COLUMN: Without a mission

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to Harry is a resident of Logan and an alumnus of Utah State University. He can be reached via email at His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees. 

<em>“Master of puppets, I’m pulling your strings.</em>

<em>Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams.</em>

<em>Blinded by me, you can’t see a thing.”</em>


Whenever someone in Cache Valley asks me why I moved here from the East Coast I always regurgitate the same joke. I tell them that my real name is Nunzio Fabrini and that I am in the Witness Protection Program.

It is a funny line. And somewhat appropriate, given that Northern Utah seems like the type of place the FBI would send Mafioso who ratted out their friends. What makes it even more profound is that a few years back I used to see a man frequently on Utah State University’s campus who looked just like Ralph Natale, the former boss of the Philadelphia La Costa Nostra, who turned rat for the Feds. Once, I stared dead at him on a clear day from a short distance. If it wasn’t Natale, it was someone who could have been a very close relative.

There is no particular reason why I am sharing this anecdote with you. It is just kind of what I do. I share amusing anecdotes in this column. I often like to start my weekly essays with analogies or metaphors as a way to connect myself, or events in history, with the main thesis of my piece…regardless if I actually have a point to make.

There is a certain flare to constructing a column in that fashion that I find appealing. Whatever the subject of each treatise, I want to offer a story that reads better than an eighth grader’s book report. I will let those who have indulged themselves in my columns over these past few years tell me whether I have succeeded in being entertaining and informative. I am excessively critical of my work. My bias clouds how I see myself.

What brings me to share these thoughts with you on this day is that I never really have offered a mission statement to what my column is supposed to represent. When I scribed a weekly column for the Utah Statesman during my final semester as a student at USU, there was a mission. That offering was to be about what it was like to be a college student in my late 30’s. I recently went back and looked at some of those columns. Some of them are very good. Most of them are, in my opinion, bland and undisciplined.

When I originally proposed this column to Eric Frandsen,’s editor, we did not get into any specifics into what this weekly think piece would contain. Outside of agreeing that Thursday was the best day to upload the columns, it pretty much was something that we would develop in time.

We did agree that the column would be approximately 1,000 words long. That is a soft limit I have broken on many occasions. This goes to back to my style of writing. I have a hard time getting from A to B by the shortest possible path. I like to start with a story that ties in with what I wish to convey. I construct prose as if I am talking to you—and I talk a lot. There is a word in the dictionary for this: <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Magniloquent</a>. 

This column is the epitome of quid pro quo. CVD gets content and I get a portfolio of columns to offer if I ever sought a position where writing is an essential skill.

It is a wonderful thing to have a forum where I can share my opinions with anyone willing to read them. It is like having Facebook or Twitter without the dirty feeling of being owned by billionaires who make money off of society’s narcissism and voyeurism.

Ahhh, I snuck in another dig at social networking! Yay!

There is a concentrated reason I incessantly lambaste this cancerous, destructive force in American society in this space. I believe Facebook, Twitter, et al is the main reason for the death of interpersonal communication in America. I think there is a corrosive tribalism in this country that was spawned by people staring at screens and not staring at the people they wish to persuade. Or, the frat boy antics of cyberbullying that is free from repercussions because the bully is far from their victims.

Last September, after a particularly embarrassing incident, I finally dumped all forms of social networking. I’m a much better person because of this.

I have been quite fortunate to have this space over the past few years. And whether this column lasts one more week, six more months or until I fall down dead at the age of 100, so long as I am here I will try to entertain my dozens of readers to the best of my ability.

One last thought.

I was asked recently what is my favorite column. It is <a href=”” target=”_blank”>this one</a>.

Of everything I ever offered CVD readers, this is the most personal. And I hid my true feelings behind the guise of professional wrestling. I think it’s genius.

So, there it is. And I did it in under 1,000 words. Don’t get used to that.

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