Early this century I stumbled across blogs. And thank the fates, I then came across James Lileks.
Scaringly talented and astonishingly prolific, Lileks has a bowerbird approach to modern culture, the icons of which he displays just on the edge of balance so that you sense here is the fitful sleeper’s American dream.
He writes like Whitman and Twain but I sense at home there’s a blend of Dagwood Bumstead and Gyro Gearloose.
Where Lileks hails from they have twin cities and a lot of drawn-out names for things, including the newspaper that employs him. So I can never remember that blat’s masthead, but like hundreds of thousands of other gluttons for fine, topical writing I’ve remembered Lileks’ brand from day one.
After decades in the newspaper game, not much from press management could surprise me. But this news from Lileks this week — via Tim Blair’s blog — floored me.
As it happens, they’ve killed my column, and assigned me to write straight local news stories.
I immediately fired off this objection to the paper’s readers’ rep.
Are you people mad assigning the brilliant Lileks to the news desk? If you were horse breeders you’d have the Kentucky Derby winner pulling a plough. In case it’s escaped your attention, newspapers worldwide are experiencing declining circulations and the only thing that will restore the profitability this drop has cost is innovative, knowledgeable and talented online presentation of news, opinion and entertainment. Lileks has all this and more in spades. In 30 years of newspapering I’ve seen some bizarre management decisions, but this one takes the cake.
I’d be surprised if their email box is not backclogged to outer cyberia, thus a prompt reply is not anticipated.
UPDATE: Here’s a report from the front by the master himself: