Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The invisible city, and the visible journalism artifacts on my desk

I've written my farewell column for the Charlotte Observer, "My not-so-secret addition to news" and I'm packing up artifacts from a lengthy career in newspapers (the recycled paper bin is overflowing). But in a nostalgic way I'm enjoying finding some quotations and other snippets that remind me of why the job matters – or that make me chuckle.

For instance, I've always loved this quotation from Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities," sent to me courtesy of artist Linda Luise Brown:
"The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls."

This inspirational quote from artist Georgia O'Keefe:
“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven't time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.”

That quote lived on my cubicle wall for years, next to photographer Nancy Pierce's snapshot of roadkill (possum) she came across that – I am not making this up – had been painted with a double-yellow stripe by some not-so-observant road crews.

I found my notes from an Oct. 15, 2003, editorial board interview with then-candidate Kaye McGarry, who was running for an at-large seat on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board.  Someone (notes aren't clear) asked which of the sitting school board members she'd emulate if sh were elected.  McGarry answered: Molly Griffin and Lee Kindberg.

If you follow the school board you will understand that regardless of how you feel about her school board service, McGarry has not in any way resembled Molly Griffin or Lee Kindberg.

Of course, amid the very nice notes we all occasionally get from readers, you sometimes get emails like this one to me (from 2006): 
"let me say first and foremost that you are the signpost for stupidity...i can go further you ignorant slut.."  And the writer did, including phrases like .... "by the way i pray daily that williams [former Editorial Page Editor Ed Williams] will be called to a higher calling somewhere other than charlotte ....."

I found an old headline from The State in Columbia -
Death Toll 3.5 Million
In Fire At Cricket Farm

And, from the Testy Copy Editors website, this poem.:

Roving bands of youths
limped into port
after an intensive manhunt
by a disgruntled postal employee
in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood
of modest red-brick single-family homes
off tree-lined streets
in a shallow grave
in a densely wooded area
and were rushed to the hospital
in a firestorm of protest
by the Texas billionaire
and the slain civil rights leader
and the financially ailing tabloid.
In the hushed courtroom
the defendant showed no emotion
at the all-important loss column.

After Friday, I'll still be blogging but at a new site:   It's still under construction but should be operational by early next week.  See you at the new site.   


Anonymous said...

"If you follow the school board you will understand that regardless of how you feel about her school board service, McGarry has not in any way resembled Molly Griffin or Lee Kindberg."

Thank goodness! We couldn't take much more of Molly Griffin!

Wiley Coyote said...

Thank GOD McGarry was never like Molly Griffin, another status quo, entitlement pusher.

Anonymous said...

We'll miss you, Mary! Good luck in your next endeavor.

Adrian DeVore said...

Enjoyed your column. Best wishes.