Monday, May 30, 2016

Billy Hill Badassery Award 5 - Billy T. Smith

On this Memorial Day weekend of 2016, Billy Hill extends a thanks to all those who have fallen to protect a nation that so many, externally and internally, have tried to destroy.  The soldiers that left behind the comfort of their homes, the hugs of their children and spouses, the smell of bacon cooking in the morning, running water and a soft bed, entered into extreme circumstances, some of which every next breath they took was a gift.  But today is a day to recognize those that did not come home, but rather those that gave their all so that all of us in this country can maintain the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And for the most part, as those soldiers lay on the ground breathing their last breath, and those that were not even aware of the approaching end, they were not thinking of the color of our skin, the religious beliefs we embrace, the morality of the people back home, the lack of appreciation that so many would show, etc.  They were fighting for our nation as a whole and for each of us as equals.

And I know that while today we honor the fallen and we have Veterans day to honor the living, many people don't understand that there is more to death than just breathing your final breath.  You see, many soldiers died in battle but yet, did not physically stay behind.  Young innocent men and women died to their innocence and came home different people.  Yes, the kids ran out on the tarmac to hug their returning dad or mom but, it was not the same person that they had hugged goodbye.  You cannot go through the hell of war without dying in one way or another.

And so, without distracting our honor for those that have fallen, we can also honor the "falling".

So, as I sit here this morning while Billy T. Smith is in a hospital bed in Tennessee fighting for his life, yet once again, I take a moment to issue him a bad-ass award.  And although just like all of us he has  his shortcomings, he nonetheless left this country as a young innocent man with a wife and three little children, and returned home a year later but yet, really he did not.  He would soon find that the Agent Orange that was showered upon him in Vietnam would begin to deteriorate his nervous system, robbing him of physical capabilities far too soon for his age.  And also he returned with a soul filled with memories of countless soldiers that laid with their heads in his lap as he comforted them with prayer and encouragement as they drifted off to join the ranks of the "fallen".

Billy T. Smith was an Army Chaplain and his fellow soldiers described him as a foxhole chaplain.  He refused to stay behind at camp in the comfort and safety of his tent and chapel, but rather hauled a communion set all over Vietnam to meet with the soldiers on the battle field lines, to bring them words of comfort and encouragement, to bring a little bit of home to them.  As a recipient of two purple hearts, it was clear that he was dedicated to his mission.  Below is a picture of Col. Chaplain Billy T. Smith baptizing soldiers in the South China Sea during the Vietnam War.  He is a tough man, not only surviving Vietnam, but also a quadruple bypass and struggling with the loss of feeling in his extremities.  And today, he once again is soldiering up to push back death and say "not me, not today, not this time".

The words of the song "The Reverend Mr. Black" always brings tears to my eyes"

He rode easy on the saddle, he was tall and lean
First thought nothing but a streak of mean
Could make a man look so down right strong
But one look in his eyes, you'd know'd you was wrong
He carried a Bible and a canvas sack
The folks just called him, the Reverence Mr. Black.
He was poor as a beggar but he rode like a king
Sometimes in the evening I could hear him sing:
"you gotta walk, that lonesome valley, you got to walk, it by yourself
nobody else, is gonna walk if for you, you gotta walk, it by yourself"

Well if every I thought that man in black
Had a yellow streak up and down his back
I save the notion for the day
When a lumber jack came in and it wasn't to pray
Cause he kicked open the meeting house doors
And he cussed everybody up and down the floor
And then when things got quiet in the place
He walked up and cussed in the preachers face
And he hit that reverend like the kick of a mule
And from my way of thinking it took a darn fool
To turn the other cheek to that lumber jack
But that's what he did, the reverend Mr. Black
And he stood like a rock, a man among men
And he let that lumber jack hit him again
And then with a voice just a quiet as can be
He cut him down like a big oak tree when he said:
"you gotta walk, that lonesome valley, you got to walk, it by yourself
nobody else, is gonna walk if for you, you gotta walk, it by yourself"

Well I followed him that day and I don't regret it
And I hope I'll always be a credit
To his memory, for I want you all to understand
The Reverend Mr. Black was my old man.

Billy Hill here, I like it neat

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Billy Hill Here, on Ab-Normal Town

So, Billy Hill lives in a place called Normal Town, which is just an "area" within Athens Georgia.  Actually Billy Hill kinda lives on the edge of Normal Town and the edge of Cobbham (a historic district in Athens).  Normal Town is not really an "official" area but rather, just a self-proclaimed area that takes its name from the recently closed down Naval Supply School.  Now, Billy Hill believes you should be and let be and being critical of something really does not accomplish anything.  And so, rather than rag on the "Normal Town" crowd, Billy Hill is just going to talk about his observations.

You see, there is a nice little quaint bar in Normal Town, actually several of them but this one bar has a good bourbon selection.  And so, Billy Hill likes to pop in there from time to time.  Of course, Billy Hill wears shoes, smells like he took a shower in the last two weeks, has clothes that match and are not substantially wrinkled and has a job that is not funded by tax payer money and so, he never really quite fits in at a Normal Town bar.  In fact, he sort of stands out like a living soul at a Walking Dead party.  So, he just quietly sits at the bar and enjoys his bourbon in solitude, which suits him just fine, otherwise he would have to be listening to some government indoctrinated zombie talk about the wonders of Hillary or Bernie.  That right there will ruin a good bourbon.

So anyway, as Billy Hill sat in this one particular bar last night waiting on a friend, two very obviously Normal Town Walkers (See the Walking Dead for that reference) of the some-what female persuasion come strolling into the bar.  Each of them has a dog with them.  Not a lap dog mind you, but very large dogs.  Billy Hill found this somewhat alarming and he immediately changed his mind about ordering a pizza to eat there on site.  But this was not the most alarming thing.  The most alarming part was when one of them, smiled in a way that she thought was cute, and held up a plastic baggie obviously filled with dog crap, and asked the bar tender if she could put it in a trash can.  Then she handed this bag of dog crap, across the bar to the bar tender who then put it in a garbage can behind the bar.

That is when Billy Hill decided that he has had his fill of Normal Town and instead of turning left off his front porch, he will forever more turn right and head down town.  You see, Normal Town proudly declares that they are NOT NORMAL.  Well folks, I am here to tell you that THAT is not "not normal".  That my friends is ABNORMAL.  You actually (a) took your dogs to a bar where people eat food (b) you actually let you dog crap in the vicinity of said bar (c) you then picked up the dog crap and thought it was smart to walk right by outside garbage cans and dumpsters and bring said dog crap INTO the bar and then (d) declared out loud for all to see in hear that you had done so and then asked someone else to handle the stupidity of the mess that you created.

Billy Hill would not be surprised to see this scene in Normal Town some day (sans the lovely landscape).  Really, what is the matter with people?

Billy Hill here, I like it neat (and in a dog crap free zone)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bourbon Review: Joey D's Oak Room

Billy Hill Here, blogging remotely but had this on his mind and had to dump it before it fell out.  And it is not r-e-a-l-l-y a bourbon review but rather, a review about bourbon and bourbon people and well . . . just read it and see. 

Billy Hill had to trek into the big ATL this week for some meetings and a little bit of crow eating.  You see, Billy Hill got pissed at a client last week and in the midst of Billy Hill and the client yelling at each other over the telephone, Billy Hill just fired him on the spot and told him to go find another attorney . . . . and then immediately as the words rolled out of his mouth he remembered his mentor's advice "it is always easier to make a bad client good than it is to get a new client".  So, Billy Hill asked the client to meet him at his Office in Atlanta (they had never met just talked on the telephone) and so they did.  Turns out the guy, though quite annoying on the telephone was really quite a sporting dude and Billy Hill had a blast meeting him and getting things back on track.  

So, after all the meetings for the day, Billy Hill Here headed out to meet a great friend, owner of the award winning Goodnitelite, at Joey D's Oak Room in Atlanta.  It had been quite awhile since Billy Hill had crossed their threshold but, they are worthy of a visit if you are in town.  Aside from the fact that their food is spectacular, the first thing that really smacks you in the face is their liquor wall with a fine selection of bourbon, and i mean fine.  

After being cheered as I entered the bar, evidently my total tardiness was shared by my buddy with the bar staff and as I rolled in, a mere 45 minutes late (yikes) I was greeted by hoops and hollers and out stretched arms, sometimes it pays to be late.  

Well I ponied up to the bar after a bear hug and spotted some W.L. Weller way up high on the bar wall and asked for a pour.  

I was admittedly mesmerized as the young 6'2" blue eyed blond bar tender lady rolled the library ladder around and scurried up to the top shelf.  So mesmerized in fact that I did not even notice the older gentleman behind the bar pulling out a bottle and sliding a pour in front of me.  He smiled as he walked off and said "try that". 

I did and I must say, it was a step out of Billy Hill's neighborhood but, it was a pleasant jaunt.  There is not much that Billy Hill enjoys more than seeing the smile on someone's face as they wait for you to try their go to, or experience one of their latest finds, and so I gladly lifted the glass, breathed in the aroma, turned it up, and filled my mouth with a delightful liquid gold.  And man, did Billy Hill like it!

It was not a bourbon, but rather a rye whiskey.  And although rye whiskeys are really hot on the market these days, Billy Hill, being a straight up bourbon man just hasn't bothered to deviate from his bourbon path until this fine gentleman at Joey D's reached out.  Well, you will now find this has a reserved spot on Billy Hill Here's personal bar. It was Michter's, Single barrel straight rye.  And like Billy has said before, Billy Hill does not get into the fruity, nutty, spicy nuance descriptions of a whiskey.  If it makes him slap his leg and say "Dang, where can I get a bottle of that for my shelf" then it is good.  Otherwise it is Maker's Mark, only fit for mixing and, Billy Hill don't mix. 
But for those that do get into those fruity nuances, and for the Democrats, here is an excerpt from Geoff Kleinman's website:

"Why is rye so hot? Most American whiskey on the market is bourbon, which is made from at least 51% corn. While corn delivers some really nice flavors, it can sometimes lack complexity. Rye is often added into the mix to help give whiskey depth, spice, and character. Popular bourbons like Woodford Reserve, Four Roses and Wild Turkey use a fairly significant amount of rye in their mix.
To be labeled an American rye whiskey, you must include at least 51% of rye in the mix. Many of the rye whiskeys on the market are exactly that, as rye is an expensive and difficult to use grain, however some go even deeper into the rye pool to make the rye the centerpiece of the whiskey. The most profound example of this is Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Rare Rye, which is made from 100% rye." Geoff Kleinman