Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another One Takes the Dive

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Go Cubs! In Albuquerque? That’s what it looks like.

Indeed it is. That’s a young Jim Arnholtz, left, with Ed “Kay” Klecka at the Albuquerque Sports Stadium, March 30,1972, during a preseason exhibition game between the Chicago Cubs and the L.A. Dodgers. These two Chicago hometown boys were enjoying yelling at and for their ever hopeful and usually beleaguered Cubbies.

In an email exchange Arnholtz wrote:
And if you use that picture of me wearing a Cubs button, please make note of the fact that it was a joke on my part back then. I'm a Sox fan from the South Side of Chicago, not a Cub fan from the North Side. I'd really appreciate it. I don't have much of a reputation to protect anymore, but what little there is I need to preserve.
Arnholtz and Klecka worked together at KDEF radio. Arnholtz was a journalism school intern working radio news, while Klecka was a disc jockey.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

I got to know Arnholtz as a radio news guy, from local events and press conferences.

A year before the Cubs game, I was attacked twice during the June 13, 1971, Roosevelt Park riot. Once in the park, where I lost three cameras, and then a second time, downtown across the street from the KDEF radio station in the Tower building on the northeast corner of Second and Marquette. Two rioters stole my camera beat on me awhile and as I escaped, I was struck in the back with what I thought, at the time was a brick. Later in life I have considered that it was actually the fourth camera I lost that day. I didn’t stop to check it out. I stumbled across Second street and made my way towards KDEF. Standing behind the locked glass door was Arnohltz and Station Manager Bill Smith. As Arnohltz later told the story, he saw a rioter crawling across the street and he anticipated being fire bombed. It only turned out to be Bralley. They took me in to the station’s lobby and Smith drove me to an Emergency room. Worse day of my media career; I was the news instead of reporting the news and not a single picture to show for it.

Arnholtz would go on the Albuquerque Journal as a copy editor, assistant city editor and feature editor, but within a few years started writing a part-time column. He eventually settled into being an exclusive columnist.

I’ve known Arnholtz, closer than just as a fellow journalist. We were neighbors when we lived in an apartment building on the fringe of the Country Club neighborhood. At least that’s how they were advertised. The reality was if we lived on the other side of 14th street we would have been described as living on the fringe of the downtown neighborhood, which wouldn’t have been seen as snooty or commanded the higher rent.

He has quoted me a few times, without using my name. He led his column about Officer John Carrillo’s funeral with my greeting to him that day, “Welcome to the big city.”

In a February 1987, column he mixed the tragedy of a young officer’s murder and the realization that Albuquerque was no longer a sleepy little town, but had grown into a big city with big city crimes.

A couple of years later, while I was a Field Investigator, the equivalent of a CSI light, I was dispatched to his home that had been burglarized to process it for evidence. He wrote a funny piece about how my investigative jargon turned what he understood as his normal language upside down. The best was probably, that his sliding glass patio door was now known as, "the point of entry…"

Later he changed his name to Jim Belshaw; actually, back to Belshaw. I didn’t know how best to describe it, so I asked. Here is his response
Belshaw is the name I was born with and had until I was almost 12 years old. My father died when I was 8. My other remarried three years later and back then there was no discussion with the kids about names. She came home one day and said my sister and I had been adopted and we now had a new name.

I considered reclaiming my birth name many, many times. Then in 1991, I took it off the shelf again and my wife said, "Do it or leave it alone or it will make you crazy."

I spent a year talking it over with trusted friends. I couldn't find anyone who said, "Don't do it." So I did it. And I'm glad I did it.
I didn’t plan to lift his work, but in the context of our email exchange, you can see how good his writing is.

Belshaw worked for the Journal 32 years, 28 of which were as a columnist and recently retired.

He has started blogging. It is entitled Tag End.

Belshaw’s compiled a series of his columns in his second book, “Trickster in the Front Yard: Still Semi-Native." The first book was Semi-Native, also a collection of his Journal Columns.

Here, he posed at an Old Town book signing event a few months ago.

He was a contributor to, “Closing the Chart: A Dying Physician Examines Family, Faith, and Medicine.”

He also writes for abqArts.com.

Belshaw tells a funny story he attributes to my younger brother, Neal. Seems they were in the same economics class at UNM in the early 1970s with a professor whose politics compelled him to wear a Viet Cong flag lapel pin. The prof was spouting on about the communist theory of shared wealth, when, according to Belshaw, my brother asked how much the professor earned. The professor answered and Neal is supposed to have said, "I’m not working, give me half.” End of class session, Belshaw was in stitches, my brother denies it, he went on to become a retired Army Colonel, I believe Jim.

Belshaw seems to be taking blogging in the stride of a retired man. He writes when he has something to offer.

I recommend him, because when he does have something to write; it’s likely to be worth reading, if not, it's still an enjoyable and well told story.

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