Where Bloggers Get Their Voice
or Sunday, Aug. 21's New York Times Magazine, author and blogger Maud Newton wrote a feature titled "Another Thing to Sort of Pin on David Foster Wallace," which in shockingly long form examined her theory that Wallace's nonfiction work affected blog writing in a negative way. I suppose we're at the point where there's enough of a sample size to start thinking about the peculiar voice people seem to use on the Internet. However, if you're finding much writing online that reminds you of Wallace's work, you must be looking in different corners than I am.
Sure, there are a number of blogs, seemingly all written by New Yorkers, that drop too much circular introspection and weird translated-from-speech vocal tics (if you're wondering whether to include "um" in a blog post or to start with "Oh hi," please think better of it), most bloggers probably haven't read much DFW, especially what Newton refers to as the "urtext," E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction. Newton makes half a point, ending the piece with a call for writers to make direct and straightforward arguments, but the framework she uses to make her point makes her seem more like the Wallace imitator than those she calls copycats. The best bloggers are like the best writers in most ways: They manage to be interesting in a field of dissonant attention-grabbing noise. If writers working in online media turn to Wallace's passion for looking beyond the surface of seemingly ordinary events and people, even if they pick up some of his affections, that still would be a trade worth making.
We covered the TUSD ethnic-studies hearings in Phoenix; talked to state Sen. Frank Antenori about his plans to run for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' seat; looked at the end of abortion services by Planned Parenthood outside of Phoenix and Tucson; wondered what presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was up to in his heretic ways of believing in science and stuff; wondered about Michele Bachmann's promise to build us a border wall on "every mile, every yard, every foot, every inch" of the U.S. southern border; explained why the rich should pay more in taxes; and let you know that former Tucson Citizen reporter Daniel Buckley was the latest entrant into the Tucson mayor's race.
We urged you to enter the Tucson Weekly "Show Us Your Pitch" contest to win the chance to throw out the first pitch at a Tucson Padres game; told you that if you could name the Zinburger Cow, you could get free burgers for a year; told you that Bacon and Craeggs was coming to Fourth Avenue; welcomed a new chef to Hot Pit Smokehouse; celebrated another victory by the ravenous Cardboard Shell; and enjoyed some freshly grilled vegetables at Allen's Organics.
We ate some grub at the Surly Wench Pub; warned you that watching television could kill you; talked about more comic books; filled you in on the latest in Tucson bicycling; looked at the latest trends in dodgeball; eagerly anticipated the release of the lost Dr. Seuss stories; wondered if we really need another visit to the world of Blade Runner; and showed off the Tucson Weekly's robotic rack.
"Aw c'mon, I go running outside in the afternoon all summer long, surely you can take a 15 minute walk! Just refill your Big Gulp with water and take it with you."
—TucsonWeekly.com commenter "SillyNilly" suggests that our television columnist should consider getting outside on occasion (Idiot Boksen: Television Will Kill You Dead, The Range, Aug, 19).
While we're thankful that people want to contribute their voices and ideas to the content on our website, is it too much to ask for everyone to take a deep breath and think about the tone of what's being written? Honestly, most of the comments submitted are fine, but it's a little disheartening to see some of the more hateful stuff come through, which is does more often that we'd like. We don't have all that many rules for our comment sections, and we try to allow conversations to run their course, but please try to keep things civil and based on the idea that other people can be simultaneously wrong and deserving of some respect. Thanks.