Casey Sailer had been with the Times Union for almost 5 years. He had a well-deserved reputation as being the type of reporter that cared more about how his story was punctuated than he did about actually discovering facts. It was said that Casey would much rather investigate the origin and use of a single word than he would a tip about bribes in the legislature.
Casey had previously worked at the Burlington Free Press in Burlington Vermont where he rose from covering local farmers markets and High School Theater to become the host of a public television series called “Casey and Proust – life as a dilettante”. The rumor was he had to leave Vermont after being caught in flagrante delicto with an English teacher at Bellows Free Academy in Swanton Vermont.
Perhaps the most glaring example of Casey’s lack of reporting skills but devotion to correct grammar occurred soon after he became the political reporter for the Times Union. While waiting for former Majority Leader Andrews to arrive in court to face public corruption charges Casey was interviewing Andrews then chief of staff, Sam Casey. Sam mentioned to Casey that he thought it was a shame that Andrews had to run the gauntlet of reporters waiting for him and Casey spent the next 30 minutes lecturing and arguing with Sam that the correct term was gantlet not gauntlet and completely missed Andrews statement that then US attorney now Judge Sudsberry had promised Andrews that he wouldn’t be convicted in return for his judgeship. Casey left court smugly assured that he had triumphed over Sam and Sam left looking for a new job, one I helped him land with Assemblyman Munro. It might take a while but I knew Sam was itching to throw down the gauntlet and engage in linguistic combat with Casey.
I never allowed myself to be drawn into Casey’s world of grammar and punctuation, in fact I always tried to avoid sending anything in writing to Casey unless it was first proofread by I. M Hayakawa. But I would talk to him on the phone, never in person. I literally became physically ill if I had to see Casey. His attempt to promote his image was largely centered on his bicycle, his hardcover copy of Proust that he carried everywhere and his hipster glasses that made him look like every other middle aged white douchebag from Brooklyn although Casey had never been to Brooklyn since it had too many minorities walking around for his taste. In fact, Casey was known as a closet racist if for no other reason than Ebonics.
With all these thoughts in mind I called Casey.
“Casey Sailer, state your purpose please”
“Yo Case it’s Leathers what be crackin brah?”
“Excuse me? I don’t understand”
“Casey I be needing to ax you a question about hoes and blow”
“Mr. Leatherbaum are you attempting to be humorous?”
“I was but I’m sure it was lost on you, you pompous little dilettante bitch”
“Mr. Leatherbaum if I could ask you a couple of questions about Ravi Kamatrappa and Richard Siler?”
“Do you know them both?”
“I believe that should be “do you know both of them?”
“Well actually Mr. Leatherbaum according to my pocket copy of the grammarist my usage is preferred in the majority of English speaking countries with white populations in excess of 80%”
“Like Burlington Vermont?”
“Yes Casey I know both of them”
“And are you aware that Mr. Kamatrappa was arrested last evening with Mr. Siler’s wife in a stolen McLaren”
“The story I heard was it was a Jaguar and that Ravi was with a prostitute from the Kings Klub a high end escort service that our elected officials are using”
“A Jaguar you say not a McLaren?”
“Well they are both English sports cars”
“Actually the Jaguar is a sedan”
“Now that could be important, do you know what color the sedan was?
“Actually Casey the story I heard was that Ravi got set up with this prostitute by Israeli drug dealers working for Richard, but that’s just a rumor”
“Israeli’s? Are you sure I thought Ravi was from India”
“Well they both start with an I, don’t they”
“ Are you aware that In Modern English spelling, i represents several different sounds, either the diphthong /aɪ/ ("long i") as in kite, the short /ɪ/ as in bill, or the ee sound /iː/ in the last syllable of machine. The diphthong /aɪ/ developed from Middle English /iː/ through a series of vowel shifts. In the Great Vowel Shift, Middle English /iː/ changed to Early Modern English /ei/, which later changed to /əi/ and finally to the Modern English diphthong /aɪ/ in General American and Received Pronunciation. Because the diphthong /aɪ/ developed from a Middle English long vowel, it is called long i in traditional English grammar.
The English first-person singular nominative pronoun is "I", pronounced /aɪ/ and always written with a capital letter. This pattern arose for basically the same reason that lowercase "i" acquired a dot: so it wouldn't get lost in manuscripts before the age of printing:
The capitalized “I” first showed up about 1250 in the northern and midland dialects of England, according to the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology. Chambers notes, however, that the capitalized form didn’t become established in the south of England “until the 1700s (although it appears sporadically before that time).””
“That’s very informative you pompous little shit but didn’t you hear me tell you that Ravi was set up by Richard Siler and that Richard is connected to Israeli criminals that are running an escort service that provides prostitutes to elected officials?”
“I’m not sure what you are trying to tell me Mr. Leatherbaum and I have a story to write look for it in tomorrow’s Times Union”
The following days Times Union had a story by Casey Sailer with the following first paragraph:
Indian academic Ravi Kamatrappa was arrested in lobbyist Richard Siler’s English sedan. Sources allege that an Israeli dating service may have arranged companionship for Mr. Kamatrappa and others.
As Cadillac Curtis used to tell me you can’t fix stupid.
It was time to call Dante again.