Monday, May 22nd, 2000
Boy, I step away from here for a few months to get some work done, and…everything’s changed.
Hello on an early Monday morning, not far from Memorial Day, a day of no real significance to me based on family traditions, although the other day over a beer at George’s around the corner, my father mentioned that he’d of course be back up in Ohio that weekend to visit the cemetaries at Kinsman and Gustavus.
I said "Of course," not really knowing exactly who is buried where. I know his father and mother–my grandparents–are up there somewhere, but like so many things about his life, I’ve let the details bounce off me like so many tired soap bubbles.
We’re going up to see my brother and his family on Memorial Day weekend, now that a visit to see them is no longer as simple as a quick drive down to Inman Park. And although they live in the city where large cars race in a circle for half a thousand miles every Memorial Day weekend, I think we’ll be doing something a lot more benign–like grilling.
Right before that, we’ll be visiting and wishing a happy 80-something to Sammy’s mother, which means a couple of pleasant days up at the ranch house where my wife grew up, out in front of her father’s diversion-slash-masterwork, a garden that probably qualifies as a farm under government regulations.
We just got back from hearing Michelle Shocked (and her Mood Swingers) in concert. A quick search of web pages after we got back reveals an artist’s life of almost unbelievable pain and hardship, followed by the complications of celebrity and the agonies of dealing with the record industry. Seems like all of that got poured out at the Variety Playhouse last night in one form or another. While there, I picked up a couple of copies of the last Atlanta Press. The paper’s own obituary. A few days ago Patrick Best, the editor emailed me and asked for a few last words. They didn’t make it into the pages, although they are here.
Meanwhile, life’s rich drama continues. I’ll spare you the details, this time, but suffice to say there are some sad plot twists in the novel that is the lives of the people I know.
It’s a rainy night, and the humidity is thick in our town, promoting the sort of southern desquidado that wrings words out of the likes of Williams and Welty, Faulkner and Dickey. Me, I just want to get my work done and get some sleep. Of late, my dreams have been overflowing and my work output has been…well, less so.
Gotta go, gotta write. Good night.
Wednesday, May 17th, 2000
My wife, as usual, made the cogent comment: if a newspaper sells enough advertising, it doesn’t matter how good or bad it is, right?Right. Exactly. Because after all, the first amendment has always uncomfortably shared a bed with the capitalist ethic in this country. You raise money to publish, or you perish. There are a couple of other newspapers in town, one weekly, one daily that stay fat and happy because of the success of large advertising staffs. Congratulations to them. But do their ad-filled pages mean that the people of Atlanta seek them out for the best that journalism can be?
Before you answer that, sit back a second and consider a few other questions. Is Atlanta a place like Austin, Seattle, or Boston, where weekly papers can thrive with a mix of controversy and commerce? Do we live in a place where we clamor for more sources of information? Or are we complacent enough to passively take whatever is placed in front of our eyes and ears?
When a paper folds, when a bookstore closes, when an eclectically-programmed radio station goes off the air, we all lose.
This week you lose more than a home for the chronicles of the growth of Hollis’s baby and the deterioration of Chris’s liver. You lose a place to hear voices—yours, your neighbors, ours, those of people you disagree with. It’s up to you to fill the gap with something more than Friends reruns and Lottery Coverage You Can Count On.
Read—or write—a book. Talk back to your newspaper. Grab a camera and put your own ideas on videotape.