Half Time

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“There is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”

Hunter S. Thompson


What a beauty that quote is. I went through a phase around 2004, of being almost incapacitated by my sudden awareness of the genius of Hunter S. Thompson, who an ex boyfriend, a tycoon (just so you picture me pool-side with tycoons, big pharma!) scoldingly made me aware of.

Chuck was always scolding me. It was long after our short and disastrous non-relationship had ended, but sometimes we had dinner so he could scold me about wasting my talent, at restaurants I could barely dress for, unless he gave me serious notice, and he never did. I learned the hard way that it would be preferable to arrive still carrying your ironing board than to arrive 40 seconds late to dinner with Chuck.

We were Opposite, reversed versions of human beings. As far as I could tell he mostly shouted through the phone and then made space in his bank accounts for all the money raining down. When I shout at people I never wind up with more money. In my next life I want to be born a man with sand-colored hair and a Pennsylvania blue-blood name. I’ll make an enormous big deal out of my need to play golf.

Writers are spies, you realize. We just want to get access to worlds that might reveal Real Info.

3 minutes after death we are still accepting flakes of Story.



Chuck did have the most beautiful smoke busted voice you ever heard—three packs a day probably since he was 12 years old. And he wore a white shirt like no man I’ve ever known.

The Russian poet Anna Ahkmatova recorded in her memoir an anecdote about a white shirt that I finally located and emailed to Chuck.

Speaking of genius writers:

“I received a letter from a Swedish professor who is writing a book about me. He wrote that he was coming to see me. And he did come, but I was in the hospital, so he went there to see me. A fine fellow and he knows a lot, but the most amazing thing was the blinding whiteness of his shirt. It was a white as the wing of an angel. While we had two bloody wars and a lot of other blood, the Swedes were washing and ironing that shirt.”

I live for moments of finding writing crystals like that.

The best writing, like Thompson’s, like Akhmatova’s, manages to be covertly, subtly hilarious, as well as subversive and finally, hopeful. The quote at the top is actually a very straightforward sentence to be one of HST’s, but the thing that makes it an HST line is the surprise of the word “pompous.” 999 writers out of 1,000 would call Objective Journalism a “…contradiction in terms,” but only HST would spin the whole thing on its head like a breakdancer with the word “pompous.” HST was a devotee of what the referred to as the precisely right word, or the exactly right word.

I have been both praised and accused in recent days, of posting about Vaxxed as though a revolution is breaking out, or perhaps I think I am Paul Revere on the Midnight Ride.

Well, at this moment, it’s pretty quiet here. The birds are happy I finally remembered to buy bird seed for the All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet on the fire escape, and the cats, Jack and Lewis, are happy to watch them get fatter and fatter. I think they still think some fine day I will lift the screen and let them pounce.

We dream, all of us.

I have no idea how to appear Important and Wired, and truth is, I no longer have any insider’s account what it going on with Vaxxed. I follow developments on FB like everybody else. I don’t call any of the players, you know why? Because one thing I’ve learned is this: When people are fighting a War with only their ethics, brains, and bare hands, you leave them alone.

If you are walking behind them and somebody drops their car keys, you can shout: “You dropped your keys!”

But what you never do, if you know the first thing about what it feels like to be enveloped in the white hot flame of the devil’s $400 billion rage, is bother people.

And when I don’t have any new information, I take a break, collapse, think about taking a different turn 26 years ago.

Or write something ponderous and wholly beside the point, like this.









6 thoughts on “Half Time”

  1. If having a lack of objectivity means that you’re reporting on a story worth reading, then how is that a problem? You have to think that what you’re telling people is at least worth telling them, and it has to mean something to you to for you to believe it’s worth telling to others.

    The problem is when you’re completely full of shit.
    The problem is when everything you read on a single topic from a ‘variety of sources’ is completely full of shit in the exact same way.

  2. I’m caught between the need to laugh at this, and the conviction that it is all quite serious. So thank you, Celia, for satisfying both of my Gemini personae.

    And certainly it’s worth pointing out that there’s a vast difference between journalists who understand their own non-objectivity and admit it, and journalists who don’t mind publishing what they know is horseshit, because it pays big bucks.

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