One moment I'm writing something in the North Adams Transcript, and the next thing I know, here I am in the Berkshire Eagle, at the front of the B-section. You must wonder who I am and why I am, strutting around your newspaper page like a peacock or Madonna or something.
One of the great conundrums of starting a weekly column in a new paper is how far you want to go to introduce yourself to the audience. Just last week, I was arts and entertainment editor at the North Adams Transcript. We all know how that gig went. I was at that paper for more than 11 years, covering the art scene and writing opinion columns for most of that time. Eleven years is a lot of time to read my work, figure me out, try and predict what I'm going to say, let my bombast sink in, but somehow I've got to do for you what the people of North Adams had the luxury of more than a decade to achieve.
What can you expect from me on the first page of your B section on a lovely Tuesday morning?
Sometimes I write about politics -- all columnists seem to in some form or another -- but I don't necessarily like to. Politics is so gloomy, so hopeless, stuck in its ways and sending us all careening toward disaster. You end up spending so much time addressing every stupid statement made by every non-thinking politician -- that is, all politicians -- that you get lost in the minutiae. You've disarmed yourself when trying to address the big picture.
In case I do write something about politics, you should know that I am considered a liberal. A progressive liberal atheist. Some say I'm an anarchist. I wrote a book for kids about it, so I won't argue. Some say I'm a socialist. Sure, why not? Call me whatever you like, just don't call me late for beer o'clock.
The annoying thing about being a liberal is that there is always, at any given moment, around any given corner, someone so much more liberal than you, and they want to make sure everyone knows that. You can devote your life to proactively supporting all sorts of liberal causes, but the moment you say the wrong thing about one little topic, boom, all your progressive cred goes out the window.
In such a world, being a liberal can be very, very tiring, and I don't recommend writing about politics very often because of that, especially if you don't like receiving crazed scrawls in the mail.
More often than not, I'd prefer to tackle other subjects -- copyright madness, digital culture, anti-science extremism, religious dogma, issues in the arts, guns, odd news from around the world, the occasional North Adams issue and, of course, artisanal toast.
Actually, I haven't written about artisanal toast yet, but this article (http://bit.ly/1dOynO1) makes me think I should. Four dollar toast! Anything goes in San Francisco, apparently.
Sometimes I like to talk about news items that I find absurd, fascinating, alarming, like the article in the Swedish paper The Local (http://bit.ly/1m2bSwz) about an old guy named Bo who stated -- correctly, I should add -- that "like a worm in an apple, the Internet eats us from within and takes over" and found Internet fame thanks to his diatribe.
It leaves me wondering what Bo would say about artisanal toast. We'll never know because he won't go online to find out about it, but whatever it would be, I'd probably agree with it.
However, Bo was unavailable for a column in The Eagle, so I stepped forward. Discussing artisanal toast is definitely on my agenda.
John Seven, a writer, can be reached at email@example.com.