Tommy Tomlinson

Columnist and host of SouthBound


Tommy Tomlinson has written for publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Garden & Gun, and many others. He spent 23 years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. His stories have been chosen twice for the “Best American Sports Writing” series (2012 and 2015) and he also appears in the anthology “America’s Best Newspaper Writing.”

He teaches magazine writing at Wake Forest University and has also taught at the University of Georgia, Queens University of Charlotte and the Poynter Institute. He has been a speaker at workshops and conferences across the country.

His book “The Elephant In the Room,” a memoir about life as an overweight man in a growing America, will be published soon by Simon & Schuster.

He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and was a 2008-09 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Tommy and his wife, Alix Felsing, live in Charlotte.

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New episodes of SouthBound will be published every other week on Wednesday.

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Ways to Connect

Here’s a useful public service announcement about the coronavirus from the Red Cross: “Wear a mask and save your life! The man or woman or child who will not wear a mask now is a dangerous slacker.”

Harvey Gantt
Courtesy Harvey Gantt

This is a recut version of the very first episode of SouthBound, which we put into the world on Nov. 15, 2017. Our guest for this first episode was Harvey Gantt, a longtime pioneer in civil rights in the Carolinas.

About a year ago, when Charlotte was debating whether to bring the Republican National Convention to town, I wrote that the city should say yes.

ESPN has a tagline it likes to use for its “30 for 30” documentaries and podcasts. The commercials often start like this: “What if I told you ...”

If you know the Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast – the rappers Big Boi and André 3000 — you might know them from their big pop hits “Hey Ya!” or “The Way You Move.”

Sometimes, when you’re looking for signs and symbols, the gods just drop one on your head.

These last few days, as people have talked about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, some of them have brought up the names of so many other black Americans left to die on the streets of this country. But I’ve thought about another name from here in Charlotte: Trystan Terrell.

Marcus King was playing clubs around the Carolinas before he was old enough to drive.

Now, at 24, he leads the Marcus King Band, taking his blend of rock, blues, country and soul all over the world. And he’s got a new solo record called “El Dorado” that was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

Jodie Valade / WFAE

When I talked to Brad Ritter about the Manor, he tried not to get emotional. But sometimes he couldn’t help it.

“What’s been the best part about this job?” I asked him.

There’s a long pause. I thought he might not have heard me.

Carol Montuoro

Connie Montuoro died from the coronavirus on May the 4th. She probably didn’t know why she was sick, or how she ended up at the hospital, or why her family didn’t come to see her anymore. She lived so much of her life in the dark.

U.S. Navy

On Feb. 17, 1864, a torpedo from a Confederate submarine called the H.L. Hunley blew a hole in the side of a Union ship called the USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor, becoming the first combat submarine to sink a warship in history. But after the attack, the Hunley disappeared.

A lot of these last two months has felt like time spent underwater. But this is the point where we’re in danger of getting the bends.

What do you miss?

Here’s what I miss:

The TV show “The Good Place” recently wrapped up after four seasons on NBC. “The Good Place” was a unicorn of a TV show – a comedy that explored deep philosophical issues of life and death and what it means to be human.

School is closed for the rest of the school year in North Carolina, and the long phase-out of the stay-at-home orders are going to take us into June or beyond.

We watched “Groundhog Day” over the weekend because we were in the mood for a comedy. But as we watched it, it felt more like a documentary.

Every night at supper, we say a little prayer. And the longer these virus days go on, the longer the list of things our little family can be grateful for.

It always comes down to lives versus freedoms.

I see that some of you have started to cut your own hair now, or you’re letting a family member do it. Peace be with you. I’m going to hold out a while.

The neighbor came from across the street with her daughter in one arm and a string of balloons in the other.