On My Mind

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE.

Ron Rivera was the fourth head coach in Carolina Panthers history, and I’m trying to remember anything interesting about the first three. Dom Capers wore a ball cap. George Seifert was better in San Francisco. John Fox had a voice like mine and loved to say “it is what it is.”

I follow a strange Twitter account called – well, I should stop there. I follow a lot of strange Twitter accounts. But the one I want to talk about today is called Year Progress.

We are just a few days from a Thanksgiving that some of you are dreading.

The holidays can often be weird if you’re in a family that 1) is divided politically and 2) can’t help but talk about it. But this year seems more fraught than usual. We’ve spent the past few months arguing about impeaching the president, and the past couple weeks watching and listening to the actual impeachment hearings.

There was a sad but inevitable announcement last week: The Charlotte Observer is eliminating one of its days in print.

I was a library kid. I can still hear the squeak of the hardwood floors in the little library in my hometown in Georgia. I can still smell the faint must of the pages. I can still see the blue spines of the Hardy Boys books I devoured like potato chips. The library had all the books I wanted for free. It seemed like a miracle. It still seems that way.

If you want to find a reason why Charlotte-Mecklenburg voters rejected a sales tax increase for the arts, parks and education, you’ve got lots of choices.

Let’s pretend for a second that you’re Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. It’s a nice fantasy. You are a 6-5 NFL prototype who looks like a surfer and throws like Zeus. You led the Tigers to a national title last year as a freshman, and your team is undefeated again this season. Clemson has never lost with you at quarterback.

On a February morning in 1947, in the darkness before dawn, 31 white men gathered in Pickens County, South Carolina.

A white cab driver had been robbed and stabbed two nights before. A black man named Willie Earle had been arrested for the crime. But the 31 white men did not wait for a trial. They showed up at the jail with shotguns. The jailer gave them Willie Earle. An hour later, somebody placed a call to a funeral home, notifying them where to find a dead black man on a dirt road west of Greenville.

One good way to think about any political deal that seems sketchy or weird is to ask a simple question: Would you do it?

So let’s apply that to the case of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney.

When I was a kid, I qualified for free lunch at school. Every Monday morning the teacher would call us up to the front of the class and hand out the little blue punch cards that got us through the line without paying. They were like scarlet letters spelling out the word P-O-O-R.

But really, the problem wasn’t that we got our lunch for free. The problem was that all the other kids had to pay for it.

When I was a kid, July was the best month. You were out of school and the whole summer was in front of you. Somewhere in my 30s, I switched to April – the flowers springing from the ground, the coats going back in the closet.

Now, in my 50s, I’ve come to love October.

The next weeks and months are going to be the biggest test yet of whether we, as Americans, can filter out the noise.

Vengeance, in our imaginations, is a cleansing thing. It might not make things right, but it makes them even. So I completely understand why the living victims of the UNC Charlotte shooter feel the way they do.

The thinking of the Republican leadership in the North Carolina legislature is clear. They have come to the conclusion that if the game is fair, they can’t win.

Football season used to be a five-month national holiday for me. I’d watch college games from noon to midnight on Saturday, and NFL games until the last snap on Sunday. I had elite-level skills with the remote control. I mainlined the Red Zone Channel, which shows every scoring play from every NFL game. I spent weekends in a football trance.

The race for North Carolina’s 9th House district has been like a NASCAR race from the old days – multiple wrecks, lots of caution flags, some country boys trying to pull a fast one.

I’m not a fabric store kind of guy. I’m more like a “please, Lord, don’t make me go in the fabric store” kind of guy. But even I had to respect Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia.

Sometimes justice makes nobody happy. And that is where I think we have landed in the death of Danquirs Franklin.

There are certain rules you need to know when you’re doing comedy. One, timing is everything. Two, don’t repeat the punchline. And three, don’t stand in front of a group of several hundred public servants and tell a joke about sex and cows.

Apparently, Bob Cordle never made it to Rule No. 3.

One Cool Day, And The Promise Of Better Days Ahead

Jul 29, 2019

I got off of work the other day and the world had changed.

It had rained while I was inside, and that string of brutally hot days had finally snapped. The thermometer on my dashboard said 68 degrees. For the first time in months, I drove home with the windows rolled down.