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Bakst hits the road

M. Charles, a bright light amongst columnists, will be missed at the Other Paper
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  September 10, 2008

We echo the words of BeloJo columnist Bob Kerr when he wrote last week that local readers, and especially political junkies, will miss M. Charles Bakst when he retires after more than 40 years at the institution he’s worked for nearly his entire adult life. P&J regularly hear people complain about Charlie, where he stands on issues, how they find him “annoying” etc. To that, we say, “So what!”

At Casa Diablo, we believe that Vo Dilunduhs have been truly fortunate to have had such a hardworking, passionate, and courageous journalist in our midst for all these years.

Think about churning out three columns, week after week, for years. We know a little something about that, so take our word for it: the hard work and dedication it takes to produce work of the quality of Charlie Bakst’s on a regular basis is beyond impressive. This guy is a workhorse, a hardcore newsman who cuts no corners and does it the old-fashioned way — he works.

Of course, Charlie has always accused Phillipe & Jorge of just “making up” the stuff we write. We’re not upset about this. We just wish that Charlie wouldn’t broadcast our trade secrets.

In particular, Charlie’s heartfelt advocacy for those who seek fairness and equality — immigrants and same-sex couples, who merely wish to have the same right to marry as the hetero majority — will be missed. Beyond Bob Kerr, we don’t expect to see this sort of passionate defense of civil rights in the pages of the Other Paper again.

Yes, you (and we) will miss M. Charles Bakst. He has been a paragon of everything that is good and vital about our daily newspapers, and an inspiration to print news people throughout the region. 

Farewell to Faye
Your superior correspondents were further saddened to hear that Faye Zuckerman, the irrepressible and indefatigable correspondent for all manner of fundraisers and social events, is also leaving the BeloJo.

One would have to have a heart of stone not to smile when you saw Faye out on the town, covering her beat. She was also among that rare reporters who would actually mention P&J in here columns. It’s amazing she wasn’t fired. We love you, Faye.

Palin’s not so special
There was an interesting and revealing article in Sunday’s New York Times on a promise of sorts made by Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah “Darwin” Palin during her acceptance speech at the GOP convention in St. Paul.

Addressing the parents of children with special needs, she claimed that they would “have a friend and advocate in the White House.” Perhaps she was referring to the family pet, Nancy the Wonder Moose, because nothing in her public record indicates that she would be a friend to folks with disabilities.

Palin’s alleged understanding of disability issues would seem to be based entirely on the fact that she is the recent mother of a special-needs child — her son, Trig — who has Down syndrome. We suspect that most folks would not consider her cutting the state’s Special Olympics budget in half to be part of her pledge of advocacy for children with special needs.

Perhaps the McCain/Palin advocacy for the disabled community will take the form of championing reauthorization of the federal Disabilities Education Act, first enacted in 1975. Whoops, that was already on the Senate floor — with John McCain voting for it, while at the same time voting against increasing funding, because the funding would come from a reduction in tax cuts for America’s wealthiest citizens.

And while Governor Palin recently signed legislation that increased the budget for school districts that serve children with special needs, the author of that legislation, Republican state Representative Mike Hawker, told the Times quite succinctly, the governor had “no role whatsoever” in that initiative and, “her role was signing [the legislation].”

Sounds to P+J like Palin’s strong support for the disabilities community is a lot like McCain’s support for veterans: Palin’s got a child with special needs, and McCain’s a veteran. Sorry, our priorities are not to help you people.

What’s in a name
In case you missed it, the New York Times revealed the Diagram Prize was just awarded in England, to the excited reaction of no one. The Bookseller, a trade mag, this year gave the award to the oddest book title of the past 30 years, encompassing all past recipients of the highly sought trophy.

The winner: Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers. It had to beat out top competition from a host of other bizarre titles, some of which P+J think would make great names for rock bands and certainly albums, such as People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead; How Green Were the Nazis?; Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice; and How to Avoid Huge Ships. (Take that, Messrs. U2, with your decidedly unimaginative and inferior, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.)

Tempest in the storm
A tip of the beret and sombrero to the local weather forecasters who, once again, looked as though they had downed handfuls of Viagra prior to their coverage of the non-event of the season, Tropical Storm Hanna. While FEMA officials warned us to buy generators, fill water bottles, duct tape your pets to the wall, and purchase every candle, battery, loaf of bread, and quart of milk we could get your hands on, the dross of Hanna merely blew through like a tepid nor’easter on a non-beach day. Oh, did we say . . . again?

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  Topics: Phillipe And Jorge , John McCain , Sarah Palin , M Charles Bakst ,  More more >
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