For those who are counting, every week for 43 years, now-retired Chronicle Publisher Gerry Mulligan’s “Out the Window” column appeared in the Chronicle.
From calling out the boneheaded things done by local officials with a “Poop in the Shoe” award to describing his own boneheaded mishaps, plus his thoughtful reflections on life, family and community, he would entertain many, annoy some and educate all about his view of life “Out the Window.”
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Recently, Mulligan published his first book, “Out the Window: 43 Years on the Beat,” a compilation of 50 of his columns from 1989 to 2021.
He writes about duct tape and family values, rats and squirrels, trying to catch a chicken, getting paddled in school, meeting baseball’s Tommy Lasorda who thought he was Gerry Mulligan the jazz musician, his sore feet and an ugly toe, his dog’s fondness for pooping in his shoe, getting bit by a poisonous snake and how much he loves Citrus County.
“I had a grandfather and a grandmother who were great storytellers, and I learned a lot from them,” Mulligan said. “They were born in Ireland and they’d tell us stories about Ireland … my grandmother told us the story of how, during the Irish uprising, she fought off British soldiers with a pitchfork.”
That wasn’t true, Mulligan said, but she told a great story.
Through his 43 years as a newspaper guy, Mulligan learned the importance of telling a good story in column writing.
“There’s an old journalism axiom: ‘Show don’t tell.’ Too many people try to tell you what to think, tell you what their experience means,” he said. “Instead, you tell your story, show them what happened, as opposed to yelling at them, and let people draw their own conclusions.
“In a column, it’s how you see things. It’s my opinion, my perspective,” he said.
His secret, which isn’t a secret, is his sense of humor and his skill at making himself look foolish to his point: that life is often hard, and people do boneheaded things, but life, especially if you look for the humor, can be good.
“Laughing is good for the soul,” Mulligan writes in his book’s dedication. “If we just read the headlines, we would cry every day.”
A book signing event is planned from 5 to 7 pm Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Connor’s Gifts, 218 Tompkins St, Inverness, FL 34450.
“Out the Window” is now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Nobles (BN.com), also at local stores in the central Florida area including Connor’s Gifts in Inverness, the Heritage House on Citrus Avenue in Crystal River and Franklin Anderson Gallery in Crystal River.
Any profits generated from the sale of the book will be donated to non-profit organizations in the community.