Byline: Jackie Rooney
While sports fans prepare to hunker down with nachos and beer for Sunday's Super Bowl, please pause for a moment of silence for your local freelance social writer, who is bereft, suffering post-Super Bowl XXXIX letdown.
Chips and dip in front of the TV don't quite measure up to being there for the real thing. The tsunami of excitement that washed over Jacksonville last year has flowed to Motown along with all those elusive celebrities. Were Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise really here? Sigh . . . I wondered about that last year, too. The Super Bowl put Jacksonville on the map, and Detroit has spent $17 billion in two years to revitalize its downtown, making the big game the most effective urban renewal tool of the century.
No matter which team wins -- and with a name like Rooney, guess who the Bin is rooting for -- this is a perfect time to pay tribute to your local freelancers, because "Freelance Writers Appreciation Week" runs from Monday through Friday. Chase's Calendar of Events says those five days should be devoted to honoring hardworking folks who "write and submit articles and books, provide overworked editors with material -- spare no love for editors just now; their week comes in September -- as well as inform and entertain readers." But without Super Bowl and celebs in town, what's there to inform about at this time of year?
The floating hotels have gone, but some local residents found this an ideal time to take a cruise. Ron and Hilah Autrey celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary aboard the yacht Sea Dream II with 31 other Ponte Vedrans, such as Gail Dawson, Kelli Cutright, Jerome Fletcher, Sandra and Jack Bertoglio, Jeff and Celeste Burger and Mike and Claire Duffy. Conde Nast Traveler rates the Sea Dream II as No. 1 for food and service among small ships, so the Autreys et al had a splendid time. Their six-night January getaway began in St. Thomas and cruised to the islands of St. Barts, St. Lucia, the Grenadines and Barbados. In addition, some lucky cruisers spotted celebrity super model Elle MacPherson on the island of Mustique.
There's nothing like a game of bunco to beat the January blahs, so 20 Bunco Babes gathered at Pam Kearney's Sawgrass Country Club home Jan. 24 for a buffet supper and six rousing rounds of that crazy dice game. The big cash winner of the evening was Beverly Beck, who took first prize after a tie-breaking round of "bunc-off" with Dolly O'Reilly, Cathy LeBlanc and Gurmeet Keaveny. Judy Rogers had the most losses and a big smile, because she won a prize, too.
The World Affairs Council of Jacksonville got terrific news on Jan. 20 when Council President Marilyn McAfee of Ponte Vedra Beach, Vice President for Programs Marty Jones and Administrative Director Trina Medarev attended the annual National World Affairs Councils of America conference in Washington. McAfee accepted the 2005 Outstanding Achievement award on behalf of the Jacksonville chapter, which competed in the small council category. The Jacksonville council has about 800 members and offers a lecture series and educational programs to promote understanding of world issues. The honor is given "for extraordinary innovation, growth, outreach and impact," McAfee said. "Our council was recognized as being one of the most dynamic in the nation."
Global public health expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Laurie Garrett was guest of honor at a VIP party at the Marsh Landing home of Lin Knapp on Sunday. Garrett, author of best-sellers The Coming Plague and The Collapse of Global Public Health, was in town to speak at the World Affairs Council on Monday. While there's much concern about terrorism, Garrett's topic, the threat of pandemic diseases like avian flu, is equally timely. The media reports the discovery of drugs and avian inoculations to fight bird flu, but Garrett pointed out that it'd be impossible to vaccinate millions of chickens and other poultry, because "the migratory bird population is carrying a disease that is constantly mutating. …