(Editor’s Note: Many businesses are negatively impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Especially hard hit are the nation’s newspapers with many completely closing while others are cutting back on the number of pages and days of the week they print. For example, as advertisers melt away the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union said reporters and editors who earn more than $38,000 annually will be scheduled to take an unpaid week off on a rotating basis; the Tampa Bay Times has limited itself to delivering its paper to three days a week; some dailies in Washington State and California have totally stopped printing as have many community weeklies, including entire chains. The Amelia Island News Wrecker is not immune to the pandemic. Advertisers disappeared faster than its staff could knock out the rubbish it considers newsworthy. To find out what’s going on at the Wrecker we secured an exclusive interview with the paper’s elusive editor.)
It was approaching that time of year once again for the Amelia Island News Wrecker, the annual probing, hard news, snarky newspaper that takes aim at local events, politics, media, issues or any other topic considered sacred by area locals.
However, due to the current virus crisis the paper, which boasts the tagline “Misinforming Nassau County residents for years!”, may not appear until much later this year if at all.
Under normal conditions folks could pick up copies of the News Wrecker at select Nassau County locations. These locations are considered “select” because they’re the ones that don’t toss the Wrecker into dumpsters. We’d tell you where they are exactly, but the News Wrecker doesn’t have a phone. Or a staff. Or an office. So, getting news out of the News Wrecker is difficult.
During the recent coronavirus crisis, we heard that Wrecker reporters continued to work conscientiously to bring its readers in-depth investigative articles without regard to their own safety, mostly because they’re naively unaware of what’s going on. Their obliviousness, the recent coronavirus situation, and Advertising Manager Selma Stuff’s drinking problem has had a negative financial impact on the Wrecker’s 2020 prospects.
After intense negotiations we were able to arrange a meeting with the editor of the News Wrecker at an undisclosed, darkened, dirt parking lot southwest of Bryceville. Trundled into a nondescript pickup truck, and blindfolded, we were driven to an unknown location. Once there, we were unblindfolded, and the News Wrecker editor appeared in silhouette with his voice altered to sound like a combination of Willie Nelson and Cyndi Lauper.
Q. Are you and the News Wrecker staff worried about catching the coronavirus?
A. Coronavirus? I’m not sure what you mean, what’s that?
Q. Are you serious? You don’t know about the COVID pandemic?
A. No. We’ve been very busy at the News Wrecker covering important news events that impact our readers and the community. We don’t have time to listen to every crazy crackpot that wanders in with some far-fetched, nutty rumor.
Q. WOW! OK! Never mind. When will the News Wrecker be published?
A. It comes out the same week as Shrimp Festival, May 1, 2 & 3?
Q. The Shrimp Festival has been cancelled because of this pandemic. Are you still planning on publishing the News Wrecker on those dates?
A. What are you, some kind of crazy crackpot?
Q. No. It has been cancelled because of the virus crisis. Seriously.
A. Well, that does make a difference now doesn’t it? This virus thing you mentioned may explain the advertisers calling to cancel. Usually we’re on top of things here at the Wrecker.
Q. Why do you even publish the News Wrecker?
Q. Can you elaborate?
A. Good grief, it’s a newspaper designed to keep the community informed of important events and issues that can seriously affect people’s lives. By the way can you tell me more about this coronavirus thing and the Shrimp Festival cancellation? If we have room in the paper I’ll try to squeeze something in about it. Maybe I’ll have Luke Warm, one of our crack investigative reporters, look into it as it might make an interesting story.
Q. Where can people find the News Wrecker?
A. At establishments where good newspapers are sold and read.
Q. What is the circulation?
A. Enough for folks that want one.
Q. When is it available?
A. We were hoping very soon, like during Shrimp Festival. But that doesn’t appear to be the case this year if what you say is accurate. I really should have one of our crack reporters like Borden Drowsy look into that.
Q. Who produces the News Wrecker?
Q. What kind of people?
A. Curiously disturbed people.
Q. Seriously, who?
A. The staff is listed on page two of each issue if you really must know.
Q. Why don’t you have a website or go digital?
A. Well, I think we do, but it’s stupid and takes a lot of work. It’s at amelianewswrecker.com for previous issues but I could be wrong.
Q. How do I contact the News Wrecker?
A. You can’t, so don’t bother?
Q. But what if I want to buy an ad?
A. Oh, that’s different. If for some bizarre reason if someone wants to advertise in the News Wrecker or has a story that is totally inappropriate for a family newspaper, then please contact Dave Scott at email@example.com or write to Dave Scott, Amelia Island News-Wrecker, P.O. Box 687, Fernandina Beach, FL 32035. Or call Dave at his unlisted phone number:770/354-7228. Do not call him with complaints as that’s not his department and he doesn’t care anyway.
Q. How long has the News Wrecker been published?
A. Quite a while.
Q. Why does the News Wrecker disparage everything on the island and nearby?
Q. How many journalism awards has the News Wrecker won?
A. The News Wrecker is the proud winner of no awards of any kind, ever.
Q. Can I subscribe to the News Wrecker?
Q. What is the News Wrecker’s policy on corrections as there appear to be numerous errors in every edition.
A. In our quest to beat other media outlets we sometimes have to make up the news before it takes place. As a result, we make a few mistakes here and there, but we don’t really care as once it goes to press it’s too late to do anything about it anyway. And we don’t try all that hard either.
Q. Who decides what stories are written? Do you have an editorial board or staff meetings?
A. Staff meetings lead to staph infections. There is no staff or board.
Q. It sounds like you don’t want to talk to the press.
A. How do I know you don’t have this virus thing you mentioned? By the way, do you have any extra toilet paper? The stores appear to be all out for some reason.
Isolated Thoughts & Observations: Now that I’ve got time on my hands I’ve decided to take advantage of the situation and catch up on some of the items on my bucket list that I’ve been putting off including:
- Learning to read, write and speak Latin fluently
- Discovering Victoria’s Secret
- Teaching myself to play John Philip Sousa marches on a bouzouki
- Running a four-minute mile on our treadmill
- Setting a piece of paper on fire with a magnifying glass at night
- Finding a pay phone and making a collect call
- Paying for a six-pack with sheets of toilet paper
- Calling a radio talk show and making a brilliantly profound political statement in a Donald Duck voice
- Memorizing the “Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám”
- Becoming a pen pal with Queen Elizabeth
- Learning to deal Faro
- Graduating first in my online Navy Seal training class
- Reading War & Peace in Russian
- Sending my grandmother a belated thank you note for the two dollars she sent me following my high school graduation
- Performing a Gregorian chant
- Being temporarily abducted by a UFO
- Killing two stones with one bird
- Sending a singing telegram
- Learning to set the clock on our VHS player so the light that’s been flashing since 1979 will stop
Observations, Thoughts, Etc. that I’ve experienced and seen during the virus crisis include:
- Our yard guy called to say he’s working from home, gave us directions on what to do, and instructions on where to send his checks.
- When I was younger there was so much toilet paper available people would wrap the trees of their enemies with it. Today that would increase the value of their home by more than 20 percent.
- I’ve watched so many episodes of the Military History Channel I could train a handful of my geezer pals to successfully invade The Villages faster than the U.S. military conquered Granada in 1983.
- I Figured out why Europeans riot during soccer games. Because it’s BORING!
- Despite the virus crisis that appears especially made for it, I have yet to hear anyone use the word “misanthrope” in a conversation.
- Toilet paper wasn’t invented until 1890 by two American brothers, Clarence and E. Irvin Scott. Prior to that many U.S. households used the pages of the Sears catalog, which arrived in the mail free of charge. Today – 130 years later — shoppers can’t find toilet paper on store shelves and Sears has gone out of business.
- Since toilet paper is made out of wood, a key objective must have been to produce a splinter-free product.
- My neighbor said he thinks the coronavirus has turned him into a Democrat because he’s not working, staying at home, complaining about everything and waiting for a check from the government.
- Now that Florida grocery stores are devoting the hours of 7-9 am to the state’s elderly population, the state’s other 25 residents have the stores all to themselves the rest of the day.
- Has the coronavirus obliterated robocallers? I’ve only averaging two a day.
Some Things I Knew and others I didn’t until the recent crisis:
- In the area that includes the counties of Nassau, Clay, Baker, Duval and St. Johns, there were 68,180 people employed in the food service industry according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Tourism is the largest industry on Amelia Island and so far the virus crisis has impacted some 1,700 people employed in hotels, restaurants and bars hereabouts who are out of work because of it. It was recently reported that occupancy rates in the island’s 4,000 hotel rooms was just 4.5 percent. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort closed last Sunday as did the Hampton Inn on Sadler Rd. Two bed and breakfasts– Fairbanks Inn and Elizabeth Point Lodge – have also shut down.
- Eating and drinking venues in Florida numbered 41,266 in 2018, with more than 1,096,000 employees that generated more than $50 billion in annual sales.
- Florida’s eating and drinking joints and their employees contributed more than two million dollars annually to charities and non-profit organizations before the virus struck.
- I predict that once this virus situation is over those restaurants and bars that survive will prosper beyond their owners wildest expectations due to all the pent-up energy folks holed up at home are holding in. It’ll be “Katie bar the door” as it’ll be hard to keep up with the demand for companionship and cocktails. Think “Cheers” on steroids.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is telling folks from Louisiana and the tri-state area of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey that have been hit hard by the virus to stay home or face fines or jail time is they come to Florida. Check points have been set up on Interstates 10 and 95. Shouldn’t there be a special lane for folks with Florida tags, unless the cops think they’re coyotes smuggling Yankees across the state line.
- For sheer entertainment purposes watch the video of the loony, hysterical, unhinged New York Democrat Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who took to the House Floor animatedly screeching like a toddler demanding a pre-dinner cookie. She hysterically shrieked that the stimulus bill is one of the “largest corporate bailouts in American history. Shameful! For crumbs!” she cried. She remained oblivious to the fact that the Senate approved it, 96-0, with every Democrat senator voting for it. I’m convinced you have to be mentally deranged to be a Democrat (aka Coronacrat). I hope it isn’t contagious.
- Speaking of entertainment, it’s now apparent that we don’t need mindless, self-absorbed celebrities lecturing us on how to live our lives. Instead we’re now blessed with Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, heads of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force and stars of the daily White House press briefings, people who know what they’re talking about and fill us with confidence.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Despite the virus pandemic, Area 51, the uniquely named South 8th Street eatery operated by 4th Street Deli owners Jae and Annette Kim opened April 1with one caveat, it’ll initially be take-out only due to the virus situation with temporary hours of 11 am to 7 pm Area 51 boasts the appropriate tagline “You never know what might come out of our kitchen” and those familiar with the Kim’s 4th Street Deli, across from the old post office, know one thing — it’ll be tasty and economically priced. Occupying the space that was once Gilberts Underground Kitchen, Area 51 provides both Korean and American barbeque plus a variety of both American and Korean specialties. Jae and his wife, Annette Biak, are one of the island’s most personable, hard-working couples, who have never offered up anything but a tasty meal, a sincere smile and good wishes. The couple has teamed up with a well-known and experienced southern pit-master and Jae and Annette’s expertise to create a “combination of authentic American southern BBQ and South Korean BBQ.” The congenial couple will continue to operate their popular North 4th Street deli venture but will now be able to offer meals they were unable to provide due to limited kitchen space there such as grilled items including Cubans, gyro’s, steak & cheese, etc., but will not attempt to compete with the island’s burger joints. Jae tells me his Korean BBQ’s differentiation is in his sauces, in which meats are marinated for 24 hours and contains some 10-15 ingredients and use recipes he brought from his native South Korea. He says all the barbeque will be done on smokers and not inside ovens. There will also be Japanese Ramen meals with several flavors, spicy Korean kimchee, and Annette’s stone pot specialties and her homemade Korean dumplings. The American BBQ will be “off the charts” promises Jae – as good if not better than some of the most popular BBQ joints in northeast Florida — and will include brisket, pulled pork, ribs, Korean style chicken, etc. He says he expects one of the most popular plates to a be sampler platter including a variety of all the different styles and flavors. The new venture will also offer some interesting Korean rice wines as well as the traditional beers and wines. Catering will also be available. It’s obvious they have put a lot of thought into this new venture and will offer full service available once this virus situation is over. Once fully opened hours will be Monday -Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm and Friday and Saturday 11 am to 10 pm for lunch and dinner. They’ll be closed Sundays. Call ‘em at 904/277-224 or go to their website at https://www.area51bbqandgrill.com/ Amelia Island’s Sandbar & Restaurant at Main Beach is offering take out from 11 am to 8 pm that includes bottles of name brand beers for $4.00 and a six pack of off-brand beer for $5.00, toilet paper for a buck a roll, a dozen eggs for $4, bags of collard greens for two bucks, and 10 pound tubes of ground beef for $34.00, about the same price as the local grocery stores. There are also lots of sandwiches, shrimp dinners, etc. They are also planning a take-out Easter meal but didn’t provide details. Call ‘em at 904/310-3648 or go to the website thesandbarandkitchen.com for more information.