Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Beam Vs. Lileks

Got email this morning from Mister Garfield alerting me to an article in today's Boston Globe. Columnist Alex Beam feels that that blogging is ridiculous, and writing should be left to professionals.

Mister Garfield pointed out to me that he quotes James Lileks my journal (not blog) writing HERO! I went to Lileks' site to check out his position on the Beam Opinion.

Oh my God, if Lileks isn't a genius I don't know who is.

The Scribe of Jasperwood laughs Beam's cocky little meh-meh-meh I'm a professional and those other people who write blogs aren't, so their opinions aren't valid, and Lileks you used to be a talented columnist but now you spew meaningless blather about your daughter and your dog out on a daily basis, what happened to you??? attitude right off with the BEST little analogy (and I steal it here):

"For a print columnist who writes, oh, say, twice a week to sniff at those who pump out ten tons of spirited commentary for free reminds me of some baggy-pants third-rate vaudevillian rolling his eyes at the people streaming into a nickelodeon. Oh, sure, they have moving pictures of a train robbery, but nothing beats a pie in the face."

Oh yeah!

Further, he clarifies the differences between web publishing and newspaper writing.

"The newspaper is a lecture. The web is a conversation."

A conversation.

Imagine that.

If you'd like to read Lileks' complete opinion, feel free. It's located here today (4/2/02) and will move here tomorrow, based on how he organizes his archives.

The conversation theme is what I totally enjoy about journal writing/blogging, whichever title you'd like to give it. I can respond immediately to something Wil Wheaton writes, I can compare Wil and James Lileks' opinions on Michael Moore (by the by, I agree with Lileks that Moore is a hypocrite, a millionaire windbag who wants for everyone else that which he will not apply to himself). I can make connections between Lileks and Tess, or Tess and Taunia, or Taunia and Virginia. I can dialog with the people I read and like, and stop reading those that bore me. I have options. To do that in print, Lileks writes out the process by which a newspaper would have to be structured, and it would not work.

There is something else that is important about writing a blog or a journal that Lileks doesn't mention.


I didn't have to go on an interview to convince an editor that I deserved this job, that I'm a fabulous writer and my opinions count... I didn't have to impress a boss by throwing words like "outré" into the middle of a sentence. I didn't have to fight to the top of my class at journalism school.

I don't have to try and impress a publisher for a book deal so my disjointed ramblings can be read by say 30 people who give a shit.

I can just sit down, write what I think, and be done with it.

If you choose to read it... super. If you don't, whatever.

And most importantly I didn't have to kiss Oprah's big ass to get included on her book list, or suffer criticism like Jonathan Franzen did when he got pissed that she picked him for her magic list.

I won't have to worry about some script writing schmuck taking my carefully woven tales and turning them into a movie, destroying them up as he goes because there aren't enough black characters, or the woman lead is fat.

It is what it is. It is good. It is mine. Buzz off if you don't like it.

Lileks contends that if he were to start a newspaper he'd take the writers of the blogs he reads and would assign them to their strongest roles.

Notice, Beam need not apply for a job on the Lileks' beat...

So Lileks, my hat is off to you.

You get it.

Beam Does Not.

None of us write this to be discovered as WRITERS. I do this because I have a tale to tell once in a while. I'm not the journalistic equivalent of some actor waiting tables in L.A. singing at the counter or sucking up to the customers hoping to be "discovered" because this particular fat white man with a bad haircut, sunburn and big cell phone may just be my lucky break into the big time!

I just like to write.

And when it comes down to it, the concept of the professional paid writer isn't all its cracked up to be, in my opinion. There is a diamond out there, but I'm admittedly biased. "Hey, I knew Christopher J. Kelly when he worked at a Sunoco!"

But there are others who just STINK. These guys and gals get paid to stink the place up with their banal rantings masked as "opinions," such as Mr. Beam. I write a lot better than some of them, and I don't get paid.

No justice, no peace!

Case in point, back in the day in Western Pennsylvania there was this old curmudgeon named Joe Tronzo. His "opinion" column often cast a shadow of his displeasure about modern life and the kids-of-today, and he'd end his stories with some wistful mention such as "we'd sit on the front cement stoop with it's loose iron rail, and spit watermelon seeds towards the gas streetlamps in the hot summer air," or some such crap.

His articles were the fodder for many a guffaw by my husband, Christopher J. Kelly in his pre-journalist days, Smitty, and myself. We'd laugh at his 50x50 pixel black and white photograph in the corner of the column beneath his byline. He had a bad comb over which somehow still made bangs, jowls like Morty Seinfeld, and a stub of a stogie clenched between his teeth.

Joe Tronzo: Man of the Populace. Joe Tronzo, telling it like it WAS. Joe Tronzo, Beaver County's sage of wisdom.

And he got paid to puke out some of the worst crap I've ever seen in newsprint. Pathetic.

Well, I may be the cyber equivalent of Mr. Tronzo to some. Be that as it may. Joe probably loved his job and deserved more respect than he got at the lashing tongues of myself and my cronies, whipper snappers who didn't understand the 'old school' style of columnists.

I should put some sort of wistful ending here in honor of that paid journalist... here it is:

"Reflecting on the events that had just transpired, we sat in silence in our barcoloungers enjoying our Tasteycakes, while an episode of South Park tickled our fancy. The songs of the pond peepers leaked through the cracked window pane."

Now, someone cut me a check for that gem.

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