A living blonde joke.

A telling anecdote in a column in yesterday’s DetNews. A respected former news anchor is speaking about the pervasive bias against African-American history in today’s newsrooms and offers this as proof:

WDIV sent the reporter airborne [in a helicopter] as part of a story about renovations to a safe house on the Underground Railroad. Dutifully, she called back to the newsroom. “We found the house, and we found some railroad tracks,” she said, “but I can’t find the place where the tracks went underground.”

You know, I wouldn’t waste half a minute arguing against the idea of pervasive bias against African Americans, in newsrooms and elsewhere — racism is simply part of the fabric of the nation. But in this case? Um, no. A journalist who doesn’t know the Underground Railroad wasn’t a choo-choo train that traveled through subterranean tunnels probably doesn’t know who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb, either.

He’s giving the wrong speech. This one is from “Got Makeup? Great moments in TV journalism.”

Polyurethane Day One commences with a disappointment — there will have to be a Polyurethane Day Two. The humidity is too high to allow two coats today, but as many have pointed out, it’ll be worth it. And because whining about home improvement is the world’s most boring topic, let’s limit it to three sentences, eh?

A couple weeks ago the Wall Street Journal had a story on Zillow.com, the real-estate spy site that has everybody snooping on everybody else. Went there and Zillow’d my own house first. It estimated it at $100,000 less than we paid for it, pegged the taxes at about half their current level, undershot the square footage by 20 percent and dropped a bathroom. So much for that. It got closer on our Ann Arbor rental, but had nothing at all for our Fort Wayne abode; the Fort’s not yet in the database.

Fort Wayne’s never in the database. Poor Fort Wayne. The latest candidate to be named as a possible buyer for my old newspaper is Black Press, a Canadian company. At first I thought, “Black? Canadian? Could this possibly have a connection to disgraced press mogul Conrad Black?” (I figured maybe there could be a $300,000 consulting contract to be had for reading the paper and discussing it with the publisher.) But no — different outfit. If, indeed, this Canadian company buys The News-Sentinel, it will settle in with such siblings as the Lake Cowichan Gazette and Kamloops This Week. What a stunning comedown. When Alan got promoted he was sent off for a few days of KR management training (aka “Prick School”) in Miami. He ate Cuban food in Little Havana and watched people feed romaine lettuce to the manatees in Biscayne Bay.

Then it looked as though Gannett would buy the paper. Then a chain based in Fargo (where there are no manatees). Now it seems whoever offers $299 for the office equipment can just walk in, slip a halter and lead rope over the heads of the few staffers worth leading to yet another auction ring and throw a match over their shoulders as they exit the building. I used to take a certain amount of pride in working in America’s smallest two-newspaper market. With the sale of the Philly dailies, the story of KR’s dejected dozen effectively ends. No one cares who ends up owning the paper in places like Duluth, Wilkes-Barre and the Fort, do they? I guess we’ll find out.

Finally, the internet has spawned many puzzling success stories, but none more so than Glenn Reynolds, who has built a career as a pundit on such Chance-the-gardenerisms as “heh” and “indeed,” and now seems to have even the Wall Street Journal buffaloed. Read this and tell me if it makes a damn lick of sense to you, because it didn’t make any to me.

Oh, and P.S. The Reynoldses have one (1) child themselves. I guess parenthood just wasn’t prestigious enough for them.

Posted at 10:06 am in Media |

14 responses to “A living blonde joke.”

  1. brian stouder said on May 25, 2006 at 10:57 am

    Any poster hereabouts could have written a more interesting 1000 words on parenthood, and probably none of us would have relied so much on lengthy quotes of other people’s words.

    Maybe instant-pudding Reynolds is a product of ‘prick school’, eh? (I love that term!)

    “heh”, indeed!

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  2. brian stouder said on May 25, 2006 at 11:12 am

    Hey – speaking of odd punditry – I honestly don’t know what to think of the latest David Broder bit (about HRC/WJC and the soon-to-be-looming presidential race)


    Is the thing patronizing? Sexist? (loved the gratuitous comment on her lemon-yellow pants-suit [or whatever]) Too inside the beltway? Leering? (loved the gratuitous name-drop of the Canadian chick is that the DC cocktail crowd apparently thinks WJC is hooked up with)

    Whatever the thing is, I DID read it to the end, so Broder succeeded at Job 1

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  3. nancy said on May 25, 2006 at 11:21 am

    The thing about that Reynolds piece is, it’s just like so much of what passes for commentary these days — lazy bullshit, the equivalent of small talk in the carpool lane:

    Yet in recent decades, a collection of parenting “experts” and safety-fascist types have extinguished some of the benefits while raising the costs, to the point where what’s amazing isn’t that people are having fewer kids, but that people are having kids at all….I have heard repeatedly that my state’s Department of Children’s Services considers it neglect to leave a 9-year-old alone in the house for any time at all. Today’s middle-class kids are always under the adult eye. It’s not clear that the kids are better off for all this supervision–and they’re certainly fatter, perhaps because they get around less outside–but the burden on parents is much, much higher. And it’s exacted in a million tiny yet irritating other ways. Some are worthwhile–car seats, for example, are probably a net gain in safety–but even there the cost is high. I heard a radio host in Knoxville, Tenn., making fun of SUVs and minivans: When he was a kid, he boasted, his parents took their five children cross-country in an Impala sedan. Nowadays, you’d never make it without being cited for neglect. And you can’t get five kids in a sedan if they all have to have car seats, which these days they seem to require until they’re 18.

    Wha-? What the hell does that mean? Car seats are “probably” a “net gain,” but ah for those good old days when you could put five kids in the back of an Impala, and this from a “radio host” — certainly as dead-on a social critic as one could hope for. And he “has heard repeatedly” that you can’t leave a 9-year-old unsupervised for any length of time? Couldn’t he get a secretary to make a single phone call and nail that one down? “Safety-fascist types”? Who are they, the people who require car seats?

    And it goes on an on and on. Does the WSJ even read this crap before they slap their seal of approval on it? Tech Central Station is a joke, but the WSJ, even WSJ.com, isn’t. Yet.

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  4. alex said on May 25, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    Zillow lists my old condo in Chicago at just five grand more than the price I sold it for a year and a half ago. If their figure is accurate, the rate of appreciation has slowed down considerably. Glad I bailed when I did.

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  5. Danny said on May 25, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    Wow, after reading the above comments (I could not bring myself to click the link) it reminded me I heard this guy on the radio when we were visiting Dorothy’s neck of the woods last year. I remember thinking, “Man, this guy sucks. I guess this is what passes for stimulating talk radio in small markets like Greenville, SC.”

    But I thought he was local. Am I to understand this guy is syndicated? Ewww, that certainly sets the bar low!

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  6. Danny said on May 25, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Zillow had set the the 1800 sq ft 1 bath Baltimnore house I grew up in at about 200k. I can’t say how accurate that is, but caveat emptor, some of the walls were patched from having holes in them from when a kid with knobby knees got a running start, slid down the hall, and went through the wall in his bedroom. Or, at least, that is what I heard.

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  7. John said on May 25, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    Please don’t deride Dorothy’s neck of the woods. I think it is one of the nicest places on the east coast and am sorry that I don’t live there myself.

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  8. Danny said on May 25, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    Please don’t deride Dorothy’s neck of the woods. I think it is one of the nicest places on the east coast and am sorry that I don’t live there myself.

    John, I am not, but it is a small media market. We wish we lived there too.

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  9. colleen said on May 25, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    OK. The underground railroad reporter? Stupid, not biased. Does no one learn of Harriet Tubman anymore? I worked with a beautiful intern at OSU. (I think she’s now anchoring some place) Dumb as a box of hair. Asked where in the newspaper she could find letters to the editor.

    But she sure is purty when she reads those stories she can’t begin to understand.

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  10. Dorothy said on May 25, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    People in the suburbs buy SUVs instead of minivans not because they need the four-wheel-drive capabilities, but because the SUVs lack the minivan’s close association with low-prestige activities like parenting, and instead provide the aura of high-prestige activities like whitewater kayaking.

    This is such bullshit. I leased an SUV (well, 3 in a row actually) in the late 80’s/early 90’s ONLY because we needed a bigger car, but I refused to join the club of soccer moms who drove minivans. I hated the assumption that you HAD to have a mini-van if you have kids. The last thing I want to do is be in with the “in crowd.” My kids know I go out of my way to avoid that kind of crap. And I’m proud to say the are following in my footsteps!

    That being said, I don’t think I’ve ever had my name mentioned in Nancy’s comment section so many times before! I don’t even care why – I’m just thrilled that yins guys (that’s the Pittsburgher in me) remember me!! In case anyone cares, I never listen to talk radio here. I’d rather have silence in the car than that who hah.

    Oh and I’ve never been water kayaking in my life. So there, you putz Reynolds.

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  11. brian stouder said on May 25, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    In fairness to the Underground Railroad reporter – history almost always gets mangled by the broadcast media (and even by men and women who are not blonde!) – let alone complex historical amalgams such as the Underground Railroad.

    Last year I attended a talk by a guy fresh out of post graduate school who was given the job by the National Park Service of memorializing the Underground Railroad; the NPS was given the job by the US Congress. He described the diffuse nature of it, and inherent difficulty involved in the project. (No doubt he is busily toiling away on it, even as we speak)

    As an aside, though, the original point about the submerged quality of African American history is a very good one; up until recent years you could visit Gettysburg and spend days reading memorials and so forth about “Who shot who, where” – and almost nothing at all about WHY! – almost no mention at all about slavery. (Congress has mandated changes at the NPS battlefields to correct this, which drives neo-confederates[!] bonkers)

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  12. Danny said on May 25, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    (Congress has mandated changes at the NPS battlefields to correct this, which drives neo-confederates[!] bonkers)

    These are the folks who prefer to call it the “War of Nawthrun’ Agresshun’.”

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  13. J. Rae said on May 25, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Re who knows what about history: I live on Eisenhower Avenue. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve had to spell it, and that’s not because people aren’t sure how to spell the name of a former U.S. president and commander of the Allied Forces during WWII. They don’t know there ever was such a person!

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  14. Dave said on May 30, 2006 at 9:40 am

    It’s not just history, I work with several people considerably younger than myself, what they don’t know absolutely floors me sometimes, makes me wonder just what the schools are teaching these days or maybe they didn’t pay much attention.

    And, I confess to wondering, was I like that? I don’t think so, but. . .

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