Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Adios, Joe...

Well, tonight I'm bummed out. I just read the online issue of the Daily Pilot for Thursday and find that my old friend, Joe Bell, is retiring. Thursday's column will be his last after two decades of pumping out some really great stuff.


You can read Joe's final column HERE and Mike Reicher's accompanying article HERE. I won't attempt to paraphrase either of them - you can read the accounts for yourselves.

I have long admired the work Joe Bell has done, both during his time as a columnist for the Daily Pilot when he began presenting his views on local issues nearly twenty years ago and before that, too. Somewhere in our library I have a copy of his book written about the original Mercury astronauts, Seven Into Space, that I purchased while living in Houston, Texas a long, long time ago and well before I came to know him.

Joe and I view the world from very different vantage points. He, a lifelong liberal who proudly wears that label like epaulets on his shoulders, is confounded by positions on issues displayed by my fellow conservatives. Over the years I've chuckled at the reaction to many of Joe's columns by the local Republican hierarchy, as he would poke and prod them with skill, vigor and joy. His final column continues that tradition.

I've admired his ability - after a career as a journalist that has stretched six decades and as he turns the corner to his 90th birthday on July 4th - to continue to pump out such prescient prose for us all to consider. In recent years, when one of his columns struck a particular chord with me, I'd just pick up the telephone and chat with him about it.

Some of Joe's most memorable columns dealt with the loss of friends and pets, which might be redundant. I think there were as many columns that brought a lump to my throat as those that plastered a grin on my face. The word-pictures he painted for us about his friendships helped make me value my friendships even more.

Over his long journalist career Joe has interviewed and written about the famous and the tragic. He wrote about every man's dream girl, Marilyn Monroe, during his days covering Hollywood. Among his many impressive journalistic accomplishments is the fact that he interviewed and wrote about Norma McCorvy - the "Jane Roe" in Roe v. Wade - during the whole chaotic situation that swirled around her and produced abortion reform back in the 1970s, and thirty years later when she renounced her pro-abortion stance and began actively campaigning for the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

's a member of Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation who, as a Navy flier, did his part to defend our liberty in World War II. Those of you who are among his regular readers already know that.


While an instructor at UCI he hatched and nurtured a generation of excellent journal
ists, many of whom have passed through the pages of the Daily Pilot and other local publications. Among them is Bill Lobdell, current columnist and former editor of the Daily Pilot and reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

As an example of just what a small world this is, Joe and I also share a couple of other links in our lives. He was the best friend of one of my bosses - former Newport Beach councilman Don Strauss. And, his sister-in-law, Jill Angel (you may remember Jill as a CHP officer who did traffic reports on KNX 1070 radio a few years ago before being promoted to Sacramento), was a very dear friend of my best friend, Larry Moore. You regular readers recognize that name. Through those links and my admiration for his writing skills, Joe and I have become friends.

I'm going to miss Joe's weekly column, but he's promised (threatened?) to avail himself of the Forum page when the spirit moves him. I hope that happens often. Recent local political events tell us that there will be plenty of ripe targets for his consideration.


So, as my friend, Joe Bell, closes
the door on this part of his life, I hope he finishes the book he has talked about for a decade and that he finds other ways to continue to display his exceptional literary skills.

Adios, Joe... I'll look for the glow in the sky as they fire up the candles on your birthday cake on July 4th. It's just a darn good thing there's a fire station a couple blocks from your home.

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Anonymous Mike Scheafer said...

Geoff, nice thoughts about Joe. As heroes and mentors go, this is the guy. I have been fortunate to know Joe for many years, my wife babysat Erik, his son, years ago. He and I share a love for the Angels, so often business calls become laments over Angel fortunes. I know that will continue. His column will be missed, but it is nice to know that he will still be contributing.

1/06/2011 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Honeyman said...

Bell will be missed. He was probably the only true journalist writing for that rag.

Now, we can look forward to more columns from the idiot Smith on No-TV week and repairing bicycles.

1/06/2011 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice job Geoff. Joe is a gentleman and a Newport-Mesa treasure no matter what you think of his politics. He made the Pilot a better newspaper for sure.

1/06/2011 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Honeyman, actually, Smith's last column was his LAST column in the Daily Pilot. He now writes a column in their weekend real estate supplement - where nobody reads it. That leaves two holes in the DP columnist ranks.

1/06/2011 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Honeyman said...

Didn't know that Smith was gone, Geoff! Haven't felt so happy of a departure since college and the penicillin prescription at the health center.

1/06/2011 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Like you Geoff, I seldom agreed with Mr. Bell's point of view, but ya got to love how he wrote and stated his positions and views.

I find it a bit interesting that the Pilot will now be as the CMCC, missing an alternative viewpoint and voice.

GOOD LUCK JOE! Vio Con Dios.

1/06/2011 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Businessman said...

Mr. West: Be careful about your assumptions. You are not the target audience of that section: Because you do not read it does not mean that no one else does. Real estate news and ads drive tremendous revenue and attention to most newspapers. That section is distributed up and down the OC coast to a much larger audience than the Pilot.

1/07/2011 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Businessman, you are correct. I assumed (nasty word) that because I immediately yank that section from my newspaper and place in the "throw out" pile without so much as a glance at it, that others do, as well. I did read Smith's first column there and will probably read his work this weekend too. Beyond that I make no promises.

Smith is not a bad guy, he just rubbed me and MANY others the wrong way with his attempt to be the nanny to us all over the years. Honestly, I wish him well and hope he generates a loyal following for his new column.

1/07/2011 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Businessman said...

Businessman: Understood. My work takes me into the real estate realm and I can tell you that that section is very successful. The best evidence is that it has run every week for years. Now let's hope there is a good substitute for Mr. Bell!

1/07/2011 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Whoa, there! said...

Honeyman, take a vacation. Or a Xanax. Maybe both, because you need to dial down the nastiness.

1/07/2011 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous A fan said...

Your comment, "Smith is not a bad guy, but..." is nothing but a self-serving attempt to make yourself look good. So he preached now and then. So what? You failed to mention his years of trying to keep the city council and the school board honest, particularly Mansoor. Even that column today about Hubbard is something he already wrote about. Now he's gone.

1/08/2011 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

"A fan", What? How does my acknowledgment that Smith isn't a bad guy get interpreted as self-serving? As to his preaching "now and then", it wasn't that infrequent and it was his holier-than-thou attitude about it that griped me - and other readers, too. If his new column in the Real Estate supplement is successful I'll be happy for him - and for the Daily Pilot, too.

1/08/2011 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous A fan said...

Here's what I'm saying: Your post made it sound like all he did was write about not watching TV or was "preaching" or whatever. Not even close. My take-away is that between the city council and the school board, he called them on their games all the time. I read your blog and nearly all the time, you two believed the same things, whether it was Mansoor, immigrants, the budget and all that. I don't remember him every writing anything negative about you but you called him names over the years and were mean. I remember that. Now you wish him well? C'mon!!!

1/08/2011 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

"A fan", C'mon what? It's not inconsistent for me to be critical of his nanny-ness and yet wish him well in this new step. I doubt he'll be trying to overlay his personal parenting mantra in a Real Estate column. And, yes, he and I have viewed many issues through the same prism, but not always. And, besides - this post is NOT about Smith, it's about a much, much better writer - Joe Bell - who will be missed by many.

1/08/2011 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous A fan said...

Finally, you're letting your true feelings out: He's a nanny, not as good a writer as Bell... You wrote what you really think of him. Love the honesty. Much better!

1/08/2011 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous A fan said...

Also, you wrote that this post was "not about Smith," but it was you who chose to comment on Honeyman's post about him and open up the discussion, including repeating your "nanny" feelings, which I find amusing considering you do your share of preaching to us all about how the way things should be. That's OK for you but not for anyone else.

1/09/2011 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

"A fan", pay attention! This is MY blog, where I pick the topics. If you don't like it, don't read it! I thought it was appropriate to comment on Honeyman's mention of Nanny Smith. The operative word here is I, ME, MOI! You're welcome to participate...

1/09/2011 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Honeyman said...

Whoa and fan: This is indeed a blog and one where Geoff allows for comments, discourse and rebuttal. The topic was Bell leaving the Daily Pilot. My comments are clearly germaine to the topic. Should you disagree with them or find them "nasty", that is your opinion which you are clearly entitled to, but please do not deny me mine.

1/10/2011 07:07:00 AM  

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