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Outthought 

There are between 800 and 900 words in this column, and if you’re the typical American 21st century newspaper reader, you won’t be around for the last few hundred of the sons-a-bitches. I’m lucky if I even dragged you along this far. The reason we have short paragraphs like this is because we’re afraid longer ones might scare off readers like you. We’re afraid you’ll find the longer paragraphs daunting. “Hey, long means it’s probably got substance and that can only mean work for me. Long can’t be lite and isn’t lite what we’re all after, after all? Yes, lite is what we’re all after. Gannett has won. Boil it down to a big headline and a few broad strokes. No more than half a dozen grafs. Short ones. I remember when this was called nuggetizing the news. Now that everybody does it, it doesn’t have a name anymore. But even the smalling and dumbing hasn’t worked. You still don’t read it. You pick up your news from blogs, from Jon Stewart, from people you hang out with. From the lyrics to songs that aren’t really lyrics and aren’t really songs. From blowhards who blow so hard that they’re finally unavoidable. If you’re under 35, the percentage you get from the newspaper is 0, give or take. Meaning you bailed somewhere up there between the sons-a-bitches and the short grafs. Thoreau in “Walden” said with the invention of the telegraph Maine and Texas might find they didn’t have anything to say to one another, and sure enough. And I’m thinking in those same terms about you and me and newspaper lite. What’s the point of it? Where’s the beef? Easy enough to deplore: By cracky, this mindset is exactly why we’ve got these clowns and homo-hater preachers running things, etc. etc. etc. John Adams used to pray: Lord, let me read away ignorance and prejudice and superstition. Now ignorance and prejudice and superstition are what we cultivate. They are our principal crops, having replaced cotton, soybeans, and rice. You know, I really think that’s why these “values” floggers love the 10 Commandments so. “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal.” They don’t care what it says, and certainly don’t believe what it says. They just know it’s short. It fits in a zip agenda that has no room for brains. For nuance. Short doesn’t necessarily mean lite but there’s a good chance of it. So only geezers read the paper, or much of anything, and here I am deploring and bemoaning: No wonder we got Bush. The wonder is, we haven’t got even worse. Etc., etc. I’m not saying, as they claim I am, that I think Republicans and conservatives are stupid or the people who vote for them are stupid. I’m only saying we get (1) about what you’d expect, and maybe (2) about what we deserve, and (3) screwed, when our only remaining sentinels, those who speak the language of the future, are all idiots. OK, maybe not idiots. Say they’re zoned. They’re sommers else. Any of yous who accidentally got this far might see this as an olive branch or peace feeler or what have you, a hope for something, a late-in-the-game rapport, or Pound-Whitman pact, but don’t mistake ol’ moi for somebody who any longer gives a rat. Aye, I’ve got some pre-nuggetized truths here in my old kit bag, but I reckon they’ll stay in there and mildew. And finally mummify. The Man Himself cautioned against casting your pearls before the Woo Pig Soo. What’s the incentive to share bloody morsels with attention spans that truly can’t process 75 percent of whatever there was up there between the Second President and the Water Maid Rice? No, go back and delete that preceding paragraph. There’s affectation in it and I hate that. There’s gaffer disgruntlement, and it’s contrived. It’s exactly the phony I set out to avoid. You all right, is closer to what I intended. You have my props and I don’t expect vicey versey. I’m looking out my new window just now at glorious fall falling, and I sense as always that its fade signifies the loss of something, maybe just lost opportunity, every day a little farther gone, and the loss is yours too, you supplying me with context and milieu, whether you want the loss to be yours too or not, or whether I want it to be yours too or not. Sports announcers have the rare talent of being able to coin cliches. Even before they’ve got it completely said the first time, it’s already a cliche. One of their recent ones is to say that a football play failed because the quarterback “outthought himself.” Meaning that when the play started to go bad, the quarterback changed it, and the change turned out even worse than the original play would have. He outthought himself. Meaning further, as Mae West once almost said, that thought had nothing to do with it. I expect a similar reaction from the editor, upon receipt of the foregoing, and from you, unlikely as it is that you’re still around for the coda: “Poor bastard sure outthought himself this time.”
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