We knew that the Daily Business Review was in trouble when a letter arrived from its chairman and editor, Edward Wasserman, pleading with us to subcribe. The letter was actually an advertisement for the exceedingly dull paper. "You can find your next customers with South Florida's most accurate business leads." It was sad to see a journalist beg for subscribers. "This is a limited time offer, so act now," Wasserman pitched. "Subscribe today!"
Now we know his motivation. Wasserman was booted from his job last week because the company is seeking an executive who is stronger in "sales and marketing." In other words the paper wasn't bringing in enough advertising dollars or subscribers, and the long-time editor had to go. Apparently, at that sorry company, the editorial leader must also sell to the public.
We find it ironic, both that financial concerns led to the dismissal and that the paper pleaded with us to subscribe. A few months ago Wasserman's paper produced a poorly written, inaccurate, and unfair story about this paper titled "Hard Times at the New Times." We didn't talk to the writer, because we knew the piece was spurred on by disgruntled ex-employees. Lucky for us it seems few people subscribe to the paper. While Wasserman was evidently going through hard times of his own, he approved a story that criticized our financial situation (we're doing fine) and turnover. What about his turnover? He was axed, and the company recently raided the supposedly troubled New Times to hire our general manager to become its chief operating officer.
More irony: The editor of the Free Press weekly in Palm Beach County critiqued this paper's journalism in the "Hard Times" piece, and now that paper's doors are closed because the main financial backer left town after pouring money into a declining enterprise.
It's funny how things seem to come back around on people.
"Shoot up for Judie!"
"Toke on a fat one for Budnick!"
"Snort a line for J.B.!"
These are just a few suggested campaign slogans for Broward County School Board member Judie Budnick. While they might seem a tad inappropriate, they're right up Budnick's alley. She's already playing off beer ads to help in her bid to win another term overseeing the education of our children. They say alcohol is a gateway to harder stuff, so can illicit drugs be far behind?
In a campaign flier recently sent to residents in Budnick's Plantation district, the incumbent used those adorable Budweiser frogs to help drum up support for her campaign. Well, not frogs, but ants. The ants, in a copy of the slow, croaking, monosyllabic style made famous by the beer commercials, repeat "Bud... Nick." To top it off, Budnick added the slogan, "This Bud's For Us."
So, what's Budnick thinking? Has she slammed a few too many cans of the King of Beers herself? No, she tells us, she hasn't had a beer since college. Budnick, a Republican, says it was just a creative way to get her name to the public. Her real concern: She says she doesn't use the more exact "This Bud's For You" because Anheuser Busch might construe it as plagiarism. She even considered the slogan "This Bud's Wiser" but decided against it. When we questioned her judgment and asked her if she planned to keep playing off beer commercials, Budnick said, "Absolutely."
Here's another idea for Judie: What about giving Joe Camel a call? We hear he's looking for work.
We've always had a love/hate relationship with this place. There are so many things wonderful and outright nasty about South Florida that it's hard to get a grasp on where we've lived. That's past tense since we're bugging out for California and a job at another newspaper.
Those damn hurricanes: First the "cone of death" map appears in the media and then the fear and loathing set in. Then we get wet. Maybe.
Rudeness: It's as if a majority of people in South Florida seem to think common courtesy and manners are unhip. Never, ever, let someone into your lane or say thank you.
'Burbs: They now stretch out to cover both counties with the ugliest imaginable architecture and colors. The sea of sprawl is evidence that developers have owned local governments.
Traffic: A friend of mine says she will take the notoriously dangerous I-95 at night when she's tired. She knows she's so fearful of the maniacs speeding past that she'll never nod off.
Service: A retail clerk grabbed a hat about a size too small for my noggin, and stuck it on my head and bashed her hand on top of the hat forcing it down. "There, it fits."
Lack of political leadership: If just someone would stand up to special interests and fat cat contributors, they'd attract voters' attention and possibly do some good.
Love and Hate
People: We all know that many folks here are friendly, certainly more so than in Miami. The eccentrics and wackos are charming, but the weird transient mix is at times too much. We admit that these same strangeoids, hustlers, and malcontents poured stories on our pages. Love to talk to them, hate to live next door. And then there are the pretentious and plastic rich people who live to show off the gold and implants and don't realize how cheap they look.
Weather: On an early winter evening, we can sit forever and gaze at those puffy white clouds pouring in off the Atlantic. (Sigh.) Open a nice Merlot, sit back and listen to Frankie Sinatra. Then the humidity on an August evening is so high that your underwear sticks to you and everything seems to close in as you stare at the moss and algae growing on the patio.
Ocean: When we don't think we can take it anymore, we hop on the bike and pedal along and smell the sea breeze, then sit and simply watch the waves. At midnight we steal onto a beach with our dog (illegal), drink beer (very illegal), and strip naked (immodest and illegal) before plunging in.
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Crazy parrots: Those squawky dive-bombers seem to be having the most fun of anyone here.
Shark Valley: The Glades are unique, and this small entryway is comforting evidence that the spectacular place will be saved.
This paper: New Times BrowardPalm Beach. Yes, we have deep affection for this newspaper that we helped start three years ago. Birthing anything, it seems, is difficult and at times painful. But we dare say that a fine group of people have produced some pretty good journalism. A few psychos slipped in, but otherwise we found a smart group of writers and editors who told stories both important and delightful. Now it's time to move out West to bring along another paper in need of some stories and help.
Readers: We're nothing, obviously, without you. If you've gotten angry or been amused by what's been written here, then it's been worthwhile. We say thanks and adieu.