Despite the global reach of NN.C — yes, that first W stands for worldwide web — it should come as no surprise to anyone who stops here that I’m a nobody. No one really does sustained high-profile journalism from Fort Wayne, which is known as a place people leave and then remember fondly in interviews and acceptance speeches, while returning as little as possible. But never mind that.
Anyway, I was surprised today to get a call from a radio talk-show producer at WLIE on Long Island, asking if I’d like to appear on the Mike Siegel show to discuss my Monday column, which was about the Tim Robbins/Baseball Hall of Fame flap. OK, I said, even though I thought the column was a C- effort at best, but what the hell. "Why me?" I asked. "Mike read your column online," he said. And Tim Robbins, regrettably, wasn’t doing interviews below the Katie Couric/major-NYC-metro station level.
So I did the show. It went OK, 30 minutes of forgettable radio that nevertheless reminded me why I don’t listen to talk radio — too much talking, not enough thinking. That’s to take nothing away from the host, who was very cordial, or the callers, who were cordial too (so much for that famous New York attitude), but rather, that the very act of discussing things in yak-and-take-calls format serves to make everything sound pretty simplistic. Every comment is just another shovelful of coal to keep the furnace running.
But it was funny, hearing myself introduced after the breaks, and thinking, could this person (me) sound any more small-time? I doubt it. I think the host knew it, too, because he made a big deal out of how Tim Robbins wouldn’t appear on his show, just like Bill O’Reilly does. "Maybe he’s working," I suggested. That’s the wrong thing to say.
Mike Siegel, for you talk-radio fans, briefly replaced Art Bell on "Coast-to-Coast." How did you happen to stumble across my column? I asked, figuring he’d been trolling for Tim Robbins boosters, but I’m certainly not the only one to chime in on this subject. "Someone I know who works for the EPA sent it to me," he said. The amazing internet.
I have to be very careful how I word this, because I’m not for a minute making fun of the subject matter, but give me some allowance here: Of course I read my own paper at work, usually when it comes out in late morning. I open the one that comes to my house only to check to see if the home edition is substantially different from the early one, and most days it isn’t. But today the court reporter was talking about a pretty good story, and when I opened the paper this afternoon and saw the headline, I thought: Headlines don’t get much better than this.
Easter bunny helper is accused molester.
Not exactly Headless body in topless bar, but you can’t not read that story. Sorry, no link; it’ll probably be uploaded with tomorrow’s early edition, and truth to tell, the story’s not a huge barn-burner, except in the sense that any time a guy facing a charge of fondling a 3-year-old in a daycare center goes out and gets a job as cashier for the Easter Bunny at a local mall, well, that’s news. That story’s what you call a "talker." Talkers keep people reading newspapers. "People don’t cancel their paper because they’re upset by what’s in it," someone said at the writing conference I attended last December. "They cancel because they’re bored." And that’s the truth.
This was yesterday’s talker, and you folks who think I’m jiving you about the Amish are encouraged to follow that link and read its account of a middle-of-the-night buggy drag race between two Amish men that ended in tragedy when one crashed head-on into another buggy. The driver of the third — not a participant in the race, recall — was arrested on a drunken driving charge. What "Witness" never told you about the Plain people, and it happened in the next county!
Here’s another one, out of Michigan City: Woman struck by remote-controlled car is hospitalized. Old lady goes to check her mailbox and is run down by a miniature Indy car.
And here’s yet another one, from the Charleston Post & Courier, covering demonstrations at the Masters last weekend. If you wade through the whole thing, the story has a crunchy nougat center in this paragraph:
Throughout the morning, law enforcement officers stood on the perimeter of the five-acre field. At no point did the protest turn violent, though officers escorted Heywood Jablome away after he held up a sign directly in front of Burk that read "Make me dinner" before shouting "Oprah rules."
Heywood Jablome, yes. Where have all the dirty-minded copy editors gone?
(There are days when it’s pretty fun to work in a newspaper office. It being April 15, I was reminded me of what Mindy wrote last week: Your tale of the Mensans calculating the length of a roll of newsprint reminded me of a similar experience I once suffered. I was working a temp job in an accounting office on April 15 when a gaggle of accuntants gathered in a nearby hallway. All of them had their income taxes ready to mail and refused to do so before midnight. They compared the thickness of each envelope and guesstimated the weight of each one while exploring why this once could be thinner and weight less than that one since its owner had fewer deductions, etc. Gadfry, an accounting office full of accountants on April 15. Thought I’d died and went to hell.)
I didn’t sleep much last night, so I didn’t get up until 5:45 for the dawn-patrol bike ride. After four days of 80-minute rides, I cut myself a break today and did but 50. Went up to the end of the path and back, watching out for Canada geese along the way; one came after me yesterday and startled me enough that I nearly wiped out. Man, those birds are big, and when they’re protecting their nests, they are some mean mofos. I was distracted by the fresh droppings all over the path, and trying to weave among the poop, I didn’t see the gander coming after me with his wings spread and neck extended. He came thisclose to either biting my leg or sticking his head into my spokes, which would have been fitting, wiping out that way. Maybe I’d be severely injured. Cyclist hospitalized following goose attack.
I’d be a talker!
See you tomorrow.