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Unnatural public relations 

It happened again. The Pulitzers were announced and my name isn't anywhere on the list. What's the deal?

I know I'm no Shakespeare, but I dish it out fairly regularly. Did you see who won the award for criticism? Some yahoo named Jonathan Gold of the LA Weekly took the top honor and pocketed $10,000 for "his zestful, wide-ranging restaurant reviews, expressing the delight of an erudite eater."

Erudite? Is that even a word? And what sort of criticism is food writing? Any chuckle-head with a menu and a thesaurus could slap some words on a page and call it criticism. Here: "I ate at a restaurant the other night, and the food was terrible. No, it was awful, horrible, severe, dreadful, very bad, appalling, and poor."

Where's my award? Where's my check? Oh, right. I wasn't erudite enough for you. Figures. It's all political anyway.

The Wall Street Journal won for public service writing "for its creative and comprehensive probe into backdated stock options for business executives that triggered investigations, the ouster of top officials, and widespread change in corporate America."

Well, sure, if you cause widespread change throughout the country you should get a medal or something. Humph.

Any Deepthroat out there got a hot tip about backdated stock options for me? Nah, that's been done. How about something about slaves? If anyone out there knows of any local companies that make use of slave labor and wants to help me win a Pulitzer next year oh, and cause widespread change throughout the country, I guess give me a call. I'll listen. I'll even meet you in a shadowy parking garage if you'd like.

Dunes activist Nell Langford and her anti-vehicle cohorts have been writing back and forth in regard to kids being too afraid of getting hit by a barreling vehicle to play on the beach. Apparently a bunch of wee ones were frolicking as part of a fun day on Oceano Beach recently when a vehicle "invaded the safety zone," as Nell called it, and scared the kids so bad they wouldn't go back to the waves.

Nell complained that a ranger who saw it all wouldn't go after the driver "who used his truck as a weapon to endanger children."

An over-reaction? Perhaps a smidge. But interesting? Yes. You can't throw an empty beer can these days without hitting some dunes-related topic or another, but I doubt the Pulitzer committee would so much as bat an eyelash an erudite eyelash, no less at a Shredder-penned expose on the beach. Bunch of snobby snobs.

In the meantime, I've got a complaint to lodge with the P.R. industry. Nobody told me that if I tagged along with U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, Indiana Congressman Pete Visclosky, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, and the rest when they went on a tour of Los Osos' septic scenery that I'd see politicians in wool suits and silk ties pitching into the bootsucking, nitrous muck.

I swear I'd have shown up if I'd known, but I didn't couldn't because the press release made it sound like all these people were just going to walk around a bit and then talk. At us. The particular synapses in my brain that translate politician press conferences into human speech have been damaged from overuse, and now when elected officials open their mouths I can only hear The Girl From Ipanema, playing at an extremely loud volume. They shut their mouths and it goes silent.

Open: "Tall and tan and young and lovely."

Shut: Silence.

Open: "The girl from Ipanema goes walking."

Shut: Silence.

Open: "Goes a-a-ah."

Shortly following the third story I wrote noting that local lawmakers held a press conference and performed a pitch-perfect bossa nova, the editors told me to stand down for future duty. There goes my Pulitzer for explanatory reporting. Or whatever.

But this meeting I would have made it to regardless, if only to fill my metaphor bucket back up.

"Capps hit a sinkhole," is how the Tribune's scribe begins one sentence describing the scene. How I wish that sublime line were mine! Poetry. Indeed, with just a touch of editing, the paragraph could work as haiku.

Capps hit a sinkhole, her left foot came up sans boot.the fight was futile.

Too bad there weren't any white chickens or red wheelbarrows glazed with rainwater around. A Pulitzer for poetry could have been in the wings.

But no. The P.R. industry is always telling me about dull things that will happen. Churches will open. Politicians will speak. Fundraisers will be held for cancer kids. Yawn.

It's never: Churches will burn down at 6 a.m., politicians will lie at noon, and fundraising scams will prey on cancer kids at 3 p.m. They never tell me about news, only about the stuff that various media outlets allow to pass for news because they've come to rely so much on the P.R. industry. I'm sick of it. I want to make a point of relying on the shadowy parking garage industry, as I mentioned earlier.

So tell me about the slaves tucked away in the shadowy recesses and seedy underbelly of this county. Or embezzling. I'll listen to rumors of embezzling. I'm not choosy or, apparently, erudite.

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