That’s Why They Call It Dope … and other stuff

Now Playing: Fall-In-Love-To-Song, by Get Help. “But I believe you for a little while, ’cause only you can ease the pain, I don’t know how you do it, but it’s always never the same, and just not enough, and just not enough.”

There’s a story today in one of my old newspapers, The Daily News of Jacksonville. It’s about three guys fined $25 in district court after being cited in January for possession of marijuana and moonshine violations. What makes it notable? The three guys were members of Willie Nelson’s band. I know, you’re shocked, shocked to hear that Willie’s band might have partaken of illegal substances.

Here’s the thing. These guys were arrested on the night of a concert in Kenansville. The district attorney, whose name I won’t use because he’s running for state senate – coincidence? I think not – held at least one and I think maybe two press conferences on the bust. Which you gotta admit wasn’t exactly the French Connection. Willie, who hadn’t arrived yet, bolted and never played the scheduled show. Lawmen and the courts spent valuable time on the case. All for three $25 fines.

Does this seem stupid to anyone else? Like I said, that’s why they call it dope, because people on both sides of it can be so dumb.

Interlude: “But here it is again, I’m hearing it so easily, It never has to end, You’ve got me right where I want to be. And a random radio plays fall-in-love-to songs. They never say a thing, and don’t last very long. And it always is, never the same, and just not enough, and just not enough.” – more “Fall-In-Love-To-Song,” by Get Help.

Here’s the other stuff, about two unrelated retirements:

Erskine Bowles will retire at the end of the year as president of the UNC system. I voted for Erskine throughout his two failed runs for U.S. Senate. I was pleased when he got the UNC job. But this is what I have to say about his retirement: Good riddance!

I think he has been an extremely poor steward of the university system. He rolled over to the General Assembly last year on the budget cuts, and I don’t think he plans even that much resistance this year. Our university system is poorer for it, and it’s going to suffer greatly unless someone stands up and puts a halt to this atrocity. Can you imagine Bill Friday taking the budget cuts without a fight? I can’t either. I’m still hoping he’ll ride in and stick up for education now (and yes, I know Friday endorsed Bowles for the job). Times are tough and I don’t want to pay higher taxes, either, but we’re fooling ourselves if we think cutting the UNC system won’t hurt this state in the long run – and for a long time.

The other retirement is that of my old friend and boss, Jennie Lambert, as publisher of The Gaston Gazette. I worked for her when she was editor there. She was/is tough-as-nails, never backed down from a story, and demanding that it be right the first time. No one ever preached local angle louder or better, and to this day, The Gazette sets the standard for finding them. Look under a national story far enough, and there’ll be a Gastonia angle. I’m surprised Kevin Bacon isn’t from there.

And we weren’t skeered of the Charlotte Observer. We met ’em head on for many a story and beat ’em more times than we didn’t – despite being dwarfed in resources.

There are many more things I could say about Jennie’s retirement June 30, but here’s the one that strikes me best: Newspapering in North Carolina will be the lesser without her.

“The way for newspapers to meet the competition of radio and television is simply to get out better papers.” _ H.L. Mencken (That goes for the Internet, too. Sadly, the strategy these days seems to be to put out cheaper papers. _ Arthur O. Murray)


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