My colleagues from the editorial department (both past and present) had a going-away party for Robert and me Sunday night, which was really, really nice. (Why so long after we left? It was the first time that Cindi, who hosted the shindig at her place, could round up enough of us.) Aside from the present crowd, the blasts from the past included Kent Krell, Nina Brook, Mike Fitts, Claudia Brinson and John Monk — plus former publisher Ann Caulkins, who came all the way down from Charlotte just for the party, which really touched me. And a special appearance by Lee Bandy.
Actually, I’m deeply touched by everyone who played a role in the event (some would say, of course, that I am just “touched,” period). It was really great. You know, an awful lot of people just keep doing things to prevent me from feeling bad about getting laid off, so I don’t know when the shock sets in.
Anyway, a highlight of such events is always the reading of the mock page, which I won’t go into, except to say that it was full of relatively inside jokes. Some of it was a little more mainstream, such as this excerpt from a column in which I am announcing my plan to run for governor on the Unparty ticket:
Thus validated, I concluded that
there’s no way South Carolina can
get anywhere without the leadership
of my Un-Party, which we’ll
begin to demonstrate just as soon
as we can settle on what
we believe in.
We’re for a strong,
worldwide. As is everybody.
We’re for a South Carolina
that pays workers
the same wages that people
expect in the rest of
America. As is everybody.
We’re for a South
Carolina that takes care
of its citizens, and makes
sure that all its children
have a good education.
As is everybody, except
I talked about my idea with the
governor, who listened to indulge
his self-image as political scholar.
“At the end of the day, Brad,
you’ve got to decide if South Carolina
now has the right soil conditions
for you to grow your political
endeavor,” he said.
“Well, you’ve certainly added
fertilizer to our soil,” I replied.
“You’ll have a problem convincing
voters that your Un-Party
will be as good at un-governing the
state as I have been. After all, I’ve
given the state a new definition of
un-leadership,” he said.
I then took the opportunity to
take a few quick photos and a
video for the Web. Quality wasn’t
so good, as it turned out, since this
was a phone conversation.
“The question, to me, at the end
of the day, is whether you hate
government enough to want to run
it. I don’t think you do, Brad, but
so it goes. To be continued.”
As I disconnected my telephone
headset, I looked up to see Robert
Ariail waiting for me, sketches in
hand. He might well have been
standing there for 15 minutes, just
waiting. Cartooning is not a profession
for the sane.
I should stop there, because I know most of the stuff my colleagues never intended to see published. Oh, all right, one more sample, and then I’m going away. Here, the wiseguys were making fun of my weakness for pop culture allusions (particularly The Godfather) and my propensity to digress, parenthetically, to an absurd degree:
But just as useful for the purpose of creating thinly connected
film-derivative metaphors about politics, government, society or
whatever we might be struggling to make a coherent point about
is the warning that “When they come, they come at what you
love,” with its implicit imperative to preserve and protect the
family. It is an imperative that is made unmistakably explicit in
the words of Don Vito Corleone in the initial 1972 film, The Godfather,
by far the finest movie ever produced (South Carolina, of
course, does not have a don. The governor should be the don,
and others in the organization should tremble at his approach.
But because he does not have the power to rub out discordant
rivals on a whim, instead we must endure the endless gang warfare
we see at the State House.), when he asks apostle Luca
Brasi, who was very handy with a garrote: “Do you spend time
with your family? Good. Because a man that doesn’t spend time
with his family can never be a real man.” (Of course, if Luca
Brasi had spent all the time that he should have with his family,
the core unit and strength of our society, then maybe he wouldn’t
have ended up sleeping with the fishes.)
OK, so you had to be there (like, in the office for the last 22 years). I thought it was a hoot.
And of course, the don didn’t say that to Luca; he said it to Johnny Fontane. But you knew that.
Finally, there was the cartoon — the original of which Robert gave me, framed. Which is very cool (no one on my block has an original Ariail caricature of them, ha-ha). Yet another thing that makes getting laid off worthwhile.