Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Chronicle Columnist Problem, and Yours

Second in an occasional critique of local media

It’s official: an overwhelming number of Chronicle columnists are cretins. It’s rare that the all-too-bland daily of record for our fair city manages to utterly rape the collective intelligence three times in the course of a month, but it would appear that they’ve managed to do it.

First on the Chronicle’s peeve parade is Mark Morford, who as the Chron’s sick glue-huffing son in the attic is only rarely trotted out in print; mostly he hangs from the ceiling of SFGate, the Chronicle’s online presence.

Morford: Boor

Morford gained a following as a critic of mainstream culture and its many bigoted foibles. But as time has gone on, Morford has morphed into a tiring, hateful boor, as evidenced by what can only be regarded as a bile-drenched screed, which he excreted this month:

“Scene: Friendly upscale white-bread tract-home Wisteria Lane yuppie nightmare blissland. Sunshine, manicured lawns, white male jogger casually running down street. Yuppie penguin-suited husband kisses wife goodbye in perfect utopian doorway and walks to his shiny car as smiling blond Botoxed wife goes back inside and closes front door and, oddly, immediately arms fancy home security system on ugly-ass yuppie McMansion. Beep beep beep blip. All zones secure. Yay.’

Yuppie husband pulls car out of driveway and catches eye of jogger who just that moment happens to be passing by yuppie couple's home. Jogger gives friendly nod to husband just as jogger bends to tie his shoelace. Yuppie husband thinks nothing of it as he pulls away toward miserable middle-management job that numbs his soul and induces alcoholism and Xanax and adultery and will cause bitter painful divorce in roughly 3.7 years.”

Mark: it’s one thing to defend alternative culture against the prejudiced notions of the squares. It’s quite another to effectively call for all of them to be gang-raped.

Lazarus: Asshole

Later in the month, after recovering from Morford’s editorial diarrhea, we are subjected to the humorless, bluenosed pimply-voiced assholism of the Chronicle’s poor excuse for a business columnist, David Lazarus. Lazarus is afflicted with the fatuous self-flagellating burden of believing that he must be the only business columnist at a major city paper with a conscience, and therefore must “take on” the usual whipping boys of American Industry – tobacco and firearms (how about alcohol? Oh yeah, my paper has a biweekly wine section, better avoid that), while introducing the vulnerable public to even more menace and threats to their well-being, such as the iPod.

The iPod?!

Yes, in the rubber-room that is David Lazarus’ braincase, the iPod is a threat (or menace?) to society at large because it can be used to store data:

“Making the case even more audacious, police say, is the fact that some of the stolen data were found on an iPod belonging to the suspect. Investigators say this is the first time they've seen an iPod -- which is essentially a small computer -- used to store people's personal information…’You want to think about that when you see people listening to iPods at a company where they have lots of information," he said. "They might not be listening to music.’"

Okay: so are these people scooping the privileged data off of work computer screens with their eyeballs so that it gets downloaded from their brains to the iPod via the headphones? Or are they listening to credit card numbers while working?

You know, it’s a good thing David Lazarus doesn’t slavishly read BusinessWire or other commercial press releases in searching for stories. He might’ve ended up being reported on himself by WNYC’s On The Media, who did an excellent story on Video Press Releases, the “Fake News” being eagerly lapped up by local TV stations’ news units. One of the VPRs covered in the segment was produced by Panasonic, and was aimed at slowing sales of the infamous, market-leading Apple music player:

BOB GARFIELD: Well, let's hear what this sounds like. Here's a nice feature on holiday gift-giving.

VNR TAPE (ROBIN RASKIN, “CORRESPONDENT”): Before you hit the stores this holiday season, technology experts warn some of the best gifts have the potential to go bad.

WOMAN: One of the scariest examples is Apple's new iPod Nano. It's capable of video, and now there's pornography all over the Internet.


BOB GARFIELD: Okay. I'm just curious. Who produced that? A wild guess – someone in the consumer electronics business?

If only Lazarus had been writing in the 80s: he could’ve done a piece on how you could use the Sony Walkman to pick locks. But did flacks of another manufacturer unduly influence him? Did Panasonic send a hooker over to slip him a mickey and then stick one of their cheap flash-based MP3 players into his anus in order to control what he writes? We don’t know that, but we do know that David Lazarus does indeed have something up his ass, which we wish would finally explode.

Finally, we come to today’s column by the usually incomprehensible Jon Carroll. After reading today’s column, we sorely wish Jon would follow the example of Ezra Pound and go back to writing exclusively in Chinese. Carroll fancies himself in the Hemingway vein, and today he wistfully mourns the perceived extinction of the Hotel Reina Victoria in Madrid, which is going to be purchased by Hard Rock Hotels.

Carroll: Incomprehensible Cat-Strangling Dumbass

It's a very bizarre article that lauds the hotel for it's long association with bullfighting, and yet at the same time, condemns bullfighting in a very overwrought, hand-wringing manner. All the while mourning the Reina Victoria as a victim of American cultural and commercial hegemony.

Jon Carroll did not do his research. Sol Melia Resorts and Hotels S.A. own Hard Rock Hotels.

Sol Melia is based in Spain.


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