Sunday, July 12, 2009

Anthony Bourdain, Brenda Starr, and Pistol Pete

1. My friend, NSB, sent me some news that I could blog about, but I am holding those for another day.

2. Husband is watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations in Spain. I find Bourdain arrogant, goofy, and kind of annoying in a television kind of way. He says things like food is "smokin' hot" or "gastric grateful." or "nosebleed expensive." I do believe he just said "this is an old man bar -- I'm unimpressed." RMEs, Anthony, I think you need to check your date of birth on your own passport, dude.

3. I saw the obituary for Paul Hemphill, the journalist and writer.

He died yesterday. It made me nostalgic for the sixties when he worked for the Atlanta Times, a newspaper that tried to rival the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Hemphill wrote honestly and frankly about some of the current issues of the day. He recognized Atlanta for its "raw" feelings on race. Rest in peace, Paul -- you wrote well.

My parents got both papers; they were readers and loved politics. The Times did a great hurrah and then died with a rather pathetic gasp. They were no match for the AJC, a monster newspaper backed by loyal subscribers and advertisers who knew it as a friend. The Atlanta Times was fresh and innovative, but no match for the staid reliability and familiarity of the AJC.

BTW: The AJC was actually, for a long time, two different newspapers owned by the same people.. The Atlanta Constitution was the morning paper, and the Atlanta Journal was the night one -- at some point, they combined to one -- I don't remember if has been five years or twenty years ago that they combined.

I myself had been a 43 year subscriber to the AJC and just recently stopped the newspaper. Why? Because it had turned into an agenda based, subjective mess of poor writing, and driven by petty, local politics, lame celebrities, and lousy "feature" stories. I was bored. I don't need to order boredom to the tune of 110 dollars every six months. Why do I care about the latest "bleed" story of Dekalb County -- the wild, wild east of Atlanta?

The newspaper is dying .. and I can wax and wane sentimentally about it.

As a child and the youngest of four, my siblings and I would fight over the "funnies" on Sunday. I liked my paper pure -- and you young people will not understand some of these memories I have.

I liked to be the first person with the paper -- where it is still creased, unread, and pristine. I liked to be the first to get that beautiful six pages of color funnies that came on Sunday where I lost myself in the romantic reporter Brenda Starr and her nebulous but obvious boyfriend with the patch, the puzzling nature of Pogo, or the signature yellow hat of Dick Tracy.

The paper continued to be a part of my life.

When I was in high school, Pete Maravich joined the Atlanta Hawks. He was this cute, long-haired, floppy socked basketball sensation who once averaged as a college player 47 points per game. A friend of mine saw Maravich play a basketball game as a senior player at LSU where he came in the gym at the University of Georgia and owned it. Even Georgia fans recognized that this player was different, historical, and rare.

As a teenager, I became obsessed by Maravich -- I would open the door to the newspaper on winter mornings to see how "Pistol Pete" performed the night before.

I saved every picture of him printed in the AJC sports pages. I memorized his stats, grimaced when he did poorly, but celebrated when he showed his stuff. When he was traded to the New Orleans Jazz, I mourned and felt "jilted."

When he died in 1987 at the age of forty, I was shocked. Pistol Pete dead? Not possible.

As a young teacher in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I became enamored of the Atlanta Falcons. Each Sunday I would watch their games faithfully -- once when the Falcons made their famous "Hail Mary" pass, I jumped so high and got so excited, my cat at that time, Taylor, who liked to sleep on the top of the tv, fell from the tv, and was so traumatized, he hid in the closet for 12 hours. I coaxed him out with real tuna and lies.

I saved every front page of the sports page to hang on the bulletin board in my classroom. My male students were shocked at my knowledge of not only football but almost every play in the game. It didn't hurt that the Falcons had drafted themselves some players who made me swoon. I loved Billy White Shoes Johnson, Steve Barkowski (who married one of my high school classmates), Buddy Curry, Gerald Riggs, and I once met the kicker, Mick Luckhurst -- which is a story for another blog. The Falcons had themselves a team of hunks -- and the uniforms, tight, helped my cause.

By the time I was married, I moved to other aspects of the paper -- the editorial page. I still read the sports page first, but I eventually moved to the editorial page. At one point, the editorial page was balanced -- a conservative view and a liberal view -- but somewhere sometime, all of a sudden, the editorial page became single focused. I got to where it would make my blood boil, and I would tell my husband: "I need to read the sports and living section and ignore the editorials."

How can you be a newspaper and cover "Dixie like the Dew" (their old mantra) but become so one-sided?

Needless to say, two months ago, I let the paper go. I miss the feel of it in my hands; I miss the morning ritual of flipping through it. I miss the idea of it -- the tradition of it -- but I don't miss its agenda.

I read today that the New York Times is considering dropping its Crossword puzzle.


What's next? Are they gonna drop their marriage announcements?
BTW: Those suckers are hilarious.

I told my brother recently that I had stopped reading the newspaper, and he said, "Reading? You're kidding, right? Newspapers have not been readable journalism since the sixties."

I said, "Well, heck, why didn't you tell me?"

He said, "I thought you knew."


*rolls eyes*



Pistol Pete.
Ain't he cute?


  1. What's with Pete's socks in the photo you display? Reading this is definitely a stroll down memory lane in Atlanta; however, I have no recollection of the Atlanta Times. It must have been a liberal newspaper not allowed in my home! Back to the AJC, how could you reminisce and never mention Lewis Grizzard?

    Actually, I haven't subscribed to the newspaper for over a decade since it isn't delivered to my neighborhood. That's probably why I don't have high blood pressure. I get nervous just seeing Cynthia Tucker on a news talk show!

    . . . and the "funnies"? Remember pulling out the silly putty and making impressions? Good times!

  2. I remember almost running over Pete in the parking lot after leaving Elan at about 2am on a Friday morning, probably about 1979. Good stuff. There was a guy who wrote for the Great Speckled Bird in the 70's named Bob Dinwiddie, alas not my dad. The John Birch Society would not have been amused!! Thanks for the memories. NSB