Author Archives: William A. Balk, Jr.

Born and reared in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina, William A. Balk, Jr. was educated at the state's namesake university, became an activist confronting the power of the modern State and its military, and spent two years in a radical gay commune in the nation's capital. He has taught textile construction and design for the Smithsonian and Textile Museum in Washington, collected modern porcelain masters, and has submitted to a peculiar affinity for independent book stores. Balk returned to the South Carolina Low Country in middle age, as well as to his extended family, and a literary life lived largely out of doors. Book stores and gardening remain his perennial passions, as does writing. Like one of his heroes, Epicurus, whose philosophical school was called “The Garden,” Balk's aim has long been “to attain a happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain—and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.”

Rollin’ On the River: A Naïve Gourmet in The Big Easy

“Indeed, the location wasn’t promising, competing for space with dozens of passers-by, including a corsage-bedecked nun (with a beard) and a short-legged dog who posed atop a three-foot pedestal for photographs. Very quickly, a server appeared to take drink orders (priorities!) and, just as quickly, another server stopped to give us the menu and explain […]

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Eatin’ Goober Peas

“It would be sad to have to miss out on the joy of reaching into a damp brown paper bag, removing a fat, soft, whole peanut in its soggy shell, popping the entire thing in your mouth and gently biting/chewing/sucking out the salty juice and the soft-cooked nuts inside . . . and then spitting […]

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Thief of Hearts, Prince of Scribes

“. . . the world lost a loquacious, generous, and gifted writer; a troubled soul, who made his life work out of his struggle to overcome his difficulties; a liar who made a great truth from his life. And I lost a friend.”—William A. Balk, Jr. Epicurus’ Porch By William A. Balk, Jr. ELKO, South […]

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Legendary Beauty Across Rae’s Creek

“Rarely do the commentators and the golf writers remember to mention the source of that horticultural magnificence for which the Augusta National is rightly celebrated. When founders of the golf club, Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts, opened their new course to play in 1933, they had an existing property already landscaped with rare and beautiful […]

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Frogmore & The Gold Eagle

“I was, let’s say, witness to a number of amazing experiences during these months of recovery, of realignment, of rebirth. There were escapades of utterly insane, reckless high speed chases through farmers’ fields; of a pickup truck disappearing beneath the waves; of midnight runs to a bootlegger’s cabin; of providing sanctuary for a friend fleeing […]

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SCUM of The Earth

“If I’d known she’d tried to kill him, I might have sat at the counter instead of at one of her tables. But I hadn’t known, and I did sit at her table.”—William A. Balk, Jr. Epicurus’ Porch By William A. Balk, Jr. ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—June 2018—If I’d known she’d tried to kill him, […]

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Wild Thing, I Think I Love You

“I am able, remarkably, to celebrate both the unmatched offerings of nature on its own terms as well as the joys and challenges of trying to make a garden. The close presence of nature, however, does make some aspects of gardening more challenging than I would like; the reality of caring for the garden (however […]

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Feet of Clay

“Ralph and I simply stood in awe. It was as though someone had just opened his lunchbox and exposed the Hope Diamond. The word ‘priceless’ was invented for objects such as this ancient masterpiece.”—William A. Balk, Jr. Epicurus’ Porch By William A. Balk, Jr. ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2017—To discover that your adored long-time hero […]

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Lost & Found

“‘It has to go all the way to the beginning!’ Holding her hand, I asked (carefully, because questions would arouse consternation) if she wanted me to tell her who she is and how she got here now. ‘Yes!’”—William A. Balk, Jr. Epicurus’ Porch By William A. Balk, Jr. ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2018—“I can’t understand! […]

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Cinema Verité

“The Cerberus always had an unusual film showing, so it was almost every week that we’d go see something there. A couple of times a year, they would mount a week-long film festival, and I can remember hurrying the block and a half from my fourth-floor walk-up to Connecticut Avenue to meet Agnès Varda, and […]

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