Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ol' Charlie LeDuff

I've been reading terrific, first-person reports from the seedier-side-of-life by Charlie LeDuff in the New York Times for the past ten years. He had a brilliant column in The City section during the late 90s entitled "Bending Elbows", which essentially involved Charlie going to NYC dive bars and writing about whoever he met. I always wondered how he got that job, and assumed he was some old codger who conned his editors into publishing his drinking tales after working for years at the Times.

I liked his book Work and Other Sins, and even with a photo on the cover, and knowing he had won a Pulitzer Prize, I still thought he was some old boozebag on his last legs.

Imagine how surprised I was last night when I flipped on the Discovery Times (don't ask, I didn't know it existed either) channel and found that ol' Charlie has his own show called "Only In America." Imagine how much more surprised I was when it turned out that he's 39, and kind of a fox. His show presents a brand of Hunter S. Thompson "participatory journalism," where Charlie immerses himself each week into a subculture of America such as New York modeling, gay rodeos or arena football. The show is pretty funny, but veers dangerously close into being ALL about Charlie instead of about the story. Additionally, he's been accused of plagarism on several occasions. What's that saying - don't let the truth get in the way of a good story??

At any rate, he's certainly charismatic, and I bet in person, you'd either love him or want him killed instantly. P.S. I think he might look a little like Vincent Gallo.

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