August 29th, 2008


Smoking a Jay

Yes, it’s a second day of celebrating the departure of Jay Mariotti from the Sun-Times. Today, I want to let a couple other people weigh in. The first is the gifted writer, Mr. Roger Ebert, who today posted this open letter to Jay. Even if you don’t know who Jay Mariotti is, I commend this pithy bit of writing to your attention.

The other quotable individual is Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg. Just to catch you up, Neil would probably admit to having been an unathletic, gawky geek back in school, and these traits continue to plague him well into adulthood, which is frankly part of his charm as a writer. Today, he related this incident about a run-in with Mariotti:

“A few years ago, I joked about him on the radio and – after first complaining to the union, and the publisher, demanding that I be punished and getting nowhere – he strode right up to me in the newsroom, fists doubled, and threatened to punch me. We had never spoken before.

Usually, I have the physical courage of a schoolgirl in a slasher movie. But somehow, emboldened by Jay’s boldness, I did not shrink back. Instead, I calmly removed my glasses, slipped them into my shirt pocket, then closed my eyes, tipped my chin up and said sweetly, “You’re a bully and a coward Jay, and I know you won’t do it. But go ahead. Take your best shot.”

So in a sense, Jay taught me to find the courage hidden within myself, and I’m grateful for that.”

In summation, this is payback week for Jay, and it’s been a long time coming! Should I pack up all of these petty feelings and move on? Sure, I suppose. And I will, honest. Any day now.
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