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Tying off 2008's loose ends
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JUST BEFORE November 30, 2008, at least six Savannahians turned purple.

I was not one of them.

In the cyber literary world of National Novel Writing Month, “turning purple” is the jargon used to describe writers who succeed in writing at least 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. Known as NaNoWriMo, the national writing event attracts over 100,000 participants, including 72 from the Savannah area during November 2008.

I’ve found six Savannah writers who hit the goal by the deadline, submitting their novels to the NaNoWriMo wordcounting computer software that changes the font type from black to purple once the magic number of words is reached.

I’d hoped that an in-the-column declaration of intent in early November would compel me to join the ranks of the purple. As it turns out, I barely turned a pale lavender, completing a plot outline and nothing else.

Now that this debacle is off my conscience, here are a few other follow-ups from last year’s columns that will perhaps be more interesting to read about than my complete failure as a fiction writer.

In the bad news/good news department, two prior column items stand out.

Item number one: the bad news is that Savannah Bike Co-op, a grass roots “repair your own bike” venture at 39th and East Broad that opened with enthusiasm and high ideals in December of 2007, disappeared sometime during mid 2008. The good news is that out of the ashes of the co-op has sprung Recess, a monthly grassroots zine created by several of the co-op’s former organizers.

The December 2008 issue of Recess features mostly thoughtful, thought-generating, and skillful sequential art, photography, political commentary, poetry and a short story, all “broach[ing] the issue of deception” writes Editor-in-Chief Melissa J. Bzdak in her Letter from the Editor. Recess is available at the Sentient Bean, or email for other distribution points.

Item number two starts with good news: the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon has extended the run of the temporary exhibit “Otis Redding: I’ve Got Dreams To Remember,” through April 19, 2009. Curated by Redding’s widow and daughter, a visit to this exhibit is worth a detour through Macon.

But, news reports from November indicate that the state’s music showcase, along with other halls of fame for golf, aviation and sports, are unlikely to meet mandated fundraising and attendance goals set for them in last year’s state budgeting process. Music lovers who want to tour the music hall of fame’s Tune Town, the Main Street styled exhibit of Georgia’s music history, should plan a visit for 2009, before the state budget deficit forces our legislature to cut this line item and shutter the museum.

In current lean times, it’s hard to argue with the fiscal prudence of such a move, but the threat of closing this cultural site still feels like bad news. Hopefully the museum will be propped up by an influx of visitors for “Johnny Mercer: Too Marvelous For Words,” an exhibit celebrating the 100th birthday of the Savannah-born composer. It’s scheduled to open in July and run through mid-2010.

Finally, last January, as a wrap-up story for the Daffin Park centennial in 2007, I asked almost every old hippie I know to share their memories of hanging out in the northeast section of the park in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the corner was known as People’s Park. When no one was willing to step forward and admit they had frequented the local counterculture gathering spot I went ahead and wrote about it anyway, hoping the column would flush out a few people willing to tell their stories.

Four people responded, all willing to be interviewed, although one, in the spirit of Watergate’s Deep Throat, refused to tell me his or her name. Most respondents also gave me a couple of other leads to follow—perhaps enough information for a long oral-history style piece.

I’d commit here to writing a People’s Park story in 2009, but I’m afraid it will turn out like my novel writing effort, and one public mea culpa every 12 months is all I can handle. cs