Ignite those fumes

Sandra ClarkFeature

I’m getting so much free advice that I feel like a political candidate. Some folks don’t like this Monday blog, talking about the challenges of starting knoxtntoday.com. These folks (Southern women, every one) are squeamish when I write about mistakes and failures. Another dear friend suggested that I write about our obituaries. (We’ve topped 13,000 obituary notices so far.)

Sandra Clark

“I meant for you to show that you care,” the friend said, after I wrote about competing with the daily paper to present more information more quickly. For those who haven’t noticed yet, I’m not warm and fuzzy. Words like competitive, obstinate, risk-taker and independent are better descriptors.

Last week I told Nick Della Volpe that we’re running on fumes. “Let’s ignite those fumes!” said Nick. And we did. Having Larry Van Guilder on board is like old times. We both call what we’re doing a newspaper. Probably always will.

So last week we worked with Joyce Feld at Scenic Knoxville to alert Bearden residents that Chick-fil-A was about to renege on a 2012 agreement to mark its Homberg restaurant location with a 14-foot monument sign. A 20-foot pole was already installed when Larry jumped into the fray. By Thursday, we got word from Atlanta that the corporation would honor its agreement and had instructed the sign company to cut six feet off the pole and brick the base.

A reader on social media said it’s grand that there are no starving people or genocides underway so we can focus on issues like this sign. Joyce Feld jumped in to note that most people can do more than one thing at a time.

On Friday, Betty Bean wrote about Herb Moncier and his son Adam – lawyers who look alike and talk alike and fuss sometimes but nonetheless love and respect each other. Great writing; great story.

And Sherri Gardner Howell called to say she saw some goats chewing away at kudzu behind the Aubrey’s Restaurant at Cedar Bluff. She already had run into the weeds to take a picture. “The guy charges $1 per day per goat,” she said. I can’t wait for this yarn on Wednesday.

Peggy Noonan had fun in the Wall Street Journal last week. Writing in the style of an old New York tabloid reporter, she pondered whether any news people will try to discover whether Jeffrey Epstein killed himself or was murdered. She concluded probably not because editors have reporters chasing after opportunities to get on cable TV and social media to promote the brand.

Reporters today are too tidy, she wrote. “People with grievances who’ve never had anything to grieve because their lives were the red satin lining of a music box.” Noonan’s old reporter ended: “I bet you miss me. And Breslin and the rest. Because we gave it all color. Because deep down we respected life, which has color and facts. Stories, yarns. The feel of it, the old romance of it.

“Bled right out by the theoreticians. Good luck with the brand.”

We don’t have a reporter at Knox TN Today who will be chasing the Epstein story, but we do have some darn good writing. Some facts, some color, some stories and yarns. We’re running on fumes, but we’re igniting discussion. And each week is better than the week before.


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