I'm That Guy

Collected Columns of a Southern Journalist

Non-Fiction - Memoir
67 Pages
Reviewed on 03/07/2014
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    Book Review

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.

Cheryl Schopen

Rick Outzen is a journalist from the Pensacola, FL area. His latest book, I’m That Guy: Collected Columns of a Southern Journalist, is filled with pieces he has written for “Outtakes,” a column in the Independent News. Organized into four sections (Storms, Service, Heroes and Mentors, and Family), this book contains articles on a wide range of topics. From controversial issues, such as the murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings, the BP Oil Spill, and questionable actions of certain politicians, to the tragedy of Hurricane Ivan to touching stories about Outzen’s family and friends, this collection was appropriately named. Not many people would be brave enough to tackle some of these subject matters, but Rick Outzen is definitely “that guy” who isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in.

I had not heard of Rick Outzen, and I live clear across the country from him, but after reading this book, I find myself concerned about Pensacola and the city’s future, while also admiring and respecting Outzen for speaking his mind and confronting these problems. He is obviously a very talented writer who grabs the attention of his readers and makes them care about the issues he is clearly so passionate about. I found myself Googling about the murder of the Billings couple and the abuse and deaths of inmates in prisons. While I wish this collection had some kind of introduction before jumping right into the articles so that we know more of Outzen’s background, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It was refreshing to read from the perspective of someone who truly cares about his city and the people in it.

Bil Howard

They say that you can’t fight city hall and expect to win. Nothing could be closer to the truth in I’m That Guy: Collected Columns of a Southern Journalist by Rick Outzen. Rick takes on the bigger battles of Escambia County and the City of Pensacola as the community struggles with poverty and rebuilding following hurricane Ivan. He points to the way that the money was spent as the irresponsible leadership takes its cut of funds that could help in the rebuilding of homes for pet projects. He looks at the promises and bare-faced lies of leaders of BP and the community as they work to clean up the spill. He also takes a look at the suspicious way that mentally ill prisoners were dying in the county gaol from mistreatment without anyone pausing a moment in order to find out the truth. These stories and more continue to spell out the corruption and irresponsibility of the leadership in Northwest Florida as Rick performs the duties of the watch dog press.

The collection of “outtakes” of the columns of Rick Outzen shows the relentless pursuit of a man who cares passionately for his community and wants to help right the wrongs. Rick brings a general truth to life in the examination of just one small sector of the United States; power corrupts. This phenomenon is not limited to Northwest Florida, nor is it limited to Republican or Democrat administrations. It is a phenomenon as old as time and continues as long as politicians are allowed to get away with it. Under Rick’s watch, the City of Pensacola and Escambia County will certainly be brought out into the open for their mismanagement in I’m That Guy: Collected Columns of a Southern Journalist.