Hey, buddy – can you spare a dime?

The Mayor of Alice, Texas, once dog-sat a friend’s Shih Tzu over the holidays.

Later she refused to return it. The Mayor told her friend the dog had died (something about choking on a Christmas nougat), renamed the purse pet Panchito, and then brazenly paraded the animal around city hall as her own. Her friend kept saying ‘Oh oh that looks sooo much like my little Puddles! It breaks my heart! Oh, and see how she runs to me when I say her name!?’

Eventually the Mayor resigned, then returned the Shih Tzu. Passes for principles in Alice, I guess.

Alice is also the birthplace of Tejano. Yeah, you’re right – enough about that; it is too much like Independence and Raytown fighting over who gave the world the mullet.

I know too much about Alice because I spent a couple days there this mid-March cooling my heels. Me and Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González III, aka Panchito Pistoles, aka Pete (I know – what were the odds?) I spent the time reading back issues of the The Alice Echo News Journal.

Pete was wearing the special bracelets, so he didn’t read much of anything.

Spare a dime?

Congress was dithering over passage of a 5th CR (Continuing Resolution) to fund the federal government for the rest of FY11. Maybe they would get the job done, maybe not – who knew? “Do not meddle in the affairs of politicians, for they are stupid and quick to error” as my Pops used to say. 1

As a longtime Fed I certainly wasn’t betting on them. So no way was I flying Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González III cross-country only to discover when landing that the Congress Critter hadn’t passed the CR and I now had to unhook Pete then stand around as he caught a cab to wherethehellever. Even if Pete (also being cash strapped) had instead jacked a local’s ride, kicked the driver, the driver’s lady friend and her purse pet all to the curb, then run a red light, without the CR in place I would have had to just stand there and watch.

Couldn’t even have shot a tire, much less Panchito.

So, as I had made backup arrangements for Panchito and myself to share cells at the Jim Wells County courthouse ( my Federal plastic would have been immediately suspended – no Motel 6 for me; shut off the damn light, willya? ), it made more sense to stay put in Alice.

Of course, it turned out okay in the end.

Pete managed to get to his special home out west in Florence, 2 though I grew to hate tejano. However, I can think of worse situations: after all, it wasn’t like anyone just sold me for a six-pack and a pizza to pay off their debts, right? 3

Spare a dime?

Which is pretty much what happened to the Pitch last week.

VVM , the Pitch’s old owner, found itself short of the ready cash needed to pay off that pesky $21 million court judgement and did what you or I might in the same situation – held a book weekly sale.  (The first of at least two, so we hear…)

Yes, this is the same court case the Pitch has shrugged off in the past, despite the rather obvious ramifications.

No, Joe Tone wasn’t ousted in the sale, and certainly not over penning a slyly ridiculing profile of KC’s biggest asshat. As Tone hinself has said, he chose to dance with the one what brung him. Maybe VVM will 2-step Tone down to the Houston Press. If so, let him run south to fact-check my brief Alice stay for you non-believers. It’s only a 4 hour drive. Well, that is if you don’t stop in Edna. (UPDATE: Tone landed in Dallas.)

So no, the Pitch isn’t going to stop publishing. Nor are mass firings in the offing. Scott Wilson’s new editing position looks pretty secure. And Nashville is psyched by the thought of Alan Scherstuhl’s “Studies in Crap” perhaps being printed in the Nashville Scene’s ‘Pith in the Wind’ blog. Yes, Nadia’s leaving, but somehow I doubt we’ve heard the last of her.

All in all, things look set to pretty much continue as they have, perhaps better.

Le Pitch est mort, vive le Pitch!

Spare a dime?

No, I’m not guessing.

I emailed SouthComm’s CEO, Chris Ferrell, a few questions yesterday. He kicked back a reply in less than 5 minutes with his desk number and an invitation to call and chat. So I did.

My first question had to do with the Pitch’s direction, if you will; did Ferrell foresee any major changes, if so who, what, where, when, how, why did the dog bark in the night, yadda yadda yadda…

Chris (yeah, we’re tight) replied “…the Pitch would continue doing what they had been doing.” As for installing his own management team? “I value people who understand the city where they live…Joe, Scott…Joe’s staying with VVM, but Scott, yes…you can’t buy that knowledge, of how a city runs…”

As for guiding principles, C (he digs the nickname) is fairly firm here. “We believe in unbundling the daily paper…all those articles advertisers pay for, with no readers…we want to launch a suite of niche publications – news, culture, music – sure, we’ll have some overlap, take the Scene for example…obviously, Nashville, right? More music, but…arts, news..all of that. We feel that the Pitch fits right into that, as well as our suite of papers…” 4

Also according to Chris we can expect SouthComm to launch other niche papers, other brands, in the future. It’s one of the reasons they chose Kansas City and the Pitch over, say, Alice: we’ve the correct population density; “1-2 million is just right for us; it’s large enough to to sustain multiple niche publications.”

What might those niche publications be? Well, take a look at SouthComm’s Her. Or their NFocus product. It is not hard to imagine versions of either easily establishing themselves in KC, regardless of what the Star’s Internet sock puppets 5 might claim. Who else could compete – Present Magazine? KC Free Press?

We chatted a few more moments 6 and then I let the gentleman go.

Spare a dime?

My impression, for what it’s worth?

Ferrell seems to be a straight ahead kind of guy. Yeah, I know – that and $7.50 will get me barista attitude and an overpriced coffee. And I could be wrong. But I also e-mailed employees at some of his other publications and got back not a bit of snark or disenchantment in return, something rather unusual given the ease of throw-away email addys.

And remember, SouthComm isn’t VVM, a slowly dying beast. No, it looks like a fresh start for the Pitch.

Plus, Nashville cats play clean as country water. 7

Spare a dime?

Show 7 footnotes

  1. There will be much more to say on this general topic later.
  2. No – surprisingly, not Italy.
  3. What do you think – long way ’round the barn?
  4. And here I should probably tell you that I hand-wrote my notes. I should also fess up that my notes appear as though pawed by a drunken wildebeest…Thank Thor for ellipses, amiright? I really should get an assistant…Oh! And an editor, a really stern editor, perhaps given to tweed skirts and…crap – sorry. I did it again, right?
  5. Who, I beg you to note, couldn’t seem to get a single quote from the most accessable CEO I’ve talked to in the last 3 years.
  6. Chris is sending the company jet up to fly me to Nashville this weekend. He wants to show me the area backstage at the Grand Ole Opry
    where Dolly Parton became legend. What? Oh, right, like you don’t want to go…
  7. You are 100% correct – that has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Except I’ve always wanted to use it. And I’m tired and don’t want to think up a closing; were you not paying attention when I said I needed an editor? Good night and good luck.

8 Replies to “Hey, buddy – can you spare a dime?”

  1. What about the Pitch’s new Tennessee overlords making Chris Packham a ‘roving’ reporter? There’s no reason he would have to actually move back to KC…

  2. Your footnote plugin is on the fritz. Get that fixed will ya? And how many generations of Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González are there anyway.

  3. The Pitch is fairly close to the Scene – much more music in the Scene of course, but our Pith in the Wind blog is a lot like Plog. I think it will be a good fit. And you are correct about the ‘Studies in Crap’ – that shit is hilarious. Welcome

  4. EMAW –

    Will get right on that…after a libation or two this evening.

    re Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González; I’m told we’re talking about 5 generations in Mexico alone, with a reputed 13 other is in Nogales, AZ, though the latter has not been verified.

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