Hearne: Love Affair With Star Columnist Mike Hendricks Takes Startling Turn

Give it up for fallen Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks

But first let’s get real. Odds are Hendricks would like nothing more than to poke one of my eyes. Or, in a kinder, gentler mood, cut out my journalistic tongue. Since leaving the newspaper nearly three years ago I (reluctantly at first)  embarked on a course of citiquing it as I do other local media. 

And frankly, there was no easier target than Mad Mike.

His columns – with some exception –  were a paragon of mediocrity. While they shone brightly next to those of also ousted columnist Steve Penn and Mary Sanchez, column writing just wasn’t Hendricks’ thing.

I also remember the lengthy, at times futile search for Star "Metro" columnists long ago that brought Hendricks to power.

And I recall another Mike Hendricks – the other Mike Hendricks…

The one who’s body of work stood out to me in my early days at the Star. That lead to his being annointed columnist. Like the Star Magazine story Hendricks penned in the year of our lord 1996.

"The hills are alive …with the sound of bulldozers Is Mission Hills being built anew – or torn asunder?" its headline read.

"Marble goddesses gaze languidly at the Range Rovers and Jaguars whooshing past on Mission Drive,"it begins. "Sprinklers spritz country club fairways. Tennis balls clap courts of clay. Another serene day in Mission Hills, paradise on the plains – shattered suddenly by a barbarous roar.

"Rrrrrrrrrump! Brick, pine and lath crackle under a bulldozer’s tread. Plaster dust swirls like a demon. Four bedrooms, four baths. Once the residence of a heart surgeon and his wife, the $500,000 home on Overhill Road is pulverized and carted off to the dump like sweepings from the Jewel Ball. A chainsaw snarls from a ridge above the Kansas City Country Club. Hackberry and walnut trees topple into a clearing where a $700,000 home once stood.

"Bugs skitter across a pond forming in what was until recently the basement of yet another posh address.

"Demolition crews thunder down Mission Hills‘ winding lanes like panzers through the Ardennes. They clear expensive split-levels and gracious Colonials from properties valued at three-quarters of a million dollars. Ten in the last year or so. More to come.

"How can they be tearing down Mission Hills?"

Not only was Hendricks’ story dead on and timely, it was wonderfully well-written.

Including gems like his characterization of Mission Hills "as the seat of old money, home to corporate titans, senior law partners and trust-fund loafers." Contrasted with upstart upscale hood Hallbrook as being the " gilded ghetto to the south, where pricey homes sit cheek by jowl on small lots staked with pathetic saplings."

Clearly the dude could write…and report.

That said, Hendricks didn’t much like it when I outted him for (foolishly) trashing his editors at the Star on Facebook after being demoted from three columns a week to two. While taking a one third paycut while losing benefits and a lengthy paid vacation. Nor the time shortly thereafter when he prevailed on said Facebook friends for help find him a high paying, fun job to replace his newly shitty one at the Star.

And of course, he didn’t like it when I wrote about how he became a national PR industry joke for a failed fling at landing a public relations gig in Topeka. An effort punctuated by Hendricks explanation to the lady that would have become his boss that he was better qualified for her position than the she was hiring for underneath her.

See, here’s the deal…

Mostly Hendricks didn’t like what I wrote about him and that I wrote about him, but there was no disputing the facts.

So instead he hung his hat on that I should have called him for a comment. That’s fair. Under many circumstances news subjects must be called for their comment. At other times, when the misdeeds and/or exploits are public knowlege – as in the caseof  the H Man’s Facebook rants, job search and PR faux pas – straight humor and criticism are fair game.

In other words, he called me for a technical – the improper use of journalistic etiquette.

However, it wasn’t absolutely necessary that I call him to see if he got the joke.

Any number of Star columnists – including unnamed writers in its editorial division – deliver jests and jabs sans a friendly call to the subject of their scorn.

But I come here not to bury Mike Hendricks, I come here to praise him.

Because, as evidenced by today’s front page story about Indian Springs Shopping Center, Hendricks is back and he’s bad. And that’s good! He also did a nice job of covering the recent Plaza kidz melee and subsequent curfew action.

So kudos to the former columnist who couldn’t shoot straight.

He’s got a full paycheck again – apparently having escaped  part time purgatory – and while that paycheck is likely far smaller than the one he was cashing prior to the newspaper’s nosedive the past three years, my bet is Hendricks is plenty glad to have it. Lucky, too after dodging all those foot-in-mouth bullets.

So Mike, please accept this attaboy from me. And in lieu of a man hug, or call to you for comment, allow me to say, good luck  and keep up the good work.

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23 Responses to Hearne: Love Affair With Star Columnist Mike Hendricks Takes Startling Turn

  1. Ross says:

    Speaking of mediocre….
    citiquing? Really? Stopped reading there. Do you not have the ability to edit/proof anything that goes on this site? For as much crap as you give the Star for screwing up (and that does seem to be the main point of your site), you’d think you’d take care to be just a bit better.

  2. Hearne Christopher says:

    Well said. I would invite you to consider the fact that KCC doesn’t have 700-plus staffers, checking for typos.

  3. smartman says:

    I’ve got schmegma under the foreskin of my penis with more writing talent than Mad Mike. I’m cultivating some in a petrie dish right now and will prove that point as soon as it sprouts some appendages.

    The Indian Springs article was no big whup. It was more of a PUFF/PROPAGANDA PIECE for Joe Reardon and the UG. Mike only explored the yin and not so much the yang of the whole situation. His piece was Collison-esque in its’ blind ignorance
    and fellatio-ness

    That real estate will NEVER be converted into meaningful retail. It’s better suited to become a SUPER MEGA TRUCKSTOP with all you can eat Biscuits and Gravy or Huevos Rancheros.
    The area from 27th to 64th has become a no mans land. Take a drive around there sometime and see if your real estate retail antennae sprout a development boner. Disney will build a theme park at Bannister Mall before Indian Springs becomes anything that actually contributes to the community.
    KCK, east of the Legends pretty much remains a SHITHOLE. All that trickle down that Carol Marinovich promised didn’t trickle down so much.
    Perhaps having more Mexican Restaurants per capita than any city in the world will be a Jeopardy answer some day.

    KCK has HUGE problems and the guy(Nick Sloan) running the online version of the Kansan doesn’t seemed too inclined to shit in the mouths of those that feed him. The Star could not care less about the real macro/micro socio-economic issues of KCK. They’re too busy fucking up the KCMOSD and being apologists for MAC DADDY SLY.

    You can make Mike Hendricks King For A Day if you want but he’s nothing more than a kangaroo court jester.

  4. snappietom says:

    I like Hearne Christopher
    Hearne Christopher is the type of writer that should be writing for the New York Times. We are lucky to have him in Kansas City.

  5. Hearne Christopher says:

    Well, when it comes to whether or not that land will ever really be of much, if any value, I’m with you.

    It was an interesting documentation of what went down and where it stands today though, I think.

    Hard to imagine something very successful there though. I mean, within reason you can locate a fancy schmancy grocery store and/or a Walgreen’s about anywhere. But if KCK is looking to come up with a replacement anywhere near the scope of the old Indian Springs – at that location – good luck!

  6. Hearne Christopher says:

    How much Snapple you consume before posting, Tom?

  7. Mark X says:

    … and again ..
    Nice one, Smartman.

    Hearne, using a sockpuppet once more? … ‘snappietome’? really? … you have more of an imagination than that…

  8. JayhawkTony says:

    Hey Ross…Dumbass…
    You harp on Hearne for his editing/proofing, but yet you can’t spell “critiquing” correctly (missing the “r”). Not to mention you didn’t capitalize the word since it is the start of a one-word sentence.

    Nice work, douchenozzle.

  9. xxMillerTimexx says:

    If you would have read the story

    JayhawkTony 10:19:34 PM – Tue. Sep 6. 2011

    You harp on Hearne for his editing/proofing, but yet you can’t spell “critiquing” correctly (missing the “r”). Not to mention you didn’t capitalize the word since it is the start of a one-word sentence.

    Nice work, douchenozzle.

    Hearne spelled it that way. He missed it, which was the point of Ross’s post. May want to do some research before calling some one a “Douchenozzle”

  10. xxMillerTimexx says:

    Hey Hearne!!!!!!!!
    I was wondering when the option to reply to a post would be implemented in this site? It would be nice to post to a comment, like you do, and everyone know what post you’re talking about. Just a thought.

  11. Rick says:

    So let me get this right or is it write?
    You felt the Mission Hills article that you quoted was good? That explains a lot.

    You bash Hall for not contacting Wright but yet you give examples in this post that you don’t contact but its okay?

    And yes while I concur that KCC doesn’t have 700 people (which might be the number needed for a Glazer post) to check for mistakes. They also don’t have 70 writers but just a handful. One being the owner and former KC Star writer.

    So do I have all that information correct?

  12. Ross says:

    It doesn’t take a staff of 700…
    ….to copy and paste the text into something that will spell check before formatting for web use. What are we talking about here – 3 articles a day? Tops? This isn’t rocket science – or even proofreading. This is something that anyone who cares what their audience thinks of their writing should do.

  13. Hearne Christopher says:


  14. Hearne Christopher says:

    Good idea xxMTxx,

    We are poised to switch formats again, so it’s a possibility. Might get a little confusing, depending on how prolific you guys get, but I’ll look into it.

  15. Hearne Christopher says:

    I dunno about “all”

    You appear to have missed my point; there are times when you need to contact someone for comment and also to avoid possible errors in your reporting. Which is what happened in part to Greg.

    Journalism and column writing do not always call for that, however. Such as my critiquing of Hendricks and columnists nationwide who write what they think about whatever or whomever w/o contacting and/or giving them a chance to respond.

    But they’re not breaking news. They’re commenting on known things.

    So contacting someone for comment is not required in many instances.

    However, when you’re doing an expose, it’s standard operational procedure to get the other side of the story. Or at least make that offer. Greg’s piece was a hit piece that was attempting to break news in the form of an expose on Nick Wright.

    See the difference?

  16. chuck says:

    Im confused.

    After al teh activity in KCk overr the last 15 years, and the race track etc etc, I figured they would erct statues of C. Marinovich.

    Is teh investment in that area a loser?

    I am not being a smartass, I actually thought that KCK had improved in all ways, based on the bucks and activity that the area brought to the city.

    ???? 🙂

  17. chuck says:

    Im confused.

    After al teh activity in KCk overr the last 15 years, and the race track etc etc, I figured they would erct statues of C. Marinovich.

    Is teh investment in that area a loser?

    I am not being a smartass, I actually thought that KCK had improved in all ways, based on the bucks and activity that the area brought to the city.

    ???? 🙂

  18. chuck says:

    Sorry I am mildly dyslexic

  19. smartman says:

    The Village West+ Legends+ Speedway development was supposed to provide trickle down revenue that would shore up the eastern part of the city. Never happened. Property taxes have gone up, services are being cut, KCK schools aren’t much better than KCMO. Crime is still a big problem from 64th street east into the city.

    Most of the jobs in that area are minimum wage or part time.

    Just like the P&L isn’t going to turn around KCMO, The Legends isn’t doing anything to benefit the average citizen of KCK.

    Cerner is supposed to bring 4000 jobs with an average salary of $54K to Western Wyco. Problem is very few of those people will live in and spend their money in KCK.

    Lot’s of construction jobs in KCK but again very few of those people actually live in KCK.

    The downtown KCK EPA office is moving. That’s a huge kick in the nuts for the city and the small business community.

    KCK has pension obligations they won’t be able to meet.

    If the GM plant ever pulls out just turn out the lights.

    The Legends is nothing more than facial plastic surgery and glamour shots on a rotting carcas of a body.

  20. Rick says:

    Ok I undersand
    Hearne got the explanation

  21. Rick says:

    And yes I really am…
    under sand as I speak from the beyond. Tracy is here also in the “banned zone”.

  22. chuck says:

    Thanks smartman.
    I don’t have any idea why that question was posted so many times, if it was my fault, I apologise.


  23. Hearne Christopher says:

    Funny guy…

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