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Thursday, January 7, 2010

On Politics & Writing

I give people who write about political things, be they bloggers or traditional newspaper columnists, lots of credit. It's simply something I...someone who really, truly enjoys writing...would never be able to do. By the way, don't take the previous phrase "someone who really, truly enjoys writing" as being in any way self-promotion or some indication that I consider myself to be good at this stuff, because I'm not shooting for "good" anyway; my target/objective here has always been much more low-brow: self-entertainment.

Anyway, the whole political thing to me is like spending time in a chocolate store: in as much as you may love chocolate, pretty soon it just becomes too much. Politics can be that way, in part, because there is this kind of "gravity" associated with it...once you get close to it, there is this natural tendency to pull you in further and further and further. For me, there are just times when I need to turn it off for a while. It got that way during the last Presidential election, as I simply couldn't stand to hear one more "hope and change" speech from Barack Obama nor could I stand to hear Sara Palin do her "cutesy/home-spun/moron" act either. Locally it's just as bad. I purposefully stay away from the whole Scranton City Council/Mayor Doherty thing, as I'll soon end up fighting obsession over the insanity that swirls around North Washington Avenue.

When I started writing this blog the remedy to whole obsession things was built-in by design: I purposefully try to write about a lot of different things that I find interesting. This parallels how some of the topical writers I admire approached subject matter. In the present tense, I'd count Anna Quindlen as a personal favorite. While I don't agree with all of her conclusions, I enjoy reading every column, as you never know what you are going to get in terms of her topics, and she is always just plain fun to read. Another great writer that I enjoy reading is Hollis Gillespie; I actually first heard about her work on a blog many years ago, and soon found her as an occasional NPR contributor. Her "Hellish Ghoul" piece (where she talks about how her name roughly translates to "Hellish Ghoul" in German) is hilarious. In a more past tense, I am an enormous Hunter S. Thompson fan. Simply put, I think he is among the best writers to emerge during the 20th century. Now I know he's not everyone's cup of tea, but when you talk about ability to write on a variety of topics, Thompson simply shines. This is a guy who made a sports column (and I find sports columns to be almost unreadable) entertaining...see his Hey Rube column in Thompson was the guy who made political writing entertaining for me. To this day, I count The Great Shark Hunt as being one of my favorite books, ever. It's all about having something of a point of view and message, but conveying those things in an entertaining way.

In the final analysis I'm simply shooting in this blog for self-entertainment here. If someone else is entertained here that's great, but it's also extra.

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