We had a lot of fun with crotchety old Bill Conlin on Friday, but we had no idea how serious he was about this email business. Apparently, he's been firing off angry emails to random readers for weeks now.
The most famous one, already, is this one:
The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler's time on earth-I'm sure he would have eliminated all bloggers. In Colonial times, bloggers were called "Pamphleteers." They hung on street corners handing them out to passersby. Now, they hang out on electronic street corners, hoping somebody mouses on to their pretentious sites. Different medium, same MO. Shakespeare accidentally summed up the genre best with these words from a MacBeth soliloquy: ". . .a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. . ."
Charming! (And, according to Mr. Daulerio over at Philly Mag, something that might get him in some serious trouble.)
But here's another good one: Someone sent Conlin an email implying that he had "lost his fastball." Here was his response:
My fastball has slipped so much that when I attempted to accept the buyout on the table in 2002 (I was already 68), the editors took me to lunch and asked what it would take for me to keep working. I replied one less column a week and reduced travel. At a second meeting, they gave me a two column a week schedule, sharply reduced travel and a mandate to write mostly commentary. They also gave me a generous signing bonus, a quarterly performance bonus and matched the lump sum that would have accompanied the buyout package. They also continued the subsidy of my Florida condo that has been paying the taxes and monthly maintenance since 1987. By law, they had to begin paying me my full pension in 2004, so at age 73 I'm making the top salary at the paper plus collecting the biggest monthly pension check ever paid out. With the social security check my wife and I receive, I'm making ballplayer money for two columns a week. I suppose the fact that those two columns are consistently the most read pieces in EITHER paper might play a role in my good fortune. If that's what accrues from a lost fastball, I suggest you try taking a little off yours. . .I was forced to sell the condo in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, because we just didn't get there enough.
And then he ... ATTACHED PHOTOS OF THE CONDO!
You know ... it's pretty amazing newspapers are having so much trouble staying relevant.
The Conlin business has been circulating so much in the last few days that it's close to hitting the critical mass of actual protests; referencing Hitler will do that. Part of us feels bad for Bill; the man is 73 years old and probably thinks the emails are the equivalent of screaming at your computer. It seems extreme to severely punish (or even fire) the man for not quite understanding how the Web works; he's 73, for crying out loud. But then we read that "with the social security check my wife and I receive, I'm making ballplayer money for two columns a week" line ... and we feel less sympathetic. Let's see how it all turns out.