This week I'm stepping down as editor. I'm leaving the Sceneand heading off for other pastures. Liz Garrigan, our associate editor who's been with the paper for eight years, is the new editor.
She was my first choice and everyone else's too. The plan is for me to stick around through the first week of December to consult with her and help with the transition. But the truth is, Liz doesn't need much help, and she's ready to do the job. Leaving this place is easier knowing that the paper will be in such good hands. If you've got something on your mind that you think needs my immediate attention, please give me a shout. But by and large, I'm getting out of the way.
Now, before I get all weepy on you, I want to answer a few questions. Such as: why am I leaving? To which about all I can say is this: it's time. It's time that younger blood comes in to do what an alternative newsweekly in Nashville is supposed to be doing. It's time for someone else to address the vision-for-the-city question. At this time, I'm neither young nor prone to alt-weekly visioning. It's just not where I am right now. So, I'm leaving. What am I going to do? I really don't know. Since making up my mind to leave about four or five months ago, various ideas have run through my head. But nothing's stuck. I'm open to pretty much anything. My wife says whatever it is, I need to find it fast.
As I head out the door, do I have anything I want to say? I sure do. For starters, I want to say that I have loved this job. It's been one of the great luxuries of my life to have a place to go for a decade-and-a-half where I had a passion for what I did. That passion began the moment Albie Del Favero and I bought the very miserable, very skinny and very unprofitable Nashville Scene and tried to make something of it. And it continued until not too long ago. For that, I'm thankful.
I also want to thank this city, its people and the characters who have danced across our pages. From my front row seat, I've gotten to know the stars in the civic drama, both the gifted and the challenged, the comfortable and the afflicted. It's been a spectacular thing to watch Phil Bredesen, for instance, effortlessly lift up this city. It's been another thing entirely to spend time with the John Jay Hookers, the Tommy Burnetts, the Bill Bonerspeople whose immense talents and offsetting liabilities created within them a complexity of almost Shakespearean dimensions. I learned a lot from these people, marveled at them, was entertained by them. I owe them such thanks for letting me be a part of their lives.
I want to thank Albie, my longtime business partner, to whom, as I wrote when he resigned a couple of months ago, I've been married for 15 years. Ask anybody who's owned a business with someone else, and they'll tell you it's much like a marriage. You get divorced, and the business will collapse. You get along, and it'll thrive. Albie and I have always gotten alongso well, in fact, that ours would rival any editor-publisher relationship. The synergy has been uncanny, fueled by a shared passion for excellent journalism, a love of making money and the fact that we're wired in utterly different ways. Albie had the strength of personality to marshal the troops, point them at the hill and then blindly attack in the way only a fearless entrepreneur can. Relentlessly honest, even when being so doesn't serve him well, Albie is someone whose truthfulness is never in doubt. Throughout our tenure together, he has always handled the money, and never have I ever worried it was going somewhere it shouldn't. He and I have been through many deals together, and I can't really do justice to his integrity with words. I would trust him anyplace, anywhere, any time.
Finally, I want to thank the people who work at the Nashville Scene. Never have I ever been around a harder-working group of folks. Never have I been around more characters. Never have I doubted they were capable of producing an excellent newspaper. But among all the employees, I really have to highlight one subset. That would be the writers. To them, I owe my all.
From the moment their first ragged batches of typewritten pages started falling on my desk in 1989, I knew that our little experiment in publishing had stumbled onto something special. The copy was so rich and captivating: worldly and yet local, sassy and yet sophisticated, high-minded and yet conversational. Nothing about it was small, pedestrian, silly. From day one, you'd have thought I'd been handed a bunch of New Yorker writers who'd gotten all jacked up on steroids. Everybody was aiming for the left field fences, but they were swinging like DiMaggio, all lovely and charming and graceful.
The type in those early days sprang onto the page with such exotic and emotive force that I occasionally just shook my head in disbelief. From its inception forward, Scene writers took their lead position on the little engine that could, pointed it straight to the heart of the city and pushed the accelerator to the floor. Along the way, things sometimes got messy. I saw our writers take hits that would make stronger men and women fall. Lawsuits came, lawsuits went. But as the city's daily newspaper forsook its responsibility to tackle the tough issues of the day, our lesser band of brothers and sisters took control of the civic conversation. The editorial staff at the Scene may have been outmanned and underpaid, but it was never outgunned. Intelligent, cunning, spirited, curious, devious and brave, Scene writers rode on. Wherever they rode, I rode with them. What a journey. What a blast.
So to the writers, and to their words, and to their stories, and to their outsized hearts and lovely minds, and to their souls full of attitude and their eyes filled with tears, and to their mouths crackling wide in laughter and their glasses filled with enough alcohol to fuel a small nation, let me say this: you were one helluva bunch. You made it all so worth it. I love you all.
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