|Vol. 11 No. 18
SEPTEMBER 1, 2016
Last Minute Reporting
I think I read it somewhere this week where someone said that excellence requires a certain degree of loneliness as you pursue the heights of
one’s profession. While I can hardly say that The Capital City Hues reaches the heights of my profession, I do have to say that even reaching the
height of one’s potential requires a certain level of loneliness regardless of how it is received by anyone outside of oneself.
That is certainly true in the newspaper business. While I spend a lot of time connecting with a lot of people and then have their thoughts rattle
around in my brain for a few days, allowing the thoughts to congeal into a story, I also spend a lot of time alone thinking and writing and laying
out the newspaper and a hundred other things that take place in my 20’ by 10’ room that I call an office. On any given day during my production
week, it may only be strangers with whom I speak accept the hello to my son when I first see him during the day.
And yet, in spite of the loneliness factor, the newspaper business can be quite intriguing as well. It looked like I would have several holes in my
coverage late last week. You can sit and wonder how in the world you are ever going to get a newspaper out and get the ads to pay for it. And it
is during those times that you have to realize that you are there at the beck and call of the world and not the other way around. And I have
learned to be patient, to allow things to evolve and believe that things will happen above and beyond what I am able to make happen.
I was able to interview former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold at the Democratic Party campaign headquarters on Olin Avenue before he appeared
at the AFL-CIO Convention at the Concourse Hotel. He is always delightful to interview. It was great to see that he has several people of color
working on his campaign including Bethany Ordaz and Michael Tyler. We reminisced about the late LaMarr Billups. LaMarr has been one of his
aides in Washington, D.C. when Russ was first elected in 1992 and of course LaMarr was one of the founding partners of The Capital City Hues.
At the end of the interview, Russ recounted a couple of golf stories he had about LaMarr.
And then sometime on Monday, I got word that I would be able to interview Ginuwine who is performing at the Capital Land Music Festival on
September 10th. I had cast out requests to all three headliners: Joe, Ginuwine and Vivian Greene. I only heard back from Ginuwine. It just goes
to show you what the Bible says, ‘Many are called, but few are chosen.’
During the intervening two days between when the interview was set up and the time that Ginuwine would be calling me, I decided to watch
some of his music videos. Since Pony was his claim to fame, I decided to watch that one first. Boy, was I feeling out of it. The video was
extremely steamy and I almost felt embarrassed watching it. It hardly gave me any useful material or questions for Ginuwine. “What is the
symbolism of Pony?” “Oh, never mind.”
And then my son who was around 16-years-old when Ginuwine released Pony questioned why Ginuwine would be letting me interview him. I
guess he was telling me I was small potatoes or out of my league. And I was starting to think that maybe he was right and that I just wouldn’t
pick up the phone when Ginuwine called.
But I had to persist because I had promised Clyde Gaines — who is producing the Capital Land Music Fest — that I would do it and he had gone
out of his way to help arrange the interview. So I kept watching more videos and listening to more of his songs and I found out that I could relate
to some of his songs and I got to thinking about my own life. I knew that I had connected.
It turns out that Ginuwine is a pretty down-to-earth kind of guy. The caller ID on my phone read “Elgin Baylor Lumpkin,” which is his birth name. I
figured that he has his head screwed on straight so that fame and fortune (I presume) hadn’t given him a fat head.
We talked for about 15 minutes or so and probably could have gone longer. After all, he was just hanging out waiting to catch his plane to the
West Coast where he will be performing before he flies in to perform in Madison. But I have learned that performers like you better when you are
short and sweet, do your job and then leave them alone. And then sometimes, they even tell you that they would like to meet you after the show.
Whether that is true or not is immaterial. It is a gesture of goodwill.
And another interview that I didn’t get until Wednesday was with Dr. Ruben Anthony Jr., the CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison. When I
saw Ruben at West Fest in Elver Park last Saturday, he was handing out surveys to people and so, naturally, I was curious and started asking
questions. That’s what we reporters do. It’s hard to turn off.
And then, Ruben told me about the Urban League’s partnership with the city of Madison to create an employment & training center on the far west
side in the Griff’s Restaurant building across from Elver Park. The closest employment & training center is probably the Urban League on S. Park
Street, some 5-7 miles and a morning’s bus ride away. After some back and forth messaging, we arranged an interview slot for Wednesday
afternoon, which we did and then I found out about some other stories that I will write about later.
That’s what this newspaper business is all about: talking to people, asking questions and listening intently to the answers that they give you. I
will be hard-pressed to run out of interesting stories as long as I keep circulating out in the community.
The corporate model for newspapers has reporters sitting at their desks and calling people for the story or their responses. I would think that
reporter’s contacts and stories would dry up after a while or they would miss stories that aren’t presented to them by third parties. An in-person
interview is always much more revealing — perhaps it’s the body English — than a voice on the telephone.
And so somehow, I got three great stories at the last minute. It’s funny how things work out. You just have to have faith and patience … and a