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November 21, 2012

Ten years of troublemaking with The Jones

"Think, and most about that which is most important: all the fools get lost because they do not think: they never see the half of things, and knowing neither their loss, nor their profit, they make small effort in either direction. Some make much of what is of little importance, always judging wrong. Most do not lose their heads because they have none.” —Baltasar Gracian, “The Art of Worldly Wisdom”

How time flies. In October 2002, I received an invitation from LEO founder and owner John Yarmuth and then editor Cary Stemle to write for the city’s greatest alternative weekly. I accepted, and what is now “Keeping Up With The Jones” ceased being an intermittent, two-year-old underground Internet column entitled the “Message to the People” and took its current place in LEO.

I didn’t realize it, but I was “blogging” before they called it blogging in the pre-LEO days. I initially intended to only write one piece entitled “Fear of the Truth” about local police brutality and the failures of Louisville’s traditional black leadership. I simply sent it to people in my email address book. They forwarded it to others and, surprisingly, people wanted more. With that the column was born. Over time, the “little column that could” grew and grew. I had no editor, no deadlines and no obligation to do it. So, I wrote at my leisure. I might write once a week, once a month, or once a quarter. It all depended on what was going on and how I felt. It was a no-pressure, free-flowing endeavor.

Twelve years later I’m on my third editor at LEO, have deadlines, write religiously once a month, and have spent 10 whole years with this publication. And it’s been very, very cool! It’s been great mostly because my editors — from Cary Stemle to Stephen George to Sarah Kelley — have been godsends. None of them have interfered with me even though I’ve written some controversial stuff over the years. Editors of more traditional, stale publications would have shrank. Mine have stood tall. Righteous!

Since the first LEO column, “Thirty pieces of silver,” appeared in November 2002, I have worked (successfully or not) to make this a thought-provoking column. It’s not so important that they think like me, but it is essential that they exercise their mental muscles. Of course, the crazy idea of people actually thinking and asking questions still scares the hell out of some folks. Because of this, I’ve incensed a wide range of people — blacks, whites, preachers, politicians, activists, liberals and conservatives. You name them and I’ve pissed them off at one time or another.

In fact, I’d like to thank the readers who despise me and have let me know it over the years. Unlike sane people, I love hate-mail! It lets me know I’m doing something right when I get under certain people’s skin. One of the best notes I ever got was a fellow who wrote, “I read every column because I hate you and your stupid ass ideas so much!” Priceless! I value contestation — especially when it’s well-thought-out. We learn the most from intelligent people who don’t think like us. Smart critique helps to keep me sharp. So, keep those notes coming. Of course, a heart-felt thanks also goes out to the folks who take time out to drop a line every now and then to say “good job” or “I’m your biggest fan!” Much love to you. It’s nice to know that somebody out there agrees with me every blue moon.

Life has changed a lot for me over the last decade. I’ve been blessed with expanded media opportunities and recognition I never could have imagined when I was younger. Even with that increased flexibility, I think LEO is an invaluable platform that I sincerely love and enjoy. It’s home. Because of that, I plan on hanging around as long as the editors will have me. So, fools beware — “The Jones” is 10 years older, 10 years wiser, 10 years meaner, locked, loaded and ready for another 10 years of troublemaking.

For many decades to come — have no fear, stay strong, stand on truth, do justice and do not leave the people in the hands of fools! Thanks to all of you for reading!

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