Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Hastily and Carelessly Decline Dis Honor

I wanted to be Jack Smith. That doesn’t sound like much of an aspiration; Jack Smith is the most ordinary of names. Well, it was, back when I lived in Los Angeles and the demographics were different - in the white, middle-class population segment of Los Angeles in the 60s and 70s. Not that there’s anything wrong with the changing demographics.

I seem to have gotten off track. Jack Smith was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. I guess he started out as a reporter at the time when Los Angeles was a Raymond Chandler novel and reporters were all Hildy Johnson
"It was as a rewrite man for the Daily News in 1947 that Smith had … his stories on the celebrated Elizabeth Short murder case.
"...Within the minute I had written what may have been the first sentence ever written on the Black Dahlia case… 'The nude body of a young woman, neatly cut in two at the waist, was found early today on a vacant lot near Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards.'" His editor added one adjective, making Short "a beautiful young woman."
"Our city editor, of course, no more knew what the unfortunate young woman had looked like than I did," Smith later wrote. "But the lesson was clear. On the Daily News, at least, all young women whose nude bodies were found in two pieces on vacant lots were beautiful. I never forgot it.""
That’s not what made me want to be Jack Smith. I’m not that old. Smith began writing a humor column in the LA Times in 1958. I started reading it some years later. He was witty and intelligent, self-deprecating and talented. He had won a "Pullet Surprise". My favorite piece was one about sentence structure (a topic as mundane as the name Jack Smith) where he analyzed a line he wrote about “a man on his front porch, chasing a cat with a broom in his pajamas.” If you don’t appreciate the humor in that, stop reading. As if you haven’t already.

I did not become Jack Smith. Suffice it to say that accounting offered a path of less resistance and more certainty of how to navigate it. I did write humor, and was randomly published, but it has not been a career. My mom used to say “You’re a good kid; too bad there’s no market for good kids.” Today she could say that about newspaper humor columnists. I mean, if she wasn’t dead. I write this blog because I just like writing and hope to amuse a few people.

So, was I pleased to find I had been awarded a "Superior Scribbler" award? (See comment on previous post). The definition of “scribble” is
1 : to write hastily or carelessly without regard to legibility or form
2 : to cover with careless or worthless writings or drawings
Would a “superior” scribbler write slightly-less worthless careless crap, or the most worthless careless crap? Either way, I feel less than honored. I have to point out though, that he gave me this dubious award for the one line post ambiguously commenting on President Obama’s Peace Prize and tying in a slap at Tim Tebow worship. It was both hastily and careless written because I had nothing better to say that day. So… kudos to me – honor well deserved.

I checked out the blog of my new patron. He is one of the Humor Bloggers I hadn’t yet read. I didn’t want to like him, but I read two posts that were very funny ("Timmy" and "Foils, Cursed Again"). I added him to my blog role, an honor as dubious for him as the SS award is for me.

I also checked out his entry about the award. My read is that the SS is a life achievement recognition on the level with receiving a chain letter, being tagged for a Facebook post about “X number of things I …” or tagged for some blog meme. It has “rules” about what the lucky recipient is supposed to do, among which is, “Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.” Honestly, I prefer the Fight Club rules, number one of which is .. well, I can’t say. So out of respect for the writers whose blogs I enjoy, I will spare them this honor and just list them on the blog role over there. Read them or don’t, as you chose.

Frank, I respectfully decline the award (the picture at right is not the award)though I appreciate the thought and I encourage others to sample your blog, even the posts about awards. Honestly, I mean no disrespect to award awarders or award recipients or award coveters. They are just a different humor demographic, not that there’s anything wrong with that.


Frank Lee MeiDere said...

Really good post. Thanks for the info on Smith. I love the old newspaper men and women.

And a well-done decline. Way better than Marlon Brando's.

JohnnyB said...

Thanks, Frank. Thank you for the award and your comments.

Anonymous said...

I completely forgot about Jack Smith. We moved away so long ago.
Thanks, Jack, for inspiring John.