7.10.2006

ONE CRYING ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS

Are you aware of this Gerard Jones fellow? He's the one with the twigs in his hair and locusts and honey on his breath. If you're an editor, publisher, movie producer, or a Nazi, then by golly you're not the boss of him!

Like lots of rabble rousers -- Mark Cuban, Sinead O'Connor, Martin Sheen -- he's not wrong. Not all the time, anyway. And, at any rate, he's got the basic gist, even if the tone's a little skewed.

It's the skew that interests us, though. Mr. Jones is clearly a smart man, smart enough to know that his strategies--incendiary e-mail carpet bombs aimed at establishment media operatives and a 4.57 MB website that's wall-to-wall with vitriol--are only going to yield a certain kind of attention.

At a sporting event, we pay attention to a streaker because he or she bears it all to dart through the melee knowing what will happen soon enough. A gang tackle. A collective wince from the crowd--we can only imagine where the bruises will show up later. And then it's game on again and we all go back to wishing we were principally involved in the action.

The streaker knows he's not a player. The streaker isn't trying to play, even if he grabs the ball and runs with it for a while. The streaker is anti-player, anti-rules, anti-game. The streaker's time in the sun is, by definition, fleeting. It's not posterity or a spot on the team he wants. It's disruption.

But then again, perhaps the rest of us writers and marginalized media types need a kamikaze. Maybe we can catch just enough of Gerard Jones's madness to require excellence -- even transcendence -- from what we read and write.

Just as long as we don't pretend that, given the chance, we wouldn't take our place in between the white lines of the establishment-media's playing field, and tap our toe impatiently as the cops wrangle away some inconvenient nutjob so we can get on with our fun.

So here's a hypothetical:

Would Gerard Jones trade his website and his persona for a seven-figure, multi-book deal?

Better question:

Would that be the equivalent of selling his heart and soul? Or would it just be a case of insult-comic marketeering that -- however improbably -- panned out?

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