Well, I’ve been writing a column every week for the past 16 years now, but as you are no doubt aware by this point in your life, all good things must come to an end. So, while I hate to say it, this is the final Yost Column.
I want to thank everyone who has been reading over the years. If you’ve enjoyed reading the column half as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it, then I’ve enjoyed writing it twice as much as you have reading it.
It is interesting to note that the name of the Column – “Yost Column” – was simply the space holder name some former Rhino Times employee slapped on the column the first week for a few hours before we could all come up with a great catchy name for the column. That was 16 years ago and now I guess we will never come up with a real name.
My favorite thing anyone ever said to me about the column was from a man I met downtown at Hemingway’s one night years ago. When he heard my name, his face lit up and he said: “Thank you! Thank you so much. I really owe you. Here, I’m going to buy you a drink!”
I was of course confused and he said that he and his wife had been trying everything they could for years to get their son to read but he showed no interest in it whatsoever. Whatever they tried, nothing worked.
Then, while riding in the car on a trip somewhere, this man was reading the Rhino Times and he read my column about four penguins that had come to the Natural Science Center. He said that his son liked penguins so he handed the paper to his son and said his son looked at the pictures, started reading my column, loved it, and he had been reading everything he could ever since.
So I liked hearing that a lot and, if nothing else came out of 16 years of writing this column, I still have that accomplishment to point to.
I also want to thank some people this week as Yost Column ends. I want to thank Sherry Stevenson, the third most beautiful woman on the planet and a true sales professional if there ever was one. Also, there is Julie Wilson, the world’s only perfect woman. I never told anyone this but, years ago, those two were what sold me on coming to the Rhino Times even though they did so without ever saying a word.
Also, thanks to John and Willy Hammer for all they have done for me over the years and especially Elaine Hammer, who I firmly believe is the world’s best copy editor and a woman who has saved me from public humiliation many times.
I have not always agreed with John Hammer. For instance, every time I wrote over the years, “I could care less,” he always changed it to “I could not care less,” because he prefers to say it in the stilted archaic old-fashioned way.
It would have been nice to have been able to sneak one by him just once but I never could, even though it was a lifelong dream of mine. Years ago, it made me mad whenever he changed it, but now I could care less.
Anthony Council is an out and out graphics genius who has been a huge part of the column. He should be the head of Apple’s graphics department. I say things to him like, “Anthony, will you please make me a picture of a giraffe smoking a cigar in front of a 10-foot wall of cabbage heads and put a real quizzical look on the giraffe’s face” – and that’s exactly what I get back. Simply Amazing.
Anthony is – I say this seriously – the coolest person on the planet.
Also, thanks to the excellent Mike Small, a lover of trains who has always sent me great feedback.
I also want to take a moment to remember the late Geof Brooks and Daniel Markus, who were both members of the Rhino team who died way too young. May they rest in peace.
OK, now, before I shut down the column for all time there is one last thing to do. I would normally do the Yostie Awards at the end of the year but, since we can’t do that, it’s time for one big look back over the last 16 years to hand out the Amazing All-time Yostie Awards …
All-time Dumbest Most Annoying Local Government Decision: Guilford County judges win this for the Great Guilford County Courthouse Cell Phone Ban of 2014 and Beyond. It used to be that the criminals got one phone call and the rest of us got as many calls as we wanted. Now, no one gets to make any phone calls except for judges and other court-connected fat cats who can freely take as many phones into the courthouse as they want.
Best Decision Ever Made by a County Commissioner: Former Commissioner Mike Winstead had the brilliant idea a decade ago to move the county commissioner meeting start times from 6:30 p.m. to 5:30. It sounds like a small thing but before he did that, there was this horrible, horrible hour where everyone – county staff, reporters, TV technicians, etc. – were just standing around waiting an hour for the meeting to begin. It was so stupid because everyone was always there – it made no sense to go home for one hour and come back – and Mike realized that and made the motion one night.
All Time Best Local Singers/Musicians: Jessica Mashburn and Evan Olson. As a city and a county, we are lucky to have this very talented couple making music for us. I wrote a while back that they “spread music, love and joy everywhere they go and if there is a more talented or likeable two people on the planet, I don’t know who they would be.”
Whenever Jessica is performing the song “American Pie,” she sings, “And the three men I admire most, the father, son and Scott Yost” – and I would be a liar if I said I didn’t absolutely love that.
One time my brother was out at a restaurant with friends where Jessica was singing and she sang that line during the song and my brother was like, “What?? I must be imagining things.”
Least Successful $100-million County Project with $5 Billion in Economic Impact: Project Haystack. A vast, vast data center park at the old Prison Farm. Uh, sorry, no.
Worst Bill Ever Proposed to the NC State Legislature: A 2014 proposal by Senators Austin Allran and Warren Daniel win called the “Healthy Marriage Act.” This law would have mandated a two-year wait before married couples could be granted a divorce. During those two years couples would have been required to complete counseling courses and attend workshops designed to improve communication skills and enhance conflict resolution.
The idea is that it would lower the divorce rate because, you know how, when you are going through a divorce, during that first year you are really angry with the other person, and then, after the first year of the divorce, you start to fall for that person all over again, and you start to miss them and you wish you had never asked for a divorce in the first place. The reason you are confused right now is because I am writing that but it never happens and hasn’t happened in the history of the world. Listen, this idiotic ill-conceived change might lower the divorce rate, but it would only do so by increasing the murder rate.
Hottest Guilford County Director: Family Justice Center Director Catherine Johnson has won this award for many years in a row so I am officially retiring her number.
All Time Hottest Triad Newscaster: Uh, hello!? Who else? Smokin’ Hot Queen of All Media Tera “They don’t call it Fox 8 for nothing” Williams.
Best Local Columnist: Scott D. Yost. Yost has won this award for 15 years straight, ever since the beginning of the Yostie Awards, and he continues to delight and entertain.
The Best Party Ever Thrown in the History of the World Award goes to Greensboro Developer Frank Auman, for his 50th birthday party blowout – a party I and hundreds of other lucky attendees are still recovering from years later. Party on, Frank.
County Director of the Decade: Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen. Jeff earns his sky high $122,000 salary every day. As I wrote several years ago, Jeff has taken the most boring job in the world and made it into something interesting and innovative. His office is supposed to be about filing papers in the right place but he has expanded that into everything from flag retirement services to a historical slave deed database and a veterans discount card.
If none of that sways you, consider the fact that he is a Democrat and John Hammer consistently endorses him.
Best All Time Part of My Job at the Rhino goes to Scott’s Night Out. Basically, for years, once a week my job required me to go out with one of the most beautiful women in town and take pictures of her for the paper.
People always used to say to me all the time about Scott’s Night Out, “Man, your job is soooo hard. What a terrible job.” I know a lot of people thought that but it always really confused me when they said that because really it’s actually extremely easy. I miss Scott’s Night Out since it was a lot of fun.
The only real problem was trying to explain to the IRS how buying shots for a semi-pro cheerleader at 1 a.m. at a rooftop bar was a legitimate business expense.
Yostie for Best Movie Theater: The Regal Grande at Friendly Center. They are so nice and professional there. A special shout out to Mark Powers, who is always extremely helpful and who brings a rare amount of professionalism to the movie theater business. Special mention: Red Cinemas where they also treat you right.
All time Yostie Award for Best Sportsmanship in Sports: Former Duke basketball guard Grayson Allen. This young man, who is now in the NBA, has always exemplified sportsmanship and when he was at Duke he was an incarnation of everything that is right about college athletics. He never lets his emotions get the best of him and he has always shown the utmost respect to his competitors on the court.
Yostie Award for Most Important Trial of the Century goes to Taylor Swift’s Butt-cheek Grabbing Trial. Miss Swift’s courageous defense in this case could have ramifications for decades to come for future instances across America of DJ’s grabbing the bottoms of superstars.
The All-time Why You Shouldn’t Make Government Decisions Behind Closed Doors Award goes to the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority for changing the airport’s name to “Central North Carolina International Airport.” What the what!? Thank goodness they changed it back.
Most Idiotic Expenditure of $8 Billion During the Life of Yost Column: The Large Hadron Collider (read: the Doomsday Black Hole Machine). Yes, it’s true that the evil nuclear scientists haven’t been able to make the Earth-devouring black hole yet, but remember what the man who fell off the 100-story building said after he had fallen past 99 floors: “So far, so good.”
Most Cluttered Desk in All of History. Rhino Times Editor John Hammer. I worry that if he ever cleans it up, he’ll find Japanese soldiers in there who don’t know the war is over.
Biggest Anticlimax Since Geraldo Rivera’s Opening of Al Capone’s Tomb Award goes to the Great Greensboro Solar Eclipse of 2017, which promised great things for months and months and got the entire City of Greensboro all hyped up. For a week, leading up to the extremely rare event, there was a perfectly clear blue sky. Then, just moments before the historic eclipse, the view was interrupted by thick cloud cover that hung around until immediately after the eclipse was over – after which, of course, there was another week of completely cloudless skies. The unwelcome sunblock left everyone in Greensboro moaning and groaning while everyone else in the country reveled in a state of harmonic convergence and universal love and enlightenment.
But don’t worry, because those of us who missed it can see it again in the year 3042. Thanks a lot, evil weather gods!
Yostie for the Most Unforgivable Mistake of All Time: This award goes to Steve Harvey for announcing the wrong Miss Universe pageant winner.
Best Rhino Times Headline: “Colorado Man’s Actions Unlikely to Send Guilford County Officials to Netherlands over Vietnamese Matter.”
Most Ironic Rhino Times News Story of the Decade goes to “Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes’ home is robbed.” Someone kicked in the sheriff’s front door and, among other items, stole a sheriff’s badge.
Yosties for the Best Chase of All Time goes, hands down, to The Great Llama Drama of 2015. The two lovable llamas on the lam, one black and one white, had a field day – literally – running through fields and along the highway after a bold escape from a petting zoo.
The lovable llamas shut down the entire country for an entire day with their remarkable moves, jukes and jives and crafty stops and starts that make Cam Newton look like a slow old man in a walker. The stock market essentially closed down as Wall Street traders ignored the ticker tape going by and instead stayed glued to nearby televisions just like the rest of America. Doctors stopped in the middle of open-heart surgery to watch the loveable llamas make a run for it.
This is how crazy things got: At the height of the chase, campy ‘80s Falcon Crest star Lorenzo Lamas became a trending topic on twitter.
All Time Best Animal: Penguins. (Many new readers do not know that, for the first two years – from 2002 to 2004 – Yost Column was exclusively about penguins.)
The “We’re Still Waiting” Yostie Award goes to the Kiddie Train at Northeast Park – affectionately known as “the Little Train that Couldn’t.” The kiddie train has literally been in the works eight years and over $600,000. The train has been to California for repairs and back but they are still nowhere near getting it running.
I do not understand it. I do not get it. Burlington has a kiddie train that probably cost them $100 in the 1940s and has been running great ever since.
And finally, the Yostie Award for the Biggest Disappointment of All Time goes of course to …
Drum roll please …
The Flying Car Scientists. This team of “scientists” must be the slackest group of people in the history of the planet. They’ve won the Yostie for major disappointment for the last 15 years in a row.
In 1968, the flying car scientists promised us that flying cars would fill the air by 2001. However, it’s now a decade and a half later and there’s still nothing overhead other than birds and boring old planes. The only bright spot here is that I heard recently that the flying car scientists are nearly ready to wrap up the project and deliver the goods. The flying cars should finally be in the dealerships sometime in 2019. Thank goodness for that.
It’s about time.