An appreciation for the turbulent life and undeniable talent of Amy Winehouse. Dead at 27, July 23, 2011.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Amy Jade Winehouse was exactly the woman your mother was terrified you’d become… and nagged at you to avoid. She covered her body with old-time sailor tattoos… had a beehive style hair-do that looked like it was construction art… popped pills like juju beans… drank like a fish and then became a “bad drunk”… found men, let them abuse her, then ditched them… to do it all over again. And, if this were not enough, she experimented with every drug her international contacts could get her… then went through some more.

Yeah, she was a mess alright… but there was one redeeming grace… and that was the lady had talent… and an outsized personality that enabled her to showcase her works… and (when she was at her best) wow the folks… while changing the outmoded verities in the musical world… where she was a seismic force smoking out hypocrisies, superficialities, and any hint of silly sweetness. She was authentic to her fingertips… and that made a lot of people — including mothers with young girls — plenty nervous.

Now this volcanic force is dead, aged just 27, and we are left to wonder at why she gave up everything she loved — including her very life — to feed her destructive passions. A good place to look for clues is in her prize-winning 2007 tune “Rehab”. Go to any search engine now. Play the song once or twice, and pay particular attention to the lyrics… “They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no, no, no’.” And then the kicker we all knew to be true, “Yeah, I’m outta control.” She was right… and it was the tragedy of her life.

She did what she wanted… with whom she wanted… where she wanted.. when she wanted. She knew what was acceptable behavior… she ignored it to achieve who she was. If that upset others, too bad. Her need to behave in ways you found selfish, reprehensible, ridiculous made her maddeningly impossible to be around; you never knew what was coming next… because she never knew what she’d be doing next. It was an exhausting way to live…. and no one knew it better than she did and in moments of clarity she screamed for help “I don’t ever wanna drink again”. But she did drink… and smoke… and shoot up… and inhale… engaging in every form of abuse she could think of, devise or learn from her cadre of fellow travelers, each going to hell in their own fashion….

But through it all there was the music and the talent that produced it. And if we must condemn her, let us do so for this reason: that she abused her talent, wasted her talent, insulted her talent, and treated her talent with contempt, with every injection risking it, threatening it, threatening all. For this she deserves the strongest possible condemnation…

…. Amy Winehouse knew this. But as time went on, it didn’t matter anymore… she knew she was on the road to oblivion. “Can you blame me for being a slave to my passion?” Yes, most assuredly we can… because her passion was not ingestion and self abuse (though it seemed so)… her passion was the music she created… the sound she shaped… the impacting words… these things were her passion and she squandered these with too little remorse and regret. Damn her.

The beginning.

Winehouse was born September 14, 1983 in the Southgate area of north London to a Jewish family whose inclination to jazz later influenced her work. She was the younger of two children (older brother Alex) of Mitchell Winehouse, taxi driver, and Janis Winehouse (nee Seaton), pharmacist. Mitchell often sang Frank Sinatra songs to young Amy, who took to a constant habit of singing to the point that teachers found it difficult keeping her quiet in class. Even then it was clear she had talent… Like other young artists there were many false starts… she got her first guitar at 13 and began writing music a year later. She also began working at this time, for openers a showbiz journalist for the World Entertainment News Network, also singing with a local group the Bolsha Band.

But her passion was the all-girl groups of the ’60’s, particularly The Ronettes, her favorite; it’s where she got her “instantly recognizable” beehive hair-do and Cleopatra make-up.


Just 20, her debut album “Frank” was released October 20, 2003. Produced mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs were influenced by jazz and, apart from two covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse. The reviews were good and brought comparisons to Macy Gray and Sarah Vaughan. In due course, “Frank” garnered a host of awards and honors… and reached platinum sales levels. The little Jewish girl from north London had her foot on the ladder… but as usual did it her way. Instead of engaging in the usual puffery, she said of this album she was just “80 percent” behind it. Her producers fumed… but the world smiled; here was a person who told the (often inconvenient) truths… and we all liked her better.

International success.

In these days, Winehouse was a prodigious worker, an artist who never tolerated the second rate in herself, or anyone else. She knew what she wanted from herself… and from you. “Back to Black” was the result, released in the U.K. October 30, 2006. It became the best-selling U.K. album in 2007, selling a staggering 1.85 million copies over the year. The money guys heard the clink of coin… and were willing to tolerate Winehouse’s often eccentric behavior because she delivered the bucks.

The most influential song on this album was “Rehab”. “Time” magazine called it the “Best Song” of 2007. Interviewer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, saying “What she is is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy,” and “It’s impossible not to be seduced by her originality.” The world agreed; prizes and honors were showered upon her… and, of course, money, lots and lots of it. All she had to do was keep her demons under control. But who can promise so much, even with the entire world and its golden prizes at stake? She still had higher to fly… the farther to fall when her punishing descent began. Let’s stay a little on the lady still ascending, for her fall is painful, distressing, the stuff of agony and dismay.

In 2008 she won Grammy Awards in the categories for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab,” while her album “Back to Black” was nominated for Album of the Year and won Best Pop Vocal award. She was now well and truly at the top of the world… for an instant, until the contrary forces she had kept in balance, began pulling in opposite directions she could no longer control. Thus did mighty mayhem break loose… and Amy Winehouse lose her ascendancy in the world… and, far too soon, her life.

She was drawn to, loved, married, dallied with and tolerated, all the wrong people… the weak men who pandered to her vices and abused her body, her weaknesses and kindness; the ones who fed her pills and substances of every kind which she never needed and was unable to resist. Thanks to the constant lurid tales in the tabloids, we all saw it. Hers was a tragedy occurring before our eyes, an irresistible inevitability which at last on July 23 bore its strange fruit. The scene was dirty, squalid, disgusting… with honors, awards, trophies strewn about the place, indicators that life was vanity, all vanity. Short, ironic, painful, pride abashed and all alone.

So did Amy Winehouse kill herself, her talent and her many dreams… but she could not kill her music, rhythmic, honest to a fault, intriguing, bold. Here was the woman at her best… and now this best must stand against the ages, to remind us of her integrity and audacity, for she had these in abundance, and so should we remember her.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

A tale of the city. Someone to watch over me.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. This article will touch you more deeply than you might otherwise allow if you find one of the innumerable renditions of George Gershwyn’s “Someone To Watch Over Me”. (1926, from the often-revived musical “Oh, Kay!”) The one by the late chanteuse Amy Winehouse (given the tragic and squalid circumstances of her end) is both ironic and haunting for she most assuredly had no one to watch over her… much less save her from herself.

Go to any search engine now, find the singer you like… play it once or twice…for this is the desired, unmistakable sound for today’s tale…

It starts with a boy from the Prairies…

“Know thyself!” is perhaps the most famous (and surely the shortest) command (and admonition) of our culture. Pausanias, a Greek writer of the second century A.D., had the words chiseled in the wall of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. There’s been plenty argumentation ever since, as curious offspring seek to live those words, fully, completely, ardently…

… while protective parents, wiser to the world’s ways, say and will say to the end of the universe “Over my dead body, buster! And be back by 11… or else!”

If I tell you, confess really, that I was the boy who always was home early and never (except for one notable occasion, too notable to tell you here) knew what transgressing against “or else” might mean, you will perhaps have an inkling about the subject of this tale. I was always “The Best Boy”, sheltered, protected, indulged… I was not insensible of my privileged situation… but deep within (so deep for years I didn’t even know the notion existed) there was a desire to taste forbidden fruit and find out what happened when you walked on the Wild Side in dead of night

Others were anxious to help me out of my deep-seated predicament. Once, at university, a determined bunch of boys, affronted by my puritan outlook, tied me to a chair and, for an unblushing hour or two spat every four-letter word, every expletive (none deleted), and every vulgar configuration known to advanced eighteen year olds at me… my hands tied to my side, no chance of protecting those virgin ears. I was appalled… horrified… but I emerged, despite their strenuous efforts, unscathed. What was more notable than their failure to brand me was the fact that every one of my outspoken captors, every single one, was a clergyman’s son… the apple of the bishop’s eye being by far the most advanced and knowledgeable about the devil’s flamboyant lexicon. In due course, he, too, became a clergyman…

It didn’t matter where I was, people, being the helpful souls they are, sensed my situation… and wished to autograph it with a unique imprecation, malediction. One day, in about 1967, I attended a packed poetry reading given by Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982). It was standing-room only; I know. I was standing.

Rexroth, with Satan’s own radar, read a poem, perhaps it was about innocence, then announced he would, dowser-like, find the most innocent boy in the crowd. As he searched, he made his way closer to… me. And then, to my acute embarrassment, he announced he had found him… and that he was…. me. Thereupon he planted a fervent wake-the-dead kiss on me. I sank to the very earth, red, abashed, humiliated… most of all for the unwelcome designation that came with the buss: the most innocent boy on campus. Worst of all, it may have been true…

And, if so, it stayed true, for I was on the determined path to fame and fortune, which had not so much been prophesied as promised me… and I meant to have them, all of them, just as fast as possible….

It was then I discovered Nick and Nora Charles. Quick! Do you know who they are? Your parents could tell you. They were the utterly attractive couple invented by Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) the crime writer and brought so memorably to life by William Powell and Myrna Loy in a series of 14 “Thin Man” films from 1936-1941. They were what ever boy wanted who was sure life was what was happening wherever he wasn’t… and he yearned to go to that place at once, no questions asked, full speed ahead. As a result, I didn’t merely watch… I scrutinized Nick and Nora and every aspect of their wonderful lives.

This included the way they dressed, how they made their martinis…. and how they comported themselves when they’d each had one too many (crucial for a boy who had never tasted alcohol at all)… and of course just who was included amongst their extensive acquaintance. Why, they knew everyone on both coasts, governors, mayors, congressmen, thieves, murderers, marauders of every kind. And, of course, a small army of the “little people” who keep big cities going 24 hours a day and who see everything and everyone.

I learned a lot from just how Nick and Nora (who was always quick to follow Nick’s fancy footwork) treated these folks: always with courtesy, good humor, and no “side” whatsoever. It was an eye-opening revelation; you could be a convicted felon and yet be treated, by respectable folk, like the human being you were. I saw the same truth at work when in “Gone With The Wind” Melanie Wilkes met Belle Watling when Belle dropped off a pocketful of gold for Atlanta’s desperately needy hospital. Miz. Wilkes said she was proud to be under an obligation to Miz. Watling… This, I learned for good, was what a real lady would say.

And thus, firmly convinced that each person I encountered, no matter how black their history or damning their circumstances, deserved my politeness, my empathy, my kindness, I embarked on Life 101 and began to collect an astonishing grab-bag of people from the gutter up. One day one of the most troubled of these, a young man whose life, at just 22 or so, so, resembled nothing so much as the essence of chaos, confusion, mayhem and pain, said that he respected me because I treated him the same way I treated everyone else, not like a petty criminal with a rap-sheet as long as my arm. It was one of the most profound compliments I have ever received. Such people called me “Dr. Jeffrey” and said that in the certainties of my life they found a refuge, no matter how limited, for the uncertainties of their own. And, of course, the “helps” (as Queen Victoria called them) helped, too; the food, the clothes I (the least fashionable of men) no longer needed, the few bucks that cost me so little to give… all these were thankfully received. Most of the time, it was just the thought that counted and the unjudging ear.

But just the other day, the potential hazards of my behavior was borne home to me when I received a phone call from the bank that someone had just tried to cash one of my checks, only to discover just how well known I am, since the teller knew (as she would) that the signature was not mine. The miscreant fled… in unnecessary trouble for just sixty dollars. I probably would have given it to him… after all I know he has a young child.

My valued bank officer Helen read me the riot act. How could I have let him in, into my house of all houses… and left my checks out? How could I explain… she would only say, and rightly so, that I might have been killed. But she knows nothing of writers and their needs; hers was the advice of common-sense and bankers. I took the dressing down like a boy of 20, not a respected man of 64. Then later that day I called the lady and thanked her for looking out for me, grateful for her concern and even the sharp words delivered with her Irish up. You see, I have someone, and maybe many such, to watch over me… while the thief I befriended faces misdemeanor charges and perhaps the dawning recognition of the worst that’s yet to come…. without anyone to watch over him.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

‘You know you want me!’ Crucial job-finding strategies for the unemployed and particularly for new graduates trying to enter the world of work.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. If you’re like millions of people worldwide, you’re engaged in the often frustrating, discouraging and disheartening hunt for a job. I’m here to help, especially if you’ve just graduated from college and you’re trying like the dickens to grab that first job.

The music I’ve selected to accompany this article is perfect for the state of mind you need now and must maintain throughout the entire job-hunting process. The tune is “You know you want me! (Calle Ocho) ” by rapper Pitbull, recorded in 2009. You’ll find it in any search engine. When you do, play it a couple of times. And I mean play it! And dance it!

This high energy song has just the right lyric: “You know you want me!” Because isn’t that what the entire process is about: getting the all-important employer to say these magic words to you… so that you can reciprocate the favor by saying “You know I want you!”, the mutual “I do’s” commencing the perfect relationship.

Oh, just one thing: don’t even dream of going to any job interview dressed like Pitbull and his video friends. Dressed like that, they’d never get a real job…

1) Looking for a job is currently your job. Behave accordingly.

Right now, you think you’re unemployed. But you’re wrong. You have a job; it’s looking for paid employment. You must arrange your day exactly as you would any regular work day.

Before you go to bed (at a reasonable time, too) arrange what you’ll need for tomorrow. This includes knowing precisely what potential employers you’ll approach and ensuring you have everything you need to do so (phone numbers?)

Also, lay out the clothes you intend to wear, right down to that eye-catching rep tie. That’s right, dress for success. You are what you wear.

Too many job seekers allow themselves the luxury of looking like an unmade bed as they look for paid employment. They’re unbathed… undressed… and hence unsuccessful. But this is hardly surprising. Yo! Get some self-respect and dress for business… the way your successful competitors are doing and which you most probably are not.

2) Go out, come in, start your day.

Just because you’re not currently engaged in remunerative employment certainly does not mean you jettison all your good habits. Remember, looking for a job currently is your job. Thus, after you’ve finished the usual morning tasks (including donning appropriate threads), leave your abode for your “office”.

Go out the door. Close the door. Open the door, then march to your desk, ready, willing and able to get started. You might think this exercise foolish and unnecessary, but it’s not. With it, you are signaling your brain that you are in the “work zone”. This means complete and total focus on the job hunt; no long gossipy conversations with your buddies; no old films either, or “just a few” video games.

When you are at the place you have dubbed your office, you engage only in professional, work-related activities.

This is a must.

3) Set-up your computer so you’re ready to engage.

You need a file containing complete details of the people and organizations you’re contacting. This includes name, title, street address, city, state/province, zip/postal code. Also, phone number, fax, email address, etc.. And, importantly, notes on your contacts. With this information readily available, you immediately enter the ranks of the most organized and efficient job seekers.

4) Write and keep your resume updated; ready to be emailed.

The purpose of a resume is not to talk about yourself (though it may seem so) but to show your prospective employer just what you can do for him… based on what you have done for others. This means concentrating on results, results, demonstrated results. This puts the focus of your resume where it needs to be: on what the employer wants, not on you.

But, you say, I’ve just graduated from college, what kinds of demonstrated results have I had?

At this moment, you may suddenly feel that the degree you worked so hard to get (and you an honors graduate, too) isn’t worth the paper it’s engraved on. Wrong again. It was, is, and always will be precious, important third-person validation. You were awarded this degree because of proven results.

For openers, can you write a clear, clean, understandable English sentence, one that makes your meaning pellucid? Good. You’re ahead of 90% of college graduates. Tell your prospective employer, because in moments of desperation and exasperation he’s been known to utter some abrasive home truths on the communications errors his current employees are making, embarrassing him and the company while perplexing and irritating customers. Show him you’re different.

Do you have exemplary habits? Do you make commitments and keep commitments? Or do you say one thing, and do something quite different? Your new employer is quite qualified to show you what he wants from you; but now he wants reassurance that you’re worth the time and trouble. Got good habits? Then flaunt them. Remember, “You know you want these…”

5) Treat the “little people” you encounter with respect. Remember, they know more about the organizations you are contacting than you do.

One way you can get a leg up on your job-seeking competitors is by showing you respect the so-called “little people,” secretaries, executive assistants, go-fers, young people on internships, etc. ALL leaders must have know how to work with such folks, because they (and not just the CEO) are the essential elements of the equation.

When you talk to these people on the telephone, sit up, take a deep breath, put a smile in your voice. If they use their first name (“Hello, this is Mr. Goody’s secretary Mary”), then you do the same thing. Remember, Mary has access to the people you want to connect with. Be pleasant, upbeat, friendly… turn her into your advocate.

The same applies when you arrive for interviews. Be at least 15 minutes early. Bring extra copies of your resume, work samples where appropriate, copies of letters of recommendation , extra business cards, etc. Put a smile on your face, even though you may be nervous and anxious. While waiting read the company’s brochure. And you’ll really make a good impression if you print the company’s website and underline the areas where you could make a constructive difference. Now that’s being “with it”…

It’s time for carpe diem. At the end of today, 24 hours of your life will be used up, gone forever; that’s true for all of us. The real question is whether you’ll be ahead or behind at day’s end. For the result you want, when you see your prospective employer (or talk with her on the phone), say “Hello, I’m here to help you ma’am; I hope you’ll give me the opportunity!” That said, you know they’ll want you. How could they not?

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

‘My Day’ with Eleanor Roosevelt, my father’s unforgettable visit with the most important woman of the 20th century.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note: Eleanor Roosevelt was, at once, one of the most admired and one of the most reviled women of the twentieth century. You either loved her or you hated her. That’s what happens when you set out to improve the world… and do. A lot of people aren’t going to like it…

That’s why, when I went in search of music for this article, I knew it might be tricky finding just the right sound. But it wasn’t. A friend recommended Anastacia’s tune “Paid My Dues” (released 2001). You’ll find it in any search engine.

First listen for the beat; then listen for the lyrics.

“You can say what you want about me Wanna do what you want to me But you can not stop me.”

This was very much the case with Mrs. Roosevelt. And she had unquestionably paid her dues…

How the subject came up.

Most every Saturday I spend some quality time with my now 86 year old father. He’s in California, I’m in Massachusetts so our conversations are on the telephone. I’ve been urging him to get a webcam so we can benefit from the visual, but he keeps telling me that would be too hard. He’s wrong, but obstinate; for now we adhere to the phone.

Our conversations cover any aspect or subject in the lives of two active men, his and mine. Some are profoundly serious, others comical, hilarious as jokes from long ago are trotted out to be reprised and laughed at again. At the end of these conversations, we both feel good; at least I do.

A few months ago in the middle of one such conversation, he casually said, “Did I ever tell you about my visit with Eleanor Roosevelt?” Then the bombshell. “It was the most important day of my life.”

I was staggered on two accounts, first that I had never heard of this matter before and second that he regarded the visit so importantly. Of course, I couldn’t wait to hear the details…

It was the summer of 1944.

By the summer of 1944, it was clear the Axis powers had lost the war, but it was not quite clear that the Allies had won it. That’s why the total focus needed to deliver victory had to be maintained. And so every aspect of life at that time was touched by the war. It was total war, totally consuming.

My father was a candidate for the navy’s officer training program. However, when taking the physical it was discovered that he had a heart murmur. He was ordered to go to the navy hospital in San Diego for further tests. Thus, he found himself billeted in the Fine Arts Gallery and History Museum, Balboa Park. This was a facility for 1,200 patients, space very much at a premium.

One day a message was circulated by the commander that Mrs. Roosevelt would be paying an official visit shortly. He ordered all able bodied and ambulatory personnel to attend. He, of course, wanted to make the best possible impression on the President’s wife and key advisor. But some of the “boys” in hospital were determined they wouldn’t help. Their remarks were often rude, vulgar, immature; often directed at a woman who, it was true, was plain to a degree and who was thus made the butt of many crude, ungracious comments.

Many of these comments criticized her for not staying at home in the White House to serve tea and cookies to visiting dignitaries. These reflected the views of their fathers who were outspoken about the woman who did too much gadding about, interfering in other people’s business.

My father felt differently. He admired her “pluck” as he called it and was looking forward to seeing this world figure and hearing what she had to say.

When my father arrived in the Spreckles Organ Pavilion Mrs. Roosevelt, dressed in uniform, was already on stage. Right on time she started the program, greeted the audience and took questions from those nearest the stage. In an instant the crude comments and insults of just moments before stopped. There was that about the lady that turned ruffians into rapt listeners and gentlemen. You didn’t know this though until you were with her. Then you knew it, for life; it was her secret and it came in very helpful in the demanding life she fashioned for herself. She knew how to put people at ease and make friends.

After a time and as it was one of the picture-perfect San Diego days, she suggested to her hosts that they sit in the shade under the trees. Most of the audience left at that point, having, as they saw it, done their duty. But my father knew that this was the chance of a lifetime to be in the presence of History and learn. He followed Mrs. Roosevelt outside where the conversation was warm, personable, like family.

She knew two important things about the “boys” surrounding her. She knew they were far away from home and lonely, and she knew they were not the best of correspondents. She also knew that their families missed them so and worried. She knew she could make a difference… and where she could, she would.

Thus, as she talked to the young men, she took down, with a gold pencil, their names and addresses and promised to send word to their parents. She looked you in the eye, my father recalled, when asking for the details… and no one at that moment saw a plain woman; instead they felt the radiance of her personality and her humanity. She was a good, caring soul… and they all knew it.

I’d like to tell you that my father gave Mrs. Roosevelt his particular details, including the name and address of his parents; I’d like to tell you that he had framed her letter to his mother, my grandmother, and that he was giving it to me, because he knew I would take good care of it. But I can’t…

Instead he shyly watched as others, one by one, gave the information she requested…. until at last the aides who guarded her schedule (and her strength) let it be known it was time to move on. The farewells were brief, friendly, warm handshakes… and that smile instantly recognizable to a world which admired and counted on her.

At that moment my father kicked himself for not giving Mrs. Roosevelt his particulars since, as good as her word, she did write astonished parents, who instantly wrote their offspring and told all the neighbors and every one of their startled relations.

My father was chagrined but he made the best of it. He became a regular reader of Mrs. Roosevelt’s six-day-a-week syndicated newspaper column “My Day”. Written from 1935 to 1962, it is still eminently readable today. He also made the pilgrimage to Vall-Kill (as I later did), the only home she ever owned and the only home of any First Lady to become a National Historic Site.

It was at Vall-Kill she said, “The greatest thing I have learned is how good it is to come home again.” This is why my sprawling Saturday conversations with my father will continue, for these are the conversations of home, and we each have more to reveal to each other…

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

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‘Our lives, our fortunes, & our sacred Honor’. Rediscovering William Whipple, New Hampshire patriot, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I have found the perfect music to accompany this article. It is called “Washington’s March”. It is an elegant piece of 18th century music, balanced, refined, symmetrical, as suitable for a drawing room as for an afternoon’s review of the troops.

It reminds us that George Washington and all his officers were gentlemen born and bred, citizens of substance who undertook the pronounced hazard of revolution because that was the only way open to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” They risked everything…

You can find this tune in any search engine. It appears as part of a splendid collection entitled “Music of the American Revolution: The Birth of Liberty.” Sadly the composer of “Washington’s March” is unknown. He deserves recognition, too…

Steps to glory… or the gallows.

It is important to remember one thing about history: at the time it is actually occurring only God Himself knows the outcome. No person present can do anything more than speculate on what may happen. You must remember this, for the people you encounter in this article were each and every one making the most bold, audacious and rash decision of their lives when, on August 2, 1776 most of the delegates to the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), signed the Declaration of Independence. William Whipple, one of the three representatives from New Hampshire, signed that day. We can imagine the scene…

Every man present, as his turn came to sign, would have had, must have had a moment of the utmost sobriety, even dread. He would have thought of the terrible risk he was taking to bring forth the new nation. His mind would have touched on the people he loved…. the people who loved and trusted him. As he moved up in the queue he could so clearly see the beloved aspects of his life, each and every one of them, now with his own signature in the most perilous danger.

But though there had to be profound reflections and profound anxiety, there was in that place, on that date, emanating from each man present and all the citizens there represented, a deep certainty that what they were doing was profoundly right, proper and necessary…. and as they took pen in hand, they wrote their names, if not so grandiloquently as John Hancock, yet with the same ringing belief…

They did this for liberty! For freedom! For the chance of some happiness in the shortness of life. And, most of all, to create a nation which would provide a living model, where the good of all would always be the goal, not the good of a few. They stood for a new way of governing men and arranging their affairs… they stood for a nation they insisted be great!

Thus did William Whipple, in sober reflection and invoking God’s will be done, sign the most important document in the short history of mankind, and, thus committed, did he resolve to strive, to turn brilliant rhetoric into vital reality.

About William Whipple, Jr., born January 14, 1730.

Whipple was born in Kittery, Maine, now famous for its many factory-outlet stores. He went to the sea, like so many Mainers, having studied in the common school the essentials necessary to become a merchant. He became a Ship’s Master by the age of twenty-three, and in 1759 moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he established a merchant partnership with his brother. In either 1770 or 1771 (the record is unclear) he married his first cousin Katherine Moffat; they must have been in love, and adamant, for such matches between those so closely related were not recommended. But, of course, without documentation, we can only speculate and may thereby deduce the wrong conclusion.

The people’s choice.

In 1775 Whipple, a well-established businessman of 45, was elected to represent his town at the Provincial Congress. In 1776 New Hampshire dissolved the Royal government and reorganized with a House of Representatives and an Executive Council. Whipple became a Council member, and a member of the Committee of Safety, and was elected to the Continental Congress, serving through 1779. There he was one of a group of men who worked hard, staying out of sight, achieving results, letting others take the credit. He was chairman of the marine, foreign relations and quartermaster committees and served on the committee which gathered intelligence on the British. Such a committee at such a time goes only to the most trusted of men.

While still in Congress, Whipple was appointed one of two brigadiers general; John Stark got the other appointment. The appointment came at a time of the utmost danger. The Americans had evacuated vital Fort Ticonderoga, the British having then taken it over. From this key strategic position, General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne meant to wreck havoc. General Whipple meant to ensure he didn’t.

Burgoyne was everything Whipple was not: a braggart, popinjay, condescending man who believed the Americans were there for one reason and one reason only: to provide him a step ladder to wealth, deference, renown. Whipple just got on with the job of defeating the man who never dreamt his defeat was possible. The result was the pivotal Battle of Saratoga, where the Americans not only defeated Burgoyne (thereby motivating France and Spain to enter the war on the side of the insurgents) but ended the Gentleman’s vainglorious career. He never had another military command; Whipple did. Appropriately, Whipple was accorded the honor of being one of the two American representatives assigned to working out the terms of capitulation. A victorious Burgoyne would have been contemptuous and insulting on such an occasion. Whipple handled the situation quite differently, although all knew how important the victory just obtained.

One more anecdote about Whipple at this time must be told. Like many officers Whipple had slaves; one in particular, named Prince, went to the war with his master. Before an engagement expected to be difficult, Whipple freed him upon Prince saying that he could only fight for freedom if he himself were free. Whipple felt the full force of this unanswerable argument, and made Prince a free man on the spot.

Whipple’s career both during and after the Revolution flourished, despite the fact that his health was uncertain, his heart weak. It because of this heart that he died. As Associate Justice of the Superior Court of New Hampshire he was required to ride circuit. One day while doing so, he fainted and fell from his horse to his death. Right up to the last moment of life, he worked for the good of the people, quietly, resolutely, obscurely, dying November 28, 1785.

Long overdue.

When it came for his tombstone to be made, his reserve served him poorly. Not even the fact that he had signed the great Declaration was mentioned. Now at last, for him and for 11 other signers, belated recognition has come. This year small bronze plaques will be added to their tombs. It’s little enough and that overdue, for those who gave so much to create and maintain our Great Republic, now imperiled by lesser folk who not only do not know Whipple’s work and legacy, but are doing everything they can to undo it.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

The luckiest man in America, historian David McCullough. God shed His grace on thee.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To get the most from this article, go to any search engine and find the words and music to “America the Beautiful”. It is not the official song of the United States; that honor goes to Francis Scott Keyes’ “The Star-Spangled Banner” (written in 1814) . But it is America’s hymn, a paean to the land and its people, written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1895; the music composed in 1910 by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward. Play it now as this story, an American story, unfolds.

This morning on Boston’s Beacon Hill, the most historic district of America’s most historic city, David McCullough will awake betimes. He will not linger in bed. What he has to do is too important, too exciting, and his job not really work at all, but a great privilege… Thus he is ready at first light to pick up the story which he with great reluctance and regret left just a few hours before.

This is David McCullough… the luckiest man in America… for he has the high and the glorious task to reveal America and the stories of Americans to ourselves and posterity.

He has the always happy task of digging deep into the rich soil of our collective journey… and, with a deft touch, and the often lyric beauty of his words, make clear to the nation the nation’s awe and majesty.

For no one knows better than David McCullough, the awe and majesty of this land, this people, and our journey of destiny. It is a tale of the greatest importance… ready to come alive in the words and vision of a master.

And, whilst most of the nation he celebrates is still at rest, David McCullough sits down at an old, much loved, much worn Royal manual typewriter (no computer for him). He is ready… and we who know the importance of his work are impatient for him to be about it….

Born July 7, 1933.

David McCullough was born in Pittsburgh of Scotch-Irish descent. He had the good sense to select just the right parents; Christian Hax and Ruth McCullough. They provided the wherewithal for what McCullough calls his “marvelous” childhood. He was a bright, active boy, with a wide range of interests, including a love affair with books and education that still engages, in the man, what so captivated the boy so many years ago.

Iin 1951, McCullough began taking classes at Yale University. One major reason for this choice what that the faculty contained such literary luminaries as John O’Hara, John Hersey, Robert Penn Warren, Brendan Gill, and best of all novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder. An aspiring writer, which McCullough now was, could hardly have imagined a better place to be.

McCullough loved Yale… and Yale loved him. He lunched from time to time with Pulitzer-prize winning Wilder, was elected to Skull and Bones, America’s second most famous club (Harvard’s Porcellian was first)… and began to understand the methods and critical importance of painstaking research. He graduated with honors in English literature (1955).

His first job out of Yale was at “Sports Illustrated”; he was a trainee; later he was hired by the United States Information Agency, to be an editor and writer in Washington, D.C. This was followed by a stint at “American Heritage” magazine. But to become the writer he wished to be, he first needed what every writer must have: independence, a clean break from the standard world of work. He needed a room of his own and the freedom to be himself. Here he was lucky again.

He was by now married to the woman he loved, Rosalee. She encouraged him to make the break to independence, although it would mean, with the sporadic and uncertain remuneration of writers, there would be days both meager and precarious. Nonetheless, she encouraged him.

And so he became David McCullough, writer, independent man.

Then more luck…. a subject worthy of the (unexpected) historian he was in process of becoming. It was a great subject… a tragic subject… a subject of titanic mayhem and everyday heroes. It was the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889. And in due course (1968), it became the first of his many books. Best of all, this cataclysm and its aftermath showed McCullough where his genius lay… in the great stories of America, its peoples, its hardships and exaltations… in its pulsating energies and unimaginable strengths… In telling these stories he had found himself… and he had found us, the seething core of a restless nation. He had come home. And though he may not have known it just yet he had found, lucky again, his life’s work.

“The Great Bridge”, his tale of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, followed in 1972. It was what every historian wants to hear, “definitive”. Then, five years later, “The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal”, winner of the National Book Award for history. It was all good, it was all well written and well regarded, but he had not quite found his footing, his true voice. This only came when he had his epiphany: that “history is the story of people”. Now he had everything he needed to begin his important work, telling Americans, not merely about history, but about ourselves.

“Mornings on Horseback”, his important book on 17 years in the life of Theodore Roosevelt, followed in 1981, to a shower of accolades and prizes. Then, with the publication of his biography of America’s 33rd president Harry Truman (1993) he transcended his already substantial role, to become the historian who not only wrote history, but influenced, even made it. President Bill Clinton carried this book with him and extolled, in his voluble fashion, its virtues. They were considerable, not least revealing to a surprised America the grit and sinew of a one-time haberdasher from Independence, Missouri who became the unlikely savior of Europe, drawing an ineradicable line in the sand against the spread of Communism.

McCullough then did the same to America’s much misunderstood and reviled second president John Adams, in his effusively praised 2001 biography. It was no wonder McCullough broke down and sobbed when he finished this book. Such men as Adams are few and far between and McCullough had come to love Adams not merely as subject of a book, but as a true friend. There was another shower of glittering rewards, as McCullough became the most read, the most admired, and the most rewarded historian ever, now the highest master in the ancient mysteries of his craft. He was persona gratissima to every president. No wonder. Each knew he would, in due course, need a McCullough of his own to cement his place in history and secure his own legacy. But would any such master even then exist? On such topics presidents fret and dwell in dead of night…

Now David McCullough has released a new book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” (May, 2011).

It is the story of Americans in exile in Paris, becoming in short order people who had two loves. As the flamboyant black American Josephine Baker (1906-1975) said “J’ai deux amours. Mon pais et Paris.” She’s just the kind of subject David McCullough likes… gritty, determined, shrewd, clever, vehement to be allowed to live larger than life, an unabashed, discriminated against still loving America American. Finding such, telling such, disseminating such is what makes McCullough tick. “Oh Beautiful for glory-tale,” thy tale teller is David McCullough… long may it be so.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

‘Don’t break the heart that loves you….’ Lance Armstrong fights doping charges by ’60 Minutes’… but this time they have teeth.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. There was that quavery, achy-breaky tone in her voice that made you believe Connie Francis’ world was crumbling… that respect, trust, love were gone and her heart was broken, all because one lover was true and the other… wasn’t.

The name of one of these songs was “Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You”. (1962). You’ll find it in any search engine. Listen to it once or twice… before you read here of the real-life tempests and troubles of a man who’s breaking our hearts right now… and it hurts.

Lance Armstrong, the very essence of grit and determination.

Lance Armstrong is as American a story as you’ll ever find.

He was born September 18, 1971 at Methodist Hospital in Oak Cliff, Texas, the southern sector of Dallas. His mother Linda Mooneyham was a secretary; his father Eddie Gunderson worked for “The Dallas Morning News”, as a route manager. He was named after Lance Rentzel, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. His home life was chaotic; his mother married and divorced three times… and so poisoned are the confused relationships that Armstrong doesn’t speak to his father and has been caustic about Terry Keith Armstrong, the man his mother married and who adopted him.

In short, like millions of his countrymen, there was mayhem at home, not love. And Lance Armstrong wanted love… Sports were the way to get it… escape, recognition, acceptance… and above all love.

Armstrong got active in sports for the first time when, aged 12, he finished fourth in Texas state 1,500-meter freestyle. But when he saw a poster for a junior triathlon he ditched swimming. It was a good move. In 1987-1988, Armstrong was the number one ranked triathlete in the 19-and-under group. It was now that people began, with seriousness, to look at Lance… and the magnificent body God gave him. It was the vehicle to move out… to move on… to move up…

Armstrong’s point total for 1987 as an amateur was better than the five professionals ranked that year. At 16, A:rmstrong became a professional triathlete and became national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990 at 18 and 19, respectively.

A boy and his bike.

Every American boy wants a bike…a bike he can use to get away from mamma… and taste freedom… a bike he can pound, dance wheelies, maneuver with show-off arrogance… and no hands. Yeah, every boy needs a bike. Lance Armstrong did, too. In short order he and his bike had fused; Lance needed his bike… and his bike needed him. They were an unbeatable team, soaring, energized… true grit, the centaur of the course, a phenomenon that made, even in these early days, the crowd scream his name as he whirled by, the ultimate manifestation of what every boy with a bike could feel and imagine…

It became supremely clear that Lance’s greatest talent was for bicycle racing after he won the U.S. amateur championship in 1991. Representing the United States, he finished 14th in the 1992 Summer Olympics. And now the money came; it was the folks at Motorola who got there first. They wanted what the whirligig of Armstrong could deliver… speed, grace, excitement, and the thrill of escape from everyday woes and oppressions.

In 1993, Armstrong won 10 one-day events and races. He stunned the cycling world when at age 21, he became one of the youngest riders to ever win the UCI Road World Championship, held in pouring rain in Norway…. and so it went, dazzling speed, even more dazzling endurance his to command and ours to exult. We loved this boy… and the smile he flashed us as he sped by… he was our Lance.

The big “C”.

And so it might have gone… more prizes, more victories, more fame, and the money that pours in such situations. But fate, wide-grinning fate, was not finished with Lance Armstrong, not by a long shot. On October 2, 1996, aged just 25, Armstrong was diagnosed as having developed stage three testicular cancer. The cancer spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. On that first visit to a urologist in Austin, Texas for his cancer symptoms, he was coughing up blood and had a large, painful testicular tumor. Immediate surgery and chemotherapy were required to save a life which had now taken a very painful turn.

But here is where the story of Lance Armstrong morphs into something greater, more compelling, and infinitely more important. For now, to the admiration of all, he becomes the very embodiment of American grit and determination, a man of gallantry and fortitude, a hero for our times. And so Lance Armstrong showed the nation and the world what real courage was all about.

He got back on his bike and turned it into a symbol of hope. And we loved him, if possible, even more… for he carried on his handlebars the best of us…

Tour de France

Before his cancer treatment began, Armstrong had already won two Tour de France stages. Now, a cancer survivor, he wanted to show the world not so much what he could to… but what they could do for themselves if they would never quit, never waver, never doubt, never throw in the towel or pity themselves. Lance was never about pity. He was about being the best you could be whatever your affliction. And the grueling stages of the Tours of France,(which he won 18 times) became a manifesto to the world about rising above and winning the great game of life, whatever stood in your way.

Oh, had it all just ended there… on such a note of bliss and transcendence; even his bitterest foe might wish as much.

But it did not, has not ended there… wide-grinning fate has seen to that.

Throughout Armstrong’s career, there have been charges he achieved his great feats solely or in large measure because of performance-enhancing drugs. These are charges he has adamantly, unequivocally denied, pointing to his willingness to take hundreds of drug tests. But the charges have persisted over time, gaining credibility and adherents. Now the most substantial of these charges has been made on CBS’ respected “Sixty Minutes” program (May 20, 2011) by former U.S. cycling professional Tyler Hamilton.

The cornerstone of Armstrong’s defense against previous charges was that he had never tested positive during his career. But this was flatly contradicted by his former U.S. Postal team-mate Hamilton on “Sixty Minutes”. “I know he’s had a positive test before,” Hamilton said. “For EPO (at the) Tour of Switzerland, 2001.” Asked by the CBS reporter Scott Pelley how this alleged positive test had not been made public and no action taken, Hamilton said “People took care of it.”

Armstrong through his attorney instantly answered this and the other charges, and immediately threatened to sue. But CBS is holding its ground, since they have credibility to protect too. Both sides know the seriousness of this matter… a fight perhaps to the death.

As for Lance’s fans; they are fewer now, quieter, reflective.They are hurting bad, afflicted, unhappy. They want their boy back, riding like the wind past them, arrayed with dazzling smile, victory in his pocket. We loved that boy and everything about him… he was ours. Now he’s slipping away…

Connie Francis knew everything about that, about the misery, the longing, the brutal unhappiness and regret when love goes bad. “Don’t break this heart of mine…Don’t break this heart that loves you so…”

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

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Write to be read. What you need to know and do to turn every word you write into the word that gets results.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a writing machine. My first article was published when I was 5 years old, 59 years ago; I’ve been a writing machine ever since. I’ve made a fortune knowing how to manipulate the incredible English language.

Sadly, I am in the minority. Having taught writing courses at many institutions of higher learning, including Harvard, I long ago came to the conclusion that most people would rather get a root canal than struggle with the dicey business of writing so people will read, understand and respond to what they write. Needless to say this costs them big bucks, since if you cannot use your own language, the lingua franca of the world,as the essential tool it is for business and life success, you lose much of the value of that language. And that is a crying shame.

I want to help you out, and I’ve therefore created the list below of key points which when mastered dramatically improve the way you write and the results you get.

1) Just because you’re a native English speaker doesn’t know you know anything about writing our complicated, sophisticated, absolutely splendid language. Speaking and writing are two separate, though related, things, and must be seen as such.

Start from the proposition that you are, shall we say, “challenged” by writing in English. There are many reasons why this could occur: you weren’t properly taught. Although teachers unions may strongly disagree, the fact is most teachers are not trained to write words that get results. Thus, they are unable to teach their students, who thereby start off their life-long relationship with writing the right words on the wrong foot. What’s more, most never manage to overcome this poor start; instead of trying to overcome the problem, they find ways to minimize or even avoid writing altogether. That is surely what throwing the baby out with the bath water means.

2) Admit you have a problem that’s not going to get better on its own.

As a business writer for my entire (now long in the tooth) adult life, one of the saddest things I see is respected business leaders not only unable to write the Queen’s English proficiently but proud of themselves because they mangle it in both its spoken and written manifestations. Yes, proud of themselves… each embarrassing misusage and mistake proving their warped satisfaction that they are therefore “people of the people”, thereby immune from proper usage. Just to state this proposition is to prove what a zany idea that is… yet it is common.

3) Force yourself to write more and better.

Like so many things in life, the more you write, the better you’ll get. Most business people are poor writers because, being VIPs, they delegate such “minor” tasks to others. What seems at first glance to be something rational and efficient, upon second glance proves to be nothing more than a means to slough off something you strongly dislike. Now hear this: even if you are the Chief Poobah of the world, indeed because you are that self-same Poobah, you need the ability to write the right words to get the results you must have to expand your clientele and business altogether.

This means no longer delegating all writing projects which ordinarily accrue to people of your dignity and position, but accepting at least some of them, not least to give yourself necessary practice… with the clear understanding that practice does most assuredly make perfect.

4) Less is always more.

Brevity, it is said on the highest authority, is the soul of wit. It’s also the key to ensuring that what you write will be carefully read and easily understood.

Poor writers are prolix writers; they write too much, edit too little, and manage to kill any fruitful results that might come by burying the objective in verbosity thereby suffocating the writing and ensuring its failure.

When you sit down to write any document whatsoever, your objective, 100% of the time, is to

state what you aim to achieve

Then, succinctly, marshal your arguments, with the preeminent and clear focus on what the recipient gets from you by taking the promptest possible action.

This means that if you want results, your invariable focus must be on the “you” you are writing to; getting this person’s attention, interest, then action is what all good business writing is about… such writing may never win the Nobel Prize for Literature… but who cares? It can make you rich.

5) Use numbers to structure what you write.

Good writers, particularly good writers in a hurry (are there any others?) use numbers to ensure readership and clarity. Thus,

“I have three reasons for contacting you today….”

“There are 6 major reasons why you must respond today….”

“Here are the 5 reasons you’ll want to take advantage of this offer now….”

Get the picture? Numbering provides structure, and it makes both writing and reading of what you write easier. Remember, you do not need to win prizes for your prose; it need only be good enough to get the results you desire.

6) Always write for the “you” receiving your writing.

Good writers, and by that I mean fast, efficient, easy to read writers, know a secret which, until now, has been unknown by you: that English prose sings when you make it “you” centered, the you in question being the person you are addressing your words to.

All people are egotistically and I-centered. Don’t fight City Hall on this one; take advantage of this fact, to your substantial advantage. The words you write should always be about, for, directed at and done (whether explicitly or not) for “you”, the person you must never forget you are writing for.

7) Read your words aloud… and save your breath!

Want to know whether what you’ve written will achieve your purpose? Read it aloud to yourself. If you find yourself meandering through dense thickets of words and punishing verbosity, difficult “show off” words and elusive meaning and directions, you need re-write (as every Hollywood director knows).

Sentences should never be longer than you can comfortably read in a single breath, no fudging either.

Key points should be made, emphasized, stressed… but always in short sentences.

Your writing should have a cadence which reading aloud will demonstrate. The best writing is writing that moves you briskly through the subject at hand, without a single superfluous word.

Start today.

As you implement these steps and begin to see tangible results which will only improve, you will be glad, even blissful, that the bugaboo of being a poor writer is now gone… never to return.

What will fill its place is one result after another achieved by deft use of the written word you feared at the beginning of this article… and now rejoice as one of the absolutely essential tools for enhanced business success. And that’s a fact you can write home about!

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

Lizzie and Johnny Edwards were lovers. Swore to be true to each other, true as stars above….

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To get you in the right mood for this honky-tonk tale of adolescent passion and its sordid conclusion, search for Elvis Presley’s version of “Frankie and Johnny, or You’ll Miss Me In the Days to Come.” Written by the Leighton Bros. and Ren Shields (1912); it was the title song in the 1966 film starring Elvis. It exactly conveys the right mood for this article.

Cute, cute, so temptingly, dangerously cute.

This is the story of a cute Southern boy named Johnny Reid Edwards to whom the gods gave everything… except the self-control he needed to keep all his treasures together. You find such boys everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. Dressed in polo shirts and shorts, they’re quick with a quip and that dazzling smile, the smile whose power they soon understand and use with devastating effect.That smile is the royal road to everything… including the women who love them, not wisely (as they all come to discover), but too well.

This is the story of one such boy, Johnny Reid Edwards, the boy with enough wattage in that smile to take him to the top. Or so he reckoned. For now he stands indicted. The man who might have had the White House… now faces the possibility of the Big House.

Born June 10, 1953 in Seneca, South Carolina, a good place to get out of.

Johnny Reid Edwards’ parents were Wallace Reid Edwards and Catharine Juanita “Bobbie” Edwards (nee Wade). The family moved frequently during Edwards’ childhood, eventually settling in Robbins, North Carolina. There his father worked as a textile mill floor worker, eventually promoted to supervisor; his mother had a roadside antique finishing business, featuring the kind of dusty bric-a-brac without value where a smart passerby hopes to make a discovery for “Antiques Roadshow”… but never does. She later became a postal letter carrier. It at least paid regular.

Johnny Reid Edwards, a boy who looked up.

Johnny Edwards was a high school football star. That, and always remember that mega- watt smile, gave him what he wanted… what he always wanted… attention. And lots of it, as any American knows who has ever watched (and envied) the staged swagger of these adolescent lords of the gridiron as they enter their kingdoms each day. He learned what he had to do to move out… and move up.

Edwards was the first person in his family to attend college. He attended Clemson University and transferred to North Carolina State University. Edwards graduated with high honors earning a degree in textile technology in 1974 and later earned his Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law (UNC) with honors.

The girl of his dreams?

A man has dreams of the person he wants to marry, but only he knows whether the girl he marries is that dream. Did he get what he wanted… or did he just settle for less? His wife assumes she is his beloved… only to discover, sooner or later, she was merely a facsimile, and therein are the seeds of dissension.

While at UNC met Elizabeth Anania. They married in 1977; they were both cute as bugs in a rug… but Edwards was clearly cuter, and of course he was always festooned with the mega-watt Southern boy smile that just wouldn’t quit.

The couple had 4 children (Wade in 1979, Cate in 1982, Emma Claire in 1998,and Jack in 2000.) Elizabeth matured into an ample matron during these years… John Edwards stayed as young and cute as ever, the very picture of Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1891) where the portrait ages, not the man. When a man comes to learn that he retains the secret of adolescence, of what mayhem and conquests may he not dream, and more than dream? For who would be sensible in the face of such a boon?

Malpractice millions.

After law school, Edwards clerked for a federal judge and in 1978 became an associate of the Nashville law firm of Dearborn & Ewing, doing primarily trial work, defending a Nashville bank and other corporate clients. The Edwards family returned to North Carolina in 1981, settling in the capital of Raleigh where he joined the firm of Tharrington, Smith & Hargrove.

He was about to break through to the big money, the really big money.

In 1984, Edwards was assigned to a medical malpractice lawsuit that had been perceived as unwinnable; the firm had only accepted it as a favor to an attorney and state senator who did not want to keep it. Nevertheless, Edwards, assisted by that all-powerful smile, won a $3.7 million verdict on behalf of his client, who had suffered permanent brain and nerve damage after a doctor prescribed an overdose of the anti- alcoholism drug Antabuse during alcohol aversion therapy. It was his first big victory… but only the first of huge, multi-million dollar victories and the huge sums he made. In due course, Edwards developed a winning formula that established him as the unstoppable rainmaker… the most important lawyer in any law firm, for they were the ones who had mastered the art of getting the serious money.

Edwards soon became a legend for this money. He had an eye for which cases would deliver the big bucks… and of course he knew, a combination of instinct and experience, how turn the woes of the little people into a cascade of cash, how to squeeze the big guys and rise high.

The tragedy of his life.

And so it might have gone, with the silver-tongued orator able to take the jury to just where he wanted them to go, showing them their power… and showing them how to wield it for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. But in 1996 his first-born child Wade was killed in a freak jeep accident. It was perhaps the only true tragedy of his life, for here the gods took what he so loved… and here, for once, words failed Edwards; the reality of too-soon death too real, too distressing.

A few weeks after Wade’s death, the words were his to command again. Edwards in his 90 minute closing to the jury referenced his great personal tragedy. Mark Dayton, editor of “North Carolina Lawyers Weekly,” called it the “most impressive legal performance I have ever seen.” The jury awarded the family $25 million, the largest personal injury award in North Carolina history… And so, with great irony, his son’s death helped Edwards rise high and higher still…. senator from North Carolina (1998); vice presidential nominee (2004) and, until his implosion in 2008, candidate for president.

Through it all, he still had that Southern boy cuteness; looking like the sunny side of 30 that he wasn’t. Acting like it, too. Which is how ex-senator John Edwards,husband, father, respected statesman, found himself, June 3, 2011, in a North Carolina court charged with violating federal campaign finance laws, using contributions from wealthy benefactors to conceal his mistress and their baby while he was running for president in 2008. That boyish demeanor, handsome face, lithe body, and that smile had at last gotten him into deep trouble.

Elizabeth Edwards, the loyal wife who shielded him, divorced him, then died (2011). American voters who had believed in him now reviled. The big money had stopped. Only one thing remained: he looked absolutely terrific when he walked into the courtroom, the result of forgetting something: Lizzie and Johnny Edwards were lovers. Swore to be true to each other, true as stars above…. he was her man, and he did her wrong.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is, where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

‘Where the Iris grows… That is where I want to be….’ The flower at the end of the rainbow.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To put yourself in the right mood for this article, go to any search engine and find one of Tennessee’s four Official State Songs, “When It’s Iris Time In Tennessee,” words and music by Willa Mae Waid. It’s a lovely, lilting tune, wistful as all songs are which are sung by those far away from home… remembering.

It is early June, and the irises are now to be found in profusion around the City of Cambridge in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I saw the first one the other day in front of my favorite Chinese restaurant Chang Sho. And though I was busy with one of the necessary errands which constitute too great a part of human life… I stopped. The beauty of this ecstasy in the mud insisted.

There before me was a dazzling thing dressed in cloth of gold, the exact shade of the cream soda I drank too often as a boy fifty summers ago on the humid prairies of Illinois; the cream soda you craved, you gulped, which gave you sticky fingers, but never quenched your thirst; (so clever were its makers).

In an instant omnipotent memory was present, the way unstoppable memory will do. This time it reminded me of something I had read in the memoirs of Sir Henry Channon, the man who had deserted his Chicago roots to find his proper perch in life in London as a Member of Parliament… and collector of royalties. He was a boulevardier, a word for which we have no good English equivalent… a thing which tells us much about the French who do…. and the English…. who don’t.

Sir Henry, universally known as “Chips”, was a boulevardier, man about town, about London town. As such he attended the first Garden Party at Buckingham Palace after World War II. He happened to be gossiping with one of Queen Mary’s relations when this very symbol of “They’ll always be an England” arrived, blinding in cloth of gold. “Cousin May,” he said, “is rather overdressed”, to Chips’ scandalized amusement.

And so was the golden iris in front of me, as if some careless maharajah, rushing, had dropped this most expensive of materials in the mud, later to fulminate against the loss, blaming his chauffeur.

But just as Queen Mary had calculated her breathtaking appearance to touch drab lives with grandeur… so did the flower in front of me, largesse for a drab world, overburdened, as I was myself, with the littlest and most nagging things.

The flower’s unexpected appearance was lavish, excessive, a sharp pronunciamento, “Good people,” it boldly proclaimed. “I have come amongst you to cheer you, to uplift your spirits, to give you the gift of exuberance and excess… of profusion and prodigality. Seize them now… for they are yours for just a moment.”

Here was the true work of the iris, the flower that takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow… and not just any rainbow either… but the rainbow which at its end delivers the treasure you seek at such a place… a treasure of unceasing magnificence without end.

At rainbow’s end, you find irises of every color… a gift of superabundance, without limits, where too much and even more is your birth right. This is the place you have sought your entire life… and which the open sesame of the iris delivers with only one command, “Find bliss here.”

Facts about iris.

Iris is a genus of 260 species of flowering plants with showy flowers. As well as being the scientific name, iris is also very widely used as a common name for all Iris species.

The genus is widely distributed throughout the north temperate zone. Their habitats are considerably varied, ranging from cold and montane regions to the grassy slopes, meadowlands and riverbanks of Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa, Asia and across North America.

Irises are perennial herbs, growing from creeping rhizomes, or, in drier climates, from bulbs (bulbous irises). They have long, erect flowering stems, which may be simple or branched, solid or hollow, and flattened or have a circular cross-section. The rhizomatous species usually have 3-10 basal, sword-shaped leaves growing in dense clumps. The bulbous species have cylindrical, basal leaves.

Iris is for show.

Other flowering plants have many uses culinary, medical, as balms, salves, to clear the mind and the heart.

Not the iris.

Iris is designed for show… not merely to brighten space… but to change the entire orientation of a place, from mundane to brilliant. This is no trivial thing when you think of the unending multitudes striving to find both meaning and escape from their burdensome, colorless lives. For these people, and they are everywhere on earth, the iris is a plant of resolute optimism. Where there is a single iris, there is hope. And where any iris has once lived… there hope lingers, insistent that things can be better, beauty can be achieved and circumstances entirely altered for the better, one militant iris flower at a time. The revolutionary iris shouts, “Beauty here, beauty now, beauty forever!” It is insistent that you, if you but take the time to stop and perceive, shall derive full measure of this beauty, for a life without such beauty is no life at all.

Poets and iris

All poets have not understood the imperial function of the iris, with its life-changing mission… but poet Chris Lane does. In his poem “Purple Irises with hues of gold and fragility,” he writes

“Oh, this beauty with for my eyes to see I cannot keep them for only me with friends true I shall share and next year bring to them the joy I find in a purple world with hues of gold and fragile love.”

Lane knows that the iris turns him and every one perceiving it into a devoted zealot, one who must proselytize with so much beauty, earnest in spreading its unbounded joy to friends and total strangers, too. Iris has a mission and when it seizes your attention, you will have that mission, too.

The role of the adamant iris is clear: it beautifies now and finds dedicated adherents to beautify later. Iris exist in a realm of beauty, beauty today, more beauty tomorrow, cycle after cycle of beauty for all who see it, the task to enlighten those who suffer because they have not.

As such the iris reject literary renderings which turn them from their great mission into mere flowers.

They reject Georgia Gudykunst who writes “May your blooms be floriferous and in good form.”

They reject Edith Buckner Edwards “Iris, most beautiful flower, Symbol of life, love and light.”

They reject the celebrated D.H. Lawrence, in his poem “Scent of Irises.”

“A faint, sickening scent of irises Persists all morning….”

These poems do not have and therefore cannot convey and assist the unending work of iris and its significance for improving the lot of people worldwide and enriching their lives. This needs constancy, consistently and profound belief. And it requires the unceasing ability to touch wounded lives and make them bold advocates of universal beauty.

There is a hint of this in Willa Mae Waid’s heartfelt song “When It’s Iris Time in Tennessee.” For she senses the deep power of iris… its ability to revive us… and uplift our spirits. This is the magic of iris…. and it was all present, every bit of it, in the iris dressed in cloth of gold which had my full attention just the other day as it kept steady watch for people like me who required its succor and were the better for it.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ,  providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. details at: