'Dulling Columnists' Spread Ennui to Live Audience
Hmm... Since your humble correspondent was the first to coin the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Dueling Columnists with the highly accurate monicker of "Dulling Columnists," perhaps I would be justified in charging a royalty payment from Daily Pulp writer, John de Groot, for titling his recent column, "Dulling Columnists Score Major Snore." Here is what I wrote about the Dulling Columnists, Stephen Goldstein and Kingsley Guy, on the Ides of March:
...I do have a couple of solid suggestions for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. First you might want to consider ditching the incredibly boring "Blob." Secondly get rid of the equally dull Dueling Columnists or, as I call them, "Dulling Columnists." Could you get excited about Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone dueling each other with swords in separate rooms? Of course not. But that is exacty the concept behind the "Dueling" Columnists. Two columnists writing separate columns on the same topic. Just the same excitement generated there as dueling with swords in separate rooms. If Lee Abrams is serious about improving the ridiculous Dueling Columnists he would ditch the separate column idea and have a video dueling debate between liberal Stephen Goldstein and conserative radio talk show host, Steve Kane. This idea is something that might cause Sun-Sentinel editor, Earl Maucker to have a fit but I think most of the rest of us would enjoy such a real duel.
Yes, a royalty payment to yours truly would be highly appropriate but I feel that I have been paid in full by the highly entertaining account that de Groot gave of a live "duel" by the Dulling Columnists (emphasis mine) :
The Governor had flown into Broward as the latest celebrity guest of the Sun-Sentinel’s celebrated Dueling Columnists.
Now, given the terrifying gravity of the apocalyptic events looming world-wide, both the people of Florida and the Governor would have been better served if Charlie had stayed back in Tallahassee to fold paper bags or wash his cat.
It would be inaccurate to dismiss the Dueling Columnists as harmless perpetrators of too frequent Close Encounters of the Trivial Kind.
LOL! Too true! If you have an insomnia attack and seek a cure, then check out the Dueling Columnists page and you will see that despite the fact that the Sun-Sentinel serves an area with over a million population, a typical Dueling Columnists encounter gets no feedback and an "exciting" Dueling Columnists story gets a grand total of one whole feedback. We get more amusing background on Team Bore from de Groot:
Now, for those who have not suffered the experience, the Sentinel’s Dueling Columnists appear above the half-page ad opposite the newspaper’s editorials once a week – as well as local radio.
The idea is to offer the newspaper’s readers a print serving of fresh and challenging points of view from the so-called Left and Right sides of the political spectrum – both locally and wherever else the columnist dare to stumble.
The Right is represented by Kingsley Guy, the Sentinel’s retired editorial page editor who – as he did with his editorials – too often confuses timidity with gravitas. (But then struggling to express an original opinion at the Sentinel can do cruel things to a man’s stones.)
The Left is represented by Stephen Goldstein, a clever man hopelessly addicted to the first person pronoun who, like Paris Hilton, has made a career of being well-known locally – although nobody really knows why. (Also, I’ve yet to meet anyone able to explain how Goldstein earns his living.)
As writers go, Guy carefully leans towards stolid opinion supported by solid facts – while Goldstein is a noisy print master of hoo-hah, hot air and hype.
So much for their weekly presence in print – which I rarely read, an unfilled need for substance having led me to cancel my subscription to the Sentinel after 30-plus years.
And now de Groot's account of the encounter of the living dead with the barely living:
Today’s Pulp offering stems from the Dueling Columnists’ venture into a kind of live dinner theater in which the two appear with a celebrity guest before an audience that’s paid $26 for lunch high atop Fort Lauderdale ’s Riverside Hotel, safely removed from anyone who gets their hands dirty for a living.Now, having attended both the first and second of the Dueling affairs*, I am prepared to report my findings.
...Next the food.
For steam table stuff, it’s surprisingly good. Same dueling salmon and chicken ala Marco. And served buffet, which lets you take all you want and go back. Plus I scarfed down three deserts which were excellent. Still, $26* is pretty hefty for an above average all-you-can-eat lunch. (*Credit cards are accepted.)
Usually, this much decent and expensable food brings out the media.
But there were none* – other than the Sentinel’s two Dueling Columnists overseen by the newspaper’s immaculately attired Editor Earl Maucker who came with his mustache and the decidedly less immaculate young man in charge of Earl’s shrinking editorials. (*OK. I was there for the Pulp. Which kind of makes me media. More or less.)
Governor Crist arrived 40 minutes late, which caused the audience to destroy the desert table – and sent the two Dueling Columnists into a Category Five Frenzy.
...A word about style.
Nobody does affable better than Governor Charlie. Except maybe George Hamilton. Or Richard Gere. But they’re not running the nation’s fourth largest state.
Kingsley Guy has the “objective” stage persona of a man who could watch the CIA water-board a Muslim child with a straight face. But then he spent years writing Sentinel editorials where true outrage was summed up by a closing paragraph suggesting, “This merits further looking into by (insert other party)…”
Stephen Goldstein, on the other hand, dominates the stage like a tinkling yappy-dog overwhelmed by an excess of adoring company. In addition, Goldstein does not suffer from a lack of either self-esteem or lengthy opinions. Nor is he verbally challenged.
So much for the characters.
Now for the drama.
Stand by as the Dulling Columnist go into full ennui mode:
Act I began with Goldstein announcing he would personally “grill the Governor.”
Trouble was, Goldstein had failed to first introduce the Governor. There was no puffing about Crist’s background, no welcome, not even a thank-you-for-coming, Charlie.
Instead, Goldstein the opening scene was all about Stephen. Sans Crist.
Ever gracious, the unabashed Crist actually welcomed himself, thanked the audience for coming and then addressed Goldstein’s question about health care for Florida’s 3.8 million uninsured residents by noting:
1) It’s a problem.
2) We have a bi-partisan plan.
3) Private insurance companies will take care of all our poor sick Floridians for $150 a month – including a suitable profit.
Now, it’s pretty well-known that Florida ’s private insurance companies say they are losing money, and they're charging individuals way more than $300 a month for their health insurance.
However, not bothering with that sort of context, Goldstein happily moved on to his next first-person-infested question for the governor – while his counterpart Guy did his gravitas thing.
Which suggests that Goldstein sees life as about the question and not the answer – just as Gert Stein decided on her death bed.
Thus, as Duels go, Friday’s event was the Stephan Goldstein Show featuring HIS guest Governor Crist, with Kingsley Guy as a rather anal Ed McMahon.
And finally a summary of the "duel":
But for the dramatic impact and overall significance of the Governor’s “grilling” by the Sentinel’s two Dueling Columnists Friday …?
Imagine three grown men hurling marshmallows at each other from a distance of 50 feet. But with considerable bonhomie. Plus Goldstein’s lengthy personal opinion about each marshmallow thrown Crist-ward.
Naturally, the audience applauded politely when time and marshmallows had expired.
With the recent staff cutbacks at the Sun-Sentinel (recently renamed SunSentinel) due to decreasing circulation, one has to wonder what is the motivation for that periodical to keep aboard the Dulling Columnists whose only real ability is to send readers into snooze fits. Oh, and thanks for the laughs, John! You have more than paid the royalties for using the term, "Dulling Columnists."