A $300 a-week beat reporter for Omaha's
sketchy Weekly News-Telegraph, 'Occupational Hazard's' Bernard Cockburn
is one of the more perversely satisfying anti-heroes of this or any other year.
The improbably titled 'Chief of News and Marketing', Hertz proves himself worthy of the second half of his title and assigns Cockburn
yet another thinly-disguised 'Advertorial'.
(pronounced Co-burn, a point Cockburn has to make repeatedly), has other fish to fry. Nevermind a drawer already full of unfinished exposés, Cockburn's
instincts tell him a Downtown land deal has the lineaments of skullduggery.
It seems a group of citizens bent on 'cleaning up' areas slated for redevelopment are not only vigilantes, but puppet-vigilantes at that.
So, who pulls the strings?
investigation is soon awash in a sea of complications- it appears that a major advertiser of the News-Telegraph is somehow linked to the mounting body count.
will cause many readers to wonder aloud whether he's
a bigger bastard or loser, but there's a quixotic element to Cockburn
that should nonetheless keep the reader's sympathy solidly with him.
himself lives in one of the slums to be 'gentrified' by the very redevelopment deal he's
sardonically sketches his
world, we see that his
bitter contempt extends to himself.
Perhaps the only people Cockburn despises more than himself are power players.
The only real distinction Cockburn sees between the street whores and bureaucrats he
meets is point-of-purchase.
with an often howlingly hilarious, but always keen observational style.
You may well find yourself vacillating between laughing your ass off and nodding your head at one of Cockburn's
more profound observations.
, commenting on the desire of people to see their name in print says-
Destiny has earmarked Cockburn
for virtual non-existence, which Cockburn
believes is revealed metaphorically by the City in which he
lives and works.
It seems Cockburn
can't get through the day without being street-mugged by some new evidence of his
own staggering insignificance.
Between liberal applications of drugs and alcohol, Cockburn
peels the layers of the Downtown redevelopment onion.
bouts of flatulence and mild erectile dysfunction, Allison announces that she's
immediate reaction is to accuse Allison of a deliberate pregnancy.
Ha. Everyone- including Cockburn
more lucid moments- knows that Allison is more than Cockburn
Author Jonathan Segura has created in Bernard Cockburn a deeply complex character full of sneaky profundities and illuminating dichotomies.
On the surface, Cockburn
is engagingly reprehensible and estranged from the ethics of his
But the waters of 'Occupational Hazards' run much deeper.
Not only does the outwardly deeply cynical Cockburn care greatly about the world he
willing to do much more than he'd ever admit to change it.
When a deep, dark secret from Cockburn's
past surfaces, and threatens Game Over, we come to know that Cockburn's
not quite the punching bag he
makes himself out to be.