Verlyn Klinkenborg writes for the New York Times editorial page and is absolutely unbearable. He writes twee musings about his farm. In the world's greatest newspaper. Two years ago, I asked him to stop. Instead, he's gotten worse than ever.
Maybe if you really love farms, or the sound of the whispering wind in the fall in the willows by the cows at the twilight with the whippoorwills, you can tolerate, or even, yes, enjoy Verlyn Klinkenborg's musings. For those of you, I say: enjoy them somewhere else. In Pork Magazine, perhaps. The NYT editorial page is valuable real estate, and I submit to you, dear reader, that that valuable real estate is being wasted on a regular basis, by Verlyn Klinkenborg. He has been allotted precious space in recent weeks to opine on the following topics:
His barber, and the relative ease (or lack thereof) of locating a barbershop.
So get a new barber, you say. It's not that simple. You have to ease into these rhythms. You want to come out of the shop feeling like your head's your own. You want the conversation to be amiable, lulling, like a Turkish bath, until there's only the sound of the scissors. Above all, you want to be able to find the shop when you go looking for it.
Sleeping in hay.
I don't go looking for the places of deep comfort on this farm. They call out to me. Why does the mounded hay in the horses' run-in shed look so inviting? Why does the chicken house - warm and tight and brightly lit - feel like a place where I could just settle in? I climb the ladder to the hayloft and the barn cat watches me warily from his redoubt in the hay bales. I feel like getting my sleeping bag and joining him.
Bugs on the farm.
One day I can hear the faint rustle of autumn coming. The next day I can't. One evening summer leaks away into the cool night sky, and the next morning it's back again. But there is headway. Birdsong has gone, replaced by the whining bagpiping of the insect creation. I look out across the pasture as dusk begins and see a shining galaxy of airborne bugs. How would it be, I wonder, to have an awareness of the actual number of insects on this farm?
Mowing the lawn, with birds.
By the time I've made the first few passes across the middle pasture, the barn swallows have found me out. They came shooting out of the hayloft when I appeared at the barn door but lost interest once I drove the tractor up the road. I make the turn into the pasture - bucket raised high to give me clearance through the gate - and send power to the big mower trailing behind me. The tractor shudders, and I shift into third, mower blades thrumming. Down go the burdock and milkweed and curly dock. Down go the thistles.
Down goes my lunch; and up it comes, again, a shining galaxy of lunch, rustling in my vomit, as I read Verlyn Klinkenborg. Verlyn, I beg you—the vomiting, it rouses me out of my place of deep comfort. Christ, we already had E.B. White in this world, and at least he had a communicative spider to jazz things up. Just stop it.