Fishman: Hey, hey, Paulas 

I’m going out on a limb here. I’m not the sharpest blade in the drawer when it comes to making social predictions. By this time I thought we would all be driving smaller cars, living reduced life styles, taking care of one another. Silly me.

(Although  at least one friend of mine claims I was the first to trendspot the cupcake craze; cupcake shops, she now sees, are popping up on every street corner. One woman I know is eschewing the traditional wedding cake for... individual cupcakes).

But if most things come in threes - and I believe they do, starting with that most famous of triumvirates in this upcoming Christian holiday - I’m waiting for the Next Great Paula to hit Savannah.

Will the Lowcountry’s latest Paula please step forth! We need to fill the third spot. With the popularity wave Savannah is riding, finding and anointing the Third Paula could be the country’s next great reality show.

I’m only serious. Any takers? Who out there dares to take her rightful place on the dais next to none other than Paula Wallace and Paula Deen, the two hardest working denizens of Savannah’s Paula-dom.

I’m not about to say who among our two Paulas is No. 1 or No. 2. I’ll let them duke it out. (And I’ll let the ubiquitous Savannah College of Art and Design box office sell the tickets. They seem to sell tickets to everything around town, including church fundraisers). But at this point I’d have to say it’s neck and neck.

Though to be fair Paula Wallace did get there first when she and her then husband Richard Rowan, who is now way out of the picture (Richard who?),  and Paula’s parents, Paul Poetter and May Poetter, had a vision, took it to the historic district and in1978  started the Savannah College of Art and Design.

But a decade later, nearly to the day and month,  later we have the early stirrings of another Paula,  the now indomitable, invincible and seemingly unconquerable Paula Deen, cook, restauranteur, writer, tv personality and all-around ambassador for Savannah and the good life.

Every time an article appears on Paula Deen, which is frequent, I get a call and at least one copy of the article in the mail. Last month it was,  “Did you see the cover feature story about Paula Deen in the New York Times? The one where she uses Saltines, mayonnaise, cream of mushroom soup and, oh yeah, butter, lots of butter?”

My latest favorite gift with Savannah as the theme is Paula’s book.

Even in the dentist’s office, where a flat-screened TV meets my eyes as I lay back in the chair for more torture, I see Paula Deen. Last time it was the staff Christmas party where she gave her husband a trip to Paris.

For years, when I would tell people I was from Savannah, the first comment out of their mouths would be about SCAD. How someone spoke at their school or sent their high school age child information about SCAD and then kept sending them information about SCAD. Or how their niece or nephew goes to SCAD and that’s how they visited the town and what a great time they had and how lucky I was to live here.

Whatever else you can say about the school, how large it has become, how quickly the graduates are able to get a job, how brilliant it was to make historic preservation an early major, what incredible people it gets to speak at graduation, how the art school has transformed the real estate market  and revived and breathed new life into the old buildings (most, at least) in historic Savannah, I’m here to tell you the school has got the marketing thing down. Jesus, Joseph and Mary - oops, that threesome again - have they got the marketing thing down.

We will too once we complete the Paula triumvirate. We got the school part covered. And the food angle. Now we should get on the band wagon and go for the celebrity.

We need to find a Third Paula who can swing with the times, come with a good idea and be able to spread the magic of Savannah. I’m open to suggestions but after much thought I’ve come up with my nomination: Paula Abdul.

Not unlike Paulas No. 1, this Paula, a consummate marketer, has her finger on the pulse. From her start as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers to her stint as a choreographer just when MTV hit its stride to a No. 1 album in the late ‘80s to a dance video to becoming a spokesman for eating disorders, which she experienced and overcame, to  - ta da! - a seat as a judge on the mightiest reality show of all,  American Idol.

And she’s Jewish. No, really. Not like Sammy Davis Jr., was Jewish, but Jewish Jewish. At least that’s what Wikipedia, our quick and easy source for all things in question, says. Although  she is commonly mistaken as being part-black and bears an Arabic-sounding surname,  Abdul is Jewish and of Sephardic and Ashkenazi descent.

Now all we have to do is convince Abdul that everything is better with butter.


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