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News of the Smug

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To the editors:

The 11/24 letter from Rita E. Bell ("News of the Disgusting") inspired me to take a look at the 11/24 "News of the Weird" column.

My favorite item was this: "Jesse Aguilar, 42, coach of a Little League team and allegedly obsessed with his star pitcher, a 16-year-old girl, shot himself to death in August in Loomis, California."

The "author" of the column, Chuck Shepherd, offers no commentary on this, so I guess this means that Aguilar's weirdness speaks for itself. Still, it's not very clear to me exactly what Shepherd found weird about the story. Was it Aguilar's obsession with a woman 26 years his junior? Was it Aguilar's coaching a Little League team? Was it his coaching a girls' Little League team and not exacting sexual favors from his players? Was it his killing himself? Or was it some combination of these elements? I'm sure that if I could figure out what Shepherd found weird about this, the entertainment value of this no-doubt hilarious story would be clear to me.

Ms. Bell should not be at all surprised that the Reader publishes Shepherd's column. Smug superiority is a major characteristic of the Reader. You see it weekly in the "Strait Dope" whose author doesn't realize that his persona got tiresome years ago. You see it in some of the second-string drama critics who occasionally insult a play by saying it's something that their landlord or their mother would like. You sometimes see it in the obnoxious-ass headings that the Reader occasionally puts on letters to the editor.

Aguilar is laughable not because of any particular element of his story, but because he's not one of us hip Reader folks. He's in "News of the Weird" because he's not one of us. And we know he's not one of us because he's in "News of the Weird." It all makes sense, I predict a brilliant future at the Reader for Chuck Shepherd, a gifted writer.

A. Dobrovitz

N. Rockwell

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