By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A “moronic poison-pill”

No doubt you’ve already seen it, but if not, you’ve got to read Christopher Lydon’s quirky, compulsively readable take on Boston media in the new CommonWealth Magazine. Check out this excerpt:

Does the Globe really live in our city? Do we live in theirs? You see those green-and-white Globe brain-caption posters all over the MBTA, asking such cute Boston questions as “Where’s the best pizza in the North End?” But it’s a shock now when you see someone on the T actually reading the Globe. Or the Herald, for that matter, even when they’re giving it away free. What the straphangers are reading, if anything, is that moronic poison-pill of non-journalism, or anti-journalism, the Metro, of which the Globe has cynically, or defensively, bought a piece — recalling Lenin’s line about capitalists investing in the rope factory that makes their noose!

That’s as good a description of the Metro as you’re ever likely to see. But read the whole thing. It’s mainly about the Globe. And though I’ve long thought Lydon’s critique of the Globe to be overwrought, it’s also well-informed and coherent as only Lydon can be.

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Production note


Big Brother is listening


  1. Anonymous

    Could we please just boil down that windbag Lydon’s waste of ink into its core theme:’When I was a newbie in the business, it was great. Now it sucks, and us old farts are doing better stuff anyway.’Jeesh, I love Commonwealth but I can’t believe they considered his collection of puffery and name-dropping to be worthwhile.

  2. Anonymous

    First, we get the sense that Boston newspapers are irrelevant. Then we get a long list of Lydon cronies in the press extolled ad nauseam. It’s one or the other.From the halfway point, it reads like the “Speech! Speech!” of a vice principal at his retirement party.When he was running for mayor, it seemed like some sort of George Plympton first-person bit. Instead of the implausible Plympton as a Detroit Lions quarterback in training camp, we got Lydon in the Democratic primary.Bob in Peabody

  3. Anonymous

    I’m usually not a Lydon fan (and most of the sites he mentioned would require me to quit my job and do nothing else but blog) but he nailed the Globe perfectly. Like an African American using the “N word”, only an honest liberal can out the Globe Emperor as having no clothes and get away with it.PS- I believe it’s George “Plimpton”. Plympton is the South Shore town I call home.

  4. Anonymous

    …am I the only one who finds Lydon’s overwrought blathering worse than anything or anyone he complains about?

  5. Anonymous

    Man, I couldn’t make it through the first two paragraphs of the article. Lydon has obviously never met a narcissistic, overreaching, flowery phrase that he can turn away from.I do, however, agree with his characterization of Emerson loving the internet’s “better mousetrap” provided Emerson was into pornography, gambling, and endless discussion about American Idol contestants.

  6. Anonymous

    I felt a sudden urge to light a corn-cob pipe reading Lydon’s scandalously logorrheic paean to “few fine old dinosaurs” who “yet romp.” It warms the cockles of my still-beating heart to hear the reverential roll call of yellowing bylines from the Globe of yesteryear. Guff, yes, but this piece is guff for those who, like Lydon, have yet to find a relevant critique of the media today.

  7. Anonymous

    I’m sitting next to Bob in Peabody at the retirement dinner cutting my rubber chicken while the honoree’s at the podium extolling, at length, for he loves the sound of his own voice, the virtues of his beloved dinosaurs. He laments the loss of the olde ways but offers hope, hope mind you! for the future. And now with your indulgence he sez, I’ll in turn extol the virtues of the fearless young’uns who will replace the dinosaurs, with their brave and authentic blogs. And on and on. Another round for me and Bob please miss, who knows how much longer he’ll be going on up there.Finally he concludes, invoking Emerson’s earnestness, and the band plays a bit and they give him his gold watch and we drink to his health and go the hell home. Mind that last step Chris. Subtract the malarkey and what is left. That the Globe ain’t what it used to be, but still has some writers I like. And many people write blogs on something called the “internet”. Well I have a couple of favorites too. Give me Alex Beam and Katherine A. Powers and the divil or the Times take the rest!And how about putting those URLs under their references instead of inline. Nobody wants to see the plumbing–unless it’s an homage to the olden times.Which brings to mind a story about Whitman…neil in Lynn

  8. Anonymous

    Sp, does anyone ripping Lydon here actually ENJOY what the Globe has become?

  9. Anonymous

    I think Lydon has it just about right: “But the Globe’s body language, especially after the busing wars, looked to me like cringing before the smart folks and lording it over the neighborhood dummies; as if it assumed that the Harvard crowd was wedded to the Times and South Boston to the Herald. The Globe stuck itself with a mushy suburban middle that didn’t much appreciate the nuances at either end of the scale.”But hey, go ahead and shoot the messenger if you want.

  10. Specks

    yeah! Rave On!

  11. Aaron Read

    I enjoyed Lydon’s article, although it really reads like Chris was dictating to a speech-to-text program on his Mac. If you treat that article as a script it’d make a good speech or radio monologue, but as a print article it’s a little too run-on-sentence-ish. :-)I think every generation accuses the one after it of blatant suckery but it’s hard to argue that Lydon is exactly wrong about the Globe. Although I don’t feel anywhere near informed enough to argue that he’s right, either.Speaking of which, when are we going to start seeing some analysis on whether Lydon’s grand experiment Open Source is succeeding or not? Granted it’s a little early, but I’m VERY interested in what the CW is on that concept of a blog+radioshow.

  12. Anonymous

    Love Lydon but this is a stew of elitism hard to swallow.

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