• 55°

Column: THE GRAY LINE TOUR

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / April 1, 1998

MY NEXT JOB PLANS

It must be one of the easiest jobs around, and I want it when the opening comes up.

Andy Rooney’s job, that is.

In the past couple of weeks, his newspaper column has been about the odd letters he’s received and a “don’t-you-hate-it-when?” column about his favorite gripes. Other recent columns have been things he’s discoveredwhile cleaning his desk drawers or cleaning his garage.

Keep in mind, Rooney is paid big bucks for producing his twice-weekly column, plus his weekly gig on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” which is often a rehash of one of his newspaper columns. Just add pictures.I don’t envy those newspaper columnists who produce a column each and every weekday and can maintain that pace for years on end. That must be areal grind, yet some people thrive on it.

Newspaper comics are also a drain on their creators. However, the currenttrend is to produce the comic for awhile, then take a break, or just cancel it.

Garry Trudeau produced “Doonesbury” for more than a decade, weekdays and Sundays, then took the strip on hiatus (and also produced a Broadway play version) and is now back in the swing.

“Calvin and Hobbes,” created by Bill Watterson and which traces its origins to the still-going “Peanuts” and “Dennis the Menace,” fell by the wayside as he burned out.

“Bloom County” by Berkeley Breathed, was a hugely popular daily-and- Sundays newspaper comic which segued into the Sunday-only “Outland” strip and has now faded into comics history.

Charles Schulz, on the other hand, is still going on the perennial favorite, “Peanuts.” Likewise, Hank Ketchum’s “Dennis the Menace” is also goingstrong.

Other newspaper columnists such as Dave Berry manage to produce a daily column, sell a few book compilations and make a decent living. And stillother columnists, such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, have staffs which plow through the mail and assist in the preparation of their columns.

I’ve written columns at nearly every newspaper where I’ve worked, and it’s not terribly difficult. From time to time, one has to reach into the oldreliable topics, such as what’s in my desk drawer or garage to come up with a subject. All in all, though, it’s easy work.A fellow reporter here, Rebecca Burk, has gotten the column-writing bug, and we’ve collaborated on a couple of “Point/Counterpoint” columns and hope to produce more. She’s an excellent writer, and I love the challengeof trying to keep up with the quality of her writing.

However, Andy Rooney is starting to get on in years and his job should be coming open before too many more years. His job must be no harder thanmine, and I think I could be at least as good a curmudgeon, with a little work.

Leonard Gray is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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