I came to a realization of sorts this weekend. Last Thursday, I went with my son and his family to watch the University of North Carolina basketball team practice for their upcoming tournament games in the Charlotte arena. I was amazed at the genuine fun and joy that team’s players and coaches and former players shared with us that day. I think I knew, at that point, that this team’s value goes far beyond wins and losses.

Tonight’s loss verified that.

Carolina lost tonight’s tournament game by over twenty points at a time when they were only five wins away from winning another National Championship. In the later stages of that loss, I watched and saw the team’s two seniors. I also saw those kids’ head coach.

One of the seniors, Theo Pinson, seemed to become a bit emotional while still on the court with minutes to play.

The other senior, Joel Berry, seemed to rely on his strength to hold it all inside. But you could tell what he was thinking.

Then I saw Coach Roy! On the bench. I swear, I think the man was close to tears.

And I am convinced the apparent and hidden emotions had nothing at all to do with the loss. It had everything to do with saying goodbye to Theo and Joel. I think that crushed Coach Roy. I am sure Theo doesn’t like goodbyes. And, Joel? He’s a strong man. But I am sure he felt the same as coach and Theo.

After watching these guys practice and clown around and smile and laugh with each other. After watching the emotions of the seniors and their coach during the final game of the seniors, well – I have to say this. Heart and love overcome all!

Tonight, we won the National Championship.

And – Woody!

He knows this, too!



(The original was written and posted about eight years ago, during football season.  Well, this is hoops time!  My revisions pretty much only deleted references to that strange oblong leather ball!)
It seems I have had a request from a friend of mine, Robin, to post a special “Beat Dook Lunar Report.”  So – Here ya go, Robin! Some Dook stuff with a personal touch.

Note to my Florida friends: This weekend will not compare with a drunken Gator-Bulldog affair, but Dook is the major rival of the University of North Carolina. The game is this Thursday.

Just a couple of side bars here. When my brother was a toddler, he lived with my parents in Victory Village, the married student housing on the UNC campus at the time. Word has it that his first words were, “Beat Dook.”

Granddaddy Mangum and Dickie

 Two days after my son was born, the wife and I drove him through the UNC campus and past the Dean Dome. We told him that if he decided to attend NC State, we would disown him. But that if he chose Dook, we would shoot him.

Dean Dome!!

Now to the meat of all this. The UNC-Dook rivalry actually began way before either school had a basketball team. It began with a major dispute that involved land and bastard children between the Duke family and my family, the Mangums. (My Mom is a Mangum.) There are details in an article written in the Raleigh News and Observer about 23 years ago. The entire article is below.

Mangum Dormitory

At any rate, the Duke family money went to Trinity College (now Duke University), and the Mangum money went to UNC. And the rivalry began. And it all started with MY family and that miserable Duke family.

One more thing. As they say around here, “Go to hell, Dook!”


The News & Observer (includes Chapel Hill News) (Raleigh, NC)

The News & ObserverMarch 5, 1994

The UNC-Duke rivalry’s hidden side.  Leading families feuded for years
Edition: FINALSection: NEWSPage: B1Index
Terms:UNC-CH; Duke;

Washington Duke, Willie P. Mangum HISTORY

Article Text:

It happened long ago, in the year 1794, but just as lustful folks are prone to do these days, Taylor Duke ignored the risks and seduced a local gal by the name of Chaney Mangum.  Duke, a weather-beaten Orange County farmer, figured nobody would learn about the indiscretion, least of all his wife. But when Mangum bore his bastard son nine months later, it blew his cover.

It also ignited one of the most enduring blood feuds ever seen in these parts.  The Dukes, for whom the university is named, and the Mangums, some of the University of North Carolina’s biggest benefactors, have been at loggerheads ever since, with the vendetta spreading to the worlds of business and politics.  And more recently, basketball.  

Tonight, the feud resumes in all its glory when the UNC Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils take the court in Durham.  The winner not only will claim basketball supremacy, but will momentarily gain the upper hand in a family feud that has boiled for 200 years.  

Both clans are rooted in the rural villages of Red Mountain and Bahama, in what is now northern Durham County.  On the surface, the backgrounds are similar.  Both families grew tobacco.  Both thrived in business and influenced politics.But family members, particularly during the 19th century, shuddered at the thought that the Dukes or Mangums had anything in common.   Over the years, they’ve battled over politics, competed for higher social standing and, on occasion, lusted after one another.  

William Preston Mangum II, a family historian, says the two sides don’t fuss as viciously as, say, the gunslinging Hatfields and McCoys.   But they don’t exactly get together for Sunday dinner either.”  I don’t want to say hatred, but underlying these two families is a desire to get the better of each other,” he said in a recent interview at, appropriately, the Washington Duke Inn in Durham.   “There definitely are ill feelings.”

Especially noteworthy is how the families took their rivalry to the rarefied arena of higher education.  The Dukes nurtured fledgling Trinity College in Durham, pumping so much tobacco money into the school that its trustees renamed it Duke University in 1929.  Less publicized is how the Mangums directed their generosity to the state university nine miles away in Chapel Hill.  The Mangums were crucial in helping the university survive its first century.   Willie P. Mangum served on the board of trustees for 43 years.   Adolphus Mangum, a professor, helped reopen the school after the Civil War.   Charles Staples Mangum founded the UNC School of Public Health.   Countless other Mangums graduated from UNC.   A dormitory and several academic awards are named after the family.

The campus connection is where the basketball game fits in.  Both teams have jockeyed all season for the country’s top ranking.   Between them, they’ve won the last three national championships and are two of the most successful programs of all time.  All told, it’s one of the most deep-seated and unforgiving rivalries in the nation.

Taylor Duke couldn’t have known at the time that his amorous urges would cause such a long-lasting fuss.   All he knew was that a comely maiden, Chaney Mangum, had caught his eye.  As can happen when such desires manifest themselves, Chaney Mangum bore a son.   At first, the father’s identity was kept quiet and the adulterous Duke was spared any public shame.   But the secret didn’t last long.  The couple had difficulty containing their affection.   One thing led to another, and the still-unmarried Chaney Mangum had another child.  This time, the Mangums identified Duke as the suspected father in both cases.  Angered by his cavalier attitude, they took him to court and forced him to pay $5 a year in child support.   The judgment was no small debt for the prolific Duke, who had 10 other children.

In the 1800s, the feud extended beyond the bedroom and into the! politic al realm.   For a time, the Mangums reigned supreme, although the Dukes did their best to discredit their neighbors.  Willie P. Mangum was the most famous of the bunch.   An 1815 UNC graduate, he served 23 years in Congress.   He was also a founder of the Whig party and ran for president in 1836.   He carried South Carolina in the election, but not his home state — thanks to opposition from people like the Dukes.  The Dukes were fervent Democratic Republicans and were vocal about it, something that caused Willie Mangum no small amount of consternation.

In the 1830s, a supporter wrote Mangum in Washington to report on the political troublemakers back home.   The writer singled out the Dukes, calling them, with uncanny foresight, part of “a Devilish clan.”  The Mangums weren’t above making fun of the Dukes, either.   One 19th century Mangum noted in his will that he owned a horse named Duke.

After the Civil War, the families’ fortunes changed. The Mangums, part of the Old South’s aristocracy, lost virtually everything. The Dukes, on the other hand, made the most of Reconstruction, thanks to tobacco.  Washington Duke, a legitimate son of Taylor Duke, raised bright leaf tobacco and entered the manufacturing side of the business.   Soon he and his three sons had created a fabulously profitable enterprise.  

Suddenly flush with money, the Dukes didn’t hesitate to throw their weight around.  In 1881, for example, residents of eastern Orange County wanted to split off and form a new county.   The leading proposal was to name it after Willie P. Mangum, the former lawmaker.  But Washington Duke nixed the idea.   He vowed to yank the Dukes’ considerable assets from the area if he had to live in Mangum County.   The threat worked: The jurisdiction became known as Durham County.  

The mostly forgotten conflict is detailed in Willie Mangum’s papers, stored at the Southern Histo! rical Collection in Chapel Hill.  “A lot of people have never heard that before,” says William Preston Mangum, the family historian. “But it’s a true story.”

After two centuries, the feud has cooled somewhat, no longer colored by nasty court battles or political fights.   But the two families remain ever loyal to their respective schools.   The Duke kids still go to their university.   And virtually all the Mangums go to UNC.  The bumper sticker on William P. Mangum’s Oldsmobile reveals as much: “Tar Heel by birth, Carolinian by the grace of God.”

Copyright 1994 by The News & Observer Pub. Co.Record Number: RNOB172307



Christmas is such a wonderful time of joy. Of life. Of promise. Of God given love.

But fears and regrets and fears of possible future regrets seem to dominate this joyous season. I see it every day in other folks. And I feel it most days around this time of year.

I should be writing about happy things right now. I really should. But this is intended for folks like me. Folks who feel anxious and regretful at this time of year.

I will be honest here. I have been in a real sort of funk lately. Part of me wants to engage in the season. But a major part of me wants to just fall asleep until I awaken on January 2. For me, this seems to happen every year at this time.

I have very fond memories of waking up as a child to find that Santa left for me a red Rollfast. Or a basketball. A baseball glove. Or a watch or underwear!

My favorite gift may have been the belt my brother hung on the tree for me one year. He didn’t even wrap it. I hope he does not regret the delivery of that gift. It’s definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories.

I also have memories of my mom and her incredibly stressful moments. Like most moms back then, all she wanted was a Norman Rockwell kind of real life image on Christmas day. Like most moms, she never really achieved that goal.

I don’t know. Maybe the same pressure my mom felt all those years ago is the same pressure that drags many of us down.

I was never a Rockwell guy, but I do remember being extremely diligent, regardless of my anxiety, in trying to find or create the perfect gifts for my young son. I failed miserably. And the regrets are abundant. Thank God my son’s mom was more diligent!

This morning, I saw one of my grandsons, his brother and mom. That simple and innocent engagement brought me back from the doldrums. There were no gifts exchanged. Just hugs and smiles and laughs and the God driven words, “I love you.”

Maybe others feel the same as me. Maybe the regrets and fears of future ones hamper us all. But God has sort of lead me down a path that makes me less anxious for January 2 these days. It’s become a tradition for me.

Every Christmas Eve, for almost a decade, I have visited a Walgreens or Dollar General and bought simple gifts that my grandchildren might enjoy. Then I find, as I have for decades, a local bar, have two drinks, toast my dad and mom, and thank God for the opportunity to share just a few moments with a bartender I don’t even know.

And my grandchildren? They love the stupid ten-dollar gifts from Walgreens and Dollar General.

Their responses show me the joy and promise of life.

And their God given love, on every Christmas morning, replaces all of my fears and regrets.

All of them.

Merry Christmas, y’all! And cheers!


Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. But I will be honest with you.  Today I really didn’t much feel like driving the thirty minutes to my son’s house to spend just a few hours with him, his wife, their children and her family.

But I did. And the trip validated my thankful list.

Big time.

We all are or should be extremely thankful for many things. Not just on this holiday, but every day. This past week, I have tried to mentally compose a list of all the things for which I do and need to thank God.

It’s an impossible task that always seems to frustrate me.

This afternoon, when I arrived at my son’s house and after doing our usual handshake and hug, my son kind of laid down the law on things. He said something like, “Look, you can only have one serving of food today. No seconds.”

That stunned me a bit, and I wondered why. My first thought was that maybe he and his wife couldn’t afford to feed us all, and yet his wife, just the day before, turned down my offer to bring something. I was confused a bit. But, whatever was going on, I thought to myself, “Well, hell. I don’t eat that damned much anyway!”

Then my son said, “Of course, you don’t eat that much anyway.” After we both arrived at one of the same conclusions, I realized there were some uncertain ones as well. Then he explained things.

Late on the night before Thanksgiving, my son met a homeless man while doing some Uber driving in Charlotte. He promised the man that he would bring some of our Thanksgiving food to him and his homeless friends.

As I was preparing to leave and go home, my son was preparing plates of foil wrapped Thanksgiving food to drive to Charlotte. Shortly after I left, he and his wife left as well. To share some damned good food with some folks who really needed it.

Look, it is difficult to compose a “thankful list” of all of the wonderful things God and others have given us. But, damn! My son and his wife, on this very Thanksgiving day, solidified the number one and number two spots on that list. Of that I am sure.

I am also suddenly and totally aware of the number three thankful item on that list.

That God removed me from my easy chair and delivered me to witness, in person, my number one and two.

Thank you, God.

Thank you, son and daughter.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “DIVISION” November 5, 2017

Less than 24 hours after my son and I had a rather heated discussion about the many divisions in our country right now, the Texas church killings happened. The heat happened last night when I somehow allowed a sort of “political nerve” to be triggered. All day long, I had been regretting that nerve allowance. Later today, the reasons that discussion, that nerve and everything we discussed last night suddenly became clear to me.

My son’s words that somehow bypassed my ears last night somehow found a place in my heart on this night.

We are a divided country right now. For whatever reasons. There will likely be more domestic and other terrorism to come our way. There will continue to be hate words spewing from the mouths and keyboards we all posses. And it is a certainty that politicians and select groups and others who benefit from the divisiveness will continue to drag us all down.

So, what did I learn from my insightful son last night and the Texas deaths of today?

I learned that, damn it, there has been no better time for us to all rid ourselves of the shackles of divisiveness. There has been no better time for us to all, through God or through just human decency, meld our hearts and souls into one. And to do whatever the hell we can to just make all of the lives that God created have eternally loving meanings.

There are way too many folks – folks like us, who simply cherish God and life and the lives of each other – to allow our divisiveness to continue to fester. And for those who are not at all like us? They deserve the eternal embraces and love that God allows us to share.  Without inhibition.  Without obligatory notions.

Thank you, son. For your words that I chose not to hear last night. You made a real difference, my friend.






We believe what we believe. And we behave along the paths to where our beliefs guide us. That simple notion is undeniable, I think.

If any of you are like me, then you must feel the same way as I when it comes to the August 12th stuff that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Black lives matter. White lives matter. Hispanic lives and Asian ones and others matter as well.

President Trump’s life matters. So does Hillary Clinton’s. So do the live’s of Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, too.

The lives of the white supremacists matter. So do those of the folks who detest that supremacist population.

Other lives that matter? Many of you will hate me for saying this. But Adolph Hitler’s life matters. So does Saddam Hussein’s and Osama Bin Laden’s. But so, too, does Franklin Roosevelt’s and Winston Churchill’s. George Bush’s and Barrack Obama’s lives matter, too.

My life matters. And so does yours. I believe and trust that guided path.

My knowledge of such stuff that led me down this path is a bit muddled. It really is. I rarely read the Bible or attend church. But my faith in God has led me to a totally unsubstantiated but profound and equally total belief. That God put us all here for a generally single reason. My belief is really that simple.

He gave us the earth. He gave us life. And he instructed us to, through all religions and races and beliefs and behavior, make the best of things. To make Him proud. To validate His gift to us all.

I watched some news tonight about the Charlottesville event. After viewing and hearing all the stuff on television – the demonstration, the hatred, the anti-demonstration, the deaths and injuries, the eagerness to place blame on one group or person or another – well I kind of shuddered a bit.

This is not at all what God expects of us.

If my sort of muddled beliefs and understanding is somehow and one day made clear to me and to us all, well our paths will become clear. Until that time, I hope we all can at least consider the life and love that God has offered to all of us.

That life and love is undeniable.


Twice a year, as a child and a teen, I would wake up and find at least forty dollars on the kitchen counter. The man who left it there, before he went to work, used that cash to encourage his wife and children to buy shirts, underwear and other things for him on his birthday and Father’s Day. I thought that to be a selfish notion.

At least I did for a while.

The man had quite a few faults. So did his wife. So did his oldest son, middle daughter and youngest son. Unlike the rest of his family, I think he confronted those faults. In bold and honest and loving ways. That was the very real value of his life.

I have never doubted the man’s words. Or actions, for that matter. Well, maybe I did. For a while.

One time, his youngest son, who had recently become a legal driver, drove the man’s new Chevy Impala to a friend’s nearby house. The next door neighbor of that kid’s friend chose to back into the left side of that brand new Chevy. The kid was afraid to tell his dad. But the kid’s mom encouraged him to confront the man, and to be honest.

It was the very first new car the man ever bought. The news his son was about to deliver would have angered even a saint. So, he timidly approached his dad and said, “Daddy. My friend’s next door neighbor backed into the new Impala and damaged the left side.”

The man should have gone into an uncontrollable rage. Instead, he gave a simple and brief look at the kid and boldly said, “Damn! I thought I would be the first one to wreck that car.”

At some point, his youngest son was attending, as a freshman, The University Of North Carolina. The young guy was missing his home, five-hundred miles away. And the high school sweetheart he left there. The kid told the man that he was ready to come back home. The man’s reply? “Stay one full semester, and I promise you that you will never want to leave Chapel Hill.” The kid didn’t trust his advice. He thought the man was lying. But he stayed anyway. And, damn. The man was right.

I could go on and on about this man. But one sort of final thing about him is this. One day on his birthday, a day when he knew none of his young kids could provide a gift to him, he knew what to expect – a couple of disappointed children. So he did what he had to do. On that day, he bought and installed for his kids a backyard swing set. He gave his kids a gift on HIS birthday! And this may not be true, but I believe he lovingly wished the kids a happy birthday on that day. At least that’s what I believe and feel.

I will be honest with you. Until tonight, I never understood what that kitchen counter cash was all about. Now I know. If that man could leave forty dollars for his family to spend on him, then, certainly, he could afford a trip to Lebo’s Big Man Clothing store himself. Any time he wanted to. He didn’t need shirts and underwear from his wife and kids.

All he needed on those days was to show his love. He left that cash to make his wife and kids feel good about themselves and about giving to the man he knew we all loved. I am convinced of that now.

The man I am talking about is my dad.

Look, my brother’s birth year is 1945. My sister’s is 1952. Mine is 1954. And the birth year of the last of the man’s 17 children, grandchildren and greats was just five years ago. My life and those of the others are defined by that kitchen counter forty dollars. The lives of each of us began long before any of us actually reached our place on earth.

All of us were born on July 16, 1921.

So was my dad.

Happy Birthday, Joe! Thank you for giving our lives real value.

Click HERE for “Pie Safe. on Lunacy”


Call me weird. Call me a wimp. But I fear severe weather. I guess my mom had something to do with that, although watching, annually, “Wizard Of Oz” tornadoes for the first twenty years of my life didn’t help!

King James Bible

When I was young and when a thunderstorm hit, my mom made us unplug everything electrical in the house. Even lamps! Then we sat toward the middle of the house and away from windows while Mama read Bible verses to us. I do not recall nighttime thunderstorms, so reading the Bible at night and in the dark has never been an issue within my memory.

But, dang it, I think I came up with this OCD thing on my own!

Just an hour or so ago, a severe storm passed over my Charlotte home. I unplugged nothing, and I sat in my favorite chair next to a window, watching television. I did ask God to protect us all from the severe weather, but I didn’t read verses. No. All I did was put my shoes on.

Look, it’s summertime. I love being barefoot. So, when that storm ended safely, I took the shoes off and opened every window in the house.

Well, just now, yet another “Severe Thunderstorm Warning” came across the television screen. So, yeah. I closed the windows and put my shoes back on!

Here’s my weird and wimpy fear. It’s not that I will be struck by lighting. It’s not that watching television with the lights on will attract deadly bolts that invade my living room. I don’t even fear the house being destroyed by the wind or fallen trees or spinning uncontrollably to Oz!

All I fear is walking barefoot through all the rubble and debris to a safe place!

Seriously, y’all!

Click HERE for the companion piece on LUNACY, “Hurricane Fran.”


I know what it’s like to be without a father on Father’s Day. In this regard, I have been alone for almost twenty-five years. But before the most important man in my life died, he was there for me. In his own bizarre and fun and wonderfully generous ways. Frankly, I blame that man for much of my bizarre behavior the past sixty-three years. There are certainly others to blame – mostly my own twisted self – but this is about Father’s Day.

And. This is not about my dad. It’s not about any dad, really.

 It’s about the kids of dads who disappeared.

It struck me tonight that many of my friends, family, and kids I have known and loved for decades are mostly – or always – without their dads.   And have been since their youth or forever. Well, this is my possibly bizarre attempt to ease the pain of those folks who often need the love of a rarely or never found dad.

Look, I think I know how men can be. I mean, I am a man myself.

I am well aware of a man’s urge to simply walk away from everything. When I was a young man, all I wanted to do was to walk away from real life.  All I wanted was to live alone on a farm somewhere. Just me.

And my dog, McFee. At that time, all other possibilities scared the hell out of me.

I somehow overcame that fear. For a time, anyway. So I took a job, got married and had a child myself. But, as my wife was suffering through the labor that brought my son to life, my very first “man” reaction was to get the hell out of that room and take McFee to the farm!


I feel like I was privileged back then. My own dad gave me a college education, I was given a great job and a wife that I loved dearly. Still, when my very own son was being born, I wanted to run like hell!

My dad and young son

I guess I stayed around for the very same reason my dad never permanently left me or my siblings. But the man left us plenty of times. I have very few memories of my dad being around when I was young. I think he tried his damnedest to find his own farm. But he always came back. And I think I know why.

Men are strong. In many ways. But when it comes to our children and to the mothers of our children, well there is a weakness many of the strongest men cannot overcome. And my dad was weak. Very weak in this regard.

I guess what I am saying here is that men who want to be or believe that they are strong enough to overcome the weakness of love find themselves in uncontrollably awkward situations. So they leave. For a while or forever.

Look, the ultimate weakness in men who totally leave their children in favor of their devotion to their own strength, is no excuse for neglecting the children that define the man. But to those kids who feel totally neglected, here are my thoughts.

My dad left me, plenty of times. But I forgave him. And he knew that. If he had been as strong as your dad, he would have never returned. And if he had never returned, well – again, I was privileged. I knew the man well enough to know that, without any doubts, the man – my dad – loved me.

And would forever.

My son and his dad

I also know that if I had run away from my child’s birth, like I wanted to, I may not even know the kid right now.   But I am certain that I would love him just as much as my dad loved me.

My guess is that your dads feel the very same about their love for you.


Look, I am a sucker for DVRing bizarre television series and watching other bizarre ones on Netflix.  

But when I watch one of those shows, I mostly begin the viewing by fast forwarding past the opening credits.

You know, like everyone else, I am in a hurry to get to the main story!

Well, let me tell you about “House Of Cards,” a Netflix show.

First of all, as soon as the new second, third, fourth and fifth season’s began, I was lost! Totally lost! So each time a new season has begun, I am forced to watch ALL the episodes from the previous season! That’s a wonderful indication of just how twisted and bizarre is this show! Currently, I am only five episodes into last year’s shows!

But here is the most twisted part of this post. I really do not care how much of a rush I am in when I begin to watch a “House Of Cards” episode. I might be hungry and anxious to eat my lunch or dinner while watching. I might be late for a doctor’s appointment or work meeting. I may even really be dying to use the bathroom at the moment! But, damn it, I cannot fast forward through the opening music of that show!

Seriously! I am mesmerized by the opening theme. I researched my mesmerization tonight. The guy who composed that music is Jeff Beal.


Below are two links. One is Beal explaining the creation of the theme. The other link is the theme itself.

Thanks for putting up with my twisted nonsense here. But Jeff Beal’s sound really is fantastic!