Friday, August 22, 2008

A Plunge into the Madding Crowd

I’ll probably hate myself in the morning, but I have decided to add one more voice to an already overpopulated blogosphere.


Why? You might reasonably ask of one who has written a couple of thousand newspaper and magazine columns, several books and, better yet, an occasional crabby letter to the editor. Why, for Heaven’s sake, pretend to compete with the modern Mach One field of slick pundits, chatterers, purveyors of doggerel and flim-flam commentators?

Why, indeed. Blame it, perhaps, on some persistent friends who have been nudging me into this direction. “Do it!” they have commanded. “It won’t cost you a dime and it will be easy enough to accomplish.” One even added cryptically that it would be good for a writer’s soul.

Yeah, right. If it doesn’t work, I’ll tell you their names and you can blame them. On the other hand, I cannot escape total accountability for barging into a much-traveled. electronic mine field. I should confess that a presidential campaign that is often openly awkward for both major contestants had a seductive aspect to it.

Granted, a reflective day at the seashore might have encouraged me to settle for another line of work. Instead I have cast myself into a disorderly crowd that has recast the tarnished badge of professional journalism into an unsightly free-for-all of gingham wolves and calico leopards. I dare say I will have to painfully adjust to the new media culture if I will have any chance at all of catching up with any of the sprinters on the other end of the

It was a tad unsettling, for example, to find the word schadenfreude, not in George Will’s column, but bobbing instead from a sportswriter’s on-line column the other day. I can’t imagine Red Smith or Jim Murray going that far to impress a sports fan with what was once a spelling bee snuffer, but that’s how out-of-sync I’ve even become with the folks who report on last night’s baseball games. Since it appeared in a national column, schadenfreude could very well replace zeitgeist as an upscale line of credit in today’s media.

We may, however, be winning on another front. I have yet to hear either presidential candidate described as having gravitas, which may have overstayed its welcome in earlier campaigns. But as one who is guilty of tossing Italian idioms at my English speaking friends for no reason at all, I shouldn’t complain.

Language, after all, is something we should all take more seriously than, say, does George Bush, who would have no difficulty filling the shelves of his new library in Texas with books that have assembled his malapropisms into several volumes, some of which are even in a vague English dialect.

Clearly I am not one of Dubya’s fans, nor that of his potential successor who of late has been parroting Bush’s notions that his old buddy Putin has been diplomatically impolite to order the monstrous invasion of Georgia (not the one bordering on Florida, although that may be next)—this from a lame-duck president whose own popularity is barely above the current Visa interest rate. Besides, does Bush. McCain or anybody else have the slightest hint on what the U.S. can do about it short of barring the Russian Imperial Ballet from appearing at Lincoln Center?

Perhaps the media, which has its own survival to worry about these days, will take its credibility into account as the presidential race wears on. But now that I am at an age that prompts wariness of a lot of things, I must say it is not reassuring to learn that Exxon Mobil is spending some of its soaring oil profits on sponsoring CNN’s broadcasts for both national conventions. CNN, you may remember, calls itself the “most trusted” news network on TV. And that line continues even after it hired Glenn Beck.

The parameters of media control have become so constricted that military-industrial complex is an ancient term that has been updated to media-political-military-industrial complex. I grew up being advised to watch the bouncing ball in sorting out issues. More importantly today, however, is knowing who is bouncing the ball. And in what faraway board room where there are moments of silence to consider the latest Dow averages.

Well, there are times when I might drift into other issues that provoke me, and maybe you, too. One that comes quickly to mind is the voice-over shrieks of cranky kids in restaurants while the servers roll their eyes and the parents whisper meaningless but loving threats to the hell-raisers. But I hardly expect the situation to change, so I won’t dwell on it. And how slow must the sports news be to offer further speculation on where LeBron James will be playing in the next millennium?

I’m beginning to catch on to blogging already.

You can lower your eyebrows now.


Margaret (Peggy) said...

Hey Abe!
You are a blogger! I have added it to my RSS feed so I will know the minute you udate it.
Congratulations, it looks great.

Margaret (Peggy) said...

Update....I do know how to spell.

Anonymous said...

This is what Ohio and the world have been waiting for. Give them Hell Abe!!

Anonymous said...

Better then John Stewart!!

Go get em!!

Judy Conway

Pho said...


Jump on in, the water's fine. Don't mind those dorsal fins -- completely harmless.

Anonymous said...

An excellent inaugural blog, but in the future I expect more grumpiness!

Dr. Girlfriend

Henry said...

Dear Grumpy,
You've hit the ground running. You were born to blog. Can't wait for the next one. Give em hell Abe!

John said...

I am glad someone set you up with this page.
I hear blogging is all the rage

Anonymous said...


Welcome to the blogging world. I hope it won't be too ABEcedarian. crABby, or rABElasian. If it's like my blog, tens of people will read it every week. Have fun....


John Ettorre said...

Glad to see this, Abe. I read your book and found it interesting. As for blogging, I've got a secret that lots of people don't seem to have caught on to yet (even some who have blogged for years), so don't tell anyone I told you: it's just writing. And you figured out how to do that pretty well several decades ago, so you've got a tremendous jump on most.