I have the best readers. It's fitting, since I am the greatest writer in the history of newspapers.
Ernest Hemingway? Jack London? Pete Dexter?
Not only am I the newspaper's industry's brightest star, but I also am its most benevolent. It pains me not to occasionally climb off my golden throne to allow my readers a voice in this column.
In a way, it's like I have hundreds, nay, billions of adoring pen pals, each with interesting and enlightening things to say about my poetry. I will share with you a few of their thoughts, sent to me via email over the past few weeks.
Take it away, my newly empowered subjects:
"Your article is absolute garbage. Prior to degrading one of America's most prestigious liberal arts and sciences colleges, I would suggest you do a bit of research. Beloit College has consistently been ranked a top 60 school on U.S. News' annual LAC rankings list ... This list garners media attention because it is a fun read. To degrade a college's merit because of a PR/media move is plain ignorant."
— Andrew R., Beloit College '10
Turns out Beloit College grads are a touchy bunch. A few weeks back, I poked fun at it's annual "College Mindset List," which provides cultural touchstones and historical events that shaped the lives of incoming freshmen. Basically, it argues that college professors should remember that, you know, younger generations have different perspectives than their elders. Genius stuff, I know.
I'm sure Beloit College is a fine institution, Andrew. That list, however, is garbage and hurts its credibility. Google "Beloit College" and see what pops up.
I got a few angry rants thrown my way over that one.
"You have slandered one of the country's best liberal arts universities ... I can't believe they let you write for the public."
It seems that possessing a sense of humor isn't an entrance requirement for Beloit.
Turning the page, it stands to reason if you write a review of a Bob Dylan album, that his legion of fans will have a few things to say in response.
"I was very pleased that you gave a favorable review of Dylan's latest masterpiece ("Tempest"). I have been a rabid Dylan fan since my best friend introduced me to him in 1964. I have to make one minor correction to the column though. The name of his classic 1967 Dylan album was "John Wesley Harding," not Hardin."
— Bill F.
Okay, so what happened is, I accidentally left the "g" off "Harding" because I wait until the last minute to crank out this column each week. Of course, I know it's "John Wesley Harding."
Bottom line: I'm an idiot and need to be more careful.
The "Tempest" review kicked up a lot of dust across the Internets. My inbox was slammed with Dylan-ites from across the country.
I've since downloaded the album and have listened to it once a day since Tuesday. It's actually getting better with each listen.
I'm a sucker for storytelling albums. They are like reading a book of short stories. Check out Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "Murder Ballads," which tells gruesome tales in the same vein as "Tempest."
I had a few readers ask which are my favorite Dylan albums. For the record they are, in order:
5. "Highway 61 Revisited" — favorite track, "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry."
4. "John Wesley Harding" — favorite track, "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest."
3. "Blonde on Blonde" — favorite track, "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again."
2. "Bringing It All Back Home" — favorite track, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)."
1. "Nashville Skyline" — favorite track...the whole album.
"I love Bob Dylan and look forward to listening to 'Tempest,' I also like Wilco a lot, and remember that you had a column last winter about heading north to take in a concert."
— John L.
A reminder: Wilco is playing the Britt Festival on Sept. 25. I believe there are plenty of tickets available. Wilco was added at the last minute and is not on any of the fliers mailed when the season was announced earlier this year. Check them out.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.