Wednesday, November 8, 2017

More About Me: Part Three

Well my husband and I had a wonderful time in Paris!

Since then we sold and gave stuff away at both my mother-in-law's house and our house.  It took longer than we expected and then we had to wait on our new house to be built in Florida, so we went on a Caribbean cruise with my family.

Next we became hometown tourists in our city of Louisville seeing things we never got to see while living there for 20 years.

Backside tour of Churchill Downs as recommended by Kevin Gibson--100 Things To Do In Louisville Before You Die

                                                            Maker's Mark Distillery

Finally we packed up the remaining stuff and our two dogs and moved to the Tampa area in October and things are going great!

                                                    This is us on the day we moved out.

                                                             This is our new house

Life is good here in Florida. My parents are close by and visit often. The weather is beautiful and everyone we have met has been more than friendly!

I had to leave my book club behind, but they did FaceTime me during the last meeting! Although I can't replace them, I did recently start a new book club with my new neighbors. We are currently reading The Nix by Nathan Hill and meeting at our neighborhood clubhouse to discuss the book on November 16, 2017. So far it looks like we are going to have a large turnout. The book is a long and detailed one. It was maybe a bit too ambitious for a first book, but we'll see.

It just so happens that Nathan Hill will be speaking at a reading
festival in St. Pete on this Saturday, Nov 11. My plan is to attend his talk and learn more about him and the book and bring that information back to my new book club.

While I have continued to read about two books per month and have attended a couple of author talks this past year, I have not been faithful to my commitment to continue writing book reviews or report on author talks. I guess life just got in the way. I will try to at least post something about the upcoming reading festival.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Joe Keith Bickett--The Origins of the Cornbread Mafia

Last evening despite the pouring down rain and high winds, me and about fifty other Kentuckians attended a standing room only book signing at Carmichael's by first time author and Kentucky native, Joe Keith Bickett. Mr. Bickett is somewhat of a hometown legend and hero and his book is a memoir entitled The Origins of the Cornbread Mafia: A Memoir of Sorts.

The gathering had the feeling of a large family reunion as most of the audience members were originally from the author's hometown in Marion County, Kentucky (located in central Kentucky southeast of Louisville.) Many of the audience members were very familiar with the author and I overheard several people proudly explaining their personal connections to both Marion County and the Cornbread Mafia. The event even brought out those who wouldn't normally attend a book signing as one woman told me she was 71 years-old and attending her first book signing. She said, "I do read, but I was just busy raising children my whole life." She added that if anyone in her family or from "back home" knew she was at a book signing they would laugh at her.

If you're not from Kentucky, you may not be familiar with the infamous Cornbread Mafia. They consisted of a large group of men who in the 1970's started a huge marijuana cultivation and distribution ring in Marion County. Mr. Bickett was reluctant to reveal the origins of the name of the group because he wrote about it in his book and wanted everyone to read the book, but I would bet one could Google it if curious.

Mr. Bickett was one of the originators of the so-called mafia and spent 21 years in prison for his criminal involvement in the group. During that 21 years he wrote snippets of his life story which eventually became this book. He read from a chapter that described a scene in which he and several other men were driving a convoy of three trucks moving marijuana plants from one farm to another to evade the law.

Mr. Bickett took questions from the audience including one about the legalization of marijuana. He unsurprisingly went on the record as being in favor of legalization, citing the large amount of money the state is missing out on by keeping the crop illegal. He added that he is not the only man who was sentenced to Draconian prison time for marijuana charges. Additionally Mr. Bickett briefly mentioned his good friend and past colleague, Johnny Boone, who was recently arrested in Canada where he had been hiding out for decades.

Mr. Bickett appeared to be a colorful character with an interesting past, and I have no doubt that his book is entertaining.

As an aside, there was another book written about the Cornbread Mafia by Kentucky native and journalist, James Higdon entitled The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate's Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. This book provides a journalistic take on the history and legacy of the group.

You can follow Joe Keith Bickett on Twitter @JoeKeithBickett.