Introducing The Old Crock

 

Way back in the days when I was a 30-something, long before apps, when a pad was a place you slept, and a pod was something aliens placed in the room where you were sleeping in order to create soulless replicas of your slumbering self, I wrote a column called “The Old Crock” for a little paper up in Quincy. The paper was called The Green Mountain Gazette, and I was also its editor for a time. It was a desperately under-funded little weekly, pitted against an entrenched right-wing rag whose publisher had lots and lots of money.

Those of us on the Gazette staff were devoted to a range of good causes, and committed to the notion that “it is a newspaper’s duty to print the truth and raise hell.” We were a little ragtag bunch united in the ambition to do that very thing, and also, whenever possible, “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In other words, we were idealists. We were also pretty young, which is why the title of my humor column was meant to disguise the fact that I was writing it. Under the “Old Crock” byline, I invented a character: a grizzled and rather loopy old mountain dweller with a distinctly cranky, peculiar, and fanciful take on things. I tried to make it funny, and I guess I succeeded because I soon managed to syndicate the column to a whole bunch of other mountain papers up in the Rockies, the Cascades, and elsewhere in the Sierras.

The mask and the anonymity provided by the Old Crock made it possible for me to slip into the local diner on Main Street on the morning the paper came out so I could eavesdrop on people as they reacted to the column, or hear them chuckling over whatever it was I’d written that week. It was voyeurism for compulsive scribblers, a writer’s wet dream, to see and hear the reaction his words are creating as those words are being consumed by readers.

I quit writing that column some three decades ago. Over the course of those intervening years, I morphed into a real old crock—a sometimes curmudgeonly dude with fewer and shorter hairs than the guy who had previously written under that moniker. And, though the U.S. has turned into a decidedly uglier place than it was all those years ago, I also managed to maintain my sense of humor. Mostly.

So, after writing freelance pieces for the Synthesis for the last several months, I’ve decided I should re-name my weekly column in honor of the Old Crock I once was, and the old crock I’ve since become. Some of the pieces readers have found here were meant to be funny, and some weren’t. That’s likely to be the case from here on out, too, though readers should be forewarned that sometimes those columns will attempt to satirize current news or trends by exaggeration or make-believe. For instance, last week, in honor of National Nut Day, I wrote an “open letter to black folks from their friends at the Tea Party.” Several readers took it to be an actual letter, written by the Tea Party to African-Americans. It wasn’t. I wrote it myself, and my purpose was to ridicule the underlying racist attitudes that aren’t difficult to find in any Tea Party gathering.

Comments

  1. Murray Suid says:

    So this is really by an old crock and not someone pretending to be an crock? Write on!

    1. Ken Yuhasz says:

      Jaime,

      Thanks for bringing back the Gazoo memories; I can’t remember the last time I had thought of your “Old Crock” column, and glad that you’re still writing, even if you are old and crock-like. I loved the “Letter from the Tea Party to Black Folks”. I suspected as I read it that some folks would mistake it for an actual missive from the Far Out Right.

      Ken Yuhasz

  2. Bill Ockama says:

    Sounds like an apology for something stupid you wrote.

  3. A. Pistoffreader says:

    Yes, a CROCK alright. Everything I’ve read from this guy is a crock. Crock of s***.