A Century of Snide

It’s a momentous occasion here at “Snide Remarks,” as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of my very first column, published on Feb. 4, 1900.

I was just a young sprout then, barely getting my feet wet in the field of quasi-journalism, when a saintly editor at the Daily Herald allowed me to begin writing a weekly column about farming and soil conditions in the south county area.

That feature, “Eric D. Snider’s Weekly Column About Farming and Soil Conditions,” was not terribly popular among the Daily Herald readership, which at that time peaked at around 12 people, 11 of whom canceled their subscriptions after I began making too many soil-related jokes. (“I recently fell down in a field in Spanish Fork and soiled my pants,” I quipped in one memorable column.)

It was then that we realized my destiny was in humorous commentary. The column was changed to “Snide Remarks,” and ever since then, I have striven to write articles that are witty and insightful. Someday, I hope to succeed at this.

I hope you’ll indulge me as I present some memorable passages from “Snide Remarks” columns over the last century. Some of the jokes may seem “dated,” but many, I think, are just as offensive now as they were then.

Aug. 26, 1909:
Perhaps it is not my place to say, but President William Howard Taft seems to have gotten even fatter since we elected him. I mean, we all knew he was enormous when we voted for him, despite his efforts to hide it by having 50 campaign aides link arms and stand in a circle around him at all public appearances. (In fact, Taft’s girth is the very reason my friend Other Eric voted for him. He wanted him to win so he could see if they’d have to take the White House doors off the hinges when he moved in.) But it seems to me that if he had planned on getting even fatter once elected, he should have said so. Yet another example of politicians changing their tunes once they’re safely in office.

April 30, 1912:
The demise of the “Titanic” was terrible, but you know what was worse? The fact that all the news reports about it are 3 hours and 10 minutes in length and always focus on some ridiculous romance that was apparently going on prior to the sinking.

July 21, 1918:
You know, by referring to the current conflict as “World War I,” we’re just BEGGING for there to be a “World War II.” I mean, how can you have a “I” if you’re not preparing for a “II,” as well? Maybe there will even be a “III,” though I suspect all the fresh ideas will have been used up in I and II.

April 4, 1932:
They keep calling this “The Great Depression.” Now, I will freely admit that it’s a depression. No doubt about it. Just look at the stock-brokers plunging headlong from their office windows, seriously bruising their foreheads as they land on the grass three feet below because their offices are on the first floor. But the GREAT depression? I don’t know. It’s nice and all, but it doesn’t seem all that great to me. You know what would make it really great? If everyone had jobs. Then we’d have ourselves a real swingin’ depression, my friend!

March 27, 1951:
So apparently this whole “television” thing is beginning to catch on. This seems like a bad idea to me. I mean, the nice thing about radio was that you didn’t have to look at the actors’ faces. It’s bad enough we had to HEAR Lucille Ball’s smoky-lunged, unfunny screeching; do we have to SEE it now, too? To me, the mere sight of Milton Berle is proof enough that television should be abolished, even if it means changing the Constitution in order to do so.

Nov. 25, 1963:
What?! There was a guy with a gun … in DALLAS? TEXAS?!? Who could have seen THAT coming?!

June 12, 1974:
Nixon, Shmixon.

Nov. 28, 1978:
Disco continues to be the dominant force in music today. The word “disco” comes from Greek “discoi,” meaning, “Sweet Zeus above me, please kill me now. I can’t bear another second of this grotesque mockery of all that the Muses hold sacred.” (Man, those Greeks had a word for everything!)

The genesis of this column is somewhat interesting. For some reason I started imagining what "Snide Remarks" columns would have sounded like if I'd been writing them while now-historical events were taking place. How would the tone and attitude sound when applied to things in the past? Would I still refer to Other Eric all the time, and have a cavalier attitude about important things, and be iconoclastic, like I am now? The idea of juxtaposing history with the modern "Snide Remarks" writing style was very funny to me, for some reason.

I saw that my 100th "Snide Remarks" column was coming up soon, and figured I should do it then: Rather than celebrating my 100th column, I could celebrate 100 years of writing them. Unfortunately, I needed something to write about this week and couldn't hold off. As luck would have it, I discovered that Feb. 6, 2000, was actually the third anniversary of my first column for The Daily Universe -- a feature that later came to be known as "Snide Remarks." Now this column would work just fine: Instead of celebrating my third anniversary, which it actually is, I could celebrate my 100th, which of course it is not.

So if Feb. 6 is the anniversary date, why does this column say "Feb. 4"? Because Feb. 4 is the day it was printed in The Daily Herald. The average reader, of course, wouldn't know about the third-anniversary connection, and would just think I just didn't know what day it was when the column ran.

I had an amusing thing about Hitler ("seems like an energetic fellow") that I removed because it wasn't amusing enough. If you're going to make jokes about Hitler, they had darn well better be funny.

The dates (days and months) in the column are mostly those of family members and friends, and one of them is mine.