Once, reporters wore the label of an “ink-stained wretch” as a badge of honor. Okay. At least a snarly backhanded compliment.
Now, with electronic media shrinking the importance of hard-copy print on the public mind, more and more of those purporting to be reporters weigh lighter anchors in their professed profession. Although a higher percentage of today’s byline bearers hold masters degrees, perhaps better preparatory might’ve been working on a factory assembly line.
While the former certainly hones writing and adds luster to the credentials, the latter thoroughly educates about people.
I was fortunate to pass through journalism when print still dominated. I was defrocked just as newsrooms fooled themselves into believing delivering information instantaneously progress. No. That’s gossip or rumor hoped to be proven as fact.
What we know acknowledge as “click bait.”
While published “scoops” rightfully occupy historic places in sensational reportage, even those exclusives were vetted then verified to the hilt before being rushed onto presses. Of course, it’s harder to walk back an item that’s been printed than one blasted electronically. These days, misinformation can be deleted although it can nonetheless remain curdling in memories.
Permanence in print made all but the most craven masthead minions careful. Worse than eating crow by needing to print a correction, then having that held over the publisher’s head when the next suspect or controversial or contentious story ran, was the threat of libel suits. The kind where adept shysters transform simple mistakes, sloppiness and haste into malice.
One of the first lessons pounded into reporters’ skulls? Spelling names correctly. While heard as “John Smith” it might be spelled “Joan Smyth.” Sure. It might seem a niggling point but if something as easy as names got screwed up what else in the story could be wrong? As in life itself, being a stickler in the little things usually prevented them from bubbling over the pots’ rims.
Which is how before rapid news overwhelmed, overhauled, and overtook our implicit knowledge with hedging skepticism, good reporters asked obvious questions. Nothing on the idiot scale of what color was Napoleon’s white horse, but even if it common knowledge just to confirm that, yes, gray is the usual car primer shade.
A whole ‘nother person ago when my crushing deadlines was nearly as terrific as having mindless anonymous sex, a newspaper colleague caught a crime story. Had the right elements: violence, purloined property, bloodshed, victims who survived, perpetrators apprehended. In all the excitement, though, he forgot including one factor. Describing the goods stolen. Their value. He left out what set it all in motion.
Why, yes, we did have fun busting his chops. Thank you for asking.
This week, an odd occurrence, its unexpected aftermath, triggered an ex-ink-stained wretch’s old reflex.
What at other addresses should be considered strange comprises a decent portion of the Las Vegas every day. That serves for both people and events.
A social media acquaintance, one later met in the flesh because only by chance does she reside nearby, had an exchange somewhat notable even by Las Vegas lack of standards. Yet before divulging what happened, let me draw her.
For the longest, or until her youth abandoned her as it does and will us all, she earned her daily bread in a myriad of jobs. Most prominent of these, nude model. Not just a figure that sketch artists or portraitists referenced, photographers as well.
No doubt her comfort and ease with nudity unnerves untold numbers of people who’ve been indoctrinated into believing such a state should be shameful. That always affirms more about the observer than the observed.
The best example of the above might be a light comparison to Betty Page. An icon now, a pin-up girl in the uptight 1950s, Page fueled tastes for fetishes during that era into our own. She served as naked grist for amateur and professional photographers. The exposures of the latter found ways into numerous men’s magazines. Leaps into male – and more than a few female – psyches must’ve been synapse distant short.
From these Page would influence our own pop culture as in The Rocketeer, a graphic arts serial by Dave Stevens.
My Las Vegas acquaintance hasn’t been girly mag material, but in the past has permitted herself to be the subject of photographers seeking a kind of earthly divination provided via artfully lighted and consciously posed bare female contours. Some of her most inspiring modeling has taken place in the Mojave. There, her pulchritude has been juxtaposed against stark and severe nature as well as ghost town remnants and mining apparatus that had torn at the desert.
Seeing her among such unforgiving scenery or against rotting planks or upon oxidizing heavy machinery rivets vision. Those past naked investigative excursions produced a blog which developed video streams that are now, again owing to the subject’s age, transitioning away from nudie-cutie images that could be confused by the simpleminded as prurient into Edward Abbey-like advocacies of the desert environs.
Not that hers was a long leap. Clothed or naked when hasn’t she been a desert rat?
Neither gorgeous nor voluptuous, a radiant grin brightens her pretty appearance. She retains a pleasing figure. Eyes still affix on both attributes. What is distinctive about her, though, is hair. Hers starts as a luxuriant auburn pile then plummets where the back starts teasing butt. Manipulated right, the cascading mass can be swirled or plaited into all sorts of supple crowns.
If not a renowned Las Vegas personality, let’s judge her a known local commodity. Between past baring-it-all personas and the concerned erudition about our arid surroundings she promotes today, anonymity can’t be easy to maintain. At least locally here in Las Vegas, where despite tens of millions of visitors and the city’s transient nature, there does exist some familiarity among a small cohort of residents.
Like the fellow who precipitated the mischief that follows.
He’s a handyman. She’d employed him to perform some tasks on her property. While paying him he tweaked her nipples. She hadn’t requested it. The spontaneity surprised her. So much so there was neither rebuke or further invitation. It was a moment that happened in an instant. Only contemplation followed and the first order of thought was where to start?
The gesture had befuddled her.
Clear possessor of bold confidence before him, the kind that makes the timorous momentarily foolhardy, maybe let the handyman overstep. The likeliest reason, though? Eh. The usual. Some guy saw his chance and took it.
Even in Las Vegas strangers diddling with others’ nipples unbidden is irregular. Uh, unless it’s in a strip club or at a bachelor party. Then it’s SOP.
She threw the matter out to her social media correspondents. Naturally the shoot first and keep shooting cadre crowded the responses with dudgeon. Why even bother checking who wrote them? Of course, these flowed from women upset at some man’s impudence but they were further perturbed that kind of fellow would never find any of them as alluring and dare the same.
Too many of her male respondents mired themselves in empathy. They squirted beyond Alan Alda 2.0 into that squirrelly Ohio college that makes horny students trying to get or give some complete a “May I Touch You There?” approval form. Considering its recipient had yet to determine whether the act disagreeable or unpleasant, how could any identification by others be pronounced?
Gimlet-eyed, I determined too much was being made of the “what” and nothing for the “why.” The obvious question needed its ugly headed reared.
So comfortable in her skin, so easy with its display, I wondered had she possibly blanked on having been in an unclothed state – either topless or nude – and had stepped outside her premises to converse with the handyman?
As is echoed throughout Metropolitan New York, “It could happen.”
If there were gasps from other respondents, I ignored them. Clearly several other of her contacts raised the identical query. Fortunately, there was only muted annoyance from the subject herself. Just minor and mild admonishment towards any who suggested she’d somehow precipitated the handyman’s action. We must’ve been spared a sharper response because the matter still tumbled through her mind. And hers was a “matter,” not a “dilemma.”
One can only hope Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton undergo a similar process of self-scrutiny when either is inevitably interviewed regarding her respective ascent of the popular culture summit. After all, neither would be a high priestess of influence if the mother of all indiscretions hadn’t been “leaked,” then monetized into amounts that conceal stink as they confer respectability.
That either woman might boil with indignity should the origin of her luminance be disgorged again would top Captain Renault’s phony shock at gambling occurring inside Rick’s.