A Saturday mishmash

Something I wrote, and photographs I took, last spring made it on to the Smithsonian Magazine’s website.

It has some formatting problems that weren’t there in my submission or the version they returned to double check. No matter. There’s a better, longer version, published here, but, still, Smithsonian.

This is hardly the biggest thing in the world or even the best publication news I’ve had in the last month. But I get to say I’m published on the Smithsonian’s site.


Back in the old days — and I mean about 1996, which is in no way old, or far enough removed to suggest they are the old days — I perfected my dry sarcasm and speed typing on a chatroom site that doesn’t seem to exist anymore. As we have learned is the norm, a bigger company bought the little company. They made changes, ruined the aesthetic and people left. Some of those people stuck together on ICQ. My ICQ number, which I can’t grab at just this moment, was shockingly low. But the friends stuck together, from Maryland and out west and the Deep South and somewhere in London and in Australia.

One by one they all sort of fell away. Life demanded them. They grew bored. They lost their password or their Internet connection. And finally that group was down to just two people. So there was me and this Australian lady. We’d talked for a couple of years by then. Carol was friendly, and liked folk music and all manner of interesting decorative styles. She worked in the government in Canberra and had a big burly husband who sounded hysterical.

We even talked on the phone a few times. We discussed the virtues of the Australian accent in the United States and my accent, which she found charming, in Australia. I was well underway in my broadcast career by then and thinking a lot about sound. Carol figured I could do very well in Australia. I hatched the sort of plan that you never even try to implement — summer in Australia wooing girls with my southern accent and then running from the winter there to have summer at home in the States, wooing girls with a blended Aussie, Southern accent.

She was my mother’s age, almost. So I jokingly called her my Internet mom. Or, mum, being Australian and all. Her parents were English, but she was raised in Australia, so she had a terrific mixture of both sense of humor. She was a sweet lady.

And yesterday she found me on Twitter.

“You remember me!” she said.

It was the biggest, dumbest smile of the day, lasting into the afternoon.

Saw that this is closing.


Sent the picture to The War Eagle Reader. They made a few calls and turned it into a story.

I have claimed DIBS! on the neon sign out front. You. Can’t. Have. It.

Legendary Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan told me his Heart of Auburn story last year:

Sullivan looks at his career through those relationships he’s cultivated along the way. His Heisman Trophy experience was no different.

Back in those days the announcement came as a halftime feature during the Georgia-Georgia Tech game. Instead of being on the front row in New York, Sullivan was in Auburn.

“We were actually at practice that day because we had Alabama on Saturday. My parents had come down to hear the announcement … Our TV went on the blink so we had to go rent a room at the Heart of Auburn. We watched it on TV just like everybody else,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan, perhaps the last Heisman Trophy winner to stay at the Heart of Auburn, says his room number has been lost to history. There are plenty of clear memories from the night, though.

“After the announcement we went back over to (Beard-Eaves-Memorial) Coliseum and all my teammates, coaches and their families, (Auburn President Dr. Harry) Philpot and Coach Jeff Beard (then the Auburn athletic director) were all there and I was able to share that with them. That was something that I’ll never forget because I know I didn’t win it by myself, they were a part of it.”

Remember, I’m claiming the neon sign out front.

Links: Iranian news agency uses The Onion. And that says pretty much everything about the gulf between two cultures.

Hints that water once flowed on Mars. In every previous instance of water in human history scientists have found life. Does that project out to Mars?

Sadly, Birmingham News staffers depart as paper ceases daily publication. On Monday the new company, Alabama Media Group opens for business. I have friends and colleagues at both. There are plenty of talented and caring people involved. I project, after a slow start, big things.

Presidential ad spending soars past $700 million means I’m glad I don’t live in a battleground state.

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