Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Newspaper of Whose Record?

I have read that the New York Times is America's "Newspaper of Record". I have been reading it off and on for the last 50 years, and I now have a question.

Whose America is it recording and reporting for?

When I was thirteen, Mr Clay, my Social Studies teacher at the Charlestown, N.H.
Junior High School, arranged for those of us who wanted it to subscribe to the daily Times. My parents agreed to pay. My mother told me that she had heard that anyone who read the New York Times faithfully( for I forget how many years )received the equivalent of a college education.

My father always bought the Sunday edition, and I remember so well the Book Review. How substantial it was! Pages and pages in the era of Mailer, and Roth, and Cheever, and Heller. Mary McCarthy. Robert Lowell. Sylvia Plath.

But that was 50 years ago, when the best seller list was in the back, and it merited only one page.

For a while this past winter, I drove to Kroger on Sunday morning to pick up the Sunday Times, even though it set me back $6.00 a week, $24 dollars a month.

$24 dollars buys me a week's worth of gas if I don't stray far. It buys two big bags of primo catfood, which is the only kind my porch cats will eat. But I loved the idea of the Sunday Times, and one morning after buying it I felt so buoyant that I went in to the Starbucks for only the third time in my life and spent more money on a pastry and a big Cappuchino.

Truly this was living again! Here I was, an Intelligent Citizen, no longer an impecunious peon, about to spend my Sunday inhaling Civilization and Culture. A Wallace Stevens morning-

"Complacencies of the peignoir and late

Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair".

The big review of the week was Cynthia Ozick's of the Library of America's publication of Bernard Malamud's novels. I read the first two pages, then went looking for the rest.

But there was no rest. The Times, eager to include 5 pages of Best Seller lists, had forgotten the rest of Cynthia Ozick.

In subsequent weeks I found a few things to enjoy, but none worth $6. There was an article about a group of Steampunkers aboard a cruise ship, and for a few minutes I forgot myself and wished that I could be a Steampunker too, for I admire people who stay playful in adulthood and who do not let their imaginations atrophy and die.

Yet how puny were the Editorial pages and the Book Review.

How fat were the Style Section and the "T" Magazine.

For here is where the heart and soul of the Times are now. Forget the occasional expose of the scandalous cost of Asthma care in this country, the real story now is the story of our Financial Overlords, who spend 30 Grand a month to vacation in places you and I would never be allowed into. They buy "Ricky" bags and six hundred dollar shoes, never having to worry as we do that we might need $600 for a new timing belt in our 14 year old cars.

I do not buy the Sunday Times now. If I see an article I want to read, I go to Google, and I sneak around the Paywall.

Probably a misdemeanor in our New Republic of Pleonexia,whose house organ is "T" magazine .

Government of Goldman Sachs by Goldman Sachs for Goldman Sachs.

Somewhere out there a re-born Madame Defarge is knitting. But you will never hear about it in the Sunday New York Times.

1 comment:

Out on the prairie said...

I have missed out, I still haven't read my last Sundays paper.