An old friend inspires new beginnings

by Brian Clarey

I have this friend, a guy I met in college who I still talk to all the time and who drives me absolutely nuts.

I’ve known him for a while, watched him grow from a teenager who combined ignorance and arrogance in proportions I’ve never seen duplicated into a successful career man and husband.

He’s still ignorant, even for a Manhattanite, though he’s better at sounding smart now because he reads.

And in one fundamental way he has never changed in all the time I’ve known him ‘— 18 years, if you can believe it.

And the one way he’s remained the same is this: He’s a buzzkill.

He’s always been the guy who wants to tell you why everything you think is wrong. He’ll gleefully tell you why you got ripped off when you bought your house or car, why all your grand plans are doomed to fail, why your favorite band actually sucks.

Like I say, he drives me absolutely freakin’ nuts ‘— always has ‘— but I like him anyway.

And every year, right after the Fourth of July, sometimes before even the last firework has fizzled and the final frankfurter is pulled from the grill and fed to the dog, he says this one thing:

‘“That’s it. Summer’s over.’”

I sincerely believe he enjoys it when people’s faces fall.

He’s right, in a way’… he works for a television show that’s been on the air for like 15 years, so every summer he, along with most of the cast and crew, go on summer hiatus.

Which is messed up: pretty much every prime time show goes on summer hiatus, during which time nearly everyone on the payroll collects unemployment and tries to hustle some freelance work. It is in this way that the New York State welfare system subsidizes the television industry, something which I’d be pretty hot about were I still a taxpayer up there, but I’m a self-interest guy, so what the hell do I care?

Anyway, for my cynical friend and many, many others summer really is over just after the Fourth because that’s right about when they go back to work so they can give us yahoos in flyover land those quality TV programs we’ve come to rely on by the time our sprawling broods go back to their government schools.

But down here in the real world summer is just starting to get hot and heavy. Most of us are still recharging our batteries for fall, watching our lawns turn brown and wishing we had a boat. Or, better yet, a friend with a boat.

In many ways Greensboro is still a college town, and in the summer we stew in our own sweat while we wait for the annual influx of students who give this town a lot of its energy, verve and style.

But this summer at YES! Weekly is anything but downtime. We’re making some moves, picking up the pace, shaping the paper in ways big and small as we head into the last half of our second year.

For starters, we’ve made some changes in the Voices section that we feel beef up the level of discourse.

We snapped up Molly Ivins a couple of months ago when the News & Record cut her from their editorial pages ‘— Molly’s a tough old Texas gal whose wit and manner have impressed us for years, and we feel she brings a bit more substance than the guy she replaced: Andy Borowitz, who was sort of funny in an outrageous way.

We’ve also added a column by Kirk Ross called ‘“Exile on Jones Street.’” The column attempts to corral the comings and goings in the always interesting and sometimes absurd world of NC state politics into one tight piece.

Ross, an alt-weekly brother from way back, is the former managing editor for the Triangle’s Independent Weekly and we’re honored to have him.

And as for our friend Ms. Coulter’… well, the jury’s still out on that one. Whether you love her or hate her, remember to vote at Her fate hangs in our readers’ hands.

In the last couple months we’ve also acknowledged that many of our readers pick up our paper because they’re simply looking for something to do. The days when people can say, ‘“there’s nothing going on around here’” are long gone, and to that end we’re devoting some pages to make sure everybody who wants has something to do.

We’ve blown out our entertainment guide, making it more comprehensive and easier to use ‘— it’s in the center spread of the paper so you can ‘“pull it out and play with it,’” as the slogan goes ‘— and added Be There!, a short list of events going on in the Triad every night of the week. Check it out on page 5.

Of course, grand plans like these are exactly the kind of thing that my New York friend likes to piss all over. But I stopped taking him seriously years ago.

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