I was so very impressed by Czeslaw Milosz’s book Milosz’s ABC’s. There, in the form of a brief and alphabetically-ordered personal encyclopedia, was the story of the life of a Nobel Prize winning poet, of the people, places, and things that meant the most to him. Because his origins were so far away (Lithuania and Poland) and so long ago (1920s and 1930s), there were relatively few entries that resonated personally with me. Except it was sad to see so many fascinating people who, unknown today, died during the war under unknown circumstances.
My own ABCs consist of places I have loved (Iceland), things I feared (Earthquakes), writers I have admired (Chesterton, Balzac, Proust, and Borges); things associated with my past life (Cleveland and Dartmouth College), people who have influenced me (John F. Kennedy), and things I love to do (Automobiles and Books). This blog entry is my own humble attempt to imitate a writer whom I have read on and off for thirty years without having sated my curiosity. Consequently, over the months to come, you will see a number of postings under the heading “Tarnmoor’s ABCs” that will attempt to do for my life what Milosz accomplished for his. To see my other entries under this category, hit the tag below marked “ABCs”. I don’t guarantee that I will use up all 26 letters of the alphabet, but I’ll do my best. Today the letter is “N” for Newspapers.
I know that newspapers are in trouble, especially in this country. Still, I cannot imagine beginning my day without reading the Los Angeles Times with my breakfast. (It used to be the Herald Examiner, but that died almost exactly twenty-five years ago.) I scan the front page, the California section, the business section, and—most especially—the comics.
The comics have always given me a good feel for the way people really look at life. It’s the most “popular” section of the paper, and it cuts across age boundaries and even socioeconomic boundaries. I know I could see many of the comics on individual websites, but not easily while I am drinking my tea and munching my cheese and crackers. This morning it would not have been possible at all because I think my Uninterrupted Power Supply unit crashed overnight. Despite a fearsome rainstorm, however, my paper was still leaning on my doorstep.
There are parts of my newspaper I don’t read, including the sports page and many opinions of columnists and pundits. I’m down on pundits in general. It’s kind of pathetic that these people, who get paid for being experts, are often so ignorant and opinionated. As for sports, I have no allegiance to these highly-paid mercenaries from L.A. and elsewhere.
Will American newspapers eventually disappear? I wish I knew. In the meantime, I will continue to read the Times.