In Murgatroid, Ohio—a perfectly average small American town, in a perfectly average American state, where perfectly average Americans do not so average things—the day begins, as it does elsewhere, with alarm clocks, the cries of cuckoo birds, and the collective "Thshhh" sound of apple pies being thrust onto windowsills from North Snooker Street all the way down to South Shoobadoop Avenue. The sun's rays, golden in that way that rays are, peek over the horizon. It is morning in Murgatroid. Once again, a small town full of Americans bestirs itself for the unexpectedly inspiring day ahead.
Turns out the subject of that New York Times article about the Arkansas kid who gets beat up all the time, Billy Wolfe, is himself a bit of bad news. And that Pulitzer-winning reporter Dan Barry either missed or ignored that complicating little twist. A story in the Northwest Arkansas Times details a police report on young Wolfe: "[T]he police report contains allegations that Billy harassed a student confined to a wheelchair with muscular dystrophy by sneaking up behind him and screaming to aggravate the disabled boy's sensitivity to noise, by bouncing a rubber ball against the disabled boy's head, and by calling him 'stupid' and a 'retard.' The police report provides further context on the assaults described in the NYT."
Without fresh updates on the "constant gubernatorial sex scandal" front or the new and improved recession 2.0, the news can seem a bit slow. Maybe that is why New York Times This Land columnist (and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter) Dan Barry wrote eleven hundred words on a kid getting beaten up on the regular in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Exhaustion with scandal and financial ruin is the most charitable explanation for Barry's piece today on "A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly." You may wonder if this article talks about the larger trend of bullying or even a "Sordid Online World." But such hope would be lost on an article about a random kid, Billy Wolfe, who gets knocked around a lot.
Speaking of Great Moments in Journalism, remember Dan Barry? He writes the "About New York" column for the Times and was the inaugural winner of the contest. As promised, we sent him a copy of a copy of Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel. Well, on our return home yesterday we found a package, addressed from the New York Times. Dan sent the book back! We had suggested that if he already had a copy he consider donating it to a library; in his estimation, the library that needed it most was ours! Dan also sent a handwritten letter that was both condescending and polite at the same time. We're not going to share it, since we're unsure about privileged communications and such, but we will say this: It's the best thing he's ever written.