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In the summer of 2009, my love affair with your invention began in earnest. I was covering the Jefferson County (Kentucky) Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner, milling about the crowded ballroom of a hotel in downtown Louisville, Flip camera in hand in the hopes of scoring footage of the Bluegrass State’s then-Sen. Jim Bunning acting a curmudgeonly fool during the function’s pre-dinner cocktail hour.
As a properly credentialed cub reporter for the Scene’s sister publication, LEO Weekly, it never dawned on me that someone would actually try to kick my ass for doing this job. Such naïveté was shattered when a GOP rank-and-file began harassing me and, without provocation, assaulted me just a few yards away from the cash bar and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. My assailant, J.D. Sparks, repeatedly tried to pry the camera from my hands, but thanks to its ergonomic design, the wedge of plastic remained firmly locked in my sweating fist. Sparks and I eventually fought our way to the room’s periphery, crashed through a door and spilled into the hallway, whereupon he scampered off.
The story might’ve ended there, but thanks to the awesome power of the Flip, this rude altercation was captured and ultimately produced in court as evidence of “disorderly conduct.” Sparks pleaded guilty and had to pay fines, all thanks to the Flip. Score one for the technocracy.
Lately, the Flip saved my ass while I was filming the Occupy Nashville crackdowns, capturing my unlawful arrest by state troopers and refuting their fabricated charges — the footage of which went viral.
While it saddened me to learn that, as of April 2011, the Flip is no longer in production — and puzzled me to discover you’ve eschewed the tech business to open a grilled-cheese restaurant in San Francisco — my heart for your lasting product, as the lady says, will go on. My only regrets? That I never got to thank you in person, and that you never distributed a version that came with a bottle of asshole repellent.
I know 17 letters is a lot. Not to mention 10 consonants. I don’t expect you to get it right on the first try. I’m used to it, believe me.
I’ve been dealing with this for a long time.
My birth certificate was misspelled. (REALLY.) Then my college diploma. But that’s where I drew the line. The tuition bills always got it right. And geez, I was nearly 40 when I paid off all the student loans. That sheepskin not only needed to look right, it should X#^&* dance.
Bill Hall was charming and cute when he would call me Demetrius. Then it stuck. Like a TJ Maxx tag on a wedding gift. Not to mention my lovely last name. How could anyone who hears it think the Walt Disney rule applies? It’s Kalodi-M-O-S, not -M-O-U-S-E.
Granted, Greek is intimidating. We think we invented everything and we use that fraternity and sorority alphabet. Maybe an Irish approach would be easier. Cal O’Deemus?
In the meantime, my best advice is refer to the 100 times a night they show my name on the screen — and my email address, and maybe soon my blood type, favorite color and astrological sign (Virgo).
After 28 years, you guys apparently still don’t know me.
So I’ll help you a bit. I’m the one on every morning at Channel 5, with Bob Mueller.
The name’s Dementia California.
And don’t wear it out.
I’m Dorothy Cooper’s vote.
I’d like to thank the Tennessee Republican Party, and in particular Rep. Debra Maggart, for letting me finally have an election year off. I haven’t had one of those in over 50 years! Considering the United States has a voter participation hovering around 40 percent, that’s pretty unbelievable. Jim Crow couldn’t do it, inclement weather couldn’t do it, two oil shocks couldn’t do it. Nope, it took the Tennessee Republican Party to let me be like the rest of the votes belonging to clueless American couch potatoes who’d rather pick the next American Idol than the next American president. Thanks for letting me be like all of other gnats hovering over the rotting fruit of the republic!
Whenever I near the end of my last pre-game pint at one of our city’s finer holes-in-the-wall and head up Broadway to its intersection with Fifth for a hockey game, I save a little sip to offer a toast to you, Mr. Bredesen.
I don’t actually offer a toast in the literal sense, because surely everyone around me would think it bizarre, but I do raise a metaphorical glass in my mind. By this time, my IPA is room temperature and, besides, warm-ups start in 10 minutes.
But you deserve that honor — even if it is just mental — because, during your mayoralty, it was you who rejected the prevailing planning wisdom of the mid-1990s and plopped what is now Bridgestone Arena right in the middle of town.
Other civic leaders thought they were being smart. “We’ll put the arena in this depressed area and business will boom!” they would say. Or, “Let’s put this out in the suburbs as part of some large-scale development scheme, and besides, getting downtown is a real bastard.”
But you were the real genius, sir. You saw all that scheming as too clever by half. You convinced the council — and eventually Metro voters, who backed the tax increase — to build an arena and to do it right on the gateway to Honky-Tonk Canyon.
Sure, parking is scarce and traffic can snarl — but Predators fans can grab a pint, a bite and be in their seats in time to hear Dennis Morgan sing two anthems flawlessly.
The Predators hosted their 1,000th game last week. Next month, the arena will celebrate 15 years. Both have had ups and downs in the meantime, but the team is still here, finally fitting into the fabric of the city the way the arena does.
You could have done what Phoenix did and put the arena 20 miles from downtown, but you knew: Nobody is driving to Mt. Juliet for anything except a country ham from Rice’s, much as no one in Phoenix seems to have any desire to drive to Glendale to see the Coyotes.
You could have put it in one of our scarier neighborhoods, but you wanted people to come early, stay late, have a good time. (You’re such a legendary party animal, we should have known your judgment would be flawless in this regard.)
When something big is at the arena, downtown is full of energy and — finally — the mucketies-muck at the arena are trying to pull that energy back inside. (Draft Yazoo will no doubt help with that effort.)
Thanks a lot, Big Phil. This one’s for you.
Hey thanks — your dated, out-of-touch references make me feel like I’m 13 again! You don’t know how quickly those years have flown by. ... Maybe you should think about it a little, actually. Because nobody plays Kenny G on the radio anymore. Also not so relevant? Bobby McFerrin and, like, Dennis Rodman. Just so you know. And when you brag about not playing Kenny G, it doesn’t make you seem cool or rebellious.
Don’t get me wrong, you play some good songs — we all like Bananarama! — but c’mon, you’re not fooling anybody. We know your audience can’t possibly be both the douche-y frat kids and clueless uncles you make them out to be.
Sometimes when I’m alone in my car, I’ll catch myself thinking about my younger years as if it were all just a really good episode of My So-Called Life. But then I’ll drive by one of your phoned-in “your mom” jokes and remember all the dicks in eighth grade who made fun of everyone for everything.
Thanks for helping me keep it in perspective!
I don’t know your name. It’s not that I don’t care. (Quite the opposite, I think you should win a medal for valorous conduct in the line of bagging groceries, but I’m not sure who I’d nominate you to, since the woman with the pointy haircut doesn’t seem to work there anymore, and they haven’t put up a new store manager photo.) It just seems sort of nosy to lean over and read your nametag as if it’s any of my business.
Also, you’re not always working when I gather my weekly cartful of comestibles, and because you’re a good person, you’ll often rotate over and intervene when giant, sad-looking sacks of frozen chicken wings and shrink-wrapped multi-packs of bottled water threaten to breach the stainless-steel checkout barrier on another lane.
Anyway, I’m writing this to let you know that a wave of relief washes over me whenever I see you at the other end of that monotonously looping black belt. I know you won’t start throwing my groceries into plastic bags and then, halfway through, realize I’ve brought my own. I know you won’t put the bottle of drain opener on top of the bananas. I know you recognize the fact that I put my items on the conveyer in a particular way: frozen and cold items together, boxed dry goods together, canned goods together, fragile things at the very end. (As much as I “enjoy” wondering what I’ll find next in each and every bag I unpack at home, opening and closing the refrigerator a dozen times in the process, I also enjoy opening a bag and finding — behold! — a bunch of stuff that all goes in the same place.)
Once, after you carefully lowered the last of my breakable items into a separate bag — in exactly the manner one would expect of a person who possesses a basic grasp of the way massive and delicate objects interact with each other — you said to me: “I’m sorry. It’s just that when it comes to bagging, it has to be perfect.”
Sorry, you say? You were sorry?
My friend — if I may call you that, even though I don’t know your name, for the reasons put forth above — what is there to be sorry for? Expecting perfection from yourself? Oh, the world is littered with fools who only wish they could have that to apologize for. If anyone should be sorry, it’s the people who regularly scatter, smother and mash my groceries, undoing their shape- and temperature-specific groupings and redistributing them with a carelessness so profound it almost resembles effort.
No, you should not be sorry. I hope, at the very least, your manager gives you a free turkey for Thanksgiving. Or if you’re a vegetarian, something comparable, and not some bullshit “at least it doesn’t have meat” substitute like a pasta salad. And I hope you get the whole week off, and when you come back you don’t have to cover for anyone instead of taking your break, which you deserve. My cap, which I wear most Sundays to conceal my greasy, unkempt hair, is off to you.
To the man I never saw at my mother’s funeral, I wanted to say: Thank you. There is much I do not remember about that day. It was the summer of 2010, and I was standing in front of the altar at the First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro. It was the church my mother attended for 75 years, the church where she was baptized, and the church where she married my father. I knew that whenever the time came to send her home, this is where we would be — but not so soon, and not this day.
The visitation remains a blur, though over the weeks and months that followed, I would recall something someone told me as if I were hearing it for the first time. As a host, I was a washout. I don’t think I ever told my wife’s father how grateful I was that he went, or told my own father how tall he stood, or told my brother how proud I was of him for everything he did, before and after.
But one thing I remember.
Down front, my father, brother and I stood receiving people by a large table draped with dark cloth. On it were flower arrangements of all sizes, huge sprays of white gladiolas and dahlias and orchids. All were beautiful, and all bore cards from my parents’ many friends, some of whom had known my mother since she was a dimpled kindergartner growing up on Cherry Lane.
But when the last of the mourners had passed, I looked down at the table and saw a flower that hadn’t been there before. It was a single carnation wrapped in cellophane, the kind you might see on a convenience-store counter. It had no card. I asked my father, and he had no idea who placed it there. My brother didn’t know either. After the service, I asked the pastor if he knew who’d left the flower. He smiled.
Every Sunday, on her way into church, my mother made a point of saying hello to a large man who’s often seen walking the streets of uptown Murfreesboro. The pastor told me he was a veteran who lived in a home down on Maple Street, and sometimes he would do odd jobs for the church. Some Sundays, my father said, he would wait at the door for my mother and give her a gift — a box of Archway cookies, maybe. On this day, he’d showed up at the church as the mourners arrived. He was holding a single carnation.
The pastor told me his name — your name — was Bill.
It was not the first time you had offered someone a mysterious, unbidden act of kindness. One day my father was giving his handyman Wendell a ride home. Wendell, a good man in his own right who is no longer with us, didn’t have a car, and spent about as much time walking as you do. He saw you coming in your big down jacket. “You know that man right there?” Wendell asked my father. He said that he did.
”Every time that man sees me on the street,” Wendell said, “he gives me a quarter.”
I met you only one time. It was weeks after the funeral, and there was a small ceremony on the square in my mother’s memory to unveil a historical marker. My father and I sat on benches out in front of the courthouse, where a group of singers was preparing for a pageant. Without a word, you appeared beside us, just long enough for my father to greet you and ask if you wanted to sit with us. You did — but only for a moment. I went to get you some punch, and when I came back, you were almost a block away.
If you read this, thank you for reminding me how much one small gesture can ripple outward and resonate and touch a complete stranger’s life. In other words, thank you for reminding me, every time I think about you, of my mother. And as for the punch, I owe you.
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