I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who you calling Sandy?

I think it is fair to say that, as a group, culturally, Arizonans don't privilege professionals. This is true across all professions. We consult osteopaths and chiropractors before we'll go to MD's; "document preparers" before lawyers; charter schools before district schools. And we all think we're landscapers and construction engineers.

This is frontier living. Don't let the smarty-pants elites come in from the coast and get rich off of making things more complicated than they need to be. Here we've gotten this far with horse sense and cash on the barrel-head.

I'm sympathetic to this mindset. On the East Coast, where I'm from, it would have been unthinkably flaky to send my children to a charter school or to an osteopath. Then again, on the East Coast, I might not have had the courage to go into business for myself.

But, as an attorney in business for myself, I also see the limits of this thinking. I can sit down with a client and explain to him the limits of his options and inevitably I'll see him later in very different straits after he's paid three times my fee to some unlicensed notario who's promised him the moon.

So I feel for Robert Pela in his confessions of a blog snob. (I like him already because he's a scholar of Baltimore native son John Waters). I feel for him, but with reservations.

As a journalist, he likened his experience of the usual blog fare to that of a chef going to a bakery and finding only "pecan sandies." That comparison is not apt. If I understand him right, I agree with his generalization that most bloggers are unschooled, unedited, and undisciplined compared to real journalists. But then the appropriate comparison is not to "pecan sandies" but to home-made brownies, no?

To further torture the analogy, I think it would be fair to say that lots of home-made brownies, like lots of blogs, are just plain bad. I would even go so ahead and say "toxic." But, ok, SOME home-made brownies, like some blogs, are quite good and, even if not so polished, maybe at least have a charm that comes of being fresh? local? authentic?

And Mr. Pela will surely concede that lots of journalism isn't exactly artisan craft either. It is carelessly re-packaged PR releases and staged puffery. And surely that's your "pecan sandies." (Not to pick on sandies. I rather like sandies.)

Mr. Pela, you are fighting the good fight over at our feisty alternative free weekly, where your investigative reporting fights for attention among the singles ads and "The Angriest Dog in the World." So I know your quarrel is not with my home-made brownies, but with the hegemony of that stale flavorless junk journalism.


Dinosaur Mom said...

Aw, man. You had to go and write a real post when all I can come up with for the reading public is my first grey pubic hair. I feel so, so inadequate. But in a burned home-made cookie way, not a corporate death cookie way.

Astrodon Johnstoni said...

You? Are a wholesome oatmeal raisin cookie with half the butter replaced by apple sauce.