Monday, December 15, 2008

Finite Feagler

Yes, yes, I know. Dick Feagler also drives me crazy with his constant blather about the "good old days". As if the era he coincidentally grew up in was Western Civilization's absolute pinnacle, with the inevitable decline beginning, I guess, when he graduated from college somewhere around 1960, thus leaving him untouched, and thus unsoiled, by the Beatles, shag carpeting, lava lamps, and campus demonstrations. Of course, at that point he and his peers should have, and would have, and did have, a hand in running that inevitable decline. If they didn't, then they're the most passive generation in history, stuck in-between those that fought and won World War II, and those that tuned in, turned on, and dropped out, unable to squeeze even a lousy Tom Brokaw book out from their descent into post-Saturday Evening Post hell. I actually don't have much of a problem with the belief that yesterday was better than today and probably tomorrow, I just want it based on something a little more objective than the fact you have a lot less tomorrows today than you had yesterday. I can just imagine Feagler looking at his aged, crumbling self in the mirror, and then stomping off to the Heinans in Bay Village, shouting to anyone unlucky enough, or worse, young enough, to cross his path, "HOW DARE YOU BE BORN AFTER 1946!"

Having said all that, Dick Feagler was, and is, one of the best writers in Cleveland, and absolutely the best on the Plain Dealer. Connie Schultz? The Pulitzer Prize winner can't hold an empty tip jar to Dick Feagler. And I AGREE with her more than I do with Feagler! Plus, I voted for her husband! No, I suspect the reason Feagler pisses us all off so much is that, unlike others we may disagree with, we just can't dismiss him after that first paragraph with a "Same old, same old, let's see what Regina Britt has to say." Instead, we find ourselves, willingly, yet unwillingly, shoving his words down our own throats until that last pointed sentence protrudes out from the back of our necks. That's the power of the man's writing. Like the late, great, Mike Royko, Feagler is to sarcasm what Sinatra is to phrasing, Astaire is to dancing, Mayor Frank Jackson is to reticence. He does it with impeccable timing, even as he sometimes seems behind the times.

Odd thing is, Feagler, when he wasn't waging generational warfare, could play the radical every now and then. A while back, he wrote a column criticizing both the Medical Mart and the Euclid Corridor. That might not seem all that controversial, but when you consider his newspaper's editorial board seems to have Sam Miller as it's muse, it's downright revolutionary!

Then there's his constant complaints about The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even though he personally doesn't like the music, he nevertheless thinks the annual induction ceremony should be held right here in Cleveland. As someone who does like Rock, I have to say, he's right! It should be held here! And while we're on the subject, what was all that bullshit with Jann Wenner and his wistful regrets about the Rock Hall not being built in New York?! Let's face it, folks, they didn't build it here because this is where Alan Freed coined the term. They built it here because We, the Taxpayer agreed to foot the bill! If they're now having--well, I can't say buyer's remorse, can I? OK, how about this?--seller's remorse, then give us our money back, annex whatever you want back to Manhattan, and we'll use the empty building as a convention center, or a juvenile justice center, or a Superman museum, or something!

Feagler's most radical act may be his support for Gay Marriage. True, his newspaper also supports it, but Feagler didn't bother with the whole dubious it-will-help-bring-outside-business-to-Ohio argument. He's for it because he thinks it's the right thing to do, a stance that got him a gig one year as Grand Marshall in a Pride Parade. Can't imagine THAT happening in the "good old days"!

So, farewll Feagler, may your puss, and whatever writing you've got left, remain forever sour! So long Aunt Ida, maybe all those relatives will invite you over to their houses for a change. So long, guys at the coffee shop, there's a Starbucks opening up down the street. Maybe you should give it a try.

And finally, to Mrs Figment, who lives in that old neighborhood where the fallout from the steel mill turns the laundry on the clothesline orange, I have just one question.

Why don't you just go to the laundromat?

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