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Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith,

haven’t I told you to take the pith

and marrow and substance out of all

the articles passing beneath your scrawl?

D.H. Lawrence, from his poem “The Great Newspaper Editor to his Subordinate”


Someone told me once that people who fall in love in the fall never fall out of love. That's a lot of falling, but I wouldn't know.

And that has nothing to do with this column whatsoever, so I don't know why I said it.

I have been asked once or twice why my newspaper columns never seem to be about anything.

That is usually a subjective judgement usually offered up by someone who wants me to be on their side, but at times I do get off topic.

My job is primarily to report on what political opponents say about each other — the more vindictive and inflammatory the better as far as newspaper sales are concerned — but I try not to ignite arguments the way some national media outlets do.

The reason most of my columns seem to fishtail and wobble is that I usually write them under a great deal of duress.

Let’s use today as an example

Twelve hours ago, I was standing in the sun over on the site where the new Morgan County Hospital is to be built. I listened to hospital CEO Ralph Castillo, former hospital authority chairman Terry Evans, Hospital Foundation chair Sarah Burbach, Dr. Dan Zant, GHA president Earl Rogers and Jack Stanek of the USDA talk about Morgan County’s new hospital.

Some of it was rather inspiring, and I’m not easily inspired by ribbon cuttings or ground breakings.

But I think the hospital authority and the supporting government entities that made the new hospital possible deserve far more credit than they will ultimately get.

I once worked in a county where such vision and wisdom were in short supply, or at least short enough that the wise folks who wanted to do the same sort of thing Morgan County has done were unsuccessful. The hospital there survived, but it is a shell of what it could have been had the folks in charge had a tenth of the courage Morgan County’s leaders have demonstrated.

A few movers and shakers in Morgan County felt like Mercurochrome and bandaids were a better solution than borrowing $35 million which is always an easy argument to make. (In case you were wondering, Mercurochrome is still used in some countries but is no longer sold in the United States because of the mercury content which has a tendency to melt your brain.)

“A new hospital will cost too much money,” they groused. “We need to save our money to pay lawyers to protect us for other lawyers.”

It might be a tired cliche to observe that your health is the most important thing you have, but when your lips are torn off in a tragic trumpet mishap, you want a state of the art medical facility close by to reattach them.

But back to making excuses for why my columns never seem to be about anything.

Like I said, 12 hours ago I was standing on the site of the new hospital listening. All that listening had to be turned into a story that appears on the front page of this paper. I also had to pay a visit to the Georgia State Patrol headquarters in order to find out about a fatality accident — also chronicled on the front page. I then visited the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office and the Dairy Queen because I had a craving for a chocolate malt.

Sometimes I am a weak human being.

After that I joined the Madison Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) for their meeting to discuss a variety to design reviews and a controversial zoning variance that I knew locals in Madison were interested in.

When that meeting ended, I went back to the office and finished up the story about the groundbreaking and wrote a brief on the zoning opinion rendered by the Madison HPC.

When I got home, my sink was full of nasty plates and pans and a bowl my son had used to eat some sort of cornflakes. Those of you who are rich enough to own dishwashers may not know this, but cornflakes dry to the consistency of plaster and have to be removed from bowls with sandpaper and blowtorches.

But its not quite midnight, and I’m done for a little while. I’ll get up and go to Eatonton in the morning to put this week’s edition to bed.

I’m going to give our sports editor and Dallas Cowboys fan Justin Hubbard a bit of grief about the Cowboys loss to Denver, and I’m going to make several excuses to the executive editor about why my story lists were so fouled up.

But I think I’ll survive, and I’ll get to hang out with my pals from our other papers a bit, so it won’t be too bad. Our other editors -- Josh Lurie of the Jones County News, Lynn Hobbs of the Eatonton Messenger and Will Petty of the Baldwin Bulletin are pretty awesome people, though not quite as awesome as me even if they do write columns that have a point.




And now for no reason at all other than it feels good, we present "The Archies" singing "Sugar, Sugar," Def Leppard singing about the same condiment and finally Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs doing "Sugar Shack." Sweeeeeeeeeeeet!


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