Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Times of My Life

It's probably obvious by now that The New York Times is one of my primary sources of information. I started reading it as a child, and have subscribed to it everywhere I've lived.

When I was in fifth grade, a Times reporter came to our classroom. He told us about the inverted pyramid, and more important, showed us how to fold the newspaper in quarters when we rode the subway, a skill that is in such decline that Real Simple published a step-by-step how-to, with photos. (Yes, the Times wrote about that too.)

When I have time, as I did yesterday, I read the whole paper, deeply appreciating its editors' and reporters' skill and taste in finding, telling and presenting fascinating stories. Where else would I learn that RZA of Staten Island's Wu-Tang Clan had put together a chess website on the same day I read an in-depth story about Dr. John and New Orleans by the the prodigiously prolific and learned Jon Pareles?

There are stories relevant to topics I care about passionately - did you know that the MTA is discontinuing its poetry placards program and replacing them with prose? They'd already run 239 poems since 1992 and decided that it was time to get prosaic. Sad for those of us who appreciate the poetic moments available around every NYC corner and in each subway car.

There are also stories about people I know, like Patrick Swayze, whom I interviewed once and found charming, thoughtful, and very beautiful.

Even better, there are pieces about topics I have no particular interest in that get me interested, such as this softball human-interest item about the US Olympic softball team's coach.

And those are just the random non-news features - no inverted pyramids there. I recognize that, as the saying goes, yesterday's newspaper wraps tomorrow's fish. And my business side knows that it's just another advertising vehicle. But I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share.

Now, I have to get into the Sunday paper. Leonard Cohen once wrote a poem that included a line about "the weight of the Times under my arm" and it is always a weight, and a reminder of the delights of reading, and writing.

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