Friday, March 17, 2006

Le Batard Leaks In The Pulp

I can't get serious right now. I just had a good lunch with a good source, March Madness is maddening (I just lost my first Elite 8 team, Iowa, on a last second three from the baseline), it's St. Patrick's Day, and it's the end of the damn week. Reporter folk, it's time to celebrate life a little.

So I'm gonna end this with some fun, perhaps at the expense of Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard, who I'm sure can take it (unlike a few thin-skinned, humorless weasels out there -- oh yeah, you know who you are). Anyway, you may remember Sam Eifling's little study on Le Batard's weirdly repititious use of phrases concerning Ben Wallace's afro and the 1980 Olympic hockey miracle [you can see it below].

Well, unbenowst to Eifling and the Pulp, a similar study was undertaken back in 1995 in the Miami New Times. A Pulp reader and veteran of the journalism scene remembered the piece, which was in the form of an unsigned "Best Of," and dug it up for me. It's believed to have been authored by the esteemed Tom Finkel, now editor of the New Times-owned Riverfront Times in St. Louis, and it is a thing of strange and hilarious beauty.

Dan Le Batard

On January 10, 1994, this babyfaced Herald sportswriter clambered into a literary catapult of his own making and hurled himself toward greatness. “The stink keeps seeping into sports,” he ventured in the topic sentence of a commentary about the recent assault on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, and then proceeded to find his incomparable voice, writing, “You can’t escape to these pages anymore, can’t always find quiet near the boxscores. The poison leaks in from the rest of the newspaper and next thing we know Michael Jordan’s father is dead.”

Thus was born one man’s love affair with a verb.

“The mediocrity begins at the top and trickles down, engulfing the entire Heat organization. It touches everything from the coach to the end of the bench, and it leaks into the front office, too,” Le Batard wrote less than two weeks later.

By spring the budding stylist was courageous enough to broach the gerund: “Magic Johnson is dying. The averages say he’ll be gone in about 11 years, life leaking from his body as predictably as seconds off a scoreboard clock,” he dispatched on April 10, then proceeded to turn in an even more adventurous April 22 entry: “Miami Arena was leaking now, sound being sucked out like air from a deflating balloon.”

In June Mexican soccer players competing in the World Cup “could feel the life leaking from their legs,” while December brought a high school football coach whose rage “leaks out occasionally, with a single word you wouldn’t want your children to hear” and a Dolphins special teams mentor undergoing “nearly six months of chemotherapy that made the life leak out of his body.” New Year’s Day 1995 informed us that “the game was done, clearly, but Joe Montana was behaving as if the life were leaking out of him.”

And only then was Le Batard truly ready. A January 19 article that began with the greatest single sentence in Miami Herald history (“He could barely walk, this strong man the Dallas Cowboys needed to run”) built to this corker: “And just when you thought Emmitt Smith didn’t have an ounce of emotion remaining in his body, just when you thought he had spent everything on the field, you noticed he had a little something left. It came leaking from both eyes.”

He would polish that particular gem in a March 13 epic about golfer Mark O’Meara’s caddie: “‘Yes,’ he screamed, and then he threw his arms skyward, too, so much joy rushing through him that he couldn’t keep it all inside. It came leaking out both eyes.”

No more could possibly be wrought, you say? Wrong. April 16 was occasion for a paean to Glen Rice’s 56-point effort against the Orlando Magic: “And when it was done, when he made that last long jumper...Rice could no longer keep all the joy inside him. It leaked out in a burst, right on the court.”
We say write on, Danny Boy. Let ’er drip!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Palm Beach Post’s Leslie Gray Streeter uses the word “Yummy” in just about every other column – from restaurant critiques to travel pieces to music reviews etc. In a Nov. 12 review of the film Pride and Prejudice, she uses this line: “It’s a brilliant, dramatically yummy moment.”

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh snap! What a great catch, Anonymous. And you cite an entire one example from four frigging months ago. I bet you've been saving that one under your pillow all year, waiting for the Pet Peeve Fairy to come visit you.

According to Lexis/Nexis, Leslie has used the word "yummy" 53 times since June 2003, or an average of once every six and a half weeks. She's had 685 bylines in that period (holy shit, that's a lot), so the word has appeared in fewer than 8 percent of her stories.

Wow, what a positive TORRENT of yumminess, especially from someone whose job includes writing about restaurants. That's not exactly "every other," which would be something like, what, 50 percent? Still, I'm surprised you've been able to stop downloading porn long enough to notice.

I also notice that she uses the words "a," "the," "is" and "are" a lot, so let's make sure to crucify her for that, too.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Pisces Trucker said...

Hmm. 53 uses of the word "yummy" in one person's copy in less than three years seems like a heck of a lot to me. But then again I might be biased. I hate that Goddamned word with a holy passion.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous little ricky ricardo said...

I'm with Pisces Trucker. "Yummy" is a word best reserved for 8 year olds describing their ice cream cone at the Dairy Queen. And "It's a brilliant, dramatically yummy moment" was worth hanging onto for four yummy months. It's never too late to disparage and belittle blatant acts of dismal writing.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, glad you are "on the beat." Who leaked that story idea to you?

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Pisces Trucker too. "Yummy" 53 times. Yikes!

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's just be glad Streeter isn't covering the county commission and their yummy actions.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous grokker in shroomtown said...

Just to annoy all you tight-asses, I hope Leslie uses the word "yummy" in every story for the next month.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word, grokker. You beeyotches are so amusing with your self-righteousness about an innocent word like "yummy." I can just see y'all reviewing A la recherche du temps perdu back in the day, complaining "Why does Proust go on and on about some 'madeleine,' whatever that is," and "let's just be glad Marcel isn't covering the county commission." As if.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

give it a break. leslie is a writer that lots of people read -- as opposed to the 23 souls who live on every word that's printed in new times...

again, methinks there's some jealousy here.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Florida Pulp said...

You're right, last anonymous, I'm jealous of daily newspaper writers. I yearn for the heart-numbing bureaucracy, for all those editors and lawyers to once again de-ball my copy, to have to come into the office every day and work nine to six like all the other stiffs. I miss the incompetent ass kissers who will inevitably become my bosses. I miss the inverted pyramid and having to take the cuss words out of my copy so people will never really know what was said. I want to write 12 inch stories that present two opposing lies and then call it "balanced." I want to cover festivals on the weekend again. I want to kowtow to government leaders. I want to be as objective as a plastic lawn chair. I want to bow down to sacred cows. I need somebody to fuck up my lede without telling me, so I can start throwing newspapers across the room in a rage again. I want to overlook corruption in my town and I want to snicker at activists who actually care about ethics in government. I want to write glowing tributes to civic vampires like Wayne Huizenga and Bill Scherer. I want to die slowly over several decades, to quietly dissolve into my cubicle until I am as lifeless as the formica on my crumby desk. I want to become like my parents many years too soon. I want to be subjected to random drug tests. Yes, most of all, I want to be subjected to random drug tests.

But you know the funny thing is that New Times people had nothing to do with this Streeter tangent. It was posted by an unknown commentator and abetted by somebody that did a Nexis search, neither of whom was me or, as far as I know, anybody else at New Times.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

methinks the lady doth protest too much...

5:16 AM  
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