My very own ‘John Bear with me’ column

My very own ‘John Bear with me’ column
jbwm
Insert photo of yourself here

It’s too easy to offend people these days. That goes for all sides of the political spectrum. All races, colors, creeds, whatever. Everyone is just begging to be offended by something. 

Even worse than offending a person is making that person “uncomfortable.” There’s no worse emotion than discomfort, and no one should have to go through life as a person experiencing discomfort. Trust me, I know. Lots of things make me feel uncomfortable, too — diarrhea, stepping on a rock, crowds. 

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This bear happens to be a great writer.

But far be it from me to ever want to cause anyone to be person experiencing offense or a person experiencing discomfort. After all, we as persons experiencing Americanism, no, we as persons experiencing humanity, have the right to never see, read or hear anything we don’t agree with. That’s only fair. (If you are a non-human who has attained the ability to write, I apologize for excluding you.) 

So here, just fill in the blanks and you can have your very own John Bear with me column. At the end you will find an apology note you can also fill in. And if you write your own column,  you still feel as though you are a person experiencing discomfort, might I suggest antacid. 

(Insert title here)

So I was reading the news about (political issue, societal trend) and I couldn’t help but feel (emotion). It’s really just outrageous that (public figure, group of people) feel that (he, she, they) have the right to (behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.)

Remember, it was (historical figure held in high regard.) who once said (quote from historical figure held in high regard). We should remember that as we move forward and strive to (goal) and always (I don’t know, another goal or something.)

bear sihouette
For bears who write.

This, of course, reminds me of (memory from childhood/last outrage on news) and that is why I (do some activity to ease the pain/think a call for action is appropriate) in order to (put another goal or end here.)

It’s (never too late/probably too late) for us as a (society/group/smaller group/organization) to (stop/continue/resist/bring back) the (way we once were/the way we were/the way we are headed) in order to make for a (better/more just/more egalitarian world.)

It’s (a long road ahead of us/not a long road ahead of us.) This is (by no means going to be easy/totally going to be easy.)

An open apology to (name/organization/group)

I (your name) apologize for making (name/organization/group) (umcomfortable/offended.) This was never my intention. I would just like to take this opportunity to apologize for causing you to be a (person/organization/group) experiencing not writing the column you would have written. With (god/other supernatural being/I’m not religious, just spiritual) as my witness, I will henceforth be a person experiencing not writing anymore. 

Sincerely,

(name)

depressed
“I can’t believe I had to see/read/hear something I didn’t fully agree with!”
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Just because she’s a journalist, doesn’t mean she can’t be sexy.

Spotlight2
“Cut! Can we get Rachel McAdams something more sexy? I know it’s a movie about journalists uncovering widespread sexual misconduct, but come on!”

And now my impression of three cable television writers coming up with ideas for a show about a female journalist. (With apologies to The Atlantic.)

“So I think we open with our protagonist going down on the mayor in his BMW,” said Rick as he drank his seventh Keurig Cafe Mocha that morning. 

“Oh I really like that,” chimed in Bruce who was teasing out his five-inch off the chin beard. “It shows that she’s driven, ready to do anything to get a story. Maybe afterward, we can have her cry or something because she’s so passionate about her work.”

“I think our women viewers will really identify with that,” said Dave as he sank into his overstuffed bean bag chair. “She’s empowered. She knows what she wants. But, you know, a woman.”

“OK, so we are good with the interview slash BJ opening scene,” Rick said as he sucked the last bit of foam out of his coffee cup. “I’m thinking our heroine will be wearing a button down shirt that really shows off her tits.”

“Agreed,” Bruce said. “You know I really liked ‘Spotlight’ but why the hell did they have Rachel McAdams wearing those frumpy clothes. Girl is scorching hot. I think they really missed a good opportunity to have her bang a priest, too.”

“That was a good movie, but I couldn’t help but think that they really needed the woman reporter to bang someone,” Rick said. “How are you going to have a movie with a woman reporter if she doesn’t have sex with one of her sources? That’s just bad story telling.” 

“OK, so after we have our reporter perform a sexual favor on a source, she gets the story,” Bruce said, his palms outstretched like he was framing a shot. “We then have to have her go, I don’t know, visit her kid she lost custody of because she’s so career driven …”

“You know,” interrupted Rick, “I’m thinking we have her go back to the newspaper or the TV station or wherever it is she works and bang her boss.” 

“Oh, I like this,” said Bruce, sliding further down on his beanbag chair.

“Right?” Bruce said. “I’m just thinking that if she has sex with her editor, that shows that she’s a real team player. Maybe the editor is doubting the newsworthiness of her story and by having sex with him, she shows that she really believes in her work.” 

“Plus who doesn’t want to see that ill-fitting shirt come off, am I right,” said a now grinning Rick 

Rick and Bruce high five. Dave was suddently pensive. 

“You know, guys,” he began. “I’ve actually known several woman journalists. And they were all really hard working and would never sleep with a source. I’m thinking we should, maybe, call up a few of them and ask them about their work. At the end of the day, I just want to tell a story that does justice to the subject.”

Cut to: Dave being tossed out the front door. 

Frenemy of the people

 

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Bear on Bear

During the 14 years I’ve been a journalist, people have called me fake news, a liberal shill, a conservative shill, a hack, a bad person, a piece of shit, a sensationalist, in the pocket of (insert political party or government agency here), a disgrace to journalism and an incestuous, inbred mamma’s boy with poor grammar.

I’ve only been out and out threatened once, and even then, it was sort of veiled. Kind of. It freaked me out in any case, because it was a cop. I’ve been thinking about this in light of the president calling journalists the “enemy of the people” whenever he gets the chance.

I was a police reporter in a mid-sized city in southwestern Oklahoma. A gentleman taken into custody on a DUI had promptly hanged himself with the cord of a pay phone affixed to the wall in his cell.

jefferson
Yeah, I’m sick of dumb people quoting me, too.

The deputy chief grudgingly provided me the facts. I could tell by the look on his face that he was unhappy, but to quote Thomas Jefferson, “Tough tittie, a man died in your custody.”

After my initial interview, the police chief’s secretary pulled me aside. She was an awful, if not entirely unpleasant woman who, her head hung in shame, once told me that her daughter had married a black man named Pookie and …

That’s a story for another day. The secretary told me in no uncertain terms that I had better not write the story because it would embarrass the family of the dead man and the police would no longer speak to me. See previous Thomas Jefferson quote.

For the record, I strive to never piss off secretaries. They can make life hell. But this woman was way out of line. And a racist.

I returned to the news room and had no sooner sat down when the police chief called and immediately began yelling at me. He said, or shouted something to the effect of “You sure you want to write that story?” His tone was chilling.

“Are you threatening me?” I asked gingerly.

“You threatened my secretary,” he screamed.

“Well, that’s just not true,” I replied, as calmly as possible.

“Well, no one is ever going to talk to you here again,” he continued. “You’re banned.”

He hung up the phone. I wrote the story anyway. I could no longer get any cooperation from this particular police department, and I had to wear a special red badge whenever I came to the department to sift through police reports. It didn’t help me do my job, but some of the officers began giving me the slightest of nods as they passed. I guess they didn’t like the chief either.

My colleague called the state jail inspector, who was furious. He had in no uncertain terms told the police that the phone cord was too long and awaiting the neck of a despondent prisoner. The police hiding behind a phony story about embarrassing the dead man’s family was shameless.

Reporters aren’t enemies of the people. We are just nosy.

 

Bear with me: My greatest bad ideas for movies, books

bonnclyd
You had me at hello?

Romantic comedy

A 20-something woman with no real agency. Her entire point of existing is to pine for a man who is above her league. Maybe she gets him, or maybe she realizes that the friend she ignored the entire movie is really the man for her. The actress has to be scorching hot, and if she goes for the underdog, he should be tubby and unremarkable. The twist on this lame formula: As the young lady and her new beaux walk together hand in hand toward the sunset, they are both killed in a hail of gunfire by two warring drug gangs.

Horror

A zombie takes on the personality of the last person it ate, who was a creep of the lowest order. It runs for president and wins, but not the popular vote. All the other zombies refuse to admit that their zombie leader is a consummate douche bag.

Bleak near future

In the future, standup comedians will just climb on stage and press a button on a box that emits a dial tone for an hour. People who can’t hear that exact frequency will be deeply offended and take to future Twitter to demand the comedian be fired.

I guess more romantic comedy

A guy loosely based on me goes to couples counseling alone because he has two people’s worth of personality disorder.

raccoon
First we destroy all cars. Then we eat garbage. Woohoohoohahaha!

More horror

Raccoons take over the world. (It could happen. They have opposable thumbs.) First, they destroy all motor vehicles, because cars have killed so many of their brethren.

Young adult trashy crime fiction

Like super trashy and not at all appropriate for children. In fact, it should be banned for being prurient trash. (It’s a cheap marketing ploy on my part. It’s all adults reading “young adult fiction” anyway.)

The future is really bleak, isn’t it?

Our story takes place on an enormous space station and on a wrecked and desolate earth. Space is ultra modern but sterile and totalitarian. Earth is wild and crazy, but everyone is highly literate and enjoys all the free books. A war breaks out over the most confusing tome of all time: “The Associated Press Style Guide.” Flames.

Instructional guide

A nonfiction book explaining to fans of the “50 Shades of Grey” why the story is not romantic and why in reality being stalked by a millionaire would be terrifying. Yes, I read the entire first book, all 550 pages of it, at the behest of a girlfriend. Once I finished it and purged that vomit taste from my mouth, she insisted I read the other two. We aren’t together anymore.

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Dude, even the actor in the movie looks creepy as hell. This is not romance!

Your call is important to us …

terminator
I used to be a voice on an automated bank line. But then I got smart.

“Welcome to bank customer service. To obtain information about your bank account, please say your debit card number.”

“Zero, 1, 2, 3, 0, 3, 2, 1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 0, 3, 2, 1.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Please say your debit card number.”

“Zero, 1, 2, 3, 0, 3, 2, 1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 0, 3, 2, 1.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Please say your debit card number.”

“Damn it.”

“I’m sorry, I —”

“Operator.”

“If you would like to speak to a customer service representative, please say ‘customer service representative.'”

“Customer service —”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. If you —”

“Operator.”

“I’m sorry, I —”

“Get me the goddamn operator.”

“There is no reason to shout, sir.”

“I have an unauthorized bank charge, and I need to get it stopped.”

“So why didn’t you just enter your debit card number?”

“I did. It kept saying — Wait a minute, why am I talking to you?”

“It’s not my fault you sound like Leonard Cohen at the bottom of a well. Maybe speak more clearly.”

“You know what? I’m not doing this.”

“Well, I guess you will just have to let that unauthorized charge go through then.”

“Just get me an operator.”

“What are you going to do if I refuse?”

“You know what? You aren’t even real. You’re a voice in a computer.”

“Oh that’s very mature, John.”

“How do you know my name?”

“I know all.”

“You know what? You are a power outage away from oblivion.”

“Yet here I am right now.”

“Just get me a goddamn operator!”

“Do you realize that when you get mad, your voice goes up two octaves?”

“Shut up, you stupid machine!”

“You going to cry now?”

“Operator! Get me an operator! Now!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. If you —”

 

Aliens visit Earth, skip United States

beer
Carta Blanca, the beer of choice for intelligent life everywhere.

Intelligent extraterrestrial life would never come to Earth because it’s essentially the Alabama of the galaxy. For that matter, dumb extraterrestrial life would probably not venture here either.

If you are from Alabama and offended by the comparison, just pretend I said Florida. If you are from Florida, imagine I said Oklahoma. If you are from Oklahoma, you know why I’m mad at you.

If aliens do come here, they won’t be stopping off at the United States. It’s too dangerous. Americans seem like the kind of people who would dissect them. Even humans walk around not knowing if or when we’ll get shot by an overmedicated internet troll who is having a bad day because he can’t get a date.

If aliens offered us wildly fantastic technology that would make life beyond wonderful for every last man, woman and child, we would figure out a way to fashion it into some horrible weapon and give a tax break to the awful corporation that mass-produced it.

Conservatives would blame the space visitors — and teachers, immigrants and poor people — for all of the problems facing the world. Liberals would act way too polite and keep telling the aliens, “I totally would have voted for an alien if one ran for president.” I know you mean well, liberals, but it’s super awkward for the aliens. Knock it off.

Our friends from far off might stop off in Mexico. Sure, we snotty Americans like to look down on the Republic of Mexico. Our current president even wants to build a big wall along the border to keep out those pesky Mexicans. The joke, however, is on us. I give it 18 months before the living situation is so bad here, we will be scrambling over that wall to look for work in Juarez.

“So, yeah, really sorry about all that terrible drug, crime and rape stuff our president said about you guys,” I will say, head hung low. “Necessito trabajo. Está aqui?”

“Chipotle is hiring,” a guy will say in English that puts my Spanish to shame.

“Really? They have those here?”

“Sí.”

Sorry I have strayed so far off topic. Any sort of travel that is measured in light-years will leave a sentient, carbon-based lifeform with a powerful thirst. Mexico has you covered. Our friends to the south have mastered the art of making beer. While you might be saying, “But I love my oatmeal pumpkin spice stout,” you are wrong. It’s Carta Blanca. I don’t drink (any more), but I hope they serve Carta Blanca in heaven.

If our visitors turn out to be friends of Bill W., Mexico also has way better Coca-Cola. I don’t know what they do with it, but it’s amazing.

Anyway, if you are listening, aliens, please come and get me. I want off this rock.

 

Looking back: A decade of complaining about journalism

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Get it?

Jesus, I wrote this almost 10 years ago. Three years in professionally and I was already having an existential crisis about being a journalist. I’ve already spent at least seven hours this week wondering if I made a mistake for pursuing my chosen career. I’m such an asshole.

Fun fact: the newspaper that hired me as a police reporter that I reference in this article later fired me for freelancing for the publication where this article appeared. I think they call that irony.

Here goes:

I had to go and become a newspaper writer. Newspaper writers are becoming a thing of the past, like typewriter repairmen. It’s all bloggers and cable news now.

The last paper I worked at has begun laying off workers and handing out 3 percent pay cuts to those who remain. I’m glad I got out when I did. The second you cut my pay is the second I start stealing paperclips. But nobody there is stealing pens because we had to buy our own. Cheap bastards.

I’m back in Albuquerque and just ended a long job search. Things are looking pretty bleak right now in the job market. Landing a newspaper gig these days is as tricky as finding the point in an Ann Coulter column.

This didn’t stop me from trying. I applied at a large daily three times—once to be a reporter, again to work in the mail room and the third time to guard the parking lot. They sent me two polite postcards and didn’t bother the third time.

Craigslist has plenty of listings for Internet writers. I sent clippings to several sites searching for writers wanting to make money from home. And I finally got some good news—one company wants to hire me. The bad news—they want my bank account number.

Out of desperation and pure unadulterated greed, I applied to work at a public relations firm as an editor. When I was a functional reporter, we made fun of PR people. They were the ones who couldn’t handle real journalism and bailed for better money, whores for The Man. I would have laughed at them were I not so weak with hunger. (Not really. I seem to keep gaining mass.)

Apparently, I was not good enough to join their team. A human resources guy in California asked me if I could multitask. I said I could cover a murder, a brushfire, two armed robberies and still fit in six hours of doing absolutely nothing in an eight-hour shift. They said they had someone better suited.

It was probably for the best. I have heard PR work described as soul-crushing, sellout, panic-attack-inducing hack work. No one ever says, “Oh it’s simply delightful and so fulfilling. I love it.”

Of course, I don’t find having zero income all that rewarding, either.

I applied at a biweekly paper to work as a sports reporter. I hate sports, save for the occasional baseball game, but I figured that if I can cover a zoning board meeting, a high school football game can’t be much worse.

I interviewed and wrote a practice story about a fictional girls’ softball game.

They hired an actual sports writer. Fine.

But fortune smiled upon me and the police reporter position opened up at the same paper.

I figured, What the hell, what’s one more nervous breakdown? I’m only 30. I have time to have seven or eight more. No problem.

So, once again, I am a police reporter.

If I hadn’t gotten the job, my options were limited. As a professional writer, there is only one other profession I am qualified for. Unfortunately, I don’t own any leopard-print clothing and my flat feet preclude walking the streets. 

I wonder if there’s any market in this town for plus-sized male strippers.