Friday, March 13, 2009

First Day. Rest of Life. Blah, Blah, Blah.

If you drifted over from my column debuting today in The Advocate of Stamford, Norwalk and the far wealthier suburbs: Welcome! Has anyone told you lately that you're technologically well-endowed?

If you're one of my regulars, God save you! How may I suck up to you today?

Embarking on a new, albeit part-time, career as a newspaper columnist has always been one of those dreams … that other people have always thought I should have.

COLLEGE GIRLFRIEND: You're a funny writer. You should be the next Dave Barry!

ME: No, I'm going to be the next Hemingway! Listen: "The night was cold. We drank absinthe. A bull gored the matador's buttocks like the Great Cal Ripken Jr. smacking a line drive through the Spanish mountains under the tall trees into the snowy valleys of the lioness's soft bits. We left Piscataway at daybreak."

We broke up. My novel turned into a novella that turned into a short story that is being revised for my upcoming Twitter showdown with Shaquille O'Neal. Eh ... so it goes.

Then there's My Love (that's my wife for those joining the program already in progress):

MY LOVE: I think you'd be a great columnist. You'd be the next Dave Barry.

ME: You know, after Dave Barry became successful he divorced his first wife and got hitched to a cutie sports columnist at his newspaper who was nearly 20 years his junior.

MY LOVE: Dave Barry sucks.

My Love can rest easy. The sports staff at The Advocate is all male. And around my age. And kinda hairy.

Then there's my biggest fan, The Mother of All Uncoolness (uh, that's my mom):

MAU: I told you to take some classes in broadcasting. Such a nice voice and face. You haven't shaved since Tuesday have you?

ME: But, Mom, everyone says I could be the next Dave Barry.

MAU: Dave Barry sucks. Look at that nice Nick Gregory who does the Ch. 5 weather … mmm! Must use a Mach 3 and hot lather.

I did end up working at a newspaper -- The Advocate's hoity-but-less-so-toity sister, Greenwich Time. First, I was a "stringer," which is newspaper talk for one who works cheaply and without medical coverage therefore requiring DIY surgery utilizing packaging twine. I worked my way up to part-time reporter (a stringer on salary, still without medical coverage but now with access to the newspaper's supply of Scotch tape and staples); then full-time reporter (wage slave who lives on free office "coffee"); and, finally, ended as a features reporter/copy editor (wage slave who lays out the horoscope page when not reporting on the latest fad diets).

That ended when My Love got a better job (yea for marrying people with ambition and marketable skills!) and we left Stamford for Texas 11 years ago.

In the Lone Star State, I did PR for a year … for law firms. You can come up with your own similes for that line of work but let me start you off: It was like trying to con Rush Limbaugh into being grand marshal for a "legalize marijuana" parade sponsored by anorexic gay Black Panthers sporting Randall Cunningham jerseys.

Afterward, I managed employee communications for a Fortune 500 company for almost nine years. About five years back, we moved back here, to my hometown, and I telecommuted until I was laid off in 2007.

That's right -- laid off in 2007. This is only fad of which I can lay claim to being an early adopter.

So here I am today, kinda back where I started in so many ways, working in an industry not-quite-dead but extremely cold, clammy and pale.

On Friday the 13th no less!

I think the philosopher Linus Van Pelt said it best:

"What are you talking about?" My Love interjected when I first mentioned this chronological coincidence. "The best thing that has ever happened to you was on a Friday the 13th."

It took a few seconds to register.

She was referring to the day we first met.

You know, maybe I'm going make it after all.

(What? Where's the music video of me tossing my Bridgeport Bluefish cap up in front of the Stamford Town Center? No budget? Pfft -- welcome to my frickin' world.)


  1. Always cool, uncool. I know you had it in you! BTW - One of my long time friends became sober on a Friday the 13th - so yes anything is possible.

  2. I don't need no stinkin' Advocate column to follow you. I've always been uncool like that.

    Mazel tov!

  3. Congrats on the new gig!

  4. I would follow you even if you didn't have your name in print like some small town superstar!

    When I was in print, my sports editor was 429 years old and still wore leisure suits, and my reporter had narcolepsy and often needed tapped on the shoulder and reminded it was deadline day. "Why the heck is my time there a sitcom?!?!" I cry.

  5. Congrats on making it back to the land of the working stiffs!

  6. Best of luck with your new role! I actually subscribe to the newspaper, but I have to admit that Friday's paper usually goes straight to the blue bin. This will give me something to actually read on Fridays!

  7. Your last line reminds me of a certain Mary Tyler Moore sitcom. Are you going to stand in the middle of town and toss your beret? You know you want to.

    Btw, please let the Advocate know that your readership extends beyond the immediate Stamford area, and there are those who would like to be enriched by both your and Sarah Darer Littman's words of wisdom. At least 2 of us do, anyway (me and FADKOG).

    I look forward to hearing about your Pulitzer. Cheers!

  8. Wow, Congrats! I didn't even know anyone was hiring. Maybe I should start reading the paper and watching less CNN.

  9. Something needs to be said for being a still have newspapers on the east coast? Lucky you (all).

    You can turn the world on with your virual smile...

  10. I'm so jealous--I want to be a newspaper columnist. I love this post--super funny. Dave Barry blows.

  11. I think I'm too dense to figure out the comment system at the Advocate site, so I'll paste mine here instead:
    Out here in Illinois it has been test time for the past two weeks, and my wife would be lucky if all she had was kids filling out smiley faces on the answer sheets.

    The school administration should get the answer key, determine a constellation-like picture to make from the dot pattern, cryptically wallpaper the school with that image for weeks in advance, and then post ads saying, "The CMTs! Come for the free pencil, and stay to draw in WHATEVER IMAGE SPRINGS TO MIND."

  12. Hey congrats! Can you write anything you want to? I had a columnist job for years but it came with parameters - like no humor, no controversy, no politics - well hell, there was nothing left but fluff and pablum about our town and its folks. I quit after several years of acute nausea. The only thing about I miss is my byline.

    And hey - you have newspapers still???? Make hay while the sun doth shine.

  13. Um, you have a real print gig. You can't go around putting all this "the realities of the real print gig" crap out on the Internet.

    What the hell will the rest of us bloggers who fantasize about that dream about then?!?!?

  14. I'm doing the opposite of you in that I'm working my way back down the newspaper ladder: was an editor, now a part-time correspondent looking for something else, anything else to fill my time and hopefully my wallet with something other than for your aspirations to be Hemingway, that third sentence was way too long for Hemingway. Good thing you didn't go with that. :)

    My e-mail: unfinishedrambling (at) gmail (dot) com

  15. Dave Barry or Ernest Hemingway? Can you just be the next Joseph Pulitzer?

  16. 36=2Local Man
    Makes Good
    So, you do remember that it was a Big Deal--at least for the Stamford side--for a GT reporter to get hired on at the Advocate? Anyway scam as much free coffee as you can, and if they're still printing the paper on-site, you can grab the used press plates for re-roofing.

    Ah, the smell of ink and newsprint. Good times. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.


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My Uncool Past