I got them mean ol’ worried man blues

by Ogi Overman

Back when I could still shag, smoke and drink Budweiser by the truckload (all at the same time), the Tams did a song titled ‘“Do I Worry?’” At the end of the stanza, Joe Pope answered his own question, crooning, ‘“You know doggone well that I do.’”

Ah, if life could be that good again, when my worries consisted primarily of whether this little sophomore hottie I had my eye on was ever going to return my affections, whether Bill Griffin was going to let me sneak in on a Sunday afternoon to see the aforementioned Tams or whether I was going to manage to cram enough study time in between parties to maintain that sterling C average.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started worrying about things. Probably it was a gradual process, with looming old age having something to do with it. These days I seem to be consumed with various worries, punctuated by glimpses of serenity and moments of acceptance.

For a moment, let me try to put my big-picture worries ‘— Bush, Iraq, Supreme Court, Bush, environment, deficit, Katrina, Bush, China, jobs, global warming, gas prices, Bush (did I say that already?) ‘— and my personal problems ‘— Janet’s health, broken air conditioner, car leaking oil, bills, etc. ‘— aside and concentrate on a couple of nagging local issues that just won’t go away.

First, what are we going to do when the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro ceases to exist after next year? Oh, I know, it’s not a done deal yet, but if you can’t see the handwriting on the wall you either can’t read or don’t have any walls. This tourney has been a huge part of this area’s charm forever, and I can hardly bear the thought of its being relegated to memory. If there were something we could do to save it, no doubt we would. But the sad fact is that it is completely out of our control. Unless I’m missing something, there is not one bargaining chip that Mark Brazil or the Jaycees or Jim Melvin or the local governmental bodies or even the Chrysler Corporation holds that can have more than minimal influence on the decision. The PGA and TV networks hold all the cards and Greensboro has drawn a pair of deuces. The only hope we have would be for Tiger Woods to put Forest Oaks on his annual itinerary, and, for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here, that ain’t gonna happen.

So, what’s out there that can somehow replace the golf tourney? Let’s get way out of the box here and come up with some kind of event that is not dependant on someone else’s whims, something we, rather than external forces, control. We need an event, series of events, or drawing card that is solely dependent on our own creativity, hard work, organizational skills, ingenuity and pocketbooks. Something that the whole community would get behind and assume an ownership stake in. We need something that sets us apart, that people around the world identify with this community, that puts us on the global map. I’m thinking along the magnitude of Mardi Gras, Oktoberfest, Epcot, Super Bowl, World’s Fair, Pamplona, etc. We’re talkin’ huge.

More on that momentarily because, Houston, we have a bigger problem than losing a golf tournament. Brothers and sisters, we are in grave danger of losing the Furniture Market, and if that happens the local and regional economy is going to be devastated. Last week one of the furniture CEOs aptly summed up the situation with the ‘“Rome is burning’” analogy, and unless somebody creates a sense of urgency soon, Vegas will have stolen the remainder of the business they don’t already have.

The High Point City Council is debating spending $1 million to improve the market, which is no more than a drop in the bucket. To compete with Vegas we need 10 times that just to get the ball rolling. This crisis demands regional cooperation, big bucks and, again, innovative thinking.

High Point needs to take a cue from Action Greensboro and get the foundations on board (wouldn’t some of the late Randall Terry’s money have come in handy here?), appoint a Melvin-esque figure to twist some arms and rattle the corporate bushes, and throw every available resource at saving the Market.

Even then, it may be a problem that money can’t fix. We may already be reduced to begging for crumbs, to finding a niche market within the furniture industry, and to cutting our losses.

Now, I have a few thoughts on both these worrisome topics, but I’d love to get your input on them before I reveal my ideas. E-mail me at the address below, no matter how cockamamie your plan might appear. The zanier the better.

Let’s allow worry to become the motivator that impels us to grab the reins and control our destiny.

Ogi can be reached at ogi@yesweekly and heard each Tuesday from 9:30 to 10 a.m. on WGOS 1070 AM.