Friday, July 23, 2010

Requiem for a Lost Soul




Steve Crow died this Tuesday. It's hard to characterize my association with Steve as a friendship but maybe it was. Steve and I worked for the same guy for about 15 years...we saw each other just about every day. We were friendly, we shared conversation on the job and tried to help each other out but we didn't hang out together after work or socialize much other than just on the job. You see, Steve and I were from different worlds...I was just an old working family man and Steve was a drug addict. He was a functioning addict and always seemed to be able to hold a job and keep a roof over his head. Steve was one of those guys that you liked in spite of yourself...though you may have detested the lifestyle he was trapped in, Steve's personality and antics always made you smile. He tried to clean himself up on several occasions and succeeded for short periods of time but he could never stay completely straight for long. I guess the monkey on his back finally killed him, his body was found in the second floor bathroom at the Jackson Hotel, here in Aransas Pass. The paper said syringes and narcotics were found in his room and that an autopsy was ordered. So, why am I telling you all this? I guess because nobody deserves to die unnoticed and unremembered and this is probably as close to an obituary or eulogy as Steve will get. I know only a couple of people will read it but at least I know that it's here, on the web...on a public forum and maybe a few people will glance at it sometime. Steve wasn't a pillar of the community, wasn't a role model for ANYONE, wasn't a shining star for sobriety but neither was he a blackhearted villain...he had worth as a human being. So, was Steve a friend or just one of those characters that come and go? I guess if the measure of friendship can be as simple as whether you miss someone when they're no longer around, then he was a friend. RIP Steve.
I found out about Steve's death while reading our local paper...I was shocked...because of his death but also because it was printed in the paper. The Aransas Pass Progress can't rightly be called a newspaper...that's a complete misnomer. It's more of what's called in the trade, a fluff rag. If you want to know who has an 83 chevy for sale or what was on the menu at the Garden Club luncheon or who's grand kids are visiting for the week, then the Progress is for you. If you want journalistic integrity and concise accurate reporting of an actual news story, you better look someplace else. It's just not what they do. Bodies are pulled out of the harbor, people kill each other and commit suicide...you would never know it by reading the Progress...never a word! They'll tell you what was covered at the city council meeting or the chamber of commerce meeting or any such thing but not a word about what happens on the streets. Aransas Pass is a rough little town, always has been. There are probably a dozen deaths by drug overdose here every year but you never read about them in the paper. That's why I was so stunned to see the story about Steve...on the front page, above the fold. Why does everyone else get a pass and Steve gets dragged through the mud? I don't know. Could it be because they knew nobody would be buying space in their paper for an obituary? ...nah. Could it be because it was a slow news week and they had to have SOMETHING to fill that empty space on the front page? ...don't think so. Maybe it was because the Jackson Hotel is only half a block from the Progress office and when they heard the sirens down the street , they all rushed out of the office with visions of Pulitzer Prizes dancing in their befuddled heads and ran across the street for the realization of their dream...a real news story that they didn't have to pull off the wire, get in a press packet or receive as a reader submission? ...a real possibility. Or could it be that they just screwed up? The city is trying to reinvent itself. The council and the good old boy network that runs this town are trying to attract the tourism trade...to do that, they need to sweep the rough and tumble image of this town's past under the rug and paint a picture of sweetness and light. Could it be that in this one particular case, with the flush of excitement still fresh from their visit to the sordid scene, they forgot to follow the party line...NO NEGATIVE NEWS? I don't know but this little paper seems to go through quite a few editors, like the city goes through city managers. When I was a young man in college, studying journalism, they taught us that the holy grail of the reporter was the five W's...who, what, where, when and why. Any good story had to have those 5 things but they also taught us that there were two essential things a paper must be in order to stay in business, one; you have to be right...better not print it if it's not true and two; you've got to be fair. I guess they got the five W's right and I guess they got the facts straight but I don't think they were very fair...not to Steve and not to their readers!

2 comments:

Wendy said...

May Steve Rest in Peace! You need to send this too the paper John, it's good!

shutterflycutie said...

I agree with Wendy...I think this should be submitted to the "fluff rag" as it is so appropriately referred to in your comments. I remember when it was a real newspaper. Another part of the history ripped from the town by city officials and their ideas for improvements! I suppose I am giving away the fact that I am in the "older" generation we used to talk about....sigh