightly sealed up as an Austrian nun, escaping every possible threat: from oyster roasts and birthday parties to New Years Eve and visits from Little Brother. Regardless of our mood swings—from full throttle-wide-open gleeful partying to sullen-deep/dark-hung over introspection—it remains virginal.

It has waited and waited and waited while, all around it, a plethora of rum, bourbon, vodka and gin bottles have rotated through like a hysterical mob of disoriented passengers arriving and departing Miami International Airport on the day before Thanksgiving. Its handsome bottle and stylish crystal storage case (“in case of emergency, break glass”) make it nice enough to be on display out in the open next to other special favorite things: a brass ship’s clock, a rare first edition of French-American ornithologist and painter, John James Audubon’s color-plate book The Birds of America, a WWII era mint condition officer-of-the-deck spy glass in its eye-pleasing wooden case, a larger-than-my-fist prehistoric shark’s tooth, a vintage Tiffany sterling silver tea set and flintlock dueling pistols.

Instead, it’s been in a butler’s closet on a shelf beneath the drinking glasses (tumblers, steins, and stemware) across from the canned soup, peaches and broth, canisters of flour, rice and beans, large cereal boxes and little tins of tea, and the aforementioned crunchy fish-flavored cat food morsels kept for Pineapple Hill’s never ending parade of strays.

My thought was to save that tequila for a special occasion—never remotely thinking it would last so long—but now so many have come and gone that I’m not sure what to do. It has crossed that invisible unspecified line that warrants preservation, much like the amazingly large lobster that makes the news now and then, so old it is pardoned and tossed back into the sea.

I don’t mean to cause a big stir about this bottle. I don’t mean to cultivate a death watch as if it were the oldest woman on the planet or the last living ex-president or the only surviving veteran of a war, but it bears mentioning because it’s on my mind today.

It has not been forgotten.

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

If grapes could talk (Labor vs Management)

This morning I found this photo of a handsome overhead arbor for grapevines and wondered if it would have been a better approach than stretching cable as I did at Pineapple Hill. My little  “test ” vineyard gets hit by deer every fall.

In business, hindsight isn’t always, as the saying goes, “20/20”. Sometimes hindsight remains blurry. Other times its way better than 20/20.

Creeping out on gravel, driving Pineapple Hill’s old but sadly not vintage Jaguar this morning, it hit home that if the grapes at Pineapple Hill had feelings, my grapes must be pretty miserable.

If my grapes could talk, there’d be a lot of serious “labor vs management” grumbling out at the strands of cable at night…

Firstly, there is the problem of Management’s lack of experience—not a good thing on its own and even worse when paired with totally unreasonably high expectations.

Management being me. Labor being the grapes.

Management demands that a dry wine grape variety succeed where usually only sweet wine varieties are found.

Management demands grapes that grow in bunches versus the native berry-like muscadine and scuppernong.

Management, of course, doesn’t really understand —and appreciate—what Labor is up against because Management has already moved on—mentally, physically and emotionally—to other matters (i.e., to whatever shiny object has next caught Management’s eye.

Management, in small business settings especially, must often address The World through a multi faceted, prism-like perspective of desires and fears.

Management often feels surrounded by snarling frothing rabid hyenas.

Management is tired. Management rewarded itself with too many sessions on the pool lounger this week and is nursing a sore shoulder. Management rewards itself with pool lounger time  because Management needs stress relief and networking and besides, if you can’t slip out away on a pool lounger, why even be in Management?

It’s true that, on Pineapple Hill, Labor faces awful working conditions and is expected to succeed in blazing hot sun with a minimum of water whilst totally exposed to the threats of Pearce’s disease, fire ants and hungry deer.

But Labor is counter positioned (i.e. “at odds with”) the realities of Management’s goal: (i.e., testing several different grape varieties to see which does best with the least amount of effort or expense).

Management’s attitude is one of water seeking “the course of least resistance” as it runs downhill.

Happy grapes, schmappy grapes.

Consequently, I doubt my grapes include Management in their prayers at night (other than to pray that Management someday “gets a clue” or, sweeter, is replaced by better management).

Labor wants the cables tighter.

Labor doesn’t just require more pruning, the pruning must be strategic if  Labor is to deliver greatest ROI.

More than anything, Labor needs Management to be more careful when leveraging the weed wacker and lawn mower. There’s a been a run of terrible on-the-job accidents lately.

And it doesn’t help matters that Management, despite the carnage, passes by Labor in an air conditioned British import, waving to Labor and smiling, eyes all a twinkle, as if to say “keep up the good work fellas”. No condolences or a promise to do better. Nothing.

If grapes had tempers, mine would be rounding up torches and pitch forks.

# # #

I’m going to run the numbers to see which is cheaper: Spending more to help Labor …or buying sturdier door locks for protection against Killer Grapes.

# # #

Management spends too much time on the porch sipping wine and not enough among the vines growing wine.

# # #

Management does not want to be a prisoner in its own home, constantly fearing retribution from Labor. Utopia, Management realizes now, requires a trip to Lowes for fertilizer, some irrigation hose, and more of those ratchet thingies that tighten cable.

# # #

Management  also realizes it can probably do better than saying “ratchet thingy” –I’m sure the tool, whatever it’s called, has a better name.

Management realizes it must “man up” and take more responsibility—perhaps buy a book on grape growing. Perhaps take a class.

# # #

Management hopes to never again have “clueless” and “Management” used together on Pineapple Hill anymore.

# # #

IF grapes had feelings and could talk, of course.

# # #

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

More on Pirates: FYI

  • The great or classic era of piracy in the Caribbean extends from around 1560 up until the mid 1720s. The period during which pirates were most successful was from 1700 until the 1730s.
  • The term buccaneer is now used generally as a synonym for pirate. Originally, buccaneer crews were larger, more apt to attack coastal cities, and more localized to the Caribbean than later pirate crews who sailed to the Indian Ocean on the Pirate Round in the late 17th century.
  • From this became derived in French the word boucane and hence the name boucanier for French hunters who used such frames to smoke meat from feral cattle and pigs on Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).[2] English colonists anglicised the word boucanier to buccaneer.
  • Although a few historians have claimed, with no evidence, that homosexuality was universal among the buccaneers, it is recognized by most that matelots shared women as well as their chattels, and that buccaneers were frequent and enthusiastic patrons of female prostitutes. It is nevertheless agreed that a substantial minority of buccaneer matelots were likely homosexual.[8]
  • When buccaneers raided towns, they did not sail into port and bombard the defenses, as naval forces typically did. Instead, they secretly beached their ships out of sight of their target, marched overland, and attacked the towns from the landward side, which was usually less fortified. Their raids relied mainly on surprise and speed.

[These facts were stolen from one or more places. That’s what pirates do.]
— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple HIll

Union County. Get Smart.

Union County, South Carolina, reminds me of Get Smart, the 1960s spy parody television series starring Don Adams.

Remember?.

Each episode opened with Agent Maxwell Smart (aka Agent 86 …”Max”) walking a long narrow hallway through a series of strange doors. One door opens to reveal a stairway. Another, fake prison bars, opens to reveal a simple telephone booth. And the booth, it turns out, is a trap door through which Max drops down into the secret headquarters of his spy agency.

Union County, where Pineapple Hill is in South Carolina, does the same thing …metaphorically.

It has secret entrances only the natives know about. Long winding roads that disappear into trees. You quickly vanish as far as the rest of the world is concerned.

After woods, you follow the path to a lovely meadow at which point the sky opens up on a bright blue sunny day.

All of a sudden you feel safe and at home. This land is for getting away, keeping the rest of the world and its unnecessary chaos at arm’s length. For some, at barrel’s length.

It’s the opposite of malls, movie theaters, crowded sidewalks and traffic jams. I came here because a woman made me. But most are here by choice and would have it no other way.

I get it now.

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Funny sailing video from Irish Sailing Olympics

Tacking to and fro across YouTube for just a minute and just for “kicks” I found this funny sailing video from the Irish Sailing Olympics. The commentator is clueless. The more he yammers on, the more befuddled he gets.

It’s here to wish you a wonderful day. At least compared to his.

 [Warning: some profanity in this one.]

Be sure to watch the end (which is really just the beginning).

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple HIll