8 NOV 10: Like a Tramp On the Street
It was easy to get in line, and blend with the crowd. In fact, I blended in so well Sunday that a reporter wanted to ask me questions about why I was there. Once again, the undercover blogger was somewhat successful....
While at least one man had a press badge on, I went to Sunday's annual Banquet on the Bridge unannounced. Yes, I took a food donation for someone who's homeless or needy. And yes, I joined the dozens of people in line on the 14th Street Bridge for a free dinner. The website promoting the banquet said it was OK -- and I probably wouldn't have eaten at Piccadilly Cafeteria, anyway.
We were first to tell you about the Banquet on the Bridge two years ago [6 Oct 08]. I returned Sunday after missing the event last year due to church commitments - as the congregation is so committed to a Saturday afternoon service that a 12:00 noon luncheon across town simply is too late.
The biggest surprise at this year's Banquet on the Bridge was a touch of political activism. No, I did NOT see any runoff candidates there. Perhaps they were too busy at church services, giving prayers of thanksgiving for not losing yet.
But Columbus residents attending Banquet on the Bridge were asked to sign a petition, urging Columbus Council to overturn the "Tramp Law." That's the section of city code which says homeless people who beg from door to door can be arrested as "tramps" [17 Jun 05]. I know it's also illegal to be thieves, but I don't know about gypsies....
When I checked the clipboard, more than 140 people had signed the petition. It says the Tramp Law is "far too reminiscent of 'Jim Crow' laws and policies." Based on what I saw Sunday, I'm not sure how accurate that is. People seemed to want a free dinner without any regard for skin color.
Several churches joined forces to organize the Banquet on the Bridge. That's why there was a "Prayer Station" at the Columbus end of the 14th Street Bridge, offering free Bibles. Perhaps someday atheists will organize their own luncheon on a bridge for homeless people - throwing the food off the bridge, and encouraging them to jump.
But I didn't realize until Sunday who came up with the idea for the Banquet on the Bridge. He's Nathan Heald, who's only 25 years old. And even more remarkably, he lives in Smiths Station - so the only time a "beggar" normally knocks on his door is when a car breaks down on U.S. 280.
The focus of the banquet was on food and fellowship, to assure needy people someone cares about them. But when I spotted a man throwing chicken on the pavement for his dog, I couldn't help shaking my head. Next year, Paws Humane needs to set up its own "Bowser at the Bridge" area.
WRBL reports about 1,300 people attended this year's Banquet on the Bridge. While the emphasis remains on helping the homeless and needy, it's become the Columbus area's biggest church potluck dinner. And as I once heard a radio minister say, believers prove they have faith when they eat other people's food.
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E-MAIL UPDATE: If you drove through Columbus over the weekend for the Fountain City Classic, you may have wondered what this reader wondered....
What the h**k happened on Veterans Parkway? The new medians of bare dirt, rocks and weeds are definitely not an improvement over the previously useful turn lanes.
While Keep Columbus Beautiful is NOT involved in the Streetscape work, Gloria Weston-Smart from that agency took an educated guess at what you're seeing. She tells me crepe myrtle trees will be planted on those islands in December or early January. So please do NOT assume the wooden sticks are for planting your "victory garden" tomatoes.
Gloria Weston-Smart says the real work of Streetscape is being done by Trees Columbus. That agency's office was closed when we called Friday afternoon - a sure sign we're in the off-season for gardening.
But Gloria Weston-Smart suspects the sticks in the center of Veterans Parkway have something to do with irrigating the islands - perhaps to mark spots for a drainage system. That way, people can't blame all the puddles on rainy days on Fourth Avenue Car Wash.
The reader has a point - until the trees with big root balls are planted, the middle of Veterans Parkway doesn't look very attractive. But in areas which used to have mere pavement, so why would Trees Columbus plant weeds? Is it really plot to distract drives from noticing several empty businesses?
Speaking of "runoff," the President of the Georgia Christian Coalition wrote us about the big development of the weekend:
Absurd. The perfect word a lady uses when a man could be more direct and call it like it is...which also describes a natural bovine healrth requirement.
"Absurd." Teresa Tomlinson's perfect response to Z. Baker's whine that he didn't file his 60-minute- required-to-prepare campaign income reports because her supporters were bullying him.
Z, here's next week's excuse for not filing: "My former opponets Anthony and Olson are plants by Tomlinson to spy on how I am running such a wonderful campaign. And my supporters and I are not going to be spied on."
When he called me Friday to ask for my support I told him I was supporting Ms Tomlinson.
Perhaps he would be better off calling a bookkeeper at this time since he also claims his reports are not filed because his treasurer has left town. In fear of a Baker win as mayor?
Now, now - from what I've heard, Columbus mayoral candidate Zeph Baker did NOT say his campaign treasurer left Columbus. She took a job outside Columbus. Perhaps Baker's run such a fiscally-tight campaign that she needed a second job.
Our final e-mail of the day had a news release attached:
Feel free to post this or make a comment on your blog.
Thanks, my friend.
"This" is the big announcement that Dee Armstrong will have her own afternoon talk show in the new year. WLTZ has to set a date for the actual.... well, you know.... the Dee-but.
(The new program was Dee-sclosed with a dinner at Buckhead Grill for "local media and advertisers." Sadly, our e-mail came after that dinner - so I guess I need to become a Facebook fan of WLTZ, if I want free food from them.)
Based on WLTZ's Dee-scription of its new show, it sounds like Dee Armstrong could be a new millennium version of "Rozelle" - only taped features will be included with local guests and interviews. If all else fails, they can roll up the gospel piano from "Rise-N-Shine" and let Armstrong for 20 minutes.
Some people are Dee-scussing the scheduled 2:00 p.m. ET time slot for The Dee Armstrong Show as if it's temporary. They suspect Armstrong will move to 5:00 p.m. once Oprah Winfrey concludes her farewell season. That's when WLTZ can move to Phase II, and bring in Dick McMichael to read news headlines.
There's still one e-mail left in the InBox, but we'll save it for Tuesday. Let's move on to other events from a time-changing weekend:
+ Columbus Police told WTVM someone knocked a hole in the wall of South Commons Package Store on Victory Drive, to steal several bottles of wine. I've heard of getting "punch-drunk," but this is ridiculous....
+ Columbus Police also reported a brawl broke out among several women at the Macon Road Waffle House, after one of them insisted on smoking a cigarette inside. If she really wants smoked chicken, she should eat at B. Merrill's.
+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported a fight broke out on the field, at the end of the Kendrick-Spencer high school football game. If Kendrick had shown that much fight over the past ten games, the team might have ended the season with more than one win.
+ The newspaper also announced its production department will be laid off in January. The Ledger-Enquirer presses will stop after more than 150 years - and if any of the press operators need some work, my computer printers have had glitches for years.
(First the Macon Telegraph moved daily printing to Columbus. Now the Ledger-Enquirer is moving its printing work to the Montgomery Advertiser. If this trend continues, the San Diego Union-Tribune might have to fly in daily editions from Hawaii.)
+ Double Churches Elementary School celebrated its 125th anniversary. Old-timers probably can remember when it was called Single Churches Elementary.
+ WRBL interrupted a late-running Sunday night CBS lineup, and showed the late news instead of "CSI: Miami." If Raquel Rodriguez had been the news anchor, I might not have missed Emily Proctor very much.
+ Albany State won the Fountain City Classic 12-7 over Fort Valley State. Then came the post-game show at the Columbus Civic Center with comedian Steve Harvey -- and I still haven't heard which college won the "Family Feud" game he undoubtedly put on.
(So did Steve Harvey stop at Chester's Barbecue for dinner while in Columbus? After all, Chester's won a "Hoodie Award" from Harvey's radio show a few years ago -- but Harvey might have worn a hoodie, to keep from being recognized by fans.)
+ Alabama and Louisiana State swapped places in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, in the wake of "Saban Bowl IV" on Saturday. Coach Nick Saban is now 2-2 against his old college - and you'll notice the rumors about Alabama playing a game in Arlington, Texas do NOT involve a meeting with Tommy Tuberville's Texas Tech.
+ Instant Message to First Baptist Church: Uh-huh. Exactly as I suspected. Sunday's message was called "What Giving Gave" because it was what I heard a pastor in Kansas call it years ago - the "Money Sermon." At least he warned the congregation it was coming, so members could choose to stay away.
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