Day: November 11, 2006

Faces on a dance floor

111106jamboree2.jpg 111106jamboree.jpgThey’re people I see every time I go to Floyd’s Friday Nite Jamboree — regulars on the dance floor week after week.

Yet I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know their names. I should. They are part of the fabric of our community, part of a weekly event that — who residents and visitors alike — defines the music culture of the Southwestern Virginia mountains.

The lady dancing with her husband (right) is one of the many volunteers who make the Jamboree work. She takes tickets at the door and helps Country Store manage Alzora Wood with other tasks. Her husband greets me like a long lost friend every time I visit the Jamboree but I still don’t know his name. I should…and I will the next time I’m at the Jamboree.

In some ways that’s part of the culture of Floyd County. We know a lot of people by sight, greet them warmly every time we see them, talk to them about family, friends and the like, and still don’t have the foggiest idea who they are or what they do. Floyd Countians aren’t big on standing out in a crowd. They’re friendly without being pushy and, for the most part, humble to a fault. But they see no need to try and impress you or brag about their exploits. That’s not the Floyd County way.

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I can smell the pork a cookin’

It probably wasn’t the the kind of publicity our area wanted, but 60 Minutes, in an off-hand way, zeroed in on Floyd and the Crooked Road last weekend.

In a piece about Congressional Pork and the attempts of Rep. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, to fight the “earmarks” that send billions of taxpayer money to favored projects of individual members of Congress, a graphic that highlighted specific programs included the “Crooked Road” line item sponsored by Rep. Rick Boucher.

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Pissing people off

I am, my nature, a passionate man, driven by strong opinions and emotion.

Such traits served my chosen profession of journalism well. A passion for uncovering the truth allows a journalist to forge ahead without regard to consequences.

“I’ve hired you to do a job,” Jim Echols, the city editor of The Roanoke Times told me in 1965. “If you do your job right it means most people in this town will get pissed off at you. Six months from now, it they’re not, I’ll fire your ass and find somebody who will.”

Fortunately, for the sake of my career and payments on a new Mustang, I did my job right. Within six months, the Roanoke City police department declared me persona non grata for writing a story about their beating of a black prisoner and the school superintendent banned me from city schools for exposing faults in school security.

My ability to get under people’s skins followed me to the next newspaper job in Alton, Illinois, where I quickly angered local officials for daring to suggest, in print, that they might not be doing their job. One night, I left a bar in Alton to find my car’s tired slashed and windows broken.

“That’s good,” said Elmer Broz, city editor of The Telegraph. “That means you’re getting to them.” It also got my insurance rates raised

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