In last week”s “Guide to The Michigan Daily,” I detailed the proper way to read each section of the paper. Some perceptive readers noticed that I spent very little time mentioning my own column.
“Is he humble?” they whispered.
“Does he not desire the bright limelight of the public eye?” they wondered, hands joined in a circle, burning incense.
“Is he a superb dancer?” they asked their mothers.
The answers, in no particular order other than the first, second and third answers corresponding to the first, second and third questions, are: Yes, quite yes, is drunk on it and, lastly, yes, but I prefer “world-class.”
You see, dear readers, to explain the subtle nuances of the column is to describe the magic of a newborn”s first breath. To suspend in time the shooting star. To put into words what can never be written. But I will try.
The creative process is different for every artist, and I am no exception. Sometimes, I am creative in the “Man, where does he come up with this stuff?” kind of way, whereas other times I am creative in the “His clever puns and non sequiturs inspire in me dual feelings of lust and rage I do not know whether to prepare him a meal of chicken enchiladas or to scald him with hot butter” kind of way. Such is my art.
My column ideas generally come weeks if not months in advance, so to capture the spirit of inspiration while it”s still fresh, I”m always working ahead. In fact, as I type these very words, I”m watching my family string lights on our Christmas tree. (Why, thank you, mother, some more eggnog would indeed be delightful!)
But, on occasion, I have no choice but to prepare a column on short notice. Say, when a high-ranking government official is indicted on charges of embezzlement: I know the entire University community will be turning to Thursday”s column for moral judgment, political analysis and choice Scott Baio references.
In high-pressure situations like this, the editors at the Daily are always kind enough to hand over to me the exclusive use of the Arts office as a makeshift war-room. Once locked in, I will “work out” my writing strategies by overturning desks, undergoing peyote-assisted Native American purification rituals and letting loose torrents of obscure Polish profanity for hours on end.
More than once, young staffers, unaware of my methods, have tried to intervene, only to be pulled aside by a senior editor. “Don”t,” the editor will say. “He needs to get through this.”
When the deadline can be pushed back no further and every last revision has been made twice, I finally emerge from the office, sweaty and bare-chested, bordering on collapse. I find the entire collected Daily staff waiting in hushed expectation. I solemnly look each and every one of them in eyes. The anxiety hurts the air. I take a deep breath and nod.
“It”s going to be all right,” I sigh.
The cheers that ring out are deafening, the celebration jubilant.
“We can eat for another week!” cry the cute News girls.
“A round of the finest lager for Kula!” shout the Sports guys.
But I have already left the building it”s time to begin work on the column that will run in six weeks.
I never asked to bear the weight of an entire student newspaper I simply wanted to make people laugh. But when ad prices began to skyrocket every Thursday, it quickly became clear that the Daily”s very livelihood was dependent upon my ability to convey satire. I assumed my fate the way that any pure-of-heart martyr would: I demanded an absurd pay raise.
My prominent status has also brought me into conflict with the Daily”s editor-in-chief. At least once a week, former EIC Mike Spahn would drag me into his office to try to put me in my place, a practice that”s since been adopted by his successor, Geoff Gagnon.
“Oh, you think you”re bigger than the Daily, Kula?” they”d typically yell at me. “Where”d you learn to think like that?”
“You, alright!” I”d respond, “I learned it by watching you!”
Try as they may, they could never keep a straight face after I delivered that coup de after-school grace, which further proves my point: I”m sorry, I haven”t really established a main point yet, so please read on, and I”ll take care of that at this time.
A wise man Peter Parker, I believe once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” For me, there is no greater power than the ability to bring laughter into someone”s day, and this is a responsibility I gladly and wholeheartedly accept much like an absurd pay raise. Thank you.
Chris Kula”s column runs every Thursday. Give him feedback at www.michigandaily.com/forum or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.