STEVE BOUSER: Blog Bits: Palin, Symphony, a Friend's Death
These are recent postings from the "Editor's Note" blog at thepilot.com.
Palin Cartoons: We've had several complaints -- and a couple of subscription cancellations -- from readers annoyed by our publishing of so many cartoons making fun of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Some of our syndicated cartoons come from Mike Peters of The Dayton Daily News and others from Jim Borgmann of The Cincinnati Enquirer. Both are Pulitzer Prize winners. We also often reprint cartoons by Duane Powell of The News & Observer of Raleigh.
I confess that I myself have been a bit uncomfortable about the number of Palin cartoons -- hardly anyone has drawn anything else in the past couple of weeks -- and the fact that all of them have been pretty negative. We didn't plan it that way. It's just that Palin is such a hot topic and makes such an easy target.
We have been exploring other sources of cartoons -- coincidentally because Borgmann has announced that he's retiring. But I'm not sure how many readers will be satisfied with whatever change results. Political cartoonists by nature tend to be anti-establishment free spirits and anti-authoritarian types, which often translates as liberal. But don't forget what a good time cartoonists had with Bill Clinton. The trouble with right-wing, reactionary cartoons is that they often come across as (1) not funny and (2) mean-spirited.
In any case, the new will soon wear off the Palin candidacy, and I guarantee you the cartoonists will get bored and move on to other topics. Stay tuned.
[Postscript: They did.]
-- Sept. 17
New World: Once, in late 1960, at the Army Language School in Monterey, Calif., a lonely 18-year-old recruit from Missouri, feeling lonely and far from home, wandered into the Enlisted Men's Club. A nice USO lady got him to help her decorate a large Christmas tree. Then, sensing how much he missed the American heartland, she pulled out an LP album and introduced him to a piece of classical music he had never heard before.
The lonely soldier was me. The recording was of Antonin Dvorak's "New World Symphony." I returned to listen to it several times during that Christmas season, when most of my fellow soldiers were away. That magnificent composition won a place in my heart and has stayed there ever since.
Though it was written in the late 19th century by a Czech musician who was just visiting here (he spent a lot of time in Iowa), this genius managed to capture the wildness and beauty and drama and freedom of America better than anyone before or since.
So when I learned that the North Carolina Symphony would be playing the New World, among other selections, at Pinecrest High School, I quickly snapped up friends' offer of a couple of tickets for Brenda and me.
The first two offerings, "In the South" by Edward Elgar and "Four Sea Interludes" by Benjamin Britten, were fine. But the terrific job our great symphony did on the Dvorak, under the baton of its dynamite conductor, Grant Llewellyn, brought tears to my eyes. It doesn't get any better than that.
It's not too late to sign up for other performances as the Symphony returns to Moore County several times in the coming season.
-- Sept. 22
Goodbye to a Friend: You probably didn't know Dwayne Walls. But I did, and he died the other day in a nursing home in South Carolina, so allow me to take a second to mourn his passing.
Dwayne was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer who wrote books on the side, such as "The Chickenbone Special" and "The Kidwells." But he was also a writing coach, which is how I got to know him. When I was editor of The Salisbury Post, we engaged him to come to our newsroom periodically and work one-on-one with our reporters. Through his patient mentoring, he raised the level of writing quality on our staff noticeably, and I came to hold him in great respect.
In later years, Dwayne also became something of a journalistic headhunter. And that's why I'm here. I had just come back from working with media assistance programs in Russia and spent the summer of 1997 working as a consultant with The Washington (N.C.) Daily News -- which is another way of saying I was unemployed. When David Woronoff took over as publisher of The Pilot and was looking for an editor, he got in touch with Dwayne, who got in touch with me, and the rest is history.
I owe Dwayne Walls a lot personally, and those of us who labor in the vineyard of North Carolina journalism generally owe him for having graced us with his presence and provided us with the example of his excellence. He was a good and gentle man, and I will miss him.
-- Sept. 28
Steve Bouser is editor of The Pilot. Contact him at email@example.com
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