Saturday, February 05, 2011
The loneliness of the long distance bastard
While a young reporter, arts critic and general bum-boy around a small funky newspaper (Chores! Chores! Chores!), I once took a poke at some of the subjects of my stories to task, using such descriptions as
"Surfing dolt from California", or "writes like I f*ck--badly", and "Why can't that garbagemouth shut up--Can't he see I'm busy?
It was a good thing I had a mature editor. "Look, Trapper, you can't use libellous depictions of people like that. That's just plain ignorance. I'm starting to think you're becoming and expert on the hatchet job. To be sure, it seems of late you've been sharpening a miniature hatchet for just about anybody you write about. One of the people wrote in and said anybody who uses the monicker 'dolt' for some film maker shouldn't be in this business.
It was agood, think, to get my knuckles rapped.
to describe some top Canadian writers as Skanky Whores was probably not going to do much for my own literary endeavors. Better form, I suppose, was to take the SNL route of forty years ago, where Bill Murray really pushed the envelope by saying to Jane Curtin, (after a vapid mock -interview on one programme), "Jane, you ignorant slut!"
That was so off-the wall that it was actually funny!
But I was not Bill Murray.
More like the late John Belushi, I suppose.
Ah, blame it on my childhood....That's what all the miscreants say. "I was my mudda dat dunnit to me."
Fact was, I was just out of the Service (a constraining life for five years) and I guess I was abusing my newfound freedom and empowerment by telling the whole world to suck a hotchee.
So I toned things down, became a nice guy--as nice as a formerly well-known S.O.B could be-- and sought style more than insult.
Until I came across the following article in Vanity Fair, by way of The Wicked Witch of Publishing:
His buck teeth give the impression of puerility. He listens impatiently and impulsively interrupts. He makes stabs at humor. He is long winded, affected, fussily articulate, eager to impress, insubstantial and slightly glib. He exaggerates. He has hit-and-miss witticism. He’s arrogant, not especially intellectual and a Star Trek Fan. His mind wanders. He’s a prince-in-waiting. He has the personality of a 24-year old geek. He’s provincial, sarcastic, uses poor judgment and lacks conviction. He’s condemned to stand apart from others. His career has progressed in prodigious and unearned ways. He’s timid. His efforts are half-hearted. He’s a light-weight. He’s out of his depth, fails to impress and elicits pity. He doesn’t always wear shoes in the office. He promotes people based on how “fun” they are. As a reporter, he was competent if unspectacular. He hides behind barbs. No weight seems to adhere to him. He has no radiance (power). He’s not deeply respected. He’s a lightweight cheerleader. He has a high-pitched and zany laugh. He’s overmatched. He looks dismayingly small. He’s shrinking. He’s childish. He’s goofy. He’s steered his inheritance into the ditch. He’s squandered billions. He’s the wrong person at the helm. He’s an unappealing and stereotypical figure. He’s weak and pampered. He’s a diluted strain of the hardy founding stock. He’s a man who sees himself as both journalist and business manager, but who, in fact, is fully neither.
Wow. A hatchet job on probably the most powerful print media figure in America, Arthur Sulzberger
--By some guy named Mark Bowden.
Reader responses were not slow in coming.
Bowden’s article is long-winded and full of poorly weighted contradictions. (Whoever edited his article at Vanity Fair: You’re FIRED!) On the one hand, he portrays Sulzberger as a failure-in-waiting for making bad decisions, even though, according to Bowden, everyone felt those decisions seemed smart at the time. On the other hand Bowden reluctantly agrees that poor, dumb bastard Sulzberger had the foresight to create what is now “the best newspaper Web site in the country.”
Mr. Bowden should have had an editor like I had.
...Who told me "if you come on like that, you shouldn't be in this business."
...And yet and yet, doesn't this Mark Bowdon write like a devil? The style is hilarious!
You gotta be a devil to earn your halo?