EDITOR: Time to wear pants again

J.J. Stambaugh, Hard Knox Wire editor, relaxes after a week spent begging for subscriptions and then writing this column.

Well, it’s been a week since we officially launched Hard Knox Wire, and things are most certainly not going according to plan. 

For one thing, it’s already looking like we might succeed. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like my partner, Cliff Hightower, and myself are stupid enough to launch a business with the expectation of failure. But we also figured that, once the paywall slammed down on this website, it’d probably take awhile for people to start noticing us and even longer to start paying us.

Let’s just say that we misjudged the market.

It seems that either a lot of you have a thing for middle-aged journalists with delusions of relevance, or there’s a lot of people in Knox County who really, really want a new source of the “news and views” they once got from newspapers. 

A lot of you also apparently liked my column last week, in which I rambled on about the state of journalism, institutional memory, and things my late dad said while drunk. 

My partner, Cliff Hightower, a rather bulky dude who was once an Army Ranger, says that you all liked it well enough that I’d better write another column or else….well, he didn’t say what exactly he’d do if I refused, but in my experience it’s a good idea to not ignore guys trained by Uncle Sam to kill people while deliberately leaping from the belly of a C-5 cargo plane. 

So, please forgive me if this column ain’t quite Shakespeare, but why don’t you try getting inspired while listening to the heavy breathing of a man who discusses things like “Google analytics” in the same tone of voice once used by Genghis Khan as he sat atop a mountain of human skulls, plotting his next conquest….

I’m a little short of topics, but I’m obviously not going to tell you exactly how well Hard Knox Wire has been doing (proprietary secrets and all). I will say that if things keep going this way, we’re going to be publishing for a long, long time. Oh, yeah — please feel free to ignore that woodpecker-on-meth noise you hear coming from somewhere outside, it’s just me fervently knocking on wood with one hand while I type with the other….

Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for supporting local journalism. Thank you for telling your friends and neighbors about this awesome new website that thinks it’s a newspaper.

Most of all, thank you for encouraging them to subscribe posthaste for the low, low price of $8 a month, $40 for six months, or $80 for a full year! 

Keep doing that, friends, and we’ll keep afflicting the comfortable, comforting the afflicted, and playing the role of local gadflies buzzing about the braying donkey that is the state.

 But our role isn’t all watchdogging the government and relating the everyday happenings here in Knox Vegas. Part of our job has to do with history, especially when said history is being made right in front of our eyes and every one of us has at least a small role to play.  

Even as I wrote this, millions of Americans are queuing up to get their promised doses of a modern scientific and industrial miracle, the COVID-19 vaccine. If it works as promised, two quick injections may augur the global return of, well, I won’t say “sanity,” so I guess “normalcy” will do.

We may remember getting our inoculations the way people recall J.F.K.’s assassination or 9-11, only with a deep feeling of relief rather than existential horror.

We are ready for this to be over. The last 12 months have sucked worse than any year since the mid-20th century. We’ve learned to cope with paranoia, face masks, a dearth of toilet paper, lockdowns, and conducting nearly every social transaction via the internet, careful to not let our callers see that none of us are wearing pants. All due to itty bitty smears of protein and genetic information that have managed to kill 2.5 million of us since someone ate an undercooked bat half a world away and unleashed a modern plague….

All those things could be traced to the coronavirus, but it was only one element of a year filled with terrifying crap that seemed to sweep over us in waves. We’ve also seen Australia catch on fire, allegations of police brutality and ensuing race riots, murder hornets, Tiger King and a mob of cavemen who believe everything they hear on the internet try to end American democracy on behalf of a narcissistic billionaire.

It had better be time to gather in large crowds again, elbow-to-elbow with thousands of our fellow primates, sweating and coughing and grinding in the summer heat. Time to spend $20-a-pop on trips to the movie theater to see a 90-minute film that’ll cost us next to nothing to watch from our couch if we only wait for three months. Time to relearn how to order from an actual waiter or waitress, and to enjoy our meals piping hot from a restaurant kitchen instead of lukewarm from a delivery container. 

I don’t know what you’re most looking forward to. Me, I miss live music. I want concerts again. In fact, if 2022 arrives and I haven’t gotten to see a septuagenarian Blue Oyster Cult perform “Then Came the Last Days of May” in a field at a county fair somewhere in these United States, I will personally drive to Washington D.C. and ram an entire case of used facemasks up Dr. Fauci’s ass.

Yup. It’s time to get used to wearing pants again. 

Oh, yeah — and subscribing to Hard Knox Wire. 

Don’t forget. It’s important.

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on March 5, 2021.

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