This week in 2003, Hammer recalled "The End of an Era," eulogizing Mr. (Fred) Rogers, "just about the last purveyor of moral values in a media saturated with vulgarity," a man who "told people to be nice to their neighbors and that helping someone is a reward in itself."
I'm reporting again from San Antonio, Texas, where I am in the midst of approximately three months of training for my new job. Without going into too much detail, and violating the non-disclosure forms I've signed, it involves analyzing large Internet systems and how and why they break down, then fixing them.
My new colleagues were all superstars in the cities from which they came. I have 20 years of tech support under my belt, most of it with Macintoshes, and I'm working as hard as I can to keep up with this information. I know I'll get there.
I'm still staying at an extended-stay hotel in a room not much bigger than a college dorm room. By the end of this week, we hope to have a lease signed and have a lifetime's worth of possessions transported from Indiana to Texas. It won't feel like home until my wife gets here.
Meanwhile, my prolonged farewell tour for my longtime NUVO readers continues.
I don't really have any kind of profound knowledge to impart. I didn't in 1993 and I don't now. I do, however, know that there are universal truths that remain unchanged. Republicans try and rob you of your real freedoms under the guise of protecting other alleged "rights," such as gun ownership and tax avoidance. When that doesn't work, they steal elections. They did it in 2000 and 2004 and will do it in 2016 if we allow them to do so.
I know that to be a fact. I know also that water is wet, honey is sweet and that Jesus is Lord. Those are about the only facts I know; everything else is opinion and speculation. And if there are folks out there who've consistently read me for 20 years, they know that pretty much all I ever had to offer was opinion and speculation.
That makes it tough when I am asked, as I was by Dave Lindquist in The Star or even by my editor at NUVO, Rebecca Townsend, about my favorite pieces and columns of the 1,000 I've done since 1993.
The trip I made to cover the funeral of Richard Nixon in 1994 was a memorable event. I stood in line for hours and hours to file by the closed casket of our 37th president and spoke with dozens of fellow mourners. Watching President Clinton dedicate the Kennedy-King memorial at 17th and Broadway also was a great memory. And seeing my beloved Indiana Pacers during their great playoff runs of the 1990s also stands out in my memory.
But I suppose I don't conceptualize my writing as anything other than ephemera, things that were relevant at the time they were written but lose their usefulness, if any, after a few weeks. Certainly they are not worth preserving for any purpose other than nostalgia.
I know some journalists who obsessively keep scrapbooks of every story they've written. I admire them for their dedication of purpose but that's just not me. Of the 400 square feet of stuff we will soon be moving from Indy to San Antonio, there isn't a single copy of NUVO or a single clipping of any of my stories.
It would be great to have all those stories at my fingertips and point to my brilliant interviews with Yoko Ono or Tony Bennett or any of the other legendary figures I've been privileged enough to interview.I fear, however, that I'd be buried under a blizzard of interviews with the bass player from Matchbox Twenty or a metal band from the Eastside.
I'm pretty sure that there are thousands of readers out there who've enjoyed my writing over the years. I've heard from many of them over the past month. I appreciate their support. And, to my slight surprise, I'm still hearing from my detractors, people who think that my opinions suck, that I myself am a bad person and I serve no tangible purpose on this earth.
I can dismiss most of them, seeing as they are armchair commentators who use terms like "Obummer" to describe our president or who question any political viewpoint that doesn't square with the propaganda they consume from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.
Others are disgruntled musicians from a decade ago whose bands sucked. A lot of local musicians, at least when I was covering the local scene, had nothing better to do than drink and get on the Internet to trash anyone who didn't share their viewpoint that they themselves were musical talents on a scale of John Lennon or Kurt Cobain.
I can tell you that their bands sucked then and they would now, if these musicians were sober enough to get off their couches and play again. So do I have any regrets? Hell yeah, I do. Do I have any regrets about speaking my mind? No. I have one set of buttocks and two testicles and those folks are invited to kiss any or all of them.
Almost finished up with this gig; I have a few things left to say before my time here in print is up. Thanks for reading.