Thursday, June 17, 2010

A tale of two columns.

21 June update: This round goes to the Liteweights, as Mr. Mug Shot is no more.


“You do not change what I write!"
-- John Reed, played by Warren Beatty, in the 1981 movie "Reds"

I write a weekly general interest column for the New Albany Tribune, a fortnightly beer column for Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO), and a quarterly beer column for Food & Dining magazine.

To greater or lesser extent, I maintain two blogs: NA Confidential (life in New Albany) and Potable Curmudgeon (life in the beer business).

Generally speaking, I’ll provide a link to the Tribune column each week on Thursday at NA Confidential, and a link to the LEO column every other week on Wednesday at Potable Curmudgeon. Since Food & Dining does not maintain an active web archive, those articles are published in their entirety at Potable Curmudgeon on a delayed basis.

This week, the LEO and Tribune links are running together, following this explanation. If you follow my periodic ranting on Facebook, you already know the reason, and therein lies a story.

Basically, the top brass at LEO proposed to censor the column I wrote for publication this week, citing my reference to my own business (necessary to tell the story, and also offered to readers sans the establishment’s actual name) and my mention of Miller Lite (even when humorously altered, and even when it was the specific product mentioned by my on-line critic).

This presumably happened because roughly two years ago, the Louisville branch of Anheuser-Busch Thin-Skinned 800-lb Multinational complained about something I wrote; former LEO editor Cary Stemle thought so little of it that he didn’t even tell me until much later, but those who've subsequently occupying his chair evidently have established a new policy, paraphrased:

One mustn’t tout feel-good real beer and craft beer culture by harmful and factual comparison to bad beer and the excesses of macro beer culture, and one mustn’t offend any potential advertisers, because even though we at LEO egregiously attack errant nitwit politicians, mountaintop removal companies and wretched taste in popular culture, those entities probably weren’t planning on advertising with us, anyway, and after all, beer’s amusing, but not really important enough to waste anyone’s personal integrity defending.

I’m exaggerating just a bit -- a wee bit -- although that’s the gist of it.

I spent about five minutes pondering the blatant hypocrisy, shrugged, withdrew the column, added a few words to bring it to 900, and resubmitted it as the weekly Tribune column, where it appears today, entirely uncensored, courtesy of a local newspaper that in this case possesses far bigger balls than LEO’s, which will continue to term Jim Bunning a son-of-a-bitch while prohibiting (for example) earnest and revealing commentary on a nefarious corporation (A-B InBev) that currently seeks legal changes to deny craft brewers self-distribution in Illinois.

But what the hey: You want someone to take down Justin Bieber or Rand Paul, you know exactly where to look.

Meanwhile, I wrote a completely different LEO column, and within it cleverly insulted a LEO advertiser (the carpetbagging Top of the Hops beer festival) without anyone at the office catching it. As Steely Dan once noted, "Throw out the little ones/And pan fry the big ones/Use tact, poise and reason/And gently squeeze them."

Because so many people have told me that they read and enjoy the LEO column, I’ll continue to submit whatever emasculated Pablum the staff desires, make it as relevant as I can to a real world denied my scrutiny by the Man/Woman, and go on cashing my checks -- even if I have to take a shower after each cha-ching.

As for the Tribune: Thanks, guys. In the year and a half I’ve been submitting columns, only once in my memory has Steve "Coach K" Kozarovich overruled me, and that was in May of 2009 when I proposed to run four consecutive East German travel epics. He was right that time, and the Tribune is far better than it used to be.

In the Tribune, June 17: BAYLOR: Still killing: The scourge of L.I.D.S.

In LEO, June 16: Mug Shots: It’s Christmas in July

Photo credit


johnking said...

Nice post. I read the LEO article yesterday and just finished the one in the Tribune as well. Want to thank you for writing what you write and brewing what you brew. NABC was a trigger that got me into homebrewing and obsessed with the culture that is craft thanks for that. Keep telling it like it is.

LatoshaDelapena0209嘉瑜 said...
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