Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Under 30 Final Episode Clip Show

I don't want to write this column. Not because I'm sad that it's my last one. I have written more than 250 Under 30 columns in the past five years. It is time for me to shut up.

I hate farewell columns because, honestly, who cares? If you read the column even once since I started, thanks, I appreciate it. Really, I do. But it's not like I was an important part of your life. It's like reading the newspaper and finding out Charlotte Rae died. For a moment you think, "She played Mrs. Garrett on 'Facts of Life.' I used to watch that show every week when I was in elementary school. Bummer." Then it's on to Beetle Bailey. A fixture of your childhood disappears and the mourning period lasts approximately 1.4 seconds. For me it's measured in nanoseconds.

FYI: Charlotte Rae isn't really dead. But this really is my final Under 30 column.

In case you missed the announcement with last week's column, I'm leaving the paper to work for The Onion. I will be the Milwaukee city editor of The A.V. Club entertainment section. I was hired two weeks ago, and I still don't believe what I just typed. This isn't just a dream job. It's a dream job you never expect to actually get. The fact that I did must mean it's not really true. So if somebody could point out the hidden cameras and pull Ashton from around the corner before I move, that would be nice.

Assuming this isn't an elaborate "Punk'd" stunt, I start at The Onion on Monday. By the time you read this, my desk at The P-C will be cleaned out and ready to be occupied by the assistant features editor. Julie, you might want to run a dust rag through the place. It hasn't been cleaned since, well, never.

At least the desk I'm leaving looks better than the one I was given when I started here on Aug. 14, 2000. Fresh out of journalism school, I was assigned Tom Richards' old workspace. I grew up in Appleton, so I knew Richards arguably was The P-C's most popular columnist. You couldn't miss his mug in the paper. He looked like Charles Manson's friendly younger brother. When I came into work I could see a collection of hairs from his legendary beard lodged in my keyboard, along with assorted crumbs and coffee stains. Ah, the glamour of daily newspapers.

I was hired after being a summer intern the year before, but my history with The P-C goes back even farther than that. The week before I turned 16, I submitted a CD review of the U2 album "Zooropa" to the embarrassingly titled teen page, Get With It! The features editor, an incredibly nice guy named Ed, asked to meet with me because he suspected the review was plagiarized. It wasn't. How could I plagiarize the review? I was the only guy in the country who thought "Zooropa" was a decent album.

I ended up contributing an opinion column to the "Get With It!" page every other week for three years. It was a great read if you were looking for thoughts on the latest news by a dopey, know-it-all high school kid. I love that, unlike most people, all the idiotic stuff I said in high school was put on paper, read by 50,000 people and preserved on microfilm at the library for future generations.

Ed ended up being my boss when he gave me my second first big break in newspapers. What a guy. He let me write pretty much anything I wanted. I still can't believe he let me put the words "beer," "bong" and "boobs" in a single column. My only complaint about Ed is that he wasn't a bigger jerk. His genuine care, concern and love for his staff robbed me of entertaining "bad boss" stories for six years.

Before I shoot this dying horse in the head, I want to address you, the readers. My goal was to reach people who felt out of place in Appleton because, for as long as I can remember, I have, too. I remember covering Country USA one year and looking out over a crowd of 30,000 people eagerly waiting to see Brooks & Dunn. Make that 29,999 eager people. I felt like the loneliest guy in the world.

Don't get me wrong, I love this place. I have to. It's a part of me. But I never felt like I fit in here. I was a sarcastic liberal who loved indie rock and movies that never, ever played in local movie theaters. How many of those people do you see hanging out at Anduzzi's on a Friday night?

If you got me, good. If you didn't, that's OK, too. Thanks for reading.

5 Comments:

Anonymous gavin said...

Shit, now I have to dislike Eric Klister instead.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Hey Steve--This is Amanda (the perpetual intern...) Congratulations on, well, getting out of Appleton. And working for The Onion, because now people will be jealous of your job instead of asking you where the hell Appleton is. (Or maybe that only happens to me...since most people I know can't even locate Wisconsin on a map. Even a labeled map.)
Anyway good luck :) Now I have no reason to read the Life section...(er, don't tell anybody that).

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

she's right.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI...

www.under30blog.com no longer links here.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Joshua Grover-David Patterson said...

Entertainment Weekly gave Zooropa an A when it came out.

12:26 PM  

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