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Doug Robinson: Ever been mugged by a camera?

Published: Tuesday, April 12 2011 12:01 a.m. MDT

Hey, Robinson, who's that in your column photo — your dad?

OK, an explanation is due about the new column mug. And that explanation is, I don't know who that guy is. He looks vaguely familiar — maybe I've seen him somewhere — but I can't place him. My guess is that an editor who doesn't like me (which is most of them) stuck a photo of an old guy on my column and put my name next to it.

OK, I'll try again. The guy in the photo is wanted in four counties for butchering the English language and for writing something that wasn't flattering about the Utes, the Cougs, the Legislature and Jon Huntsman Jr.

OK, once more, and this time I'll tell the truth. As part of the new makeover of the Deseret News, columnists were required to have new column photos. Unfortunately, there's no makeover for the columnists, too.

During the 32 years I have worked at the DesNews, I have had, I think, just three column photos — the '80s long-hair stage leftover from the '70s, the '90s mullet, and whatever it is we're doing now (so far I have resisted the spiky, carefully disheveled 'do).

There tends to be some dramatic differences when you have your photo updated only every decade or so. It looks like time-lapse photography. Photo 1: College kid. Photo 2: Middle-Age Man. Photo 3: Montgomery Burns.

Hey, you look a lot older in person than you do in the paper!

A stranger once said that to me. Try thinking of a comeback for that one. Yeah, I'm almost dead! Thanks for reading!

Just for fun, today's column includes a couple of my earlier column photos, plus an artist's rendering of what my photo will look like in another 10 years, if I'm still here. As you can see, I used to look pretty good. Then I started writing newspaper columns for a living and the job took its toll. Ever seen those photos of Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War and after? It's like that.

Hey, Robinson, did you age a lot in the last week, or is it just me?

Sometimes you age 10 years in a week in this business, especially if you're writing about sensitive topics that tend to draw fire no matter what you write — anything about the Cougars — You're a Ute fan! — the Utes — You're a Cougar fan! — members of the marching band community (long story) and PETA (don't go there, but I wear boots made entirely of bald eagles).

For the latest column photo, our columnists were required to stand against a brick wall. I thought it was a firing squad — you know, instead of layoffs. Staff photographer Jeff Allred took the photo. Jeff is 48, but he pretty much stopped aging at 30. He's the Dick Clark of journalism. He's a guy you could hate if he wasn't so unfailing nice and pleasant and … no, I hate him.

I was The Kid when I started here, just out of college. I started typing something about Jim McMahon one day on an IBM typewriter and next thing I know I woke up one morning with a laptop and the photo above this column. What just happened?

Benson, my (older) column buddy, likes to tell my reaction when I learned his age shortly after coming to work here — "You're 30!? Thirty years old!! YOU ARE THIR-TEE YEARS OLD?!"

He said I acted as if he just told me he had the plague. Today, I have corns that are 30. Fortunately, you can't see them in my column photo.

I don't know who started the tradition of using photos with columns, but it was probably based on a dare or a cruel joke and should be discarded immediately, unless Brooklyn Decker signs up for the job.

As a profession, columnists tend to look more like Barney Fife than Brad Pitt, more Rosie O'Donnell than Jessica Alba. We're not camera ready. As fellow columnist Randy Hollis said the other day, "I hate my photo; it looks too much like me."

email: drobinson@desnews.com

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