Some 1886 Charleston Earthquake History

eq - book coverThe following pages are taken from A Descriptive Narrative of the Earthquake of August 31, 1886 by Carl McKinley for the Charleston City Year Book 1887. 

Specifically, these pages report the effects of the earthquake around the state of south Carolina. The epicenter was 20 miles north of Charleston, but the quake was felt across the east coast north to Chicago and south to Miami.

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People fleeing the earthquake’s destruction on the night of Aug. 31, 1886. Image from Harper’s Week

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Church Street damage: Dock Street Theater (left); St. Philip’s Church (center); French Huguenot Church (right)

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Broad Street … 27 Broad Street with crumbled facade

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Hayne Street (looking east from Meeting Street)

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St. Michael’s Church and City Guard House

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Food lines, from Harper’s Weekly

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Washington Square became a refugee camp for hundreds of residents whose home were destroyed. 



Vicious – A Review

Seventy-two chapters for 366 pages … welcome to the James Patterson school of writing. And half the chapters are flashbacks! So this short novel (novella? Novelette?) that should have lots of narrative momentum, loses its propulsion because every other chapter is a flashback which completely destroys the story’s forward progression.

viciousThe story: Two college roommates figure out how to give people superpowers – they are called ExtraOrdinarys, or EOs. The process involves dying, being resurrected, and viola! You’re an EO! They naturally begin with themselves, however, superpowers do not make a person superhero.  As these two morally ambiguous characters become rivals things become deadly.

I was not surprised to discover that the author, V.E. Shwab, had written several YA novels, because Vicious IS a YA novel, yet marketed toward adults. The story is flimsy – a direct knock-off from X-Men – and the character development is James Patterson-worthy.

The number of authors I respect and enjoy reading that have given Vicious rave reviews makes me suspicious … a suspect a tit-for-tat among them. Most likely they share a publisher.

All in all, it’s pretty juvenile.


The price with being consistently good is the raising of expectations. Carl Hiassen has written 22 excellent novels since 1981, so at some point he had to write a novel that doesn’t meet his usual high bar. Skink: No Surrender is that book. With a plot that moves at the pace of a molasses glacier, and with main characters that make one dumb decision after the other, it was a Herculean chore to turn the pages.

Hias_9780375870514_jkt_all_r1.inddThe basic story: Fourteen-year old Malley is being sent away to a boarding school in the cold climes of the Northeast, away from her home in sunny Florida. And since Malley “doesn’t do” cold weather, she decides to run away with a guy she meets online. Disappears without a trace. Her best friend, her cousin Richard, decides to track her down. However, he is also only 14, so where does he even begin?

Enter Skink, one of Hiassen’s greatest fictional characters. The eccentric (a mild description) 72 year former governor of Florida turned eco-warrior, first appeared in 1987’s Double Whammy (and five other Hiassen novels). Richard runs across Skink on the beach, who agrees to help Richard track down Malley.

The worst thing about Skink: No Surrender, other than its tepid pace, is that in writing for a teen crowd, Hiassen decided to replace his typical sharp and wacky humor with a dumbed-down hipster, all-too-cool attitude – think the worst of modern day SNL or the glut of humorless Hollywood “comedy” films featuring Will Farrell-Melissa McCarthy-Adam Sandler, et all.  

It’s also a crime what Hiassen has done to the character of Skink. In Hiassen’s adult novels Skink is a complex, charismatic and fascinating character, always the most interesting person in each scene.  However, in the new teen book, Skink has been watered down so much, he feels like a character in an Adam Sandler movie – a shallow caricature.

There is also an uncomfortable subtle message that underlays the entire book. The stranger Malley met online is a scuzzy lunatic bad guy, but the stranger Richard meets on the beach, Skink, is a scuzzy lunatic good guy. So is Hiassen saying that it’s bad for a female kid to run away with a stranger, but okay for a male kid to do so?

Avoid this book, and read Hiassen’s other novels, in particular the five novels that feature Skink – Double Whammy, Native Tongue, Stormy Weather, Sick Puppy, Skinny Dip and Star Island.  

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What You Want Is In The Limo (a Review)


Michael Walker has captured the exuberant excess that defined rock and rock decadence of the 1970s.  He makes the argument that 1973 was the year that these excesses completely overcame and destroyed the  ’60s peace/love era once and for all.

To illustrate this, Walker examines the 1973 big budget tours of three powerhouse bands: Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin and the Who. All three came out with albums in 1973 that were watershed moments in their careers. 

  • Billion Dollar Babies  launched Alice Cooper into the status of superstars and their subsequent tour changed live rock and roll forever.  
  • Led Zeppelin cemented their throne as the world’s greatest band while capturing America while supporting their new LP, Houses of the Holy.  
  • The Who was touring to support Pete Townshend’s ambitious Quadrophenia album/rock opera to mixed results.

So many of rock and roll’s touring stereotypes have their roots from those three tours – trashing of hotel rooms, back stage sex /drug parties, chartered jets, massive, elaborate stage shows, strong-arm tactics by managers versus promoters. Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry coming to blows backstage over the set list, Alice Cooper drinking a case of beer (American only, please) every day, followed by two bottles of Seagram’s VO each evening, Led Zeppelin’s ravaging of hundreds of under-aged girls across America … 

Other than Walker’s tendency to namedrop a bit too often, this is an immensely enjoyable read. It gives you a front row seat of the debauchery – backstage, on the plane and the bus, and in the hotel rooms.

My favorite tidbit concerns Glenn Buxton (guitar player for Alice Cooper). The 1973 tour ended the band – seventy dates in 90 days – while Cooper himself continued on as a solo artist. Buxton, the creator of the opening riff of Cooper’s massive hit, “School’s Out,” died in 1997 and his headstone contains a musical bar on which the guitar riff is engraved. A fitting memorial for a musician. 

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