Friday, March 10, 2006

C-yA Wendi

It's now official: Wendi Thomas is leaving the Commercial Appeal and being traded up to the Baltimore Sun for a columnist to be named later. I am, as regular readers can imagine, heartbroken.

LeftWing Cracker caught the story first from the Media News site. Here's how her new employer describes her:
Wendi has been a columnist at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis since August 2003. Her columns -- known for their flair and humor -- include taking on a prominent and controversial political family and calling for elected officials to sign ethical codes of conduct. She has examined potential budget cuts to after-school activities in Memphis and told stories of redemption among ex-gang members. And she has challenged a ballet teacher who won't let a pupil with dreadlocked hair perform in a recital.
Ooooh, that'll teach that mean old ballet teacher! Putting the full weight of a metro daily newspaper behind that crusade sure made a difference in Memphis. I bet Andy "3 On Your Side" Wise is so jealous.

Her popping up for a City Council meeting (and sitting at their table no less!) to demand they sign a behavior pledge is the kind of thing you expect from a high school paper. It's a juvenile stunt.

I was pretty excited when I learned that the paper was hiring its first black columnist. Given that it was already 2003, it was long past time. But Thomas pretty quickly proved herself to be useless at best, generally a panderer, and at worst a self-righteous scold.

In a city as dysfunctional and as rife with political and civic abuse as Memphis, one so loaded with targets it's just not fair, Thomas managed to make her column a blank-firing pistol. A guaranteed portion of tapioca every time in a city crying out a chef with sharp knives. Go back and reread her accomplishments. Take a look back at what's been going on in Memphis during that time. See the disconnect?

Say what you want about Susan Adler Thorp -- and I have -- but she at least knew that a columnist in her position needs to jab. She abused her column in the worst of ways -- including self-enrichment -- but she knew how to throw a sharp needle. Thomas throws Nerf... like a girl.

So, Baltimore's gain is Memphis' gain. It's a win-win.

Now, as to the newly opened columnist position, I humbly submit myself as her replacement. Imagine the headlines: "Memphis paper hires local blogger as new metro columnist." It's a PR coup waiting to happen. National media attention par excellance.

During her tenure, Thomas wrote three regular 1000-word columns a week and the occasional longer column. That's 3000 or so words a week plus some extra. Times 50 weeks (vacation time factored out) that's maybe 15,000 words a year? Maybe 45,000 words over the course of her tenure at the CA. Let's be generous and bump that to 60,000 words. And roughly 500 columns.

In that same time I have blogged over 500,000 words -- over 2000 posts! In three years. It's enough for a six novel career. I'd be a mid-list author well into his alloted life on the bookshelf racks had I written fiction instead.

And all without a salary. While Thomas has profitted handsomely, I have done this for nothing more than love. Well, OK... and a grudge.

I write well, and entertainly entertainingly. I can do political analysis, as even Jackson Baker has admitted. I have broad interests and a wide-ranging curiosity. I have peculiarities, which means the occasional curveball in any column I write, always sure to stir things up a little. I'm not afriad of controversy and can handily and willingly defend myself.

I live by this code:
1. Intelligent people discuss ideas and concepts.
2. Average people discuss current events.
3. Ignorant people discuss each other.
Thomas hovered somewhere between 2 and 3. I always strive for number 1. Now, that may conflict with "telling the stories of Greater Memphis" but someone has to uphold a higher standard and I'd be willing to shoulder that burden. Without being all snobby like Koeppel, too!

I live right down Union Avenue from the paper, so I'll take the 56 Union MATA bus to work every day. How's that for street cred? Won't that fit in with y'alls Pacific Northwest liberalism?

And I'm a conservative Libertarian! Hey, instant points with one-third of your "Greater Memphis" readership that's been feeling shut out all these years. I promise not to start any inter-office fights, too. I'll even sign a pledge.

But wait Mike, you're always taking hiatuses (haiti?)! you say. Good point, but look at my work record (resume available on request) and you'll see dependability is my middle name. I was at work during Hurricane Elvis -- hell, I walked to work during the onset of the that windstorm -- and was the only employee to show up at the store every day until power came back! I rarely get sick and come to work even then.

Hell, I'll even work for half the salary you paid Thomas! How's that for cost-savings? You'll make my mother happy in the same deal. She's been wondering since day one why I don't get paid for this blog and all the writing I do. Make her dream come true! Get her son a real job.

So, come on Commercial Appeal. Take a real dare this time. Hire the middle-aged white guy. Hire a blogger and make him your own. Put some spice back into the stew. Do something really revolutionary this time.

I double dog dare you.

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