Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"dear rest-of-america..."

I'm a fan of the village voice from the early 70s when it cost 60c and that seemed pretty dear. I've got several books written about its history from both outsiders and insiders (the long-hoped for upclose history by norman mailer never appeared, and we have to be content with the interviews he gives in other books) and I'm especially fond of the political and arts coverage in the 80s, what alex cockburn and james ridgeway used to write about in the "annals of the age of reagan."

when I was living in new paltz in 86-7 I had a subscription--by then the cover price had gone to $1.50 but for subs it came out to a little less than a buck an issue--and it came every saturday in the mail (the week after the week it covered--it was the 80s, nothing was perfect). I'd settle in for the afternoon with a beer or 2, flipping through each huge 150+ page issue to get a feel for what was covered, and then parcel out my stories for the next week, reading every single page if not every word. the smell of stale ink and paper was intoxicating and tho I knew better I imagined the paper wafted to me from one of manhattan's still-operating manned kiosks after all the early editions had gone out, and I could smell the fingers of every person I imagined riffled its pages, bagel in 1 hand, greek-style coffee cup in the other. when I was sports editor of my college newspaper and called before one of the deans and asked "whereever did you get your ideas about how to cover sports?" I said, "the village voice."

the voice remains one of my daily reads now that it's nearly a daily with its blogs and immediate content. I especially love the "runnin' scared" daily blog (particularly roy edroso's "exploring the right wing blogosphere" appearing at midnight sunday and alan scherstuhl's "studies in crap" on thursday mornings) and I'm a supporter of the return of "press clips." there's a certain voice to the voice and that is nowhere more evident than in its coverage of the so-called "ground zero mosque" controversy. here, typos aside, is an excellent riposte to the creative fears of newt gingrich and pam geller and others. the final sentences--"Now: Fuck you. Fuck you and shut up, you assholes. Shut up and leave New York alone"--could be the coda to every story the voice has ever printed.

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