Monday, April 09, 2007

Charles Pierce Is Lazy, or If Loving Nixon Is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right

I don't mean to be harsh, but this piece in the Boston Globe reeks of first draft. Go ahead, take a whiff and tell me that this took longer than five minutes to write. I would let it go, but Bob Dylan and the Pope are important to me. Plus, I don't care for his insinuation that the copy desk would somehow know more about the X-Men than the Catholic Church. I understand that not all columns are going to be brilliant, but a writer owes his readers a little effort. And if he did put a lot of effort into "Tangled Up in Bob" (yes, that's the amazing headline, a phrase that gets only about 1.1 million matches on Google), then I encourage you all to move to Boston and apply for a job at the Globe because they are obviously having a problem generating content.

If I can lazily attach to the theory this overly mean criticism of a writer who probably was working on lots of other things and didn't have much time to devote to his column that he writes to feed his family, laziness is a hallmark not just of dashed-off columns and brainless headlines, but of Overtness as well. The "Overt," which was originally short for "Overt Weirdos," do exactly what is expected of them (or exactly the opposite, which is just as easy to do). For example, there are lazy ways to be weird (tattoos, funny hair, hating Dark Side of the Moon) that everyone recognizes as weird, and that is what the Overt embrace. In other words, it's being weird without being weird. Not only that, it's being weird without consequences.

The Advanced, on the other hand, are weird in a way that is harder to categorize. It's Bob Dylan's conversion to Christianity. Lou Reed's haircut in the '80s. James Brown's loving Richard Nixon. Why would the man who wrote "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" embrace the man who said "I have the greatest affection for them [blacks], but I know they're not going to make it for 500 years. They aren't. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they're dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don't live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like." Whatever the explanation, you have to admit that Brown's affection for Nixon was thoroughly weird and not at all lazy.

Maybe the country would have been better off if James Brown would have supported the other guy, but it would have just given the headline writers just another excuse to use "James Brown Feels Good (About McGovern)." And Charles Pierce might not have a job today!

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