Allow me to introduce myself. I am the new managing editor of this newspaper, replacing Glenny Brock. Many of you have talked to Glenny for one of the hundreds of stories sheís written. Many of you know Glenny and like Glenny and will miss Glenny. Well, stand in line behind me, people. Nobody will miss her any more than I will, believe me.
But she was here for a decade and put out about 480 papers. She needs a break. Weíll talk more about Glenny in a moment, but first allow me to share some meaningless, self-indulgent bullshit about my checkered past. That way youíll know a little bit about what youíre getting into when you read this newspaper now.
By the way, as I type this deathless prose, it is exactly 10:39 a.m. central daylight time on the morning of Wednesday, March 17, in this Foule Year of our Lord 2010.
I am on deadline. I mean, I am on f**king deadline, people. Like I HAVE to finish this story, this article, this letter from the editor, this screed by, at the absolute latest, 11:15 a.m.
I have to give it to Naomi McLarry, our design and production manageróotherwise known as Beautiful Goddess Without Whom This Paper Does Not Existóso she can lay it out in Adobe InDesign and then send the PDF flying electronically to our printer, who will render it, and the rest of the paper, in soy ink on sustainably grown paper.
Yeah, the news business has changed radically since I got my first taste of it, as sports editor of the school paper at Banks High School in the early 1970s. Or when I took News Reporting 101 at the University of Alabama in 1975 and typed my stories on an IBM Selectric typewriter.
Now Iím 52 and having to learn about new technologies and new media from people young enough to be my kids. Thatís cool. Iím a teenager at heart and want something exciting to do the rest of my life.
By the way, I havenít worked tirelessly in the vineyards of the news business since 1975. No, no. Having an actually job, a real career, a steady paycheckóthat would have been too simple for me.
Instead, I persisted in living like a bohemian, sometimes in locales that supported that lifestyle, like Seattle or Boston or Eugene, Ore., and sometimes in places where you might as well try to live like a zebraófor example, Tuscaloosa.
Ah, Tuscaloosa, where I wasted years in the 1970s and 1980s as a professional studentópartying, getting laid occasionally, reading Nietzsche, writing poetry and fragments and writing term papers that were never as good as they could have been for people like Don Noble and Dwight Eddins in the English Department.
I did manage to escape the University with an M.A. in English in 1986, at which point I did the responsible thing, of courseóI took my guitar and went to Paris and Amsterdam and played on the street.
Yeah, I was always trying to find myself and all that shit. And I wanted to be tested. I guess thatís why I used my graduate degree by working as a carpenterís helper, construction laborer, office temp, secret shopper, boxing judge, boxing announcer and even performance artist.
By the way, it is now 11:09 a.m. I need to cut to chase.
I never stopped writing during all those years of wandering and even made a little bread here and there. I covered a strike at Roseburg Forest Products in Roseburg, Ore., for a little left-wing rag in Eugene, and I covered an appearance at the University of Oregon by labor organizer Cesar Chavez. But my work habits were not good enough. I didnít produce enough work or try hard enough to market it.
That began to change when I came back to Birmingham in 2002 and met the late, great newspaperman Clarke Stallworth while swimming laps at SportsFirst on Montclair Road. Clarke got me started writing some little personal stories for the reader page at the old Birmingham Post-Herald.
I wrote one about my late father. I wrote one about being a writer. I canít remember all of them offhand. But they got me started.
It was time for me to get serious about making a living as a writer, not just living out some stupid personal myth.
I began writing for Birmingham Weekly in 2004, when I called Glenny to ask her to run an event listing for the Alabama Golden Gloves state boxing tournament. She did, but later asked me to write a boxing feature.
After the boxing story, I wrote other pieces for the Weekly, very slowly at first. Glenny worked with me patiently on my stories back then, meeting me at Highland Coffee Company near the paperís old office and going over draft after draft with me. I got better, and I got faster.
In 2008, I published over 50 pieces of content in the paper. I also occupied a desk in the new office downtown and refused to leave.
I then became an editorórunning Green Space, our green section; making calendars; and writing far more stuff, and far better stuff, than I could have done without this experience at the paper.
And I have Glenny to thank, for the opportunity and the encouragement. And itís hard for me to imagine this place without her.
But I have to. Itís my baby now. I love this paper. And I will work my butt off to make sure it lives up to the standards set by the people, like Glenny, who have come before me.
Thatís all, folks. Itís 11:25 a.m. Iím already running late and the Mojo wire is beeping. Just keep reading Birmingham Weekly. Without you we are nothing.
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