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Column fodder or just leave it alone?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Crimson Tide, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    I found out today that my brother, an Army tanker currently stationed in Kentucky, has been selected to guard the body of the late President Ford. He'll guard the body while it lies in state in D.C., then travel and guard during the burial in Michigan. He will also fire in the 21-gun salute.

    I mentioned it to our military writer, just as conversation. Despite the fact that neither I nor my brother are from the area, she would like to write a story. I give her my family's phone number and some background. She comes back telling me that the ME doesn't think it warrants a story because we're not from the area, but I could write a column for the weekend.

    My problem with this is that I don't have many good things to say about my brother. We never got along growing up, and many of our fights turned physical. I can't even write that he's proud to serve his country. He hates the Army. He joined because he's a C- high-school graduate who flunked out of junior college and got tired of working with dad at the factory. He spent a year in Korea, but most of the time, he bought DVDs, chased Korean girls, bought knockoff sports jerseys and drank a lot.

    Should I make a bunch of shit up and lie? Of course not. But there's no way I can write the truth: my fuck-up brother got randomly selected to do a job.

  2. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    J.R. Ewing would never speak of his brother this way.
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I would leave it alone unless your bro screws up and someone steals the body.
  4. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    I participated in something similar in my junior enlisted days. It wasn't very fun. Long hours, no sleep.

    But not many people can say they've done something like that.

    If you don't like him, leave it alone.
  5. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    Just to add, I also believe that there's no way I can write this without throwing in a "Weekend at Bernie's" reference.

  6. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    As long as there's no references to Weekend at Bernie's II.

    I mean, if Ford's body miraculously led your brother to sunken treasure every time someone played ragae music, well, yeah, that's a column.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Crimson, if only one of your fights with your brother got physical, consider yourself blessed.

    Why not talk to him after it's over. See if he has any good anecdotes of the duty, remembers reactions of people, etc. If there is something there, fine, if not let it go.
  8. Write the truth and then, I don't know, use the fact that this guy with whom you brawled growing up and with whom you don;t really get along is going to be up there, shoes shined in his Class A's, in front of the whole fucking world as a kind of ain't-this-a-nutty-old-world twist. The default position always should be, "Write it." Write it right and you culd have a helluva column.
  9. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    You could just try writing it. Just actually sit down and see what ends up on the page. Then decide if there is a story.

    You never know. Maybe this will be the moment that your brother wakes up and gets it. I had exactly the same type of relationship with my brother growing up, except a hell of a lot more of our disputes became physical. He was a jerk in more ways than I care to remember.

    Then he got his act together. In his case, it was meeting the woman that would become his wife that did it. He's a responsible businessman and family man now and he even manages to get along with me ... no easy task... most of the time.
  10. Idaho

    Idaho Active Member

    I agree. Write it. Even if you don't submit it.

    some of the things I thought would end up being the worst stories or articles I'd ever been assigned turned out to be pretty good pieces -- even if only from my point of view.

    Call bro up, ask him what he thinks it will be like, then call him up after it's over and ask him what it really was like.

    And do not be afraid to mention you don't get along with him or you think he's a screw up in some ways. But don't give the locals a chance to pull a John Kerryesque moment on you by questioning your patriotism because you think he's in the Army only because he was a moron, dumb and had no other options. It may or may not be true, but in your small area, it will not play.
  11. Leaving aisde that Idaho is still pounding the idiotic Kerry talking-point -- "He insulted our troops!" Bullshit -- he's right. Write it if only for practice. You might amaze yourself.
    (An old editor of mine served the last of his days in the Army in the Third Herd, the Gardens-of-Stone bunch at Arlington, and he was on Joe McCarthy's funeral detail in DC. McCarthy was so bloated from drink at the time of his death that they secreted his family in a small room while my friend and his mates used a forklift to put the casket on the AF plane for the flight back to Wisconsin.)
  12. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Write it.

    If you don't like it, don't print it.
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