Tag Archives: The Sunrise to Canton Road Trip For Research

The 2018 Not Now Silly Road Trip

Approximate route, subject to change

As longtime readers know, several times a year we take the mobile Not Now Silly Newsroom into the field, where we meet some of our … err … longtime readers.

These road trips began several years ago under the rubric of Sunrise To Canton Road Trip for Research, with the destination being Canton Township, Michigan to learn whatever I could about a very bad man.

Ahh! Simpler times.

Read previous Road Trip adventures HERE.

This year’s road trip will take me to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the place I truly consider my home town. The Not Now Silly mobile newsroom will traverse north along the easterly leg of the trip (see map at left), leaving on the 11th of August. After a week in Toronto, I’ll be returning along the western leg of the trip starting on the 19th of August.

Now, you can take part!!!

If you’ve ever wanted to meet the people (me!) behind the Not Now Silly Newsroom, here’s how you can get involved:

If you are somewhat near one of those blue lines on the map at left, let me know of your interest. Depending on already locked in itinerary, how far away you are from those blue lines, and whether there’s a Starbucks near you (almost kidding), we can meet as I make my way up or down the Unites States. Send me a Private Message and your basic details, like city or town. I’ll see whether I can fit it onto my map above.


Since I cannot visit everyone I want to see while I’m there, I will — as I have done on previous visits — be throwing myself a homecoming, so you can come to visit me. Join me, my family, and my friends on August 15th at:

40 Kensington Avenue
Toronto, Ontario

Once again the Not Now Silly Newsroom is on the move.

A Magnificent Morning in Morgantown

Two years ago the Not Now Silly Newsroom featured a Special Travelogue during The 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip For Research. After I published A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown’s Favourite Son, the search for Don Knotts‘ roots has became an annual tradition of my yearly Road Trips.

Through necessity The 4th Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research was hastily planned. At first it appeared as if there would be no Road Trip this year, but fate intervened to make it happen. With just a few days notice I contacted all the usual suspects, loaded up the car, cranked up the tunes, and headed for the open road.

This year’s Road Trip was my most ambitious. It would take me from Sunrise to Hamilton and Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Then I would swing through Detroit, which inevitably leads to Canton Township, not to mention Ann Arbor for another visit with Pastor Kenny. Then would come Elyria and Columbus, both in Ohio, before making my way back to Sunrise. However, my first official stop would be Morgantown, West Virginia, to visit with one of my anonymous sources.

I had already been motoring north, with a carefully planned itinerary that left nothing to chance, when I recieved an IM from my source for all Knotts Knews. I was still a day from Morgantown. My my host wrote: 

“If you can manage to stay in Morgantown a few hours Saturday, the Don Knotts statue is being dedicated at 10 am.”

To which I replied, “YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!”

A picture of the maquette taken 2 years ago with
the crack in the leg (under the elbow) clearly visible

In that post of 2 years ago I exposed how some unthinking tourist broke the maquette of Don Knotts at the Morgantown Visitors Center. Amazingly I said this back then:

This maquette is to become a larger-than-life statue of Don Knotts to be erected on the waterfront. Morgantown is hoping to create a whole day of it, whenever it is, with a dedication and unveiling. An entire weekend of Don Knotts Days might include parades, picnics, band concerts, beauty pageants, culminating in a massive fireworks display. I sure hope I’m invited to the event I just created in my head.

Now, amazingly, synchronicity had worked to make my invitation happen. 

I checked out the weather report and learned it would be hot and humid in Morgantown. The northeast had just entered another record-breaking heat spell.

I cranked up the tunes even louder and stepped on the gas, arriving early enough on Friday to take a gander at where the unveiling would happen.

In front of the Metropolitan Theatre: The brass star with the Don
Knotts statue all wrapped up waiting to be sprung on the world.

While I had been told the statue would have a place of honour at the waterfront, either I had been misinformed or there had been a change of plans in the intervening 2 years.

When I arrived in Morgantown the Don Knotts statue was all wrapped up in a blue tarp on Main Street, directly in front of the window at the Metropolitan Theatre. It’s just a few feet away from the brass star featured in the Not Now Silly Newsroom Follow-up, last year’s Don Knotts Is Back ► A Morgantown Update.

To be perfectly honest, I thought the front of the Met to be a far more appropriate location for Knotts’ statue. After all, this is where he got his start in the Professional Show Business with his ventriliquist dummy named Danny “Hooch” Matador.

Having scoped out the location, I retired for the night, filled with dreams of how Morgantown would honour its favourite son:

The parade would start at the waterfront with the Morgantown High School Brass Band leading the procession. It would wind its way past all those places important to Don Knotts, from his childhood home to where he bought his chewing gum. Baton twirlers launch their instruments high into the air, the sun glinting off the chrome as they spin higher and higher and, just before they are lost in the glare of the sun, drop back into the twirlers hands in perfect synchronization. Vintage cars of all descriptions separate the marching soldiers from the motorcycle police, with sirens blaring. And, bringing up the rear, a giant float with a 20 piece Steel Drum band. [It’s my fantasy and I love Steel Drum music.] As the entire shebang winds its way up Main Street, patriotic bunting flaps in the lazy breeze, while the sidewalks are jam-packed with people all holding up a single bullet.

The reality was much more prosaic.

Because downtown Morgantown is a maze of one way streets, it would have been difficult to close Main Street entirely, so only half the street was closed down. That meant that all during the ceremony there were cars passing behind us, some with loud music drowning out the speakers.

I remarked to my friend that this felt like Mayberry all growed up.

There was a cozy, small town, Mayberry feel to the whole festivities. Local raconteur Larry Nelson was Master of Ceremonies, keeping the crowd assembled on the blacktop in the swealtering 95 degree heat entertained as a delay kept Karen Knotts, Don’s daughter, from arriving on time. Mayor Marti Shamberger was there to pay tribute and give us a capsule biography of Knotts. John Pyles, one of his oldest friends and the man who led the fundraising to get the statue made, told stories of Don Knotts’ many visits back to Morgantown to decompress away from the Hollywood scene. Karen Knotts continued along that same theme, telling the assembled crowd about how much Morgantown meant to her father and what an important touchstone the town was to the family during visits.

Then sculptor Jamie Lester, who graciously granted me a few words before the festivities began, spoke abut how humbled he was to have been chosen to honour Knotts in this way and why the statue is not a representation of Barney Fife, the character he’s best remembered for. While he holds Barney Fife’s Deputy Sheriff cap, the statue is meant to represent the entire man.

Which led to the inevitable unveiling of the statue:

After the ceremony Karen Knotts performed her acclaimed one woman play “Tied Up In Knotts” — on the same stage that her father had once trod inside the Metropolitan Theatre — about growing up with a famous father.

Sadly, I couldn’t stay for Karen Knotts’ performance. Under my original plan I was to have left for Hamilton, Ontario at the break of dawn. I was already a half day behind schedule with a whole lot of road, not to mention a border crossing, still ahead of me.

However, as I drove towards the Peace Bridge I couldn’t help but sing this song:

The 4th Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research

Hey kidz. The Not Now Silly Newsroom is on the move again and will be (almost) live-blogging the entire experience as I go. Just like the last 3 times.

This trip to Canton Township, Michigan, will be by way of Morgantown, West Virginia, to reacquaint myself with the roots of Don Knotts; Toronto, where I have much family and many friends; Detroit, to check up on my family there and see how they’re taking care of Pops; and then Elyria, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; and Centerville, a real nice place to raise your kids up.

But, we all know it’s really Canton Township, Michigan that has captured my heart. Oh, sure, people make fun of it because it’s only a township. But, it has a population of 90,173. That doesn’t seem like much, but that makes it the second largest township in all of Michigan. And, the 11th largest community in the state.




As the WikiWackyWoo is only too happy to reveal:

As of the census[1] of 2010, there were 90,173 people, 32,771 households, and 24,231 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,121.5 per square mile (819.0/km²). There were 34,829 housing units at an average density of 789.8 per square mile (304.9/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 72.2% White, 10.2% African American, 0.2% Native American, 14.1% Asian (8.0% Indian, 2.2% Chinese, 0.7% Filipino), 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 1.91% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.1% of the population. 

Which explains a lot. For history buffs, the Wiki also reveals:

The Township of Canton was created by act of the Michigan Territorial Legislature on March 7, 1834 out of a southern portion of Plymouth Township. It was named in honor of the port and provincial capital known historically as Canton, Imperial China, which in 1918 was renamed Guangzhou (Chinese: 廣州; pinyin: Guǎngzhōu) — now the capital and largest city of Guangdong province, People’s Republic of China.


Those damn Commies!

Meanwhile, watch for my updates from the road starting on the 21st.

Don Knotts Is Back ► A Morgantown Update

The Don Knott’s Memorial is back in its place
of honour in front of the Metrpolitan Theatre.

Avid readers of my Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research series will remember 2014’s Travelogue, A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown’s Favourite Son. I am happy to be able to provide a NNS Update.

Morgantown has been on my Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research itinerary for the past 3 years. On my 1st visit, way back in 2013, I was delighted to discover a wonderful brass plaque embedded in the sidewalk in front of the historic Metropolitan Theatre, honouring Don Knotts. The Met was where Knotts got his start in Show Biz as one half of a ventriliquist act. His dummy, Danny “Hooch” Matador, was the other half.

Last year’s shocking sight

Last year, when the Not Now Silly Newsroom sent me on the Don Knotts Memorial Nostalgia Tour, I knew I needed an updated picture of the Knotts star. I was shocked — shocked, I tells ya — to discover it missing. I went inside and demanded to know where the Don Knotts tribute had gone. The ticket takers knew nothing, so I spoke to the manager. He was not sure where the star had gone, but he sent me up the street to the Morgantown Visitors’ Center.

While no one there really knew the whereabouts of Don Knotts’ Memorial plaque, my visit was fortuitously timed. The front of the Visitors’ Center was dedicated to a large, biographical, shoestring display honouring Morgantown’s favourite son. That report is documented in A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown’s Favourite Son, so there’s no needed to repeat it here.

Maybe it was last year’s Not Now Silly Investigative Report — or maybe it had just been returned on schedule after it had been repaired — but I am delighted to report that the Don Knotts Memorial Star is back in its place of honour in front of the Metropolitan Theatre.

I’ll be returning to Morgantown next month, possibly twice, on the Sunrise to Hamilton Road Trip for Nuptials. Not Now Silly will use the time to investigate what’s new in the world of Don Knotts.

Announcing A Road Trip To Canada

Fans of my research road trips have a brand new reason to celebrate. The fun’s not over just yet. The next marathon road trip is called The Sunrise To Hamilton Road Trip for Nuptials. 

A dear friend in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, is getting married and I will be standing up for him, tuxedo and all.

Because this will be the first time I’ve been back to Canada in a decade, I’ll be spending a few extra days in Toronto visiting 2/3rds of my children.

I have also been in contact with my dear friend Barbette Kensington, who is helping me throw a public get-together at Lola, 40 Kensington Avenue, Toronto, on September 16th. Click HERE to R.S.V.P.

There’s an outside possibility that I’ll have to go to Canton Township again to interview someone who wasn’t available in July. We’ll see how that gowes as it goes, but that’s why it’s on the Google Map at left. Otherwise, it’ll be the same route coming and going.

Because of the topography and the vagaries of the Eisenhower Highways System, it looks like I will be passing directly through Morgantown, West Virgina, once again. By the time I’m done, the people I know in that berg will be sick of me.

There won’t be any time on this trip to make arrangements to visit people along the route. However, don’t forget the get-together on September 16th in Toronto’s Kensington Market.

Road Trips, Writer’s Block, and the Uncommon Cold ► Unpacking The Writer

So many things I can waste my time on when I should be writing

If you’ve only been following along at the Not Now Silly Newsroom, there’s not been a lot to follow since I began the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. Apologies.

While I had great plans for updates all along the trip, I only managed to keep my Facebookery and Twitter feeds up to date, sorta, more or less, mostly less. The Not Now Silly Newsroom took a back seat because, frankly, it was just too easy to pull out a phone, splash a few pics into the mix, and fool myself into thinking I’ve kept my readers in the loop. I know better because there are some readers who only get their Not Now Silly news from the World’s #1 Not Now Silly news source.

Moreover, my cute little [paid for] phone app failed, so I couldn’t update the Not Now Silly Newsroom in real time. It sounds like I am making excuses — and I guess I am — but it seemed that setting up the laptop was an ordeal. Three separate times I set up at the Starbucks at 10 Mile and Greenfield (Oak Park, Michigan), when my phone would ring and I’d have to pack it all up to meet someone from my research files.

[This particular Starbucks is known to the coffeenoscenti as Mel Farrbucks because it’s on the site of his former car dealership. In just the last month Mel Farr died. ►►► R.I.P. ◄◄◄] 

In terms of material for The Not Now Silly Newsroom, this trip provided more stories [yet to be written], on a variety of topics, than any previous Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. Coming soon: stories on the Viola Liuzzo Playground; Michigan’s crazy MMJ Laws, Dab Wars, and the Marijuana Movement; The Shrine of the Little Flower and the anti-Semitic Demagogue who built it; a Don Knotts-Morgantown Update; and another action-packed Pastoral Letter to my childhood friend, Pastor Kenny Wilson, with whom I managed to squeeze in an all-too-short reunion after more than 45 years apart.

Bouncing around in the very back of my brain is a possible article of things I witnessed in cheap motels. Due to ‘Merkin ‘Ceptionalism, there are families living full-time in motels across this country. Seeing children so used to motel life that they talk to arriving strangers was a shock, with more shocks to come. This article will require more research and, quite possibly, more road trips.

However, I also have to admit to several disappointments on this trip: Because of various problems [see below] I was forced to skip several stops on my itinerary: The Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia; the Gilchrist Block Club, because no one answered; all my Jim Bloor side-trips; The Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston, South Carolina; an overnight in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States; and a quick trip over to Oveido, Florida, to meet a guy I’ve known online for decades, but have never met. All jettisoned in the end.

However, to be perfectly honest, my biggest regret on this trip is that Mark Koldys refused to take up my very public request to help write the Last Chapter of The Johnny Dollar Wars. Not only had I hoped to finally meet the hypocritical and cowardly MoFo, but I wanted to gain some closure and insight into why a former Wayne County Prosecutor would head a coterie of cyber-bullies who attacked me almost daily for more than 3 years. I guess I’ll have to write the last chapter alone.

Another visit to Coffee Jr. High School. What a difference a year makes!

Where was I? Oh, that’s right. I was excuse-making.

I no sooner left Canton for my return trip than I got sick. After the first night I merely felt stuffed up and told my hosts that it felt as if I was having a pollen reaction, even though I’ve never had one of those before. It didn’t feel like I had a cold.

At my next stop, Morgantown, West Virginia, I needed a nasal mist because I could barely catch air, but it still didn’t feel like a cold. I went to sleep in a cheap motel and woke up with one of the worst colds I have ever had in my life. I rolled around in bed for a few hours feeling miserable before I realized I still had 15.5 hours of driving ahead of me.

I barely remember the rest of the trip home. With each mile, the cold got worse. Then, because I wasn’t challenged enough, the A/C in the car started to work intermittently. It would go from frozen to having to open the windows if I didn’t want to suffocate from the heat. There was no Mr. Inbetween. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. It was a recipe for catastrophic illness.

When I finally got home I crawled into bed and stayed there for an entire week. Between swigging Nytol like it was the cure for life, and changing my t-shirt every few hours because I’d sweat right through them, I know I put a few dinners on the table for Pops. It was difficult doing that and still staying as far away from him as possible because I didn’t want to dose him with whatever I had.

Funny tangent with a not-so-funny ending: A few months back I finally demanded that Ian Christie, of Webitez, set a date on which the site would finally be finished after agreeing to build it a year ago. I took that as a FINAL DROP DEAD date and actually put it into my calendar as a daily, repeating appointment that said GO NUTS ON IAN. It went off just as I started the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. Every single day on the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research I was reminded that Ian allowed another deadline to pass. By the time I got home, I was already primed to kick his ass. Then he gave me the perfect excuse.

You can read the result of that saga in Webbitez Bitez ► A Consumer Report. However, here’s the takeaway: to write that I post I pulled myself out of a sickbed. At the time it seemed like a Herculean effort to slam words together and to finally write everything about Ian Christie I had been holding back for months.

The Shrine of the Little Flower

Then I collapsed back into my bed for the remainder of the week.

Here’s the other, even sadder, takeaway: Foolishly, especially after Ian had disappointed me so many times in the past year, I still put all my Not Now Silly Newsroom eggs in the Webbitez’s Bullshit Basket. When that fell apart, it felt as if all the wind had been taken out of my sails. I’d stare at the computer, but I couldn’t seem to write a word.

I’d sort and resort the pictures I took on the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research, but I couldn’t seem to attach any words to them. I’d stare at black pages in my notebooks hoping to get inspired, without any luck. I’d pull up the blogger software only to be reminded that I wanted to be on Word Press template under my own domain name by now. So, then I’d go look at Word Press templates for hours until I could no longer remember which ones I liked and which I hated.

Then, I’d do it all over again.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had real Writer’s Block like this. This came from a deep, dark hole. Usually it’s really just a matter of procrastination, not staring into a blank abyss, hitting the brick wall of depression. I felt incapable of putting down any words whatsoever. That realization didn’t help the downward spiral.

My entire adult life has been spent writing because I am a writer. Now I didn’t even want to write. It was a crisis of confidence. Sure, I need to write, but do people even care what I write about?

Then it came time to produce my weekly Friday Fox Follies for PoliticusUSA. Fibs, Frankenstein, and Fabulosity was a lot of fun to write, but — more importantly  it acted as a brain-cleaner, clearing out all the cobwebs that built up since I left on the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research.

One good thing is that during this time I realized that the Not Now Silly Newsroom had grown stale. I’ve been jotting down a few ideas to refresh the site. As well, I’m still looking at Word Press templates. Since I’ll probably have to purchase it, I’m being very careful with this choice. I’ve had to live with my Blogger choice a lot longer than I wanted. I’m also trying to see whether I can figure out, on my own, how to transfer all the posts here to a new site. Apparently it IS doable.

Not that writing has been easy, mind you. This post was begun Friday afternoon (right after my Friday Fox Follies) and, as I complete the final edit, and drop some ‘art’ onto the page, it’s now early Tuesday. If I keep editing this sucker it’ll never get posted. And, I’ll squeeze all the life out of it. It’s time to let it go.

However, I’m on the road to recovery. What would you like to read about next?

Sunrise to Canton Road Trip Report #1

A road trip of 3,000 miles starts with the first coffee at my local.

Apologies to the regular readers of the Not Now Silly Newsroom for no updates. It’s been a hectic trip so far.

I left on the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research 8 days ago and I’ve not checked in here, tho’ my facebook profile’s been full of it.

The northern leg of the trip was not without its challenges. The first problem I encountered was a leak somewhere in the air conditioning drainage system. While the A/C worked fine, the passenger side of the Buick POS started to fill up with water. The carpeting was soaked and I decided to run without the air in order to let it dry. But, it was hot. Real hot. Hot enough that I had to turn on the air again.

The next problem was all on me. I somehow miscalculated things and arrived a day early in Ohio. I called my friend — who was part of the 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research — that I was supposed to meet in Centerville (“A real nice place to raise your kids up.”) to tell her I was 2 hours away. Considering she wasn’t expecting me until Thursday, she was quite surprised. Luckily her schedule was flexible and we met at an Asian restaurant for lunch.

However, that meant I was still a day ahead of schedule and my next visit in Columbus couldn’t happen until Thursday afternoon, just because. Considering I had already driven some 1,200 miles and 20 hours, kipping in the car for 4 hours in northern Georgia, I was totally bagged and needed to sleep. So, I found an inexpensive Days Inn in Dayton to spend the night.

Funny story: Because the car also has a security issue I decided I had to take everything into my room. It took 3 trips and it was very hot. When it was done I fell on the bed exhausted and took off my shoes and put my feet into a giant wet spot on the carpet immediately beneath the air conditioner. This was the exact same problem I was having in the car.

The view from my room. Look, there’s Pop’s Diner!

They were great about giving me a new room, but the new room was on the other side of the building AND on the 2nd floor. So, I loaded up the car, drove to the other side of the building, and lugged all my crap up to the second floor. By the time I was finished I just went to bed, even tho’ it was only about 6PM. I was spent.

The next day I met up with a friend in Columbus, Ohio, I’ve known online for many years and who was a stop on the original Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. Only a family emergency kept us from meeting again last year.

Then, Detroit the following day. I’ve been doing some deep research on a number of topics. I have been given entree to a world that few people get to see from the inside. This will become a long Not Now Silly Investigative Report, which I’ve already started writing. Hopefully, I can finish it before I get home, but you never know.

Additionally, I’ve been researching the National Shrine of the Little Flower, which will be my next post, and the Viola Liuzzo Playground and Homestead for another article. I’ve already been in touch with her daughter Mary and hope to get a phone interview with her while I’m here.

Tonight I’m going to a Drum Circle in Detroit at the corner of 7 Mile Road and Woodward. I can’t even imagine something like his happening right there. Just this week:

[I]n Detroit, a task force of federal, state and local police agencies
executed a dozen search warrants and made two arrests along a two-mile
stretch of Woodward and nearby streets, from McNichols north to 8 Mile,
Detroit police said. The agents targeted homes, a gas station and other
sites where police said suburban heroin buyers had been driving up to
buy heroin almost as easily as making a run for coffee.

A drum circle right in the middle of that? I’m so there!!!

Packing Up The Newsroom ► Unpacking The Writer

My old house to the Viola Liuzzo Playground is just over 1/2 mile

The 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research begins early tomorrow morning and the excitement is building.

Yesterday I told someone that driving is my “happy place.” There’s nothing I like better than to get behind the wheel, crank up the tunes, and cruise. I have many hours of that ahead of me over the next few weeks and am looking forward to it.

Excitement is also building — I hope — among those folk who signed up for a visit during this year’s road trip. Several of them are repeat customers, so I must be doing something right. A few of them are brand new to the Aunty Em Experience. I’m looking forward to seeing them all.

Among my stops are Centerville, Columbus, Elyria, Akron, and Columbus, all in Ohio. I’ll be retracing my steps in West Virginia, the subject of last year’s A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown’s Favourite Son. The last 2 stops will be to visit people in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Oviedo, Florida. The latter is someone I’ve known in Cyberville for decades, yet we’ve never had the chance to meet.

During this year’s Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research I’ve also scheduled several stops for Racial Research™ along the route. I’ll be visiting the Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon, GA; the Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, with a stop to pay respects at Mother Emanuel Church; and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Through sheer synchronicity the Wright Museum is holding CALL of The DRUM: An International Drum Summit on the weekend I’ll be there. I’m taking my claves.

As well I plan to stop off for a night in St. Augustine. I’ve been there once and found it incredibly beautiful. It’s the oldest, continually inhabited city in this country. Ponce de Leon was tramping around there and I can’t wait to see it again.

There’s been no word from J$ on whether he wants to help me write The Johnny Dollar Wars ► The Final Chapter? There’s still another 10 days for him to decide whether he has the cajones to confront the man he relentlessly cyber-bullied for more than 3 years. Regardless of whether he participates, the final chapter will be written.

However, one part of this trip only got added to my itinerary yesterday, and it’s an interesting story. Have a seat. Relax.

In preparation for this year’s Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research I was looking on Google Maps for the name of a park in my old neighbourhood. If I remember correctly, this park once had a water tower, torn down in the late ’50s or the early ’60s. I have vague memories of playing on the girders after it was ripped down, but before they had been hauled away.

What I discovered on Google Maps came as a shock, mostly because it came as a total surprise. It’s the Viola Liuzzo Playground.

I had no idea this park was named after a Civil Rights Martyr from Detroit. I had no idea Viola Liuzzo came from my old neighbourhood. This is a woman whom I have read about so many times in so many books. I’ve watched documentaries in which she has appeared prominently. Tara Ochs plays her in the movie Selma.

Brownsville Herald – April 4, 1964

The house I grew up in was slightly over a half mile from the Viola Liuzzo Playground. [See map above] In 1964 I was 12 years old yet I knew nothing of any of this. Whyzzat? This is as local as it gets. Cross burnings in my neighbourhood? Really?

When I visit Detroit this time I am going to visit this park. It’s my plan to write about it and, more importantly, write about my ignorance of the fact that her funeral, with Martin Luthur King, Jr., attending, happened practically under my nose without me realizing it.

I have now been in contact with Mary Liuzzo, Viola’s daughre, who identified 19375 Marlowe Street as the house that Viola Liuzzo left behind to join the Freedom March in Selma, Alabama. She never returned, having been murdered as she was ferrying Freedom Riders to several locations. A week after her death a cross was burned on her lawn.

Hopefully, one of the other people I’ll be seeing on this trip is Pastor Ken Wilson. We grew up across the street from each other and recently reconnected losing track of each other 45 years ago. Ken has become a bit infamous over the last year. As Senior Pastor of the Vinelands Church in Ann Arbor, a church he founded in his living room 40 years ago, Wilson wrote what I believe is a very important book. “A Letter to My Congregation” argues for full inclusion and acceptance in the church of the LGBT communities. For his troubles, he was kicked to the curb by Vinelands Church — or he resigned in mutual agreement. However, that hasn’t stopped him.

It’s to Pastor Kenny that I’ve addressed all my Pastoral Letters. However, I’ve just learned there may be a scheduling problem and a reunion with Kenny may not be in the cards after all.

Curious, I’ve just asked Ken electronically. While he was aware that Viola Liuzzo was a Civil Rights Martyr, he was also unaware that she was from our own neighbourhood and was as ignorant as I was about the cross burning just a mile and a half from where we lived.

This is going to be the best Sunrise to
Canton Road Trip for Research

The Johnny Dollar Wars ► The Last Chapter?

Cyber-bully Mark Koldys as a child

As I prepare for the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research, I would be remiss if I allowed an anniversary to pass unremarked.

July 4th of last year was a personal Independence Day of sorts. It’s the day Ashley Graham, the Head Nutjob of The Flying Monkey Squad, tweeted his last tweet. Grayhammy, as he called himself on the interwebs, stalked me online, revealed my alternative lifestyle, and cyber-bullied me for more than 3 years. He didn’t do this for himself. He did it on behalf of Johnny Dollar, who gleefully joined in on the cyber-fun.

Johnny Dollar — in reality, former-Wayne County Michigan prosecutor Mark Koldys — is a self-appointed Fox “News” defender. Because I was writing Fox “News” criticism, Johnny Dollar thought the very best way to defend Fox “News” was to publish details of my private life on his sewer of a blog. If you can’t kill the message, try to kill the messenger.

Despite July 4th of last year being the last cyber-attack, I waited a full 6 months before I was Declaring Victory in the Johnny Dollar Wars. Things have been very quiet since that went up.

IRONY ALERT: While Mark Koldys had no compunction about publishing details of my private life in his quest to be an apologist for Fox “News,” he squealed to facebook and Google when I used pictures of him and his family that I found online. He then tried to pretend that he was the victim of my unprovoked attacks, as if I had no reason whatsoever to retaliate.

However, that’s water under the bridge, all written down, and currently being poured over by editors. However, one of them makes a fair point: “Where’s the Fairness & Balance in your story? What does your antagonist have to say?”

Home of Mark Koldys, who, as Johnny
Dollar, is a proud Fox “News” defender

Fun fact: Canton is a township, not a town
Official Wesbite
Wikipedia Entry
Canton Weather
Public Safety Office
Public Library

Observer and Eccentric – Canton
Plymouth-Canton Patch
Canton Videos
Canton at ClickOn Detroit

Things to do in Canton
Attractions near Canton
IKEA Canton

Canton Township
Cornerstones: A History of
Canton Township Families

Seven Fatality Christmas Tree Fire
Encyclopedia of Invasive Species: From
Africanized Honey Bees to Zebra Mussels

Leaving Home to Find Home


Let me explain. Since the day Johnny Dollar outed my alternative lifestyle I have been writing The Johnny Dollar Wars, a full-length book on what it’s like to be the target of a viscous and relentless cyber-bullying campaign.

Mark Koldys (Johnny Dollar) lives in Canton Township, Michigan. Therefore, The Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research was always an itinerary based on my need for on-the-ground research. I purposely named it such so he would know I was coming. While the word “Canton” means little to most people, it hit the intended target: both Ashley Graham and Mark Koldys, who stalked my social media for anything to use against me, made a point to mention it.

During the upcoming 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research I am hoping I can finally write the last chapter of The Johnny Dollar Wars by interviewing Mark Koldys himself. This will be a way for Johnny Dollar to finally go on the record and describe the skirmishes in The Johnny Dollar Wars from his side of the battlement. Maybe there were extenuating circumstances that resulted in my private life being outed.

I have a journalistic duty to find out, I suppose.

Because Johnny Dollar blocked me on Twitter after I started sharing The Johnny Dollar Wars with his correspondents, I cannot message him there. I am hoping someone — like maybe his brother Bruce — will pass along this interview request to him.

Funny story: Bruce and I exchanged some messages in 2013, after which I wrote Fun With Pictures. For reasons I don’t quite remember (I hope I was trying to be funny) I blacked out his name in that post, but it was Bruce Koldys I had been addressing.

During that exchange of messages, Bruce asked me not to judge an entire family based solely on the nut that fell from the tree, but I am paraphrasing wildly. TO BE FAIR: He merely wanted me to know that his politics are far different from his older brother’s and to leave him out of The Johnny Dollar Wars. Ever since, Bruce Koldys has regularly retweeted some of my Fox “News” snark, which is probably his way of tweaking his brother’s nose.

IRONY ALERT: Just before publishing this, I checked his
Twitter timeline. I’m glad I did because it’s obvious Johnny
Dollar has reformed. Now it’s diseased and creepy to stalk
people online. I’ll have to ask him why he changed his mind.

So, I am hoping I can dragoon Bruce into passing along my interview request to his big brother Mark.

Bruce: Tell him we will meet in a neutral location, preferably a Starbucks. He should come alone and make sure he’s not followed. No weapons of any kind. Both of us can record the interview for posterity. Everything said, from first greeting to last goodbye, is ON THE RECORD. Any deviation from these instructions and the truth gets it.

If he agrees to these terms tell him to give me a call. Mark once indicated (correctly) that he knew my address and phone number, so that should be no problem. Or, he can email me. I will be in Canton from July 17th, through to the 24th performing some last-minute research. He can contact me right up until the 24th.

SYNCHRONICITY ALERT: Those who have been following my Pastoral Letter series will be glad to know I finally have a copy of A Letter to my Congregation by my childhood friend, Pastor Ken Wilson, of the Blue Ocean Faith Church in Ann Arbor.

I started reading the book as I always do, from the title page on, including the copyright page. Lo & behold: A Letter to my Congregation is published by Read The Spirit Books; an imprint of David Crumm Media, LLC; of Canton, Michigan.

It all comes full circle. Maybe Pastor Kenny can help me how to find forgiveness for Mark Koldys. However, I’m more inclined to think I’ll be able to forgive when the full-length Johnny Dollar Wars is finally on the shelves of bookstores all across ‘Merka.

Treacherous Double-Dealing ► Unpacking The Writer

In our last exciting episode of Unpacking The Writer, Bang The News Slowly, I revealed my part in a brand new grassroots campaign to get Harry Nilsson inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Funny story. The wheels have come off that bus, but before I tell you how, here’s a reminder of what I wrote last month:

The most exciting news of the last month is the campaign to put Harry
Nilsson in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Every year when the RnRHoF
nominees are announced I scream, “What about Harry?” Then when I see who
is finally inducted, I just shake my head in despair. This year I
decided to do something about it.

Just a few days before last month’s Unpacking The Writer, I fired up a facebookery called Harry Nilsson for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It was only a few days later that I discovered there was a similar page
started much earlier than mine. Had I known, I would have signed onto Harry Nilsson belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
started by Todd Lawrence, instead. Todd and I connected soon afterwards
in IM. I assured him that I didn’t consider my page competition to his
and that we should cooperate for the greater good. It can’t hurt that
there are two such pages because we travel in different circles.

It wasn’t long before Todd asked we could add Gabriel Szoke, moderator of the Harry Nilsson facebook fan page, to our IMs. Then the 3 of us started kicking around various ideas to put #HarryintheHall. None of our plans are ripe enough to be revealed, but I can assure you that they are grandiose.

That was then. This is now, just a month later.

I probably would have kept this unpleasantness on the facebookery, and far away from the Not Not Silly Newsroom, had I not woken up yesterday to find that I was reported on facebook for contravening Community Standards.

No, really!

A post of mine (a rant, to be fair) was removed from Harry Nilsson for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the page I created to help in this campaign. Some crybaby went running to facebook to whine. That’s why I’ve reproduced it below, in case it’s removed again:

I had hoped not to air this dirty laundry, but I have now been contacted
by several people who appear to have had very similar experiences as I
have. Therefore, it’s time to go public.

 I started up this
facebookery not knowing there was a similar page started before mine run
by Todd Lawrence. When I discovered it, I contacted Todd and we agreed,
in essence, that we would work together cooperatively and not look at
the other as competition. All for ‪#‎HarryintheHall‬!!!
As we strategized in IM, he asked me if we could include Gabriel Szoke,
who was operating one of the Harry Nilsson facebookery pages. My
attitude was, “The more, the merrier!” Anything to get #HarryintheHall.

That’s when everything turned to shit. While we agreed to work
cooperatively, I seemed to have the only person who understood what that

I don’t want people to get the impression this is sour
grapes, but ideas I had were rejected. That is, until either Todd or
Gabriel came up with it a week later as if it was BRAND NEW. This ain’t
about taking credit, it’s about losing a week’s time in getting
something done.

When I called them on it, I was told we needed to
look forward, not backward. That phrase — an insidious form of
blame-dodging I’ve seen before — was to come up more than once.

agreed to agree on all actions, but suddenly emails with typos in them
started going out before we had even agreed on the wording or who would
be getting them. Again I was told to keep looking forward, not backward,
when I mentioned that we had agreed, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I was
tasked with writing a Manifesto, which I did because writing’s my game.
My manifesto was rejected out of hand. [I want people to understand I am
*NEVER* wedded to my words. 40+ years as a professional writer has
allowed me to work with any kind of editor from mild to red pencil
fiends. Editing improves the product. This isn’t about ego.] I was then
asked to ‘punch up’ what I thought was an inferior and pedestrian
approach as a manifesto. Eh? Oh, well. Anything to get #HarryintheHall.

So I started punching up this piece of shit. (Sorry, Todd. It was
awful. At least mine took a non-pedestrian approach to the topic. It
wasn’t dull, tedious, and cookie cutter.)

Meanwhile, I’d continue
making suggestions and Gabriel would tell me that I was stepping on his
toes because he’s the expert in that field (graphics, apparently). Yet,
time after time my expertise as a writer — one who has developed entire
media campaigns for record companies — who has written for all media,
was rejected. Cute, eh?

F’rinstance, I said that memes can be dashed
off in a minute and to prove it I fired up the Ol’ Meme Maker, made
one, and posted it here. Gabriel went wild in private, accusing me of
jumping the gun before we *AGREED* we were ready. He made me take it

*AND*, he took personal offense that memes can be dashed off, because that’s his field.

Again, when I brought this up I was told we are looking forward, not
backward. However, once he started calling for memes on his Nilson [sic] page,
he didn’t seem to care how ‘dashed off’ they were.

I was made to
feel as if my expressing an opinion in this triumvirate was totally
inconvenient. More to the point my opinion seemed inconvenient to
Gabriel trying to be The Point Man on everything, the one who will get
the credit and be able to hobnob with celebrities.

However, even
though I foolishly believed we were working cooperatively, I suspected
Todd and Gabriel of talking and making decisions behind my back (but
have no way to prove that). Actions kept getting made that hadn’t even
been discussed. That needed coordination between them.

Suddenly, and
without discussion or warning, there were a bunch of folks added to the
Put Harry in the Hall Google Group that we had been communicating in as
a trio. At first I thought, “The more the merrier.” However, just as
suddenly I was deleted from the Google Group.

No one ever spoke to
me about it. No one ever explained. In fact, I only discovered it for
myself when I thought the group had gotten too quiet, so I went to look.
If my removal was mentioned in the Google Group I would have no way of
knowing, of course.
However, I always suspected that I presented a
threat to Gabriel grabbing all the credit for himself. I was expressing
my ideas there and some of them might have been good. People may have
agreed with me. Best to get rid of me quietly before I upset his

Right then and there I decided to stop punching up Todd’s wishy-washy essay on Harry. HEY! I can take a fucking hint.

As I say, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go public with this, but this
morning I received the following IM from someone I have known online for

QUOTE: Hi Headly. Quick heads-up to be very careful of
Gabriel Stoke and his supposed Nilsson promoting group…he is only
interested in self promotion and is ousting any of us who have tried to
promote Harry on the Internet. .. He booted Roger Smith earlier and when
I messaged him to suggest that was not a good thing to do he booted me
and has blocked me from his group…. ENDQUOTE

He booted Roger
Smith? He booted the man who has had a Harry Nilsson tribute website
longer than than anyone else in the entire world? That Roger Smith? Hoo
However, I discovered, much to my regret, exactly the same

I will be the next person blocked because of this post. However, I
thought I had a duty to those people I had already talked to privately
about [SPOILER ALERT!!!] helping to mount concerts ALL AROUND THE WORLD
on Harry’s 75th Birthday. [But, I bet Gabriel wants to take all the
credit for that, too.] There had already been progress on Toronto and
Detroit shows and I had started putting out feelers for a show here in
Florida. Whether those will go forward or not remain to be seen.
Yesterday’s 74th birthday celebration left a very bad taste in my mouth.
I went from being very excited to be on the ground floor of something
that appeared to have enough momentum to achieve its goals, to being
turned into a passive bystander by two self-aggrandizing jerks, who are
only out for themselves. I can remain passive no more.

Apologies for the
drama, folks. Anyone who wishes to contact me privately to tell me of
their trials and tribulations will be welcomed. Maybe I’ll turn it into a
blog post, or a book.

If facebook is going to take my stuff down, I’ll post it here where it will not only stay, but will get even more eyeballs than where it had been. Congratulations, whomever reported me to facebook.

Meanwhile, what else is going on in this writer’s world this month?

The excitement builds as I am less than a month away from the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. There’s still time to sign up if you want to get the full Aunty Em Experience.

This year, so far, I have tentative stops on the northbound leg planned for the Black History Museum in Macon, Georgia; Centerville, Ohio, “a real nice place to raise your kids up”; and Columbus, Ohio, which I was forced to skip last year due to a family issue.

I have more tentative stops scheduled for the southbound trek: Elyria, Ohio, to tour the new Elyria Art Depot; Akron, Ohio, where I will be taken on a tour of people and places important to Jim Bloor (to whom this road trip is lovingly dedicated); Steubenville, Ohio, where I will walk in the footsteps of Dean Martin, with whom I share a birthday; Wheeling, West Virgina, for a much needed coffee; Morgantown, West Virginia, the site of last year’s A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown’s Favourite Son; The Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, Ohio; St. Augustine, Florida, just because it’s so old and so beautiful; and, lastly, Oviedo, Florida, before arriving home.

As of now, and subject to change, my trip will take 16 days, 5 hours, and 2 minutes (according to Microsoft Streets and Trips, a program no longer available) and I will have traveled 3063 miles, not accounting for side trips for sight-seeing. 

I wish I were leaving right now.

Closer to home, I have been rethinking the entire Headlines Du Jour column. 

I had been aggregating these headlines 3 days a week: Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. However, the last month I’ve had to skip it a few times because of other commitments.

I’ve been compiling Headlines Du Jour for several years now, but it’s become something of a trap. It takes, on average, 2 hours to format the headlines I’ve collected since the last time. It takes even longer if I’ve been too busy to collect headlines before aggregating them.

To be perfectly honest, I’m bored with it.

I’ll continue with Headlines Du Jour until I leave for the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research, when it would have gone on a natural hiatus.

Whether it returns, or not, remains to be seen. I haven’t given up on it entirely. However, if I continue to compile the Headlines Du Jour, I’ll need a way to invigorate it. Feel free to send your suggestions.

As the Not Now Silly Head Writer I’ve been given a unique experience. Several of the candidates in Miami’s District 2 race have been talking to me OFF THE RECORD, everything embargoed until after the election. I’m hoping it will coalesce into a series of BEHIND THE SCENES stories about this election, which will be Miami’s most contentious.

As well, I have been going along with them on door knocks. The ground rules are that any conversation with voters is ON THE RECORD, but the stroll and chats are OFF THE RECORD.

Here’s what I can report: Almost everyone wants to talk about the current Miami District 2 Commissioner, [allegedly] corrupt Marc D. Sarnoff. The voters bring up his name before the candidates do. Which makes this a good time to remind readers about ABT — Anybody But Teresa, a little facebookery I fired up. It’s dedicated to making fun of the idea that [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff thinks he can buy and bully a commission seat for his wife, who has never shown any interest in city politics in the past 30 years.

Lastly, at least for this month, I have a number of posts half finished, for which I am waiting for callbacks, or am still researching the topics. If I finish them all, I’ll be very busy in the next 3 weeks, before I leave for my road trip.

Next month’s Unpacking the Writer will come from the road if I find the time.