Saturday, April 14, 2018
Era of Contempt, III
Being creative is hard. Especially over time. To hold readers' interest, to be both recognizable and fresh. Expectations rise, if you're good, and then have to be met. Or, inevitably, not met. Lurking in the shadows is that enemy of continued excellence, Regression to the Mean—the tendency for exceptional performance to be followed by more humble results, skewing toward the average, toward not the outstanding, but what people usually do on any given day.
So as promising as it was to receive another letter from Alan P. Leonard, I should have seen what was coming.
His first letter, defending our "wonderful president" and damning me was a masterpiece of unintentional humor, among the dozen most popular posts ever to appear on this blog, between its comic misspellings—"a wessel like you"— and its lashing out at Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. Dozens of readers commented.
The second letter, with its bold, sex panic opening line—"Are you one of those transgender people I've heard about"— didn't rate quite as high, but still was more popular than most anything I could write. It had a certain grandeur that demanded admiration.
To be honest, I thought my Tinley Park correspondent had run his course. It was too much to expect a steady stream of crazed clickbait from Mr. Leonard.
Then this third letter arrived. I opened it with excitement, then felt ... well, let down. I mean, the misspellings are there—my name, "your resent articles"—but it somehow lacked the dynamic tone of the previous two offerings. It was flat, limp, lifeless. To be honest, I at first decided not to post it at all, that it was not up to my standards for risible contemptuous reader emails.
But I couldn't throw it away either. It lingered in my briefcase, and now that a few weeks have passed, and no further letters, I feel obligated to end this as a triptych, and share his swan song, the last dinosaur, the end of an era.
I'll let you be the judge. Is this up to his high standards for nitwittery? The stationery alone merits attention. Still ... am I slumming sharing it? To be honest, I looked at the current national scene, the White House dissolving into chaos, the investigative net closing around the president, and had nothing whatsoever to add to the chorus of critique. I'm a spectator like everyone else, shorn of insight, just waiting in a mental crouch for the next development.
So, in the meantime, why not Mr. Leonard? As well him as another, to paraphrase Molly Bloom. So yes I said yes I will yes, and put your hands together, one last time.