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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
I'm That Guy: Collected Columns of a Southern Journalist is the work of author Rick Outzen. His columns are organized into four sections: Storms, Service, Heroes and Mentors and Family, and are concerned primarily with life in Pensacola, Florida. The Storms section covers the four major hurricanes affecting Northwestern Florida. There's no little amount of frustration with the government's handling of the catastrophes and usage of the emergency funds, particularly in the poorer areas. The second section, Service, is based on Outzen's service on the City Council, for which he was paid $1 a year. Outzen's concept of political service, concern for the disadvantaged in the community, and frustration with the career politicians' insistence upon maintaining the status quo are common threads in this section. Heroes and Mentors sheds a light on special people in Outzen's life, and Family is a collection of more personal columns.
I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I began reading Rick Outzen's memoir, but from the very first page where he describes walking into the Independent News' flooded offices, I was captivated by the character and voice in each of those columns. Outzen dispelled for me many of the preconceptions I came in with about what a Southern journalist would write about. His columns are sometimes angry, are often filled with impatience at the failure of his beloved Pensacola to live up to its possibilities and, at other times, are filled with his memories of being a child in Mississippi during the sixties and refusing to hate on the basis of race. As I read on, I realized I was getting to know Outzen quite well. He had somehow, through sharing his articles, written a memoir. I'm That Guy: Collected Columns of a Southern Journalist is about social justice and progress for all Pensacolans, and it's about service. It's quite a remarkable collection of columns and very highly recommended.