Dear Howie:

I get your strategy. It’s the ol’ “columnist tries to incite a riot to sell papes” trick. I know it well. I know it works well. The comments section of your latest piece has already blown up with irate responses, and here I am linking to it. You win! Way to go!

I get it because I’ve been in your position: trying to get people to read. I’ve been a writer for a long time. I’ve been a reporter, a critic, a blogger, you name it. I’ve pissed off my fair share of people in the process because when you speak your mind, there are sure to be people who strongly disagree.

Here’s what I don’t get: being lazy in order to get people to read. This column doesn’t do anything to back up a single word you’ve written. It’s what happens when Shaughnessy turns into CHB – a strong writer capable of creating sharp, compelling copy leans back in the desk chair and phones it in, making sure to hit the touch points that will get people riled up.

Cliche after cliche after cliche, Howie! You can do so much better than that! Mom’s basement, smoking on flights, stoned kids, bomb threats, Mayor Mumbles and Zoo Mass, fighting and, of course, the athlete who doesn’t give a damn about the fans. Blah blah blah. If you’re going to do it, at least be clever about it!

Five minutes of concentrated Thinking Time would have yielded something sharper than what you presented, I’m sure. “Consider the next Bruins marketing campaign: At Least You’re Not Still in the Parking Lot Three Hours After We Lose!”*

Or, better, how about setting up the reader with the cliches and then driving home a serious point? If you’re talking about the bandwagon fans, why not hypothesize about “how easy it will be to cruise down those three miles of Route 1 each Sunday, without that pesky crowd tailgating in motel parking lots or walking their 12-jerseyed backs in the direction of Patriot Place”? Why not mock-ruminate on which PP store will close first from lack of business: Puma or the Christmas Tree Shop?

Cliches will sell papers any day of the week. You and I both know that. But just because it can doesn’t mean it should. Polish off a column with some real barbs and flash to it. If you’re going to try to kick Patriots fans while we’re down, Howie, at least do it with a sort of style.


p.s. It’s okay to admit that you’re just crushed because Brady was on your fantasy football team. We’re all here for you, buddy.

*It should go without saying, but this and the paragraph following aren’t my actual thoughts or feelings on the matter.