Thursday, October 26, 2006
Personal Asides: The Sun-Times Endorsements and The Poetry Hour Continued with Frank Nofsinger.
Un-Baffling and Baffling.
The Chicago Sun-Times was once a very good newspaper when it was edited by Milburn (Pete) Akers with the editorial page run by a worldly-wise scholar of Chicago with a droll sense of humor and writing-style, Emmett Dedmon. Owned by Marshall Field, it was a liberal newspaper trended to a fashionable kind of left but had a depth to it that transcended its tabloid size. The editorial endorsements were almost always a surprise. When I moved back here, having spent eleven years in politics in Minnesota, I saw at once that the tenor of the old Sun-Times had changed. Then it was a totally Democratic newspaper. Now it was a liberal one but had had the guts to endorse Robert Merriam the liberal reform Republican for mayor over Richard J. Daley in 1955. Charles Percy was a close associate of both Akers and Dedmon as well as the man he called MarshField himself. Yet the paper endorsed Otto Kerner for reelection as governor, pointing out that Percy was too timid to support a federal fair employment practices law because he would alienate Barry Goldwater and thus they would go with Kerner.
That leisurely independence changed as the newspaper business did itself. Field died; he was succeeded by his son who strove earnestly to build a good paper. He didbut at the end his brother who liked to run around with Hollywood girls wanted to cash in his piece of the paper and parlay it on film production. It seemed to break Marshall Fields heart but he had to sell. I remember Mike Royko attacking the brother and laying out exactly what the brother wantedto use his inherited portion to chase starlets. It was the single-most time I admired Royko. (His was an acquired taste. I always thought the best thing he ever did was the Christmas piece on Joe and Mary looking for a place to flop on a snowy night).
Akers and Dedmon are dead and the paper has passed through a number of hands, not all of them kind onesbut never worse than when the Two Crooks ran it along with the watchdog head of the board audit committee who didnt bark because he was so superficially entranced with clinking cocktail glasses with Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle. Now a decision has been made to have it become four-square the Democratic newspaper of record and insofar as they can (although they cannot control the indomitable Fran Spielman) make the news interpretation agree with the editorials. That was a sound decision. Not so sound a decisionin fact catastrophicwas the decision to follow the no-class, no-taste Michael Cooke who is turning a very good paper into a kind of harlot: playing up breasts, front-page screamers on The Vagina Monologue and all that stuff.
A unified paper both editorially and news-wise is not insupportable. The New York Times with which I vehemently disagree is an excellent product if you dont mind a little treason with your morning coffee. The Wall Street Journal could, for my two cents, imitate the Times by presenting one unified newspapernot two a newspaper that presents the Washington news with a lefty slant but the editorials with brilliant conservative philosophy and rhetoric. But Ill stake the Wall Street as the best overall newspaper today in my lifetime.
As I say, I can salute the Sun-Times for being the Democratic newspaper of recordwhich means endorsing Blagojevich-- but Jeeze God does it have to so go down the line and into the toilet by endorsing Todd Stroger of all people who is a laughingstock incompetent and Alexi Giannoulias, a bum of bums and a charlatan at that for State Treasurer? Especially the latter? This is a very rare political year. The Democratic party has offered at least two abominable candidatesStroger and Giannoulias awful! I take it that with Cruickshank and Cooke, theyre a no-class duo, but do they have to send the paper out with a cigarette dangling from its painted lips to lean against the light-post and hustle Democrat readers who themselves are sickened by the choices? Dear God is there no subtlety? Well, just look at what theyve done with the front page and you have the answer.
You can say yes but theres the Tribune endorsing Duckworth and Bean. Yes, but this is a newspaper that is going through the equivalent of a nervous breakdown with the exception of the very best columnist it has had in my long life, John Kass.
The Poetry Hour.
Contributor Frank Nofsinger, a good friend, sent over a poem that is brilliant in its majesty: The Land of Sandra Dee. Its obvious its written by a witty woman. I ran a few stanzas of it the other day and promised to complete itonly to be sidetracked yesterday. To get the cadence, similar to Puff the Magic Dragon, scroll back and read the beginning stanzas by the glowing portrait of Sandra Dee. Now here I ask Jake Parrillo, webmeister extraordinaire, to place another portrait of Sandra Dee in this place while we complete this great literary work of art.
Wed never heard of Microwaves/ or telephones in cars/ And babies might be bottle-fed but they werent grown in jars/ And pumping iron got the wrinkles out, and gay meant fancy free/ And dorms were never coed in the land of Sandra Dee.
We hadnt seen enough of jets to talk about the lag/ And microchips were what was left at the bottom of the bag/ And Hardware was a box of nails and bytes came from a flea/ And rocket ships were fiction in the land of Sandra Dee.
Buicks came with portholes and sideshows came with freaks/ And bathing suits came big enough to cover both your cheeks/ And Coke came just in bottles and skirts came to the knee/ And Castro came to power in the land of Sandra Dee.