Suffering from a slight sunburn on the scalp this morning after spending most of the day Thursday driving from assignment to assignment, joining a friend for lunch in Vinton and running necessary errands with the top down on my Jeep Wrangler.
A Wrangler is a “Floyd County sports car” and a clear day with sun was a perfect way to enjoy open air motoring with wind in your hair. One stop included a long-overdue lunch with friend and Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey, who introduced me to a great Thai Restaurant in Vinton after we discovered that our initial planned stop at American-Mexican eatery called Angelos was doomed to failure because was “closed until further notice,” a sign of possible health problems from the aging owner.
The Thai restaurant, Red Jasmine on South Pollard Street in Vinton, offered good green curry and other Thai delights while Dan and caught up on news in both Roanoke and Floyd.
Technically, we now work for the same billionaire, BH Media owner Warren Buffet, and we’ve both watched the sad decline of newspapers with dismay over the years.
As a contract writer/photographer/videographer for BH Media, which owns both The Roanoke Times and The Floyd Press along with many other newspapers in Virginia and elsewhere, I now have as many assignments as I’m willing to accept, but much of that work, sadly, comes because newspapers are scaling back on staff and, as a result, farm out more and more work to people like me — quasi-retired journalists whose service does not require the costs of benefits and therefore appeals to cost-conscious media chains.
Being a contractor also allows me to work for other media outlets and my photography often appears elsewhere and my video work now includes CNN, MSNBC and various local television news outlets in Virginia and North Carolina.
Like Dan, I once wrote columns for The Roanoke Times. My emphasis was on younger readers back in the dark ages of 1965-69. I went to work there straight out of high school. Then city editor Jim Echols interviewed me in bar in the basement of the old Ponce de Leon Hotel across the street from the Times offices on Campbell Avenue in Roanoke.
Even though I was too young to drink legally, I guzzled a lot of beer in that bar during my stint at the Times. Ironically, I left the Times only a few months after turning 21 — the legal age to imbibe — and headed to Illinois to write and shoot photos for The Telegraph in Alton.
After lunch, I dropped Dan off at his house and headed back to Floyd to take care of some personal business before shooting other photo and video assignments.
Darkness had fallen by the time I made it home after a day that began at 5 a.m. This morning, I noticed some tenderness in the scalp and a face reddened by the son. Idiot me should have worn a hat. If I had been on my Harley, a helmet would have protected the skin that is too easy to burn through thinning hair at age 66.
But what the hell. It was a beautiful day, I was doing what I love, and driving a “Floyd County sports car” gave a chance to enjoy the time behind the wheel with wind in my hair.
A full day on tap Friday with more sun and time on the road.
With a hat this time.