Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow day rumination on newspapers and adulthood

It's been many months since I have posted here but when I turned 47 in early February and at the same time ran smack dab into the Rupert Murdoch juggernaut, it inspired me to consider some of the things that make us adults. Indeed, it is that very adulthood that keeps me from writing on these pages. More on that later.

With apologies to Mom and Dad, I owe as much to Gavin McInnes as anyone in my approach to adulthood. Believe me, the older I get the more I want to rock a faux hawk, grow a beard, get stupidly expensive headphones for the subway and ride one of those ten foot tall bikes. Vice's Do's and Dont's helped me to see how desperate and downright creepy that is. It's not just that you look like a loser unable to face the reality of adulthood, it's also that somebody needs to be paying attention. I mean this in both the broadest sense and the narrowest. We need people to pay attention to the scumbags on the A train as well as the idiots in Congress. So how do you do this and what does it have to do with Rupert Murdoch? I'm glad you asked.

Start by taking off your ridiculous headphones asshole. Yes, New York City is loud and sure, Iron and Wine is slightly more pleasant than that crying baby or screaching train brakes but guess what, you can't always be comfortable. I know you want to avoid confrontation and interaction at all costs but leaving the responsibilities of society to others just makes you a pussy. This incessant primacy of comfort in all aspects of our lives is nowhere more evident than in airport concourses where parades of Cinabon eating, Pumpkin Spice Latte drinking lardasses promenade past in their pajamas, pillows under their arms and flip flops on their disgusting fat feet. Or in Williamsburg where thousands of hipsters are snowed-in today because it wouldn't occur to them to maybe buy a snow shovel. Hey, that's the landlord's job isn't it? I hope you run out of cheese.

So all of this was going through my mind on my birthday as I cursed Uncle Rupert, media magnate, owner of the Wall Street Journal and old time newspaperman, for having the temerity to now want me to pay to read WSJ editorials. They have long restricted their web site news stories to paying subscribers but the opinion pages were free. And isn't it my God given right to get free content on the internet? After all, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Paul Gigot, Sam Sifton and Jane Perlez (note: these last two dodge waiters and bullets for the Times) all do this for free, right? Wrong. I suddenly realized that I could not in good conscience complain about the demise of newspapers if I wasn't willing to step up and be an adult. In this case, it meant simply adding a WSJ subscription to the one I have for the NYT. It works out to the embarrassingly paltry sum of $10 a month. So for all of you who mourn the loss of a vibrant local free press but who get all of their content for free on the internet, you are part of the problem. Grow up.

I was travelling with a colleague this past week and she off handedly mentioned that she had given up baked goods like cookies and bagels for lent. When I pointed out that she wasn't Catholic she just shrugged. She didn't need to elaborate. As I stuffed my face with a banana nut muffin I realized just how good we, as a society, have it. I'm not saying that having a sensible haircut and a subscription to the Journal makes me a saint or even an adult. Nor am I saying we all need to wear hair shirts. Deprivation and discomfort, in and of themselves, aren't what build character. What builds character and makes us adults (and keeps newspapers open) is our willingness to face up to responsibilities that might just force us off the path of least resistance. Practicing these principles in small ways in our everyday life can help us when the time comes and you really need to suck it up and drive on.

Am I a pompous ass? You know it. I'm also sorry that it took a snow day to get me back to the keyboard. There are just so many important people and things to do in my life that these on-line derangements seem like a luxury. If anybody's out there I would love to hear your comments.


  1. I like what you're saying. And it's not only paying attention to our own place in the world but to the place of everyone else, too. So I'm happy to pay for subscriptions and write to my representatives in government, U.S., Italy, U.N., other people's governments... and to pay attention to and for other people's children and the world we are making for them. Good on ya', Robey!

  2. I'm down with all that. Especially on the A train. Well, I'm not actually convinced about the NYT ;-)

  3. That's the boy I know.
    I'm with ya. congress sucks flip flops and ugly feet must go. Bring the schovel back to our govt. maybe they can really use it to bury the menucia...

    David Virelles

  4. i agree with the last commenter.

    and I have a mohawk - not a faux hawk. is that ok?

  5. It's been too long since you've posted. Wish we could cajole Mother Nature into giving you a snow day in July to get you back to the keyboard.