By Patrick O’Grady
If I could go through it all again,
the slender iron rungs of growing up,
I would be as young as any,
a child lost
in unreality and loud music. –Robert Traill Spence Lowell, Realities
These crazy kids today, with their mouthy web sites and Maori tattoos. They got no respect, do they? And that stuff they call music – why, it’s just noise.
There has been no end of the old viewing-with-alarm lately, thanks to the madcap antics of Matt DeCanio and David Clinger. Once clean-cut, happy young men, the kind a lucky team director could feel good about taking home to meet the sponsor, they have wandered far from the straight and narrow, the first assuming the persona of an insomniac Eliot Ness and the second the façade of a Polynesian warrior.
I’d love to add my stentorian voice to the collective outrage, because my lifelong ambition has been to become Grumpy Old Mister O’Grady, the fat bastard with the suspenders dragging his pants up over his saggy tits, who sits on his porch and roars at any hapless kid with the temerity to set foot on his lawn.
But come on, now. Does anyone out there remember what monumental pains in the ass we all were in our mid-20s? I sure do. And if I ever forget, why, there are plenty of people out there who will be only too happy to remind me. Some of them have pictures.
I had hair back then, plenty of it, and I wore it down past my as-yet-unbroken collarbones as a neo-pro reporter at a Colorado Springs newspaper. The gig didn’t pay worth a damn – we’re talking $6K dreamer here – and I wasn’t about to waste a nickel of it on haircuts, even though every time I left the newsroom I was considered to be Representing the Newspaper. I put on a tie instead. Sometimes.
The public was not always appreciative. On my first day as a police reporter, I popped by the cop shop to look over the blotter and the desk sergeant deadpanned, “Patrick O’Grady? I bet you dye your beard green for St. Patrick’s Day.”
The local TV-news nitwits, who routinely did rip-and-reads of my schools coverage, took to airing an occasional shot of me scribbling away whenever I was at some public function that they deemed worthy of a 30-second standup. I put a stop to that by stuffing a finger up one nostril whenever the lens turned my way, or pretending to scratch one sideburn while flipping the bird to the camera.
In short, I looked like Jesus, behaved like Coyote and partied like Dionysus. Hell, we all did. The only thing the managing editor loved more than a good bar was a good bar fight, the city editor had been known to step out for a glass of dinner and not reappear for days, and the surreptitious sniffling in the bathrooms had nothing to do with allergies.
And you know what? We managed to get a paper to the subscribers every day, the craft of journalism was largely unharmed, and today we all are productive members of society. Except for me, of course. And just when I finally have a professional haircut, too, if we’re talking PR flack for the Gay Nazis for Christ.
So I say let ’em ride. As bad examples of sportsmanship go, these cyclists look like Mormon missionaries next to the likes of Ron Artest and Todd Bertuzzi. Webcor will get much more ink out of Clinger’s adventure in Argentina than is presently decorating his face, and DeCanio seems likely to develop his own individual look as he and his colleagues debate their differences, one involving missing teeth, blackened eyes and scabby knuckles.
No, I’m kidding, of course. Our hallowed sport cannot possibly survive this appalling, unprofessional behavior. They’re both horribly, horribly wrong and deserve the harshest possible punishment.
Let’s take a belt sander to Clinger’s inky mug until he looks less like Mike Tyson and more like Michael Jackson; the next time he gets a tat’, it will be the kind you can remove with a little cold cream instead of a lot of hot laser. And replace DeCanio’s computer gear with a quill pen, an inkwell and a few sheets of foolscap. Thinking about what he intends to write before he actually writes it may help clarify his reasoning, along with saving a good deal of wasted bandwidth.
But I wasn’t kidding about the music. It really is just noise. So turn that godawful racket down, you young punks, and get the hell off my lawn before I call the cops.
Well, whaddaya got to say for y’selves? Did the needle drive a little too deep during O’Grady’s latest facial-tattoo session, or does he make more sense than The Commander? Shout at us at email@example.com. Please include your full name, city and state or nation. And seriously – stay the hell off our lawn.