Greetings, Seattle! I’m Robert Vickers, and I’m the newest addition to The Seattle Times editorial board.
I arrive here having spent several years as a journalist writing about public policy, higher education, legal affairs and politics at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., and The Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida.
I also taught journalism, communications and sports administration at Syracuse University for a number of years, and briefly at Bond University in Australia.
But rather than run down my resume, I’d like to share some things about myself so that you have a better idea of who’s talking with you in our pages and on our website.
I’m the son of a grade-school teacher and a career Marine. And although I consider myself a Southerner, I grew up traversing the American landscape. My father’s work moved the family on average every two years of my youth. He used to boast that he’d “gone further in one direction than the average man will travel in a lifetime.”
As a result of that upbringing, moving is not only easy for me, it’s become a powerful, instinctive impulse that I’ve only just recently begun to resist.
This wanderlust has been the defining characteristic of my adult life. Since graduating from college, I’ve lived in five different states and four other countries. And just before deciding to come here, I literally spent three months working in Daytona Beach.
Mentors, colleagues and friends have often been dumbfounded by my vagabond existence. What I’ve been searching for and why, I’ll share in future columns or blog posts.
You’re probably more curious about my politics. I shun labels. Instead of being D or R, left or right, liberal or conservative; I prefer to say I’m American. My focus is on the well being of the republic, not the advancement of a particular agenda, political party or trade union.
And I am passionate in my belief that our nation can persist only if a vibrant Fourth and Fifth Estate empower the public with relevant news and information.
Sometimes that may mean mixing sugar with your cod liver oil. But more often, it means giving the public its medicine straight, with no chaser.
I’ve never been much of a joiner. The high-end street gangs masquerading as major American political parties hold no appeal to me. Having covered politics on the city, state and national level, I see little difference between them, other than their manipulating different constituencies for their oscillating amusement. I liken their conflicts to the $1 bet Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy make in “Trading Places.”
I have little patience for sky-is-falling neurotics, and even less for manipulators or bullies. In the great American tradition, I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy. And while I enjoy genuine and civil debate, I worry that blind faith and tunnel vision are the cancers of our society.
A favorite axiom is: “Who is the bigger fool – the fool, or the person who argues with the fool?”
I’m also a very tall, 40-something black man who is stunned daily by people’s bizarre fascination with height. Anytime I leave my home, some gawking stranger will invariably invade my privacy to inquire about the details of my stature, whether I play basketball, and how the weather is “up there.”
Consequently, I’ve become quite callous to the subject. My exact height is no one’s business but my own. I do not and have never aspired to play basketball. And the atmosphere I breathe is just the same as everyone else’s. I’ll appreciate not having to reiterate any of this.
On a lighter note, I’m an intent follower of the Beautiful Game, love the Cleveland Browns (but hate the Steelers more), and have a major Jones for old movies – particularly corny Bob Hope flicks and racy pre-code Hollywood films.
I prescribe to two philosophies on music. 1) There are only two kinds: good and bad. And 2) Be able to appreciate all kinds of music because you never know what kind your significant other will like.
I also consider myself a beer snob, but prefer malty brews to the American craft beer tendency towards hops, hops, and more hops.
Most pertinent to my move here is that I come to Seattle in search of a city to love.
Here’s to the start of a beautiful relationship.