by Jonathan Gramling
I can’t believe another year has gone by. At 67-years-old, the next year always seems to go by faster than the one before. I’ve
asked many people if they experience this too and unfortunately, the answer has always been a resounding yes. Perhaps our
lives have speeded up dramatically, moving faster and getting more work in. Instead of the technology allowing me to work and
then enjoy more leisure time, it seems that it just allows me to do more work.
I remember when a 30-hour work week was seriously discussed, one that would basically give a worker 40 hours’ worth of pay
plus health care and fringe benefits and not the present day concept of a 30 hour work week in which people get low wages and
few, if any, fringe benefits. This discussion occurred at the dawn of the technological revolution of the early 1980s. Instead of us
all benefiting from and receiving the technology dividend of increased productivity, it somehow went to the richest top one-
And yet the technology has allowed us to publish The Capital City Hues. While I am the “face” of the publication, The Hues’
continued success is due to the contributions of its reporters, columnists, photographers, webmaster, delivery person and most
importantly 10 financial — and spiritual — partners. In March 2020, we will begin our 15th year of publishing The Capital City
Hues and that means on the last Sunday in June 2021 we will hold our 15th anniversary festival celebration. Save that date.
I am grateful that I can finally start drawing Social Security. I have been saving some of my benefits so that when I finally do retire, I can have a savings cushion.
While I do continue to work full-time and some of my Social Security gets taxed — I don’t mind — I’m trying to build a modest nest egg that will rescue me from
destitution in case my Social Security cannot meet my expenses of the day.
The year 2020 will begin a rather slow transition for me. I am so grateful to be able to do the things that I do, interview wonderful and interesting people and help
neighborhood centers end their years in the black as well as provide enriching programs and services to area youth, many of whom are youth of color. Sometimes I
wish I could do these things with the same energy and vigor for the rest of my days on this planet — at least in this physical form. It has been a beautiful and
meaningful life. But I do know that the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. And I know that nothing lasts forever.
I may be deluded about this — I am sure there is always a different opinion — but as a community, grassroots newspaper, The Hues has had a type of social
covenant. We would search for the truth as best as we can while covering the Madison area’s communities of color and the community would support us. I know
that there are people out there — I have no idea how many — who depend upon The Hues as a source of positive news about people of color. In a sometimes ugly
world — made uglier by the present occupant of the White House — The Hues, I hope, makes us feel good about each other and have faith in people.
And so, The Hues has grown to be a lot larger than myself. It’s not just a business where I would say, ‘Okay, I’m done with this’ and close shop. And it’s not
something that my partners and I would sell to anyone with a few dollars to spend. I feel that we have a social contract and we must uphold our social contract. It
must continue to play a vital role in this community.
And so I begin a very slow transition in 2020 when my son Andrew takes over my newspaper deliveries on a bi-weekly basis. That will take some of the burden and
physical wear and tear off me while Andrew begins to make a transition of his own.
While Andrew is an excellent writer — people still remember his China Dispatch column when he lived in China — has a wonderful intellect — although we can be
at odds many times — and is a kind and sincere individual, he doesn’t have the newspaper life burning in his belly. At this point in time, that is not his future,
something that I expect will never change.
But Andrew will be transitioning into my non-profit accounting business. I am the accountant for three neighborhood centers, Lussier Community Education Center —
there are so many things named Lussier that I have to spell it out — Wil-Mar and Kennedy Heights Community Center. Andrew has been taking some classes at
Madison College in the accounting field and will begin “interning” with me at the centers. The transition will not occur overnight. It will take me a while to pass
along 35 years’ worth of knowledge and experience, things at this stage in my life that I take for granted.
This is going to be an exciting and challenging period in my life. I sometimes get frustrated with my son’s stubborn ways and other things that sometimes bring us
into conflict. But when I am of a more objective mindset, I realize that my son has grown up to be just like me, to paraphrase an old song. We have traits and values
that endear us to each other and also cause us to get on each other’s last nerve.
One the other hand, I appreciate Andrew very much and I look forward to passing this part of my life on to him. I hope that we will be open to each other’s ideas,
while also realizing that I am the one with 35 year’ of experience. But I look forward to the day when it will be his business and I will be an ex-officio who may or
may not be called on for advice.
It is important that we face the inevitable challenges of our lives in a graceful way that recognizes the interconnectedness that we have with other people’s lives. It’
s not all just about us.