Sort of a Herb Caen’t

I usually try to acknowledge sources of Sudden Traffic once I notice them, but this one I stalled for a while to give the blush a chance to fade.

I mean, seriously here:

In another era not too long ago, Charles Hill would have been one of those celebrated newspaper columnists who were literally a part of the community’s collective psyche. Think Mike Royko in Chicago, Dave Barry in Miami, Lewis Grizzard in Atlanta — sometimes brilliant, sometimes analytical, usually odd and humorous, sometimes confusing, but always a “must read.”

Geez. Usually when I’m mentioned in connection with someone at that level, it’s accompanied by a phrase like “desperately imitating.” If I’m desperately imitating anyone, it’s probably Frank B. Gilbreath Jr., author of Cheaper by the Dozen, and in his later years proprietor of “Doing the Charleston,” a column in The Post and Courier which he wrote under the name “Ashley Cooper.” I must admit here that I once (at age 13, I think) mailed a backhanded compliment to Mr Cooper for something or other, noting that it was a pleasant change from his usual idiocy; Cooper duly reproduced the letter and explained that in polite society, which Charleston certainly was, we are kind to idiots like him. (Lessons in life come from the damnedest places.) “Ashley” and “Cooper” are, of course, the two rivers which meet at Charleston to form the Atlantic Ocean.

Anyway, since traffic from that little blurb by the Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer is abating somewhat, I figured it was safe to pass it on to my own readership, with the caution that while I really love the idea of myself as Great Metropolitan Columnist, I can’t imagine any set of circumstances under which I might actually attain that status. Still, to quote either Bartles or Jaymes, I thank him for his support.


  1. Kay Dennison »

    3 November 2008 · 10:10 pm

    Way to go, Chaz!!!!!!!!!

  2. McGehee »

    3 November 2008 · 11:29 pm

    There have been times, and there probably will be again, that I would have copped to an accusation of “desperately imitating” you.

  3. Tatyana »

    4 November 2008 · 11:05 am

    Ashley – that’s another of ambigious ones, together with Pat and Dana.

    [and praise for members of my blogroll is always, always welcome. If only a ego-stroking confirmation of my own good taste!]

  4. Kirk »

    4 November 2008 · 11:37 am

    What can I say, Chaz? I don’t read ANY daily newspaper columnists anymore, but I feel deprived if I don’t get my daily dose of Dustbury. And I’ve spent maybe a total of two days in my life in Oklahoma.

  5. McGehee »

    4 November 2008 · 12:15 pm

    (I suppose there’ve also been times I could be accused of being “desperately irritating”…)

  6. Jennifer »

    4 November 2008 · 1:44 pm

    Well, you know my feelings on the matter. Guy got it quite right, IMHO.

  7. Jeff Brokaw »

    4 November 2008 · 4:45 pm

    Chaz, you’d be better as a newspaper columnist than probably 70-80% of the clowns that hold those positions today. No Mike Royko, true, but who is? That guy was a newspaper legend. I used to read him every day in the 80s-90s, until he died in like 97?

    So congrats. Well-deserved. Like McGehee, I try to “borrow” your style sometimes, too.

  8. CGHill »

    4 November 2008 · 7:28 pm

    I guess that settles it, then: I’m an exceedingly narrow talent. :)

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