We have returned….well….one of us has….but never fear….I’ll get him…

This site has been in hibernation since 2012 but I’ve recently started badgering Stevens about taking it up again. He’s a bit grumpy so it may take me a while but I’ll get him back in here. Scout’s honor.

We even won a “best blogger” award from a local newspaper for what’s contained herein. What is contained herein anyway? Well, everything from a paean to old-fashioned wind-up wrist-watches to an obit for the great Levon Helm.

Guess which one was mine and which one was his?

He’s an old-schooler…..that Stevens. A show-and-teller on the back roads with a flip-top note pad and chewed up pencil in his shirt pocket….a pencil that he sharpens by whittling the nub with a pocket-knife. The way US Grant used to in 1864.

The man is a genuine throwback. A demon reporter who once told me that in over 50 years he might have editorialized once. In print that is. Or on TV, where he’s a bit of a local star (thanks to that voice….it drips like honey down the spine of a tree….the old ladies love him). When we meet in person he editorializes the hell out of just about everything I say or do….so it’s not like he doesn’t have opinions. It’s just that in his day newsmen reported the news. They didn’t interject themselves into it.

His idea of “working” is to get in his car and drive aimlessly, preferably on back-roads that lead to places he’s never heard of. Nothing excites him more than finding non-famous people doing things that non-famous people never get famous for doing. I’ve never met a man more repulsed by popular culture. This makes him either endlessly fascinating or an unbearable curmudgeon. I’ll let you decide. But I knew where I fall….even if the line is easy to straddle at times.

Oh, and he’s gotten paid for doing this sort of whistling and wandering in an “office” filled with blue lakes and green grass and exploding fall leaves. Since I was a little kid he’s gotten away with this dodge.

In short, he’s got the greatest job in the history of the world. A job that he’s been officially retired from, by the way, for at least 5 years. I’m not sure how or why he still works full time at the same job he retired from, but I hope I have the same problem when I’m his age. Which won’t be for a looooong time.

My father was a newsman cut from the same cloth as Stevens. They were professional friends. Respected the hell out of each other. When my Dad passed away in 2010 Stevens was the first person to call me. I’ll never forget that.

He knew I was some sort of writer. Plays. Songs. Stuff like that. He appreciated the lineage. He could see what I learned (and what I didn’t learn) from the old man. He coached me some. Imparted wisdom. I pretended not to listen. He pretended not to notice.

I learned that in searching for something you’ve already built up, fully formed, in your head, you’ll frequently miss the ever changing scenery along the way…..which very well might be the story worth telling.

In short, the smaller the story, the more interesting the people. If the story was “big”, it meant everybody else was covering it too. Stevens wanted no part of these.

I kept goading him to take positions in his pieces. Call out the bad guys. He didn’t just pretend not to listen. He really didn’t listen. Because he’s smarter than me, and just about everybody else around here who makes his or her living with words. And he never talks down to his audience. He says….”here it is”….and that’s that. On to the next story. He points his beat up used car with about 1 million miles on it down the next dirt road and searches for the next frighteningly ordinary folk he can find.

So yea, we’re friends even when we don’t agree on anything.

That’s friendship for you.

There is no writer I enjoy reading more.

So never fear. I’ll get him back in here.

He won’t be able to stay away.

He’ll read this and say….”boy….that’s not how you do it!”

And then he’ll show me.

And you.

In a bit…

–Tom Flannery

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~ by admin on April 22, 2015.

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