Back in 1999, I was a 3d modeler / texture mapping artist. I wasn’t particularly talented. I’m still not. I just don’t have a lot of artistic style, but I made up for it with raw technical knowledge and a Jedi-Master level command of shortcut keys. Sometimes I’d get an assignment to to something that required a bit more art than I had to give. At one point I needed to come up with some realistic domestic scenery: Houses, interiors, and whatnot. I wasn’t sure where to begin.
I turned to Google Image Search, looking for stuff on interior design. I was hoping for some sort of crash-course on home interiors. Instead I found James Lileks’ Interior Desecrators and I blew the next hour or so of work surfing around his site and laughing. Eventually I stumbled on his blog (although I don’t think I knew the word “blog” at the time) and I’ve been reading The Bleat ever since. He’s a newspaper columnist. He’s not as funny as Dave Barry, but that’s like saying he’s poorer than Sheik Al-Mufar Petrol III and he’s not quite as focused as Batman. There are worse faults a man can have. Anyway, I love his work.
I even subscribed to the on-line portion of his newspaper Star Tribune, just so I could read his column there. A couple of years ago they cut his already-meager newspaper column down, and what was once a “fun size” bag of Fritos became A Frito, singular. He was the only reason I visited their site, and sometimes they couldn’t give the guy enough space to sum up the plot to an episode of Full House. It seemed silly to me, but then I’m half a country away and not exactly their target audience. Maybe they didn’t care if I was reading or not.
Then some sort of buyout happened, and they took Lileks away from his Quirky Column duties and were going to make him a reporter. A recorder. A summerizer of events. A job that, by its very definition, precludes the making of ironic observations or the spouting of witticisms. This is like giving James Earl Jones a job as a movie theater projectionist. Sure, I bet he could do it, but aren’t there better things you could have this guy do?
The news spread on the internet, and There Was An Outcry. As with most outcries on the internet, there really weren’t any instances of anyone crying out, but I was vaguely aware that some people got mad and blogged about it.
The paper has changed their minds. They have decided to pay Lileks to blog. Here.
From his debut post:
Do give it a look. Maybe say hi. The site even has open(ish) comments, which is pretty cutting-edge thing for a newspaper site to do.
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