Jay Miller is a quitter. After just 26 years and 7,200 columns, he's tacked a "Gone Fishing" sign on his Inside the Capitol column. Jock dads put a little football in their son's crib. Jay's daddy must have left a tiny typewriter.
The column has been a New Mexico institution since the 1940s and, as reported by Jay in his farewell, it was written in turn by Charlie Cullen, Fred Buckles, Bob Huber, Carroll Cagle and Fred McCaffrey. Taking over in 1987, Jay had the longest run of all.
Jay's departure is not a good omen for the state. We are reminded an important staple of New Mexico journalism, the syndicated reporter, is disappearing. There are others out there, not the least of which is Sherry Robinson and her cohorts at New Mexico News Services that well serves community newspapers. But the industry's ability to support such services dwindles. Jay lists Sherry, by the way, as one of his favorite New Mexico writers.
Until he cut back to three, Jay Miller pounded out no less than six columns a week. Just the thought makes my little brain ache.
Jay won't quit writing. Too much like breathing. He has a blog, insidethecapitol.blogspot.com. Among other postings you will find answers to questions this writer posed to my retiring columnist colleague. I can only skim the top here. Go to the blog for comprehensive Miller observations. Good reading, indeed.
Having gotten into more than my share of column trouble, I asked Jay to reveal his oops moments. Alas, he ran afoul of bikers. He supported a legislative bill requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Bikers sounded off with a vengeance.
It was then Jay had a lapse of judgment with which I can identify. He responded to biker outrage with a follow up that wondered "who the bikers found to read my column to them." No, Jay! Bad, Jay! From that moment on, Jeanette insisted on column review before Miller typed –30--.
With a broad range of interests, Miller columns were as varied as the state itself. One recurring, captivating theme was New Mexico's most famous outlaw, a subject that led to his "Billy the Kid Rides Again," available at Amazon. A Silver City and Las Cruces youngster, just on the fringe of Billy territory, Jay continues to write about many curious aspects of that historical drama.
The retired columnist has some interesting observations on New Mexico governors he has covered, and you will find that information on his Inside the Capitol blog. And prospective journalists need to click onto the website for some frank advice.
Come this January when the Legislature is in session and the snow is falling and the roads are crummy, and Susana Martinez will be squabbling with Democrats and New Mexico is still looking for the answer, Jay and Jeanette Miller will be sitting, coffee in hand on their Scottsdale patio, gazing at Camelback. And Jay might well be thinking, "you know what, I did some good and had a lot of fun."
A guy can't ask much more than that.
Ned Cantwell remembers the days when columns were "pounded" on typewriters rather than "tapped" on laptop keyboards.