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Happy 31st to Us: Athens Sends Flagpole Birthday Wishes

Editor’s noteThirty years is a long time. Thirty-one years is even longer. As your friendly neighborhood alt-weekly prepared to celebrate another turn around the sun in what Publisher Pete McCommons has affectionately dubbed “the failing newspaper racket,” we (rather shamelessly) put out a call to the community for birthday salutations. Here are some of the responses that made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We love you too, Athens! Here’s to 31 more years of colorbearering. Read this week’s Pub Notes for more on how to show your appreciation for Flagpole.

Happy birthday, Flagpole. Thanks for sticking up for the good, the local, the cool and wonderful things that have always set Athens apart from every other little Southern town—and every other town in general. Thanks for always fighting the good fight and doing what’s right (left!). Thanks, Pete, for being such an inspirational voice. Thanks for supporting and nurturing the scene and helping to keep it alive. Here’s to many many more. Love always and forever. [Patterson Hood]

Happy birthday, Flagpole! Hard to believe you’re 31. Makes me feel old. Not really. Actually, it makes me feel great, knowing that something that started out with such great intentions has been able to grow and expand not only its own reach, but the reach of all Athens, all the while never compromising on principle, mission or quality. Here’s to 31 more! [David Barbe]

Dear Flagpole: I know I don’t call, or visit, or let you know how much you mean to me, because I don’t want to fawn or seem like I want something from you—like free promotion—so I pretty much stay away and let you shine the light on our awesome town as you see fit. And you do shine your light, and we are the better for it. While so many publications are going the way of reality TV—or the dodo bird—you have kept your scruples and led the way for enlightened writers and reporters to report without a tether to the advertisers—who are equally as awesome! Thank you from one of your little minions in town who thinks you rock, big time. [Caroline Aiken]

Thank you for all the hard work you have put into keeping Athens informed for the last 31 years. Happy birthday, and we look forward to celebrating many more with you. [Jim and Laura Morang]

Happy Birthday! Heartfelt thanks to Pete and staff—present and past—for the who of you and what you do for Athens and the surrounding community! We are so lucky to have your voice. You have made wonderful things happen during the lifetime of Flagpole. A mention of something in Flagpole reaches a wide audience and produces a vigorous response. On a very personal level, I watched two publications, Oconee Hill Cemetery of Athens, Georgia (2009) and The Tangible Past in Athens, Georgia (2014), both big tomes with a hefty price tag, become local bestsellers and soon out of stock as a result of Pete’s Pub Notes. [Charlotte Thomas Marshall]

NATALEM DIEM! [Ricardus Illa Flora]

Over more than three decades, Flagpole has supported a community of shared interests, welcomed an evolving roster of contributors and kept us up to date on activities, art, and culture, as well as influences and issues in our special neck of the woods. Happy birthday, Flagpole! [Lola Montgomery]

Often entertaining, usually right, always interesting—as they’d say in Ireland, not bad. [Bertis Downs]


Photo Credit: Chris Sikich

Vanessa Briscoe Hay

My first child, Hana, was also born in 1987. I know exactly how old you are!

My favorite writers for Flagpole over the years:

1. John Seawright was a local history buff, poet and major brain. His Ghost Fry columns should be bound together into a book. He is greatly missed by all of us who knew him.

2. Ort. A prophet for our times. He foretold our current fixations on microbreweries, barbecue and vinyl collecting by decades.

3. Former food writer for the Flagpole Guide to Athens Maureen McLaughlin and current Grub Notes columnist Hillary Brown. I don’t eat out very often. If they say it’s good, I will try it—unless it involves unusual cuts of meat.

4. Gordon Lamb. He has the gossip on what is happening locally. Gordon can be awfully funny at times, but he has pretty trustworthy taste. If you are on a budget like me, then you should pay attention to his column. [Vanessa Briscoe Hay]

Flagpole is always the first to be read in my dental office, and the first to be worn out from doing so. Your staff is so pleasant to deal with. [Barry Simmons]

Thanks for 31 years of the best community journalism has to offer. You have informed us, entertained us and warmed our hearts. Best of all, you’ve graced us with clarity when we’ve been bamfoozled about what is going on in our little cranny of the world. [Susan Tate]

I grew up in Athens and used to pick up a copy of Flagpole pretty much every week. I’ve lived in Colorado for the last 26 years, but my mom still lives in Athens. I currently read you guys on your Facebook feed. Congratulations on 31 years, and keep rocking! [John Montgomery]

Flagpole is the first newspaper I read Wednesday mornings, unless it I see it in the box by Daily on Tuesday night. I am grateful for the only Athens political coverage I get, for the interesting and informative columns written by good writers and for coverage of art, music and food. Congratulations on 31 years, Pete and Flagpole. Keep up the good work. [June Ball]

Wit and Wisdom! Weekly. Freely. Consistently.
Hilariously. Bitingly. Comprehensively.
Motivates. Activates. Rejuvenates.
Delights. Surprises. Agitates.
Cheers! For another 31 years! [Heidi Davison]

Flagpole is my primary source of local news and opinion. Of course, it is the only way to keep track of the music and food scene. Keep up the good work, please! [Jerry NeSmith]

Shall I extol Flagpole, our weekly way
To know Athens as more lovely, first rate
Than shown by daily faults and sins displayed?
As summer’s heat extends its expiry date,
And the Sun too hot on Bulldawgs doth shine
To sometimes cause red and black to be dimmed.
The enchantment of Athens shan’t decline,
Nor any culture or amusement trimmed.
Our Athens’ eternal glory shall not fade
Nor lose sight, nor grasp, of progressive zeal.
For Flagpole’s light shines on politics’ shade
And provides our town with news that is real.
So long as we can breathe, and eyes can see,
Flagpole bears the colors for you and me. [Grady Thrasher]

My first experience with Flagpole came in the now-extinct Bolton dining hall, watching my much cooler friends flip through the Calendar, scanning for concerts that we could get into as underage freshmen. I didn’t know it at the time, but the paper would go on to become a focal point in many of our lives, providing first in-print bylines, doling out the occasional award for those of us who were musically inclined and giving us things to do and talk about. The summer I spent interning there, I learned that if you ask to do more work, your boss will probably let you. I learned how to tackle a big story that intimidated me throughout the entire writing process. I, oddly enough, learned how to run a half-marathon. I met editors who supported my writing more than I deserved at the time, and even after I moved away. Best of all, I learned so much about Athens and the wonderful people that make it up. Happy birthday to the paper that documents it all. [Stephanie Talmadge]

Happy birthday, Flagpole! Long may you run! [Russell Edwards]

As a teen growing up in a small, conservative rural town in the Florida Everglades, I dreamed of living in a cultured community like those in referenced in the books or liner notes I would read. There were three specific things I dreamed about: changing seasons, a college radio station that played more than Top 40 and a cultural newspaper that people would read outside on sunny days to keep abreast of the goings on in their community. While Mother Nature might be a little inconsistent with that first one, since I arrived in Athens, those dreams have been fulfilled.


Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson

Tim Denson

For my first few years, I would pick up a copy of our colorbearer every week and immediately go to Threats & Promises, then check out Fawn Baby. Now, I immediately open up to City Dope and then see what Pete has to say this week. (Of course, I do still make time for Tofu Baby.) While the parts of the paper I prioritize might have changed, I still deeply appreciate what Flagpole brings to this community and my wonderful neighbors who put it to print. The blessing it is to sit on my porch on a crisp, sunny Wednesday in October, tune the radio to 90.5 and open up the latest Flagpole is not lost on me. Long live Flagpole! [Tim Denson]

I moved away from Athens three years ago after a nearly 20-year stint. One of the things I miss the most about Athens is Flagpole magazine. Happy birthday, Flagpole! [Dana Armstrong]

Feliz cumpleaños to Flagpole magazine, colorbearer of Athens, the bellwether of community culture since 1987. Fiercely independent, as omnipresent as kudzu and champion of those in need, Flagpole is the purveyor of trustworthy coverage (i.e., no fake news) about the Classic City and points beyond. Between its pages, our beloved weekly chronicles our good, our bad, our ugly, our beautiful, our triumphs, our defeats, our tragedies and our comedies. Congratulations to Flagpole for not only enduring, but for prevailing by keeping its print and online presence alive and vibrant in this day and age. Go local, go Flagpole. Long may you wave. [Judy Long]