When I moved to Chattanooga in 2006, one of the first things I did was pick up The Pulse. Coming from Los Angeles, where I had relied on the LA Weekly to offer news and opinions that the Los Angeles Times wouldn’t touch, I knew the value of an alt-weekly to the community.
I liked what I read. The paper was fun, had attitude and knew what was going on.
I met Zach Cooper and Michael Kull through a mutual friend and began contributing occasionally as a freelancer. Then, in 2007, I approached them about becoming a contributing editor.
I’ll be honest—that first year had a lot of rocky times. Among other things, our new office was freezing and the space in back was rented by people who just couldn’t keep from blasting obnoxious country music.
But a highlight was the dedication of the longtime contributors—music critic Ernie Paik, editorial cartoonist Rick Baldwin, music reviewer Hellcat, “Shrink Rap” columnist Dr. Rick Pimental-Habib, and “Life in the Noog” columnist Chuck Crowder—who stuck with the paper and continued to contribute important, topical content. I’d also like to acknowledge Angela Tant, who was serving as city editor when I first came on board, for her help and professionalism.
When Brewer Media bought The Pulse in August 2008, I butted heads with someone who would become a respected colleague and friend: Gary Poole. Anyone who knows Gary (and Gary himself) would tell you he isn’t shy about expressing his opinion. Nor am I. But we established a productive working relationship, and one of the best things that came out of it was the creation of Alex Teach’s “On the Beat” column.
It’s no secret that “Alex” actually is a real, live police officer who is also a talented and occasionally untamed writer. I loved the fact that I had never seen anything like his writing in an alt-weekly. I often disagreed with Alex, and sometimes had to edit him, but his column on busting local pagans still makes me laugh and the “Christmas story” covers we did for a couple of years are some of the most moving pieces The Pulse has ever done.
One of my greatest pleasures as an editor is finding new voices, and Cody Maxwell has to be another major find. Cody is not a traditional journalist—and I don’t think alt-weeklies have to be traditional journalism. But he is an amazing storyteller and we gave him the chance to tell some of those local stories.
During my time at The Pulse, we also gave readers the chance to read people such as Michael Crumb on the arts, Phillip Johnston and John DeVore on film, Tara Viland on local music and Sandy Kurtz on the environment. At Zach Cooper’s request, we established the Short Short Story contest, which has been a great success and allowed writers to dip their toes into fiction in a fun and non-intimidating way.
Besides contributing “Shrink Rap”, without doubt one of The Pulse’s most beloved columns, Dr. Rick also wrote about the evolving gay community in several “Pride” cover stories, as well as about Chattanooga’s growing alternative wellness options. People continue to say that his columns changed their lives. There’s not much more powerful than that.
I am proud of the six-part “sustainability” series The Pulse published during my tenure, again at Zach Cooper’s instigation. While the topic might not be sexy, it is absolutely one of the crucial issues facing the city, county and region—and one that continues to be ignored or reported on elsewhere in any kind of significant way.
I would like to thank Zach, Michael and Jim Brewer for giving me the opportunity to work on stories like these for nearly four years, and thanks also to all the writers I was privileged to edit.
I’d like to wish The Pulse a happy 10-year anniversary and best wishes for many more years of ruffling feathers, poking fun at pomposity and standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
As my dear friend Dr. Rick has said many times, “I don’t want to live in a city without a Pulse.”
Janis Hashe, a freelance writer and teacher, was editor of The Pulse from 2007-2011.