An as yet unsuccessful proposal to Eugene’s Register Guard
I might feel more forgiving toward Don Kahle’s failings as a writer if he weren’t such a pompous ass to boot. Every time I come across his work in Friday’s RG he is dropping some name or other, in the course of criticizing Eugene for being a cultural backwater. Newsflash Don: that’s why the local daily publishes your stuff. In any place more sophisticated, Kahle’s inability to actually construct an essay would preclude his work from the wide circulation it regularly receives here in Podunkadunk. Stringing together a hodgepodge of cloudy analogies, nearly random asides and barely relevant anecdotes does not an essay make.
Plus, of course, the incessant name-dropping. Don knows an entrepreneur; Don can name a Federal judge; Don approvingly quotes an architect! His latest collection provides a case in point, though I suspect we might find at least one in more or less any of his pieces.
This week we learn that Don drove to Fresno to get a single quote from a woman who worked there briefly with current Eugene City Manager John Ruiz (whom Don is apparently trying to ingratiate himself to). Seems she knew Ruiz was destined for something better than Fresno, or whatever. Anyway, she was willing to shake Don’s hand. Also, one time bears broke into some completely unrelated person’s Mazda to get the food inside, somewhere near Fresno, and that somehow lends support to the idea that that town is a shithole. Have you seen what they’ve done to Renoir?!? Philistines.
I get that Kahle is offering his own experience as the unifying thread. Problem is, his perspective isn’t coherent enough to carry that weight. His joke, in his last column, about how driving without reliable air-conditioning is as close as he gets to suffering for his art might illuminate what’s most directly missing: gravitas. There’s no substance to what he writes, no purpose, no point. Consequently, his tangents and asides, his analogies and big ideas, have nothing necessary in them beyond filling out his word count. His openings meander and his conclusions peter. There is, in short, no there there.
So, I’ve a proposition for you: every Wednesday I’ll send you an alternative to Kahle’s Friday column, to help you imagine what it might be like to publish something at least somewhat interesting in that space. Then, when you’re convinced that I can be counted on to make better use of the page, you can tell Don it’s time for him to hit the big time. Enough with his hiding in a town just that much better than Fresno. It’s win/win/win.