It seemed just a little surreal. Standing in Pullman Hall, an old Augusta railroad warehouse converted to a banquet hall, hundreds of folks listened to karaoke-like music and stood in line to get books signed.
The books were written by Phil Kent, the former editorial page editor of The Augusta Chronicle. As one of the folks invited for the hometown reception, I felt a little strange getting a book signed by a guy I used to work with - one who since has moved on to what can only be described as a bigger version of his element.
Ive never written much about my 7 1/2 years as a writer in The Chronicles editorial department. Most readers probably arent interested in resume recitations. But its kinda neat to know that a former colleague has accomplished what is supposed to be a long-term goal of any writer: to publish a book.
Any book I would write would be much different from one by Kent. (My current working idea, for example, is a religious study.) The Dark Side of Liberalism is red meat: easy-to-digest nuggets that whet the appetites of rabid followers, while turning the stomachs of the ideological opposition.
Although I learned an awful lot - and a lot of awful stuff - from Kent about how to write sharply worded opinions that foment public dialogue, Ive never been inclined to put on the my-way-or-the-highway blinders such writing necessarily requires.
But I havent written a book, either. So on at least this scorecard, Phil is one ahead.
The Dark Side will spark some conversations, but it mostly preaches to a very conservative choir. Right-wingers will eat it up, and few of the liberals it smacks around will read it - yet theyll profess to hate it anyway.
Me? Ive just started reading the second chapter. So far the book hasnt bowled me over, but Im proud of my former boss for getting it in print - and jealous because my name isnt on a cover.
Loss & absence
on Fathers Day
Today is Fathers Day. As the father of three daughters, I know its a great holiday. And as a racing fan, its nice to know NASCAR holds a race today, unlike Mothers Day when it the circuit keeps an open spot on its schedule.
But on what is otherwise a generally happy occasion, its sad to note the recent passing of a man who, like me, was the father of three daughters.
John Buddy Palmer of Clearwater died just over a week ago after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. His preacher said he was tired and ready to go, but that doesnt make it any easier for his three girls.
One of those daughters is Pam Tucker, Columbia Countys Emer-gency Services director. Watch-ing her dad decline through his long illness has been tough, and letting him go just before Fathers Day is hard, too. God bless you, Pam.
Another little girl misses her dad, too - but fortunately hes very much alive. Little Maggie Christ-ine of Evans turned 4 recently, and the family saved a piece of birthday cake in the freezer for Maggies father, Capt. Bobby Christine.
Christine is Columbia Countys assistant district attorney, and is stationed in Iraq with his National Guard unit. He hopes to be home to have that cake this summer - and Maggie and her brother, sister and mom hope so, too.
Remember: Capt. Christ-ine and his fellow soldiers are suffering in the desert heat so us stateside dads can safely prop up in front of the TV and watch an auto race on Fathers Day, or otherwise happily squander the freedom our troops work to protect.
To him and all our dads in arms, happy Fathers Day. Come home safely.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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