NO chit-chat with the critic, please

Chron Arts Writer's "How To Deal With Me" Memo Goes National

Douglas Britt is the arts critic

of the

Houston Chronicle

who, somewhat recently, was also ordered to shoulder part of the paper's society coverage.

As a result, he's apparently desperate to manage his time better. So he wrote a 1,400-word memo to arts institutions around town telling them how to deal with him. It's gone national at 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!

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."

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