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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

March 2001


Tuesday
March 27, 2001
9:56 AM EST

"We can work it out, we can work it out..."
-The Beatles "We Can Work It Out"

Here's a little slice of my life, as my time in "Wild, Wonderful" West Virginia draws to a close...

Flashing lights came on behind me, the red and blue illuminations permiating the darkness of the Saturday evening. It was 10 days ago; how ironic that I will be leaving this state in 10 days. The BankOne parking lot by Sharkey's, where I can almost always find a space, had been full; I had been pulled over while making my third loop through, searching in vain for a place to park. I didn't have the usual shock/surprise that usually comes in that situation, as if somehow I had expected it to happen. My violation: operating a car with an expired registration, and failure to have had my car inspected by the state of West Virginia. Three weeks to go before my move to Florida, and I was busted. My little gamble hadn't paid off.

See, last month, when some worthless low-life broke into my car, the cop who had come out warned me that my license plate had an expired tag on it. How he could tell that remains a mystery to me; I had purchased the plate at the beginning of 2000, and they had a 2001 sticker on them. Unlike Tennessee, West Virginia doesn't have a state sticker to go as a combo with the year on the license plate. And, to the best of my observation, ALL of the West Virginia plates have blue 2001 stickers on them. So, how they could tell that mine had expired (as opposed to, say, being good through May) is beyond me even now.

But my knowledge didn't matter at the pullover. I had a ticket, and a court date set for March 27th. I found a parking place right after that, and I ran into some friends going over to Sharkey's. They shared their sympathies, though it wasn't as if I hadn't known there was some risk in playing beat the clock.

From there, I did the right thing last week, and I got my car inspected and renewed my license. It wasn't all that easy, though. The DMV rep smugly told me that I needed proof that I didn't own a car in West Virginia as of July 1, 1999, and so that meant a trip to City Hall. Someone once told me that you can't fight City Hall; I disagree -- you CAN fight them, but the effort itself is a futile exercise. A trip to the first floor sent me to the second floor for the form. The woman there told me to go back to the first floor and that it would save me a trip back to the DMV. Ha. The lady at the first floor said since my registration had expired more than 60 days ago, I had to go BACK to the DMV. I love government efficiency.

Back to the DMV (the next day -- sleep deprivation had taken its tole the previous day), and finally I had the necessary paperwork. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to pay a little extra and get a Dale Earnhardt license plate. You see, West Virginia is the only state to have special NASCAR license plates. Somewhere my old friend Glenn Brown is laughing at this. But my thinking is this: I'll have the plate on my car for three weeks, then get a new one in Florida, and voila, my NASCAR plate becomes a potentially valuable collector's item. So we'll see if my little entreprenurial move pays off for me.

The inspection was a bit easier to land; for $7.36 (tax included), my car passed the test, and now there's a red sticker, proclaiming "03/02", above the WSAZ parking sticker on my windshield. About time my car gets totally legal, right before I skip town. And to clarify, I had not been told about the whole inspection nonsense when I moved here, and the cop who inspected my car break-in failed to mention it either. But hey hey, what can I do?

Soon enough my court date arrived, earlier this morning. The officer who had pulled me over had advised me to bring in my proof of registration and inspection to the judge, if I chose not to pay the ticket outright. So that's what I did. My ticket told me to go to 800 5th Ave., but that proved to be incorrect information. I was sent across the street, to City Hall, but they told me that I needed to go down to the Jean Dean building (a gorgeous building that opened not too long ago, but which helped put this city in debt to the point where they can't afford to pave the streets anymore -- and no, that's not being sarcastic, that's reality). I had parked at WSAZ, so I walked quickly, both trying to minimize my time in the chilly morning air, and hoping to make it to municipal court on time.

My watch said 9:00 as I walked the final block of the 6 or so down to the Jean Dean building. I made it to the door, and pulled.. but it wouldn't give. I looked up to see a sign for Amazon.com. It would have been nice to stop by and say hi to my friend Tara who works there, but I had deadlines to meet. A sign directed me to the 7th Ave. entrance, and I stepped inside just as they were opening court. For once in my life, my timing was perfect.

A long list of names proceeded to be read, as a room filled with citizens looked on. A cute blonde across the room caught my eye -- she had long, blonde hair and these cute, dark rimmed glasses. The charges in court ranged from red lights run to leaving the scene of an accident to some, like me, who faced charges like expired licenses.

I was surprised to see that very few people had bothered to dress up for their court appearance. Well, maybe not all *that* surprised, but still it was striking that only one other person appearing before the judge, besides me, had on a sports coat and tie. Meanwhile, the blonde across the room had become apparently as bored as I, as she looked down and read something on a slip of paper she had with her.

The names rang out one by one, like a throwback to the days of grade school. I always liked my particular position in the draw; if I had a last name that began with A, it is entirely possible that I would have made poorer grades in school, based on being called on first (and often times not having an assignment ready on the first day of a random draw like that). But today I had come prepared, with my ticket, registration sticker, and ticket all in hand. I even brought my insurance card, if for nothing else to be prepared for whatever might come my way.

Finally, the list came down to the P's, Patton.. Peyton.. PICKNEY, CHARLES. That was me. If the blonde girl, with her legs crossed and attention on her paper, looked up, I didn't know it. Soon enough I was in front of the judge. He read the charges against me, then asked if I had registered my car and had it inspected. I told him that I had, and I handed him my registration and receipt from the Exxon. I had gone in expecting to have to plead my case, but without another word from me, His Honor let me off with a warning. Payment due: $0.00. Advantage: Lou.

Walking out of the courtroom, I waited until I was a bit down the street before giving a celebratory fist pump in the air. At a time where expenses are mounting, with my impending move to Tampa looming, the escape from a potential $100 or more ticket was alright by me.

And now... well all that storytelling has me worn out. Time for sleep now... oh, and before I go, I wonder if anyone will catch the irony, or the slight bit of humor, in me posting a link to this story?


Monday
March 26, 2001
6:37 PM EST

"It'll probably fall into your lap, just like everything else has."
-WSAZ Anchor Bill Murray, 3/15/2001, regarding my apartment situation in Tampa.

"With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey, what else can we do now?"
-Bruce Springsteen "Thunder Road"

I've been wanting to update this for awhile now, but time flies by so fast these days. My time in Huntington is drawing closer and closer to an end, and much like a movie the sub-plots start to come back around and people come from the woodwork, drawn closer because of knowing I am now a limited commodity, or because they know I'm Florida-bound, or perhaps for other reasons altogether unknown to me.

My thoughts and praters go out to the family of Penny Moss, and her husband Matt Sheppard. Penny's mom passed away the week before last. I had talked with Penny's mom a couple of times on the phone when she had called the station. Penny and Matt are two of the nicest people that you'll ever meet, and I hated for them having to go through that tough situation.

I had been sick last week, so much so in fact that I had to miss work on Thursday and Friday. It also kept me rather subdued this past weekend, not wanting to further agitate the situation.

Today I picked up my new set of glasses, and I'm happy with them. My old ones weren't quite as effective anymore, and these allow me to see a bit better.

There is more to write, such as my intrigue about the final night of WCW Nitro on TNT, and on last week's worthless Survivor episode (done to extend the series an extra week, going into May sweeps), and on my failed NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament picks... but time is short. More later.


Wednesday
March 14, 2001
8:53 AM EST

First of all, all of you in the Huntington area absolutely owe it to yourself to come see the outstanding band Westlake in concert at Sharkey's. These guys rock, and they have a new CD coming out any day now (their debut CD, titled "Broken"). I have confidence that, with the right opportunity, Westlake will be playing on radio stations across the country someday. They play at Sharkey's on Friday (3/16) and Saturday (3/17). Come see Westlake play -- you won't regret it...

Thanks to the powers-that-be in the recording business, Napster is being persecuted into filtering searches that go on through its program. You don't see ISP's being forced to do that sort of thing, yet in the flawed logic of our legal system, combined with the power of the RIAA, the attack on Napster continues.

Luckily, however, there is a clever program called Gnutella. Try shutting that down, muchacho.

My move to WTSP in Tampa is three and a half weeks away, and I've been very busy with the apartment hunting process. As I type this, I'm waiting to hear from three different apartment search companies that I hope will help me out in the process. I do have a few Tampa connections.. with my former co-worker at WEHT, Mark Walden (currently a meteorologist at WPTY in Memphis) being from Tampa, and with my friend Gary "G.W." Graham living an hour away in Orlando. In fact, Gary partied in Tampa over the weekend, and from the sounds of it, he had a great time there. Anyway, it is entirely possible that I will have to move down without seeing my new apartment in person, but hopefully I can have someone, be it a friend or a connection, check the place out.

Also a concern for me is how to move all my stuff down to Tampa. The moving stipend from WTSP won't be enough to pay for movers, and I have been unsuccessful in finding someone to drive down with me in the truck, then drive the truck back (that's a LONG drive). So.. it's looking like I'll be having to rent a truck, load it up here, then pull my car behind it all the way down to Tampa. Another option is to drive the truck down, unload, then FLY back to Huntington and drive my car down. That is a very unlikely scenario, between the driving wear-and-tear on me and the timing (I have 48 hours to get to Tampa, which sounds like something out of a movie). So... that will be a challenge. I know plenty of people in the TV biz who have done the whole moving a car with the truck thing (including our EP here, Christine Cassen, who came all the way from PHOENIX...). So, it will be a challenge.

Survivor is on earlier this week, coming on tonight (Wednesday night). That will be the case next week, as NCAA tournament time takes center stage. Look for the one-by-one pick off process to continue, with Alicia being a likely target this week. Jerri, abbrasive as she might be, is still my pick to win.

Speaking of picks, and the NCAA tournament... I have made my picks for the work tournament pool. I won't reveal my picks on here until after the tourney begins tomorrow, but I think I have a good setup. By Sunday I might change my tune, but we'll see...


Thursday
March 8, 2001
10:36 AM EST

I have accepted a job to become a news producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in Tampa, Florida. My last day at WSAZ will be on Friday, April 6; my first day at WTSP is scheduled for Monday, April 9. More later...


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