Minority Report

Inconvenient Truth: a Minority Report Retrospective

I first started writing the column in 1999; the invitation to do so was a

welcome hedge against my chronic inability to get my ranting into the print

edition of Ink 19 on time. I’d rather not count all the themes I wanted to touch

on over the years, but failed–it’s a number slightly less than all the girls

I’ve wanted to sleep within that same time frame, but failed. Of course, a

failure to produce good writing (even for free) is inexcusable compared to

carnal shortcomings, which can always be attributed to the sort of imperfections

in the sociological fabric of our culture that I’ve referenced from time to

time.

I’ve written the column under an assumed name, constructed from the first name

of former Watergate investigator Archibald Cox, who was fired by Mr. Robert Bork

at the behest of President Nixon–this was one of several bizarre, hubristic

mistakes that ultimately forced my favorite chief executive out of office over a

petty crime that, however wrong, only became what it did by accident–and the

jazz percussionist Willie Bobo, whose music I’ve never heard because it can’t

possibly meet the expectations I have from his name. The title of the column

(see above) was lifted from a book subtitled “HL Mencken’s Notebooks,” though,

just days after sending the first installment, I discovered that Christopher

Hitchens writes a column in “The Nation” with the same title. I took that as a

sign that I was in good company, and as further mandate from the Gods (whose

names are many, but I feel are basically the same deity) to justify my tangential

association with two of the all-time great speakers of Inconvenient Truth.

This column is my only presence in cyberspace, since I haven’t yet learned to

construct my own site, and the writings produced under my real name have so far

escaped this medium. That’s a source of continual frustration for me, which I

work out in this space. In certain respects, this is the best writing gig I’ve

ever had–no censorship, no deadlines, no word-limits. I’ve been able to stretch

out my mind and fingers more so than anywhere else, even the zine I help

produce. My experiences with “Section 8” have really helped me understand the

value of the Internet as the only truly democratic communications medium in the

world today. Radio, television and print have reached a point where money, and

money alone, determines who has access and how far out that access reaches.

Little wonder now that radio and television are virtually worthless outside New

York (which itself is considering selling its only NPR affiliate on the open

market, which means to Clear Channel), and most of the print media is only

readable when not dealing with anything important. With computers, however,

every consumer can also be a producer, which accounts for the infamous range of

content.

I’m happy to say that doing this column has made me a better writer. Ever since

I dropped out of college I knew that the only way I’d get anywhere in this

business was to be clearly and demonstrably better than my peers, most of whom

were just getting around to the actual study of journalism as I was beginning

this column. Degrees mean nothing to me; they function primarily as a sort of

ideological shorthand–you graduated from there, then, so you probably studied

under Professor so-and-so, whose views and methods are well-known. I am lucky in

that I have enjoyed exclusive control over what has gone into my brain. There

are certain essential texts–by Mencken, Hitchens, Hunter Thompson, PJ O’Rourke,

Noam Chomsky, William F. Buckley and others–that I’d have never gotten around

to reading if I’d been fucking around with “the classics” all this time. (I’ll

provide a list of what I consider essential reading for the aspiring reader or

writer of first-rate journalism to anyone who asks, c/o INK 19.)

The problem I have with the mainstream press is that they seem content to be

forgotten after they’re gone. Journalism is disposable by nature. Once the

subject matter has reached its end or conclusion, there’s no further reason to

read about it, unless the reader is interested in a) the subject or b) the

author. I write in this form because I feel it’s most relevant to my existence

for now, and also because I’d like to help reassert the artistic merits of

journalism for the benefit of future generations. Because if the style isn’t

appealing, then the substance will be ignored, and the general condition of

humanity is unlikely to improve.

So what’s the point, then?


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