Memories fade, especially late in life — yet you treasure the ones that remain. I can still recite dozens of lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English, and I can still remember the day in 1997 when John Weiss offered me 50 bucks a week to write a weekly column.
The money wasn’t great, but I loved the idea. I had just lost the April mayoral election, finishing a weak third behind Mary Lou Makepeace and Cheryl Gillaspie. I’d come to love being in the public eye, and I thought it’d be fun to snipe at politicians instead of being the snipee. But I was also afraid of being a lousy columnist, so Weiss and I agreed to make it anonymous and called it The Outsider. I figured it would last a year or so, and I’d quickly move on to greater things — at 56, I sure didn’t expect to have a late life career as a journalist/reporter/whatever for weekly newspapers.
The Indy was wonderful in those early days. I loved working with Teri Homick, Kathryn Eastburn and dozens of smart, funny and talented young folk. I was a comical semi-geezer trying to stay relevant in his changing hometown.
A quarter of a century later, I’m still in the journalism racket. The cool, smart young people have become cool, smart semi-retirees, and a new generation has taken over.
Sometime in the 2000s, CSBJ Editor Mike Boyd lured me away from the Indy (mo’ money!), and asked me to mentor the young reporters that he’d recently hired. In talking to one amiable woman, I quickly realized that the reverse was true — I could learn a lot from her. We became friends as well as colleagues, writing a few pieces together and supporting each other. I knew she’d go on to greater things — and I’m delighted that Amy Gillentine has been my boss for the last few years!
And so we embark on a new journey as Sixty35 Media sets sail on the troubled seas of mid-2020s journalism. I never imagined that I’d outlive both CSBJ and the Indy, so I’m both sad and exhilarated. These are interesting, exciting and contentious times, and this city needs unbiased, intelligent and engaged journalism. Consolidating all the pubs into a single powerhouse should do the trick — and since I plan to live to 108, I’m looking forward to celebrating Sixty35’s 25th birthday…