Monday, May 29, 2006

Newspaper daze

One of the people I met during visiting hours recently was Charles "Red" Nicodemus, a long- long-time reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times who was often teamed in investigations with the unsainted Mike Royko, before (this is my surmise) Royko got too famous.

I'd heard about Red since I was a kid, through his brother and various nephews who lived (and live) in Mason City, Illinois, where some of my family is from.

Retired from the Sun-Times for five or six years, Red (in his early 70s, maybe) and his wife live in Boulder, so a nephew, his girlfriend and I drove up one evening for dinner. The Drunkablog, of course, brought his mini-tapie, notebook and pen, and was wearing his press hat, just in case the opportunity for an interview arose.

I mean, think of the stories the guy can probably tell. An investigative reporter in the old days of legendarily corrupt and roistering Chicago who worked with Mike Royko, himself a legendary roisterer. In later years Red focused on environmental and land use stories, I think, but often wrote on other subjects (check out the Girl Scout cookie scandal he covered, beginning with the inevitably headlined story, "Scouts' hands found in cookie jar." So whether that night or some other, I wanted an interview.

At the restaurant we sat down (me next to Red, natch), and the first thing I asked him was whether he was writing his memoirs. He said he was too busy living. Then I asked if he ever read blogs. Once he'd gained control of the vomiting he concealed his disgust fairly well, but said emphatically that he'd never read a single one. Then I told him I was a blogger. He knew what was coming.

D-blog: I promise I won't bug you--

Red: Thanks.

D-blog: But let me interview you some time.

Red (eyes rolling, grabbing at his chest, gasping for breath): Nooooooooo!

Maybe his reaction wasn't quite so bad. But that was pretty much it. Good old-fashioned reporter: I ain't the story, so fuck off. I forced my card on him and he said he'd look at the blog, but, yeah, right. Worse, his nephew told me later that Ward Churchill is a friend of Red and his wife, and that they like to boast about how Churchill, when he visits, voluntarily goes outside to smoke his Marlboros--something he won't do for anyone else.

Damn. Well, I'll get his nephews to lean on the old man, tell him how when the D-blog doesn't get his way, he starts to lie about people. And not good lies, either. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Update: That "Scouts' hands in cookie jar" headline makes it sound like they actually found a bunch of little girl scouts' hands in a cookie jar, doesn't it? Or is that just me?

Correction: I have been informed by the source what told it to me that I have the most important detail of the "Ward 'n' Red" story wrong. Red and his wife probably don't even know Churchill; it was acquaintances of theirs who told the story. Sheesh, see why the D-blog never claims to be a journalist?

No comments: