Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild's World-Famous Encyclical BONG Bull No. 671.

For April 8, 2006. Hello, Worldwide Media Conspiracy, here's a list of people you can't push around any more: Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon, John Mitchell, Ollie North, Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay. Oops, wait, Ollie calls himself a reporter now. Never mind Ollie. And let's hold off on Tom DeLay until Fox News decides whether to make him a reporter or just another pseudo-analyst, says the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 671!

CHANGE OF ADDRESS. The Chief Copyboy has left the San Antonio Express-News after five years and is in transit to Dayton, Ohio, place of BONG's founding.
The news isn't that I'm bolting from Hearst after five years; it's that I didn't quit FOR five years. In that time I earned 11 national Hearst headline prizes but also endured a copy desk management style more like playground bullying than professional newspapering, with catty sniping and backstabbing. It started with my innocent question in 2001 to another editor: "So, why do we publish so many passive-voice headlines?" Shortly the slot guy was protecting his little sandbox by spraying spit in my face and yelling fuck in my ear. Well, he can keep his tantrums on that side of the desk and in his e-mails. I came to edit, not be prom queen.
Then there was the unique thrill of being plagiarized by a slot editor for what is likely to be the only solo national headline prize she ever will win. It would've given me an even dozen, but that's not the point; the dinners weren't that good. One just expects a little more slickness. This is the crew that crowed for months that, of all the local sob stuff in the world, that New York Times' rogue stole ours. Well, getting your pocket picked doesn't make you a crime fighter. Congratulations on how you handled that, New York Times.
And then there was truly the cutest phenomenon, the fear and loathing of BONG. What you're reading is in my resume, was there when they hired me. Wouldn't keep it a secret; even church committees Google. BONG's been pretty much the same for almost 20 years, first called a column, then a newsletter, a zine, and then a blog. The Express-News recently started blogs. Most of them are full of stuff we used to write 30 on TOP of. But OK, now they blog, and somebody said hey, while we're trying to figure this out, we got a guy over here, Charley, who's been doing it for years. Then a manager said, "What, years? Generating ideas? Making deadlines? Building readership? And he can talk to us? Good Lord, he must be stopped!"
In the ensuing quiet office chat I could agree not to use company time or equipment for BONG. But Express-News management's demand that I furnish advance copy for approval was too much to stay at Hearst for. So, from now on whenever anyone Googles the phrase "prior restraint" for their civics essay, J-school thesis or White House probe, somewhere in the findings will be this paragraph.
So long, San Antonio Express-News. The only difference between you and what they publish on small distant islands is that they get sea breezes and fresher fish.

ART NEWS. Never one to waste five years, the Graphic Finery and T-shirts Committee whomped together two nice watercolors about the foregoing.
One portrays a little island featuring a tower restaurant, a paste pot with a lighted fuse, a woman stealing something, a big committee table with lots of vacant seats, a chorus line of empty farm-boy overalls, and lots of cormorants.
The other is a collage of hand-painted postcards explaining the images in the first one. The postcards came over several weeks through the U.S. Postal Service to my mailbox in the Express-News newsroom before being compiled in the collage. One of them explains what cormorants have to do with anything.
The committee will prepare the paintings for display or reproduction after BONG Center's resettlement (with Texas plates on the car, we're a little rushed to travel before the immigration bill gets going again). For now, a free detail image suitable for downloading or screensaver use is available to all here. It's the one with the overalls.
Copy and lift option:

SO ANYWAY. What it all means is that BONG is back until the creek backs up or Customs and Immigrations moves the border fence to the Indiana line. Subscribe to the e-mail version at

THE FUNNY PAPERS. Two photographers sat in the back of the meeting room through a long, boring staff meeting when one leaned over to the other and said, "I just passed gas silently."
Whereupon the first whispered back, "You need a new battery in your hearing aid."

COMIX SECTION. The Further Adventures of Herman "Speed" Graphic, Ace Photographer for the Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar, and his Faithful Companion, Typo the Wonder Pig.
PANEL ONE: After the usual tete a tete with the authorities at the editors' convention, the Deft Duo zip homeward on the copy desk coffee urn, converted to a low-orbit rocket by the addition of a Do-Good Pellet from the pocket of Speed's trenchcoat, a deathbed gift from an ancient mystic wire service executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island, as Speed shouts, "Wow, Typo! They never set the bail so high on Features Editor Hyperba Lee!"
PANEL TWO: Typo explicates, "It's the Internet, Boss! Now every hotel manager can click a couple buttons and find repeat offender lists! But don't worry! I got her to sign enough expense-account approvals to cover her weekend and the rest of ours this year!"
PANEL THREE: As they cruise over New York, Our Heroes observe a hubbub in an uptown alley and Typo exclaims, "Look, Boss! It's Ursula, my unrequited love! What's she doing in Manhattan? Ursula! Ursula, you've come back to me!"
INTERPANEL SILHOUETTE: Before Speed can intervene, the panel is obscured by popout lettering reading POW BIFF PUMMEL PUMMEL PUMMEL.
PANEL FOUR: Speed comforts his pal, coaxing, "Just rest easy, Typo! the Special Victims Unit will be here right after rehearsal!"
Typo groans, "Don't fret about me, Boss! Did you see those muscles? Did you see her tip over that remote truck? Did you see how far she threw that Al Roker cutout? I tried to tell her that Katie Couric always had a lock on that job! Did you see her crumble her audition tapes into dust? Is it any wonder I love her so?"
PANEL FIVE: Still waiting for the ambulance, Typo mumbles, "You have to stash the coffee urn, Boss! Rocket use renders its contents a potent aphrodisiac! Only copy editors are immune!"
Speed glances down the alley and sighs, "Too late, Typo! The Post gossip column's Accounts Receivable Department already found it! Tomorrow's Page Six is gonna be a honey!"

BONG is the creation of Chief Copyboy Charley Stough. E-mail at for any reason.