Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Slumlords, Slumming Columnists, and Poetry Slams

As most of you know, Side is a cranky old man, and we’ve put a lot of years and effort into perfecting our reputation and stature as a leader in the field.  So please humor us while we light the pettiness lamp.

One of the things about contemporary journalism that really fries our grits is the practice of placing an opinion columnist’s photo at the top of his/her column.  These are never simple candid snaps; instead, they’re artfully posed to inspire reverence, and to ‘make a statement.’  Think Paul Krugman, Eddie Beem, and Billy “Boohoo” Nemitz.

In the case of Nemitz, the statement made reads as follows to your correspondent:

“Listen up, little people.  I’m up here and you’re down there, and there’s a reason for that. 

It’s because I have a piercing intellect, a pure and humble heart, and I care more than you do.  You aren’t worthy of what I’m about to say, and it will fly right over your heads, but my benevolence demands mercy for even the least among you.

Ergo, I will shower you with my wisdom.  Just remember how fortunate you are to sit at my feet and be enlightened.” 

And then a familiar tune seems to play…

“But where in the world
Is there in the world
A man so untouched and pure?
It’s me!”

There; that takes care of our repressed pettiness for the moment; the lamp is out until we light it again. 

To the subject at hand:

A few weeks ago, Billy Nemitz authored a ‘column’ that was styled after the beloved poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and in it, he voiced his grotesque disdain for Maine’s Republican Governor.  Just two days before Christmas, it was ‘hate journalism’ of the most repulsive sort.

There is, as it turns out, an illuminating back story to his vile verse.  Just three days before it appeared in print, Nemitz had invested a half day in Augusta at the Maine State Housing Authority.  This was the most recent meeting of the MSHA Board of Commissioners, and he arrived an hour before the meeting began, presumably for a private audience with MSHA’s Director, Dale McCormick.

He then sat through the Board Meeting itself.  Given Billy’s well known MO, his transparent hatred for all things at odds with his extreme leftism, and recent news on the MSHA front, it’s obvious he was there to gather evidence for one or more future attack columns.  

We’re sure he arrived confident he’d find Governor LePage had sent a hit squad to MSHA offices, and directed them to engage in witch-hunts and various other forms of uncalled for wire-brushing.  All to demonize a pure and devoted cadre of public servants who exist only to bring relief to those who need it most.  His dreamed for scenario fulfillment would confirm Nemitz’ belief in a LePage scorched earth political agenda.

We imagine that Nemitz, who we think of as Sir Boohoo-a-lot of the Left Table, arriving on his white horse, a firm grip on his pike, was intent on tilting Sir Bruce, Knight of the Right Table, off his steed. He would run him through over and over in print. We could almost hear him sing:

In Portland far I heard your call.
And here am I to give my all.
I know in my soul what you expect of me,
And all that and more I shall be.”

Given the slumlord news reported in the weeks before this meeting, Nemitz probably thought he could go slumming about MSHA, and find evidence of the evil Poliquin and his merry band of vicious and politically motivated interlopers, reveling in the ooze and slime surrounding the organization.

Poor Billy; what he got instead was stunning disappointment, undermining his giddy expectation of multiple horror story columns for the next few weeks.  I know because I was there.

Suddenly, Sir Boohoo-a-lot had a problem.  A big problem.  And nothing for his next deadline.

What he got for his travels was an MSHA Director sheepishly revealing how she had somehow reduced the cost of the Elm Street project from $314,000 per unit to $265,000 per unit, and a nightmare of embarrassment in Section 8 housing conditions in the Norway area, as we previously reported.  Featured in the story is Avesta Housing, headed by one of Brunswick’s civic elites.

So Billy found himself without a credible screed to run.  What would he do?

What he would do is submit an adolescent, Christmas themed attack upon our Governor.  Call it an homage to the worst of Maine’s ‘creative culture.’

Taking Nemitz’ offering as a challenge, we decided to respond in kind.  We drafted the following and submitted it to his editors:

Awed by Bill Nemitz’ recent ode of hate to our Governor, in the style of a well known Christmas poem, I longed for a muse to inspire a worthy response.

But none was forthcoming, so I dug through the closet and found my Shirley MacLaine magic decoder ring, and furiously rubbed the crystal in hopes of channeling a worthy bard. After several minutes’ effort, letters began to appear in the crystal, one after another. I scribbled them down as fast as I could, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but this delivered verse so clear:

Sonnet #86, from the Portland Left

By Billy Barrett Nemitz-Browning

How do I hate thee? Let me tell you LePage.
I hate thee to the depth and breadth and rage
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal scorn.
I hate thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I hate thee freely, as men strive far left;
I hate thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I hate thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's spite.
I hate thee with a bile I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!---I hate thee with the breath,
Smirks, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,
I shall but hate thee better after death.

For reasons not disclosed, the editors did not acknowledge our submission or publish it.  Go figure.  But it is published here, for all to see and enjoy.  Fa la la la, and deck your halls, etc.

Now the denouement of these events.  On Friday evening past, MSHA released their report on the circumstances of the Norway fiasco. 

Embarrassing as the report is, Sir Boohoo-a-lot saw it as a chance to pivot and again point his sharp tongue at Sir Bruce of the Right Table, and thus deflect his groupies away from the light.  

In his column on Sunday, January 8th, Nemitz refers to “the embattled Executive Director McCormick,” which is never a good sign.  Further, he writes:

But make no mistake about it. As MaineHousing's lengthy mea culpa makes the rounds this week, the long knives are about to get a whole lot longer.

In a press release issued just over a week ago, State Treasurer Poliquin claimed that MaineHousing's staff revealed at a recent board meeting that they "had known about these squalid conditions for at least two years."

I attended that meeting and never heard any such thing. But if Poliquin was on one of his facts-be-damned riffs before the Norway report was completed, imagine what he and his comrades-in-politics will do with 17 pages of self-scrutiny by the agency they claim can do no right.

Aye, then, the gauntlet was thrown down, accompanied by yet another familiar verse:

It’s Bill! It’s Bill, I rush to disclose.
I'm far too noble to lie.
That man in whom
These qualities bloom,
C'est moi, c'est moi, 'tis I.
I've never strayed
From all I believe;
I'm blessed with an iron will.
Had I been made
The partner of Eve,
We'd be in Eden still.

But forsooth, yet again, Sir Boohoo-a-lot gets caught carrying his pike with the pointy end aimed at himself, rather than his quarry.  Unable to ignore Sir Boohoo’s pike in belly and foot in mouth, another brave knight responded.

Quick as a flash, on the eve of the very same Sunday, Good Sir Lance-a-lot, carrying the scarf of Lady Truth, responded with a video that runs Sir Boohoo-a-lot through. 

And the next day, Sir Lance-a-lot  further vanquished the columnist errant, with a rich and detailed treatise.  It even mentions the childish Christmas poem.

No doubt editors of the Left-Table will declare Nemitz received only flesh wounds.  But like the Black Knight, Sir Boohoo-a-lot is in need of more ’long-knife’ training.  And he might want to get a few stitches in those flesh wounds.

Perhaps, should he lose his role as chief protagonist for the Portland left, Sir Boohoo-a-lot can look for a production of Liar of La Mancha holding auditions.  The new version centers on green, renewable, alternative energy windmills, something Nemitz seems ideally suited for reporting on.

“To Dream the Impossible Dream……..”  How appropriate, and right up his wheelhouse.

If that doesn’t work out, he can always seek employment as a short-order cook.  He seems to have a way with eggs.

On a closing note, whenever you read that our exalted print media, like The Ostrich, etc, ‘don’t run any conservative letters because they just don’t get any,’ you can bet they are lying through their beady little eyes. We’ve provided two recent examples: this one for the Press Herald, and the TIF one last month involving The Ostrich. 

Over the years, the number of cases of the same conceit are beyond counting, both for other writers and your faithful correspondent.

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