And Now the News

Some habits are very hard to break. (Tell me about it!) Reading newspapers, for example. I started reading the papers as a little kid. (New York Times sports section in the morning with breakfast, then the New York Post sports section in the evening–got to memorize batting averages (summer; 1968: Horace Clarke, .230; Yaz, .301; I followed both the Yankees and Red Sox–and you wonder why I'm not well?) and read about all the marvelous performances of the college and NBA stars (winter). It didn't take long for the Post's outrageous headlines to tempt me into other parts of the paper. I have vivid memories of dad getting home from work and leaving the afternoon edition of the Post and the Wall Street Journal on the front hall table. This of course, was decades before the internet, so an afternoon paper was not just another paper: it had the important advantage of including West coast sports results. (Yes, there was a time not long ago when you had to consciously wait for the news.) When we moved to Weston the routine changed to the Boston Globe and even, for a time, the Boston Herald. The surprise appearance of the Herald at the breakfast table produced some minor father-son friction (and maybe even a touch of spousal irritation?): how could dad do this? What was he thinking? But it did have the advantage of introducing me to the wild, xenophobic, hypernationalistic rants of Patrick Buchanan. He was even too much for CD. When I went to California for the first time I became familiar with the San Francisco Chronicle. When I got to Madrid in 1979 the first thing I did was buy El País, even though it took me hours to plod through the op-ed pieces, dictionary at my side. I've been excessive: a little free time somewhere? Maybe there's a Christian Science Reading room nearby.  Yes, it's over the top, but that was a good paper. Does it still exist? (I fear those Christian Scientists are in danger of just disappearing. Their church in Carlisle is now the home of one of Daniela's classmates; Asun and I even played with the idea of buying that building. The family that did buy it did a wonderful job of converting it into a lovely home.) Now happily adapted to our information age, the morning coffee can easily accomodate a quick perusal of several papers: Times, Globe, El País, Diario Sur, Washington Post, etc. I still buy the paper paper, but not on a daily basis. Anyway, recently I've been thinking this dear habit needs some serious reform. Too much time and too much depressing news. I often hear how the news, the state of the world, can lead us to feelings of helplessness, of just giving up completely and withdrawing into narcissism. And this, I believe, we must combat at all costs. Willful ignorance is not a good thing. And something can be done, however minor it may seem. It's not insignificant. (In the photo, a downtown scene.)


  1. I read the Cornell paper and it's not depressing, but I refuse to watch the news because all the stories are so disturbing. The other day the stories went in this order: eight year old kills father and his mother is concerned with having him home for thanksgiving; man in boston reports his son as missing but turns out he chopped him up and put him in different garbage bags around town; and finally, terrorists in Iraq are now using the mentally disabled as suicide bombers. I'm done watching the news.

  2. I'm glad to know you have a blog--I will come back to see lovely pictures of Spain (I've been to Malaga but long to go back to Barcelona)...about newspapers: I wonder if I'll ever make the transition to reading online: I need that tactical contact. Your memories of childhood papers is fascinating, not because of similar memories, but because I've watched my son do the same--and at 17, still reads the paper daily and pulls the Ideas section of the Sunday Globe FIRST (before comics even!). There is hope. But less and less to read. I knew it was bad when the Globe discontinued the TV "guide" and I wondered if it was time to cancel the subscription! But I still read it on some level every morning--and then go to NPR for details...

    Keep writing--I'll try to keep reading! (but I'm notoriously bad on keeping up with blogs: ask my sister!)