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!
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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."