Thursday, September 20, 1984

Wild Horses!

As a national correspondent, I went out to Marlboro Man country for this story on a federal program to manage wild horse herds.  It was wonderful out there.  The photos in this fine spread were by the great Fred Blocher.

You can click on the images to enlarge.

Monday, August 27, 1984

The Farm

I'd known for years about The Farm, the band of San Francisco hippies who traveled cross-country by converted school bus until deciding to settle in rural Tennessee.  I was thrilled to get the chance to visit them and see how well they had kept to their ideals. They represented a strain of American communalism that is now, alas, all but dead.

(click on images to enlarge)

Thursday, August 2, 1984

The Memphis Blues, again

One of the most enjoyable reporting trips I ever took -- to Memphis, Tenn., to write about the revival of Beale Street.

What sounds!

Saturday, May 26, 1984

The Jedi homicide

Our courts reporter covered this trial, but the circumstances were so bizarre and the details so rich that the metropolitan editor, Bob Samsot, assigned me to write a reconstruction of the case after the verdict was in. Early on, I got the cooperation of the killer's father, which gave me great access to the son's bedroom and drawings, windows into his disturbed mind. The dead boy's parents also opened up to me, eager to show what a talented young man he had been. And the investigating detectives opened up their thick case file.

What made the story eerier was my realization, about halfway through the reporting, that I actually had met the murder victim a year earlier when covering the opening of one of the Star Wars movies in suburban Kansas City. I went out to write about the rabid young fans who waited days in line for the first screening, and the most rabid fan out there was this immature looking guy in a Beatles haircut and an old Army jacket bedecked with sci-fi movie trinkets. Ralph Cochran.

We didn't have a Sunday magazine at the Kansas City Times, but the paper would sometimes run long stories on Saturdays in a full-page format. That's how this story appeared. I'll never forget eating a late breakfast in a restaurant that Saturday morning and all around me, people were opening their paper and getting absorbed in the story. It was one of the most exciting moments I've had as a writer.

I was further honored when the story was reprinted in the book, Best Newspaper Writing of 1985.

(Click on image to enlarge it. Right-click on "Open Link in New Window" for best view) 

Saturday, April 28, 1984

K.C.'s lost "Black Rialto"

Count Basie's death occasioned this look at the storied neighborhood of 18th and Vine, once one of the jazz centers of America, but in the 1980s a desolate stretch of empty lots and old brick buildings housing a handful of stubborn businesses.  Nowadays, I've read, 18th and Vine has been revived as a thriving tourist and entertainment center, with a hall of fame for KC jazz players and Negro League baseball. I'd like to think that articles like this one helped keep the memory alive.

(click to enlarge images)