Nearly two years to the day since my last re-assignment, I have received word — sotto voce — that I will return to my former duties at the Orange County Register as the fearless voice for classical music in the suburban hinterlands. I will, in short, no longer be my newspaper’s celebrated celebrity columnist on Page Two, skewering the famous with my relentless wit and mischievous prose, but instead, once again, dabble in the ultra-elitist art of music criticism full time somewhere in the back pages of the newspaper, past Dear Abby, past the pet stories, past the bridge column — just keep going, OK? — where, no doubt, the young and innocent will be protected from my words and where, what’s more, snobs such as the likes of me truly belong.
The timing of said shift (why do I sound like Sounds and Fury?) has yet to be exactly determined, thus the sotto voce announcement, though I assure you it was official. “That’s going to happen,” were, I believe, the exact words of the announcement, uttered in reply to a query, not mine, concerning the future of one Tim Mangan and whether he might become, given the shocking changes currently rocking the Register these days, the fearless voice for classical music etc. that he previously was.
With a new, young and ambitious owner now ensconced, the Orange County Register, I’m convinced, will soon be the talk of the newspaper industry. How to put it in a nutshell? Let me put it this way: We’re hiring. In the newsroom alone, we will be hiring 23 persons, including copy editors, a restaurant critic, a car writer, a Dodgers writer and — gasp — a movie critic. We will be beefing up the print product with more pages — including a daily business section of 8 pages — and install a pay wall on the website. A weekly Sunday magazine (glossy) is forecast. Writers will no longer be valued (or scorned) for the number of page views they rack up. In such a climate, naturally, you return Tim Mangan to his old beat.
Needless to say, I’m cheered by the news. Maybe more relieved than cheered though. Writing the celebrity column these last two years has been an experience that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, if I had one. No, wait. I would. That would be perfect.