I was hoping that Bob Hoover, who I understand to be a man of impeccable if questionable editorial standards, might have the courage to respond to the many allegations leveled against him by the blogosphere, but it appears that this week’s biweekly column, while given a Bob Hoover byline, is apparently authored by one Len Barcousky. Could it be that Bob Hoover’s too occupied right now to respond to the facts in that inimitable Hooveresque style? Darn! And here I was hoping that Bob Hoover would tear us a new one! Or perhaps Bob Hoover is a figment of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s imagination! Perhaps Hoover is really Barcousky! Or maybe there really isn’t a Bob Hoover! Which means that the blogosphere expended a good deal of energy defending themselves against the White Rabbit! I don’t know about you, but I won’t be sleeping easy tonight.
Over at Scott’s, Kevin has observed that newspapermen often ignore the rebuttals. In an effort to test Bob Hoover by his own standards and demonstrate just how slovenly we litbloggers can be, I note the following:
1. Bob Hoover’s Career
First off, this biography reveals that Hoover isn’t all that different from litbloggers. For one thing, it appears that he started off as a volunteer book critic for the now defunct Pittsburgh Press. Well, aren’t litbloggers the volunteer book critics of the Internet?
I am not certain that boasting about covering “Sesame Street on Ice” constitutes real journalism. Unless of course Hoover wrote a 4,000 word investigative piece revealing that the skater playing Big Bird was a methadone addict. But then I’m not a man to pass judgment, given that I have a great fondness for Grover.
The most mysterious personal detail is that Hoover “has a degree in English from Ohio University.” What does this mean exactly? Is it a vocational degree? An A.A.? A certificate of attendance printed in English? A thermometer purchased in the Ohio University bookstore? Bob Hoover is apparently a man of mystery. Why also does Bob Hoover mention that he “worked at newspapers” but fails to mention any names? For all we know, the man could have been some guy off the street who put in a few hours a week calling local merchants up for advertising space.
2. Bob Hoover as Journalistic Torchbearer
Bud’s already provided several examples, but because Bob Hoover’s silliness must be exposed in full, here are some of Mr. Hoover’s inaccuracies. It seems that, contrary to Hoover’s claims, the Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette‘s “hawk-eye standards” don’t seem to be practiced nearly as much as Hoover attests.
1. In an online chat, Bob Hoover fails to properly capitalize “MP3.” He also offers this sentence: “The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh can download books on its own mp3 player [sic] which you can borrow.” Mr. Hoover also seems unaware of such basic grammatical rules as the direct object and the indirect object.
2. France is already part of “the Western canon.” There’s no reason to “expand” the Western canon to include a nation already well-established in Europe.
3. Claim: “Mr. Thompson’s contribution to American letters is substantially less than Mr. Bellow’s.” Apparently, Hoover hasn’t heard of gonzo journalism or tracked its development, much less paid attention to the remarkable league of HST imitators, which would suggest that Thompson’s contributions were far more than “substantially less.”
4. Claim: “The current rivals of the newspaper book sections are Oprah, the Internet and the brief puffy reviews found in celebrity-entertainment weeklies.” What planet does this guy live on? Does anyone really read People Magazine for the book reviews?
5. Bob Hoover’s headline: “Mr., Mrs. Chabon tell all.” Aside from the fact that an ampersand is as good as a comma (and more grammatically sound), Michael Chabon’s wife is named Ayelet Waldman, not Mrs. Chabon.
And that’s just after spending about 15 minutes sifting through the Bob Hoover archives.
Of course, to coin a Hooverism, fair is fair. Some people wrote in and lambasted me for calling Pittsburgh a “small town.” Certainly, any city with a population of 334,000 isn’t a “small town.” And you’ll find me on Market Square this weekend, getting dutifully horse-whipped with Bob Hoover. I apologize for my confusion, but Bob Hoover’s prose style reminded me very much of the PennySaver articles I used to read to stave off boredom as a Sacramento teenager.
But if it’s any consolation, folks, I’m rooting for Pittsburgh this Sunday. Go Steelers!