This one is about you.
It’s an early-summer break in global extremes — zero degrees four and a half months ago here, 100 this afternoon — to speak of the people you meet around horse racing, the young and the puzzled, the old and the overdue, rank beginners and the exasperated alike.
Some believe that the Internet could be the anti-Christ, evil made easy in all its infamy, a mostly anonymous world full of liars and cheaters and fakes, crooked gamblers and predators as near as the touch of a key, little people with big phony names doing their best in life in a corner of a room as somebody else.
The Internet is perfect for nailing crossword puzzles, hustling through homework, and looking up illnesses.
Anonymity is where anger goes to roost.
But that’s not so much the case here.
Horse players have always had nicknames, from “Nicely-Nicely” and “Nathan Detroit” to the “Landscaper,” who I sat with at some simulcast races last week, so named because of all the green, and the fertilizing agent, that he spread around town. I have found that there are no better people roaming the Internet than horse players, a good-spirited group interested mainly in touching base with a stranger for sharing rousing victories and tragic heartbreak, neither of which you might want to discuss at the dinner table.
Real people don’t get to nickname themselves.
The Landscaper could be the only one who might not know his nickname.
Horse players have great memories and can tell a story, making all race results sound like they happened two hours ago, not years.
The Internet contact that a writer has at this site is strikingly different than what occurs at a newspaper, where I do a general interest column and occasionally read anonymous comments like the one that expressed pleasure about a family that died in a private airplane crash, the ghost commentator having alleged that the pilot was an unpleasant sort.
The Internet confused newspapers from the outset. It was obvious that newspapers had to be there, had to be on line. So they gave their product away, that’s right, said come and get it, here’s your electronic edition of the daily news, free of charge, the thought being, advertising would cover the tab. Then people quit advertising so much. And somehow the Internet editions were overwhelmed by lunatics from Timbuktu and Chicken Feathers, Ark., none of who ever spent a dime on advertising of any sort, people who hated everything, any time, anywhere. And to this moment, certain media members, like radio shows, still believe that the number of Internet hits coming in actually means something. Which it does: It means that people you don’t want listening to you are listening to you. Internet hits as a sign of success, that’s like counting rioters in attendance figures.
Then one day the people running the newspaper where I work decided that giving your product away might not be such a good idea after all, unless you were a neighborhood shopper-type publication who hustled strip joint ads. So now we and other print publications charge a little something for Internet access. And guess what. Business is good. Raises went out all around recently. It’s some more bad news for the haters. There will always be newspapers. How big, who knows; how often, same answer. But it is incumbent on the local citizenry of any berg or metropolis to keep up with what’s going on in your community, be it through TV (please) or blogs (you must be kidding). If there’s no newspaper in your town, duck.
Horse players are based in truth.
They have a great creative spirit.
Originally Posted on ESPN