From the fertile mind of Jayson
It's about time.
My old boss finally
manages to point out who's really to blame
for this whole sorry mess. Fight the real enemy, and I'll see you on the remainders pile!
Oh, come on.
Now it's like people are just looking for ways
to bust me. But if anyone's interested, I'll cut the price on the $57 piece of yarn to $54, and, just because I know you out there in blogland care, throw in a signed copy of my book for free (a $75 value!)
. Unlike those hot blonde publicists, the women I bump into nowadays sure know how to shoot me down
(scroll down). And Stephen told me that book signings were a great place to pick up chicks.
Oh, well. Maybe I've been looking for love in all the wrong places, to coin a phrase I just made up myself. But Jack Kelley
just invited me to one of his Bible study group circles, so maybe my luck will change.
, my book sales are now skyrocketing
into the four-digit range! Color me Badd.
Apparently, those sales figures don't even include Wal-Mart. Which means I'm sure I've sold tons more books than that. After all, I'm sure Wal-Mart had no problem giving up shelf space usually devoted to Nascar magazines, religious polemics, and Bill O'Reiley books to make room for my nuanced masterwork. When you're good, you're good.
If I didn't know better, I'd think this guy is making fun of me
Stephen, baby, why haven't you returned my calls?
In the past week, I've sold 422 copies of my book?
(second item). That'll buy a lot of Cheez Doodles.
Now this is just silly
. I've admitted to a few honest mistakes here and there, but since when is transposing a second-person account of an event for which you served as a source into a first-person account of an event in which you served as the central character
considered plagarism? To quote a song lyric I just wrote for a new spoken-word CD of my own poetry, if that's wrong, I don't want to be right.
On the plus side, all this attention of late has had a few perks (aside from the blond publicists, that is). I got an advance copy of the Steven Glass movie
on DVD. I didn't quite see what the fuss was about, but it was great to see the guy who played the fruity housekeeper in The Birdcage
getting work again.
Publicity tastes good.
wasn't so bad. I especially liked the recurrent slow-mo images of the Times building, and the dramatic camera pans over the back copies of the newspaper with my byline. Classy!
Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to bring up the moose with all of Katie's persistent questions and clumsy attempts to prod me into apologizing -- I mean, who does she think she is, a respected journalist or something? Talk about a stick in the mud. Luckily, I met up with Stone Phillips and Matt Lauer after the interview and revisited a couple of my old Midtown haunts. After a few Harvey Wallbangers, Stone had the entire crowd at Siberia screaming when he pulled one of his eyeballs out of its socket to show everyone the blinking red diode behind it. Who knew he was a robot?
Anyway, good times, good times. Speaking of the Paper of Record, though, who knew that they would be planning on saying this
about my book? I mean, you all have seen the excerpts here, right from the source, so judge for yourself whether I'm a "serial liar." That just sounds so tacky.
, I have to get ready for my big interview with Katie Couric
this evening. Ought to be fun, even though the folks from the network told me to leave the Kermit the Frog puppet at home. In the meantime, I'll leave you all with one final installment from my carefully written and researched book. It'll probably hurt sales to give away the ending, but I think you all will be moved after seeing the uplifting and ultimately life-affirming way in which I wrapped things up:
"I won't think of it now," she said again, aloud, trying to push her misery to the back of her mind, trying to find some bulwark against the rising tide of pain. "I'll--why, I'll go home to Tara tomorrow," and her spirits lifted faintly.
She had gone back to Tara once in fear and defeat and she had emerged from its sheltering walls strong and armed for victory. What she had done once, somehow--please God, she could do again! How, she did not know. She did not want to think of that now. All she wanted was a breathing space in which to hurt, a quiet place to lick her wounds, a haven in which to plan her campaign. She thought of Tara and it was as if a gentle cool hand were stealing over her heart. She could see the white house gleaming welcome to her through the reddening autumn leaves, feel the quiet hush of the country twilight coming down over her like a benediction, feel the dews falling on the acres of green bushes starred with fleecy white, see the raw color of the red earth and the dismal dark beauty of the pines on the rolling hills.
With the spirit of her people who would not know defeat, even when it stared them in the face, she raised her chin. She could get Rhett back. She knew she could. There had never been a man she couldn't get, once she set her mind upon him.
"I'll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day."
You may notice some subtle metaphors there. Also, the genders of certain people have been changed to protect their identity. Otherwise, it is as it was, as I've heard another popular reviewer say of late.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER EXCERPT
. Since I didn't get a threatening letter from myself for running yesterday's world-exclusive excerpt from my new book, I think I'll share another chapter this morning. Here, I describe returning home after a soul-crushing day of work at the Paper of Record. Not that I'm bragging or anything, but please note the cleverly literary way in which I convey the oppressive nature of my job and the decimated state of my soul through the physical surroundings:
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.
The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a coloured poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features. Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.
Hey, if anyone's lived in Brooklyn, they can relate. And for some strange reason, my apartment building really did
have posters of Punch hanging on every landing.
A WORLD EXCLUSIVE
. While my publisher keeps making noises about suing my former employer
for running unembargoed excerpts from my book, I could care less. That's why, exclusively here on my blog, I'm going to share the opening passages. I'm a little nervous, since this is the first time anyone has actually seen this in its entirety, but here goes:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.
It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received through any of the chickens of the Cock-lane brood.
I had a hard time explaining to my editors what 18th century France and England had to do with my coke-induced dotterings at the Paper of Record, but that's what we professional writers call "setting the scene." Tune in tomorrow for another thrilling excerpt.
WOW, IT'S STRANGE TO BE WRITING HERE AGAIN.
Apologies for the lack of updates over the past few months, but I've been putting all my creative energy into getting my book out. Speaking of which, here's the cover:
I was afraid it might be too subtle, but the editors promised me that it worked. Personally, I was hoping to use a picture Zuza took of me the night I ran around the newsroom wearing a Persian head wrap, a Kermit the Frog puppet and a giant fake fur coat
. I'm afraid people will miss the subtle message of the flames and the toned-down text on the cover, but such is the biz.
Anyway, for those of you who have been wondering whatever became of me, I've been living on the air in Cincinnati... Cincinnati, WKRP. Whoops -- sometimes when you turn the ole' embellishment tap on, it's hard to turn it off. It's been cathartic to get everything out on paper, especially without those hard-asses on the Times' slot desk asking all those nit-pickey questions. But it hasn't been easy. My own journalism school rejected what I thought was a generous scholarship offer (maybe I'll have better luck setting up a poetry scholarship
). My old paper broke a publishing embargo
-- and I thought they were all ethical and stuff now. And worst of all, somewhere between W. 43rd St., Brooklyn, and Centreville, I managed to lose my good-luck moose
. It's kind of odd to put my moose up on the mantle in my old room, next to my Chantilly High pennant and snowglobes from Boston, but so it goes. My parents are cool about me crashing here and everything, but they want me out mowing the tobacco fields adjoining the house at the crack of dawn. It sucks!
In the meantime, I still haven't gotten any firm offers on my book. I keep checking my agent's e-mail
, but all I keep getting are letters from various sources with the government in Nigeria. Here's the most recent one:
MR. BAYO ADEBAYO
CORE INVESTMENT STRATEGY
It is with trust and confidence that I make this urgent and important proposal to you in view of the fact that you are trustworthy and reliable. Currently I have a business that I think would be of interest to you and your company.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. When you're good, you're good.
At least there's no way
anyone can blame me for this
I see this, it makes me want to smile.
With friends like this
, who needs enemies?
A fun sidenote: I interviewed him once. Who knew that Hope, Arkansas doesn't have tobacco fields?
Someone remind me not to keep the Paper of Record's Web site as my home page.
From Mean Mr. Mustard.
Well, that was one hell of a sleepover
. Woke up this morning, and Howie and Gerry were gone. As I absentmindedly looked out my window at the tobacco fields, kicking empty cans of Schlitz out of my way, I noticed they had T.P.ed my yard on the way out. The bastards.
Then I took a closer look. Turns out they didn't use toilet paper, but copies of this:
When they're good, they're good.
On this difficult day
for former Paper of Record employees like myself, it's doubly inspiring to see a young go-getter
like this. Atta girl!
. Time to fold out the futon and make room for these guys. Between Rickey, and Stevie, and Howie, and Gerry, I think I'm going to have a full house for a while.
Seriously, I can't believe these guys got fired. I hope they got to take their meese with them.
I feel like such an rank amateur
now. I mean, who would have thought
about plagarizing recipes? In fact, I may give my new pals Rick and Steve a call and see if they want to collaborate on a celebrity cookbook. I'm calling dibs on the dessert section -- after weeks of dogged independent reporting, I came up with a great
recipe for Neiman Marcus cookies. They'll taste like nothing you've ever eaten before...
Ahhhh... Those were the days
(Though in all fairness to myself, if you head into the alley behind Siberia, the bar from which I filed my Jessica Lynch story, you might see some discarded tobacco products, if not actual tobacco fields.)
. I'm helping my pal Rick update his resume
over a bushel of oysters his stringer sent him.
I got excited when I read this
, but then I realized it's probably a joke. Sheesh!
By now, you're all probably a bit tired of Jayson the Journalist
. Besides, he had to die so that Jayson the Sensitive Poet could live.
I've been writing poetry since my formative college years
. And much as Samuel Taylor Coleridge was inspired to write Kubla Khan after a particularly vivid opium dream, I wrote this
after a gas leak in my on-campus apartment, which I used as an excuse to escape from my oppressive job at the oppressive student newspaper. Some jealous folk said I made the story up as an excuse to avoid a deadline, and maybe my apartment didn't have gas heat. But little did those petty fools know I was yearning to break free, to write verse that doesn't rhyme! Here's an excerpt:
Can’t escape thoughts of how I love the curves on your body
From your waste to your eyes
Naturally, the typo is intentional.
Then there's this subtle sonnet
. I'll freely admit that I plagarized the definition of the word "kaleidoscope" at the end from my Webster's dictionary.
So maybe I'll return to my roots. I'm currently working on a 999-line mock heroic poem about majestic meese trampling through Midtown -- oh, the delicious irony! This morning, though, I woke up with a start and just started writing. I was like a man possessed:
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Say you, say me;
Say it together -- that's the way it should be.
Say you, say me;
Say it together -- naturally.
Oh, what a feeling!
To be dancing on the ceiling!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- when you're good, you're good
Well, my story in the UK paper
seems to be a good fresh start for me. One of the paper's editors called me this morning at 2 a.m., and he must have really been excited about the story because he was yelling in that wacky cockney accent they all have over there. He kept saying the story was "bollocks," which must be British for "great."
Meanwhile, I've been hearing that two of my former colleagues are embroiled in some sort of catfight
over who "owns" a source. I don't get it. I mean, over the weekend, I met with Ahmad Chalabi and, over a couple of T&Ed double lattes at the Basara Starbucks, listened sympathetically as he choked up looking out at the ruined tobacco fields on the other side of the mini-mall parking lot. That's
how you cultivate a source.
This is odd.
I mean, you'd think someone would have caught this.
Took the red-eye back home from Baghdad last night
. Between the flight and the cheeze doodle and whiskey hangover, I'm pretty beat.
Maybe I'll give my friend Rick
a call. He could probably use a little cheering up. Who knows, maybe we could meet up at the Marriott Marquis bar for old times sake, toss back a few and talk about how much we both identify with Lee Boyd Malvo.
It's been hard to find an Internet cafe here in Baghdad
, but damn, has my muse has been good to me this weekend! First, I managed to knock out my book proposal
in no time flat, and now I just finished filing my first post-Paper of Record story for the UK tabloids:
In Rural Baghdad, A Nation Challenged
By Jayson B.
Exclusive to the Independent Times Mirror Guardian
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Omar Sharif chokes up as he looks out over the ruined tobacco fields adjoining his ramshackle shotgun shack in downtown Baghdad.
“Dang,” he said. “Feels like rain. I get this ache in my tibia every time it rains.”
^X www.express-news.com — printer friendly version
The situation in post-war Baghdad continues to be unstable, with looters plying their wares on every available street corner, and residents wary of the U.S. troop presence.
[ next page ^V
It’s a difficult time for the Sharif family. First came the airstrikes. Then came the looters. And now, after the dark of curfew, roving gangs of meese roam the streets, showing scant mercy to passersby.
What can I say? When you're good, you're good.
What did I ever do to Tina Brown?
I mean, really. Get a load of this
"Blair has blown it in my view...There is nothing left for him now except a reality show costarring with Baghdad Bob."
Well, I am
headed to Iraq....
Thanks to no fault of mine, The Rocky Mountain News
has apparently decided to require one of its own editors to review and sign off on any NYT story with anonymous sources it plans to take off the wire.
That's in Denver, right? I think I flew there to cover John Elway's retirement a few years back, during my short-lived stint in the sports department. As I recall, that's the place with mountains (like West Virginia), but (unlike West Virginia) without tobacco fields. Luckily, a slot editor caught my reference to Elway looking out over the breaking waves of Lake Michigan before giving his farewell speech. Was my face red!
Big plans for the weekend! One of the British tabloids hired me to cover the post-war scene in Iraq. I'll try to file a dispatch to this blog, assuming I can get an Internet connection at the Williamsburg Starbucks.
Who would have thought that little old me ever would be the subject of this much attention? Outside of that whole front-page unpleasantness
in the Paper of Record a few weeks back, that is. Thanks to Gawker
for the link, though I don't know what that allusion to coughing was all about.
Quiet night -- it's hard to go out on the town when you can't expense the cheeze doodles and whiskey to a T&E account. So I stayed in, looked at the tobacco fields out of my window, and worked on my resume. I've already gotten a few nibbles. I'm not sure, but I think this
is supposed to be a joke. Or maybe I did actually pitch a couple of these ideas to the national desk. It's all kind of a blur now.
Here's a copy of my resume
, courtesy of my almost-alma mater. Still needs a little updating.
It's shaping up
to be a pretty boring afternoon. Who knows, maybe I'll return Steven Glass' calls.
I'm trying to keep myself occupied by working on a movie treatment. It's a western -- a cross between Bonnie & Clyde
and High Noon
. It stars a cocky but ultimately self-destructive loner type and his only friend, a winsome telegraph clerk of Polish descent. Together, they take on the town's powerful but strangely childish sheriff, who, by total coincidence, is married to another telegraph clerk of Polish descent. Of course, there's a final showdown, which comes to a climactic end when, from out of nowhere, a moose stampedes down the middle of the street and tramples the sheriff.
Oh, almost forgot -- lest you think this is some kind of arthouse movie, there's also a scene with cowboys sitting around a campfire, eating beans and farting. Trust me -- it's going to be like nothing you've ever seen in a movie before.
Now this is just sad.
I mean, does Fox have no shame
I'm glad they're appointing a committee to get to the bottom of this. Maybe they need an honest broker like Arthur Andersen to help straighten things out.
Hey, good news!
If my book deal falls through, I've got other prospects. A few months back, I flew down to South Florida to do a story about these guys
, and believe it or not, their executive offices overlook tobacco fields. I know I'm not supposed to reveal my sources, but this guy was one of the five anonymous officials cited in my DC sniper story. Okay, so he was all five of my sources. My notes got mixed up with all my travel receipts. Who knew that Latana, Fla., doesn't have a Dean & DeLuca?
Just saw this
. Guess I'd better not update my resume just yet. Now
I'm starting to feel guilty...
Did you guys see the story
about me in the NY Observer today? The reporter was a guy after my own heart -- he had that instinctive eye for detail that separates a hack toiling away at some minor-league backwater daily from an up-and-coming national reporter at the Paper of Record. Here's an example:
His sleep-deprived college-senior look seemed to fit the environment, a dusty living room with bookshelves that offered remembrances of his past life: The Best Newspaper Writing anthologies from 2000 and 2002; books by Times reporters Rick Bragg and Fox Butterfield; My Soul Is Rested, the oral history of the civil-rights movement written by Howell Raines. On the window sill stood a Dr. Seuss book called Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? with his NYPD press pass wrapped around it.
("That's a nice detail," he later said, noting the Dr. Seuss title.)
Wow, that quote's so good I'll use it myself -- that is
a nice detail. (And this is a first -- I'm actually plagarizing myself, ha ha). However, had the reporter bothered to look beyond the Dr. Seuss book on my window sill, he would have noticed that my apartment overlooks tobacco fields and cattle pastures.
So Jayson Blair
the weblogger could live, Jayson Blair the journalist had to die.
Wow, that sounds pretentious. Let me start over. I decided to start this weblog because I've been bummed out about all the press I've been getting. Maybe this will be the right place for me to tell my story as it really was, not as seen through the lily-colored eyes of the Paper of Record. Or maybe it'll just give me something to do until my book deal
In the meantime, paying the bills until that fat advance check clears isn't going to be easy. And to make matters worse, Howell Raines called me this morning. Apparently, the Times wants my moose