You’ve likely already seen Sunday’s Doonesbury (AMS), which has not only been posted by a lot of editorial cartoonists but was featured here by my colleague, DD Degg.
Now you get to hear what I think.
Kim notes in that last panel that newspapers themselves are endangered, which — wit all doo respeck — seems the more pressing matter.
We’re seeing growth in local on-line news sources, including not just aggregators but sites doing serious reporting, but it was more than that.
The local paper was a utility like power or water, and everyone subscribed because that’s what grownups did.
That was how you knew that they were putting in a new stoplight or repaving a road or planning to build a new elementary school well before the morning you found yourself stuck in construction traffic. You might hate or love your city council rep, but you knew who it was.
The first political/editorial cartoonist I met was Chuck Asay, whose apartment backed onto my alley, so we used to run into each other walking to our cars back when he was doing caricatures at fairs and I was freelancing for the Colorado Springs Sun, where he became the staff cartoonist.
I nearly always disagreed with his take on national and international news, but his local cartoons were great fun and, besides, he illustrated light local features and did caricatures of their columnists. He added flavor, texture and character to the printed page.
That’s what it meant to have a cartoonist as part of a truly local paper that served its community and mattered to its community.
Chain-owned papers just don’t make that connection, and the loss of staff cartoonists is a symptom of their fatal, cookie-cutter approach.
They have also, in recent years, begun trimming from the top, offering buyouts to expensive senior staff who know the town and hiring starter-salary youngsters who can barely find town hall and don’t know anyone who works there. As I’ve said before, it’s like a steak house slashing overhead by purchasing cheaper cuts of meat and then complaining that business has dropped.
There are still quite a few cartoonists doing political work for syndicates or on a freelance basis, because readers like cartoons.
But if staff cartoonists are the canaries in the coal mine, the fact that they’re simply allowed to succumb indicates how little the chains care about the rest of their workers.
This Man Overboard fits my philosophical mood. I’ve entered the home stretch and it’s bittersweet, because, yes, just as you start to figure it out, you realize it’s damned near over. Not that I’m dying or anything, but my father didn’t live this long, my mother is still around at (obviously) a greater age and my grandfather checked out somewhere in between.
Aging does tend to turn you philosophical, my consolation being that I don’t have a bucket list because I’ve pretty much done the things that mattered to me and the rest was never worth fretting over.
However, as noted oft before, I want this 1998 Arlo & Janis engraved on my headstone.
Never admit to anyone, especially yourself, that ‘you did the best you could.’ In the first place it probably isn’t true, and secondly you are saying that your best is not good enough, you are admitting defeat. Many people feel that such a remark justifies them before the world. I claim that it merely proclaims incompetence.
Good advice, and a reminder that philosophy is not always comforting. Sometimes it’s a goad.
Juxtaposition of Flaming Youth
Gaudeamus igitur, Iuvenes dum sumus,
Gaudeamus igitur, Iuvenes dum sumus,
Post jucundam juventutem, Post molestam senectutem,
Nos habebit humus,
(Let us rejoice while we are young.
Let us rejoice while we are young.
After the joys of youth, after the troubles of old age,
We will be in the ground)
I’m all in favor of a joyful youth and did my best to have one, but I’m not much for wretched excess, and wasn’t, even before I became a grumpy old man.
My prom was festive, but it didn’t even involve tuxedos, much less stretch limos. We lived the normal lives of normal kids.
Granted, some of this was rural life in a blue-collar community: The paper mill donated rolls of high-quality paper, which we taped up as wallpaper around the gym and painted to match our prom theme. We hired a band, we scrounged the town to borrow card tables and folding chairs, we bought candles and the cafeteria staff came in to provide food.
There was no florist in town, so we ordered our corsages from the funeral home.
Then we dressed our best and celebrated.
My girlfriend, like several — perhaps most — of the girls, made her own dress, I wore my dark suit, and we doubled with Al and Barb in his parents’ 65 burgundy Mustang.
Then, when the band stopped playing and the dance was over, we went home.
Not only that, but, four years later, a different fantastic woman made her own dress as well as the finger-sandwiches for the wedding we paid for ourselves, featuring a legendary local band and about 40 family and friends.
We considered an outdoor ceremony on Mt. Evans, but the logistics of transporting grandmas at 14,000 feet in March made it impractical.
Fortunately, her brother’s roommate’s father was an Episcopal priest who not only let us use his church in Denver but signed the license, since our nominally Catholic celebrant had been defrocked for being too enthusiastic in his support of the farm workers’ strike in the San Luis Valley.
A simple life could be complex in them thar days.
Anyway, I’ve nothing against big weddings. I enjoyed reading about the big wedding one of my young reporters went to.
And I figure, if you’re old enough to marry, you’re old enough to make your own choices, as long as that’s what they are.
So this was our recessional. I forget what we paid them, but I had to drive up into the mountains and find the buses they lived in.
Good times, good choices.