Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ghost riders, end of newspapers & en guarde

I cannot resist bringing you another photograph of Fram the First and Fram Actual enjoying an evening on the town. Many people in this neck of the woods are aware of our talent on the dance floor. Hardly had we entered the Doll Hut the other night when we were approached by a bevy of beautiful young ladies and asked to dance. The two of us, I mean, and no wisecracks. Got it? Anyway, we decided to perform one of the numbers we had learned as mere boys. It is called "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Here is a photographic record of our performance. What? Oh. Yes. Right. There are three of us in the photo. No sooner had we begun the dance when we were joined on the floor by cousin Raisuli. He recently had shaved his beard at the demand of his girlfriend, Eden Pedecaris, and was out on the town looking for solace. You might also note this is a very rare photo of Raisuli because it does not show him with his sword in his hand.

Newspapers are a good place to be from ....

As I prepare to depart from what almost certainly is my last job on a daily newspaper, I am thinking about a commentary written by Diva a few days ago. Read it, if you at all have been a newspaper fan during your lifetime.

Some of the words that follow I posted in response to Diva's column, and want to use them again here, as well as to add a few more. I used to think that only a few national dailies and some small, "home town-type" newspapers would survive the obvious decline in traditional journalism, but I am no longer sure even those will last. For some time, I've been adjusting to the idea of a world without an actual newspaper delivered to my door.

I began my journalism "career" as a high school sports writer. You might imagine my stories: "Led by the Fabulous Fram, our team clocked the bad boys last night." Nothing like being the reporter writing about yourself.

By the time I was a junior in high school, my morning regimen was coffee and toast while reading the Minneapolis Tribune. (Cigarettes came a few years later.)

In college, I did a bit of writing for the campus newspaper, not so much news as book and movie reviews. My first year out of college, I spent in a classroom teaching English and history. Did not like it. Mostly, what I disliked was being "locked" in a classroom all day long. I began looking for newspaper work, and found a weekly that would take me. A mere 10 months later, I jumped ship again and went to a daily. And, so it began.

Over a span of years, with some "sabbaticals" interrupting newspaper time, I worked on weeklies and dailies: small, medium and large. I promise you, working on a small-town weekly is by far the most difficult. You do every job there is to do, and you pretty much are doing it free of charge.

I have been a reporter, both general and investigative. I have been the editor of a medium-size daily. I have written straight news, sports, opinion pieces (editorials) and been a columnist. I have won a few awards from state and national journalism associations.

Being a reporter was fun. Running around, meeting people, interviewing people, being in the midst of some exiting events like a forest fire or a police stand-off, meeting some famous sports figures, political figures and literary figures, learning every aspect of local government and knowing just about everything going on in a community cannot be beat as enjoyable work.

In a newsroom, however, what money there is to be found comes from desk work -- editing, bossing, putting the paper together. I could not resist the money and moved up. When I think about it, I would rather I had not made the change. Money is money; being alive is more important. Just like teaching, newspaper desk work means being caged all day, meeting very few and learning very little. (Do I see stones flying through the air?) Works for many (obviously), not for me.

Now, traditional journalism is being replaced by a little real news and much junk news via the computer screen. This, I think, is an actual crime because there is absolutely no responsibility or accountability associated with who posts what on the internet. Political fanatics (people far beyond mere partisans) spread lies, hatred and propaganda onto the internet and call it facts and news.

You and your children and grandchildren, as they say, will have to live with it. In that sense, I feel sorry for you and your children and your grandchildren.

Back to me. For one reason or another, I have left journalism and newspaper work a few times along the way. I am doing it again, thinking (actually, knowing) it will be for the last time. There will be no more traditional newspapers to come back to in a few years.

As I told Diva, this does not bother me, because I have left newspapers a few times in the past and jumped into new places and new times and new work. I anticipate doing that again somewhere along the line between six months and a year from now.

When I was in junior high school, the brother of a friend of mine came home after being discharged from the U.S. Army 101st Airborne. From my friend, I had heard about his brother's adventures since his first day at jump school. I asked the elder brother if he had liked the Army, fully expecting him to say something to the effect that it had been great. His reply, made with a straight face and his eyes looking away from me, was, "It's a good place to be from." His words had a startling impact on me at the time. Those words sort of describe my feeling now, today, about newspapers.

But, like Diva, I will miss their presence and being able to sit down and read them over coffee and toast in the morning.

En guarde, you scoundrel ....

How many read my "Scaramouche" words, I have no idea, but one additional thought came to mind with hindsight. I have "played" with swordsmanship myself. I participated in the fencing club my final year in college. It came about accidentally through choosing a fencing class as one of the physical education requirements, liking it and being asked to join the club. Another element I have in common with Andre-Louis. I just hope the ending to my story is as satisfactory as was his.

Music Note: Listening to .38 Special ....
Specifically, "Special Forces" ....
Some lines from: "Caught Up In You:"

I'm so caught up in you
Little girl

Fill your days and your nights
No need to ever ask me twice
oh no
Whenever you want me
And if ever, comes a day
When you should turn and walk away
Oh no
I can't live without you
I’m so caught up in you


Chocobo said...

I'll miss the crosswords most. It just doesn't work right if you don't do them on paper.

TheChicGeek said...

Awwww, Cousin Raisuli shaved his beard? Now I've lost my chance...I've never kissed a man with a beard before...LOL :)

I do love the photo...it's so neat how photographers can catch people in the air like that, especially 3 all looking so wonderful.

I think this is a very exciting time for you, Fram, new horizons, new doors to open :)

I wish the news people would just report the news in a neutral fashion and let the reader make up their own minds instead of always pushing their adgenda of the day :)
I think the news room with miss Fram even if Fram won't miss the newsroom :)
Have a Happy Day!

TheChicGeek said...

Ooops, "will miss Fram" LOL :)

Katy said...

I fear you may be right Fram. There have been a number of local newspapers here too that have gone out of business in the last year or so. Plenty are still hanging on, but for how long? I'd like to think forever but realistically probably not, or not all. Maybe the nationals will hang on in there though. I hope so anyway. I don't just value them for their news / interest content but for the sense of cohesion they bring, for want of a better word.

I took fencing too, for a couple of years in the 6th form. Tough isn't it?! And sometimes painful...

No stones from me Fram. I loathe being cooped up in any one work place, and try to choose those jobs that have a lot of 'out and about' of one sort or another built in.

Exciting times ahead for you :-)

Fram said...

Angie leaves me speechless and looking for my thinking cap for a second day in a row.

Fram said...

Raisuli said to tell Kelly it is time for him to start working on a tan, and that beards grow rather quickly. I've never kissed anyone with a beard, either. Somehow, I don't think I ever will.

As a "young" reporter, I frequently tried to be a photographer. Ordinary stuff was no problem, but capturing great athletic moments which, I think, often includes dance, requires considerably more skill and proficiency than a part-time camera guy can hope to acquire. Gear makes a huge difference, too. By the time I could afford the top of the line cameras and lenses, I was sitting behind a desk where I had no need of them.

New horizons, new doors. Yes and yes.

Fram said...

Runner, swimmer, diver and fencer (or should that be fencette?).

I enjoyed fencing to the point where I almost have purchased foils and associated gear a couple of times, Katy, but my thought receded when I realized how much time would be required to become half-decent at it again. Also, having mostly lived in significantly less than metropolitan areas does not make for finding people who have any interest in it.

I think everything that offers cohesion in life is diminishing at a pace noticeable even in the amount of time it takes for me to type this sentence. As for newspapers, there still will be real reporters and real news organizations, but fewer and less reliable, and you'll need to carry some manner of electronic device around with you to be able to read their product.

Exciting times? We shall see.

Natalie said...

After reading your post, these were my childhood recollections, kind of out-place-memories...
A small town 4-page newspaper was read out loud by my grandmother, all four pages…
Grandmother cutting that very same newspaper into small squares for my grandfather’s smoking – he would roll his cigarettes using the cheapest and the stinkiest tobacco at 4 copecks per pack…
I still remember the smell of it and love it…

Fram said...

I suppose some might think of that as a sad memory from a difficult life, but it seems to me like a very picturesque and nostalgic memory simply of the reality of the times.

I have seen people use newspapers for rolling tobacco. I have seen newspapers used for insulation in very old houses, and for mattress stuffing in relics in a museum.

Your memory sounds like the foundation for more poetry, Natalie. I can smell the aroma of the tobacco, too, just from the few words that you wrote here, and visualize the scene in my mind without even having to close my eyes.

Natalie said...

You did miss one of my comments in "working out" post.
P.S. I'll think about a poem to my grandfather...
He called me a Cat, not kitty, just a Cat... and that was probably the sweetest word he ever said to anybody…

Fram said...

I would put a couple of bucks on the table betting that your grandfather and I would have gotten along very well.

I will look for the comment I missed.

Magdalena said...

Hi Fram! :-) I was planning to boast of my cap to you before I leave for my journey :-) It will be my temporary spiritual travel, and hiking is involved, i guess. And I hope biking too. I will be back one or two weeks after the Easter. I love this picture you posted yesterday. All, all, all the best and have a beautiful time. Bye, bye :-)

Fram said...

You are ready for the woodlands with your new cap, Magdalena.

Yes, both the photograph and the dancers are first rate.

Safe journey, and may your respite from the world be everything you hope and dream it to be.

Magdalena said...

Thank you :-)*

A Cuban In London said...

Class. Boy, you can write the pants off any professional reporter. And that dance photo? Marvellous. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Fram said...

Thank you, for the compliment, CiL.

Being a blogger has one thing in common with being a reporter for me. It provides the opportunity to meet many people, here, there and everywhere, and to learn new ideas and ways of life. In this regard, I am very glad to have met you.

Something special ....