Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I scream, you scream.

We all scream for Ice Cream! Especially in the middle of July, in sunny South Carolina!

Have you ever watched one of those Info-mericals on TV where it seems like a regular program, but then you realize it’s really just an advertisement, and they’re trying to sell you something?

Well, this column is sorta like that!

Except, this time, when we get to the end, I won’t be trying to sell you something… I’ll be giving it away to you for FREE!!!

This little info-mercial is about Gatsbees Worlds Fair Soda Fountain, a pet project I began a couple of years ago. Let me tell you how it happened….

I started Gatsbees because I realized the old style Soda Fountains had become a thing of the past, and, frankly, it was a little piece of Americana that I wanted to hang on to!

It was way back in 2006 that the inspiration first came to me: What if there WAS such a place… like the good-old-days… old-timey and nostalgic? I remembered the Soda Fountains that were once the central gathering place for EVERY small town in America. Soda Fountains were where families gathered, neighbors met neighbors, and things were a lot simpler.

After looking around, I discovered that TRUE soda fountains… where beverages were mixed any way you wanted while you watched…. were totally a thing of the past in America. The leisurely, neighborly soda fountains which were once the fabric of our nation have long since been replaced by fast food chain restaurants. A great part of life was missing.

Frankly, I became fascinated with the concept of bringing back soda fountains to a new generation of Americans…. and, ever since then, have been working in my “spare time” to develop the concept.

Along the way, we discovered that -- now as then -- our soda fountain is really about a lot more than the drinks, treats, and ice cream. It’s about having a family-friendly place to spend time, relax, and get to know your neighbors again… like the old days, before cell phones and shopping malls, before computer games and the Internet.

So, for a couple of years now, Gatsbees Worlds Fair Soda Fountain has been working to bring back this “old style” gathering place and finding ways to re-invent the soda fountain.

Nowadays, to most people, “soda fountain” means “ice cream shop”. While it’s true that we serve all kinds of ice cream -- from sundaes and banana splits, to milkshakes, malts and floats -- the original soda fountains were based on the beverages: carbonated “soda” water, mixed with hundreds of various flavors.

Consequently, Gatsbees Worlds Fair Soda Fountain -- right here in the Midlands -- is currently the only establishment in the entire South where you watch your sodas being custom-flavored by soda jerks – the old fashioned way, any combination of flavors you want!!!! (Actually, we’re told there is only one other business in all of America that still makes sodas the old-fashioned way!) While its true we’ve got a long way to go before Gatsbees becomes a household word, we’re nonetheless proud of the progress we HAVE made – and the hundreds of friends we’ve gained – in trying to bring an all-new “old” concept to the market!

So, I want to personally invite each of my readers to drop by, check us out, give us your ideas and suggestions… and enjoy a soda, ice cream, hot dog or sandwich while you’re there. We’re open daily from 11:30 am until 8:00pm (and later on weekends), located at 7585 St. Andrews Road in Irmo (behind the Lizard’s Thicket and beside Carolina Wings.) I might also add that Gatsbees has quickly become a favorite place for parties and celebrations. For more information, you can call 803-233-4133 visit our website: www.Gatsbees.com.

And… here comes the FREE part… if you walk into Gatsbees waving this newspaper in one hand, and tell the soda jerk: “Rod-Boy said you would let me try out a new soda flavor for FREE”… they’ll let you try out a new soda flavor for FREE!

Just pick any flavor -- or combination of flavors -- you’ve never tried before, and we’re gonna let you try it out… OUR TREAT! (If you pick a combination of flavors our soda jerks have never made before, we’ll probably name it for you!!!!) It’s a small token of appreciation for you reading all the way to the end of my column AGAIN!

Frankly, just dropping in and seeing the place will help to make this small dream a success. And maybe the flavor of soda you invent will become your new favorite, and you’ll come back again… or tell your friends, and they’ll drop by.

After all, it’s an ice-cold soda… and this is the middle of July in sunny South Carolina!!!

And maybe, with your help, we can give a happy little taste of the Good-Ole-Days to a new generation.

As always, I thank you for your support.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tough times ahead

Most readers know I have a self-imposed policy of separating my role as publisher of several community newspapers from my other role as a political consultant, or at the very least, clearly disclaiming my dual roles on those infrequent occasions when the two roles overlap.

Well this is one of those times.

When I wrote my column last week, I said I was not gonna beat up on Mark Sanford, because he was being beaten up enough.

That was before he “kept talking”, and sealed his fate with a second press conference. But I’m still not gonna beat him up.

It is well-known by readers of this column that I am not a political ally of Sanford, having directed the campaign of his 2006 GOP opponent, Dr. Oscar Lovelace.

Moreover, I am a long-time friend and advisor to the Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer, having run each of his previous campaigns. Still, I refrain from using this column to promote the Lt. Governor. This week, however, I will…

In the fallout from what has now become known as the Sanford Scandal, much attention has been given to the order of succession into the Governor’s office. With the increased likelihood that Lt. Governor Bauer might be thrust into the position of Governor, his political competitors have launched an aggressive, behind-the-scenes PR battle to make Bauer appear to be an unattractive alternative.

The detractors have written negative letters-to-the editor of the state’s major newspapers, and have subtly lobbied editors to write editorials slanted against Bauer.

The reason his competitors have begun these behind-the-scene attacks, of course, is to stop Bauer from becoming Governor… because they themselves have aspirations to become the next Governor!!! They recognize that if Bauer becomes Governor for 18 months, he will likely be very successful, as he has been with the Office on Aging, and virtually every other pursuit he has undertaken during his years of public service. They know his hard work and determination is virtually unstoppable, and believe that he will be markedly successful… thus probably quashing their own desires to become Governor. But nowhere in their opposition to Bauer do they have the best interests of our state in mind.

I, for one, happen to believe allowing Andre Bauer to ascend to Governor is a logical step for our state. Those who have watched him grow and mature into a solid public servant know that Bauer is exactly the person we need to pull the state out of this latest crisis.

Who could better help solve South Carolina’s problems during a recession? Andre Bauer has a well-documented history of overcoming major obstacles and plowing ahead to solve problems that would stop most others. What other potential candidate for Governor can match his energy, enthusiasm, and work ethic… the elements needed to lead our state through its roughest period ever? No one else even comes close.

Consider these factors:

1. We’re in the midst of a major recession, and we’re still facing the same challenges we’ve struggled with for decades: near the bottom in education, health care, crime, personal income, etc. But now, we will be trying to solve these problems during the weakest global economy in history.

South Carolina’s next governor MUST be someone who has the energy, the drive and determination and the perseverance to overcome whatever obstacles we may face. No one can overcome tough obstacles better than Andre Bauer!

2. With the 12.5% unemployment – third highest in the nation – the most critical immediate challenge we face is recruiting new industry so we can provide jobs for our people.

Our next governor must be tireless in pursuing industrial prospects. We need a proven hard-worker who will put in the time it takes to attract new jobs to our state. We need a natural-born salesman. We need an enthusiastic advocate for the state. Andre Bauer is already hard at work selling our state to potential prospects.

3. Most of all, South Carolina needs a return to the communication, cooperation, and common sense which has been missing from state government in recent years. We can’t afford to have the legislative and executive branches battling each other. Now more than ever, we need a government that works.

More than any other prospective candidate for Governor, Andre Bauer has a record of open communication, get-it-done cooperation, and good, solid common sense. He understands how to stand up for his principles, but also use his common sense to promote the greater good of our state.

In short, Andre Bauer has the qualities we need to pull South Carolina out of this current crisis, to recruit new industries, and to solve problems during the tough times we are facing.

This is not an endorsement of Andre Bauer’s election. It’s simply the other side of the coin -- which most media outlets aren’t explaining, because they’ve become pawns in the political maneuvering which has taken over our state in the wake of the Sanford Scandal.

Should Sanford be forced to resign or impeached? That’s a question I will leave to the will of the people. But it’s a decision which should be made on its own merit, not based on who might take over.

This I CAN tell you: The Lt. Governor South Carolina elected not once, but twice, to be ready just in case of a vacancy is absolutely ready and able to put our state back on track. We should let him do what we elected him to do.

A call for action: