At times, Rodriguez's columns were entertaining, albeit usually for reasons she never intended. For instance, the last item in this 2005 Message highlights two of her dopiest, most Chuck Green-like moments -- a faux-diary entry in which she described her pooch licking her face in the hopes that some jelly didn't make it into her mouth, and an attack on the now-shuttered Donkey Den that asked readers to "imagine a place called The Bobbit BBQ," featuring a menu of "wieners" and a staff of "hunky waiters wearing tight T-shirts emblazoned with a drawing of a woman clutching a knife."
What cutting commentary.
Of course, such offerings were far preferable to those moments when Rodriguez waded into more serious territory and quickly wound up out of her depth. A terrific example was the September 12, 2006 screed "Bush Ties to bin Laden Haunt Grim Anniversary," a recap of her visit to the 9/11 site. Here are some of the teeth-grinding cliches she shared:
"Finally away from deadlines, it was supposed to be my moment to grieve. But I just stood there, my mind racing. Why did this happen?"
"People say 9-11 is the day America lost its innocence. To me, it was the beginning of a wake-up call."
"Five years later, and we're still asking questions. We may have lost our innocence but we're also losing, thankfully, our ignorance."
Maybe not in her case. The majority of Rodriguez's efforts (and reading them truly was an effort) tended toward egocentric restatements of other people's ideas. Indeed, the bin Laden column was dominated by lefty conspiracy theories about the Bush clan that had been floating around for years, but which she had apparently just discovered. It's not that everything she said was wrong. Rather, she made her arguments in a tedious, unimaginative manner that was capable of turning off readers of every political stripe -- even folks who otherwise might have agreed with her.
These factors likely contributed to her sinking profile at the Post. A while back, she was moved from Denver and the West to Arts and Entertainment (and Style on Sundays) due to a surplus of columnists -- and as time wore on, she appeared on the first page or two of the sections in question with less and less frequency. The next stop seemed to be the want ads -- an appropriate destination.
On April 9, Rodriguez sent a mass e-mail revealing that she was bound for Detroit, and inviting friends and sources to a celebration of her, her, her at a local restaurant on Thursday, April 12. She also noted that she'd be telling the tale of her departure in a piece the next day, to be followed by her Post swan song on Sunday, April 15. And if her first bye-bye is any indication, her second one will be an even greater chore.
"Farewell, Denver, Hello, Detroit, and a New Adventure" is Rodriguez at her worst. She prattles on and on as if every reader absolutely must be fascinated with everything in her life, including how she met and swiftly fell in love with Erik, a Detroiter who she'll be living with in Michigan. Along the way, she casually reveals that she was thinking about leaving Denver even before Cupid struck, and noted that by the next Sunday, "I'll be in my new city, perhaps missing some aspects of the old one, but looking forward to an adventure of my new life" -- "perhaps" being the operative word, apparently.
Rodriguez says she's going to write for the Detroit News, which, like the Post, is owned by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group. That implies she's still well regarded within the company, yet she hasn't been handed another columnist gig. Instead, she'll cover "race relations and cultural affairs" for her new paper.
At the Post, many vacated positions have been left open in recent months as a way of saving money -- and betcha Rodriguez won't be replaced by another columnist, either. Her decision to split likely saved her superiors the awkward task of sending her back to the reporting ranks or axing her should layoffs become necessary in the future. Whatever the case, the Post hardly ballyhooed today's column. It was buried back by the funny pages in the print edition, and there was no mention of it on the website's home page -- just a hard-to-find link in A&E.
April 15 might be different, but even if it isn't, fans of good columnists have cause to throw a party of their own. -- Michael Roberts