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TK: The Bandwagon and the Blogs

Quick notes gathered while looking for a lost wallet in a car with a dead battery....

First off, for those who weren't here at the time, or who were here and can't get enough, or who grew up in Western New York as Bills fans and still remember Super Bowl XXVI as one of life's great tragedis, here's the link to an old but still workable Bandwagon homepage. Lots of Bandwagon columns to read. Different time. But my D.C.-based friends who were adolescents in those days speak of the Bandwagon series as the most important brush with sports journalism of their lives.

Second off, I spoke at a P.G. County elementary school's career day today, giving some sort of spiel about blogs and newspapers and strange Wizards haircuts to 5th graders, and then to kindergarteners, and then to 2nd graders. I asked all of them whether they knew what newspapers were, and I swear, two of them in two different classes said "that's what old people read." A third young boy also said "my father reads the newspaper on the toilet." All in all, it's been a bright day of hope and optimism for my industry. (See also: David Broder.)

As for some Internet reaction to Tony taking the buyout....

Dan Shanoff: I grew up on Tony Kornheiser. I grew up on the Washington Post sports section as a whole -- and from the mid-80s to the mid-90s it was, by far, the best sports section in the country, and if you look at the alumni list, you'd agree with me. But when I was a kid and young adult, TK was my favorite. I knew I wanted to be in journalism -- sports, hopefully -- and TK seemed to have the best job in the world.

On Frozen Blog: At OFB, we won't be joining in the lovefest for TK the remainder of this week. Kornheiser didn't merely consistently give hockey the back of his hand while working here, he actively undermined its presence with his sneering disregard for the game, the local team, and its supporters. For him, there was only one storyline on hockey, one now outdated by decades: the '80s playoff failures by Bryan Murray's Caps.

Stet Sports Blog:
It's sad, really. Tony Kornheiser in so many ways made Washington sports. Nobody captured the malaise of the fan base, the essence of under achievement, and the irony of it all like he did. Mix in his seamless transition to television banter with his awkwardness on Monday Night Football, and add in a dash of love/hate for blogs, and you've got the epitome of sports media celebrity.

Deadspin: We appreciate Kornheiser's sadness about all this, and can't imagine how it must feel. Though, to be fair, we suspect his buyout package, along with the ESPN and radio money, should make for quite a comfortable golden parachute; the column seemed to be getting in the way of everything else anyway. We should hope that everyone else being bought out at newspapers across the country, the arts critics, the beat reporters, so on, so forth, will be so fortunate.

With Leather: Wow. What a profound loss. Readers will surely miss the two paragraphs he'd toss off for page 2 of the sports section every few days. Or the humorously annotated NCAA bracket every March. I worked for the paper for three years and I never once so much as glimpsed the guy at the office. But he was a presence, boy howdy. Now that damn Paul Farhi can write vapid pieces in the Style section without any fear of reprisal.

The Big Lead: We grew up reading the Post - we'd pick it up from the driveway at 6 a.m. every morning and devour the sports section and breakfast at the same time. More than the sports section, we enjoyed Kornheiser's Sunday styles columns, where he'd rant about his kids, culture, the Redskins, and basically anything that struck his fancy. We have more than a handful of them tucked away in a manilla folder in our desk. To us, he'll have no peer when it comes to sports humor.

Awful Announcing:
The Washington Post's Sports Section in the 90s was unbeatable, and it's sad to see it disintegrate author by author. Some are still there but it just isn't the same.

Finally, let me present what I believe might have been the first Kornheiser column I read upon moving to D.C. Appropriately, the headline read "Speechless." It's a Style column from August 2, 1998. And yeah, this is self-absorbed as heck, but it's my blog, and I'm on vacation, and I started this stupid entry by writing about my lost wallet and dead car battery. If this isn't properly paying homage to Tony, go read his stupid blog. If there are any particular favorites anyone would like me to exhume from the archives, give a holler. Anyhow, it's after the jump.

By now we know everything about Monica Lewinsky. We know about her parents, we know about her former lovers, we know about her taste in clothes and books, we know who does her hair, we know what she eats. We've seen transcripts of her conversations. We know how she thinks.

There's only one thing we don't know about Monica Lewinsky.

So far she hasn't said one word in public. But inevitably Monica is going to look out over all those microphones, beneath that preposterous eggplant of hair, and . . . say something.
We have no idea what she sounds like.

Jeez, what if she sounds like the Nanny?

"Oh, my Gahhhhd, will you look at all these cameras. I'm like totally plotzing here. Oh, Mister Ca-cherrrrris, be a doll, and get me a hankie and some water. Can you believe this? My grandmother would just DIE to see this. Not to mention a certain Miss Robin Eileen Goldblatt from Beverly Hills High School with the size 5 dress and size 12 tuchus she should get a heart attack from envy."

Or what if she sounds like Kerri Strug?

Monica, please, don't speak.

Look what speaking out did to Linda "Testing One, Two, Three" Tripp. After not saying a word for six months, Tripp took center stage the other day and declared herself "an average American. . . . I'm you. I'm just like you."

Excuse me?

You are not like us. We do not always seem to be chewing on a rancid anchovy. We do not always feel underdressed unless we are wearing a wire. And if we strapped a microphone on our inner thigh so the FBI could listen in on our close friend yammering away about excruciatingly embarrassing details of her sex life, and then we sort of copped a smoke when they burst in and hauled her into a back room and tried to scare her witless, igniting a nightmarish national scandal in which that close friend is ridiculed as a liar and a trollop, we would probably feel really, really bad.

Also, our closest confidant isn't the unapologetic Lucianne "The Gaboon Viper" Goldberg. Moreover, we do not ride a broom.

No, Linda, you are not just like us.

Up until now Monica has been Greta Garbo. Her mystery has been her allure. But once Monica opens her mouth, so to speak, her mystery is gone.

From the moment we actually hear from Monica, her career will head straight downhill until she inevitably lands on the set of "Leeza," sitting between the girl who played Cindy Brady and a woman who used to do the nails of Victor Borge's real estate agent.

What can Monica tell us that we don't already suspect? That she had sex with Bill Clinton? Oh, hold Page 1! Look, nobody -- nobody! -- believes Clinton's story that he didn't have sex with this woman. People who believe in flying saucers don't believe this. People who believe O.J. don't believe Clinton's story.

Actually, the conversation between Monica and Ken Starr is not the one I'm most eager to hear. The one I want to hear is the one that will take place somewhere down the road, probably at a Bloomingdale's, when Monica inevitably runs into her old pal Linda. That ought to be a doozy. I'm figuring Monica's opening line will be: "Love what you've done with your hair. It looks a little less like a deceased hyena."

By the way, I'm still trying to figure out what transactional immunity is. It sounds mildly dirty, like protection from sexually transmitted diseases. But transactional immunity seems to be the creme de la creme of immunity. As I understand it, so long as Monica tells the truth, she can testify about anything and not be prosecuted for it, ever. I can imagine Monica arriving before the grand jury with a carton of shoplifted Gap T-shirts, a stash of pot, and six years of old tax records (" . . . and in 1994 I took my mother's Shih Tzu, Wallace, as a dependent . . ."). I'm assuming transactional immunity is connected to a type of psychotherapy that was popular in the 1970s called Transactional Analysis. The key phrase in Transactional Analysis was "I'm okay, you're okay." So I guess in transactional immunity it's "I'm immune, you're immune."

I wonder, though, why Starr granted Monica's mother transactional immunity, too. How does it work? It is like a family pass at Kings Dominion?

Does everybody get to ride free?

You'll forgive me if I seem a little blase about this scandal. It's hard to get excited about whether a president is lying to cover up his sex life given what presidents have lied to cover up in the past. This seems so Mickey Mouse.

Give me a good White House scandal. Give me Watergate. That was a scandal that gave us more than we could have ever expected. And what a cast of characters -- Katzenjammer Kids Haldeman and Ehrlichman, John Mitchell, Martha Mitchell, John Dean, Smokin' Mo Dean, Anthony Ulasewicz, Jeb Stuart Magruder, that whack job Liddy. There were Cuban defectors, political dirty tricks, laundered money. Watergate was a tour de force. In your wildest dreams did you imagine that everything was on tape in the Oval Office? A smoking gun!

Don't you think the lack of a smoking gun is what, shall we say, stains this scandal?

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 14, 2008; 4:44 PM ET
Categories:  Media  
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Next: LoDuca: Anti-Softball Cheers


The reaction to TK will be based on one's age. People like me who were here in DC when Mr. Tony started at the Post will eulogize and miss him. People who only know him in his current quise will wonder what all the fuss is about.

Posted by: A Hardwick | May 14, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

You don't have to be of any age to miss TK's columns. I'm only 21 and fondly remember smirking and smiling over a TK column while waiting for the first class of the day to start in high school. But Mr. Tony's writing had faded into the dark a few years ago and this incarnation of the radio show is a far cry from the original. Its not something we didn't see coming, but still knowing that there will essentially never be another TK column is a little depressing.

Posted by: Joey | May 14, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I'll be speaking live at Suitland Elementary's career day May 23, 2008.

Tickets to the 9 am, 10 am, and 11 am shows are still available.

Posted by: | May 14, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

After the career day four kids tried to off themselves.

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | May 14, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Holy crap is this stuff over the top. First of all, TK will probably still write for the Post whenever he damn well pleases. Earth to WaPo readers: Tom Shales took the buyout and he's still in the paper almost every friggin' day! Shales misplaced his dignity long ago - it's probably stored someplace with his Pulitzer - and so he still waddles himself over to his computer so that Post readers will have the gift of his thoughts on big important shows like "I Want to Marry a Farmer."
Anyway, Kornheiser will still probably file his criminally unfunny bracket picks each year, and may even continue to bless us with his idiotic bon mots on Page 2, aka the biggest waste of prime newspaper space in the country, if not the world.
So stop crying about TK. You think he's gone? He's not gone! He's never gone!

Posted by: afronation | May 14, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

P.S. That Lewinsky column blew chunks

Posted by: afronation | May 14, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I vote for a Wilbon Column on Kornheiser's legacy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

(disclaimer: written by someone acquainted with TK, at least to the point of him knowing my name and recognizing me in person)

I'm shocked by the level of vitriol being spewed by the puck heads and soccer zealots out there.

You know...

I love hockey. I like soccer. I like Tony.

You'd think they were mutually exclusive reading some of the nasty things being written today.

Posted by: odessa steps magazine | May 15, 2008 2:44 AM | Report abuse

no odessa. Soccer and Hockey fans hate all who give them short shrift, but all writers save a few pretend to care more about those sports. Mr. Tony (and some others) are open in their hubris. Refreshing in some ways.

Posted by: Moonshine Mike | May 15, 2008 4:10 AM | Report abuse

I've been missing the Tony Kornheiser columns that were actually worth reading for about 10 years now. Still, I don't understand the vitriol. He did a good job for a long time, and now he's quitting. Let's celebrate what he did well. I'll never forget being 13 years old and picking up the paper each Monday morning to learn the latest fate of the Bandwagon. TK made that whole thing, and it was really neat.

(Side note: I never understood being able to talk endless smack about people while they're alive, but having to "respect the dead" once they kick the bucket. It seems to me that we should be respectful to people while they're alive - for example, when they retire from occupations they were at one point extremely good at - and then let the dirty laundry air out when they can't hear it. Do we think St. Peter is going to deny admission to ascending souls if there's too much chatterboxing going on in the terrestrial realm? Not that this is relevant to anything we're discussing here, except tangentially.)

Posted by: Lindemann | May 15, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Vitrol and Hubris in the same "Comments" section!?!

What a great tribute to TK!

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | May 15, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The Post has had some of the most overrated columnists in history over the past couple of decades led by Kornheiser but closely followed by Tom "Baseball Reveals the Meaning of Life" Boswell and Wilbon. Hopefully, Boswell and Wilbon will soon follow Kornheiser out the door.

Posted by: Jim | May 15, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

So, we all know that DC is the Sports Blogging Capital of the World (TM) and that personalities like Gil and Ovie and Southeast Jerome make that possible. But from reading the comments of the District's sports bloggers, it seems to me like the Post's sports section in 90s, when a lot of us were growing up (or at least at some stage of that process), had a lot to do with it as well.

Think Buzz will ever forgive Tony for that?

Posted by: The AMT | May 15, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that Tony column from 1998. I actually had forgotten why I once really liked his writing and looked forward to it, especially those amazing Sunday Style columns. Watching PTI once in a while and turning on the radio show only occasionally, I had begun to think "why did I think he used to be funny?"

Posted by: OldPhil | May 15, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Old-school TK rules. Throw in some Norman Chad (feud notwithstanding) and that's an entire weekend!
I'll miss you, Tony.
And somewhere in America, Joey T. feels the loss through his smile.

Posted by: Arlington Pimp | May 16, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

OK, I loved his rants in the WP as rants, and when I found him on WTEM it was hard to get out of the car. Remember, those of you calling in to sports talk shows, if you ask "howya doin", its off you go. There are a lot of people working on the air from that radio show, but his columns were classic.

Posted by: jelder | May 22, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

TONY HAS BEEN GONE FROM THE POST FOR A LONG TIME. The buyout just means they can't use his name and mug to advertise that we can watch snippets of his *videos*. Who cares. The guy hasn't written didley squat in YEARS.

Posted by: Oh please | May 23, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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