Thursday, May 13, 2004

... yep, it's Rod Dreher

This from our "Nobody Will Get This But Lee, TCL & Scott" department:

I was enjoying a click-stream-of-consciousness through some blogs tonight that ultimately led me to a post on dealing with how the Dallas Morning News handled the beheading photos of Nick Berg.

In that post was this seemingly-insignificant line:
"Editorial writer Rod Dreher pushed to run the photo ..."

So I clicked the link on his name, and sure enough, it's that Rod Dreher.

Those of you who aren't, in fact, Lee, TCL or Scott are probably asking yourself "who the hell is Rod Dreher?"

The short story is: Rod Dreher is my "arch nemesis".

In one way or another, his existence has irked me for just about 20 years now. So, of course, he pops up again as I'm innocently breezing through some blogs.

Nemesis Phase 1: Beret Boy
It was a weekend night (circa 1985) at The Chimes and Dash Rip Rock was playing. I'm not sure who all was with me that night (other than Lee, who was always there), but we were all kicked back in one of the elevated booths, draining pitchers of beer and taking in the show like the cool cats that we were. Most Dash fans at the time took in the shows with a sort of subdued intensity. But out there in front of the stage appeared two or three people who seemed to think they were at a Sparks concert - dressed up in "trendy" clothes and flailing around in a high-energy dance that only kids who go to magnet schools learn how to do.

The leader of this group of losers seemed to be this one kid who flailed just a little faster and dressed with slightly more purpose - including a ridiculous beret.

"Who the f*ck are those idiots?", I asked my guys. Lee tells me he recognizes the beret guy from one of his classes, that he thinks his name is Rod and we had gone to that weird "arts and sciences" school in north Louisiana.

"Well, he's an idiot. I hate him." was my response.

Rod the Beret Boy would become a fixture at Dash shows, always dancing like a magnet school moron and always irking me. I so dreaded seeing him walk in the door of The Chimes, Lee dubbed him my "arch nemesis".

I figured the extent of my exposure to Rod the Beret Boy would be Dash Rip Rock shows, but I was wrong.

Nemesis Phase 2: J-School Jackass
After I went into journalism, I discovered that Rod the Beret Boy was also a journalism major. Actually, he was an obnoxious, over-cocky, irritating, loud-mouthed journalism major. I suffered through a class we were in together one semester, and then changed my schedule when he walked in to my "opinion writing" class the next semester.

His involvement with The Reveille is one reason I had no interest in writing for them. I did all I could to avoid Rod Dreher.

He won all sorts of student-newspaper awards for being such a cocky jackass, which pissed me off even more.

Then on the last day of the semester in which he was graduating (we are the same age, but he didn't opt for the 6.5-year plan), Rod wrote an editorial in The Reveille that changed my opinion of him 180 degrees.

He wrote that anyone graduating LSU with any sense of ambition and any desire to make a good life for themselves should leave Louisiana the day after graduation, for Louisiana is a backwards, hopeless place that sucks the life out of anyone with talent and ambition.

Wow, I thought. He gets it. He just wrote exactly what I think about Louisiana. Maybe he's an OK guy after all.

A week later, he took a job as the movie critic for the Baton Rouge paper.

Nemesis Phase 3: The Sellout
So Rod Dreher became the embodiment of the power Louisiana has to suck all life and ambition out of you. I hated seeing his byline in The Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) during my last year at LSU, but I so despised him and his hypocricy, it was even more motivation for me to leave Louisiana.

Nemesis Phase 4: Undue Fame
I didn't hear much about Rod Dreher for a few years, then one day I'm watching TV and a talking-head show is on. "Welcome Rod Dreher, a writer for the New York Post ..." the host said.

"Oh, for f*ck's sake," I thought to myself. And sure enough there was a beret-less Rod Dreher staring at me through my television.

It was clear my nemesis would not go quietly into .... well ... wherever nemesises are supposed to go quietly into.

It turns out Rod had taken a job as movie critic for the Post after a few years in Baton Rouge, and somehow had transformed himself into a right-wing editorial columnist. So, from time to time, Rod would show up on Fox News to spew the kind of right-wing garbage I'd long ago come to hate.

On one of our trips to New York, I picked up a Post (having forgotten about Right-wing Rod's job there), and was smacked upside the head once again with the reality of my nemesis.

Nemesis Phase 5: Burnout
I don't remember if TCL (a subscriber) told me that Rod had left the Post and was writing for National Review, or if I discovered this on my own. "F*cking hell" was my reaction to this development, I believe.

The nemesis had surfaced again. But on the road to Bob Novak status as a major conservative commentator, Rod threw a rod.

It turned out that his jump from the Post to National Review was a result of Rod getting really freaked out by the anthrax incident at the Post just after Sept. 11. And the attacks on New York helped push him down some weird path toward Mel Gibson-like fundamentalist Catholicism.

His name would pop up in articles about dangerous Christian writers, and he's apparently a champion of the anti-gay-marriage movement (yes, I despise him for that, too).

I don't know when he left National Review or under what circumstances, but he was clearly marginalized in his Catholic wackiness and wound up at some freaky God outfit.

Foiled by your own religious zealotry! Take that, nemesis!

I'd figured him to be forever mired in the obscure world of religious zealots. And that pleased me. He never deserved to be taken seriously as a "political commentator" at National Review, and he drank too much of the right-wing KoolAid.

Nemesis Phase 6: Ressurection
But now he's re-surfaced in Dallas. Apparently he's been there a year as an assistant editorial-page editor (these are the folks who write the "unsigned" editorials that are supposed to represent the whole paper), and pieces are just starting to appear under his own byline.

There must have been a "cooling off" period imposed by the paper to help people forget about his fundamentalist Christian rants. His reputation was so poor that there was a petition circulated by the Dallas Muslim community asking the paper to fire Rod.

Nemesis Phase 7: Trying to be cool like Cap'n Ken
The one bylined column of his appearing on the DMN site talks about how he decided to buy a house intown rather than in the suburbs and how much he loves his funky intown neighborhood. Kind of like how the wife and I sought out and love funky East Atlanta.

Will it never end?? DAMN YOU, NEMESIS!!!


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10:13 PM  

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