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Not being a warrior or a politician, there is only one way I can traverse each day and manage to find goodness and meaning in life.

The weapons and magic wands that I employ are my best defense against the purposeful meanness and fear promulgated by some of our highest-profile powermongers. 

As I scour the landscape, searching for good people who spend their time doing good things on behalf of others, I am thrilled at the amount of meaningful work that is going on in our fragile world.

Each day, I meet people who turn their anger into inspirational art, loving poetry, positive storytelling.

Each day, I meet people who refuse to bow to the mean-spirited rhetoric so easily accessed via overly-connected, overwhelmingly negative deconstructive pundits.

Each day, I find someone else who is learning to derail the fear train stoked by half the populace.

Each day, I find good people doing good things for good causes.

Each day, I run across those who do not exploit or denigrate the weak.

Each day I encounter gentle people quietly dodging the ranting bullets and missiles that feed the dormant despair in us, who raise us up with sunshine and hope-filled attitude, who replace hopelessness with helpful action.

Each day, I search for and discover that there are good people doing good things in a world that is filled with goodness, the goodness that simply awaits our attention.

Pardon my repetitiveness, but it is repetitiveness that tamps down the waves of illogic and horror-prattling all about us.

If the Negatories can constantly loop and repeat their rants, then we, the members of the Loyal Resistance, can double down and restate our kindly actions and soothing hopefulness till somebody begins to listen and take heed.

All it takes to counter the horrors is our constant refusal to bend or break.

All it takes is for us to re-state each and every untruth in a calm and positive way…and never, never stop.

Are we up to it, or shall we hide and hope it all blows over?

This is a conflict that is as old as our species. What’s amazing to consider is the fact that despite the whelming odds, some percentage of Loyal Resisters have quietly survived all these eons.

We’re still here. Our implacable optimism must be demonstrated and exercised lest it wilt away

(c) Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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There are these skirted chairs around our dining room table, and it’s one of these I’m sitting on right now, only this chair is comfortable in just a couple of ways: the top part of the backrest is firm and soft and cozy, but the bottom part of the backrest is mushier than my spinal base can accommodate, so I’m slanting rather forward. In addition to this, the seat part of the chair is nicely firm and soft, but if I don’t get a pillow from the sofa and brace my lower back with it, I can’t sit here for long.

Let me get it positioned now. Ah! That is better! Now, I can write for a while in this nice orthopaedically-disciplined seat and ponder THE MYSTERIES OF CHAIRS.

Here goes:

Chairs from heaven, chairs from hell,

Chairs that make you feel just swell

Chairs that maim your rear and spine

Chairs that make you want to whine

Chairs that get you all aroused

Chairs that make you feel quite soused

Chairs that push you back too far

Chairs that give your skin a scar

Chairs that pull and hold you close

Chairs that rock and roll the most

Chairs too beautiful to sketch

Chairs with little room to stretch

Chairs that squeeze you till you’re dry

Chairs that want to pinch your thigh

Chairs that creak and moan and groan

Chairs that swallow up your phone

Chairs that suck loose change away

Chairs that lean too much and sway

Chairs so high your feet just swing

Chairs that make you want to sing

Chairs so low your bottom scrapes

Chairs with covers matching drapes

Chairs that make your fanny stick

Chairs that wear your trousers slick

Chairs from heaven, chairs from hell

Chairs bought from a ne’er-do-well

Chairs most comfy and divine

Chairs that almost cross the line

Chairs that make your thighs get creased

Chairs whose springs need lots of grease

Chairs to smooch on–I’ll not tell!

Chairs that dance a bagatelle

Chairs you stand on–grab the sky!

Chairs to hide from lest they cry

Chairs you flop in when you’re tired

Chairs you doze in when you’re wired

Chairs that make you sit up straight

Chairs too rickety to hate

Chairs that tip you when you lean

Chairs that envy and turn green

Chairs that just won’t budge an inch

Chairs that may give you a pinch

Chairs with seatbelts keep you safe

Chairs with three legs make you chafe

Chairs that scuff you on the shin

Chairs that kinda make you grin

Chairs that vibrate, chairs that shake

Chairs that really take the cake

Chairs from heaven, chairs from hell

Make me comfy! Make me well

(c) Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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You don’t know a person really well until you’ve spent a few minutes riding around in that person’s time machine.

You might not want to know me well, but what’s the harm in peeking into the past with me for three minutes? Here, pretend I’m your guide and Uber driver. Take my hand and let me usher you to your seat inside a long-ago long-gone movie theatre in Downtown Tuscaloosa:

The Ritz Theatre: Stale and musty and smelly and run-down and ramshackle and the most exciting place to be in Tuscaloosa of a Saturday morning.

We’re talking late 1940’s, early 1950’s, my fellow traveller. We are back there now, so sit a spell with me and my buddy, Bo Riley. Bo and I just got off the bus and paid our way past the box office and into the balcony.

Now, Bo Riley looks like Huckleberry Finn-—straw hair, freckles, lean and lank, and thoroughly outdoorsy. His greatest talent is being able to spit between his two front teeth without unclinching. Me, I am more Tom Sawyerish, short, timid but conniving, and thoroughly in love with movies and cartoons. My main talent is observing and taking notes.

Back in these yesterdays, there is no television in our neighborhood, so the only
non-book visual stimulation to be had is on the big pockmarked silver screen at the Ritz-—you know, the picture show place right next door to the seedy pool hall (we are forbidden to go there) and H&W Drugs (where you can get the best chicken salad sandwich in the universe).

The Ritz is on the Wrong Side of the Street. Just across main street is the elegant Bama Theatre, a miniature facsimile of Birmingham’s Alabama
Theatre. We go to the Bama with our parents to see family movies, but our parentless Saturday morning lust for laughs and action takes us straight to the Ritz.

Every Saturday, there is a double-feature-—say a Roy Rogers western, a Lash LaRue western, a Superman serial installment, and two animated cartoon features, not to mention a live-action “short” by Pete Smith or the Three Stooges, plus lots of teasing trailers promoting upcoming movies.

All this for the price of one ticket—and back in these days you are allowed to sit through everything twice without being thrown out.

I love all these dreamlike adventures where you can pretend to be braver and stronger and wiser than you will ever be in real life. But I guess the most fun is the animated cartoons, starring Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Mickey Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Tom and Jerry, Tweety Pie and Sylvester, Goofy…but, mainly, Bugs Bunny.

Bugs Bunny is bigger and better and funnier than all the other cartoon stars put together.

Bugs Bunny is my hero.

You see, Bugs Bunny knows how to get out of a tough situation by using his wits and his wisecracking mouth, just like another cartoon character, Brer Rabbit. I secretly think that maybe Bugs and Brer are cousins, since nothing can defeat them.

Anyhow, I model myself after Bugs—to deflect the dense bullies who stalk kids like me, I usually say something that makes them roll over laughing, thus forgetting to beat me up. Meanwhile, I disappear before they can come to their senses.

One thing I can do well is run for my life!

My smart-mouth approach to life follows me up till now, often getting me into trouble, sometimes getting me out of trouble, at times making me misunderstood-—not everybody has a sense of humor, so I’ve learned to keep my trap shut now and then.

But my memories of the menacing Elmer Fudd, devoted to the idea of  wabbit stew, persist. Elmer is always wanting chaos. Bugs is always wanting to be let alone, left alone. And, unlike me, Bugs always wins.

Down all the years, I fondly recall the antics of Bugs and Elmer. Elmer still stalks Bugs with his dreams of wabbit stew. Bugs artfully dodges Elmer and imprints himself on the memories of all bully-dodgers like me.

And I try each and every day not to become just another elderly Elmer Fuddy-Duddy chasing windmills and wabbits


(c) Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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Saturday morning. Snow and ice abound. I clamber aboard my iced vehicle and carefully, CAREFULLY make my way through Southside, sailing to work at the whim of nature and chance.

I actually arrive at the bookshop Downtown, unscathed, un-snowbound, the only denizen in sight, the sole survivor of a species huddling indoors.

I stoke the furnace, say g’day to the books and facsimile Santas, and begin my workday.

Yes, there are booklovers out there for whom snow and ice are mere challenges, not barriers. A few trickle in, have enjoyable browses, make their purchases and continue their explorations of a winter day of sunshine and slippery.

As I prepare to close the shop at closing time, I recall a day long, long ago, when I was a mere tad experiencing my first and best snowfall.

Here’s an entry from my Red Clay Diary:


One day when I was seven years old, the world got all cleaned up and everything got a chance to start all over again.

Overnight, the multi-textured earth became one smooth, soft, icy texture, the world of colors and hues became one wonderful multi-shaded land of whites and off-whites and cream-whites and shadowed whites and faintly pinkish whites.

The world overnight cleansed the landscape and allowed clapping children to remold everything in their own images.

Snowmen and snowwomen appeared quickly, playing guardian to our delight. Makeshift sleds materialized mysteriously out of old siding, ragged boards, large tubs and pans.

Footprints showed us who had been where and from where and where to, leaving traces of their makers—something that could never happen during ordinary times.

Mother took the whitened landscape that our Father had gathered from the yard and shrubbery and, waving her large magic wand of a serving-spoon, created the sweetest, sloshiest ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

Large multilayered men came outside to pretend they were younger in the deepening creamy banks, and little stuffed-slug kids meandered about in pelts made of nylon and dacron and cotton and leather.

Though we could barely make out each others’ faces under all those makeshift scarves, we recognized everybody instantly, because they were our transmogrified neighbors and playmates running amok upon the unfamiliar terra-infirma.

All human routine was suspended, and during that 24-hour period so many years ago, nobody seemed to hold a job, nobody had homework to do, nobody had to be anywhere else but right there on our block on Eastwood Avenue right down from McArthur Avenue and Patton Avenue and 15th Street.

Some celestial force had taken over our little village for a day and, like Brigadoon, it would not repeat itself in our lifetimes but would save itself for the next hundred-year generation that needed a quick and gentle cleansing so that the next day, when all was back to normal texture normal color normal temperature normal firma, everybody who had experienced this whiter-than-white washing of the spirit would have a memory to cherish in old age, a memory of things being just right and just magical and just totally real all at the same time 

(c) Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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“This is a book store?” the new customer asks in surprise.

“I was just looking at the doodads,” she’s referring to all the collectible and cherished items scattered about to keep the books company.

She pauses thoughtfully, “Well, it’s good to know you have books, in case we ever need one.”

Her husband responds when I ask him what his kids are reading these days, “Well, they don’t read. Except on their phones.”

It’s New Year’s Eve at Reed Books and the Museum of Fond Memories. Lots of browsers are combing the aisles and examining my foster children, the books. Some shoppers are just along for the ride with family and friends, some are here to dive into other worlds, other times, other lives through the page by page surprises awaiting them.

Some shoppers don’t get why anybody would read a book. Others cannot imagine living without a plethora of reading matter…because, well, reading Matters to them.

I cherish customers who have fallen in love with reading. I cherish those who are beginning a flirtation with literature. I cherish readers who are returning to reading after years of distraction, decades of losing their way. I even cherish this rural husband and wife who do not read at all. I hope they have found something as thrilling and mind-boggling as reading, to while away their years. I can hope, can’t I?

I am beginning my 37th year as curator/owner/founder/janitor of Reed Books. I operate this lovely business out of sheer hope, sheer enthusiasm, sheer refusal to imagine a world that does not know what true love of reading is like.

To paraphrase Henry Standing Bear, It’s another beautiful day at Reed Books’ continual soiree. Come on down and drink deep of the Pierian Spring.

Convince me that you might be the visitor who just found out that you could use a book.

And tell me where else in the world  such characters as Alexander Pope and Henry Standing Bear would hang out and find excitement in just rubbing elbows with literati and illiterati with such ease


© 2017 A.D. by Jim Reed

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