Thursday, July 02, 2009

Frank Black Francis is the A.J. Liebling of Rock

"The only way to write is well," A.J. Liebling says, "and how you do it is your own damn business."
Okay, A.J., fair enough. But how do you account for Jana Pruden's column in the Leader-Post? I knew Jana when I was at the L-P, and I've known her husband Evan since I was in high school. They are both smart, hip, funny, even sassy. They are both very nice people. So why does Jana's column in general, and her most recent one specifically, bug me so much?
Because it's not smart, it's not hip, it's not funny and it's not sassy. In fact, it reminds me of Peggy Hill's Musings columns from Mike Judge's King of the Hill, only those were actually funny.
When Pruden took over the general interest column from disgraced retiree Bob Hughes, it seemed as though the paper was finally starting to pay attention to the 20-55 age group that has rarely seen itself in the Regina daily. Finally would come a fresh voice from someone engaged with urban life, someone who valued art and culture at least as much as football, someone with something different to say. Instead, we got Bob Hughes in a skirt. Well, the most benign form of Bob Hughes in a skirt. I haven't read all of her columns, but I doubt that Pruden has attacked organized labour with the reckless meanspiritedness that Hughes embarrassed himself with. But Pruden definitely carries on Hughes's legacy of joyless solipsism, stories about cats and uninspired boasts about not understanding what's the big fuss about current trends. Pruden's latest col overdoses on puns as she states and restates her love of shoes. Why am I reading this?
I continue to read, I guess, because I know Jana Pruden to be capable of fine writing. You can see it in her court reporting. You know it if you've ever had a conversation with her. So why is she punching below her weight class with these asinine columns, wasting primo real estate with sad, Diagnosis Murder-style pap like "after some serious sole-searching" or "invariably, I flip-flop" when there's a readership starving for interesting commentary?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I fear that you misjudge and misunderstand Ms Pruden... she is not meant to be the 2nd coming of Bob Hughes. (Dieu merci.) Her court reporting is superb. Her weekly column is meant to be light, humorous and that it is. It's a light hearted musing, meant to amuse and please and that it does.

It's incredible the number of readers that eagerly await her weekly column. She is a most accomplished journalist who can move from rock solid crime reporting journalism to sly, insightful, comforting humour commentary. This is to be celebrated.

In her humour column she has no intention of solving global warming, bringing peace to the Middle East, or causing the lion to lay with the lamb. If you want to be depressed and furl your brow watch CNN or Fox.

If you want to have some wonderful enjoyment, pour yourself a glass of wine, relax, and take her column for what it is: a most amusing, insightful island in this world of woe.