Sunday, December 31, 2006


Our topic today is inspired by something we saw linked at a message board a couple of weeks ago. Every week the British Broadcasting Corporation posts a list of "things we didn't know last week." There's a year-end list of 100 things the BBC didn't know a year ago -- which is amazing, since the BBC comes across for being SO filled with know-it-alls.

Some items on the BBC's list were certainly new to me, and probably are to you. But that led me to thinking - what sorts of things do I know now, that I did NOT know when 2006 began? So I started making a list, in no particular order....

1. Columbus has a "Big Eddy Club." And amazingly, it is NOT located near Eddy Middle School.

This discovery came only this weekend, because of this e-mail:

Scroll down and read the synopsis. Now it appears that the members of the Big Eddy club conspired to have Carlton Gary arrested, tried and convicted as the "Columbus Strangler"

We'll get to the synopsis in a moment, but we should mention the title of this e-mail. The writer of this message says Richard Hyatt's column in Friday's Ledger-Enquirer is based on a summary at of an upcoming book on the "Stocking Strangler" killings. Given this book and Cilla McCain's, maybe it's time to shop around my book of blog humor again.

The book coming in May is called "The Big Eddy Club: The Stocking Stranglings and Southern Justice." Author David Rose apparently claims all the women purportedly killed by Carlton Gary were connected to the club in Green Island Hills - a club so exclusive, I don't recall it ever giving away toys to children in December.

The original book synopsis posted at claimed the Big Eddy Club is a "tiny clique" which is all-white, bigoted and has run Columbus for more than a century. David Rose says the summary was NOT written by him. It sounds like the author could have been Bill Madison or Edward DuBose.

David Rose wants the book summary removed from, saying it's full of errors. And it was gone at our post time, when we checked the Amazon page for the book. So I will NOT post it here -- unless someone from the Big Eddy Club will come forward to admit he or she actually is a white bigot. And in Columbus, someone might actually do that....

David Rose told the newspaper Columbus is much less racist than it used to be. But the Amazon book summary called the city "fascinating and rotten." Now I'm thinking the synopsis was written by someone who moved away of town, to a wealthy Atlanta suburb.

(But then, the summary said Columbus one of the country's lowest crime rates - so Mayor Bob Poydasheff must have been interviewed at some point.)

The book summary claimed the Big Eddy Club works out "almost everything that happens in Columbus." At last - an explanation for that Albert Paley sculpture which nearly wound up in front of the main library.

The book summary also claimed the same individuals and families "crop up at almost every twist and turn of Columbus' history." So?! Does that mean the prosecution of Carlton Gary was funded by the Bradley Turner Foundation?

The summary said David Rose's book will connect Carlton Gary to a lynching and killing in Columbus in 1900, because both cases involve families in the Big Eddy Club. If this is true, how did club members sneak their way onto Gary's jury?

The synopsis declared Carlton Gary "a victim of lynching by due process," because "many people believe" he did NOT commit the Stocking Strangler killings. If so many people believe that, then Gary must be friends with every defense lawyer in Columbus -- because they're the only people who say so publicly.

The Ledger-Enquirer reports author David Rose interviewed Carlton Gary on Georgia's death row - and got out with a DNA sample. This could make for the most interesting show Maury Povich has ever had....

David Rose believes evidence was withheld from Carlton Gary's trial which could set him free. Perhaps so -- but during my years in Columbus, I can't recall any local civil rights leader speaking up in Gary's defense. But then again, maybe the mysterious Big Eddy Club paid them off as well.

2. Hurtsboro may have a cadre of people running that town as well. We're still trying to confirm whether it's called the "Little Eddy Club."

We learn about this through another weekend e-mail, from a very surprising source....

Dear Sir:

This is my first attempt at "Blogging" so forgive any and all errors!

I've found my name mentioned on your Blog; and I must say that I'm gratified. For those who are not familiar with me - I've dedicated myself to helping Hurtsboro regain some semblance of civility. Believe me! It been no small task! But it seems with Publicity; County and even State Agencies are more willing to help.

The local media granted me coverage for a while - then tired of the same tune by a one man band! When I became too much of a thorn in the Hurtsboro officials side, They imported an outside Judge to try and throttle me! It's yet to be determined how well their little plan worked!

If anyone is the least bit curious about what's happening in "Hurt"sboro; contact me for THE FACTS!

Constable R.J Schweiger

We brought up Constable Schweiger early in the year [20 Feb/12 Mar], after he made some complaints on TV. But he said back then the Russell County Sheriff's office was patrolling Hurtsboro - so how has county help increased? Is the county extension agent teaching the town's "armed gangs" how to cook food?

I don't know whom R.J. Schweiger means by the "outside judge" who's trying to "throttle" him. As long as the constable doesn't have an old felony conviction in Columbus like Ronnie Reed did, you'd think he'd be fine.

But the question must be asked -- do the two recent attacks on a Hurtsboro grocer prove the Constable was right with his warning? Or is this simply one rebellious teenager, instead of the "armed gang" he mentioned in March? The way this year has gone in Russell County, I'm more likely to find an armed gang in a teachers' lounge.

3. "Goo Goo" was a restaurant, before it was a car wash. We noted this Friday, and yet another e-mail this weekend appears to confirm it:

Lamar Beck bought the site of the old Goo Goo Restaurant.. When he built his car wash there he named it for the restaurant. Which was a good idea since most people in Columbus knew where the old historical Goo Goo Restaurant had been...

That must have been a tough transition, though - with old-timers driving to the car wash, and asking for scotch with their water.

No more e-mails now - just a quick look at other things I didn't know a year ago:

4. Local businesses can stage parades. Rivertown Ford had one Saturday, attempting to set a world record for car sales. If they had shot their dancing turkey and given it away in a drawing, the record might have been broken.

5. Riverfest can be replaced, and most of Columbus probably wouldn't miss it. Did you notice the RiverCenter scheduled Garrison Keillor's appearance with "A Prairie Home Companion" for April 28 - which would have been Riverfest weekend? And most of the city can listen to it on radio for free.

6. The state of Ohio has no grits or collard greens. Muscogee County School Board member Joseph Roberson taught me this - not in a classroom, but preaching a sermon on radio.

7. Wanda the "Bang Bang Lady" at Fireworks Outlet has a sister. "Boom Boom Mary" looks a good bit like her.

8. The Columbus city election had moved from summertime to November. It didn't move as far as Mayor Bob Poydasheff said, but it moved.

9. Police tear gas can start fires, which burn down apartments. That woman on Cusseta Road seemed to be an expert at this subject.

10. Sixty-month car loans are wrong. My Pastor at church said so. So the next time I buy a car, I may just put it all on my credit card.

11. Country singer Freddie Hart is from Phenix City. If he had sung about truckers, that controversial truck stop on U.S. 431 might be named after him as well.

12. Jim Wetherington doesn't smile very much.

13. It's possible to have five arrests in one school district in a week - all of them faculty members.

14. Columbus Park Crossing seems to have room for every "big box" store ever invented -- but Victory Drive does not.

15. Former President Carter makes homemade wine in Sumter County. So far, there has been no move by conservative Baptists to have him expelled from church for this.

16. Brain surgery in your youth can make you wear baseball caps a bit off-center - and might just make your team a world champion.

17. If a teenage girl invites you to visit her home in rural Harris County, turn her down immediately.

18. A road in need of repair will be fixed much more quickly if the President of the United States mentions it. That happened in Tuskegee.

19. You never know when you're going to need a talking gorilla. I thank "Marshal Markdown" in the current Rivertown Ford infomercial for making this statement.

20. The dating web site is not used by God. My Pastor said that, too. Thankfully, he hasn't given a sermon about blogs yet.

21. If you're going to have an event at the Columbus Civic Center, it helps to pay the rent up front.

22. It's OK to put up a sign for your new business, then bulldoze the old one on the property. I think that's what "Java Joe'z" is doing near Cross Country Plaza.

23. Just because you're starting a sports league doesn't mean people involved in that sport actually want one. I learned this the hard way.

24. U.S. passports are about to change, to include microchips. A woman stood up during a church service last weekend and warned my congregation about this. I assume her ATM card password doesn't have a 6-6-6 combination, either.

25. Hips don't lie. Thank you, Shakira.

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Friday, December 29, 2006


Go searching online for things about Columbus, and you might find the most interesting things. The other day, an e-mailer told us about a web site filled with Columbus history. The fact that it's not the Columbus Museum's web site seems a little bit unusual.

The online repository of all this history is kept by Columbus resident Jan Doolittle Page, and connected with the "Columbus Georgia Online" web site. It's called "Gone and Almost Forgotten Georgia." But before you get concerned -- it doesn't seem to promote a reforming of the confederacy, or a return to slavery.

The e-mailer directed me to a page called "Do You Remember..." Current and former Columbus residents are invited to share their memories -- and a fascinating variety of historical notes are there. If Bob Poydasheff's name isn't there, I suppose that's a good thing. But he's not "gone" from the mayor's office quite yet.

Even if you've lived in Columbus a few years, you're bound to learn something new and interesting simply from the "Do You Remember" page. For instance:

+ Broadway used to have a skating rink. It still does in a way - only late-night skateboarders now use the parking lot of Carmike Cinemas.

+ There was a restaurant called the Goo Goo, near Linwood Cemetery. Why it turned into a car wash, I have no idea.

+ The old Plaza Theater behind Cross Country Plaza had seats which rocked. How classic Southern can you get?

(I remember when the Plaza Theater was still open, as a discount movie house. Carmike Cinemas closed it shortly after I arrived. I think it's now used by Georgia Military College - where the rocking seats may be used as mock guerrillas.)

+ A radio station held what we used to call in Kansas a "treasure hunt" - a contest with clues, and prizes hidden around town. It was called here "the Rock of Columbus." And some people probably searched at Flat Rock Park every time.

+ South Lumpkin Road used to have a car race track - a perfect way to drown out those live-fire exercises at Fort Benning.

+ Gene Autry once appeared at the Comer Auditorium. Nowadays, it's not enough for a cowboy to sing or ride a horse - you have to stay on a bull for eight seconds.

+ A country music radio DJ named "Cuzzin Al" used to drink Nehi orange soda. But if he was on radio, how did you really know that?

+ Joey Lunn represented Columbus, and won the 1952 national Soap Box Derby. He was welcomed home with a parade down Broadway, riding with a "Derby Queen." I knew the Northern Little League team was lacking something....

+ Krystal burgers in the early 1970's cost between eight and ten cents each. That's probably still the cost to make one - but the price is now 59 cents.

+ A Fort Benning Road business used to let people jump on trampolines, for 30 minutes at a time. Talk about changing times! Now you rent time at Peachtree Mall to simply lie down and relax.

+ Washington and Green Bay once played an exhibition N.F.L. football game at Memorial Stadium. So if the Atlanta Falcons owner isn't satisfied with the Georgia Dome - hey, we're overdue down here.

+ Teenagers years ago listened to WBAM radio in Montgomery, instead of Columbus stations. From where I live, I can't pick up any Montgomery stations today - so maybe Continental Carbon has ruined the air more than we thought.

BLOG UPDATE: Well, well -- the TV news went to the mayor's office Thursday afternoon, and Bob Poydasheff was still there with some of his belongings. Even in his final week of office, he has trouble keeping his promises....

The evening news showed Bob Poydasheff's mayoral nameplate in a box, but still in the office. We have not heard if the Jim Wetherington campaign is paying for a moving truck, to haul it all away.

Bob Poydasheff said he hopes to be remembered for bringing people together in Columbus. How many disgruntled police officers laughed out loud when he said that?

A reporter asked Bob Poydasheff if he might run for office again someday - and the outgoing mayor laughed at the thought of it. Perhaps that's because Poydasheff is 76, and doesn't quite have the dashing good looks of Senator Robert Byrd.

Jim Wetherington happened to be at the Government Center, too. He praised Bob Poydasheff for helping him prepare for the mayor's job. As long as the former mayor is one of "his five" on his cell phone, there should be no problem.

Jim Wetherington again promised City Manager Isaiah Hugley will NOT be replaced. He also said he's keeping City Attorney Clifton Fay -- which should end those rumors that he'd appoint the son of former mayor Frank Martin. Of course, if we find out Fay shredded documents from the Revenue Office....

But not everyone from the Poydasheff administration will be carried over. WRBL showed a farewell reception Thursday for Ed Wilson, who's been executive assistant to the last two mayors. We'll see if Wilson heads for Washington, and gives one of those "release this when I'm dead" interviews to Bob Woodward.

I didn't realize until Thursday that Bob Poydasheff officially leaves the mayor's office when the new year begins Sunday night. Jim Wetherington doesn't take the oath of office until Tuesday noon. So for 36 hours, who will be in charge of Columbus? Can City Manager Isaiah Hugley give himself a temporary raise?

Now for other items from the final Thursday of 2006:

+ An Atlanta image consulting firm released a list of the year's most UN-charismatic Georgians. Governor Sonny Perdue was first, followed by election opponent Mark Taylor. What would this company think of the "Bang Bang" and "Boom Boom" ladies at Fireworks Outlet?

+ Former Senator John Edwards announced he's running for President again. You may recall he came to Columbus during the 2004 campaign [24 Feb 04], using a theme of "Two Americas." But now that we have One Columbus, I'm not sure which America we're in.

+ Former Jordan High School running back Dantrell Savage scored a touchdown and rushed for 112 yards, as Oklahoma State stopped Alabama (as we predicted) 34-31 in the Independence Bowl. 'Bama broadcaster Eli Gold said the Tide used its "full retinue of timeouts" trying to psych out the Cowboys before the winning field goal - and O.S.U. fans couldn't stand the eternal retinue service.

(Things were really confusing in my living room at about 5:10 p.m. Alabama scored a touchdown, while Senator Barack Obama was chatting with Oprah Winfrey on NBC-38 -- and I kept waiting for Eli Gold to yell, "Oh! Bama!")

+ A state senator announced military personnel now can listen to Georgia and Georgia Tech sports events online at no charge. You mean broadcasts of Army's losing football team simply aren't good enough?

+ Instant Message to whomever held up three businesses in three different parts of Columbus Wednesday night: if you're stealing money for gasoline, why don't you conserve - and rob three businesses in the same block, walking from one to the other?

2006 IN REVIEW CONTINUED: November was a decisive month across our area. Jim Wetherington won the Mayor's race. Governors Sonny Perdue and Bob Riley won reelection. And Judge Bobby Peters finally decided to marry someone.

Columbus police were busy on November weekends, cracking down on crimes along Broadway. And then the bar owners wonder why they can't open early Sunday night....

The Phenix City Council voted in November to raise the mayor's pay to $50,000 - then a few weeks later took it back. Given that vote and what happened with Club Roc, I'm not sure that "Phenixian" development by the river ever will be built.

Health issues surfaced around the area in November. Auburn banned public smoking. Goldens' Foundry had a tuberculosis scare. And the Iron Bowl again proved losing can be fatal to head football coaches.

A construction crew broke a major water main in November, causing a big gush of water at the Columbus Airport. So we already know where to put the fountain, when they build the new business hotel....

Harris County won a state championship during November, for its cheerleading squad. I assume those young women have had dates every weekend ever since....

Some local traditions continued as usual in November. Horses ran in the Steeplechase. Football teams played in the Fountain City Classic. And the organizers of "SOA Watch" and "God Bless Fort Benning" practiced the fine art of fudging numbers.

Then came December, with the first Winterfest at the RiverCenter. I can't wait for the 2007 schedule to come out - with the first Jerry Barnes "Pops Concert."

December has brought the mushrooming of "landfill-gate" in Columbus city government. Hey, I have a way to get the money back! Work out a contract with the state, to dump all those defective Georgia state maps.

December has been a big sports month in Columbus. Carver and Shaw had their big Georgia Dome showdown. Talk surfaced of a possible new indoor soccer team. And gangs reportedly are playing quite a game of hide-and-seek at the Columbus Public Library.

December also has been a month of contrasts in our area. WHAL "Viva 1460" has a new Sunday show called "Salsa Gorda," which is Spanish for Fat Salsa. On the other hand, there's the new fashion design program at Columbus State University....

COMING THIS WEEKEND: An old tradition at this blog continues, while we try to start a new one....

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Thursday, December 28, 2006


If Jim Wetherington's statement on TV last week was accurate, Wednesday was the day Bob Poydasheff moved out of the Government Center's Mayoral office. The good news is that his collectibles from the last four years may wind up at an appropriate place - Uncle Bob's Self-Storage.

Details were announced Wednesday for Jim Wetherington's inauguration as Mayor. We've obtained details about the ceremony, and a few things are interesting. For one thing, Judge Bobby Peters will swear in five Columbus Councilors - but another judge will do the honors for the new mayor. Maybe they're concerned two-term Mayor Peters will get mixed up, and swear himself in.

The program for next Tuesday makes a clear effort to reflect "One Columbus." There's music from singers at Northside High School. There's a color guard from Kendrick High School. And those grandchildren of the new mayor leading the pledge of allegiance - do they go to Calvary Christian?

But the biggest surprise for me on the inauguration program is the minister giving the benediction. It's Pastor Wayne Baker of Spirit-Filled Methodist Church - a man who's been very critical of local law enforcement in the last few years. Perhaps this is the law officers' way of providing equal time.

Wayne Baker was President of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance when Kenneth Walker was killed -- and he was scathing in his words about the Muscogee County Sheriff, saying in a pamphlet Ralph Johnson oversaw "Hitlerian acts." [2 Jan 04] Do you think they'll stand on opposite sides of the room at the inaugural reception?

It was Wayne Baker's Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance which accused Sheriff Ralph Johnson of overseeing a "Taliban vigilante approach to law enforcement." I think this refers to deputies going into churches to arrest suspects -- instead of waiting for the pastor's sermon to convict someone.

(And it was Wayne Baker who declared at the large civil rights march downtown in January 2005 a new Columbus was dawning for African-American people -- only to find none of them wanted to run for mayor.)

It could be that Jim Wetherington and his aides don't know about the 2004 pamphlet, and its scalding comments about law enforcement. And it could be that Wayne Baker has calmed down his rhetoric in the last three years - realizing that if former deputy David Glisson lost his cool, that doesn't justify a pastor losing his.

It's even possible that Wayne Baker has taken back what the alliance's pamphlet said in January 2004. Even church pastors can repent of sins - or at least they should, if they want to set a right example....

So it surprises me that a minister with Wayne Baker's record is being included in the inauguration of a "pro-public safety" mayor. But you know, maybe Jim Wetherington is starting to listen to those comments from the public - and this is his way of "loosening up a bit."

Oh yes - there's something missing on the inaugural program, which some people thought might be there. Where are the dancers from the Foxy Lady Lounge?

Let's see if other surprising things happened on a chilly Wednesday....

+ A late-afternoon jog on the Riverwalk found the "Night of Lights" tree is already gone from the Phenix City Amphitheater. Is this disrespectful of Christmas keepers - or simply a statement that the city is trying to save money on its own electric bills?

+ Collins and Aikman warned it may close its Americus auto parts plant, if a buyer cannot be found. You can tell which companies haven't traveled to South Korea, to see the Kia executives.

+ WRBL sportscaster Jack Rodgers declared Monday's Cotton Bowl between Auburn and Nebraska could be seen "right here on News 3." Moments later, another station said you could see it "on Fox 54." The Cotton Bowl's web site says Fox is showing the game - so maybe WRBL has a hookup planned from Canada.

(But then again, the Cotton Bowl home page still has links to quotes from Alabama's football team -- after the 2006 game. So maybe WRBL obtained its information from checking the wrong decade.)

+ ESPN reported Georgia head coach Mark Richt has suspended an offensive lineman from the Peach-Flavored Chick-Fil-A Bowl, for some kind of improper conduct. Richt didn't say what it was -but you can take your pick of several nightclubs on Metropolitan Parkway.

+ Instant Message to the new Fuji Japanese steak house on Veterans Parkway: About that "performing chef" you mention in the TV ad - this is One Columbus, you know. So does he play "Lady of Spain" on the accordion? Or lead a mariachi band in "Rancho Grande?"

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.16 a gallon at Dolly Madison on Victory Drive.... FREE bike helmets for children from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. at the Airport Thruway Wal-Mart.... and Oklahoma State to beat Alabama, as the Independence Bowl becomes a Dontrell Savage Garden....

2006 IN REVIEW CONTINUED: October opened with the grand opening of a Kohl's store near Columbus Park Crossing. Suddenly Christmas-keepers didn't become scared, at the thought of Kohl's in their stockings.

But the new owners of Parisian announced in October the Peachtree Mall store would close. I saw people standing on street corners last week with giant "quitting business" signs - and the strange thing is, they didn't look like they were from Paris at all.

Road America opened a call center on Victory Drive in October. It was quite a change from some of the businesses down the road - which are more like call-girl centers.

October was also the groundbreaking month for the new Kia plant in West Point. This occurred after Hyundai executives spent time behind bars - and before Governor Sonny Perdue might face time behind bars, for his land deals.

The political campaigns were in full swing during October. But someone may have crossed a line, by cutting a brake line on Alabama House candidate Cindy Irvin's car. I mean, it wasn't wrapped and resealed with the bumper sticker of her opponent....

The candidates for Columbus Mayor had a televised debate in October. Write-in candidate Bert Coker was NOT invited, but somehow gained a ticket to sit in the audience -- an audience I think was larger than his final vote count.

An experiment in Columbus radio ended in October, as Antonio Carter was dropped as a co-host of WRCG's "TalkLine." Carter seemingly can't get a break - because there's a new talk show on WAGH "Magic 98," and he was passed over for Ed Harbison.

A world champion knife thrower visited a Russell County church in October. I was out of town when he was there - so was he for or against circumcision?

A bigger-name visitor to Columbus in October was Sidney Poitier. He attended a private event for Columbus State University - so apparently he doesn't think college students need the public scoldings Bill Cosby gives.

The Columbus concert scene had highs and lows in October. Wayne Newton appeared at the RiverCenter, and apparently did well. But a tenth anniversary concert for the Civic Center couldn't sell tickets, and was canceled. Whoever started the rumor that Bertie Higgins was married to Frederica Von Stade should confess he was lying.

COMING FRIDAY: A review of Columbus's history, that's even older than this one....

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Shoppers driving to Peachtree Mall Tuesday must have been stunned - no, SHOCKED! They probably noticed something was missing on Manchester Expressway. Unless, that is, they didn't realize until now that B Merrell's has turned into a catfish restaurant.

The missing item was high above Peachtree Mall -- as one of the two cow statues outside the Best Buy store was gone. To borrow from that credit card commercial: customers were saying "boo!" But the staff said, "Mooo-vers."

Dana Taylor of Best Buy explained the calf called "B.B." was removed for a few weeks of repairs. Weeks?! After hearing this, I'm glad I didn't pay extra for that "Geek Squad" to work on the computer I bought in June.

Dana Taylor says B.B. has "a few cracks" which need fixing. Hopefully this is being done in an appropriate way - with a squeezable cheese product.

Assuming all goes well, B.B. will rejoin Kadie the cow in mid-January. Together they watch over Manchester Expressway, look over Interstate 185 - and have their backs turned on Peachtree Mall, so they don't have to see the pain of those seasonal kiosks closing.

If you're wondering what two cows are doing outside a Best Buy store, you're probably new to the area. Best Buy was built on a site which for decades was the Kinnett Dairy. Some people loved Kadie the cow so much, they demanded it stay on the property. But so far, no one has demanded Best Buy start selling milk.

Kinnett made such a big deal about Kadie that when the Commodores came to Columbus for a Tuskegee-Morehouse football weekend, they went to the cow and sang "Happy Birthday" to it. Imagine what could happen if Aflac ever erects a duck statue along Wynnton Road.

B.B. the "baby" was added after Kadie was removed for awhile. In fact, Kadie actually was stolen - and the cow's recovery brought many Columbus residents udder relief.

If you find it silly that so many Columbus residents are concerned about a cow - I see your point. It's not exactly a fancy work of art. But people scoff at that sort of thing around here. That's why sculptor Albert Paley's deal for a statue in front of the Columbus Public Library was reversed - but no one's griping about a model dinosaur in front of the Columbus Museum.

E-MAIL UPDATE: As Tim Reid said on WRBL's "Midday" Tuesday, the tributes are still pouring in....

I saw 2 great concerts in my college years and they were James Brown and James Brown...What a showman he was!

All I saw of James Brown were his TV appearances - and from some of those moves he made while singing, it's a wonder he didn't have a heart attack before last Sunday.

As we speculated Tuesday, James Brown is NOT having an ordinary death. A family attorney said Tuesday the "widow" locked out of the family home in South Carolina was NOT legally married to Brown - because she was still married to someone else when that wedding occurred. This doesn't seem right. It's more like a blues song, than something Brown would have sung.

But that widow responded by saying James Brown made sure that earlier "green card wedding" in Texas was annulled, before they were wed. At this rate, you almost want Brown's will to be opened on The Jerry Springer Show.

Funeral plans for James Brown were announced Tuesday night. His body will be available for public viewing Thursday at the Apollo Theatre in New York. But this leaves an important question unanswered. Can mourners rub that "good luck rock" before they see the casket?

To those of you I heard rewriting James Brown song titles Tuesday - shame on you. "Papa's Got a Brand New Body Bag" simply is NOT appropriate right now....

But to be honest, I rewrote one of James Brown's hits years ago. It came after a court trial, and instead of "Living in America" we had....

Living in a prison cell -

For eight years, with no probation!

Living in a prison cell -

Can't get out to tour the nation!

Living in a prison cell -

What a helpless situation! (Toot-toot-toot ta-toot)

But seriously: we learned right at post time of the death of former President Gerald Ford. He's the man Jimmy Carter defeated to become President in 1976 -- a time so long ago that I don't recall the candidates using a single attack ad on each other.

I covered a Gerald Ford news conference, when he visited Kansas City to support Republican candidates in 1980. I asked him about a religious magazine's cover story which asked: "Is This the Last Election?" Mr. Ford didn't think it was. And he turned out to be a more accurate prophet than some of the "prophetic trend" writers on the magazine's staff.

Now we move on to other Tuesday topics:

+ Which caller to WRCG's "TalkLine" declared Columbus needs an "authoritarian type of government?" This man sounded like he wants Jim Wetherington to practice some kicking in the next few days - to kick lazy city employees not simply out the door, but all the way to Recorder's Court.

+ The Russell County Commission met for the first time, since the Alabama Supreme Court ordered Ronnie Reed's removal. Probate Judge Al Howard admitted he was grateful to see Reed go, because his votes led to the county attorney's firing. So which commissioner would like to be first to wish Judge Howard farewell, in response?

(I tried to call Ronnie Reed at his home about the state Supreme Court's decision - but a recorded message said he does NOT take incoming calls. The home number of Phenix City's school superintendent is the same way. Maybe it's a telemarketing thing -- and I should try calling them from a phone booth inside the Phenix City limits.)

+ While several religious radio stations kept playing Christmas songs, WGSY "Sunny 100" went back to its usual music. In a way, that surprised me - because I thought it would act like some stores, and start playing non-stop love songs until Valentine's Day.

+ The Oklahoman newspaper reported several Alabama football players were spotted gambling inside Louisiana casinos, while preparing for the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. What do you think they're betting on - whether Nick Saban will take the head coaching job?

(Today marks one month since Mike Shula was fired as Alabama's head coach. The replacement rumor mill has grown very quiet -- as if officials are waiting for the basketball team to have a losing streak, so they can offer the job to Mark Gottfried.)

+ Instant Message to Hershey's: I bought two bags of your "Kissables" on "Choco-Fest Tuesday" at half-price. But about the colors of green, red and white - do you plan to bring these bags back for Cinco de Mayo?

2006 IN REVIEW CONTINUED: September dawned with a new tourist attraction in Columbus. The Ma Rainey home finally opened as a museum (really on August 31), after years of talk and renovation. But I haven't noticed many visitors there -- so where can we put a gift shop?

The Ledger-Enquirer embarrassed the Muscogee County School District in September, by revealing 2,700 textbooks needed replacing. The newspaper must have been disappointed when the school board did NOT approve 2,700 subscriptions in response.

Then a teacher at Forrest Road Elementary School was fired for slapping a student. This showed why teachers need those "training days" - to learn which end of the child to use for spankings.

The Auburn University Board of Trustees finally removed the "interim" from President Ed Richardson's title in September. Men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo should be thankful that word wasn't moved to him.

Residents along Cherokee Avenue in Columbus complained in September the new "rumble strips" put on the road to slow down speeders were too noisy. The strips were removed within days. It's only a matter of time before "SOA Watch" protesters move to Columbus South, and complain about Fort Benning's live fire exercises.

Ken Suddeth came out of hiding in September, as he was hired as Chattahoochee County's first police chief. He was out of that job by December - which reminds me: did the officers he hired ever return their badges?

The Phenix City Council approved a liquor license in September for Club Roc. The police chief warned against it - and the way things turned out, Brian McGarr now can follow Jim Wetherington's example and run for mayor.

Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell didn't get what he wanted, either. He asked commissioners in September for a 20-percent raise for his staff - and quickly was reminded the commission does not include any major league baseball owners.

But the Muscogee County Prison staff smiled in September, as it was named the top county correctional facility in Georgia. This apparently means only the highest-quality pinto beans are fed to the inmates each day.

The big political news of September came when Georgia's Governor announced the creation of an online "Sonny-Do" list. Is he finally going to read that list in January?! If so, it could be the longest inauguration speech in state history.

September was a month of endings. Swift Galey announced it would close both its plants. A controversial Internet café in Phenix City was shut down. And Columbus activist Lonnie Jackson died - so watch for TV coverage in January, as several groups clean up trash from his grave site.

The Northern Little League baseball "victory tour" went all over the place in September. The team went to metro Atlanta for tributes three times in eight days - which may be more often than the Columbus Chamber of Commerce sends lobbyists during the legislative session.

And that concludes today's look at.... what? You're saying I forgot something from September? I forgot how Power Frisbee of Georgia went bust, less than two weeks after it premiered? No, I haven't forgotten it. I can't, since GoDaddy keeps pleading with me to renew the Power Frisbee web site....

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006


It was sad to learn Monday of the death of Georgia soul music legend James Brown. I heard WAGH "Magic 98" play some of his music during the day in a tribute. But WKZJ "K-92.7" seemed to have its computerized jukebox set on nothing but Christmas music - where at least there was nothing about a Rappin' Santa.

James Brown performed in Columbus several times. He was the star act on a Saturday night of Riverfest in 2001. I took a picture of him on stage, but regrettably I couldn't find it Monday. Besides, I was so far from the stage that you could barely see his hips move.

A web search Monday night uncovered another James Brown concert appearance in Columbus. The author of a book called "Funk" wrote after a March 1970 show, Brown had a confrontation with his band over something. It was a Brown showdown - but his musicians went down like "Famous Flames."

The biggest surprise I heard Monday about James Brown involved a woman in a Columbus congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. The woman apparently doesn't want to be named, but she used to be a backup singer for Brown. She says when she became converted in the 1970's, she threw out all her Brown mementos. The eBay web site came along about 25 years too late.

James Brown called Augusta home, and my visits there for Power Frisbee this year reminded me of that. A main downtown street is named James Brown Boulevard -- a street that's trying to be Augusta's version of Broadway in downtown Columbus. But there's one big difference. Augusta has no "Purple People" to clear the light poles of concert posters.

Only days before Power Frisbee's opening night in August, the main sports arena in Augusta was renamed for James Brown. Here's hoping the James Brown from "The N.F.L. Today" doesn't start claiming the building as his own....

There's even a small group of performers in Augusta who make appearances as James Brown impersonators. I expect to see more of them now, the way Elvis Presley imitators sprang up in the 1980's. Guys who don't make the school gymnastics team can stay in practice, by following his moves.

But given the events of his life, you somehow knew James Brown would not have an ordinary death. Sure enough - Brown's widow tells today's Augusta Chronicle she's been padlocked out of the family home in South Carolina, on orders of Brown's attorney and accountant. Well, he DID sing "It's a Man's World...."

And that reminds me of another amazing James Brown moment. Somewhere on a shelf at CNN Center in Atlanta, there's a "blooper tape" of Brown being interviewed in the early 1990's by Dr. Sonya Friedman. During the live interview, Brown kept declaring, "It's a man's world!" - and little else. It was as if too much of the hair spray for his head went up his nose.

2006 IN REVIEW CONTINUED: August was a historic month in Columbus, as the Northern Little League All-Stars rolled all the way to the World Series title. The team had to deal with one upset mother from Arizona, confusion about Kyle Carter's cap, a rainstorm on their victory parade - not to mention all those business cards the high school coaches gave them.

By comparison, the Columbus Catfish had all sorts of problems in August. Part of the field flooded. Some of the lights didn't work. A storm tore down part of the outfield fence. It's a wonder the city didn't rename Golden Park "Rusty."

On top of that, Columbus Council effectively evicted the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers in August for not paying their rent at the Civic Center. I think CBS showed a movie about the Vipers' replacement team Monday afternoon - called "Secondhand Lions."

Mayor Bob Poydasheff kicked off his reelection bid in August - and it wasn't an easy beginning. Your blog spotted 2002 information all over his web site, days before the announcement. And his speech asked for votes on November 19, 12 days after Election Day. Somehow, I think Jim Wetherington will make sure that office is vacant by next Tuesday.

Only days later, Bert Coker declared he was launching a write-in campaign for mayor. Is there some strange reason why Jim Wetherington has NOT named him to his staff yet?

On up the Government Center, Judge Haywood Turner was arrested in August for an alleged case of "road rage" with weapons. "The Courier" claimed a few weeks ago there were rumors the judge might retire. It did NOT explain whether that would come before or after the plea-bargain.

The governors of Alabama and Georgia met in Columbus during August. The announced topic was water-sharing - but given the election results in November, maybe they discussed power-sharing as well.

North Columbus Elementary School had its grand opening in August, and the first day brought a traffic jam on Veterans Parkway. The managers down the street at Krispy Kreme and Starbucks didn't know whether to be jealous or frustrated.

But Jordan High School failed to open on time because of construction, forcing students to go to class on Saturdays for several weeks. This simply did not make sense to me. If it's a "vocational arts" magnet school, why didn't the students help the workers at the start of the year for extra credit?

Before all this, August included the annual back-to-school "sales tax holiday," which this year expanded from Georgia to Alabama. Isn't it a little curious that you never hear this proposed for mid-December?

August was a big month in Phenix City, as Summit Hospital officially opened for business. Did the first person to receive an appendectomy get a souvenir -- with his appendix autographed by the staff?

Another big new premiere in August was the "National Joshua Generation," an activist group headed by Antonio Carter. But the N.J.G. seems to be off to a slow start - because I keep waiting for members to form a picket line, to protest his firing from WRCG.

August officially brought the end of The Fire House club by court order. It later included a Civic Center concert by Hank Williams Jr. - and his rowdy friends must have been stumped for a place to relax after the show.

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Monday, December 25, 2006


The last few days have been wonderful for me, as I've witnessed a miraculous recovery. I suppose some sappy Hollywood screenwriter would call it a "Christmas miracle" - except I don't keep Christmas, and I could have done it two weeks ago to mark Pearl Harbor Day.

Longtime readers will recall 2006 was the year my seven-year-old computer officially was declared dead [23 Jun]. After I bought a new computer, the old one was placed on the floor near my kitchen table - but far enough away that I didn't leave any spaghetti sauce stains on it.

The computer shop on Hamilton Road told me my hard drive data could not be recovered. But something inside me recalled hearing stories about how data still could be recovered in some way. And something else inside me said it probably would cost half the price of a laptop -- or even approach the price of a new car.

But then the American Town Marketing coupon envelope came in the mail few weeks ago, to renew my hopes. It had three coupons for a different computer repair shop - including an outlandish offer of a free checkup. This was a dream come true. And if only the chiropractors' coupons offered something like that....

So this past week, I loaded my old computer in the car with my coupon and drove to Shane's PC Paramedics on Warm Springs Road. At the very worst, they might be able to tell me where I could take the machine for safe recycling - without paying those tipping fees at the landfill, of course.

Shane's PC Paramedics reminds you less of a fix-it shop, and more of Google's headquarters. There's a large lounge area next to the counter, where it appeared you could play video games on a big TV -- but it wasn't on, so I didn't dare touch it. Besides, the little dog at the feet of an employee in that room might have tried to stop me.

A dead hard drive meant my old computer wouldn't turn on at all in June - and that had not changed in December. Computers never will be confused with wine, and get better with age....

But the expert at Shane's PC Paramedics (no, it was NOT Shane) did not give up. He unscrewed the hard drive from my computer, and took it to some device in a back room. I couldn't see exactly what it was, but thankfully it was NOT one of those "healing magnet" devices - which would have erased everything.

As I stood and waited for a couple of minutes, I checked the price board on the wall at Shane's PC Paramedics. This was unusual in itself - as most other computer shops I've visited make you wonder about their charges. I've found one business seems to help you for a discount, if you make a sad enough face.

Shane's PC Paramedics will repair computers at their shop, or come to your home or business for a higher price. And there's even a "trauma service" by the paramedics, where they'll stop everything else and serve you. Don't you wish Wal-Mart did that, in the days before a major holiday?

The man in the back room seemed to be making some progress as I watched, but I knew that could be misleading. At last he came out and said, "I have some good news." At a place named "PC Paramedics," I almost expected his next words to be something about a baby boy.

But no, this was the good news I really wanted to hear. He was able to extract the data from my old hard drive, and could save it all for me on a DVD. My hard drive wasn't dead, it was comatose - and this shop had the HD-fibrillator.

The coupon sheet from Shane's PC Paramedics had not only the free checkup, but a second one for 30 dollars off any service. With that figured in, the saving of my old hard drive's data cost me less than 100 dollars. No, I did NOT ask for trauma service. After six months of waiting, one more day to prepare a DVD would be OK.

I was absolutely thrilled with what this computer shop did. The repair man asked me to take a business card, in case I needed them again. But I had to be honest, and told him I hoped I wouldn't see them for a long time.

"You can stop by to visit," the repair man suggested. We'll see about that - but if they're really going to be that friendly, their lounge needs at least one vending machine.

E-MAIL UPDATE: This message reached us about Friday's focus on plans to tear down The Estate on Macon Road:

The Harmony Club was originally located where IHOP and StevieB's is...At Warm Springs and Woodruff Rd where CVS is was woods where the Chicksaw Club was..

I'll take your word for it, about that location on Whitesville Road - in the interests of harmony, of course.

I remember a "legendary Chickasaw," but not where this writer puts it. It was on Macon Road with the Choctaw Grill sports bar -- but they went out of business several years ago, and were replaced by an Eckerd store and a Burger King. I don't miss them much, except the newer sports bars seem so thrilled with karaoke nights....

We'll have more memories to offer later this week - but now let's check weekend news you may have missed in the rush of things:

+ Columbus Police reported a man on Fifth Street was shot in the (ahem) derriere. My Dad used to tell my brother and me to "get the lead out," but times apparently have changed.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported the Alabama Supreme Court has rejected Russell County Commissioner Ronnie Reed's appeal. That means he must give up his seat -- unless he follows a supporter's old example, and takes sanctuary in Judge Al Howard's office.

+ Outgoing Mayor Bob Poydasheff told WRCG's "TalkLine" the reports of gang activity and unrest at the Columbus Public Library are "utter rubbish." He said his wife serves as a library volunteer on Saturdays - but of course, that's when most gang members probably are gaining turf on basketball playgrounds.

+ A Georgia state advisory commission on Bible classes issued its recommendations. GPB Radio reported a lot of leeway was left to local districts. That probably includes the most difficult issue of all -- King James Version or New International?

+ The St. Luke United Methodist Church late-night service moved to NBC-38, as First Baptist Church began showing a Christmas special on its usual TV station. Wasn't it considerate of WLGA TV-66 to offer an alternative -- showing "Sex and the City" and "Cheaters" as usual?

+ The Atlanta Falcons fell to Carolina 10-3, and were practically eliminated from the N.F.L. playoffs. Michael Vick became the first quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. And Jim Mora may have to move 1,000 miles to find a coaching job next season.

(Did you hear how the Fox Sports announcers picked on Carolina's quarterback, and how weak he was with a 4-for-7 passing line? They sounded ready to throw Chris Weinke off the Georgia Dome roof -- yet he wound up with one more touchdown pass than Michael Vick did.)

+ Eufaula High School quarterback Jerrel Jernigan was named to the Alabama 5-A All-State football team. I'm reminded of a prediction Fox's Darrel Waltrip made during an early-season NASCAR race that it felt like "the year of the J.J.'s." Jernigan certainly turned out better than J.J. Yeley or J.J. Reddick.

+ Instant Message to WEAM-AM: Thanks for providing an alternative to the schmaltzy music Sunday night, by broadcasting the Hawaii Bowl. I forgot Jerry Glanville was an assistant coach in Hawaii now - and I wonder if he still wears that black overcoat along the sidelines.

2006 IN REVIEW CONTINUED: July was a decisive month in Georgia politics. Mark Taylor defeated Cathy Cox in a nasty primary for Governor -- and I'm still waiting for former President Carter to mediate a settlement between them.

(Jimmy Carter marked a milestone in July, by celebrating his 60th wedding anniversary. Here's hoping the years have been filled with peace, and not apartheid....)

Back in politics, Ed Harbison defeated Reginald Pugh to remain a Georgia State Senator. Pugh begrudgingly accepted defeat - but still hasn't shown us the deed to Harbison's Atlanta house.

July marked the start of a showdown in Chattahoochee County. The sheriff went to court, to protest a big cut in funding. It looks like come January, the new county commission will give him as much as he wants - even part of the county manager's salary.

The mess in Russell County schools kept building in July, with the resignation of Superintendent Rebecca Lee. Some parents were surprised that she went to Troy University - as opposed to the county jail.

"Dateline NBC" came to Harris County in July, as a sting operation led to the arrest of several suspected predators. Does anyone know if that vacant house has been sold in the last six months - and whether the new owners were allowed to keep the "Perverted Justice" security system?

Fort Benning took a safety step in July, by banning all hand-held cell phones while driving. Columbus still has not gone this far. Maybe the city is waiting for Mayor-Elect Jim Wetherington's budget, with money to put built-in cell phones in all police cars.

The Chattahoochee River Keeper issued a warning in July, against swimming in the river. How times have changed since that was issued! Now influential people in Columbus are issuing warnings against dealing with the River Keepers.

Columbus Technical College announced plans in July for a culinary arts program -- then announced the start of a major capital fund-raising campaign. Put those two together, and maybe the prices down the street at Golden Donuts will stay low.

July brought the first news that Auburn University football players took easy Directed Studies courses. A sociology professor in the middle of the controversy was suspended last week - but if becomes a paid informant for the "New York Times," he might not lose any money from the deal.

The Columbus Catfish tried all sorts of things to gain customers in July - such as staging a Halloween Night. I think other businesses have been following this example lately. Have you noticed how some tax offices are already open - a month before most of us get our W-2 forms?

July was also the month when the Lucky 7 Lounge on Victory Drive caught fire. That building remained boarded up this weekend - and maybe the dancers decided to take their money, and enroll in college.

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006


"I think I'm getting some serious Christmas overload." So said a woman at a receptionist's desk on Veterans Parkway Friday afternoon. If the parkway could talk between Adams Farm Drive and Whittlesey Boulevard, it probably would say the same thing....

I overheard this woman talking about "Christmas overload" after enduring my first traffic jam around Columbus Park Crossing. It occurred around 1:45 p.m. Friday, which should not be afternoon rush hour. But from what I saw and what others told me this weekend, a lot of people had "Atlanta Friday" hours this weekend - and they hit the road extra early.

It took me 25 minutes to drive from Warm Springs and Miller Roads to B. Merrell's on Veterans Parkway. It didn't help that a three-car collision blocked a northbound lane of Veterans, causing everyone to drive around it. Which reminds me - whatever happened to the traffic alert boards the city promised us several months ago?

Without getting out of my car to conduct a survey, I assume most of the drivers in this jam were heading to the Columbus Park Crossing area for shopping. They tried to beat the Saturday rush - only to find everyone thought like they did, and created a Friday one.

The rush finally ends today, with the final hours of shopping for that day I don't keep [16 Dec]. WRBL reported some Peachtree Mall stores will open at 7:00 a.m. At least they've learned their lesson from Thanksgiving Friday, and are staying closed two extra hours in the morning.

If you still feel you have to buy one more gift, some places are proposing the most unusual things to appeal to your desperation....

+ A subscription to the Opelika-Auburn News. Put an old issue under your Chia Pet, to make it even more lifelike.

+ Columbus Cottonmouths tickets. It's a time for giving, after all - and did you see the Cottonmouths player give someone from Knoxville a head butt Saturday night, just like the World Cup?

+ Plastic surgery. Did you see the Columbus woman on the news, who actually asked her husband for implants - to go from an A-cup to a C-cup? [True/WRBL] I suppose it beats a coffee cup, with a Santa Claus picture on it.

While it certainly is a season for giving, it also seems to be a season for making sure your giving gets noticed. For instance, St. Francis Hospital made the TV news the other day for making a delivery of 300 gift bags to the House of Mercy. If I want to deliver a bag of food, maybe I should make an appointment first - not with the House of Mercy, but with a TV photographer.

Another example of this came Saturday, as a gift bag handout by Words of Wisdom Christian Center wound up on the evening news. This is something I suspect many local churches do -- but I know from experience that some of them want media attention when they do it. They seem to forget that line in the Bible about not letting your other hand know what you're doing, when you give.

Perhaps the ministries which announce their handouts with news releases are simply trying to spread the word that free stuff is available. But Friday's canned good collection in the Uptown Business Improvement District made the evening news, too. It reminds me of a children's story -- where the boy happened to eat Christmas pie as he announced to all, "What a good boy am I."

Some final thoughts about the final weekend of the race against the clock:

+ Isn't it only a matter of time before the city has to widen Veterans Parkway to six lanes, around Columbus Park Crossing? Manchester Expressway already is extra-wide, in front of Peachtree Mall - and it can't possibly be because Bill Heard lobbied for extra "test drive" lanes.

+ The woman at the reception desk with "Christmas overload" was dealing with WGSY "Sunny 100" playing non-stop Christmas songs. There are alternatives on the radio dial - and weary shoppers might appreciate Clark Howard on WRCG warning them about scams.

+ Instant Message to El Zapata on Veterans Parkway, south of the traffic jam: At least you're looking past this season of the year. I mean, that IS why your sign along the road talks about Cinco de Mayo, right?

E-MAIL UPDATE: The people who aren't out shopping must be at their computers, because we have a stack of messages this weekend. First up: someone we mentioned here Friday....

Hi Richard,

I hope things are going well for you. Thanks for the mention in this morning's blog. Actually, NEXT Thursday will be my last day anchoring at WRBL. Yesterday was my last day co-anchoring with Creshon Saunders. She just wanted to do a little "good bye" to me since she won't be here for my actual last day. I guess I should have made that a bit clearer on yesterday evening's newscast. So, for better or worse, Columbus is stuck with me for a few more days.

Even though I'm headed to Virginia , I'll still keep up with your blog. It's one of my first online destinations each day. Keep up the good work, sir. There are many of us out there who appreciate it.

Take care,


Blaine Stewart

News Anchor/Senior Producer

WRBL News 3

Thanks for the clarification - and that explains why I saw Blaine Stewart at the anchor desk for "News 3 Midday" Friday. I didn't wait for the end, though - to see if Harmony Mendoza also presented Stewart with an autographed picture of himself.

Speaking of WRBL's programming....


I just wanted to give a little reminder that the 48 Hours show profiling the murder of Richard Davis will air again tonight (Saturday 12-23-06). I would have wrote sooner but I just found out today myself. Cilla returned my call and when I told her the rumors that the character Charlize Theron is playing in the movie is being modeled after her, she wouldn't answer one way or the other. She just laughed about it and reminded me the movie is fictional. But she did tell me that people should pay close attention to the part of the 48 Hours episode that shows Jacob Burgoyne's medical records.

Merry Christmas,


I knew this program was coming last weekend, because CBS mentioned it at the end of "48 Hours." But I didn't mention it here, because it didn't appear to be the updated version we've been told is in the works. And it certainly didn't have any clips with Charlize Theron, not even playing Erin Moriarty.

I saw this e-mail before "48 Hours" came on the air, so I indeed paid close attention to the section showing manslaughter convict Jacob Burgoyne's medical records -- even snapping vidcaps of the pages. This may be the strangest way around a "Freedom of Information Act" request I've ever tried.

I'm not sure what medical record author Cilla McCain wants us to check. Perhaps it's the diagnosis section showing Jacob Burgoyne had post-traumatic stress disorder, but recommending he return to duty if he's "monitored at all times." I'm not sure if any of his buddies at Hooters qualified, by outranking him.

But a second look at this hour left me wondering something. If Richard Davis was stabbed by fellow Fort Benning soldiers in their car on that deadly night, wouldn't police have found some blood stains to present as evidence? Admittedly the arrests came months after the crime -- but I'd doubt soldiers would keep the inside of their cars as spotless as their uniforms.

Now we move from TV to radio....

It would seem the Columbus station broadcasting on 1580 AM has gone from sports talk to the "All PSA" format. Saturday afternoon, at a time when one would normally hear ESPN Radio on that station, all that could be heard was one PSA after another. This apparently went on for hours, leading one to wonder if anyone at all was listening. You would think someone would at least wake up whoever is minding the station with a phone call!

I have my doubts this kind of programming (or lack of) will help their listenership.

K. S.

You'll be happy to know things were back to normal Saturday night -- so I was able to hear the closing minutes of San Jose State beating New Mexico in the "New Mexico Bowl." You're a truly desperate football fan when you're listening to that game in your car.

Perhaps WEAM-AM had trouble switching from regular ESPN Radio programming to Saturday's tripleheader of college bowl games. Or perhaps the staff simply couldn't believe a woman was doing play-by-play of the first game, from Birmingham.

I've heard WEAM-AM broadcast non-stop public service announcements (PSA's) before. It was after midnight one night - and I wasn't sure if the network line was down, or the station was trying to meet a quota of community service programming.

Speaking of bowl games - how about Troy! The Trojans scorched Rice 41-17 in the New Orleans Bowl. But watching the highlights Saturday night, I couldn't help noticing the upper deck of the Superdome was empty. If Columbus had this bowl game, things would be different - especially if Fort Valley State was invited to play every couple of years.

Our last e-mail makes us long for the good old days, when we wrote about world topics for a national audience:

How come all the Celebrities are not sneaking on aircraft this Christmas to hold shows for the Ones serving in the War,, The War is still on - right..

Are the Troops that are over there now not important as the ones that were there in the Begining?

Now hold on a minute - maybe they're "sneaking on aircraft" and not telling you they're going. That's kind of what "sneaking" is about, you know. Don't you remember how Bob Hope used to have his TV "Christmas special" sometime in February, after he returned home?

I wondered if this e-mail was accurate, so I went to the source authority of celebrity information. An article posted by "The Insider" way back in August said Lindsay Lohan wanted to go to Iraq. Maybe she could share a few beers with the soldiers -- as long as they drive her back to the airport.

(Would it really be a good idea for Lindsay Lohan to travel to Iraq? We wouldn't want all the paparazzi following her to come under attack from insurgents, because.... well, then again, let me rethink this....)

A check of Google news found country singer Carrie Underwood plans a Persian Gulf trip sometime this winter. The article notes the exact date is NOT being announced, due to security concerns. If you're going to sing "Jesus Take the Wheel" near some radical Muslims, you have to do it very carefully.

To be honest, no one's asked me to go on a trip overseas to entertain military personnel. I'd happily go if they asked - and maybe crack a joke about how if Muslim insurgents conquered the U.S., we'd have to listen to "Sunni 100 FM."

2006 IN REVIEW CONTINUED: June was the month for Family Day in the Park -- but this year a rumble developed after the event, which closed stores at Peachtree Mall. Next year, let's try to book the Bradley Theater downtown for that "after-party."

Months of debate about city employee pay were settled in June, when Columbus Council approved a budget. It set a "three-tier" system of raises - but by December, the mayor and a Councilor were the ones in tiers tears.

Rumors abounded in June that Columbus city employees might stage a sickout, over the budget situation. And who knows - maybe one of them sent the mysterious white powder, which caused a partial evacuation one day.

June was primary time in Alabama - and the results in the governor's races were lopsided. It's a wonder Don Siegelman didn't call Roy Moore afterward, and ask for prayer about his federal trial.

The National Infantry Museum held a "start of construction" ceremony in June - 21 months after holding its groundbreaking ceremony. At this pace, the museum might be ready to mark the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day. That's November 11, 2018.

The city of Columbus held a week-long celebration in June, marking ten years since Olympic softball was played at Golden Park. But the last time I checked, the book with a directory for finding your personally-named brick was still missing.

Continental Carbon had several days of public relations sessions in June, trying to convince local leaders it's really a nice place. When they come over with a pressure washer and clean the black soot stains off my car, I'll believe it.

The temperature soared to 100 degrees F. in June - high enough to make the Columbus Museum's air conditioner break down. I expect you'll be able to see that old unit in a historical collection, debuting sometime next year....

The company which owns WRBL and the Opelika-Auburn News bought the Eufaula Tribune in June. But I don't get it - why isn't Teresa Whitaker's picture on the newspaper's web site yet?

Legal news was big at the end of June. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was convicted on several counts. A complaint against the outgoing Columbus Mayor and former City Manager was dismissed by the Georgia Ethics Commission. But federal Judge J. Robert Elliott died before these decisions were announced - showing the meaning of "speedy trial" has been lost.

The end of June also brought published rumors about financial problems with the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers indoor football team. Your blog called the league president, who told us he'd heard nothing about coaches and players not being paid. If only we had thought to ask about the Civic Center's staff....

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Friday, December 22, 2006


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find this item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

We talked about Hanukkah here last Saturday, so perhaps it's only fair that we give an e-mailer equal time for, uh, that other event:

Go to and see the house in Cottonwood Plantation...the lights blink to sure and turn on the car radio...Also, a yard of decorations on street behind Mellow Mushroom used the local water tower to project Christmas scenes on....A child's wonder land is on a quiet little street ,Oak Circle. off University by Bent Tree office building.

These grandparents start getting things ready on Thankgiving..I just love the lights! Whew..would hate to pay their Ga Power bill..

Scenes like these may be the only things which qualify Columbus for the phrase: "bright lights, big city."

Several people in my apartment complex have put up colorful lights for this time of year. In fact, my neighbor two doors down has blinking electric "candles." I finally figured out Thursday night that they're the reason for the occasional buzzing and horizontal lines across my TV screen.

(Which reminds me - Instant Message to whomever set up the light show on the Phenix City Riverwalk: I hope I'm not the first to break this news to you. But do you realize your "North Pole" lights are at the south end of the walkway?)

One person in my apartment complex went all the way this week, and put a six-foot-tall inflatable "Santa Claus" in the courtyard. It's curious to me how Santas and outdoor "snow globes" are giant-sized, while nativity scenes tend to be almost in miniature.

If you want to display lights outside your home, that's your business - but why not leave them up all year 'round, instead of bringing them down at the end of the month? Restaurants such as the Buckhead Grill do that. And the extra lights might be a clever way to reduce the crime rate.

But when people put up giant Santa Claus balloons, they've crossed a line with me. They seem to be truly "sold out" to keeping Christmas -- but they seem to be sold out in the wrong direction. For one thing, I don't think Santa Claus invented the holiday....

I'm going to assume for a moment the readers of this blog are older than age seven. I do this to talk plainly about Santa Claus - not to do what another local blogger is doing right now, and talk about swear words.

While shopping at a store this week, I heard a December classic on the P.A. system: "Here Comes Santa Claus/ right down Santa Claus Lane." I haven't found such a street in Columbus - but if they can name one after Mayor Bob Poydasheff, it could happen someday.

Usually I'd turn off such a song on the radio. But you can't do that inside a store - and that forced me to consider the last line of the song: "Let's give thanks to the Lord above, 'cause Santa Claus comes tonight." Now hold on a minute. We should thank the Lord God, for a lie people tell to children?! The God who according to the book of Proverbs hates "a lying tongue?"

While the Bible says God hates lies, it also says He loves us. He loves us so much that He gave a Son to us - and in case you aren't aware, His name was NOT Nicholas. It wasn't even "Nick at Nite."

While I don't agree with the day which most people keep to mark the birth of Jesus, I agree that it was an amazing gift. In fact, it was a gift of "the truth" as opposed to a lie - and a true "light of the world." This light could lead you to change your use of the TV set, far beyond your neighbor's plug-in decoration.

Here's hoping you understand and appreciate this heavenly gift, and why it's so amazing. The reason goes far beyond a manger in a barn. There's a worship song which says it simply, and says it well:

You came from heaven to earth, to show the way.

From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay.

From the cross to the grave - from the grave to the sky,

Lord, I lift Your name on high.

COMING SUNDAY: A clarification from someone senior at WRBL.... and our review of 2006 events resumes....

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The west side of Columbus has Green Island. The center has the Country Club of Columbus. But the city's east side is about to lose its best-known symbol of all things "upscale." And before you get the wrong idea - I'm NOT talking about Muscogee Manor.

The building known by many as "The Estate" on Macon Road would be torn down, under a zoning plan the new Columbus Council will consider in January. The land will become a new subdivision of homes - so perhaps the developer doesn't like paying Estate taxes.

Developer Britt Moon said Thursday The Estate is "not conducive" to his company's plans for a new subdivision along Macon Road. If he was building apartments or condominiums, it could serve as a clubhouse. But he's building houses -- which leaves you wondering why The Estate couldn't be the wealthiest mansion on the block, for some rap star to call home.

If you think about it, The Estate may become a victim of BRAC - the base realignment which is bringing all the new soldiers to Fort Benning. You'd think military families would want an alternative to Burger King at the PX food court....

I wasn't aware of the history surrounding The Estate until Thursday night's news. The building was originally the "Harmony Club" in the 1970's, and was used by Jewish and black people -- before black people preferred to be called African-American, and before being in harmony was replaced by the unity of One Columbus.

The Harmony Club underwent changes in the late eighties, when some members decided to join Green Island Country Club. The result by the late nineties was The Estate, which became a banquet and meeting hall. It's succeeded in part because its closest competition in the neighborhood is Captain Tom's buffet.

Given its history, The Estate's best-known event of recent years seems even more bizarre. The hall hosted the "whites-only" Taylor County High School prom, which brought national network news wrath on this area. I never heard if the managers knew they were renting The Estate for a whites-only event. But then again, most civil rights banquets would cancel that out.

While I've never visited Green Island or the Country Club of Columbus, I've been inside The Estate three times. The first time was very brief, after someone at a barber shop gave me a catalog of products on "the healing power of magnets" and invited me to a Thursday night lecture. I quietly left the catalog on a table and left, before they tried to induct me in a cult.

The second visit to The Estate came in September 1998, for the wedding reception of then-TV news anchor John Lyles. Lyles was married in Jamaica, but the couple had a reception for friends in Columbus. Local television stars simply don't make as much as Oprah Winfrey.

My last trip to The Estate was for a business party, several months after the Taylor County High School incident. I quietly wondered if anyone objected to having the party there - but since everyone took home a prize, race relations were probably the last thing on everyone's minds.

Should The Estate be saved in some way, given its history in Columbus? Do progress and the need for new housing take priority? And what will the Columbus Quarterback Club do for meetings, if the building is torn down? Using the meeting area inside Golden Park simply wouldn't look right....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now let's go all the way to the east edge of town, for a complaint about "landfill-gate":

If you or I worked for a business and $2 million was missing you know where we would be?.....Some one must be held accountable for this disgrace..Maybe the accusations should move right up the chain of command..

Is this really December? Never know it by the weather. I bet we pay for it in January just like Christmas bills..No escape...

Assuming the writer is connecting these two events - I don't think the missing money in tipping fees was donated to Atmos Energy.

The accusations about "landfill-gate" truly are moving up the ladder. They're in the hands of the District Attorney right now - and may wind up on the top floor of the Government Center, with guilty pleas in a courtroom.

As for the weather: Thursday's high temperature in Columbus was 61 degrees F. I beat the rain Thursday night, and took a three-mile run on both sides of the Chattahoochee. The people who bundle up to look at the Phenix City Riverwalk's light show must consider my running in a T-shirt and shorts the most fascinating site of all.

(By the way, there IS a way to escape Christmas bills. Did you see our item last weekend on Hanukkah?)

BLOG UPDATE: An era ended in Columbus television Thursday evening, as Blaine Stewart anchored his last newscast on WRBL. I wonder if the Stewart County Commissioners sent him a proclamation, thanking him for representing them so well.

Blaine Stewart revealed he's found work, since announcing his resignation from WRBL [5 Dec]. He's going to work for the CBS station in Norfolk, Virginia. So he won't have to worry about changing heroes, from Katie Couric to Brian Williams.

Co-anchor Creshon Saunders continued a tradition Blaine Stewart began, of presenting a gift on the set to the departing anchor. You may recall Stewart gave Mara Kelly and Jessica Clark autographed pictures of himself. Saunders did the very same thing - giving Stewart a big autographed picture of HIMSELF! That'll come in handy, if early Alzheimer's sets in.

Blaine Stewart actually will leave WRBL at the end of next week - but he won't be anchoring any more. Perhaps he's planning a last couple of probing consumer investigations - or a documentary about Leonard Crain at the Better Business Bureau.

So how will WRBL fill Blaine Stewart's anchor chair at 5:00 p.m.? There's one male anchor available right now, but Tim Reid mysteriously was removed from "News 3 This Morning" several weeks ago. I can't believe it takes that long to get used to waking up at 7:00 a.m. for work.

With Phil Scoggins already busy anchoring at 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., I'm inclined to think WRBL will hire someone from outside for 5:00. It should be someone who knows Columbus well, and.... hey, wait a minute! Would sportscaster Jack Rodgers recommend his dad - who won't be busy as Mayor Pro-Tem anymore?

Now from the newscast, to some actual news of Thursday:

+ Columbus Police arrested two men in the St. Mary's Road area, for robbing a Waffle House on Bradley Park Drive. The pursuit went practically all the way across town from Waffle House - so even though the crooks scattered, they still were covered.

+ Club Roc/The Road House owner Misha Simmons said Phenix City is punishing her for misdeeds of former owners. She noted the state of Alabama granted her a liquor license, while the city council won't. The politicians must know a nice venue for campaign rallies when they see one.

+ Rick Caldwell of J.T. Knight and Co. won the Columbus Chamber of Commerce's "Small Business Giant Award." Caldwell's grand-grandfather won the award years ago - so doesn't this mean Caldwell should be disqualified? After all, his business is still small....

(I didn't realize until Thursday that J.T. Knight and Co. has been in business about 110 years. What did they call recycling, way back before environmentalists were around telling us to do it?)

+ Auburn University announced its director of research programs has been dismissed. Nobody's saying why -- so do you think he spent too much time researching those football players' grades?!

+ Police at the University of Georgia reported Taylor Douglas of Taylor County was arrested, for attacking the Bulldog mascot during Tuesday night's basketball game. Police say Douglas was drunk when he beat up "Harry Dog." Someone must have been, to mistake the mascot for UGA President Michael Adams.

(Two teenagers actually were arrested for attacking the Georgia mascot and several cheerleaders. If there's any justice, these drunk attackers should recover with a Harry Dog that bites them.)

+ Instant Message to the Phenix City Walgreens: You may be on to something there. I mean, throwing cigarette packs across the checkout line to each other. Restaurants in Missouri and South Alabama became famous with that sort of thing.

2006 IN REVIEW CONTINUED: May began with a new event in South Commons, called "Fiesta Columbus." We're still waiting for the German-speaking residents to demand the Greater Columbus Fair be changed to Oktoberfest.

Immigration was a big national issue in May, as hundreds of people rallied for reform outside the Columbus Civic Center. I keep waiting for the march along 13th Avenue, demanding Clear Channel change "Viva 1460" back to gospel music.

Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren called in May for a starting officers' salary of $32,000. It will be interesting to see if Mayor-Elect Jim Wetherington can find a way in his first city budget to make this happen. Can City Manager Isaiah Hugley work part-time next year?

A debate developed in May about whether Columbus can afford a fall season for youth baseball. For some strange reason, I haven't heard anyone mention this since the Northern All-Stars won the Little League World Series....

A Muscogee County judge ordered The Fire House club shut down in May. Seven months later, it still sits there empty - so when does the city plan to build a REAL fire station there?

The manager of a Japanese steak house in Auburn was robbed outside his back door in May. That place needs an alarm system - so the chef with knives and bowls of fire can hurry outside and scare criminals away.

Political campaigns turned up the volume in May. In a big surprise, Zell Miller's voice was heard in commercials endorsing Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Why do I get the feeling Miller will announce he's switching political parties, through a statement read at his funeral?

But Georgia's former state school superintendent pleaded guilty to criminal charges in May. Linda Schrenko is now in a federal prison in Florida - where that facelift she paid for with education money might actually fit in.

May brought a big event in Ellerslie, as the Harris County town gained its first traffic light. But somehow, that still wasn't enough to keep the town on the official Georgia state map....

WRCG radio brought back Doug Kellett in May, only to drop him by the end of October. When Columbus isn't big enough to have two local talk show hosts on the same station, we ARE a small town -- and it's a wonder we're still on that official state map.

Alabama had several reasons to celebrate in May. Taylor Hicks won the American Idol title. U.S. 280 became a completely four-lane highway, from Phenix City to Birmingham. And with her move out of Columbus, the state claimed TV reporter Ashley Nix all to itself.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: Talk of lights and lies.... and an amazing "back-from-the-dead" experience....

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 3736 (+ 102, 2.8%)

If you mention this blog in public, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003-06 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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