Davis Phinney Foundation, Palliative Care, Parkinson's Disease, Parkinson's exercise

Pounding Dr. Parkinson With Intense Exercise

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The Tampa Tribune’s Final Counteroffensive

The late, great Gene Patterson commanded a tank in George S. Patton’s WWII army.

Patterson, 43 years later, commanded scores of St, Petersburg Times journalists to flood the bridges eastward into Tampa Tribune Land.

Gene broke the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” that for decades gave the Times newspaper sovereignty in West Tampa Bay– the Trib had exclusivity in East Bay.

Demographics dictated the move. To grow, the water-locked Times had to move east. Pinellas was becoming built out. There was only the Gulf of Mexico west.

The strategic intent was beautifully simple: The Times would be the only paper in populous and fast growing North Tampa Bay. (The Bradenton Herald and Sarasota Herald Tribune would continue to split South Tampa Bay,)

The comfortably profitable Trib, and its complacent owners, Media General of Richmond, were stunned.

The fight between the not-for-profit Times (owned by the school for journalists, Poynter Institute) and the for-profit Trib, went on for 29 years.

It ended May 3, 2016.

Times Leader Paul Tash, accompanied by armed security guards, entered the Tribune building and told staffers this: The Times had purchased the recession-crippled Trib and would shutter it immediately. There would be no staff-produced final edition, as had been the tradition when a paper died.

That saga flashed through my mind on Oct. 26, a lovely, loving evening at the fittingly named Love’s Artifacts Bar and Grill in South Tampa. The occasion was a Tribune alum party for Struby and me on the eve of our departure for a new home in Macon, Georgia.

Many of the Trib foot soldiers were there. That’s you Donna, Allyn, Michelle, Marilyn, Kirk, Kim, B.C., and so many more of my fine, talented staff.

I was privileged to be part of the Trib’s last counter attack against the Times. It came between the mid-90s and 2006, my final year as publisher.

The tips of the spear were Knight-Ridder alums, led by former Wichita Eagle Publisher Reid Ashe, a brilliant MIT grad turned journalist. His gift was attracting and empowering very determined combatants.

Reid got me as editor from The State. Advertising and marketing dynamos Steve Weaver (San Jose Mercury News) and Bruce Faulmann (Bradenton Herald) signed on. They joined an already solid executive team headed by CFO Kermit Kauffman.

That fortified team was the strongest I’d seen in my 30 years as an editor.

We threw the entire Knight-Ridder playbook at the Times in our counter offensive.

Customer obsession. Re-energized local news coverage. Hard-digging enterprise reporting and deep investigations. New attention to fast growing suburbs. Multimedia journalism with WFLA-TV. Solidified branding (“Life Printed Daily”).

It worked.

By 2006 we had record profits and growing reader and advertising market share. The Times took worried notice,

Then came the Great Recession and the triumph of online news and marketing. Media General, never comfortable managing its only competitive market, withdrew combat resources it had given the Tribune.

The rest is history.

A rollicking good fight it was. While it lasted.

 

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Macon, Georgia: Take One

The pickup trucks, everywhere.

Chromed. Uplifted. Ginormous wheels and tires. Throaty exhaust. Aggressive vehicles… and drivers to match.

Why so many? And SO gussied up?

“It’s not real exciting around here,” explained ace saleswoman at the splendid Ace Hardware on Forsyth Road. “Our trucks are an adrenaline rush.” (Not to mention, she said, a perfect, broadside target for the ubiquitous deer.)

The Macon community is human-scaled, rarely in a hurry. Not slow; just measured.

Polite is good here, most encounters at least so far. Nice community fabric to build a future on.

Some say the town is “cliquish.” That seems to connote long-timers versus not-so long-timers, as in 40-50 years. Go figure.

My wife has thrown the warm and welcoming members of our new seniors sub-community, stately Carlyle Place, for a bit of a loop.

The most senior remember her as Cynthia Jane Struby, daughter of the late and distinguished, long-time leader (president and publisher) of The Macon Telegraph. Daughter also of the late Jane Spearman Struby, every ounce a gracious, Macon mainstay of long lineage.

That smart Cynthia Jane went off to her own solid newspaper career in Columbia, S.C., Alexandria, Va. (managing editor before age 30), Charlotte and finally Myrtle Beach, S.C. She retired to raise her two boys, now men.

First with her closest high school friends, then at Furman, then later in newspapers, people called her Struby, not Cynthia. She liked it. (“I don’t see myself looking like a Cynthia.”)

She was “Struby” when I met and married her while we were both editors at The Charlotte Observer. (That was 38 years ago, for the curious.)

So here we are at Carlyle, our first week in town, arriving from Tampa. Struby is a clique “cross-dresser,” Old Maconite returning from 45-plus years in the Wilderness of other places..

Heads are spinning at wonderful Carlyle Place.

But residents will come to remember it’s “Struby,” not Cynthia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KASH, The Thelens’ Mover

Weird time it is at Chez Thelen/Tampa, Saturday, Nov. 4.

Packers have reduced our life to a series of 2-to-4-foot-tall, boxes– rows of centurions at alert. Movers come Sunday, led by 18-wheeling chap named Kash. KASH!!! (He gotta be packing heat inside his leather.)

Wheels up to Macon Monday, probably, maybe. All depends on the loading speed of KASH and his team.

New Carlyle Place home, 2700 sq. ft., awaits–half the size of Tampa home. Struby has blown up the kitchen, rejiggered the rest of house to fit her very clear vision. Getting great new blue, king bed, “Quincy” (by Ethan Allen, of course.) Quincy as in John Q. Adams. I spotted it. Love it.

My other treats are an under-construction Cigar porch (man cave) and a boffo audio system. (That’s you AV master, Jeff Smith.) Wolfgang and Grateful Dead will never have sounded better.

I make my first public appearance in Macon area Nov. 14. Forsyth Kiwanis club mini-speech on PD. Will dial down my “relentlessness” (re PD patient advocacy). Macon VERY conservative and quite polite.

Picking up new set of brain “mufflers” Monday from Midas shop. Mufflers to be grafted between my wicked cortex and too-often ribald tongue.

Mufflers are a survival necessity in a community whose headliner these days is Eric Ericson, Alt Right guru. (His home was picketed by two Trumpites because he would not endorse Donald’s candidacy. Yes, that sound you heard was my throat clearing.)

My PD is behaving well. First order of business next week, at Carlyle’s superb exercise facility, is finding a personal trainer. Must fill void left by end of 3-a -week Rock Steady Boxing and 2-a-week spinning in Tampa. (Only RSB program in ALL of Georgia is a bazillion miles north in Atlanta.) Exercise is my killer App against the Parkinson’s Beast.

To understate things, a tad, my Davis Phinney Foundation, patient-advocacy work in Georgia looms large.