Wednesday, May 21, 2008

End a Saskploitation Era...

I'm honestly torn between thinking that there's no way that longstanding sports journalist turned folksy columnist Bob Hughes wouldn't be up on longstanding sports journalist turned folksy columnist Roy MacGregor, and well, the exact opposite of that. Hughes resigned from his column in my alma mater, the Leader-Post, this week under a light dusting of disgrace. It seems that he cribbed a col from the Globe and Mail's Bizarro version of Hughes, MacGregor. (Interestingly, the offending column has been locked at the L-P's website.)
Hughes, via his general (self) interest column, is something of a Regina icon, if for no other reason than no one else in town ever made so many announcements that he is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of one of Saskatchewan's most prominent groups organized to fight racism. Indeed, Bob Hughes is often a reminder of a less enlightened era, not so far back in Saskatchewan's history. And yet, through his columns, we got a rare glimpse inside the mind of a man quite earnestly trying to come to terms of with a society that refused to conform to his worldview. Witness his columns following the disappearance of Tamra Keepness, through which Hughes shone a light on Regina's inner city, despairing that in a city of such wealth there were still people living in abject poverty (a more recent column revealed that Hughes's realtor wife either owned or represented a property that Hughes himself called a "crackhouse"). While the conclusions he drew and the statements he made about Regina's inner city were often baffling and occasionally insulting, there was something inherently noble about the way the tragedy clearly affected him.
Hughes's writing style, which even the self-appointed "Ned Flanders of the newsroom" Will Chabun takes issue with, is a thing unto itself. Hughes's columns read like turgid boys' adventure stories from the early 20th Century (not surprising for a former sportswriter), and bore no small resemblance to the earliest writings of Hunter S. Thompson, a former sportswriter himself. For all its flaws, though, it has that one thing that nearly all writers, and certainly all columnists, hope to achieve. It has an absolutely singular and identifiable voice. Except when it's cribbing from Roy MacGregor.

mp3: "Gone, It's Gone" by Peter Elkas
mp3: "Everybody Works" by Peter Elkas