Farewell to Farrah, Goodbye to Michael & Why We can’t Do Without Good Newspaper Reporters

I got back to the office in time for lunch and I flipped on the TV to provide background noise while I made some magic in the kitchen.  The big story on the cable networks: The death of Farrah Fawcett.  FF was one of those “one name” stars that everyone knew even though she used her first and last names (and later used three names when she was married to actor Lee Majors, who once played football for Eastern Kentucky University by the way).   I remember seeing the poster of FF in a bathing suit.  Actually it was difficult NOT to see the poster since it was hanging in just about every bedroom/dorm room of young men from L-A to New York.  And while many young men woke up to the sight of that toothy grin (if they ever looked that far up on the poster that is), many young women wanted the Farrah hair-do.  There were many imitators but no one that I ever encountered ever quite achieved that Farrah look.  Then, when Farrah appeared on “Charlie’s Angels”, I know I tuned in just because of the incredible plots.  Can you say “Jiggle TV”.  No, it had nothing with the jiggling of those three detectives in tight T-shirts!  Later FF went on to achieve honors for her acting but I never saw many of those shows.  I just know these last few years she battled cancer and eventually lost.  I saw a picture of her not too long ago and almost didn’t recognize her.  I choose to remember Farrah in all of youthful splendor with the wild mane of hair and that dazzling smile and I’m sure there are literally millions who will speak her name today and smile fondly of the memories her name evokes.  Moving on…

I had already posted this and was working in the office when I heard some music by Michael Jackson coming over the NPR station I was listening to.  I thought at first it was just the fact that he had been hospitalized as I had heard earlier.  Turns out they were reporting his death.  Wow.  I listened to the Jackson 5 growing up,  It was when Michael went out on his own that I really started listening to what he was cranking out.  I guess it was his “Off the Wall” album .   Then, just as MTV arrived, MJ became “Must See TV” with his music videos.  I think I wore out the “Thriller” album.   Then his “moonwalking” hit the TV and many of us were wondering how he could keep topping himself.  Sadly, he really couldn’t and then he just started getting bizarre.  As someone once pointed out, here was a talented kid who managed to transform himself into a middle aged white woman through plastic surgery and generally strange behavior.  I felt sorry for him and repulsed at the same time.  I hope MJ has finally found the peace that I think he so desparately craved for so long.  Moving on…

If there is ever a reason that newspapers should NOT go away, think Gina Smith.  Smith is the reporter who broke the story about the Governor of South Carolina who was not hiking the Appalachian trail but was instead strolling through the old Grand Tetons while down  in Argentina.  Actually what I find amazing is that any news organization would be interested in spending the manpower on  staking out TWO locations (the airport in Atlanta and in Columbia) to meet the governor.  I think it is safe to say that Gina Smith will have several job offers here very soon if she is not fielding them already.  She has what is missing in so many newsrooms these days…imagination, instincts and the support of managers who actually care about real news instead of what passes for news anymore.  A tip of the hat to Gina Smith.  You go girl.

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8 Comments on “Farewell to Farrah, Goodbye to Michael & Why We can’t Do Without Good Newspaper Reporters”

  1. Doug Johnson Says:

    The news about Farrah & Jacko is sad and unfortunate; whether death comes without warning or after a lingering illness, both were too young. In MJ’s case, we can only look forward for the story to devolve into tabloid-y reporting into “why” he died.

    I’m impressed that the governor of SC could make a political splash that is so dumb that it could make people think he’s a Memphis politician!

    You’re right to laud the reporter. I read that the newspaper drew the line at sending a photog to Atlanta, so she made do with her camera phone. Smart.

  2. Brad Says:

    I happened to hear Gina give the report from what I’m assuming was Atlanta on NPR radio. (I was traveling to or from Iuka, MS for work.) Her excitement was audible, but she was still professional. You could tell she knew that she had THE scoop.

  3. The GM Says:

    Hate to be cold water on lauding the “enterprising” reporter, but I am The GM.

    Columbia and Atlanta are about 200 miles apart (same distance as Memphis to Nashville). The newspaper had personal emails from the gov and his Argentine sweetie since December. The reality is staking out the airport in Atlanta was a day trip — not a tough decision for management. Now, if they were also in the Buenos Aires airport . . .

    Also remember, the newspaper had plenty of circumstantial evidence but couldn’t connect the dots until the Lt. Gov. started asking questions.

    On another subject, what will Memphis become without Mayor W.W. Herenton?

    The GM

  4. the tall tv guy Says:

    When I first heard the real story about the SC governor, I was surprised no one had seen him making these secret trips to the airport to catch an international flight. The reporter had a hunch based on the information and she was right. No one else was there to compete for the story.

    To answer the GM’s question on what Memphis will become without W.W.? Better. The Mayor bragged the other day about millions in the bank. What wasn’t mentioned was the crime, taxes, and broken city school system. People want to see the city government run better and more efficiently.

    The first two terms were ok. The last three have been terrible. We can do a lot better, but the voters must choose the right person.

    Many people have moved out of Memphis and Shelby County for the reasons mentioned above. What would get them back? If gas prices tripled or more and stayed there, we would be forced to live much closer to our work and couldn’t afford to commute anymore.

    Excuse the rant, my .02 worth…I’ll step off the soapbox now.

  5. The GM Says:

    Tall TV Guy,
    Memphis is my hometown. It used to be a hidden jewel. It is not today but it can be again. Memphis needs leadership; it needs a leader that will make decisions based on what is best for the whole. Not what is best for the mayor or a specific group but what is in the best interest of Memphis. I’m not sure anyone in a position to compete in the special election is that person. We’ll see.

    I currently live in a town that gets it. Things get done. Sure we have problems but the overwhelming high quality of life and can-do spirit that permeates this community has me exicited about our prospects for the next ten years. Memphis once had that opportunity. It is a shame the past 15 years have been wasted. I hope with all my heart that spirit will return to the City of Good Abode. I have too many friends, too much family and numerous positive memories there to avoid one of my favorite places.

    The GM

    • Sammy Says:

      What Memphis needs is for its people to make an intelligent decision NOT based on race. That is why Memphis has been messed up for so long.

      The people of Memphis are mostly black and therefore vote for anyone black who runs for office.

      The person who makes it to the top spot at city hall should be worthy of the seat, not just the right color.

  6. the tall tv guy Says:

    Mr. GM:
    Your reply was very well done. Many years ago, I lived in a smaller, progressive city. After living there a while then transferred away, quite a few would choose to come back there to retire.

    Did you happen to see Geoff Calkins’ column on this issue? Here’s the link:


    While there have been neglected, decaying areas of the city for years (President’s Island, Crump and S. Third area) more office and store space are empty in Midtown and other areas. I hope this will change in the future.

    Thanks again on your comments and insights.

    • The GM Says:

      Tall TV Guy,
      Hopefully Memphis will see the light and elect a leader for all the people. Regardless, change will not happen over night. My hope is Memphis finds someone with vision; who is a servant leader; who can make this great city believe in itself again. Having gone to school in east TN and lived in other cities east of the Tennessee River I cringe every time a non-Memphian/Tennessean harps on one of my hometown’s many faults. Just because someone recievies the majority of votes, it does not make them a leader. The leader Memphis needs will speak the truth. It is time to knock the collective chip off the city’s shoulder and move into the 21st Century. My goodness, the Civil War has been fought, Dr. King’s vision has prevailed and we have an African-American President. It is time to vote for the best person.

      The GM

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