Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Post on Beam

After hearing exactly one of Alex Beam’s installments of ``Hate Mail,’’ I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Beam really wants to do this podcast. Beam writes a column for The Boston Globe, and he gets mail from readers who disagree with him. What a surprise.

Then he does this podcast in which some of the letters are read from, and then he defends himself.

From his column he gets the First Word, and from the podcast he gets the Last Word.

Whether Beam thinks that is a wonderful position to be in makes no difference. He sounds wary and bored.

``A lot of people are worried about the future of my soul,’’ he said. I’m not going to lose sleep. Beam was being facetious.

Alex Beam discusses his column about a book, ``The Art of Column Writing,’’ by his friend Suzette Martinez Standring. Beam informed us that he told Suzette that if she sent him her book, he would ``cruelly mock it’’ in the Globe. She didn’t have a problem with that, according to Beam.

Alluding to the chapter titled `Can a Columnist Have Friends?’’ Beam wrote that at least his dog still likes him.

A letter writer wrote,

``If your dog loves you so much, why did she piss in your oatmeal yesterday?’’

The remark was ``aimed to hit me right where it hurts,’’ Beam said with little or no pain in his voice.

But I don’t blame Beam’s tone on Beam. As I said, Beam sounds as though he does not want to be doing this podcast, that it is obligatory.

If I were in Alex Beam’s shoes, I’d start one of my columns like this:

``I’m Dan Miller and you’re not. Even if your objections to what I write in my public platform are serious and well considered, I’m going to respond like you need to find something to do, and then get the freakin’ podcast out of my life for another six weeks. If people have a problem with it, I guess that makes me a turd.’’

But at least Beam is intelligent and urbane. He and his letter writers discuss issues of the day.
He cannot be grouped with the yahoos.

Years ago, I learned that the ultimate phrase of insult is ``What a waste of human flesh!’’ Now you got a waste of air space.

The WEEI Whiner Line is an insult to the intelligence. Somehow those dudes managed to persuade a bunch of other dudes that a good way to spend 30 seconds is to bellow and squawk into some Boston radio station’s answering machine.

The hosts guffaw and yuck it up; they and the callers are one big happy family. And it is with reluctance that I say anything negative about the family.

It reminds me of the times I used to get together with a bunch of guys and we’d have a few beers and try to one-up each other (I'm terrible at it.) Except this way they do it by having guys call in, and then the hosts one-up the callers. Takes one-upping to a whole new level.

There is a primal urge for men to one-up. The trouble – maybe – in our society is that men have fewer chances to get together than they did 25 or 30 years ago – about the time I grew out of one-upping. Or they’re so frightened by the prospect of violence that they are less apt to go near each other. So they one-up the WEEI way.

I imagine that media theorists would classify Whiner Line under the talk-radio-as-strictly-entertainment heading.

Compared to Whiner Line, I would find a Partridge Family album much more entertaining and much less embarrassing.


Suzette said...

I'm Suzette Standring, the author of The Art of Column Writing, which was "cruelly mocked" by Alex Beam. He's not "my friend," he is an acquaintance. In his "hate podcast" he calls me "Suzanne." When I first met him, I mentioned my book. He did say, "Send it to me and I'll cruelly mock it." But I never thought he actually meant that. His "mockumentary" was not OK with me at all. Maybe he regretted having so much fun at my expense since his podcast was the closest to a public apology the "resident curmudgeon" could muster. But my book is doing very well, and it's been picked up for required reading for an opinion/column writing class at DePaul University and the reviews on amazon are great. But Beam's review was hurtful.

Grace the Dog Blog said...

I'm sorry, Suzette, that you had to go through that -- if you really are Suzette Standring. Do you think Alex sounds bored or wary on his podcast. I'm convinced he doesn't want to be doing it.

Scott Brodeur said...

Dan, can you send me an e-mail? I am trying to reach you offline about your questions after last week's class.

Ruth Baltopoulos said...

That was really Suzette, and I am really the writer who mentioned dog's pissing in cereal.

Beam being Beam is fine in the critical sense, but he crossed the line to flaming ass by rampaging a book as pablum that was clearly written for a specific audience.

Besides, his dog has no choice but to like him...

Grace the Dog Blog said...

Awfully nice of Ruth and Suzette to get in touch. Although I can understand why Suzette is angry with Alex, in general I don't want to get carried away with animosity against him. All I was doing was expressing disapproval of ``Hate Mail,'' of which I'd heard just one installment.
He doesn't seem to be interested in doing it. I was told to blog my impressions about it for a UMass class.