Intellectual History

The Misadventures of the Street Strategist Vol. 6

 

 Street Strategist Home Page

 

 In this volume the Street Strategist, the most famous unknown, the pavement philosopher of maximum imagination and minimum talent, of infinite comprehension and zero knowledge, of total opinion and minimal truth 

  • links Albert Camus  to the adventurism of military officers, 
  • invents his own jumping salad, 
  • laments the lessons lost from the World Trade Center 9/11 tragedy,  
  • finds it amusing that our banks are insecure by intentional design, 
  • engages a five-part discourse on traffic problems and their nonsensical causes, 
  • frowns upon the lack of synchronization in the country, 
  • fearlessly forecasts topping the accreditation exams for broadcasters, 
  • illustrates his cool genius by discussing ice, 
  • reveals his horoscope, 
  • launches a 10-part story of a suspected attention-deficit/hyperactive child, 
  • shares his misencounters with his readers, 
  • threatens to leave a town full of losers, 
  • and among others, quits his column as the Thinking Word dies.

 

Intellectual History: The Misadventures of the Street Strategist Volume  6 is the latest compilation of the continuing chronicles of the Most Famous Unknown’s convoluted ruminations on the irrelevant, the immaterial, the insignificant, the negligible, and the obscure, as published in the longest column space in the country.

 

Misencounters

P

ersonally meeting the Street Strategist, deliberate or accidental, has got to be a misencounter of the explosive kind.

I have run out again of useless things to write; what is next to useless?

Well, this article that you are reading right now, one installment of some encounters with the Street Strategist.

So as not to waste your time, since there is nothing intellectual below, just proceed to read the news about the frontal nudity of an actress who stripped naked yet did not expect pictures to be taken of her body’s naked lower half. Amazing logic.

Arranged meetings

I do meet some of my readers, on a scheduled basis, especially girls carrying priority numbers.

For some writers, meeting their readers on an arranged basis would probably be exciting, what with all the discussions of articles the former have written that the latter have memorized, dissected, and analyzed.

In my case though, I don’t find that exciting at all because of my high expectations: I expect every single reader of mine to have memorized, dissected and analyzed my article.

There was one time, a colleague of mine who read my column for the first time in his life, said he liked my writing style and he liked the article.

I asked him, “What was the last sentence or paragraph?”

He said, “I forgot. You don’t expect me to memorize it, do you? You don’t expect your readers to memorize, right? Readers can’t be bothered to read and remember everything.”

I said, “I do. I do expect my readers to know what was the last sentence of each article, and to memorize them by heart.”

For this reason, I simply don’t ask my readers anymore because I may be disappointed.

All the cult members of the Street Strategist should commit to memory the beginning and last paragraphs of his classic written eloquence. No exceptions allowed.

Anyway, I was saying, arranged meetings are typical and predictable.

They tell me how great a writer am I, and I play humble by declaring I’m just an ordinary person telling my ordinary stories to an invisible unknown reader. They are all just variations of the same charade. It’s a bit boring.

For some writers, that kind of experience is a thrill.

For the Street Strategist, the thrill is one level higher, especially for the accidental meetings.

Accidental meetings

Accidental meetings are those not planned and therefore the reader only realizes my identity when introduced, and the amusing thing is the manner of introduction which is not your usual, this is he, this is she, type.

These misencounters happened over several years but not chronologically arranged.

Green is genius

Once when I was in town, a girl friend told me that one of her friends who is a manager at a large fastfood chain texted to her: “I’m standing beside Thads in church! Sayang, he doesn’t know me.”

I protested to my friend it is almost funny that the person was texting her in church while attending just to announce I was there because I’m not a matinee idol yet.

My friend insisted it was true, in fact, according to the fastfood manager, I said something like “Green is the color of genius.”

Wow, the manager was really standing beside me. How did I know? I remember that incident because one of the kids was running around being noisy, and at one time asked, “Why is that thing colored green?”

I replied without thinking and meaning it: “Because green is the color of genius.”

The losing candidate

In a shopping mall, I met by accident an old friend I haven’t met for more than a decade and lost his recent first congressional bid by a slim margin.

He exclaimed, “Oh, my most favorite columnist. I always enjoy your column. You are so popular that in my office, our even our office assistant is a big fan of yours!”

I tell you, I was not surprised the candidate claimed he was a reader of my column, true or not, he has possible motives.

On the other hand, their office assistant, well, that’s one thing that titillates me. That could only be true.

Executive secretary

At one time a few years back, I phoned the CFO of the largest airline, and obviously I had to go through the executive secretary.

For that occasion I used my initials which is far from my nickname when I have to leave my name.

She said, “Sir, although it is a long shot because you are out of town, are you the same person writing as the Street Strategist?”

Well, she really floored me. I tried to hide under my initials but the surname snared her curiosity. I said, “Yes, I am. How did you know?”

She said, “I read your column. It’s my favorite.”

I said, “But I thought only the businessmen open that boring newspaper.”

She said, “But my boss has a subscription and it lands on my desk before he gets to read it. That’s how I get to read your column.”

I thanked her a lot.

I got to thinking: Who are my readers? What is their psychographic profile? How can I write for a reader that I cannot even picture in my mind?

The scholar

During one informal gathering celebrating a friend’s birthday, my friend called out to one of his guests. “Come here, I’ll introduce you to the Street Strategist.”

The guest was surprise a little bit, and after the introductions she confessed.

She said that somebody showed her copy of my book, she was mildly shocked because she recognized the title.

It turned out, that when she was still a scholar at the state university, their professor asked them to read an article called Strategy Myopia published recently in BusinessWorld (1998), they were asked to write reaction papers. (It was great insight by the professor to have done that, I may add.)

I was not a columnist then, and it was just a one shot unsolicited article.

When she read the book, she was very surprised that the author of the article, who has long been forgotten by her, has now a book, and the most amazing part was that the Street Strategist was a friend of his friend.

All the time, she thought I was a nondescript person living thousands of miles away with no connection to her life. Now, were eating at the same table.

The mistaken classmate

On another occasion, I was introduced to a stranger by a mutual friend.

This stranger began talking and at one time she mentioned a name. I told her that was my classmate. It was coincidental we have another common friend.

Right there and then she rang up her friend, and said, “Somebody here wants to talk to you.”

I said, “Hello. Hi, how are you.” I greeted the guy on the cellphone talking to a long lost friend.

He said, “Excuse, who’s this?” I gave him my name and I chided him for forgetting me when in fact we went to the same school, residing in the same dorm floor.

He said, “Are you the Street Strategist, in BusinessWorld?” I confirmed to him, and I was confused what was going on.

He said, “I’m not sorry I’m not your classmate, just the same name and surname. If we were, I wouldn’t have forgotten you. But I read your column although I haven’t purchased your book.”

It was very awkward but we spent a few more minutes talking about my column.

Then I had to pass on to the cellphone back to the stranger I just met. The person on the other end, told her that about my being a columnist. When she put down the phone, she was very curious and the conversation dragged on into the night.

The general manager

During a break in one of my seminars, one person approached me.

He said, “Actually, I’m a big fan of your column, I read it regularly but I didn’t realize it was you until you began mentioning in your accounting seminar some reactions from your readers!”

The probability that the speaker before him is the same columnist he has read escaped him.

It is such as remote possibility.

Besides, I controlled the introduction of the speaker which makes no mention of my being a BusinessWorld columnist. Although during the presentation I mention articles in BusinessWorld without emphasizing I am a columnist, the same impact as if I assumed they knew.

The big question is: They know my name in the column, and they know my name as the speaker, it would unthinkable to imagine that these people wouldn’t make the connection, right?

I tell you what: Some people can’t make the connection right away.

Trust me. It seems their logical minds are blocked by the remote possibility that the famous Street Strategist is the same person talking to them.

The company

There was another occasion, a friend brought me to their big company’s penthouse restaurant. He wanted to introduce me to some of their big shots.

First came a chubby one.

My friend rose to greet the executive who immediately saw, and said, “Oh, the Street Strategist is here. Sorry I have to go another table for a meeting but here’s my card, call me.”  So my friend was preempted.

Then we next dropped by the office of their CFO. The secretary let us in, and as my friend was about to introduce me, the CFO rose from his desk and said, “The Street Strategist, how are you? It’s been a long time. The last time we met was October 2001.”

We carried a long conversation about their company’s precarious financial conditions, and I tried to fake my way into it.

Again, my friend was pre-empted. He didn’t their company executives to know me.

The next one was the big fish. He brought me over to the table where their president was in coat and tie, entertaining some foreign guests.

This time my friend did not expect their president would know me like the executives before him. Fair enough, after all their annual sales reaches billions.

As we were approaching, upon seeing us, the president himself rose from his table and extended his hand, “Finally I meet the famous Street Strategist. It’s always a pleasure reading your very long column.”

My friend was preempted again. You just don’t know the misencounters of the Street Strategist.

Old acquaintance

While window shopping at an appliance store, I saw some I haven’t met for a dozen years. I called out her name. Her eyes grew big, in a mild surprise.

“The Street Strategist,” she exclaimed as she shook my hand. “I can’t believe I met you. I didn’t expect you to know my name because we’ve been acquainted only for two weeks. I wanted to write you but was embarrassed because you might not remember me. I’m having goose bumps right now. I can’t believe I’m meeting the Street Strategist in person. You write so well. Your quips are so witty and intelligent. You are really a very good English writer.”

That’s the gist of her story, we spoke for about 10 minutes while the people glanced at us, wondering who’s this superstar.

I apologized for my grammatical slips but she insisted she really admired my command of the English language.

She’s now a bank manager and I really didn’t expect people like her are reading this column.

The director

I was having a one-on-one conference with a manager of the chamber of commerce in a large city regarding one of my forthcoming seminar which they sponsored for that instance.

Suddenly, in barged a lady director of the chamber, and said to me, “You are the Street Strategist?”

I said, smiling, “Yes, ma’am.” I thought she knew all along.

She said, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize it until now. I have been a regular reader of your column. But I didn’t realize it was you until one staff member came looking for a copy of BusinessWorld. I asked him why. He told me that Thads wants to read how his column came out. It was only then that I made the connection.”

It was really amusing.

While I don’t go out telling people I am a columnist, I was flying in and out of town, visiting the chamber’s offices to check up on the status of the registration campaign, and therefore I sort expected everybody there to know.

Besides, the seminar actually has the brand “Street Strategist” on it.

And besides, it was the second time, the chamber advertised and conducted the seminar.

Lesson? People don’t always make the connection between the Street Strategist and the haggard street hardened person they see face to face.

There is such a chasm of recognition. The possibility that the person you talk to everyday is the same person that writes as the Street Strategist is virtually zero.

And I’m not saying it’s their fault. I don’t fault them at all.

In fact, I myself couldn’t reconcile the fact that the most famous unknown, the Street Stategist, is the same person begging for his daily bread from magnanimous persons, human or corporate.

Family

Of course my family knows I’m a writer and a columnist.

Several months ago, my next younger brother said, “I’ve been buying BusinessWorld whenever I see it being sold but I never get to read your column, why?”

I said, “That’s because I’m not a daily columnist. I only come out every Thursday.”

Well, that’s family loyalty for you. You can just imagine that after almost five years of writing for BusinessWorld, he hasn’t read a column of mine.

Just to show you how seriously my family thinks of my talent as a writer and my achievement as a national columnist, a few months ago, during the birthday of another brother, the family discussion centered on my writing for a few moments.

Here is the highlight, and the finale at the same time.

My father asked me, “What newspaper are you writing for?”

I said, “BusinessWorld.”

He asked, “What is the format? Are you correspondent?”

I said, “No, I’m not a correspondent, I’m a columnist.”

He said, “You write a column? What topics? Is it daily?”

I said, “Anything. Remember that book I gave you. That was a compilation of my old columns.”

He said, “Hmm…”

And that was the end of it.

In the end, whatever you think of my hyperbolic self-confidence in my extreme popularity or supreme talent, I am not especially concerned about your point of view.

Even those misencounters don’t even matter much to me.

In fact, on a daily basis, nobody ever remembers that I’m a columnist, and I don’t even talk about it.

My family doesn’t even care about it. They don’t even mention it. The only time I remember I am a columnist is when I received reminder regarding my deadline, and when somebody write a letter to me.

Or when I borrow somebody’s BusinessWorld to see how long my column came out.

In fact I only remember I’m a columnist when I get something like this from a middle-aged lawyer: “I finally met a real genius last night. I was overwhelmed by your intellect both in depth and breadth.”

Like my father, I could only nod my head and say, “Hmmm….”

(Thads Bentulan, December 18, 2003)

* * * * * t * * * * *

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Chapter

 

Page

The Rebel and the Social Contract
July 31, 2003

11

Jumping Salad
August 7, 2003

19

Mars
August 28, 2003

27

9/11
September 11, 2003

31

Insecurity By Design
September 18, 2003

33

Traffic Wizard Part 1
September 25, 2003

39

Traffic Wizard Part 2
October 2, 2003

45

Traffic Wizard Part 3
October 9, 2003

53

Traffic Wizard Part 4
October 16, 2003

59

Traffic Wizard Part 5

October 23, 2003

65

Single Time
November 6, 2003

75

Broadcaster Part 1
November 13, 2003

83

Broadcaster Part 2
November 20, 2003

89

Getting Off Their Systems
November 27, 2003

99

The Political Philosophy of
Thaddeus the Obscure
December 11, 2003

107

Misencounters
December 18, 2003

115

Creating Intellectual History
January 8, 2004

123

Cool Genius Part 1
January 15, 2004

129

Cool Genius Part 2
January 22, 2004

137

Ascendant in Pisces
January 29, 2004

147

Town Full of Losers
February 5, 2004

159

The Story of J Part 1
February 19, 2004

165

The Story of J Part 2
February 26, 2004

169

The Story of J Part 3
March 4, 2004

181

The Story of J Part 4
March 11, 2004

187

The Story of J Part 5
March 18, 2004

195

The Story of J Part 6
March 25, 2004

205

The Story of J Part 7
May 20, 2004

213

Thinking Word Dies
April 1, 2004

221

Postface

225