Inaugural Address

President’s Message

By Jerry Zezima

President
National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima

Greetings, I am your new president.

No six words in the English language can strike more paralyzing fear into NSNC members except, perhaps, “Don’t move, this is a stick-up” or “Hey, pal, your fly is open.”

Still, it’s true. (Made you look down, didn’t I?) About my being president, that is.

Since cooler heads did not prevail at the closing meeting in Washington (I guess the effects of the hospitality suite were still being felt), I am honored that you chose me to step into Eric Heyl’s shoes. Fortunately, he was thoughtful enough to have them polished.

As I said at the meeting, anyone can be followed; not everyone can be replaced. Eric is irreplaceable. I know you join me in thanking him again for his service, leadership and good humor. If only I knew how to use a cellphone as masterfully as he does.

At the height of his fabulous career, the great sportswriter Red Smith was turning out six columns a week. He likened it to being married to a nymphomaniac. “As soon as you’re done,” Smith said, “you have to start all over again.”

Don’t tell my wife, but that’s how I look at planning a conference. No sooner do we finish one than the next one is in the works.

The 2015 confab will be in Indianapolis, by way of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Maybe we should all put in for mileage.

Anyway, the prevailing thinking was that we should meet on the West Coast. California, as far as I can remember from freshman geography and, currently, Google Maps, qualifies. It would be only fair for members who annually had to truck (or, more conveniently, fly) from West to East.

L.A. was quickly dismissed because we did not, of course, want to outshine the stars who live there. So we set our hearts on San Francisco. That, as it turned out, is where we left them.

The reason: It would be too expensive to have next year’s conference there. We needed a more affordable site so we could save enough to have our 2016 meeting in the City by the Bay.

So we figured we’d meet in Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town.

Then, out of the red, white and blue (we were, after all, in D.C.), Indianapolis was chosen as fast as the cars race around the track at the famous Speedway.

Hoosier writers Michelle Freed and Amanda Beam agreed to be co-chairs. (We are still, incidentally, looking for co-tables.) Immediately, Michelle and Amanda, as well as their fellow Hoosier Ginger Truitt and the indispensable Luenna Kim, began working on the preparations.

Indianapolis, a city with plenty of attractions, will afford us the opportunity to afford San Francisco better than Chicago could have. Plus, it is centrally located (this, I guess, is why it’s called the Midwest) and more easily accessible to members from both coasts.

It will, I know, be a great place for our 2015 NSNC conference.

So there you have it, fellow members. Thanks again for electing me president. I leave you with this final message:

Your fly is open.

• • •

Jerry Zezima is a syndicated humor columnist for his hometown paper, The Stamford (Conn.) Advocate.

This column was first published in the August 2014 edition of The Columnist, the membership newsletter of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

6 comments for “Inaugural Address

  1. August 13, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Thank you, Sharon. If I charge enough for the lessons, our conference would be free. Let that be a lesson to our state and U.S. leaders. See you in Indy!

  2. Bill Ervolino
    August 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Eric Heyl was the tall one?

    • August 13, 2014 at 8:11 am

      Eric stands head and shoulders above me, Bill. Maybe I should buy some shampoo.

  3. August 11, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Congratulations, Jerry! I’m sure that under your leadership, the NSNC will be going places. Exactly what places, the jury is still out on the stick-up.

    I am happy to have you as our president.

    • August 13, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Thank you, Rose. One of the places we will be going is the hospitality suite. After that, it may indeed be in a jury’s hands.

  4. August 11, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Great inaugural speech/essay. I wish our state and US leaders would take a lesson from you for their speeches.

    You’ll do a great job, Jerry. I hope to see you in Indy next summer.

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