DrHGuy Oddly Intrigued By McHenryCountyBlog Coverage
Row Girls Row
Go Cal Go
Readers may recall a recent Heck Of A Guy post, Plot To Disrupt School Board Meeting Foiled By Police, recounting the tale of Cal Skinner of McHenryCountyBlog, who was escorted by police from a school board meeting following accusations of laughing and suspicion of intent to heckle. Cal’s return to this blog is occasioned by an exploit that lacks the panache and front page drama of a confrontation with the constabulary but still rates a prominent space in the human interest section.
In checking on what took place over the weekend while I was recovering from the Mesomorph’s Prom, I happened onto Cal Skinner’s coverage of a local rowing contest that took place on Crystal Lake Saturday, 5 may 2007: Upper Arlington Girls Win Crystal Lake Rowing Race, from which I am forced to conclude You’re a better blogger than I am, Gunga Cal.
Cal Skinner, Political Blogger
And here’s why:
In the process of writing the earlier post about Cal, my perfunctory research indicated that he was not typically identified as “Cal Skinner, the blogger” but almost always “Cal Skinner, the political blogger.” (And sometimes, I had the distinct impression that, unbelievable as it may seem, “political” was not universally considered a laudatory qualifier.) I now believe I may have previously underestimated the extent to which this category of politics permeates community life.
On this past overcast, windy Saturday, Cal covered the Chicago Junior Rowing Championship – a legit but hardly stop-the-presses sort of sporting event. To get a photo of the start, he “had to climb up on two concrete blocks to be able to shoot over the chain link fence on [the Lake's] eastern edge.” Then, he “ran to [his] car to drive to Gate 13, one of three subdivision association beaches where one can see the lake from the road” to snap shots of the next stage of the race. The run-to-car-drive-to-next-point-stop-shoot-repeat sequence continued until he had documented the important stages of the entire race.1
By way of comparison, I, a prototypal, unrepentant, unreformed dilettante blogger, lost interest in rowing contests with the conclusion of the Gay Games brouhaha.2 I am, like most bloggers as far as I can tell, not only a fair weather fan but a fair weather fan who also demands a bit of glitz or at least a comfortably appointed bandwagon onto which to climb.3 That’s the way the blog biz works: No kink – No link.
So, why did McHenryCountyBlog cover this regatta? What’s in it for Cal? Is there a (well) hidden political agenda? Is it the self-aggrandizement that will inevitably follow this astounding sports scoop?
OK, most of Cal’s posts are openly political as all get-out (and, for what it’s worth, his politics are incongruent with mine) so he may be promoting one partisan goal or another. And it is, one supposes, possible that some individuals spending too much time publishing a daily blog sans commercials or salary might be partially motivated by one of the less egregious variants of narcissism.4
Regardless, he’s still the guy out there on a slate-colored Saturday, darting from point to point on the Lake, taking photos of a competition for which it appears he personally constituted a significant fraction of the entire audience.
The Final (For Now) Assessment
In any case, I’m left with only two alternative interpretations of Mr. Skinner’s blogging behavior:
- Cal is one of those civic do-gooders who, sometimes or always, also has [gasp] a political agenda
- This episode, taken in the context of his run-ins with the powers that be over his flash photography confirms that Cal Skinner is a latter day Flash Evans.5
I’ll be keeping an eye on Cal. If I see anything suspicious – and that seems a good bet – you’ll be the first to know.
- While I admire the photos of the boats and crews and do garner some appreciation of the event from reading the McHenryCountyBlog post, my thoughts invariably focus on Cal’s own stop and go journey around the lake, keeping pace with the rowers. If I were to have written a post on Saturday about the races, it would have been a “Making Of A Post” meta-post, tracking Cal’s peregrinations. (Today’s post, written after the fact, can only qualify as a quasi-meta-post, once removed.) Of course, then some mope would have wanted to do a meta-meta-post of the making of the making of a post, and then some meta-mope would have wanted to follow mope #1 about and so on. It just gets too unwieldy too fast. [↩]
- In one of those cosmic coincidences, my Gay Games summation was not enough brews; not enough ha-ha’s [↩]
- For that matter, bandwagons themselves must meet certain criteria. My official declaration that I was a Chicago White Sox fan, for example, became effective midnight 26 October 2005, just after they won the World Series. Many practical and fiscal compensations accrued from my precise timing in acquiring citizenship in ChiSox Nation. The savings in time, fuel, and parking fees alone garnered from my decision not to drive to games that season is impressive; add to that the hours and dollars I would have otherwise spent if I actually attended any games, and the totals approach remarkable levels. I am likewise confident that my intellectual and neurological states were protected from the damage that would have necessarily been inflicted if I had read beyond the headlines of the sports pages or listened to the sports broadcasts featuring wincingly painful puns (“Soxtober” and “Battle of the Soxes” come to mind); player by player and community characteristic by community characteristic comparisons of the White Sox, their then current opponent, and, of course, the Cubs; extensive classical, revisionist, and deconstructionalist takes on the Black Sox; and yet more examinations of the “Curse Of The [fill in the blank]” phenomenon in baseball. The primary advantage of deferred fandom is, of course, psychological. I simply bypassed the angst of the championship race as well as the bitterness of the late season slump and, without even pausing to pass Go, proceeded to the post-victory celebration and gloating. As one who was first seduced and then heartbroken by the late 1970′s-early 1980′s versions of Ray Meyer’s DePaul Blue Demons as they transformed from the NCAA Tournament’s Cinderella Team into the ugly stepsister, I can testify that the “Destiny” in “Team of Destiny” is not inevitably a felicitous state. In any case, given the pace of baseball, it certainly seems safe to climb on the bandwagon once it has crossed the finish line. [↩]
- On second thought, forget the narcissism notion – that’s just crazy talk. Independent bloggers are self-sacrificing, altruistic, and good looking folk with smiles on their lips and songs in their hearts. [↩]
- Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson was a prolific author of children’s books (See Milded A. Wirt Benson’s Stories and Novels for Children) but is best known for her early Nancy Drew books. She, writing under the pen name of Frank Bell, authored the Flash Evans series which followed the adventures of newspaper photographer, Flash Evans. Only two titles were issued, both in 1940: Flash Evans and the Darkroom Mystery and Flash Evans, Camera News Hawk. An excellent summary of the Flash Evans books can be found at The Flash Evans Series. [↩]