A reporter getting stuck with new duties -- especially if those duties include covering society -- might be expected to be a little touchy about things.
And Houston Chronicle arts critic/society writer Douglas Britt sounds like he's a bit stretched. He's written a 1,400-word memo to arts organizations in Houston, and parts of it are so over the top it's gotten national attention on Gawker.
Much of it is good common-sense info to PR people on how to get publicity. And some of it, well, isn't:
When I'm at your gallery, make the most of my time there:
1) I know this is going to sound catty, cranky and misanthropic. But PLEASE STOP ASKING what it's like covering society, how do I do it all, how many times I go out a week, if I'm having fun, when do I sleep, etc. The answer, which will never change, is that doing both is like trying to thread a needle while swatting flies - all while being shot out of a cannon. Now you know.
1a) And PLEASE STOP TELLING ME how busy I am (I know), how prolific I am (I know), what a breath of fresh or stale air I am, etc., etc., etc. Every second we spend on that kind of chatter drains the life out of me, frankly makes me uncomfortable AND DOESN'T TELL ME ANYTHING I NEED TO KNOW. No more limping out of galleries after a 30-minute conversation in which I leave knowing no more than I did when I came in.
Dealing with the hoi polloi! The horror!
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Some commenters have been less than kind:
-- "On one hand, he provides valuable information for people who have shows to promote; on the other, the whole 'Heavens to Betsy, my job covering fluff IS SO TERRIBLY DIFFICULT AND DRAINING' tone of the e-mail is off-putting. Hey, Douglas: Try working a few weeks at a Taco Bell for minimum wage and see how demanding you think writing your little A&E column is."
-- "When I'm at your gallery, make the most of my time there:
1. Do provide hand-peeled grapes.
2. Don't stop kissing my ass.
3. Do remark on my charming good looks.
4. Don't beg or whine for me to play hump hump, as I only have time for myself and my full-length mirror (unless you are a multiple-badge earning Boy Scout, alter boy, or of that ilk).
5. Do see items 1-4."
-- "I'd be bitchy if I had to hang with Houston's oil money/ladies-who-lunch crowd, too. On the other hand, you have an actual paying job in print journalism, Dougie. Stick a cork in it."