This is my last column. No more underhanded stabs at Dubya or the suburbs. No more cheap literary devices or overwrought pleas. This is the last one.

J. Brady McCollough

Twice a month for the last year, I’ve had 800 words to write about anything I want, and it’s even available for people to read. It’s free! Frankly, it’s become quite addicting and I’m going to miss it like crazy. I’m not sure I can quit this cold turkey. I don’t know what I’m going to do come September. God forbid, I start a Weblog or something.

I didn’t even do much to get this column, either. I just wandered into the Daily a few years ago, joined the editorial board and sort of went from there. Sort of like finding crack in the gutter. So, I’m lucky.

But a week from now, I’ll be gone, apartment hunting with old friends in Chicago, likely annoying the living crap out of them with column ideas that will never be. Probably a year from now I’ll be doing the same thing. (Coming up with column ideas, not annoying the living crap out of them.)

I’ve been thinking about this column for about two weeks now, trying to figure out how to approach it. I really wanted to write something profound, something that would make people stop reading and go, Wow. And I wanted to do it without being sappy. The problem is, I’ve got nothing – not an ounce of profundity. Profanity, I’ve got by the boatload, but this isn’t a party at Dubya’s so I’ll hold my tongue.

So, I’m left with sappy, which would actually be a lot easier to pull off if I was at Junior’s joint. Oh wait. He doesn’t drink anymore. Right. Gotta get sappy somehow, though. Maybe George and I could lie around the ranch and read melancholic books. Wait, he doesn’t read either. I guess I’d have to settle for a discussion about the sad state of America’s great cities. Wait, not that either.

Oh, fuck it. I’ll just stick with the profanity and let the sappiness come out on its own.

Before I get too sugary, I should admit that this hasn’t always been sweet potato pie. For example, I was absolutely mortified every time I found a misplaced comma or a poorly used word in the print edition. And I use the word mortified for a very specific reason – because it conjures up images of prim and proper old ladies accidentally farting at the bridge table. I’m sure no one noticed my flubs, but it made me want to crawl under the nearest table.

But really, it’s laughable to think of complaining about this column. It’s far and away the best thing I’ve done since I’ve been here. In my mind, every person on this campus wants this job and I just happened to get lucky. (This, my friends, is what I consider getting lucky. Perhaps that sheds some light on a few things.)

It really is addicting. If you’re not careful it can go straight to your head. I’d be lying if I said I never got a huge rush from seeing someone in class reading my column or once thought that I was going to become some sort of minor University celebrity. As if when Ann Arborites sit down for coffee they pull out the Daily and ask, Have you read Honkala yet? You just hafta.

But I know some people have actually read it because I’ve gotten e-mails, which is just about the coolest thing in the world. Seriously, thank you for that. Even that guy who wrote to tell me that I’m a racist.

More than anything else, though, I’m going to miss sitting down at the computer and poring over stacks of The New York Times, Detroit Free Presses and thesauri searching for column ideas. And then turning them over in my feeble mind until I find something relevant and original to write. And then just making fun of George W. Bush instead, because it’s just so easy. Absolutely no doubt about it, that was my favorite of this job. Some people have yoga. I have Dubya.

In all seriousness, I have enjoyed this more than I ever thought was possible. I really, really hope I get the opportunity to do it again. But even if that never happens, at least I’ll have a folder full of hate mail and stacks of yellowed newspapers to show my kids and their kids. I’ll be an old man then, so I’ll sit them on my knee and tell them about my year as a crusading journalist. The year I spent fighting the system. Embellish a little, lie. Just like our president.

Man, I’m going to miss this.


Honkala can be reached at jhonkala@umich.edu.

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