Memo to Cathy 

From: Dennis Miller

From: Dennis Miller

Hey baby, lighten up! That "memorandum" you wrote to "Dennis Miller, The Jerk," in your Sunday column was meaner than Brian Billick at a press conference.

Calling me a "jerk"—not once, but five times—just because I signed my name near your picture on the wall at The Palm restaurant. Did that deserve a whole column? And what about that page-wide headline: "A message for that jerk Dennis Miller: Kiss my portrait"? Frankly, my dear, I'd rather kiss Rob Lowe.

After Monday Night Football, I dropped in at The Palm, autographed my own caricature on the wall, and then signed half a dozen others too. You got hotter than a Kentucky farm girl, because I wrote "Dennis Miller" a few inches from that drawing of you in a dumb-looking hat.

Besides calling names, elsewhere in your column you tell me (and 200,000 other people who don't care either) about your 10-year career as a Tennessean society columnist, "the Cat in the Hat." "For a long while, I was paid to be catty," you finally confess, like Michael Corleone in Godfather III, but "off the clock, I was a pussycat."

Now, I don't know the Cat in the Hat from Puss 'N Boots, but it sounds like you're feeling a little guilty about making a career out of insulting my friends in East Egg.

You then describe how hard you worked going to those "three trillion tribute dinners, banquets, dinner/dances, preview parties, balls, fashion shows, auctions, and costume parties." Gee, that sounds tough. I'll bet no one else in the newsroom would have taken your job for all the money at the Freedom Forum.

"In other words, I have paid my dues," you announce, as if working for a living deserved a prize. "So I make no apologies that my caricature is on a wall at the Palm...." No apologies necessary, pussycat. It's the price of being a celebrity. By the way, I stopped at this great bar near The Palm called the Classic Cat. Is that named after you too?

Finally, you tell me that you'll "never" autograph your own picture, "because you did it for me." But guess what? I dropped by The Palm again last weekend, and there was your John Hancock, scribbled right above mine. An employee said that you apparently hadn't even seen my doodling when you wrote that column and that all is now forgiven. Well, just call me Marc Rich.

Cathy, my friends at the Nashville Scene tell me that you're really a very nice person and a good journalist. I believe them. That's one column, though, I suspect you'd like to take back. I'm outta here.

Al, Michael, and me

If lawyers can write media columns, Al Gore can teach journalism.

The former vice president and once-upon-a-time Tennessean reporter is being criticized by some academics who claim Gore isn't qualified for a faculty appointment at Columbia's School of Journalism.

Given that journalism is more trade than profession, and journalism school is largely a waste of time, it's hard to imagine any successful politician who's not qualified to teach students how to ask obvious questions and explain the answers in eighth-grade prose.

Those qualities that separate good reporters from say, The Tennessean newsroom—curiosity, iconoclasm, and pushy charm—can't be taught anyway. So who cares if the kids earn credit listening to recycled campaign stories?

Other journalism teachers say they're offended because Gore's classroom talks are supposed to be "off the record." It's "outrageous," one said; "a disgrace," said another. According to last week's story by Tennessean reporter Michael Cass, a "handful of journalism experts, political scientists, and a civil liberties lawyers" said that telling journalism students not to talk to the press "goes against the spirit of a university." So we decided to call Michael to ask if his editor's threat to fire any staffer who talks to one of the Scene's media critics "goes against the spirit of a newspaper." He said he had no comment.

He's baaaack?

Claiming his non-compete clause is no longer enforceable, former Channel 2 reporter Michael Turko—the high-decibel door-buster that everyone loved to hate, but watched anyway—has e-mailed to say he's now free to return "to any Nashville news outlet." Complaining about the power shortages, $2 gasoline, and sewer lines that "break open all the time," Turko says California isn't so great after all. The idea of coming back to Music City and all his friends here "intrigues at times," he writes. We miss you too, Mike.

Will Turko reclaim his favorite bar stool at Blackstone Brewery? Not likely. We suspect that it's contract renegotiation time, and our friend is hinting to his bosses at station KUSI in San Diego that he's considering other options.

Spot the error

"Last year, former President Clinton appointed to the TVA Board...Republican Glenn McCullough, a former mayor of Tupelo, Miss., who was handpicked by House Majority leader Trent Lott of Mississippi." It's sad that Tennessean political reporter Bonna de la Cruz apparently doesn't know Trent Lott is a senator. It's even sadder that the copy desk doesn't know it either.

To reach Henry Walker, e-mail him at hwalker@nashvillescene.com.

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