Marginalizing the Impetus
Sep 21, 2007
The Dallas Observer
Nice enough guy from The Dallas Morning News came over yesterday to interview me for the profile they say they’re doing of me. Sort of like having someone come in to paint a bull’s-eye on your forehead. One wants to ask, “But what’s it for?”
Oh, golly. I guess I know that one, don’t I, having been in the forehead bull’s-eye painting business most of my life.
Had to admire, really. Very nice bull’s-eye. Excellent reds and blues. And now, what is it I do? Go over and stand in front of the large window? Yeah, this is all ringing a bell.
I explained to Unfair Park readers a few days ago how I had learned from snitches within the pave-the-Trinity camp that their media plan is to identify the save-the-park effort with city council person Angela Hunt and me as a way of marginalizing it. Within days of my hearing it, I got calls from both D and The News saying they wanted to interview me.
A week later the pave-the-Trinity forces began referring to next November’s referendum on putting a toll road up the middle of the Trinity River park as the “Angela Hunt Plan.” Yeah -- Angela Hunt plus 90,000 other people who signed petitions saying they wanted a chance to vote this sucker down next November.
I have said I don’t think they can marginalize Hunt, who is central, not marginal, to the whole issue. And I have said that marginalizing me is like taking candy from a baby. Giving candy to a baby? Giving a baby to a … whatever. I am marginal and proud.
I do think I’m beginning to get a peek at the rationale here, and, as with most things in my life, it’s not going to be as conspiratorial as I first suspected, but my paranoia was still a damned good start.
I was asked by The News person, for example, if I had ever thought I might wind up working for a weekly newspaper after having worked for big dailies. This is an expression of unspoken culture, especially newspaper culture.
The idea is that working for a big daily is higher up the food chain than working for a weekly. It’s a quaint idea that ignores the fact the big dailies are all going out of business. They have to sever a foot or an arm every six months in order to stay ahead of the gangrene.
I think some of this focus on me is motivated by a sincere belief that the Dallas Observer should not have had a central influential role on this issue, because the Observer, according to the old culture, is marginal. Show people that a lot of the impetus for this controversy came from the free weekly full of sex ads, according to this way of thinking, and you will succeed in marginalizing the impetus.
Of course, I see it differently. In my view, it’s the dailies that are hemorrhaging readers right and left, whacking off whole limbs of their reporting staffs in order to stay in business, ditching major areas of coverage. And guess what? In that process they are becoming increasingly marginal.
I wonder if they even know any more what it takes to be at the center of the action. You kind of need to get out there in the street and start shootin’ people. Take some risks, spill some blood. It earns you a certain centrality, a certain amount of cred. Or a bull’s-eye on your forehead.
Yeah, I suspect people have indeed listened to the Observer, to me and to other people here who have written about the Trinity, because we have endeavored sincerely to tell them something they didn’t already know. Is that a trick? I always thought it was like being in the hot dog business and selling hot dogs.
So what we are really about to see, I think, at least in The News, is an expression of cultural confusion. The News’ coverage of all this is about to ask, “Why are you people listening to the Observer and not to us?”
Why do I feel embarrassed for them?
I don’t know what D will come up with. Their story is being written by Eric Celeste, who used to work here. He’s way too smart to be confused. Now, he’s a guy who worries me.
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