That Word

Brilliance: I'm writing you from the News Edit lab at the UNT journalism department. I read your "Curse of Youth" article (by Eric Celeste, November 20) in News Edit class today instead of listening to the lecture. Brilliance. This is something I think about fairly often, and you hammered it far better and harder than I ever could have. I lament the fact that I'm going into a field where we're not allowed to "write smart." Your writing inspired me. Thanks so much.

Sarah McKeever

Curse of Canada: Well, as the science fiction author Brian Aldiss once wrote in a book about a galaxy-wide civilization, somewhere, someone is always inventing gun powder. Since deciding to do so about 10 years ago, the Globe & Mail--though nominally a business-friendly Toronto daily editorially smacko in the middle of the Canadian slightly right-of-center liberal position (howling left-wing radical when placed into the same position on the American political spectrum), it's become our de facto "national" newspaper, a combination of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times--prints unexpurgated obscenity, when quoting, throughout the newspaper, even on the front page. I've seen the terms "fuck off," "motherfucker," "cocksucker," "piss/pissed off," "shit," "bullshit" and others reproduced without modification in just about every section of the newspaper but the horoscopes and the homes and garden.

A few of the usual "decency" and not-before-the-children crowds protested, but far from the usual peasants attacking the newspaper's castle with flaming torches and pitchforks, everybody noticed instead that the sun came up in the east as usual the next morning, and that the Blue Jay bullpen continued to suck, and that moral outrage plus a buck seventy-five could get you a coffee in just about any joint in town, so they simply forgot about it. Ho-hum, big deal. Whether it got a younger readership is anyone's guess.

One thing is clear, though--reflecting contemporary standards of colloquial vocabulary didn't lose them circulation. Of course, we don't have a politically partisan, powerful, blustering right-wing "God" lobby here in Canada, and the godstruck hard-right political party, the Canadian Alliance--which has, incidentally, patterned itself deliberately on the harder right-wing element of the U.S. Republican Party--has proven itself to be so divisive, incompetent and nasty that few want much to do with it, so the "choke on grapes, swallow watermelons" tendency to moral outrage isn't as great.

Anyhow, a good article. Hope it shakes loose a few apples. Best of luck with your attempt to liberalize your print journalism.

Michael Price
Vancouver, British Columbia

Filtered: I found your piece "Curse of Youth" amusing. Toward its end, you wrote, "Young people want the world as they see it: without filters." One question: Was this intended ironically? Don't we all see the world through filters of all kinds, some of our choosing, some not? Those filters color what some of us like to call our perspective, which itself comes about, if we are lucky, from growing up. Again, good job.

John Check
Via e-mail

Scary 'tude: Nice, well-written, insightful piece with "The Curse of Youth." As the entertainment and pop music writer at the daily newspaper in Daytona Beach, Florida, here's the way I've explained this dilemma of "reaching the youth" to higher eds, consultants, etc.: As long as my brilliant, insightful exegesis of the mind of Kurt Cobain has to appear five pages over from a report on the town's sewer main, we're fuckin' doomed. A publication that covers both Nirvana and sewers will never seem cool, or efficient, to the youth. Why not go to a source that's 99 percent Nirvana, vid games, Strokes, Alan Iverson, 50 Cent, Matrix, blah blog blah, and that pares down that Iraq thing or the gay rights thing or whatever into concise, precise issues with no-holds-barred commentary?

And I don't think taking my Cobain hagiography and placing it in a "cool" separate publication with "attitude" is going to work either, because, as you surmise, such "'tude" is often forced or fake--the genuine attitude is an alien, scary entity to the daily powers.

Rick de Yampert
Via e-mail

Searching for real news: I get shit-blasted drunk and like fucking like bunnies, but I can't stand extremely filtered things like The Daily Show. Sure, it's funny, but it's really bent toward fucking the establishment. You really don't find any real news that way. I like reading the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and the local Austin Chronicle--intelligent journalism in my opinion isn't the quick, easy eye candy that's so easy to digest. I like to work for my news. Those so-called progressive journals are the same as arguing in a bar with some uninteresting hipster with a chip. I'll take your advice and read the AP wire. I'm 28 and eager for news.


Right on: Fantastic article and 100 percent right-fuckin'-on! I've been writing like that for more than 30 years, and I still remember being told, "Well, it would be really good if you took all those dirty words out." All fucking around aside, you write a great column, and it made me laugh. Keep on rockin'!

Jean Davis
San Diego

What I want: I wanted to send you an e-mail to let you know that I really appreciated your article in the Dallas Observer.

I never would have seen it except that it was linked off the front page of Metafilter. That, of course, is right in line with what you were saying. Metafilter manages to put a whole lot of information into one place, with small summaries, so that I don't have to waste time on things I don't want to read. I can spend 10 to 15 minutes there and get just about everything I want.

Alex J. Avriette
Via e-mail

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