Friday, January 02, 2015

New Year's column ... take two

Holy cow! It’s 2015.

I usually wait until the last minute to write my column — for a variety of reasons. For one, I want to be able to touch on the latest news if something happens that I want to comment on. I hate talking about one thing if everyone is talking about something else. Second, I want my column to reflect my mood at the time of publishing it.

For the sake of expediency, I pre-wrote today’s column. I sat down at my kitchen table Tuesday night and wrote about New Year’s and resolutions and things I want to change and blah blah blah. It was decent … as my columns go.

About half way through Thursday I became concerned that my pre-fab column might not do. My mood was changed. And there were fun things I wanted to share. But I wasn’t sure. Who knows what my mood might be this morning. Well … as you can tell, I’m telling you about the column I *had* written, so … that should tell you I decided to make the change.

See, the column you’re not reading was kind of vanilla. It was absent any real personality. In retrospect, it was almost a column for the sake of a column. “You can’t not have a New Year’s column, Scott,” I said to myself. Yeah. I talk to myself. Most geniuses do. And so do I.

Nothing in “old column” is untrue. It just wasn’t exciting. And really, I can sum it up quickly: I want to be the best me I can be in 2015. Every hat I wear, I want to make it look good. Blah. There were also some tidbits about news people doing the news because we want to make the world a better place. All true. But … blah.

Instead, let me tell you about my first day of 2015. It was fun. I was happy. And if every day could be like Thursday was, I’d gladly “Groundhog Day” it.

Ignoring the fact that Wednesday night was an absolute blast; There were five bars, french fries, chicken wings, about 483 glasses of Coke (or Pepsi, depending on the bar), and one accidental sip of some drink at a bar. To the girl whose drink it was, I’m so sorry. I should have bought her a new one. She just sat there staring as I drank it. We left that bar soon after. (Sorry!)

Then midnight strikes. I enjoyed the strike of midnight at a place I’m comfortable — with people I like. We watched the ball drop on television. Then saw 24 minutes of credits on Channel 7, including some super slo-mo action at the end of the credits, no doubt to get the local affiliate clock synched with the network. But it was odd. Most people might have not noticed it or written it off to the alcohol, but in my sobriety, it was obvious. And oddly funny.

We waited until closing time and then cashed in our golden ticket to the 21st Amendment. We had been there earlier in the evening and got a personal invite to return from Jon George, owner of the bar.

Walking in, it looked like everyone in Lockport was already there. A lot of people I knew. A lot of people I didn’t know. Business owners, emergency responders and an elected official who bought us a drink despite my insistence that we pay for our own. (Drinking Coke, I didn’t feel *too* guilty, I guess, although Journalism 101 taught me never to accept “gifts” from sources.)

It was nice to be out. Lockport was fun. Everyone was in a great mood, save for one guy who was sleeping on the bar. He was asked to “celebrate” the rest of the night elsewhere. We left around 3:30 a.m. Not bad for a Wednesday night.

Skip ahead eight hours or so and we’re back out and about, grabbing our first coffee of the new year. A check of the police blotter, some photos of ice skaters at the arena, a fire, some stories posted, etc.

And then Heather and I shuffled off to Buffalo for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inauguration at the Buffalo and Erie County History Museum. And what happened next totally made my day.

We walked into the museum around 4, when press was asked to arrive. In the foyer of the museum were a handful of press people, including a cameraman for Channel 2, one for Channel 4 and one for Channel 7. This was the queue. Where media waits to have their credentials checked. It’s standard operating procedure at political events.

So we walk in and are prepared to wait when a former colleague and friend who was working the event says, “Hey Scott! Come right in.” We walk by the “major media” outlets and into the event. Sometimes knowing the right people is key.

Heather got a great vantage point for photos and I sat with the rest of the press ready to live tweet the event. Byron Brown, Kathy Hochul, Andrew Cuomo, etc. Read the story … or read the tweets if you want a play-by-play.

After the inauguration, I went home, drank some more coffee, wrote some stories and eventually went to bed … but not before posting to my Facebook: “The first day of 2015 was damn near perfect.”

And after a perfect day, a pre-fab column just wouldn’t suffice.

Happy New Year everyone. May all your days be as good as my Thursday.

Scott Leffler is thrilled to be news editor of East Niagara Post. And generally pleased with life. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler

This column was originally published on East Niagara Post.