Back before the Iron Bowl, a writer for Deadspin asked to interview me for a story he was writing on how it is that dudes that write for Deadspin know who Paul Finebaum is: will his shtick work nationally, should it work nationally, does he have the talent to make it work nationally, is Harvey Updyke the best thing to ever happen to him?
Days went by. Weeks. Months. I thought they had scrapped the thing, and my paranoia over being misquoted and taken out of context and being made to look a general fool who despite being editor of the greatest of all possible Auburn websites actually doesn’t know all that much about football, etc. kind of had me wishing that they had (I could still truthfully tell people I’d been interviewed by Deadspin). This was Deadspin for crying out loud; they can smell that kind of fear and make animated GIFs out of it.
“I’m surprised how well Finebaum seems to have translated nationally,” says Jeremy Henderson, editor of the War Eagle Reader, “because the stuff he’s talking about is mostly Auburn and Alabama fans screaming at each other.”
… and (punching bag… sure, why not):
Finebaum got his start in radio appearing on morning shows in Birmingham in the mid-1980s, when he was a columnist for the Post-Herald. As the Auburn blog editor Henderson remembers it, the morning show hosts brought the writer in as a punching bag
… and lastly:
“He isn’t just giving voice to the Auburn-Alabama rivalry,” Henderson said. “He now has the power to actually affect it, to permanently change the narrative. The main story line of this year’s Iron Bowl—I’ve already nicknamed it Toomer’s Karma—was essentially written by his producers. His producers put Updyke on the air. His producers took the concerned call from the Auburn horticulture professor who heard Updyke on the air. His producers pulled the audio for police. After Updyke’s arrest, his producers put him back on the air. And back on the air. And back on the air.”
Though surely some syntax was lost in translation in that first quote, I generally come away sounding not like a jackass / dick (say what you will, but Paul was tres nice when I interviewed him), which was the goal. Thus achieved, the experience can officially be remembered as one of the tiny personal victories that dot the recent calendars of my career–perfectly-timed air bubbles in the Aquatic Ruin Zone of this Sonic The Hedgehog 2 we call our early 30s.
Thanks to Jack Dickey, the writer. He wrote late last night to thank me again. And to offer his condolences for Bama’s win. Deadspin and TWER, BFFs.