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Two years later... - THE COMMENTARY

By Joseph Planta

VANCOUVER -- Often at lunch with friends I will get the ubiquitous question, ĎHowís your Commentary going?í A person of slight ego I say, ďWell, youíre missing a lot of good stuff .Ē

In late June of 1999, I decided to begin writing daily tomes that Iíd mail out to friends. Therein would be thoughts on politics, show business or whatever was on my little mind. Well after two full years, itís with a bit of amazement and surprise that I enter my third year of column writing. It remains an amazing exercise in self-expression, self-deprecation and introspection.

The other day, away from home, I decided to bring the four black binders which house printed copies of columns which I have composed in the last two years. Flipping through the mistakes, typos, grammatical errors and such, it gives one pause at the mere amount of text that one has seen flow from their own fingers. In this space today, lemme look back.

In the first year of The Commentaryís existance, I did the ungodly regiment of five columns per week. It gives the reader a sense of familiarity, but it was taxing mentally and disheartening when readership wasnít as regular. In August of last year, to maintain my meagre sanity I reverted to the slightly more bearable habit of thrice-weekly tomes. And last Christmas I took the operation to Topica, where they afford me with automatic subscription, unsubscription, delivery and an archives of previously sent columns.

The physical state of The Commentary accompanies a change in the style of columns Iíve writ. Whether theyíve gotten better or not is not for me to judge. Thatís what critics are for. Notable changes are that of size. What took two-hundred or so words has ballooned to the more standard amount of eight-hundredish. I think Iíve also been more judicious in spotting out mistakes, though I will concede the odd mistake does slip through the glance-overs.

Writing the column has given me the chance to explore my position on many contemporary issues. It has given me a chance to look at people, politicians, movies and human behaviour a little more objectively. I always make it no secret that itís my column as my name appears on top of it. That said, being objective comes with the territory. Everyone owes it to themselves to look at things objectively. You owe it to yourself as a citizen; and when you are the proprietor of a so said column the onus is much greater.

Another difference between now and two years ago when I started is the number of people who are subscribed to my ďhobby.Ē What was a mere dozen or so, hasnít grown exponentially, but it has as I now boast a readership in the neighbourhood of the mid-fifties. Thus Iím able to rant to a more diverse audience. For that I am grateful.

Once, a reader said I should do less politics. I took his suggestion with good grace, but cannot possibly make any apologies for the amount of political nonsense that makes regular appearances in this space. My political awareness yearns, nay demands that I rail, fume or gloat about political affairs in these or any other parts.

In passing, speaking of politics, I have seen from my vantage point of column writing real estate: one American presidential election, a general election in Canada, a general election in Britain, a municipal election in Vancouver and four British Columbian premiers around one single provincial election. Iíve devoted at least one column on each of the preceding political episodes.

I have had a hell of a time writing this column. It is both fun and challenging at the same time. Each new page begins with the mental provocation of filling the space with coherent thoughts on whatever is on my mind. It isnít easy, but if the topicís good enough it will write itself. That is the miracle of the written word.

If column-writing were not fun I would have aborted the gig a long time ago. I shall continue to appear in your e-mail inboxes for a while longer. When itís time to go -- it will be time to go. For now, however it has been two interesting years. Onwards...

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An archive of Joseph Planta's previous columns can be found by clicking HERE .