Monday, May 11, 2009

Not THAT Van Gogh


In a story brought to us by the folks over at the PalmBeachPost.com (who should really be thinking about the state of the newspaper industry these days and be thankful they still have a job in spite of what would appear to be a rather poor excuse for journalistic reporting), it would appear, judging from the content of this article, that they are under the impression that their average reader is somewhat of a moron. It's either that or they are under the impression that the average page that they have to fill with 'news' is rather large and they should therefore try to substitute something else other than news to help fill up that vast empty space. Similar to the one in their heads. Here's the scoop:

According to the PBP, "Vincent Van Gogh was busted on a cocaine charge. No, not Vincent Van Gogh, the 19th-century post-impressionist painter who died in poverty and found fame after his death. But Vincent Vladimer Van Gogh, 42, of Delray Beach, according to our news partners at The Sun Sentinel." OK, good. Now we have someone to blame. The Sun Sentinel folks. Good to know. I've made a note. Onward...

The very brief account of what happened basically states that Mr. van Gogh was pulled over and had some crack cocaine on him and was subsequently charged with possession and driving on a suspended license. Pretty routine. You'd think that the story could stop there. I wish that it had. But no. Instead, it continued on with this:

Vincent Vladimer Van Gogh, 42, of Delray Beach is charged with possession of cocaine and driving with a suspended license.



Vincent Van Gogh, the 19th-century post-impressionist painter died in poverty and found fame after his death.

All right. That's enough. Do they REALLY think that we're going to be SO confused as to WHICH Vincent van Gogh was arrested for POSSESSION of COCAINE while DRIVING a vehicle that they felt the need to give us a pictorial which would help us differentiate between the two and avoid any unnecessary slander that the painting Mr. van Gogh might incur due to confusion of which one was which? Really?

Born in 1853. For the purposes of this "story", does it matter when he died? NO, it doesn't! And for two reasons. Reason Number One is because he's dead! He can't be driving around with all of the cocaine (allegedly) if he's dead! Reason Number Two is if we were genuinely getting confused as to which van Gogh was a coke freak, we'd say to ourselves, "Selves...the guy who painted and cut off his ear (allegedly!) would be 156 years old if HE were the one DRIVING around Florida with cocaine. I guess it's safe to say that the reputation of van Gogh the painter has not been tarnished by the evils of drugs. What a relief." Then again, with that kind of brain power, you're not going to be confused as to which van Gogh was arrested. Really.

But just to make sure that we're really not confused, The Sun Sentinel throws in "The alleged criminal changed his name to the famous one. He was named Vincent Rossman when he served nearly two years in prison in the late 1990s for leaving the scene of a traffic homicide, records show." (Sounds like a stand-up guy, doesn't he?) Just so we're clear! He might be named Vincent van Gogh now, but he wasn't named Vincent van Gogh before, so he's still not Vincent van Gogh, the artist. Got it?

I'm not sure you do. The Sun Sentinel is positive you don't. Why else would they include this fascinating tidbit (translation: not fascinating) to illustrate some sort of irony or hyperbole or illusion or folklore? I don't know what they were going for or what they were getting at, but they let us know "Artist van Gogh, known for his paintings like "Starry Night," is said to have been a hard user of absinthe, also known as the "cocaine of the 19th century." Ah-HA!!

See?! Do you see?! See the connection?! No? Yeah, it's a stretch all right. Of course! Of course we might have been confused as to which van Gogh was just recently arrested because aside from them both having the same name, now they both like to do cocaine. Allegedly. Coincidence? I think not. Implying that there's some sort of weird JFK-Abraham Lincoln-esque connection here? You're gettin' warmer!


And to continue along the same lines of "news we can use", the story concludes with another incident that will no doubt leave the average moronic reader perplexed all over again when the reader learns "
In other news, Boynton Beach police also arrested Beethoven on a battery charge Monday night. That is, Beethoven Ermilus, 22, of Boynton Beach, jail records show."

And again, in the same fashion as applicable for the van Gogh arrest, I ask, Really? Not the piano composer, idol of Schroeder, who died in 1827? Are you sure it wasn't him? What about the dog? That big St. Bernard in those wacky 90s movies? Was it the dog? Please don't let it be the dog!

This is troubling on a number of different levels. First, of course, is that the "story" is attempting to fool the reader into thinking that it is actually "news". But it's the second and third points that bother me the most. Second, someone had to think it was a good idea to write this thing up and third, someone else (most likely) had to approve it. Not just one person thought this was print/press worthy, at least TWO people thought so. ::: sigh :::

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