‘I Owe You Six Beers’

So said a rather important conservative communications operative, in the subject line of an e-mail praising my response to Ken “Wonkette” Lane. The operative called it a “smackdown,” while I prefer to think of it as a sociological treatise, but . . . well, that’s just semantics, right?

Entrepeneurship is about opportunity. This unsolicited praise presented an opportunity which I was keen to exploit in my e-mail reply:

Your praise is most welcome. It was a pleasure and duty to call him what he is.
Please examine the sidebar of the blog until you find a link to that which we bloggers call a “tip jar.” Pretend that you and I are in a bar — a swanky sort of place, with linen tablecloths, silverware, fine stemware, etc. — and that you are buying me those six beers. The waitress is a smokin’ hot 21-year-old Georgetown coed who, as it turns out, is an aspiring journalist who raves that she has been reading your blog for years and is, in fact, your No. 1 fan. It happens that she is actually a friend of several of your friends, business associates and clients.
Think about this, and the impression you wish to leave, as this waitress — did I mention that she’s one of those Irish-Catholic redheads with the big gazongas? — presents the check for those six beers you bought me. Also, I had the $12 quesadilla appetizer. So when you click that link to the tip jar, just think about what that redhead might say to your friends if you tip like a cheapskate bastard.
And incidentally, isn’t it amazing that nobody’s ever tried to hire me as a humor columnist?
— RSM

Just got off the phone with the guy who’s hosting the Third Annual Camp FUBAR Fourth of July Fireworks & BBQ Blowout on the shores of Alabama’s beautiful Lake Weiss. (Google map showing approximate location of Camp FUBAR.)

Given the economic realities, scraping up contributions to fund this exercise in pyrotechnical mayhem has been extraordinarily difficult this year. Because fireworks can be purchased in advance at a discount that’s not available in the weeks immediately before the Fourth of July — when amateur chumps pay full retail, as chumps always do — I was required to spend money I didn’t have in order to acquire the basic supplies.

The anticipation of (partial) remuneration in the future was an element of this fiscal calculation, but the inescapable logic was: You can’t shoot a fireworks show without fireworks, and you can get a lot more bang for your bucks if you buy early. To a fireworks man, a dollar in May is worth $5 on the Fourth of July.

Much of this was explained to my friend, who’s hosting the Third Annual Camp FUBAR Fourth of July Fireworks & BBQ Blowout on the shores of Alabama’s beautiful Lake Weiss. (Free camping space is available, and good hotel accommodations are a short drive away.) My friend was explaining that some guy gave him $20 and another guy has promised . . .

“Darryl, you’re Guido from the Mob. Shake ’em down. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Every day closer we get to the Fourth of July, the more those worthless sons of bitches are spending that money on beer or sunblock or whatever else they spend their money on besides paying for the show they can watch for free. Tell ’em anything you have to tell ’em. Put the squeeze on those bastards. Just get the money now . . .”

Well, much further discussion followed. People have no idea how shameful it is for me to have to shake the tip jar like this, knowing full well that there are “media strategists” — who don’t know as much or work as hard — getting paid incredible salaries to do badly jobs that I could do better for less. Trust me, my average daily earnings as a freelance journalist/blogger don’t equal what the communications director of the Republican National Committee spends to get her nails done.

I resent the hell out of this reality, but all I know to do is to work even harder today than I worked yesterday, while trying figure out how I can work even harder tomorrow. The Fourth of July, however, involves the kind of work that I love to do most — to fill the sky with pyrotechnical beauty — and so I’m shaking the tip jar today like Guido from the Mob.

Yesterday, God sent a blessed lady to hit my tip jar, but the realities of PayPal are such that it takes two or three days to process a transaction. The money you put in the tip jar today (Tuesday) won’t reach my bank account until Friday, and showtime is sundown Saturday.

Hundreds of cheapskate bastards will get a free show, simply because they happen to be at the lake Saturday, just like hundreds of cheapskate bastards are reading the work of An Acknowledged Master of English Prose Composition, merely because they happened to click a link off some other blog where they don’t hit the tip jar.

Maybe you’re a conservative, wondering why the Left is kicking our ass online. Look in the mirror. What the hell have you done? But don’t blame yourself. Blame me.

It is my all fault. Who knows why or how, but by some act of commission or omission, I have either done the wrong thing or failed to do everything I possibly could. I’m 49 years old, and Billy Mays died the other day at 50, so I may not live to light that first fuse Saturday night. However, if I do, then I may live to return to Washington next week and hassle some more IG-Gate news out of my sources on Capitol Hill.

In the meantime, Sporto, you’re sitting there with money in your account, and that redheaded waitress with the big gazongas just put the check on the table.

Hit the freaking tip jar now, and hit it like you mean it. Don’t make me send Guido after you.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to present . . . THE TEMPTATIONS!

(Among other mysteries of the universe: Why hasn’t anyone offered me a contract to write How To Blog Like a Mofo — And Bleg Like a Pro? Also: How come you, my blogger paisano, can appreciate the value of this genius demonstration and yet have not hit the tip jar? Guido knows where you live. Also, Guido’s in a bad mood because his adorable 9-year-old daughter is dying from a dreadful disease, or at least that’s what it says on the contribution jars he’s leaving in convenience stores throughout Paulding County, Georgia. Where he got the picture of that cute little moppet in pigtails, I don’t know. His actual daughter is 20 and perfectly healthy.)

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: You wanted a show? You paid for a show? Buddy, you just hired the Hardest Working Man in Blog Business:

“If Andrew Sullivan is not stupid . . .”

(It’s a hypothetical.)

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