Michael Kinsley of the Atlantic says he once challenged readers to find the most boring newspaper headline ever.
He says the headline that inspired his challenge -- "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative," which ran over a column in the New York Times -- held up as the most boring ever.
Now, again inspired by something he read in the New York Times, Kinsley is challenging Atlantic readers to come up with the most boring story ever. Kinsley says that "the boredom must be caused by the banality of the story. Boredom by sheer length doesn't count."
Writing in the Atlantic, Kinsley offers this description of his choice for the most boring story -- from the New York Times of Monday, July 26:
It was about a man who used to take long walks around the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, until he died last week. That's it. That's the story. In Silver Lake, he was wittily known as "the Walking Man." (You see, it's because he walked all the time).
Was he a homeless man who walked because he tragically had no place to go? No, he was a family doctor named Marc Abrams. Was he an eccentric recluse who lived in squalor and scared the neighborhood children? No, he lived in a house with a hot tub next to the reservoir with his wife, Cindy. Cindy worked with him in his practice. Did he walk every day, rain or shine? No, only "near-daily." Did he reject all conversational overtures due to the intensity of his need to keep walking, walking, walking? No, a local restaurant owner used to "walk half a block with him" and "strike up a conversation." People along his route knew him from "years of drive-by small talk." So what inner demons possessed him and caused him to take long walks nearly every day? The Times reporter asked neighbors. "He walked, he told them, to keep fit." Of all things.
True, he was only 58 and was found dead in the hot tub. And he was being sued for malpractice. The police haven't ruled out suicide. These quasi-interesting facts, buried near the end of the piece, "may complicate an effort by local residents to name the path around Silver Lake reservoir after him." But last Sunday, "several bloggers" organized a memorial walk, and "several hundred people" walked in his memory. "They walked past signs and a few bouquets of flowers for him...then set off toward a strip of cafes and boutiques." So much for Dr. Abrams.
Kinsley's accepting entries as comments on his column on theatlanticwire.com or as tweets to #mostboringarticleever with a headline and link.