Berkeley’s hometown paper is the Daily Planet. It’s not daily anymore; the software millionaires who publish it cut it back to two days a week some time ago. It’s mostly a contentious political rag, but it’s better to have a rag of any sort than nothing at all.
Among its staffers is a guy who covers the city crime beat and produces the police blotter column. I share the widely held affection for and interest in local crime news, but I stay away from the Daily Planet’s cops column. I stay away because it ticks me off a little. It ticks me off because the guy who writes it is unable to restrain himself from exercising what I guess he must believe is a clever take on hard-boiled detective fiction. Here’s an example from the current edition of the Planet:
Besides the copy that has gone uncorrected (“pistol being the currently preferred weapons or the armed robbery set” is a gem), my compaint is with this guy’s fun getting in the way of his facts. It might be nice to offer some description of the “dangerous duo” beyond the fact one was “beefy” and the other “slender.” And more seriously, an item like this reflects little or no understanding that having a gun stuck in your face is anything but a joke to the guy looking down the barrel. But hey, these are editorial matters, and I’m out of the news game.
I can, however, write a letter to the editor. And issue to issue, the Planet seems to run every screed it gets. So I dashed off the following after putting the coffee on this morning:
Thanks ever so much for continuing to entertain the masses with the mirthful musings of jocular journalist Richard Brenneman. Until encountering his cutesy crime chronicles in your pages, I failed to focus on the fun in felonies or the alliterative amusement of misdemeanors. Some may carp and cavil about Mr. Brenneman’s jokey jottings and criticize them as prosey preciousness or doltish drivel. Ignore their nay-saying and nattering. Scrawl on uncensored, say I. Next time I come face to face with a “beefy bandit,” a “dangerous duo,” or any of the other colorful criminals who people Brenneman’s Berkeley, I’ll chuckle as I turn over my wallet, imagining how he might describe the scene.
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