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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

28 Responses

  1. Jacob Johnson says:

    What? You’re not joining in the stilted revelry at the Dude-Bro Bar and Gill? What’s wrong? Are you feeling ok? Why won’t you do a shot of Fireball with us? I’m sick of you being so dour!

  2. Raymond Olson says:

    There is a saying among Friends to emphasize utter agreement. It is, “The Friend speaks my mind”. Thee does, friend Fleming.

  3. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I am afraid to ask JJ what Fireball is. Is it a dreaded flavored whiskey like Red Stag and other drinks concocted for women who want to pretend to like whiskey? Maybe I shouldn’t ask. From 17 till I got married, I was a bar fly, and shortly after the wedding, my wife and I were having drinks in the Swamp Fox room of the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston. To my mortification, she ordered a Mai Tai, and, when she found she could not finish it, held her fruit-filled glass out to me. Shocked, I explained that I had a reputation to uphold and could not drink anything but scotch, g&T (only in the Summer), and an occasional beer. Had I known John Lee Hooker’s music better, I should have replied:

    “And then I sit there, drinkin’, gettin’ high, mellow, knocked out, feelin’ good
    About that time I looked on the wall, at the old clock on the wall
    About that time it was ten-thirty then, I looked down the bar at the bartender, he said
    ‘What do you want, Johnny?’, one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.”

  4. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    I am a fan of Mr. Hooker (and Lead Belly) but learned by experience as a Midshipman not to consume a variety of alcohols at one sitting, so I would answer “one bourbon and make it a triple.”

  5. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    I have never tried fireball but I keep a bottle of Tennessee honey in the fridge. Think of it as a version of mead.

  6. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    With Mr. Van Sant, I am in complete agreement. As a drinker, I am a simpleton. I don’t drink cocktails with more than two alcoholic ingredients and hardly ever, except in Wisconsin, order a beer and a bump. I always I assumed the song–whose original version was not written by Mr. Hooker–was an exuberant overstatement.

    I should add I intend no disrespect to George Thoroughgood, who put together two songs of John Lee H’s to make a minor masterpiece, but like most white boys playing black, he goes a bit over the top.

    Speaking of triple, Radical Rex, whenever I offer him a beer, invariably replies that the word “an” is a mistaken article. Polacks drink beer, not a beer.

  7. Jacob Johnson says:

    Yes, similar to Red Stag, Fireball is available for fans of cinnamon-flavored mouthwash who would like to claim that they drink whiskey. Empty half-pint bottles may be spotted frequently on sidewalks. It is rather ubiquitous and seems to be one of the most popular varieties of soma.

  8. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Have you noticed, by the way, how rarely you see litter composed of Veuve Cliquot, caviar, and VSOP cognac–as opposed to Red Stag and MacDonald’s wrappers?

  9. Jacob Johnson says:

    Certainly never caviar, but although I am unfamiliar with cognac, and may be mistaken, I see the circular label with VSOP consistently on empty, littered bottles. I suspect this brand is used by those who think that being seen with the bottle will project the illusion of wealth to women, and thus is prominently displayed at the gas station liquor shelf.

  10. James D. says:

    Red Stag is quite possibly the most heinous liquor I have ever tasted. I was convinced, at a bachelor party, to drink energy drinks and Red Stag mixed together. After a few hours of this, we were all stumbling around like toddlers, but were unable to pass out due to the effects of the energy drinks.

  11. Dominick D says:

    I am no stranger to the low shelves at the ABC, but I cannot see how Fireball could be classed with whiskey. An interesting novelty for maybe a shot, but an empty half pint is masochism — hole-in-the-stomach candy burn.

  12. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Perhaps it’s the right drink for guys who want to be perpetual bachelors, as in celibate.

  13. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    In addition FB is made with Canadian whiskey.

    I should have mentioned Robert Johnson in my previous comment. He is supposed to have made a deal with the devil. Unlike Rush he had talent on loan from Satan.

    Dr. Fleming raises a point about talent to write music vs talent to perform it. There are many talented singers who perform music created by other people.

    One of my favorite, more modern, pieces is Henrik Goreki’s symphony of sorrowful songs performed by Dawn Upshaw. This wonderful composition brings out the best of Ms Upshaw and she does it justice in my opinion.

    I am thinking of getting a bottle of port to get me through this cold start to spring. Any recommendations?

  14. James D. says:

    Dr. Fleming,

    Perhaps, Red Stag should be called “Red Havier” instead?

  15. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Thanks for the word. I had forgotten, if I had ever known, that havier is the word for a castrated male deer.

  16. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I neglected to add the caveat that there are certain people who make a great deal of money off the weaknesses of their fellows–I am referring to those in inner cities who traffic in drugs and sex–and ape the rich by spending money on products they understand to be signs of wealth and taste. Years ago on SNL, a black comedian did a hilarious routine as “The Ladies Man”, always drinking Courvoisier.

  17. James D. says:

    Dr. Fleming,

    It is becoming increasingly difficult to determine what is a sign of wealth and taste and what is a marketing scam. I’m too poor to indulge in most, but how are we to know?

  18. Harry Colin says:

    I am certainly no expert on port, but having a decent amount of port consumption experience, I can recommend to Mr. Van Sant Sandeman Founders Reserve. When I last bought one it was about 20 bucks. Sandeman has a few high end versions, too, but these are too expensive for my treasury. I assume, of course, they are at least as good, and likely even better.

  19. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    Thank you Mr. Colin. I will look for some tomorrow.

  20. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I endorse Harry Colin’s recommendation. I like Port, though I don’t drink much any more. When we drank more, we found it difficult to find–out here in the sticks–better stuff than Sandeman’s, though much better exists. For years we drank Madeira and used to be able to get pretty good stuff in the Carolinas.

  21. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    There are a few signs of authenticity or the lack thereof. While there are decent products advertised on television, it is still better to avoid them because of the cost of advertising. Anything invented in your lifetime is probably bogus, but nothing is easier than to buy up a small established company and use it as the vehicle for the alimentary or sartorial version of spam. Brooks Brothers shirts are not what they once were, though they are probably still worth the money. If you are buying something to last more than a few weeks–in other words, not a bottle of wine or whiskey but a jacket, pair of shoes, or chair–there is no worse decision than to go cheap. Think Ikea. Stuff that is solidly made out of durable materials will outlast the gaudy stuff by many times. Shortly after we were married, my wife and I bought a second hand small sofa, Duncan Phyfe style, from a widow lady in Chapel Hill. It’s nothing special, but attractive and well made. It’s been recovered twice and still sits in our living room. We could sell it not only for more than we paid for it but for more than we paid, adjusted for inflation. When I was a young boy, I admired my father’s tweed suits and tweed overcoat. They were still in excellent shape when he died 30 years later.

  22. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    Dr. Fleming – thank you for your input on Port and Madeira.

    I agree with you about going for quality. My wife and I have many pieces of furniture that we bought in the early years of our marriage that remain in good condition. Most of them are Ethan Allen. We just purchased a new table and chairs to go with our new decor after our remodel. After almost 50 years the old chairs were due to be replaced but the table is in good shape. We hope the new stuff proves to be as durable but I suspect that is wishful thinking.

  23. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    A tip: Best to buy stuff made before WW II though there are plenty of companies making good furniture today.

  24. Harry Colin says:

    Just in case any of us still think that our every online move isn’t being monitored, since recommending the Sandeman Port I’ve had two separate advertisements for it pop up on my Facebook. Just a coincidence, I’m sure, since I’ve never mentioned it on FB.

  25. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    Mr. Colin – I was able to get the Port you recommended and it was just what I was looking for. Thank you again.

    I also picked up a bottle or Tesseron Composition. This is made from younger batches than their more pricey XO blends. Going to try it a little bit later. I have had the XOs in the 4 small bottle gift pack they sell. I saw one online distributor who had them for $66. I still have a couple bottles from the last gift pack I bought. Hoping this younger stuff is good enough.

    I have not seen any ads for the Port. I am not on Facebook or Twitter.

  26. Harry Colin says:

    That’s great, Mr. Van Sant; the Tesserone sounds intriguing also.

    I am a reluctant Facebook participant and I refuse to be part of the Twitter universe. I salute your avoidance of both!

  27. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    For my many sins, I use FB as a means of advertising this website.

  28. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    The Composition is good enough for this man of generally pedestrian tastes. And the price is not exorbitant. I paid $45 for a 750 ml bottle after a $5 discount. I paid $18.89 for 750 ml Sandeman after a $2.10 discount.