SURELY THE strangest thing that happened around here last week came when two national figures Jane Fishman mentioned in her column responded within hours of the piece appearing online.
In “A surge into escalating stupidity,” Jane called out Margaret Gallagher and Jeff Gannon. The former is a journalist accused of taking payola from the Bush administration to disseminate propaganda under the guise of straight news.
The latter, Mr. Gannon, is a one-time gay male escort who, inexplicably, was credentialed to cover White House press conferences (and who also gained entry numerous times into the White House itself, according to the White House log, which is a public record). Hmmm.
Anyway, the same day the story went live online Jane e-mailed me both their responses. Gannon’s was dated 4:24 p.m. Jan. 10 and Gallagher’s was dated 7:39 p.m. Jan. 10. You can read both responses in our Feedback section to the right.
In forwarding Gannon’s comment to me, Jane’s e-mailed thought was: “Jim, thought you mind find this interesting in a weird kind of way.”
And I certainly did. But Jane and I got even more creeped out when Gallagher’s reaction came just a few hours later, at which point Jane wrote:
“....and then there’s this! What’s going on? They’ve hired some mighty vigilant press clip readers and responders!”
Six degrees of separation, indeed.
I want to call your attention to a few other highlights in the paper this week, beginning with the kickoff on page 13 of our annual Savannah Music Festival coverage, featuring Jim Reed’s interview with the delightful Jackie Rabinowitz, chairperson of the upcoming No-Tie Gala.
Jackie, who also serves on the Telfair board of directors as well as the Music Festival board, is one of a largely unsung group of people who deserve a hearty thanks from the community (and a hearty thanks to Jackie herself, who was a great sport about posing for our photos).
These dedicated arts patrons -- many of whom came to Savannah from other parts of the country -- are literally indispensable to the current healthy state of the arts in the area, as anyone who runs a local arts organization will attest.
They are affluent, yes. But they give a lot of that affluence back to the community by supporting local cultural organizations whose work we all can enjoy.
The other part of that equation, of course, is the fact that we have a progressive city government committed to adequately funding the arts and overseeing those expenditures to make sure your tax dollars are spent well.
This synergy of private and public investment is absolutely key to continuing Savannah’s track record of excellence in the arts -- and this cooperation is by no means a given if you take a look at other cities around the country.
Further proof of this synergy of private/public funding is the Telfair’s Art & Technology Week beginning Tuesday in the fitting locale of the modernist Jepson Center. Most of our coverage of this event, which is made possible largely through a city grant, will take place in our next issue. But we start the coverage this week with Linda Sickler’s overview of the event on page 23, focusing on Tuesday’s performance by Bubblyfish.
Best of all -- every part of Art & Tech Week is free.
Speaking of events, free or otherwise, I just got off the phone with Chris Miller about the upcoming Un-conference ‘07 blogging get-together Jan. 25-27, in which I’m a participant (more info at blogsavannah.com/).
During the course of our conversation Chris remarked, “I’m really tired of people saying there’s nothing to do in Savannah.”
Me too, Chris. Me too.
One can argue the particulars of Savannah’s cultural calendar all day, i.e., the types, costs and timing of the events. But no one can make the case that there aren’t enough events here. The only challenge is in finding the time to attend them.
One particularly cool under-the-radar type event happens this Tuesday. The Energy at the Crossroads Tour hits town with a message of awareness about alternative fuels. The day begins with a morning press conference followed by an evening forum at 7 p.m. at The Sentient Bean.
Organizer Mary Olson tells me:
“The forum will be a mixture of humor, information and discussion time -- sort of a town hall meeting where we can talk about our energy future,” she says.
“Big investments are being made by energy corporations, but it’s still possible to engage people in this discussion, and we want to get that word out to Savannah.”
Consider it done, Mary!
Note about this week’s cover: Sadly I’m not a Spanish speaker. Not learning that beautiful and increasingly more practical language is one of the few regrets of my life.
As the subhead indicates, our cover headline means “a better life.” Or at least that’s what babelfish.altavista.com says.
If we got it wrong, Spanish-speaking readers can correct us at:
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"And you deserve better."
Thanks, Jim, for my new campaign slogan.