It was incorrectly stated that Trevor Losh-Johnson wrote this article. The actual author is Armando Gomez. Gomez regrets this error.
Over a seven-month period last year, sixty staff members of the Santa Barbara News-Press either resigned or were fired. The sudden liquidation was in protest and the result of alleged attempts on the part of owner Wendy McCaw to influence and control the paper’s content. Acrimony between McCaw and her own paper seemed to have reached its zenith, and anyone walking downtown on De La Guerra Street could observe the patches of picketing union members – all of whom wore black shirts and stoic countenances. Former Executive Editor Jerry Roberts received the P.E.N. Society’s First Amendment award on Nov. 7, as you assiduously recorded. In your article you classed the award as one that “honors those who brave personal consequences in order to protect freedom of expression.”
What surprises me, then, is your paper neglected to document the brave resignation of Opinion and Artsweek writer Zach Phillips. Allegedly, the Nexus refused to print a particular piece by Phillips. It was a review of himself – for the most part favorable. He was told – again, allegedly – that it was too “esoteric.”
I found Phillips in an I.V. bar (of the most debauched kind), nursing an appletini in one hand and his head in the other.
“Why would they think such a thing,” he asked, in a whimper I have not heard since I watched a child robbed of her Happy Meal… by Phillips. “I never meant to be esoteric. I only wanted to be snide,” he choked. “If I had wanted to write an article that could be described as a philosophical doctrine or treatise designed for a select circle of initiates, I would have written for The Bottom Line.”
He then confided in me about the Daily Nexus’ prior and crass history of censorship. In a column written by UCSB’s improv troupe Improvability – a shameful and transparent advertisement masquerading as an opinion piece, whose only motive was to advertise its weekly shows Friday nights in Embarcadero Hall, 8 p.m. – a significant portion was excised. It apparently involved Phillips and a compromising procedure in the restrooms.
The real tragedy here: UCSB has lost a fine and uncompromising reporter. Now we read columns by philosophy majors who think Nietzsche was an “existential philosopher.” The Wednesday Hump has gone from naughty and slinky to creepy – and at best uninformed. Every lady of Santa Barbara should guard her health and decline to swallow her beau’s semen.
Who, in his review of Paul Haggis’ “In the Valley of Elah,” had the gumption to do the muckraking required to reveal Haggis was in fact a writer for “Walker, Texas Ranger”? Phillips. Who, in an op-ed last quarter, had the courage to write an entire column in the guise of his own mentula? Phillips. Who has led us into this brave new quarter, in which we read entire columns devoted to semicolons; in which we read rebuttals to entire columns devoted to semicolons? I say Phillips.
As for Phillips, I believe he will prevail. He has a circle of friends who love him, and to whom he owes money – ensuring their companionship. He claims to have a talking mentula, which apparently speaks in a Southern drawl. He has a lovely girlfriend. No one has beaten the odds as he has. He may not receive any First Amendment prize – I believe a candidate must have circulation that isn’t free – but I think he will find his redemption. Watching him stand beside his lovely girlfriend is a bit like observing a swan dancing and floating in the moonlight beside a dingleberry. And although he has dropped himself from the coyote-bottomed Daily Nexus, I believe he shall find his share of excrement upon the ground. He shall rake it. And hair outlasts our bodies. At least, if this universe has a sense of justice as uncompromising as the following quotation found on www.imdb.com, it will be so.
Rapist: Ranger, you screwed up! You forgot to read us our rights.
Ranger Cordell Walker: You’re right! You have the right (kicks the rapist) to remain silent.
You are no rapist, Phillips. You do not have the right to remain silent.