Newspaperman leaves trade VOLUNTARILY!

And gets what sounds like a great gig, perfectly suited to his skills and interests…

Our friend Burl Burlingame posted this on Facebook last night, after days of buildup that something big was coming:

OK, everybody. I’ve been recruited by the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor as their Curator. Last day as a full-time newspaperman is May 6. I’ve been in the newspaper business since 1975, full-time since 1977. Yikes!

Wow. I’m deeply impressed. But then, Burl is one of those rare journalists who built a parallel career — in his case, developing a well-deserved reputation as an expert on Pacific military history. (You may recall when he appeared on “NOVA” as a leading expert on Japanese midget submarines.)

Some of us — no names will be mentioned, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest — spent all those years working 60 and often more hours a week at the paper (not writing books, not having hobbies or social lives, and worst of all, largely missing our children’s childhoods), climbing the ladder, becoming senior editors and vice presidents, only to have everything we had worked for all those decades disappear in an instant. Not that said people are bitter about it or anything.

But this isn’t about those people. You know, the ones who had their horses shot out from under them, and ended up wandering the desert for months at a time with their saddles on their backs, thinking about eating their boots. No, this is about Burl, who managed the feat of leaping to another fast horse while at full gallop.

Oh, and get this: His novel (which he finally got me to read, and critique, before telling me he was the author) is being published today, too.

Just makes you want to hit him, doesn’t it?

No, seriously — this is great. And this is Burl all over. He was a Renaissance man in high school — musician, photographer, cartoonist, actor and publisher of an underground newspaper — so this is just what you’d expect from him.

Way to go, Burl.

A few pointers for living on the outside… watch your oxygen supply, and see to the integrity of your stillsuit. And if you lose pressure in your suit or helmet, your blood will immediately boil…

OK, I’m out of metaphors now, for the moment.

13 thoughts on “Newspaperman leaves trade VOLUNTARILY!

  1. Silence Kwisatz Haderach

    Stillsuit – Really, Muad’Dib, I didn’t see that reference coming…

  2. Burl Burlingame

    By my count, although I’ve been with the same paper for 33 years, in that time, we’ve had four owners, and one of those owners fired me five times.

    Actually, he fired the entire staff, in an effort to kill his product so he could get an illegal payoff from the competition. So he kept firing us, and we’d just show up for work the next day and our union would take him to court, and they’d settle out of court because he didn’t want his little “gentlemen’s agreement” to be made public, and eventually we persevered and saved the newspaper, and Honolulu remained a two-paper town for a decade longer than other U.S. cities.
    In that time, millions of dollars were spent by the opposition to kill our product and demoralize the staff. Many left. It was very difficult working in an atmosphere of ruthless corporate greed and bloodshed. Basically, you went to work every day wondering not just if your job still existed, but if the service you were providing the community was being snuffed out.
    But, hey, if you’re the underdog, bite back!

  3. Steve Gordy

    Kudos for being able to make a life change at a mature age (I won’t say advanced). I pulled something similar off a couple of years ago and it has been psychologically refreshing.

  4. Karen McLeod

    Good for you, Burl! All the best in your new profession! And what’s the title of this book?

  5. Burl Burlingame

    My wife might disagree about the “mature” part. Oddly, in this new setting, I’m one of the younger guys.

    It’s also not that wrenching. I’ve been a volunteer historian and curator for aviation museums for a couple of decades. Also, the work is not that different from journalism. It’s detail and accuracy-oriented information management crossed with a variety of storytelling skills. Brad knows that newspaper people juggle every day the best way to get the message across. Story? Photo? Cartoon? Pie chart? Video? I was hired specifically for my skills in this regard, not because I’m an airplane nerd.

  6. Bart

    Congratulations Burl! It is always refreshing when one can walk away and say as the old Frank Sinatra song goes, “I Did it My Way” and from the way Brad has described you, the song title fits.

    From a moderate conservative to an unabashed liberal, Bonne Chance, Buona Fortuna, Buena Suerte, and finally, Maika’I Pomaika’I’.

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