Thursday, October 30, 2003



Have you received your new Columbus telephone directory yet? And if you have, did you feel the urge to utter the famous movie words of Steve Martin - "The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!!"

The official BellSouth white pages and yellow pages landed on my porch the other day. There's a nice picture on the cover of the Space Science Center's observatory dome at night, with a streak in the sky flashing by. What a nice illustration of the late-night training exercises at Fort Benning.

BellSouth resisted the urge to put a gaudy advertisement on the cover of the new phone book. Instead, an ad for Groome Transportation was STUCK on the cover like a Post-It note. I assume those stickers are NOT on phone books delivered to the Columbus Airport....

What is the point of the phony "tabs" along the side of the front cover of the phone book? The number went up this year to seven, with a new one for "HOMELAND SECURITY" - yet there's no markings on the sides of pages to get you to ANY of those sections. If the terrorists attacked right now, I'd wind up around the letter "L" for liquor stores.

The Homeland Security section of the phone book really is under "H" in the Columbus Yellow Pages. It has two pages of very basic instructions - including a list of basic emergency supplies which includes "other special things your family may need." Go ahead and wrap that DVD player in duct tape now.

The Community Information Pages of the BellSouth phone book are very helpful. For instance, there's a calendar for the Muscogee County School District holidays - but wait a minute. Where are the lines listing future sales tax votes?

The Community Information Pages are noteworthy for what is NOT there, as well as what is. For instance, you might conclude:

+ Columbus has several libraries, while Phenix City has none. Maybe that explains all the Alabama license plates outside Books-a-Million.

+ Beacon College does not exist, while Columbus State University and Columbus Tech do. Maybe it's time for a neon sign....

+ People in Phenix City have no utility service at all. Those old Alabama stereotypes refuse to go away.

+ The South Georgia Waves baseball team isn't staying in town next year - while all the other sports teams are. Quick, somebody check that contract for Golden Park....

Is it only a coincidence, by the way, that the Columbus city maps in the BellSouth phone book do NOT show you the section of Victory Drive south of North Lumpkin Road? Isn't the phone company guilty of continuing the "South Columbus" image problem?

As for the main events in the phone book: the number of "White Pages" listings for Columbus-Phenix City dropped this year, from 346 pages to 340. The number of Yellow Pages is down by seven. This may be a sign that the local population is declining. Or then again, maybe it's a sign that some BellSouth sales executives are about to lose their jobs.

Now some scattered notes we made while going around town on Thursday:

+ The Georgia state high school softball tournament began at South Commons - and the east side of the complex was filled with cars and buses. But remember: be careful about dating softball players. Some of them can be VERY underhanded.

+ Attorneys for suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore complained he's being denied a fair hearing, because the "Court of the Judiciary" won't move his hearing to a larger Montgomery location and allow TV cameras. Oh really?!?! When was the last time Moore allowed cameras in the Supreme Court chambers, or moved someone else's hearing outside?

+ Instant message to Spectrum stores: What is this new "cigarette loyalty program" you're promoting? Some of us can remember when this was called tobacco addiction.

COMING THIS WEEKEND: The reason why I probably won't be blogging on Friday....

Wednesday, October 29, 2003



I did a Google search Tuesday for "Columbus, Georgia" and "blog." It was nice to see this blog at the top of the list -- because when it comes to the Internet, any old geek can become your competition overnight.

The Google search led me to something else, though - a rather strong rant by a man called "The Godfather," who recently spent several weeks in Columbus on business. When his impressions of the trip begin with the word "GAG," you know he's not too thrilled.

The Godfather of a blog called "Why I'm Right" found plenty of things wrong with Columbus. Since I found no copyright notice, I'll quote his September 30 entry directly:

Ah, the foibles of business travel. I just arrived into my two-star motel next to the sewage treatment plant in this "it was nice in the twenties" central Georgia town that sits across the river from equally excitement-lacking central Alabama. I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

OK, did I miss something here? With all the nice motels opening around Columbus Park Crossing, who sneakily put one by Oxbow Meadows without sending out a news release?

So Columbus "was nice in the twenties," huh? Don't look now, mister, but the 2020's are only about 17 years away.

(Hold that thought about our area "lacking excitement" - we'll come back to that.)

There for a while I was jet-setting to the west coast, NYC, Boston, Seattle, Miami.... not too shabby. Now all of the sudden I am in my third straight week in Columbus Georgia. Which, ahem, isn't the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Unless your idea of cosmopolitan is illiterate Alabamians and buzz cut soldiers blowing their government subsidies in one of the many 9th tier strip clubs in this town courtesy of Fort Benning.

How can this man say Columbus is NOT cosmopolitan? Apparently he missed the corner of Victory Drive and Fort Benning Road - with all those different national flags waving.

And how does The Godfather know the strip clubs are filled with illiterate Alabamians? Did he spend his free evenings counting license plates in parking lots?

I take it a "9th tier strip club" is NOT a good thing - as in Dante's Inferno. Of course, some single Fort Benning soldiers might consider it a stairway to heaven....

They say Columbus is the strip club capital of North America, and I believe it. Basically as you drive around, this is what you see... strip club, liquor store, liquor store, liquor store, strip club, strip club, strip club, strip club, dead body...

IF Columbus has that many clubs, you'd think the city would have the excitement he says we lack. Apparently the dancers' routines are too stodgy and boring....

(And IF Columbus has that many strip clubs, why does my Pastor keep bringing up Miami's "South Beach" when he talks about sins?)

The Godfather is not the only person concerned about so many strip clubs in Columbus. I can't help noticing the radio ads for Clint's Furniture Gallery on Veterans Parkway - and how he never bothers to mention it's located right next door to the Cat Walk lounge.

From his description, you get the feeling our visitor spent most of his time on Victory Drive while in Columbus. He would have found a variety of businesses on other streets in town - and might have concluded this is the Chinese buffet capital instead.

(Yes, I DID notify The Godfather that I was going to comment on his blog today. If a war breaks out, we'll keep you posted -- but then again, North Korea still hasn't responded to my declaration of war from nine months ago.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003



The Columbus Chamber of Commerce held its annual "legislative luncheon" at the Trade Center today, with City Council and School Board members meeting with lawmakers. If these grown-ups can start on holiday wish lists this early, your children can as well.

The main city request for next year's Georgia legislative session was rather obvious - money to pay the bill to renovate the very Trade Center where they met. If that funding doesn't come soon, next year's legislative luncheon may be held under a tent in South Commons.

Another item the city wants Georgia lawmakers to approve is a vote on another one-cent Columbus city sales tax. Of course, this could be settled even before next year's legislative session begins. If voters turn down the school sales tax next Tuesday, why bother?

As for the Muscogee County Schools, they want the Georgia Legislature to slow down education reform and delay new rules for maximum class sizes. Remember, you can help keep school class sizes small - by serving your children less dessert, and making sure they exercise every day.

Muscogee County Superintendent John Phillips asked lawmakers to reduce the amount of mandatory paperwork that schools have to fill out. How many students heard that and said, "Tell US about it -- we want fewer tests."

In the evening, the South Columbus (or is that Columbus South?) Revitalization Task Force drew up a list of its own - priorities for improving the neighborhood. We noticed education was at the top of the list. Now comes the tough part - persuading Brookstone School to open a south campus.

The wish list for South Columbus improvements includes less crime, better transportation - and improving the neighborhood's image. Mayor Poydasheff's trying to help, by calling it "Columbus South." If that doesn't work, we suggest "that part of town just before Fort Benning."

(Imagine the things a NORTH Columbus Task Force might put on its improvement list. More day spas, an open field for playing polo, a second BMW dealership....)

COMING WEDNESDAY: More on the city's image, from the blog of a recent visitor....

Monday, October 27, 2003



If you thought Ladonia was a growth area, maybe you should think again. A weekend drive down U.S. 80 revealed the Subway shop near the volunteer fire station has disappeared! Well, this IS Russell County - so maybe not enough people want to lose weight like Jared.

The Subway shop in Ladonia has been replaced by a Chinese take-out restaurant. And a few miles down the street, a Blimpie on Crawford Road didn't stay open very long. Someday these Alabama sandwich shops will learn to offer barbecued pork on those honey wheat buns....

The little shopping center in Ladonia where Subway used to stand still has another familiar name - "4 Pizza Pirates." This name always puzzles me when I see it. If I only want one pizza, does this make me a scalawag or something?

Still looking for a dinner spot, I went to the new Ladonia McDonald's - the one that's combined with a B.P. convenience store. Buy the right items on both sides, and you actually could have a balanced meal.

The McDonald's in Ladonia has a feature I haven't seen at any other restaurant in the Columbus area - touch-screen ordering. But I admit I have NOT tried this approach yet. I'd rather deal with people I can see who can't hear me, than people I can't see who can't read.

Another surprise came when I put a straw wrapper for my drink in the McDonald's trash can. Trust me - a voice from the can actually said, "Thank you!" I hadn't even started to sip my soda, so it couldn't have been spiked.

If there's anything growing in Ladonia, it seems to be the number of large churches. One church along U.S. 80 had this sign outside: "Heaven's Gates! Hell's Flames! 58 saved, 27 rededicated." OK, so tell us the rest of the story - how many visitors are burning now.

Back to Columbus now, for some brief notes about various things:

+ I've been forgetting to mention the big page-one headline in Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer: "SOONER SELF-RULE ON TABLE." Maybe I missed something - but didn't Oklahoma become a state almost 100 years ago?

+ Thank you, CB&T, for your commercial showing the fancy handcrafted conference table in the board room with scenes from Columbus history. Now I KNOW you have enough money to approve my loan.

+ Instant message to WOKS Radio: How can you claim in a new TV ad that you're "the station that started it all" about 30 years ago? Did someone not get invited to WRCG's 75th anniversary party?

Sunday, October 26, 2003



So what's Bobby Peters doing, nearly a year after leaving the Columbus Mayor's office? He put a small ad in the newspaper the other day, promoting his legal practice on First Avenue -- and if you've seen Mr. Peters, you know "small" is quite appropriate.

The newspaper ad invited us to check Bobby Peters's web site - and it's rather modest as well. But we already know what the most popular section of the web site will be. If only Mr. Peters would tell us if his two blonde daughters are married or not....

Bobby Peters's web site offers several kinds of legal help. But strangely, it does NOT mention his consulting work earlier this year for the city of Cusseta - in the dispute over whether or not that city's Mayor resigned. Apparently he only promotes the legal advice people actually accept.

The web site includes a lengthy endorsement/biography of Bobby Peters by his longtime Executive Assistant at the Government Center, Ed Wilson. Some of us would have been more impressed if Councilor Nathan Suber had written it.

My home isn't that far from Bobby Peters's "home office" on First Avenue -- and last time I checked, he was still taking good care of his classic 50's-era Ford Thunderbird. He had it on sale for awhile early in the year -- but apparently his legal practice IS getting clients now.

E-MAIL UPDATE: A check of the e-mail the other night brought a record one-day response to this blog -- TWO messages! I'm flattered, yet still awfully humbled....

Our first letter heads back to a new store which opened in Columbus a month ago [21 Sep]:

It was me at the front of the line at the Best Buy grand opening. And the chairs didn't fold. A few weeks earlier my girlfriend bought the chairs at Lowe's because they were on sale. She left them by the front door in the hopes that I would take them around to the back of the house. On the way out the door that morning I mentioned to my brother that we should throw them in the back of the truck. We got to Best Buy at about 9:15 and no one was in line, but it was a little wet outside, so we left and went by a friends house to get umbrella's. When we came back (9:40ish) there were about 7 people in line so we got the chairs out and started the wait. So you see it really wasn't an all night sorta thing.

More than the irrelevance of getting a skate board video, I was insulted that it was a VHS tape. Who still has one of those things??? I put my blue thingy on my golf bag in case I ever get lost in the woods looking for a ball and need to locate true north.

Great Blog!


Thanks for the clarification. Shy raises several good points here - for instance, the idea of always keeping some chairs in your trunk. For instance, you never know when the people selling Sunday papers on street corners will need relief help.

I'm glad Shy didn't have to wait all night to get a free gift bag at Best Buy. But now I'm wondering who did NOT get one back in September - and may have stolen Kaedy the Cow's calf to get even.

So a VHS tape is an "insult," Shy? I guess I'll have to cross you off the guest list for parties at my apartment - because you might bring something to warm in a microwave oven, and I still live without one.

E-mail #2 comes from a surprising location - southeast Texas:

I left Columbus about 6 years ago to move to Houston and whereas I read the Ledger online (almost) every day and my mom keeps me updated on the local news your blog helps to make me feel like I'm in touch. You're writing is intelligent, humorous, and inciteful - something that is sorely lacking in most blogs.


Jessica Antley

Thank YOU very much, Jessica - but uh-oh, I'm concerned about that spelling of "inciteful." I don't want this blog to spark any riots in the streets, really....

I can't help wondering about one major change Jessica had to make when she moved from Georgia to Texas. She had to learn to say "Houston" with a "you" - not a "how." How Georgia made it a "how," I simply don't kn-ow.

COMING THIS WEEK: A review of a new local book - and a short drive through Ladonia....

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 25, 2003



The "Parade of Heroes" for the military marched through downtown Phenix City and Columbus today - revealing the bias of the organizers. If they're really fair and balanced, they'll stage a "Parade of Peaceniks" for the S.O.A. Watch protesters next month.

The route of the Parade of Heroes passed within one block of my apartment, so I strolled over to Broadway to have a look. The turnout in the Historic District was small to moderate. If only Bludau's menu prices were the same way....

As I walked north on Broadway, who did I encounter but Archway Broadcasting newscaster Robbie Watson - with NO visible tape recorder or microphone! WRCG apparently did NOT broadcast the parade live. Instead, Edward Dubose probably used his NAACP hour for a parade of complaints against the school board.

Robbie Watson told me Archway Broadcasting still is going through a "shaking out" of staff, about a year after taking over several stations. If that's true, perhaps the more proper station nickname should be "Kissin' UP 99.3."

I picked a spot in the middle of Broadway across from Heritage Park to watch the parade go by. The pre-parade antics of children were fun to see, by themselves. One child had a long stick, and looked like he was trying to fish in the fountain. Several soldiers came along minutes later to balance it out - with weapons for hunting.

Several other children decided to play of "all fall down" on the grass in the middle of Broadway. They'd bump each other, then collapse on their backs. As I told one parent watching the scene, it was like pro wrestling used to be....

(Some Pentecostal people might have seen the children falling on their backs, and wondered where the preacher was standing.)

At last the parade began in our neighborhood - led by a truck from the Columbus Exchange Club. I couldn't resist asking the driver if she was selling foot-long hot dogs. (She wasn't.)

The Exchange Club had the lead position because of its "give a kid a flag to wave" promotion. People walked alongside the truck with little flags for youngsters. Too bad they didn't also have free cameras, for us adults who didn't think to buy one in advance.

Then came the soldiers, marching in units in military dress. I waved the little flag I brought and clapped along with the army chants - while everyone around me sat, stood and stared. They didn't cheer, whistle, applaud or ANYTHING. Maybe the Exchange Club should have handed out cups of coffee, to wake everybody up.

How strange! It was a "Parade of Honors," to salute the soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom - yet all the citizens around me reacted to the U.S. Army's presence as if the Iraqi Republican Guard had won.

A truck filled with flags followed the soldiers at 7th and Broadway - and then, there was nothing. No marching bands. No floats. No little cars spinning in circles, like I saw on the evening news. It was as if the police radioed someone up the street, about our block not deserving a full parade.

(I didn't really walk home disappointed, though. I clapped and waved for the soldiers -- and they were the ones who mattered.)

Whose idea was it to stop the floats and marching bands around the RiverCenter? If the soldiers can march on the bricks of Broadway, everybody else can do it as well.

The parade's end-point was Golden Park, where soldiers received a free lunch. The original plan for the "Parade of Heroes" called for an evening concert and fireworks show at Golden Park as well - but that never happened. I didn't realize the soldiers already were having flashbacks about Baghdad.

COMING SUNDAY: The item we've promised about the former Mayor online.... and a look at your e-mail....

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

Thursday, October 23, 2003



It was a joy to jog downtown on the Riverwalk this afternoon. The detour around the Trade Center is gone, after more than a year! I won't have to take a deep breath and count to 40 anymore - as in the 40 stairs you climb to reach the Space Science Center.

The Trade Center renovation has adjusted the Riverwalk, so you actually go UNDER the building for about 100 yards. That little area will need extra security, on school prom nights....

People heading north on the Riverwalk will know they're approaching the Trade Center, because a big sign is now on the side of the building, right over their heads. This could start a curious trend - such as a giant inflatable rattlesnake above the Civic Center stairs, when the Cottonmouths have home games.

The new landscaping around the Trade Center includes dozens of large boulders, along the Riverwalk and around entrances. What do you know -- all that flooding in the spring may have saved the contractors money.

(There's also a giant circle covered with rocks on the Riverwalk, where a nice fountain used to sit. That's one way to stop low-income families from using it as a swimming pool.)

The newly-opened section of the Riverwalk still seems to be a work in progress. For instance, a huge street lamp and pole are sitting on the ground around Ninth Street. If the city's not careful, some college football team's offensive line is going to take it home with them as a souvenir.

Not far from that project, a different sort of structure is going up on First Avenue. It's a tall structure surrounded by concrete blocks, next to the Government Center. Before rumors start - no, it's NOT a holding pen for opponents of the school sales tax.

Having driven by this project in recent weeks, I can tell you the concrete blocks are surrounding a new cooling system, on the west side of the Government Center. The turbines admittedly would NOT have looked right for this neighborhood - but shouldn't the blocks be a bit smaller, and made of brick?

The concrete blocks around the Government Center's new cooling system apparently are a sign of the security-conscious times. Hopefully terrorists won't try to outsmart the Columbus city government - and form their own team of muscle-builders, which breaks blocks with their bare hands.

BLOG UPDATE: Muscogee County school officials are taking pains to DENY the rumors about Wal-Mart trying to buy land on Macon Road for a SuperCenter. Superintendent John Phillips may have had the last laugh today - when federal agents raided Wal-Mart stores in dozens of states, and arrested accused illegal immigrants.

The feds even raided a Wal-Mart store in Valley, and arrested a suspected illegal immigrant. Doesn't that man realize he's holding a job hundreds of mill workers need?

(C'mon now - didn't you wonder a little about the broken English of "Mario" in that Wal-Mart TV ad? The man who asks customers, "Can I help YOU? What I can do for YOU??")

But back to the schools: have you seen the new "Vote Yes for Kids" TV commercial? It claims the debate on a Muscogee County school sales tax is OVER. If it is, someone forgot to tell the school board -- because it spent Thursday night trying to figure out a list of projects for that money.

Fourth Street Baptist Church Pastor J.H. "Frosted" Flakes wrote a letter to today's Ledger-Enquirer - saying he supports the school sales tax, but "with concerns." OK, how much money would he like for his church's day care program?

BIG PREDICTION: Isn't it only a matter of time before some religious group complains about the new commercials for Subway? After all, W.W.J.D. does NOT stand for "What Would Jared Do...."

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Interested in a new CD of Christian music? Watch this space THURSDAY for a link to details on my debut album. And read on for some humorous thoughts on the area I call home!


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



The answer came today to my question about the lack of Wal-Mart SuperCenters in Columbus. [20 Oct] It turns out Wal-Mart wants to open TWO of them in town - with one possibly at Columbus Park Crossing. The managers of the new Sears store there must feel like contestants on "Joe Millionaire."

The rumors about Wal-Mart desiring a SuperCenter on Macon Road came to the surface, with word the chain wants both "north and south" stores - or none at all. Trouble is, the Muscogee County School District bought the land Wal-Mart wanted. If the District has enough money to outbid Wal-Mart, why do we need to approve a school sales tax next month?

Muscogee County Superintendent John Phillips said a Wal-Mart SuperCenter would not be a proper business to have next to the new main library on Macon Road. Huh?!?! Why not?

+ Customers would have a place to go while getting their tires repaired -- to learn how to fix the cars themselves.

+ People can browse through the library's magazines - then go to Wal-Mart and actually BUY them.

+ Place security guards at the library door, and tell Wal-Mart customers they can't bring their big bags of popcorn inside.

As it stands now, the new main library will be a short walk down Macon Road from a Big Kmart. So what harm could a Wal-Mart SuperCenter do on the other side? I thought the school district WANTED people to visit this library.

The land in the middle of this dispute is the old Sears building on Macon Road. The school district bought it several months ago to have a new headquarters office next to the new library -- and now it doesn't want Wal-Mart to have it for a SuperCenter. When was the last time Opelika and Phenix City were THIS far ahead of a trend?

I've wondered for awhile whether Wal-Mart might put a SuperCenter along I-185 in Harris County, since that's such a growing area. But that's not on the short list for possible "North Columbus" locations -- perhaps because Harris County Commissioners would demand Wal-Mart sell Callaway Gardens preserves.

One rather surprising location on Wal-Mart's SuperCenter shopping list is Blackmon Road, near the J.R. Allen Parkway. Wouldn't the wealthy people in that area oppose this? They wouldn't dare want people to know they shop at such a "working-class" store.

Back at the library, WRBL reported tonight the new building is being built with 900 tons of steel. Apparently some of that already has been installed in Superintendent John Phillips - because he's acting awfully stiff-necked these days.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Interested in a new CD of Christian music? Watch this space for a link to details on my debut album. And read on for some humorous thoughts on the area I call home!




I rented a car for the vacation trip to Panama City Beach - but how would I get to the rental car office? Enterprise seems to be the only company that "picks you up" to rent a car - which is good, given how wildly one Enterprise employee drove me home three years ago.

Payless Car Rental was the official car company of my vacation. To get to the office on River Road, I decided to use Yellow Cab. I had a discount coupon, the office was a short walk from my home - and several of the cabs actually are yellow, instead of burnt orange.

It's doubtful many people walk into the Yellow Cab office at 8th and Veterans Parkway and ask for a ride. The office is modest, with a window at the end of a hallway - and you may be surprised to learn the walls were NOT covered with posters of supermodels.

The woman behind the window invited me to come around into the dispatcher's office, while I waited for a cab. She was at the two-way radio while a man stood nearby -- and the two traded insults back and forth in loud voices. It all looked so familar: he acted like Danny DeVito, and she mixed the voice of Rhea Perlman with the big hair of a Marilu Henner.

The man walked into a restroom, yet the loud office discussion continued. I noted this interesting TRUE exchange between the female dispatcher and the male co-worker:

"You're full of cr*p!"

"Not anymore...."

You might imagine how thankful I was for the Yellow Cab to arrive at last. But I quickly was surprised to learn this company does NOT accept credit cards, the way some other taxi companies do. "Columbus is not yet in the 21st century," the driver explained. Tell me about it - no radio station in town is broadcasting the World Series.

The Yellow Cab driver explained to me taxi companies have decided accepting credit cards is not "cost-effective in revenues." I almost wanted to ask the driver which college economics department laid him off.

The Yellow Cab driver was so focused on me and the ride that he forgot to turn on his meter for several blocks. So a ride that cost me six dollars after vacation cost only $4.50 at the start. The bottom line: if you want to save money on taxi fare, start talking with the driver as soon as you can.

BIG PREDICTION: IF the Muscogee County school sales tax vote fails in two weeks, Superintendent John Phillips will be out of a job within a year. Either the school board will grow tired of him -- or the board will tire of all the protest groups holding news conferences before meetings.

COMING SOON: Reason to rejoice along the Chattahoochee.... a former Mayor goes online.... and a new concrete wall in the middle of downtown....

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Interested in a new CD of Christian music? Watch this space for a link to details on my debut album. And read on for some humorous thoughts on the area I call home!


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



We're safely back from a ten-day getaway to Panama City Beach, Florida - and we noticed right away one major change in town. A Southtrust Bank sign on Victory Drive today had this message below it: "Try our Five-Star laundry service!" I guess money laundering isn't against the law anymore.

There was one close call Sunday afternoon, on the way back from Florida. As we drove on Dothan, Alabama's famous Traffic Circle, a slow-moving car suddenly crossed the road in front of us - and we ducked across the median to avoid a crash! Thankfully there was no harm or damage. But learn a lesson from this: for older drivers, a "Sunday drive" can be at ten miles per hour.

Speaking of Dothan, who can explain this one? That city has TWO Wal-Mart "SuperCenters" - while the city limits of Columbus have NONE. Are Lewis-Jones stores somehow scaring Wal-Mart away?

We were able to watch Dothan TV news in our Panama City Beach motel - and heard there about the conviction of Michael Carruth for the killing of young Brett Bowyer in Russell County. He undoubtedly deserves the death penalty the jury's recommending. If you have more than 18 months to prepare for trial and you don't present a single defense witness, that also might be reason enough.

The Dothan TV news also had that strange story about the Lee County, Alabama jail inmate - who used a jailhouse phone to call in a bomb threat! Maybe Carrot Top needs to do more shows behind bars, and help prisoners make collect calls.

We took U.S. 431 from Columbus to Panama City - but on the way, we again noticed something strange. Instant Message to Pastor Wayne Babb: Why hasn't your big Phenix City church had a sign outside it in weeks? Don't you "Love Life" anymore, as your church name says?

COMING TUESDAY: More on our journey TO Florida - especially the cab ride which got things started....

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The new CD, "One God Many Moods" is SELLING! Watch this space in the next few days, for an online link to order yours!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003




"IT'S GUYS' NIGHT OUT," screamed the TV commercial for Coors above me as I ate dinner Monday night. I saw the beer bottles and the partying men -- and wondered what in the world I was doing at a pizza buffet, drinking Diet Coke.

I had a coupon to eat dinner at Stevie B's Pizza near Airport Thruway for $2.99. It's a great value if you don't mind a crowd of people, children running around once in awhile -- and pizza slices with less meat than some Double Cheese Krystals.

Stevie B's Pizza has a wide range of pizza choices. Monday night's buffet included potato pizza, a "taco salad" pizza loaded with shredded lettuce and a dessert pizza which appeared to be raspberry-flavored. So why were my only options for watching television GPTV and ESPN?

(Which leads me to ask an unrelated question: What's the point of ESPN's "NFL Monday Countdown?" They spend 90 minutes hyping, promoting and previewing a game which isn't even on their network. I don't see WRBL doing that about "Coffee Break" on NBC-38.)

There must be a spirited rivalry between Stevie B's and Cici's for the discount pizza business. Have you noticed the commercials for Cici's "customer appreciation days" -- and how that sale has lasted more than a year?

Cici's Pizza has gained one unusual edge over Stevie B's - at school. The Friday lunch menu at Our Lady of Lourdes specifically names Cici's several times this month. Some of us can remember when this battle would have been between Gorton's and Mrs. Paul's.

Now some other points to ponder, as a vacation on the Florida coast approaches:

+ Why is there a sign on 14th Street in Phenix City offering a pound of "fresh cashews" - outside Discount Auto Parts? [True!] Are you supposed to use cashew shells, if the lugnuts fall off your tires?

+ Why are no civil rights groups challenging the license renewal of WDAK-AM so far? Do these groups secretly WANT Rush Limbaugh to keep putting his foot in his mouth?

+ Did I hear it right about Smiths Station Primary School - that parents have to donate soap for the restrooms? It's a wonder they don't cut budgets further, and send all the children home for a one-hour lunch break.

+ Why is Pacelli High School's football team playing two home games at Fort Benning's Doughboy Stadium? Isn't this inviting Father Roy Bourgeois to stage a sit-down protest?

(And while we're thinking about it: Why doesn't Fort Benning make some extra money, and sell the name of Doughboy Stadium to Pillsbury?)

BREAKING NEWS! We pick up the first big batch of our music albums Wednesday. We'll be offering them on sale online before long, so watch this blog for details. But before you ask - no, the Burkard bobblehead dolls are still a long way off.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Because of a fall vacation, this may be our last posting for a couple of weeks. We hope to resume regular blogging when we return, around October 20....

Sunday, October 05, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



The woman on the phone was irate, to say the least. "I want to know why my son was cut out from the front of the line to see Kevin Harvick...." Given what's happened in recent days, maybe I should have directed her to the Los Angeles Times - since Arnold Schwarzenegger MUST be to blame somehow or other.

This woman and her son were among many people who went to Bill Heard Chevrolet the other day, when NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick made a guest appearance. Since I wasn't there, I had no idea why her son was "cut out of the line." I also wasn't sure why this was an
important news story. I don't run to the news media when it happens on a four-lane road.

The woman complained her son in a wheelchair was told to move aside, while "they started the autographs with a girl behind him." Well, this WAS a NASCAR driver - and from what we've learned this season about Jeff Gordon, maybe Kevin Harvick was holding (ahem)

Kevin Harvick's trip to Columbus was arranged through one of his team sponsors, Realtree. The angry mom on the phone said Realtree assured her that her son in a wheelchair could get Kevin Harvick's autograph first. Maybe the girl behind him had a faster qualifying time.

So what could have caused this mother and her wheelchair-bound son to be bumped from the front of the line to see Kevin Harvick? All I could do is make some guesses....

+ Did your son show up at Bill Heard Chevrolet wearing a Ford T-shirt?

+ Was he in a motorized wheelchair, and challenging Harvick to a race in the parking lot?

+ Was he spouting off words of praise for Ricky Rudd? Or maybe Jimmy Spencer?

+ Was the mother as angry-sounding at the dealership, as she was with me on the phone?

The woman told me she had Realtree's phone number, and was going to call the company to settle this. So out of curiosity, I called the mother back this afternoon to see how things turned out. The woman's story was markedly different - as she now says she never called
Realtree at all, and her son DID meet Kevin Harvick in the first place. The lesson here should be clear: when a news source has a hot tip, call them back after they've slept a few hours.

The woman told me this afternoon her son had a "wonderful" meeting with Kevin Harvick - but the family was disappointed when TV news reports showed others in the line, and not her son. I have no idea why that happened. Maybe they're saving the tape of people in
wheelchairs for upcoming telethons.

Now for some other weekend notes we collected traveling around the area:

+ A sign on Warm Springs Road indicated a cardiology clinic wants to occupy the building once used by Calvary Assembly of God. Couldn't faith healers in that church do an even better job?

+ The Festival at South Commons ended, with attendance reportedly up from last year. Imagine how well this event could do if they named it the NATIONAL Festival at South Commons -- like those "National Fairs."

(Apparently businesses near South Commons don't read our blog, because their signs offered "fair parking." But then again, maybe I misunderstood this - and the B.T. Washington housing complex is considered UN-fair parking.)

+ Instant message to Davis Broadcasting: How come Anna-Marie Gregory has replaced Amy Giuliano, in your TV ads promoting WRBL news updates? Don't you believe in racial diversity?

+ Auburn beat Tennessee in college football, after nearly blowing a big lead. But the BIG news is that Rod Bramlett officially took the Auburn broadcasting mantle from the late Jim Fyffe, with this last-minute call: "Did Auburn intercept it? Yes-EHHH!!-ess!" The way Bramlett's voice broke, he could yodel for Yahoo.

+ The Day of Atonement begins at sunset -- or as Jews call it, "Yom Kippur." Please do not be confused by this day. It's a 24-hour period of fasting - so it's not YUM Kippur.

Saturday, October 04, 2003




It's bad enough to go jogging on the sidewalk, and see cars parked in your path. It's even more surprising when the cars on the sidewalk have state trooper license plates. Don't these troopers realize the Columbus Police might have a ticket quota to meet?

But that wasn't the strangest thing about the patrol cars I saw outside the downtown Wyndham Hotel Friday afternoon. The state trooper cars had ALABAMA tags -- and they were parked on Front Avenue in Columbus! If they chased a criminal across the state line to the Wyndham, at least the bad guy had some good taste.

Yet I couldn't help wondering - what if there WAS no high-speed line-crossing chase? There happened to be at least one Tennessee football team bus parked behind the Alabama state police cars. Are troopers providing escorts to Auburn games -- even after the state budget cuts? If so, check your football schedule for "speed-limit-free Fridays."

How would the Alabama Department of Public Safety justify giving escorts to visiting football teams? Perhaps only if the troopers get a piece of the ticket receipts....

I noted the license plate numbers of the Alabama state trooper cars, if you doubt my accuracy. A marked car had the last three digits 0-1-4. An unmarked car had the last three digits 0-1-5. Perhaps the unmarked cars had the plain-clothes detectives, assigned to spy on Tennessee's game plan.

You may not have realized several visiting football teams stay in Columbus hotels, when they have games at Auburn. I suppose that's because all the motel rooms in Opelika and Auburn are booked. Or then again, maybe the visitors realize they have seclusion in Columbus - since the TV stations are so busy on Fridays with high school games.

The Tennessee football team happened to show up in Columbus on the grand opening weekend of the new Wyndham Hotel. A rock band was playing in a rear parking lot as I walked by. That's a sure way to shake up the Volunteers before a game - play loud music to keep them awake all night.

A few hot-air balloons were also downtown, to mark the Wyndham's grand opening. One sailed above the Historic District with the logo for the Cannon Brew Pub - which had to be dangerous, in case some drunk tried to fire the cannon.

COMING SUNDAY: The story we've promised you about the NASCAR driver and an angry Mom....

Thursday, October 02, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Before we get to our topic, an apology for not posting this blog sooner. The power supply on my computer burned up Wednesday, while I was in another room eating dinner. Maybe I should switch strategies next time -- and boil the P-C, while slow-cooking the hot dogs.

The Ledger-Enquirer reported the other day the Columbus Mayor is calling one part of town by a new name, to improve its image. Instead of "South Columbus," he's now referring to it as "Columbus South." We'd like to thank Mayor Poydasheff Bob for coming up with this great idea.

Wednesday's Ledger-Enquirer gave a shoulder-shrugging endorsement to the Mayor's phrase "Columbus South," saying in an editorial it couldn't hurt that area. I guess it's like some works of modern art. If you hang it upside-down, it might make a little more sense.

But there are deeper questions in the name change to "Columbus South." Isn't the Mayor sending a wrong message, about how to be a success? I've never seen anyone win a NASCAR race by driving around the track in the opposite direction.

The theory of improving an area's image by flipping its name around makes you wonder why no one thought of it before:

+ We might not have space for a new library, if people had been urged to shop at Mall Square Columbus.

+ The protesters might stay away from Fort Benning, if that controversial program became the "Americas of the School."

+ The man who announced his third run for Congress Wednesday ought to get "Glenn Dylan" signs ready. They're sure to attract the baby-boomer rocker votes.

+ Channel 66 might get more viewers with new call letters: SWSW-TV.

BLOG UPDATE: It appears "southern gospel" music has beaten out Spanish tunes, for control of WMLF-AM. The station has taken ESPN Radio off the air, with religious songs filling the gap. Perhaps it proves Jim Foster's God is more powerful than the Incan and Aztec ones.

SONG OF THE DAY: Someone undoubtedly has thought of this before - but "The Amazing Race" auditions around the area reminded me of an old hymn:

Amazing Race, how strange a way

To win a million bucks.

They're trying out up at King Ford,

Amidst the pickup trucks.

This race will take you around the world,

You'll work in teams of two.

But cameras point in every face --

See everything you do.

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003




Only have time for a brief summary of two big Tuesday night Columbus parties. The first one was an open house at Dillingham Place downtown - where I think even the town drunk could have enjoyed free wine and beer, if he'd dressed nicely.

Dillingham Place on 9th Street, between Broadway and Front Avenue, threw an open house to celebrate a couple of new businesses. One of them is the new office of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. So did I miss Peter Bowden and his staff -- or were they all out of town, looking for visitors to invite?

The other big new business at Dillingham Place is Quizno's Subs, which had plenty of samples for visitors to share. There was even a guy wearing a five-foot-tall inflatable mascot's head, shaped like a Quizno's cup. I've heard of Big Gulps, but this is ridiculous....

The curious thing about Quizno's Subs is its location in the Dillingham Place complex. It's on a basement level, which you couldn't see from the street if you tried. So asking where the restaurant is will be the biggest "Quiz-no" of all.

For those of us who jog downtown, there was one other nice development at the open house. The sidewalk on 9th Street next to Dillingham Place seems to be open at long last, after months of detour signs. If you didn't know better, you'd think the managers wanted you to visit the Wyndham Hotel's gift shop instead.

The Dillingham Place open house had free food samples, a live band, a wine and beer table -- and a woman to the side painting several wine bottles on canvas. The bottles had different colors, from red to green. Considering there were only green wine bottles at the drink table, she left me wondering how many glasses she'd had.

I couldn't stay long at Dillingham Place, because a larger invitation-only bash was waiting at the Columbus Museum. I'm not really allowed to say too much about it - except that it was strange to see a couple pray over their food at one table, while people were playing casino games 20 feet away at another.

(Come to think of it, that scene of "pray and play" tables probably happens all the time - but I've never been to Biloxi.)

The Columbus Museum atrium was filled for a 50th-anniversary party. Miriam's restaurant provided the food - but I became a bit concerned that the chefs' fiery presentation might force the fire marshal to come and actually count the crowd.

Several familiar faces could be spotted at the Museum party. I picked out Mark Levy from Bill Heard Cadillac right away - because he looks just as rumpled in person as he does in the TV commercials.

Another guest at the golden-anniversary party was a former familiar name in Columbus television. Penny Leigh presented the weather years ago - but Tuesday she showed up with a badge saying "Jay Auto Mall." Maybe now she predicts the highs and lows of car interest rates.

(By the way - how cutthroat do you think Georgia car dealers are? Do you think one of them called Atlanta Thrasher star Danny Heatley in the hospital Tuesday, to sell him a replacement for his wrecked Ferrari?)

COMING THURSDAY: The Mayor's great new image-building idea.... one that's too good to ignore....