I am one of those who thinks that J.Zurcher is a welcome addition to the ACE staff but I must quibble with two points in his most recent filing (Before Basketball Takes Over...) [Mar8].
(1)Who really confuses the XFL ("we're not a football league but we play one on TV") with the real sport ? (2)While I agree with his opinion of Jesse Ventura, it's a similar mistake to confuse the U.S.'s political process with democracy, whether true or representative. Except for two periods (the first being roughly from the presidency of Andrew Jackson to that of Andrew Johnson; the second from, ironically, Franklin Roosevelt to Hubert Humpfrey's defeat) the U.S.A. has really been a plutocracy.
I know many will disagree but then a lot of people think what they sell at McDonald's is food. Our human capacity for self-delusion seems infinite. Consider, for example, the shock that many feel regarding the prospect of Rick Pitino coaching in (gasp) Louisville.Folks, he's just tryin' to make a livin' & a-doin' the best he can; when it's time for leavin' I hope you understand that he wuz born a Ramblin' Man...
For the record, Ace has no editorial position - for or against - stirrup pants.
I feel compelled to clear this up after a very kind reader wrote a really nice, sincere email (in response to a recent Reality Truck) suggesting that sometimes people wear stirrup pants because they don't have access or funds for anything else, and adding that she felt I probably wasn't as mean-spirited as the column made me sound.
Since I appreciated her generosity in giving me the benefit of THAT doubt (which most people don't), I wrote back that she was likely right on both counts, and explaining my dilemma - having one job to do as an editor/publisher/ upstanding member of the community, and an entirely different job as a columnist (where stirrup pants are fair game). I pointed out, in my defense, that it wasn't as if I'd written an editorial against stirrup pants.
She and I exchanged a couple of very cordial emails, and I think we both went away satisfied that our respective positions had been conveyed and understood.
Another group of readers wrote to make me aware that Reality Truck had offended hordes of community-college students (seeking only to better themselves, which I obviously support - especially as a part-time instructor at the University) with an aside about a lingerie retail clerk. Again, some of them I answered individually. The point I'd been making (in jest), was that I'm not usually in the position of paying ANYONE (outside of highly-educated medical personnel) to see me naked.
Did I say that in a nice way? No. Because that's really not a columnist's job. It wasn't any big political statement though.
On the other hand, the paper HAS made political statements about the state's community college system - namely when we questioned Charles Wethington's ability to lead a major research institution with his community college credentials. (And his tenure certainly did nothing to alleviate our reservations.)
That IS an editorial position. Comments about the education levels of lingerie clerks are not.
The cancer of suburban sprawl is something we rail against as a paper - yet many of us who work here have personally known (though not in the biblical sense) people who actually live outside New Circle Road.
As a column, Reality Truck has precisely no more or less weight than "sportspeak" or "On the Block," or even "Free Will Astrology." Each column has its own fan base, and each has its share of detractors. As Editor, I back them all fully and equally.
As a column, Reality Truck has no job beyond entertainment value. You're welcome to argue that, as such, it fails. Turn the page. It's more or less back - at least on a sporadic basis.
I realize I contributed to some reader confusion when I took a year off from writing it, which happened to coincide with the time we were under corporate ownership, sparking all kinds of questions about cause and effect. Setting the record straight, my bosses at Village Voice were never ANYTHING but supportive of our content. I was free to write anything I wanted, anytime I wanted to. It was my decision to pull the column, because I had a hard time reconciling my job as editor (as the official voice of the paper) and my job as columnist.
As an employee, I didn't feel entirely sure that readers would understand the difference and the distinction - and I had no desire to put my bosses to the test on defending my first amendment rights to write about thongs. None of the other VVM editors write about their underwear (as far as I know), and frankly, I think that's probably wise on their part.
I, on the other hand, got here via a very circuitous journalistic route, and regardless of what the masthead says, I will always be - first and foremost - a writer.
When I was a hired hand, I willingly (and maybe misguidedly) gave up a part of that identity, so I could focus on other things. I had an intense (and fully internalized) responsibility to my owners, because it was their dime.
Now it's mine.
And now I'm gambling on my faith in our readers - whom I hope will allow me to wear as many hats as I can - judging the merits of each on a separate basis.
I'm well aware that Ace has a vital role to play in the community, FAR beyond mere entertainment value. (Far beyond any sarcastic observations we might make about stirrup pants. Obviously.) It keeps me up at night (as you'll learn in this week's Reality Truck).
I can only hope you'll trust me when I say: We're on that. Because nobody loves this city or this paper more than I do. -RR