How to Read a Newspaper

I’d like to be the kind of person who reads newspapers.  To have something new and executive-looking to flap open every day.  It is nearly impossible to read a newspaper without looking like an adult, even if you’re reading the comics.  Who else but old people read newspaper comics?

My father is a big newspaper-reader.  I remember a lot dark autumn nights around a late dinner table, just me and him, papers spread out around thawed chicken patty sandwiches.  Rarely did we come across an item so unusual and welcome that we publicly exclaimed “Man, I’m glad we read this!”.  But yet we did it over and over again.

I always just read the comics.  The Washington Post had three pages of them.  Sometimes the international pages had some good bloodshed in them.  Otherwise, I just read a book.

I still just read books.  News in newspapers seems either too delayed or too agenda-ized for me to consider it useful.  And what does “useful” mean in the context of news anyway?  How does one “use” news?  “Well I like to stay informed.”  But I don’t really get that.  I’ve never really felt more “informed” (by whatever definition) after reading a paper.  And I’ve never really felt as I was just walking around “Gee, I wish I was better informed.”  Is that the same thing as “educated”?  No, of course not.  But who can explain the difference? 

I’m a terrible voter, of course.  I almost never have any idea about any issue on the ballot or any candidate’s platform or background.  My usual technique is to print out the ballot from a local news source the night before and use their little blurbs to make quick decisions based on nothing else.  I’m almost positive this isn’t how the system is supposed to work.

My mother also reads newspapers, to a slightly lesser degree.  She is an advocate of her local city paper, in a town of less than 30,000.  Local stories and human interest generally take the front page, with national news on the inside.  Of course, she is an avid crossword puzzler, so maybe her interest in the rest of the paper is only ancillary.

I wish they published novels in newspaper form.  The Newspaper Club prints anything you want in newspaper form.  Perhaps it could be leveraged by authors and publishers to make those of us with a poor self-image put on a more engaged and adult facade.  I’m always open to new ways to lie about who I am.

That way I could look like a caring, up-to-date, executive type on the subway instead of a dangerous and withdrawn bookworm who is probably borderline mentally retarded. 

Look at him, staring at all the words all densely packed together, while the competent members of society around him confidently flick from page to broadside page absorbing pertinent, timely, and practical information at the absolute upper limits of human data throughput.  And look, the book has a New York Public Library sticker on the spine!  He can’t even afford to own what he’s reading!  And you know only terrorists and homeless gay people use public libraries.

“Hey Bookie!  What you reading for?  Trying to get all caught up on what people were thinking about back in <snort> 2005?  You know those people you’re reading about?  Don’t exist.  Lies, every word on that page, just Satan’s metaphorical semen caught between two tastefully designed covers, mixed with whatever actual semen was contributed by the past borrowers of that book.  Yeah, ‘fiction’, I know, the Hun’s favorite euphemism.”

Kindles?  They’re just for liberals.

What Will I Do When You’re Dead, Woody Allen

A Nocturne: “It Was Just Beneath the Window”