Friday, November 26, 2010

26 NOV 10: Burning Without and Within

So how was your Thanksgiving? It could have been a disastrous holiday for one Columbus chef. He almost missed a project he had been working on for weeks - and it was NOT because key ingredients were locked up, because The Fresh Market was closed.

Jamie Gruber is becoming known in Columbus for his Thanksgiving Day effort to help needy people. A crew largely consisting of volunteers delivered about 1,000 free meals around the city Thursday. In fact, so many groups delivered free meals that I suspect some people are set through next Monday....

But after weeks of preparation, Jamie Gruber almost wasn't around to see Thursday's deliveries. That's because the executive chef at The Market on First Avenue received serious burns Wednesday, when something in an oven exploded. The next time you order blackened seafood at a restaurant, remember -- it could affect someone's health insurance rates.

Jamie Gruber says he spent six hours in the emergency room Wednesday being treated for first, second and third-degree burns. After other chefs read this news, Gruber might have to spend the next six weeks enduring flambé jokes.

What would you do on a holiday, after spending six hours in the emergency room? Jamie Gruber says he didn't want to stay away from his Thanksgiving Day project. He was at The Market Thursday morning with a bandage on his right arm that almost reached his elbow. He didn't even use one of those "Ove' Gloves" to disguise it.

(It reminds me of something my longtime pastor said to a singles Bible study years ago about Kentucky Fried Chicken. "Colonel Sanders wouldn't let himself be licked.")

The desire to give back to the community drove Jamie Gruber to start his Thanksgiving Day giveaway in the first place. Two years ago, he fed about 260 people. This year, some military veterans were added to the meal list -- as if the American Legion hall only serves beer and soda during football games.

The staff of The Market made an open appeal for volunteers last week, so I went to the restaurant Thursday morning to help. I was directed to a table with several radio personalities. Someday I'll figure out what makes me such a celebrity magnet....

PMB Broadcasting personalities such as Ed Bostic, Al Haynes and Terry T. helped pack foil pans with food and deliver them to needy people. I didn't see Bear O'Brian there -- which leads me to guess the food didn't come from Piggly Wiggly.

Volunteers were directed down two food lines, to have Thanksgiving food pans filled. At the end of one line stood Teresa Tomlinson -- and no, she did NOT wear a campaign button or shirt. But if your pan didn't have a large enough slice of turkey, you now know which candidate to support in next week's mayoral runoff.

(If Zeph Baker was involved in some kind of Thanksgiving Day service project, no one told me about it. Of course, the holiday is a perfect time to catch up on your campaign paperwork....)

Almost all the food deliveries were on their way within 90 minutes of the starting time. As far as I know, the workers did NOT receive their own pans of food to take home. I think the plan was to take extra food to The Salvation Army - although The Market might have a few surprising lunch-hour bargains today.

Jamie Gruber's effort was one of several across Columbus to provide Thanksgiving Day meals to needy people. So imagine my surprise to drive across Manchester Expressway at mid-afternoon, and find a man with a shopping cart and a sign in the center traffic island. Didn't he know about the free food at shelters? Or is one of the few people with no headaches about preparing leftovers?

-> We've turned around a recent slump at Columbus-area poker tournaments. Read about it at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BIG PREDICTION: Instead of telling you what I think about the big college football games this weekend, I've turned again to my next-door neighbor. His predictions are spontaneous and unrehearsed -- but remember, his preferences in the midterm election only went one-for-three. And anyone who took his 20-dollar bet on the Georgia-Auburn game would have enjoyed some nice wine with Thanksgiving dinner.

Iron Bowl Friday has Auburn putting its undefeated record on the line at Alabama. I could point out today is also the National Day of Listening - but I doubt any football fans in that state really will.

(So what would be more appropriate for Alabama fans to throw at Auburn quarterback Cam Newton? Fig Newton bars - or packs of phony 100-dollar bills?)

The second big game is Saturday night, with Georgia Tech visiting Georgia. Apparently the Bulldogs still can qualify for a bowl game, by beating the Yellowjackets. I thought a win over Idaho State didn't count - but maybe that was part of a secret deal to add Boise State to next year's schedule.

If Georgia tops Tech, both universities will end the year with 6-6 records. Since Georgia State ended the year at 6-5, could Coach Bill Curry claim to have the state's new football powerhouse?

Now let's see what else had our attention on Thanksgiving 2010....

+ Outgoing Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington told WTVM he has "no regrets" about his four years in office. A few civil rights activists have only five weeks left, in their attempt to give him some.

+ The Southern Poverty Law Center warned it may sue the city of Birmingham next week. The organization claims students are punished with pepper spray, even if all they do is talk excessively. Uh-oh - I fear this news will give some husbands the wrong idea for year-end gift shopping.

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths busted Augusta 4-1. A hockey game on Thanksgiving Night means only one thing - turkey bowling season on ice officially is underway.

+ Georgia lost its first men's college basketball game of the season. Notre Dame downed the Bulldogs 89-83 in double overtime at the "Old Spice Classic" near Orlando. If Old Spice is sponsoring this, one team ought to follow the example of that sexy spokesman and play without shirts.

+ Instant Message to Pastor Jamie Sanks of The House of God on Flat Rock Road: First of all, having a TV set in that 20-foot-high shed seems like cheating to me. Secondly, climbing a pole for charity has been the official gimmick of MyChurch for a couple of years.

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