Mr. Houston's Opus

Look at that smug mug.

 Once upon a time, William Houston had a column in the Globe and Mail where he reported on sports media issues. I don't know what he did before because I was only seven and he's not interesting or famous. He was happily trudging along until, as so often happens in the newspaper industry, he hit the age where it made sense for him to be canned. Sorry, 'offered early retirement'. No doubt media companies lined up to hire a blue-chip stalwart of the industry but despite their best efforts William decided that he would kick off on his own. So armed with clip art in his banner and a nascent understanding of 'computers' he embarked on the path trod by so many people with opinions no one cares about: he started a blog.

For the most part, it didn't quite fill the gap in media coverage that was needed. Other than unloading on Damien Cox for daring to suggest that the Kessel was not one of the seven seals of The Apocalypse, it was forgettable; unlike his actions over the past two days. The funny thing is that what he wrote was superficially germane to a debate that we had on our site about anonymous sources. A lot of people had issue with Damien Cox lobbing a grenade at the departing Maple Leafs and his protection of his source. The next day James Mirtle did something similar and it apparently signaled the death of journalism and boy did Houston let him know it! Even Deadspin's interest in the craziness was piqued.

Needless to say, most people here were stunned at the ad hominem attacks on Zelkovich for his looks and James Mirtle for indirectly being the Santa Ana to Houston's Alamo. To give you a good sense of how monumentally random and unfair the hatchet job was: Cox Bloc came out of retirement. The second last comment by Kim Jorn gets to the heart of the issue. If a journalist has your trust, like Mirtle, then you'll give them more leeway on anonymous sources. If their name is Steve Simmons, then you wonder about his angle.

But the pinnacle of the reaction lies in all of the comments that it spawned on Houston's initial post! Oh, weird. There aren't any anymore. Wonder why...Well, after racking up almost 200 comments worth of "Are you crazy?" and "ummm you used anonymous sources on this very web blog!" he published a passive-aggressive response to his detractors which you have to read on that twitpic because our friend Bill decided to delete that entry and all of the comments. Somewhere along the line a lovable scamp started a William Houston Twitter account. I suggested on Twitter that it might be funny to drop William a line to welcome him to Twitter:

Hi Bill,

I gave you quite a bit of guff on your last two posts especially about being senile and bitter and kind of crazy and a hypocrite (all valid of course, don't be such a delicate flower).

However, I've noticed that you joined Twitter (www.twitter.com/BHTruthRumor) I wanted to congratulate you for coming into the 21st century. Sure, it's not statistical wonkery yet but at your age anything more than baby steps might break your hip.

Best Regards,

Not a fan.

I know at least a few other people sent in messages. SkinnyFish's was charmingly sweet:

Hey Bill,

Long time reader, first time commenter. Glad to see you've joined Twitter. I look forward to your tweets about your latest articles.

http://twitter.com/BHTruthRumor

Needless to say, I didn't think that I would get a reply but what I got was so much more than just a simple reply:

 

From: William Houston
To: PPP

Hey, I love it. Is your site still up?

Well that's flattering. He's heard of this site. He's having trouble figuring out if it's still online so let me help him out.

From: PPP
To: William Houston

Unless you've contracted out to have it eliminated, it is.

If I've learned anything in life it's that people with juice can sometimes go to extremes. Better play it safe. Maybe he actually cares...

From: William Houston
To: PPP

who knew

Oh, he wasn't concerned :( Turns out he's a bit of a dick.

From: PPP
To: William Houston

Look at who's finally figured out how to be snarky! Good for you Billo. It'll stand in you good stead as an unemployed blogger.

Well two can play that game! Secretly, I like to think that 'Billo' is what set him off.

From: William Houston
To: PPP

No, you're just a moron. But sort of funny.

Why so serious Mr. Jerk Store?

From: PPP
To: William Houston

Tut, tut, tut you delicate flower. It is so unbecoming for a Globe and Mail journalist to stoop to ad hominem attacks...oh...wait...

Only two words are needed here: Boom. Roasted. Then I noticed that there had been some creative editing done by William and was curious about what happened. It was mostly innocent.

From: PPP
To: William Houston

Hey Billo,

Where'd today's column go?

Aaaaaand that set him off.

From: William Houston
To: PPP

You're just a loser, Julian. It is Julian, isn't it? And a coward. You're a frightened little man, a bit malicious, which is okay, but no balls. You won't attach your name to your attacks. Pathetic, but you're kind of funny. I've enjoyed this.

There's so much funny in there. Frightened? Of an old man? Sorry I can't come to your house but this is e-mail. Enough with the kid gloves...

From: PPP
To: William Houston

hahaha you have got to be kidding me. I know you're likely not too familiar with newfangled technology like e-mail but my full name is at the bottom of every e-mail. Maybe you can't find it but it's Julian [Redacted]. Now you don't have to struggle in vain to find it.
 
As for being a coward, that's pretty fresh coming from a guy that used his newfound editorial freedom to take shots at a friend of mine that you most certainly have never had the guts to say to his face. No balls? Don't make me laugh. I'll stand behind anything I write. Who's the one that took down his latest post? Gutless. But that's fine. You can keep your haughty sense of misplaced superiority.

The funny thing is that you had been providing a lot of what people were looking for from someone in a Toronto media that is so rarely introspective but you, for reasons likely beyond my ken, decided to take the low road.

Congratulations and all of the best going forward.

Sincerely,

Julian [Redacted]

Alright old man. Let's see what you have.

From: William Houston
To: PPP

Oh, I've been taking shots at friends of yours. Oh noooo. I feel so badly. Truth is, you're a pathetic piece of shit who can't function as a real journalist so you operate that awful blog. Struck a nerve, didn't I Julian? Because you're a pathetic hack who can't write and will never amount anything. By the time I was in my 30s I'd written two best selling books. You? You're a nothing. Nobody knows who you are or cares. Good luck pal. You'll need it.

"I'M A MAN! I WROTE TWO BEST-SELLER BEFORE I WAS THIRTY!"

Now, this part actually made me laugh. If I ask 100 sports fans who the Globe and Mail media critic was before Bruce Dowbiggin, I am guessing 105 would have no clue who he was. Then SkinnyFish suggested I take a look to see if there was a way to judge each site's traffic and, wouldn't you know it, there is Alexa.com.

Let's look at Truth and Rumours: Alexa traffic rank 696,025 and 29,492 in Canada. Wow. Initially I thought that was awesome. Of course, I wouldn't have even mentioned it if I didn't already know how this ended. Pension Plan Puppets: Alexa traffic rank 395,171 and 12,001 in Canada. I just have one question for you Billo. But wait, there's more!

From: PPP
To: William Houston

HAHAHA Talk about small man's syndrome. Why not leave what you wrote up? What's the problem if everyone is beneath you?
 
I don't know whether to laugh or cry for you and your colleague's blinkered view that all bloggers are just j-school washouts that couldn't hack it in the lofty realm of sports journalism. Struck a nerve? More like my funny bone. My site's a hobby and not a last ditch attempt at relevance in an industry that has passed you by and sent you out to pasture. I think it's pretty clear what nerve's been struck.

But congratulations on having written two best selling books by the time you were in your thirties. I am sure in the 1920s that was a spectacular achievement.

As for people not knowing who I am or caring, I think you're projecting.

After some quick replies Billo stopped replying. I'm glad you've read this far but if you just skimmed to the bottom then here is the result of the exchange in video form:

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