Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Memo to L'Age: David Brooks: Been There. Done That ...

Let's start with a sample to set the tone:

Amazing stuff, and so to the heart of the matter.

Now that the reptiles at the lizard Oz have won the title of 'loon paper of the year', thanks to publishing Maurice Newman (along with many other splendid efforts), and with the Daily Terror clinging proudly to the title of 'least trusted Australian newspaper', the pond is in a state of dread and fear about the Fairfaxians.

You see, the pond had the pleasure of sojourning amongst Victorians for the summer break, and while spending a few days away from the rellies at the Hyatt (sssh, don't call it grand, it'll only give them delusions), L'Age was the house paper, turning up each morning.

It was all part of the Victorian experience (of course we were only at the Hyatt to observe the decadent rich in an ethnographic way, and to run down the points).

There were a few wins in this ethnographic Victorian experience.

In the old days it was common for New South Wales' folk to arrive at the border and marvel at the dual carriageways ...

Now if you arrive in the electorate of the Deputy Premier of Victoria, Peter Ryan, you certainly marvel at the state of the roads.

You marvel that people don't kill themselves every day.

But somehow, with a wry shrug, the brave Victorians of South Gippsland, swerve and shrug ... and on they go ... and never mind that an actual freeway still has a speed limited and signs saying 'uneven surface', because, it seems, signs are way cheaper than building half-way decent roads ...

As for broadband, it's salutary to be reminded of dial up. That'll teach the urbanites to be grateful for the pitiful pleasures of HFC.

And it was fun to watch a New South Welcher, carrying those cacky yellow plates, attempt to turn right in front of a tram.

The simpleton! Everybody knows that to turn right you swerve violently to the left and nudge a few pedestrians before careening off against a red light.

So he was dinged and donged as the locals laughed and jeered, until he donged his way out of there.

Luckily the pond was in basic black and could pass as a native Melburnian.

But what's this got to do with David Brooks, you ask, who set the tone in such fine style at the start of the rant?

Which brings us back to L'Age, in genuine tree killer printer's ink newspaper form, as suave and as tempting as the T2 teas, and the gluten-free meals that are all the rage in Melbourne town. (Oh it was heaven for the coeliac in the family and never mind that it was clearly a hipster driven craze).

After the excitement - a free rag at the door each day - it turned out that free was about all it was worth.

Take the couple of pages devoted to World News as an example. These days the news is sourced from the UK Telegraph, AP, Reuters, the New York Times, and whatever else the editors can rip from the intertubes and recycle. And a fair number of the opinion pieces are also freighted in from overseas.

Amazingly this strategy works ... if you have dial up.

The pond was strangely drawn to L'Age in last Sunday's edition. They published David Brooks' Weed: Been There. Done That. (access limited), which had first been given a run in the New York Times the Thursday before.

Heck, what's a few days late when you've got dial up? Call it a Victorian state of mind, and the pond guarantees Queen Victoria would understand ...

It turns out that Brooks had scribbled an epic piece of princely poncedom, which would have guaranteed him the pond's 'international loon of the year' award for 2013 ... if only it had been published a few days earlier.

As it is, the pond has only caught up on all the fuss back in New South Wales, where right means right, and black means bloody hot clothing, and the HFC cabling allows you dial up speed all day long/

It turns out that Brooks had become an internet meme:

Even crueller, some vicious people dug out high school photos (no, the pond couldn't pass the high school photo test):

(It was the gothamists wot done it, here).

Everybody piled in, including ibtimes,  Gawker, and New York, and Think Progress, and Mediaiteand Vanity Fair, and naturally Huff Post recycled all the twitter jokes because that's what recyclers do, and Slate got a little serious here, and here, and American Prospect had a go, and there were the usual spoofs like this one:

Oh dear. Colloquailly speaking ...

It was a perfect storm, and there's much more to google, but just in case you've missed it, perhaps the funniest contribution came from Gary Greenberg, who wrote I smoked pot with David Brooks.

He didn't really, but what fun he has riffing on Brooks - like for example Brooks muffing an English class presentation:

... did we have some uninhibited frolic! He wrote in his column about the time he got high during lunch and then “stumbled through” a presentation in English class. Too bad he didn’t go into the details. But I remember it pretty well. It was senior year. We all had to give a 10-minute talk about one of the leitmotifs in Lord Jim. We’d both chosen “one of us,” an idea that was totally Dave’s. He’d gotten after we smoked some insane Thai stick and went into Philly to see “Freaks” at the TLA. We’d figured out our talks on the train back home. Mine was going to be about how Conrad was being ironic, and the “us” weren’t exactly people you wanted to be one of. His was going to be about the way Jim’s “selfishness of a higher order” was a model for Hamiltonian government. Mine went off without a hitch, even though I was as stoned as he was. (But I was probably already the full-on stoner, so maybe I had a tolerance.) 
But when Dave got up there, I think he was trying to be literary or casual or something, and he started in by saying that the idea had come to him watching Freaks, and he got totally sidetracked, the way you do when you’re good and high. “Oh, man, you shoulda seen it,” he said. “These, like, total freakazoids. This one? Prince something or other? No arms or legs, but he could roll a cigarette and then light it—with his mouth, man! He’d fit right in here at Radnor Get High…” and here he started giggling uncontrollably, and all he could say was “One of us, one of us, gobble gobble gobble” until Mr. Sedgwick had to tell him to sit down. (Later Dave told us he told Sedge he’d never done it before and he was really sorry and Sedge said he wouldn’t call his parents, but he (Dave) was such a good boy he knew he wouldn’t do that again.)

Amazingly, Ruth Marcus had joined in the game on the 3rd January with The perils of legalized pot, and did her very best to get herself a share of the butt-kicking, but it was Brooks all the way, and the pond has barely scratched the surface of this doofus's surge to ever-lasting internet glory and fame ...

Never mind, the ineffable Brooks can look after himself.

What he did was get the pond thinking about the hopeless case of  L'Age, and the Fairfaxians and their future, and there seemed to be a take home message in all this.

You see, the David Brooks' piece itself is fair enough as an example of a ponce being an utter ponce and a complete prat, likely as not at home in Toorak or roaming the streets of South Yarra, except in the parts where you might find young people, honing a disapproving stare ...

But Brooks' burst of prattishness was only a minor part of the game.

For the rest you needed the internet, first to read the Brooks' piece in its natural prattish New York home, and then branch out and explore, what with the all the memes and everybody piling in and having great fun whacking the ponce ...

Trying to do that with a tree killer hard copy newspaper is about as meaningful as trying to turn right by going right, or imagining the Victorian government knows how to build roads or hoping against hope that Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott will succeed in their fiendish plan to return Australia to dial up, South Gippsland style ...

Well good luck with that and fare thee well Victorians and all the best Fairfax ...

And then there was a Sydney Fairfaxian capper that confirmed the pond was right to be worried.

Here's what the pond confronted in the Sydney digital edition in the New Year:

Did you spot it? No, not Peter FitzSimons attempting a red-caped Brooksian 'look at me, look at me' manoeuvre.

Did you see the hideous monstrosity? It's sugary claws?

Do they hire stoners for subbies these days?

Now the pond has more than its fair share of errors, but that's because we don't pay a dime to our NZ subbies, and you get what you pay for. It's amateur hour at the pond, and heck, it's our right and our pleasure to make errors, colloquailly speaking ...

But if the Fairfaxians claim to be professional and demand subscriptions and cash in the paw, and what do they do? Commit egregious typo crimes and reprint David Brooks, freely available elsewhere to the very few who might care.

If they don't watch out, this year could be the year the pond sues the Fairfaxians ... for producing a frothing and foaming fit of the 'its', and for publishing David Brooks without even one cartoon hinting to the readers a genuine, certified internet meme ...

Oh wait, Brooks was already an internet meme ...

Not to worry. Ex-stoners write really stupid things, that seems basically the point:


  1. David Brooks- why you shouldn't smoke pot....

  2. I was under the impression the use, sale and possession of marijuana in the US is illegal but David Brooks admits to inhaling so there must be a statute of limitations, cough, cough.

    Welcome back, DP.

    1. Is it the same as the Nigella Lawson exemption? Have a good one HB!

  3. Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) got right onto Brooks.
    Here's one for a moment of quiet reflection https://twitter.com/pauljmcgann/status/420277606567903232 a superb portrait.

    1. Yep, great portrait Trev, and thanks for reminding the pond of Matt Taibbi on Brooks.


      And so on and so forth. One of the great joys of the end times. Where would Taibbi or the world be without Brooks being a blathering idiot?


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