Author Archives: caldavis


A mini-course (four points) for watching network evening news. Pay attention because each point is essential in order to wisely view newscasts. Ignore any one item and you will be greatly misinformed. Not only misinformed but  badly informed. It was Thomas Jefferson who said that in order to have a democracy you need an informed electorate. So, pay attention —


RULE ONE: Never believe the first report. Why? Because the reporter, rushing to beat the competition and/or the deadline, has probably gotten the facts wrong. After the dust has settled is the time to put credence in the “late breaking news headline.” How long? May take several days, or as long as a month.

RULE TWO: If a reporter rattles off about a thousand words per second, gasping for air as he spews syllables like a machine gun, turn to another channel immediately. Such a news dispenser is attempting to take an ordinary story – say, of Widow Smith’s cat that is stuck a tree and won’t come down — into a piece deserving the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Be warned, the world is not going to end because that silly feline won’t descend from the tree.

RULE THREE: The more shocking the headline, the less you should believe it. TV news business is based on ratings and demographics. Increase the viewership and you increase the bottom line. News networks have learned that “shock and awe” is money in the bank. Without a doubt, The National Inquirer proved that the public loves gore – the redder, the better. So, this above all, give them gore.

RULE FOUR: Never conclude after watching the evening news that “this is the way the world.” It isn’t. The report you viewed gives a glimpse of how the bad part of the world is. The good part is usually ignored.  Examples: the story about the mother in Virginia who goes without several meals so her daughter in college can buy the book she needs for her English class. Or the father in Ohio who works three jobs in order that his son can stay in college. The only way either of the mentioned parents can get on the evening news is to plunge an icepick in their children’s brains. If the two become murderers, they will be mobbed by reporters. Sad but true.

Summary: the next time you view a network news report, take it with a grain of salt. No, a box of salt (iodized or un-iodized, doesn’t matter). Better still, a mountain of salt. And oh, yes…a smile and a sense of humor.  Otherwise you’ll end up ranting like reporters that” the sky is falling and that life as we know it will end at any moment –‘ but not before this commercial for Uncle George’s Magic Foot Lotion Rub, a miracle in a bottle’”



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bridgeImagine the year is 1965. The place is Selma. You are among those who have assembled at the now infamous bridge. You are there to protest being dehumanized all your life, being made to feel you are less than a dog. But how can you show your disdain for the indignities you have suffered? You are not a lawyer celebrated for your eloquence. You are not a statesman whose mere name can open the gates to the White House. No, you are none of these. Instead, you are a butler, or a maid, or a janitor, or a shoeshine boy – a nobody. In spite of your status, there is one thing you can do. You can walk, be a presence, be visible.

The dangers are many. You might be killed, bludgeoned to death, trampled by the hooves of horses, or sickened by clouds of gas. But you reason that subjected to the whiplash of discrimination, you are not really living anyway. In fact, barely existing. Better, you say to yourself, to live standing than to die on your knees, knowing that you are robbed of your dignity. So you are there on the bridge.


The clash begins. You hear the thud of nightsticks cracking skulls. You hear the shrill shriek of women. You hear them calling out. “Sweet Jesus, save me.” “Don’t let me die, Lord. Don’t let me die.” You see mounds of humans struggling to their feet, only to be hammered back to the pavement. Then you hear an inner voice whisper, “Today you will die.” You see flashes of Jim Crow signs: “Colored to the rear.” “White drinking fountain.” You see yourself denied a Coke at a café. And again you hear the voice sighing, “Today you will die.”

The irony is you are one who believes in the nation’s credo: all men are created equal. Those with the clubs, tear gas and dogs make a mockery of the belief. You have come to the bridge because of your faith in that belief, to even lay down your life if need be for that credo.

As you read this, you are probably saying, “But I was not on that bridge.” To you I say, “You are wrong. You were on that bridge on that historic day.” We all were on the bridge. On there with the patriots who were clubbed. None of us will ever leave that bridge in Selma. Ever.

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The Tastes, Smells and Sounds of Christmases Past by Calvin Davis

I watch my wife in the grocery store. She picks up a tangerine, presses it to her nose and inhales, her eyes closed. tangerines“Christmas,” she says, a childhood expression lighting her face. “We only ever bought them at Christmastime,” she tells me for the umpteenth time.  Back in the early ’50’s in the farming country of southern Pennsylvania, produce was often limited. A bowl of walnuts was also a treat. For me, growing up in south-central Virginia, our treats were licorice sticks, candy canes and homemade pound cakes–and country ham. My mother could make the best, soaking them for days to get out the excess salt. Christmas carols were played on the radio the week before Christmas, not the week after Halloween. And the best gift of all was the coming together of extended family for laughter and story telling late into the night–with a little moonshine to loosen the tongues.

Christmas starTimes and traditions change. We all have our own little memories. Smells. tastes and sounds that bring back their sweetness and comfort. But the true reason of the season never changes. I wish you all a family-filled Christmas wrapped in hope and love and peace.

candy canes


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plopfront-148x223Horrible. Disgusting. Did I write those lines? How could I have?  What got into me? Was I drunk when I penned that paragraph? And the next one is even worse. These are questions and assertions that sprang to mind whenever I reviewed the first chapter of my novel The Phantom Lady of Paris.

I don’t know about you but I’m the greatest critic of anything I write. And I’m convinced most creative persons are the same way. Examples: I expect if you exhumed Picasso and put one of his paintings before him, he would want to change it in some way. “A little more orange here. A darker hue there.” Etc., etc. The same could probably be said of Leonardo da Vince when it comes to his Mon Lisa. “Don’t you think her eyes are too inexpressive?” Or “I failed to put a maternal softness to her lips. “The irony is that the world sees nothing wrong with the works of these great masters. The great masters see many flaws in their works.

When doing a book signing, I’m often asked to read a portion of my novel. I don’t want to do that. Why? Because every time I read from my book, I silently edit as I read. I am plagued by critical questions within my mind, similar to the following: “Why did I use that word there? Another word is much better. Why not use a more graphic and visceral term?” And on and on and on. The queries do not stop.

Recently I had quite an educational and enriching experience. For once, I liked what I had written. How could that possibly happen when I’ve been so critical of my lines and for so long. The answer is simple. A publisher of audio books has agreed to turn The Phantom Lady of Paris into an audio book. The publisher sent me a sample of the audio volume. I play it, sat and listened. I heard my lines and I did not mentally edit the material. I let the word spoken by the professional narrator draw me into the tale.

stock-footage-man-talking-into-a-professional-condenser-microphoneListening, I had a revelation. The enlightenment was this. As long I read what I have written, I will forever be critical of it. But…when a professional narrator reads the same lines, I become detached from them. And the words sound fresh and new and good. I liked what I heard. No, I loved what I heard.

Maybe there is a lesson in all of this. I won’t tell you what it is. I’m sure you can figure it out for yourself. Anyway, happy listening. And HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

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I like it. What, you ask? The new audio cover for my Second Wind print novel. Let me explain. Recently a company that produces audio books agreed to turn my novel The Phantom Lady of Paris into an audio book. It will shortly be available. The novel’s narrator has completed his work, and I have been sent an image of what the work’s cover will look like. Someone with a lot of imagination and a great deal of artistic knowledge has created a cover with a Parisian motif that is done in an impressionistic style. The style is similar to that of Edgar Degas.

The same story. A new face. A new media form.



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When We Demand Better by Calvin Davis

Want to hear some pessimistic news? The latest buzz about the bad guys, folks who blackmail, assassinate, murder, con old people, blow themselves up – along with scores of other people – liars, cheats, hedge fund swindlers, Ponzi scheme manipulators, the whole gory gamut? When and where do you hear such stories? The answer is simple: on any network evening news report.


Anyone who relies solely on the evening news roundup for a picture of the world, and humanity, is someone who will end up with a distorted view of the world and a twisted understanding of people. Then, why so much bad news? Is it true that most of humanity is corrupt? Money hungry liars and cheats? You’ll end up thinking they are if you get a steady diet of network news. So why so much bad news? To answer that question, you have to look at the economics of news gathering and distribution.

Doing both is not a public service, but a business. And in that business, it has long been known that bad news sells.

With this simple fact in mind, one must view evening news with a critical eye, realizing that all of humanity is not the way it is portrayed by the news reports.

My formula for looking at network news is this: remember that for every report about a beheading, a robbery, rape, etc., there are hundreds of altruistic people who perform charitable and benevolent deeds every day, but who will NEVER make the evening newscast – that is, unless they rob a bank or stab a nun in the eye with an icepick. familyExamples: there is a mother in Kansas or Virginia who goes without the fancy coat and food so her son or daughter can remain in college. There is a father in Indiana who postpones the operation his doctor insists he needs so his little girl can have the operation she needs. Neither parent will become “breaking news” reports on CNN or Fox.

In summary, the next time you view the evening news report, don’t say to yourself, “So, this is the way the world is today.” Why not? Because what you have seen is not the way the world is today. However, you can safely say, “This is the way the bad side of the world is today.” In the future perhaps we will, one day, have the evening news cover the good side of the news. When will that be possible? When we, as viewers DEMAND that the good side of the world and mankind be given equal coverage?

When will that day come? It’s up to us, when we demand better.

Calvin Davis is the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.


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TJ’s Freshman Orientation

cell“Has he called?” Hawk Man sounded more nervous than usual.

TJ sat on the edge of his worn sofa, his fingers wrapped around a cold one. “Not yet, man.” He took a long sip, the icy brew soothing his own nervous throat. It had been a stressful if not a profitable night.

“But…but he’ll call, right?”

He set the bottle on the scarred coffee table and rolled his eyes. “Of course he’ll call, Hawk Man. The three of us is runnin’ buddies. He said he’d get in touch as soon as he ditched the cops that was followin’ him. We just gotta give him a chance, is all.” He upended the pack of Camels and tipped one into his hand. A flick of the lighter, a deep drag and he felt his knot of nerves unwind. “Now would ya relax? He’ll call.” He blew smoke toward the ceiling.

“How much loot do ya think we got?”

TJ drained the rest of the bottle and stretched out on the sofa. “We got three bags filled with dough. My guess is each one had close to a quarter mil in it.”

Hawk Man whistled low. “Three-quarter million. That’s a big haul.”

A slow smile spread. “Yup, we’ll be livin’ high.”

cigarettesFour hours later, Hawk Man lay face down on his bed, deep in slumber. And TJ sat staring at a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a phone that would not ring. His first serious lesson in life well and truly earned.

Calvin Davis is also author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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LIfe, Love and Loss in a Tattoo by Calvin Davis

receptionistI sat at the desk fronting the doctor’s receptionist. She passed me several papers she requested I sign. After signing them I gave the stack of forms to her. Glancing down, I noticed a tattoo on the arch of her right foot. It read “Papa.” The letters, in a fancy scroll, were about two inches tall.

Pointing to her body art, I said, “I hope Papa is not a boyfriend.”

She smiled. “Why do you hope that?”

“Because boyfriends come, and boyfriends go. Some enter and exist with the season. Many don’t even last a season.”

“You don’t have to remind me of that,” she sighed, a hint of sadness in her voice. “I’ve experienced the kind you speak of. In fact a couple, truth be told.”

Sensing her many regrets, I shared too. “If it makes you feel any better, most people have had such experiences, including me.”

papa“Thanks for the boost, but no, my tattoo refers to my father. He,” she said and hesitated, “…he died last spring.” Her eyes turned glassy and she blinked several times, as if to force away the tears. She slipped off her shoe to gaze at the entire tattoo.

“I see. And judging from the distress in your voice, I’d say you don’t need that tattoo to remind you of him. My guess is that he’s tattooed in your mind and heart.”

She beamed a smile. “Yes, he is. But there are days when the sky is overcast and it rains, I need to glance at my tattoo, and when I do, I see Papa’s face, and in spite of the clouds overhead, the sun comes out again, bright and clear.”

“Miss Tobias,” said the voice over the intercom, “send in the next patient.”

“That’s you,” she said.

“Thanks.” I rose. “Miss Tobias, do me a favor.”


“Never remove your tattoo.”

“There aren’t enough barrels of ink remover on this planet to erase the art I have on my foot.”

“Nor, I hope, the one in your heart.”

Following my visit with the doctor, I entered the waiting room. I smiled at the receptionist. She smiled at me. Neither said anything more. We didn’t have to. We had said all that needed shared…about life, death…and love.

— Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.

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Why do people get tattooed? Wait. Before you answer, let me caution you that whatever reply you give, is certain to tell a lot about your age. If you’re over, say forty or fifty, you will probably reply those who get tattooed are of the underclass, individuals on the fringes of society. Further, you’ll probably mention that tattooing is a common practice among sailors, etc.

Now, if you’re much younger than the age group mentioned above, you’ll probably reply “Why do people get tattooed? is a loaded question. And if you are young and smart you will add that the word “tattooed” should not be part of the question. Why? Because it carries with it all kinds of negative connotations. Today there is a new expression for “tattoo.” The modern expression is “body art.”

Now, let’s rephrase the original question to read, “Why do people adorn their bodies with art?” See? That’s a different question, isn’t it? Those who are less set in their beliefs will probably be happy to answer that query by saying “Perhaps such people are artistic by nature, and they love art, and they wish to share their love of art with the world. Or perhaps they feel good art, like good music, changes people for the better.”

For some, especially men, there is the allure of tribal tats. Ink applied in various tribal designs over the shoulder, across the pectoral muscles or a half or full-sleeve down the arm.


The point is, we look at human existence through either old lens or new ones. Sadly, some are duped into never changing their lens, never realizing that yesterday was yesterday and today is today.

Which lens do you use? Which ones do I use? Sometime I have to check myself because, though I don’t mean to, I use the wrong lens. I met a middle-aged mother last week who had butterflies inked on her shoulder with the name of each of her three daughters in each butterfly. It was beautiful.  I’m on alert most of the time to body art and I change.

Do you?

Trust me, with the right glasses, the world comes into sharper focus. Using the correct lens you’ll see the difference between what was and what…is.

~Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.


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Trying to Do the Impossible by Calvin Davis

How does one capture, in a couple of short paragraphs, the essence and life of a woman who lived to be a hundred years old? To encapsulate her core in five volumes, each as long as War and Peace, would be simple, but to do this task in a few short paragraphs was all but impossible.

Really, I tried this difficult task of writing a two-paragraph tribute for my mother for the local newspaper recently. If she had been a queen or a superstar, she would have made my job easier, but she wasn’t. She was a maid.

Here is what I wrote…


As if emerging from the shadows of a dream,
She descended into The City of Hills, Lynchburg.
Her employers called her “the maid.”
Her sons called her “Mother.”
God called her “Angelic,”
And on November 16, 2004,
He called His angel home.
Residing in His Divine Palace,
Mrs. Oleatha White Davis, “the maid,” scrubs no more,
Cooks no more, vacuums no more.
Now enshrined in the Heavenly Hall of Holies,
She is never again labeled “the maid,”
But is now known by her rightful title: “Saint.”
A tribute from the sons of The Angelic Maid, Willis and Calvin Davis.
Though she had no college degree, “the maid” taught them that the greatest of earthly
Powers is neither a bomb nor an army, but love…simple, unadorned, and true.
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