Thursday, May 28, 2009

Commemorating our Crazy Aunt

Recently I was working on a story about what Williamsburg was doing for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a project to which the state will devote considerable resources in hopes of driving tourism.

The answer to that question was, “Not much.” As far as Civil War history goes, Williamsburg doesn’t have all that much, certainly when compared to Richmond or Northern Virginia or the Shenandoah Valley.

But, while working on the piece, I began to wonder why we’re commemorating the War Between the States, as it was called when I learned Virginia history in junior high school, at all.

After all, short of conquest and occupation by a foreign power, isn’t a civil war pretty much the worst, most tragic thing that a nation can experience?

Does Spain celebrate its civil war? Does England?

And I expect that the area that will celebrate the most will the South. Which lost. And deserved to lose because it was on the wrong side of history, morality and the law. Thank goodness it lost. What a horrible place to live this would be had it not.

So to Germany and Japan, which like the Confederacy, deserved to lose and did, celebrate their role in World War II?

I expect the 150th festivities to be confined to the South because, in my experience, people in the rest of the country couldn’t care less about the Civil War. They’re over it.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

When the weird turn pro

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

_ Hunter Thompson

As an avid blog reader, I guess I’m about to lose my amateur status.

Welcome to the first installment of what I hope will be an ongoing conversation about Williamsburg, Virginia, politics and anything else that catches my, or your, interest.

Let me introduce myself.

I currently cover tourism, city government (sometimes it’s a little hard to tell where one of those stops and the other begins), state politics and government and various other topics (I’ve learned more about archeology over the last three years than I ever thought I’d know) for the Virginia Gazette, the semi-weekly community newspaper of Williamsburg, James City County and York County.

I’m a native Virginian, born and mostly bred here. My Dad was in the Air Force when I was child, so I also lived in Maine (which I was too young to remember), Texas and Montana. My Dad was a radar operator, so we got sent to all the scenic edges of the U.S.

I did my time in the Air Force as well, living in Texas, Mississippi and Germany.

After the Air Force, I went to VCU, majoring in political science.

I still live in Richmond, in a 100-year old house on one of the less fashionable streets in Church Hill.

I’m on my second (and last) marriage and I have two children, an 18-year-old daughter who just finished her freshman year of college and a 15-month-old son.

After college I went to work at the Lynchburg News & Advance, first on the night-copy desk, later as a reporter. I covered beats including Appomattox County, business, cops and courts and, for most of my tenure there, state politics and government.

Full disclosure: After leaving the News & Advance I went to work in Democratic politics. First as a consultant and campaign manager, then as a member of the Democratic Caucus Staff, then as a member of the party staff.

I didn’t go into politics because I particularly enjoyed the give and take of the political process. Some people do. I got involved in politics because I was interested in public policy. I saw it as a route to having an impact on statewide policy. That didn’t happen, largely because I worked on a lot of losing campaigns.

I don’t think I was mean enough for partisan politics. I was mean enough to deal with Republicans – in fact I often wanted to be meaner than my employers allowed me to be – but I wasn’t mean enough o deal with the machinations of fellow Democrats.

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