Friday, January 9, 2009
My favorite columnist
No disrespect to my favorite Plain Dealer writers. But my favorite local political columnist these days is Mansfield B. Frazier of CoolCleveland.com.
Frazier wrote the best stuff out there about the fight over who should succeed Fannie Lewis on Cleveland City Council. His CoolCleveland piece on how Obama-worship is getting out of hand was so funny, the Plain Dealer picked it up as an op-ed.
His column this week is a very personal, suspenseful, and terrifying story about his son and ex-wife -- and it ends with a sudden but effective turn to the gay-rights battle brewing in Cleveland.
Journalists often lament that our profession has gotten too professional, no longer a haven for interesting characters. Guess they don't know Frazier. This week's column attests to the wild life he's lived. So does his 1995 book, From Behind the Wall -- the author's bio notes he's been "arrested 15 times on felony charges and convicted 5 times."
Sometimes I wish CoolCleveland edited him more, to hone the rough diamond and ask the unanswered question (such as, Do you really think your wife did what she hinted at? If so, how?). On the other hand, his rough edges are part of the fun.
This became obvious when I compared Frazier's original Obama column and the edited version in the Plain Dealer. Most of the edits improved it (including the helpful correction that the plural of "honky" is "honkies"). But PD readers lost his aside about the late Ms. Lewis ("sharing only went so far with Fannie"), his assessment of Obama as "cooler than Frosty the Snowman," and a great digression about a Harlem street hustler nicknamed Seldom Seen, who "knew that in all cultures and societies, too much access deflates value and diminishes cachet."
There's no archive page for all Frazier's columns, like fellow CoolCleveland columnist Roldo Bartimole's blog. But you can go through the CoolCleveland archives and find a link to Frazier's column in each issue. Also, he's got a new gig with TheDailyBeast.com (so far he's written about how alleged pyramid-schemer Bernard Madoff will like prison). Plenty of Mansfield for us to dig into.