Sunday, July 21, 2024

Amazingly, The Cambridge Chronicle has picked up Paul McMorrow’s piece from the Weekly Dig bashing Ben Affleck. There is no connection between the two papers that I know of, which means the editor of the Chronicle was either desperate for material, sympathetic to the content or coming to the end of the fiscal year and must spend, spend, spend.

The article, “This man must be stopped,” appears on the front page of the Chronicle, labeled as commentary. This is odd. Commentary rarely appears on the front page of newspapers, including the Chronicle. But that’s just the start.

It is also odd, for instance, to see the Dig’s hipper-than-thouness, which blasts Affleck for talking as though he’s from Cambridge even though he’s been gone a while (and, oh yes, wasn’t born here), transplanted into the Chronicle, which … well, let me put it this way: Taking up the entire top half of its “Cantabrigia” section this week is a picture of friendly, smiling nerds, three-sevenths of them in purple shirts, smiling and holding musical instruments such as French horns and violins. This is the Radius Ensemble. They play chamber music. They provided this picture. Go see them.

So snarky Affleck-sucks-because-he-used-the-word-“enervate”-wrong-and-he’s-popular pieces seems a little odd here, especially for publication in an issue being distributed around town free. Presumably the Chronicle expects this bold, antiestablishment statement against a city booster to endear it to the cool kids who read stuff such as the Dig instead of stuff such as the Chronicle. And this would work, presumably, because they like Cambridge and don’t want someone as uncool as Affleck to like it, too.

I wish the Chronicle luck on its mission to win hearts by rabidly attacking someone who loves its city. Unfortunately, about those cool people who don’t read the Chronicle? They’re almost certain to not be from Cambridge. So it’s a little alienating to see the Chronicle crucifying Affleck for his love of the place by banishing him with: “Affleck is not a Cantabrigian. He is an ex-Cantabrigian … Bankruptcy only stays with an individual for eight years; why, 13 years after he mercifully left Cambridge, must this stain remain on our record?” I love Cambridge, and I’m not from here. Is something wrong with me? Must I stop loving Cambridge if I leave to move back to California?

I know a lot of people think it’s cool to bash celebrities, even or especially if they seem like normal, pleasant down-to-earth people. But I don’t. As someone who loves Cambridge as Affleck does, thanks for the free issue, Cambridge Chronicle. I guess I’ll be seeing you the next time you send a free issue.

Although if I want to see what you’re publishing next month, I guess I can always pick up the current copy of the Weekly Dig.

Note: When I called the Radius Ensemble “nerds,” it was an observation, not criticism. They generally look like people I would enjoy knowing. I would sleep with at least three of them. But smiling, talented people in bright shirts toting musical instruments should be used to being assessed as nerds.