Goodbye and Thank you
Since becoming a regular contributor to this paper in 2015, I have had the privilege of writing scores of columns under the heading of “Heart Talk.” This one will be the hardest to write. And the last.
As a writer for a local paper, one should try to stick to local or at least personal issues. Having plowed this ground for several years, I do not want to exhaust the soil by repeating themes. Time to move on to different fields, different settings.
If you have been kind enough to read my work for the past several years, you will have noticed some topics pop up again and again. My columns have often been love-letters to this city: Its beauty, its uniqueness, and its welcoming nature, especially to the gay community, have all been subjects of my writing.
Specifically, I have tried to bring to your attention often overlooked treasures in our wonderful town. There is the warm, wonderful, and soul-enriching Laguna Beach Books. There is also what used to be known as Sleepy Hollow walk-in clinic on Ocean Ave. (now it is affiliated with Hoag), staffed by knowledgeable professional healers and medical assistants who deal with you in a most friendly and caring manner. I have often written about Bushard’s Pharmacy, where regular customers are made to feel like family.
There have been columns on the pathos of personal loss: A younger sister gone too soon, a wife’s losing battle with cancer. The latter leaving an empty heart and an empty home behind. The disappointment, no, the anger, of learning the current administration has reduced funding for the National Cancer Institute.
One of my first columns dealt with the shock of a homeless young man coming up to me and asking for a dollar. He was a former student of mine at El Toro High School. This has caused me to forever wonder if I could have done something more to help him as he sat for 180 days in my classroom. Entering my eighth decade on this earth, there are so many things I wonder if I could have done better.
Over the years I have tried to sound a warning, like a fire bell in the night, about the dangers of technology and social media. As Dr. Sherry Turkle said, “We have turned away from each other and toward our phones… Our passion for technology tempts us away from face to face conversation.” We do this at great cost to ourselves and our society.
Those of you on the conservative side of the political spectrum might be thinking, “Don’t forget all those lefty columns you wrote.” You’re right. I am a liberal and, in some columns, this came through clearly. Remember my goodbye to Putin-loving Dana Rohrabacher when the voters ousted him in favor of Harley Rouda? My piece on what I consider this city’s wrong approach to marijuana sales? And my many rants about the grave danger of man-made global warming? I stand by all of these.
This retiring columnist also needs to thank some people. First, and most importantly, is Professor Christine Fugate of Chapman University. She has been the wind beneath my columnist wings. A special thanks to former editor of the Laguna Beach Independent, Andrea Adelson, who gave me a spot in the regular rotation of Indy columnists. I would also like to thank current editor, Allison Jarrell, who has been so supportive of my work. The Indy has been fortunate to have been guided by these two ladies’ professional hands.
And finally, I want to thank my readers and those who have left comments. Even the negative posts forced me to examine my own positions.
What’s next? With the help of friends who are not Luddites like me, I plan to start an on- line presence at the publishing platform Medium.com entitled “Curmudgeon on the Coast.” The national scene is a target rich environment and I plan to come out shooting.
But it is with heavy heart that I bid farewell to “Heart Talk,” but I leave open the possibility of writing guest columns from time to time.
Let me close by leaving you with some of the words of Freddie Mercury’s “We Are the Champions.”
I’ve taken my bows
(some people on the street have stopped me and said they like my columns, I always bowed in thanks)
And my curtain calls
(I had a book signing and, fortunately, people clapped)
You brought me fame(very limited) and fortune(not so much) and everything that goes with it, I thank you all.
You may run into James Utt in town. He often wears a brown cap that says, “Veterans Against Trump.”