Letter to the editor: Brock About Town’s half apology and other thoughts

Tree of Five Seasons sculpture, Cedar Rapids — Zak Neumann/Little Village

By Chad Cooper, Cedar Rapids

No one designated me the patron saint of defending Cedar Rapids, but I have spent enough time and editorial space critiquing my hometown over the years, so I’ll change pace. Some folks run for city council. I write letters.

I feel compelled (once again) to respond to Audrey Brock’s recent half-hearted apology in LV 294 for a previously published column in LV 293, “Brock About Town: Being an adult in Cedar Rapids is weird.”

I say half-hearted apology because the “I’m sorry” column sounded less apologetic and more apoplectic in tone. In that spirit, I figured I would directly respond to specific excerpts:

“I feel it’s important to clarify that this is a humor column, and its contents should certainly not be taken as genuine.”

A disingenuous column — just what the world needs.

“In other columns published this year, I have repeatedly made light of alcoholism and openly called for teenagers to drown themselves in order to avoid spreading COVID. Those were, y’know, jokes, and I’m sure some people found them to be in poor taste, but I find it interesting that people are much more offended by the (admittedly not original) observation that a lot of high school friends have the same dye job they did when we were 16.”

There’s more than a tad share of condescension there in walking the offended through how we shouldn’t be mad; we should just be ashamed that we missed the satire and got offended in the first place. I think David Foster Wallace once wrote about the trappings of this approach:

“Anyone with the heretical gall to ask an ironist what he actually stands for ends up looking like an hysteric or a prig. And herein lies the oppressiveness of institutionalized irony, the too-successful rebel: the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny. It is the new junta, using the very tool that exposed its enemy to insulate itself.”

Now, I’m aware citing DFW will likely land me in another stereotypical lump, but I’ll take the risk. And while this attempt at satire wasn’t too far right on the tyrannical spectrum, one has to ask: if everything you say or write has to include a wink, where is the substance? Also, if we’re all being transparent and honest here, the swipes at CR weren’t just satirical folly; there was sincere animus veiled in all those witty (and not-so-witty) jabs, doubling down on the longstanding perception of CR as being hopelessly and inevitably behind Iowa City in all things cultural and sartorial.

“Anyway, that little crack I made about Mexican food had the happy side effect of getting me a whole bunch of restaurant recommendations, which I am only too happy to take.”

Yes! Sincerely, enjoy the fine establishments we have in CR and part with some disposable income as your mea culpa. I’ve been told absolution can be found at the bottom of a margarita glass.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about all of this and drumming up undue outrage; we Cedar Rapidians are known for our persecution complex.


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