Another news source has been added to the growing local mix with the introduction of former News-Leader reporter Mary Maguire’s Nassau County Florida Independent (www.ncflindependent.com) that was launched in mid-October last year.
This is no bored housewife banging away on a kitchen table laptop as Ms. Maguire boasts a journalism degree from Pace University in New York and her background includes freelance reporting for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. She has also written travel items for Frontier Airlines in-flight magazine. This is a very talented, no-nonsense news gatherer who factually and professionally reports items as they occur and is quickly generating a larger and larger readership.
In her description of the fledgling Independent she says it has no set publishing schedule or limit on the number of pages delivered. “That’s why The Independent is hitching its wagon to social media,” she says in her introduction. “For years it has been a terrific way to communicate information with words, pictures and videos.” She has also started reporting live from events.
The Independent joins former Fernandina Beach Mayor Susan Steiger’s Fernandina Beach Observer — which Ms. Maguire says was her inspiration — as an online source of daily information, along with the more established SearchAmelia.com put out by Johan Ramakers and Judi Mackie for several years in competing with the print edition of the Fernandina-based News-Leader for readers.
The Independent asks readers to provide tips they think would be newsworthy by contacting Ms. Maguire at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling her at 904-557-1719.
This column or blog offers mostly opinion and observations through my particular lens, some of which may be new news, but mostly it consists of my observations, opinions, thoughts, etc. on island life or anything else I feel like musing about.
And, speaking of newspapers, I am on track to publish the first annual edition of the satirical Fernandina Beach News-Wrecker, a local version of the National Onion, to distribute prior to and during our annual Shrimp Festival this year. I have yet to actively solicit advertisers, which I need to pay for the printing costs, but already have more than 20 local businesses who know what I am up to who have requested ad space.
Nothing in the paper will be vulgar, obscene or anything that you wouldn’t want your Quaker granny to read, but it will be designed to make her laugh till tears run down her cheeks. Advertising copy will be in the same vein as the paper, self-deprecating, but in good taste and designed to grab the reader’s interest and generate a few chuckles and business.
If it proves successful I will publish as often as financially practical and we’ll have good fun grinding local sacred cows into hamburger. Oh, it’s also a tabloid give-away and folks will be able to pick up copies in local pubs, coffee shops, restaurants and stores so if you don’t like it, remember the old adage, “you get what you pay for.”
No! Not That David Scott! When I read this week that US Congressman David Scott, a black Democrat from Atlanta, was advocating for the Keystone XL pipeline project because it would encourage the hiring of more young black men to work on the pipeline through existing apprenticeship programs and without spending more federal money, I was impressed and reminded of a story that former Atlanta Journal City Editor Bill Shipp told me a few years ago about a case of mistaken identity involving me and Congressman Scott. According to Shipp a press release I wrote about a new product while working in IBM’s Atlanta PR Department many years ago ended up on his desk and he handed it off to a newly hired reporter saying, “Call David Scott and see what else he can add to this to give it more local flavor.” The new reporter, who didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat, called then Georgia State Legislator David Scott and reported back to Shipp that Representative Scott didn’t know a thing about the IBM press release or the product, but not wanting to miss a chance to get his name in print, said he wanted to comment anyway, an offer Shipp declined. And because of Congressman Scott I was also treated like royalty at a prime fireplace table at the Washington, D.C. National Press Club during one of its busiest days of the season a few years back because friend and Reliable Source Lounge barkeep, Jack, told the new manager, who had never met the Congressman, that I was the Georgia congressman, and I only figured out what was going on when I started to leave and the manager said “Good evening congressman, I hope everything was alright.” I scurried away hoping that my membership would still be intact if the case of mistaken identity was ever revealed but left Jack an extra large tip the next time I bellied up to his press club bar.
Football Stuff: As the countdown to the Super Bowl continues a number of pre-game articles are appearing in a variety of publications and I read one the other day about what many sports pundits call “the greatest game ever played” — the 1958 Baltimore Colts, 23-17, victory over the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium in for the NFL Championship. The Colts had a 300-pound defensive lineman, Eugene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb, that was one of my favorite players when I was a kid and whose weight in those days was astounding. Big Daddy was fast as lightening and incredibly strong and to this day is the source of one of my favorite sports quotes when he described his style of playing the game: “I just wrap my arms around the whole backfield and peel ’em off one by one until I get to the ball carrier. Him I keep.” By the way, Johnny Unitas, the winning quarterback on that Colts team, made $17,550 the year that game was played.
Hail To The Redskins: Former Washington Redskin cheerleader Lou Ann Davis, who moved to Amelia island recently with husband, Rick, has created a unique business designing and selling “Live in Flip Flops’, not the footwear, but small items shaped like the footgear that folks can purchase in the colors of their favorite athletic team and use to hang from a Christmas tree, their ears, golf bags, wine glasses or whatever. They can be embellished with logos and otherwise personalized and serve a variety of uses ranging from fund raisers and wedding favors or birth announcements, among others. Contact the pretty former Redskinette at 904/310-6520 or go to her site at www.liveinflipflops.com. She recently donated some of her earlier prototypes to the Nassau County Council on Aging, Alzheimer’s Department and it will be using them in a project this spring. And Redskins flip flop ear rings look great dangling from any woman’s ear lopes. Did you know that the Redskins cheerleading squad, the First Ladies of Football, are the longest running cheerleading squad in the NFL, founded in 1962? You do now.
The Odd Couple? When Israeli concert violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman lead London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance in Jacksonville’s Jacoby Hall a week or so ago I recalled seeing this incredible musician a number of years back in Atlanta and while flipping through the program discovered that this high brow talent was then married to Tuesday Weld, the blonde bombshell that played Thalia Menninger in the 1959-1963 TV series “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” It just seemed an odd match to me. They were married in 1985 and divorced in 1998.
Concours d’Elegance Housing Department: If you have friends or relatives who want to attend the 20th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, scheduled for March 13-15, and haven’t booked a hotel room, then you better prepare the guest room and sofa in the den because from what I hear there isn’t a room available anywhere on the island or nearby. I’m told that even all the hotel rooms at the JAX Airport are fully booked. So, if you’re looking for some extra cash and don’t want to hang around for the classy car affair, then maybe you can rent out a room or your entire house for the event.
Problem Solved Department: The United States and many other Western nations are forbidding their citizens from leaving their countries to fight with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Why? Let them go and then cancel their passports. It’ll solve a couple of problems: first, getting rid of these crazed psychopathic in-country threats and secondly, pooling them all in one location where they’ll make easier targets.
Don’t Press A Button, Just Speak English Please: The President’s recent executive action on immigration reform reminded me of a section from a book I read recently — “The Great Upheaval, America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800” by Jay Winik. The excerpt is as applicable today as it was in 1788.
In his book Winik says that following the Constitutional Congress in Philadelphia in 1788, the drafters of the Constitution worried among each other that the new nation was too vast to hold together; even the original 13 states were thought too large to be held together as one nation:
“Patrick Henry was hardly alone when in 1788, he warned ‘Our government cannot reign over so expansive a country as this, without absolute despotism.’ Geography was also against them. As Americans trekked farther south and traveled farther west, the wilderness and the rivers and the mountains created breathtaking differences: differences in lifestyles, differences in culture, differences in economics, and differences in political outlook. Far from changing after the Constitution, this dizzying pattern would actually accelerate. Not long after the ink was dry, the English delegate Caleb Whitford was asked by a Frenchman if he thought the new thirteen United States would be successful; his reply was unforgettable. ‘Yes, he hissed through clenched teeth, ‘ and they will all speak English.’”
I can’t think of a better argument than this for making English the national language. It was the common glue that held the fledgling country together in the beginning. The English language was the one thing that overcame the political, economic, cultural and lifestyle differences. And if it is not make official soon and made a requirement for citizenship or obtaining one of the treasured Green Cards, could possibly cause this country to come unglued.
Let’s Redefine Power & Victims: I often read or hear about liberals saying that folks should side with victims, the poor, and those with no rights as we have a moral obligation to “tell truth to power.” But I’ve never heard or read about one of these liberals defining that power as the IRS, the EPA, an abortionist, a union leader, or the victims as kids in a failing public school system, an unborn baby, a small businessman drowning in regulatory excess, an American soldier, etc. It’s always “Big Oil,” a prison system that “unfairly incarcerates blacks,” local police forces, the CIA, Department of Defense, etc. Maybe it is time for these folks to redefine “power” and its so-called “victims.”
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: If you are tired of the same old Super Bowl chicken wings and crummy chips and dip and want something totally different and exciting, them call the Pecan Roll Bakery at 122 South 8t Street at 904/491-9815 and place your muffuletta order for the big day. Owner Jeff Weisfeld will also prepare a vegan muffuletta and both the meat and meatless variety come on the bakery’s fresh ciabetta bread. My order is already in for this hard to find New Orleans specialty as all sandwich orders must be made ahead of time with the ordering deadline Friday, January 30 at 5 pm and pickups until 5 pm game day, Sunday, February 1. I’ve heard rumors that the now vacant space that was an Appleby’s, the corner of South 8t Street and Sadler, will be filled by Hooters, a very good move in my opinion, and a place where young men will be pleased no matter what they are served to eat as they will be otherwise distracted. One of the best bargains on the island is Sliders 11 am – 2 pm “Soul Food” buffet, a lunch special that always features fried chicken, a variety of vegetables ranging from black eyed peas and collard greens to lima beans and okra and stewed tomatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, huge homemade biscuits, a drink and desert, and more, all for $10.65 including tax. The new owner at the Courtyard is limiting popular piano man John Springer to Thursdays only beginning this week causing much gnashing of teeth and rumblings from Thursday-Friday regulars, unhappy with that decision. Rumors are flying that two-three more eateries, two of them chains, along the Sadler corridor will be shuttering soon, but since I have no solid confirmation, won’t name them until I get the official word. On the positive side Kenny Gilbert who taught cooking classes at the Ritz-Carlton has signed a five-year lease for a southern food restaurant at 510 South 8th St. called Gilberts Underground Kitchen, the former site of Merge Restaurant and which, according to the Jacksonville Business Journal, will be open by March and have 74 seats, including a 20-seat lounge area, a 30-seat dining room and a 24-seat patio.