Where are they? What was the purpose of this photo?

We will learn it all tomorrow.

It was Tuesday, Jiune 7. It was cool in Minneapolis. I was working the column beat out of the office. It had been an unusually vexing column. Few of them are. But I'd coasted all Monday with the idea in my head, thinking it would be one of those pieces that writes itself. When I got into it, the idea put up great resistance, and I realized that the thing about which I was writing was actually impervious to the usual japery. Managed to get something out of it, but the ending was dishwater. Well, a walk should cure this.

Went over to the F&M bank to drop off some old papers for Napoleon, who uses them to stuff the shoes he'd restored. Strode north, chewing over the possibilities of saving what I'd wrote. Nothing. No ideas. Went back to the office, sat down, tapped the keyboard - and then I got a bolt: the idea that made the piece end on a whip-crack, and left a good impression.

Whew! Well, now what? Let's bang out the below-the-folds for an upcoming week. A man breathes a little easier when he knows he has the Bleat features for the first week of February 2023 in hand.

Like I said, it was Tuesday. The office is the most populated on Tuesdays. Almost like before.

Speaking of which.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

I have known a few newsrooms in my day. The college newsroom was the closest to the old ideal - loud with the clatter of manuals, thick with smoke, full of cocky eager people. The free-weekly newsroom was sedate, and felt cushy. The first daily newsroom was an insurance office with lots of holdovers - men in polyester shirts with bad ties. The Washington DC bureau was younger, smart, populated by journalists happy to be working the capitol beat for the hometown paper. It wasn’t the Times or the Post, but it was a pretty good job and they were grateful. I watched the StarTrib newsroom diminish from a large, comfortable, generously staffed institution to a husk that sloughed off people by the dozens and hundreds, before regrouping and rebuilding. ]

The stinking nonsense going on at the Washington Post made me think of my late great editor from the Pioneer Press and Newhouse, Deborah Howell. She was a great boss, cared about her employees, guided them to do their best, was keen to their emotional health, and also would have regarded everyone involved in this affair as petulant children. When she chewed you out, you stayed in a state of total mastication for quite some time - something the young crop of reporters would probably regard as violence, and an attack.

I’ve never worked in a newsroom where people snipe at each other on Twitter and demand emotional obedience because they manifest a series of attributes and conditions. There were two reasons why people were more resilient and less prone to open an artery and see how many co-workers they could douse with the spray:

Different era, obviously. We had a microaggressions seminar the other day, and of course I won’t say what anyone said - but there was a generational divide, with the older cohort noting that the atmosphere in the office in the olden times was actually macro aggressive, but in the esprit de corps sense. Yes, I know, that’s often an excuse for rude people saying stupid things and telling someone they’re too sensitive; that’s not what I mean. I mean, just frank chat with people who shared the sensibility that characterized the newsroom.

#2, and this is more important: just about everyone in the newsroom came out of a public university. Someone with an Ivy League degree was rare. I knew a few, and they fit in the newsroom just fine, because the industry attracted a type. Now it attracts a different type, and the more expensive and rarified the education, the more the person’s character is narrow, censorious, and humorless. It’s like they all woke up bruised and spend their days looking for the fist. And wouldn’t you know, look at that. Fists everywhere.

We have a new crop of interns at the paper, and I met one today. Delightful young lady. Goes to the U of M, so I asked the usual questions - did she know Professor (name of guy), did she work at the Daily, native Minnesotan? She said no, she was from South Dakota. I assumed a look of concern and said I was from North Dakota, so you know what that means.

“We’re enemies,” she said. I said yes. We could get past that, though. Boss asks North, South, what’s the difference, really, and now we are allies against the outsider.

“You’re erasing our culture,” I said. “And by the way North Dakota culture is better than South Dakota.”

I guarantee you conversations like this - completely anodyne busting of chops - happens at the Post, but possibly less and less, and certainly not when the Tweet Police are within earshot.

One day back in the old building, Deborah came to give a talk about being the Post’s ombudsman. Everyone sat down and waited for the nice civilized discussion of our wonderful profession. I said I was here under duress and frankly had heard enough of her to last a lifetime.

“Fuck you, Lileks,” she said without missing a beat.

Our old way of saying I love you too.

 

 

 

It’s 1975.

They had a motto! “With or Without Offense to Friends or Foes We Sketch Your World Exactly As It Goes.”

Byron, from the heyday of the objective press.

It’s a standard 1975 cover. The main story concerns a half-billion dollar bill providing summer jobs for disadvantaged youth. I wonder what those jobs were. Who had them. How they helped.

 

   
  Front page ACTION LINE!
   

Ellie Rucker died in 2013. She was in the newspaper game a long time.

Southwest Woman Magazine described her as "the most popular columnist to ever grace the pages of the American-Statesman". She also wrote a restaurant recipe column for the food section, a unique column where readers request recipes of items.

She collected the columns into books, too.

This gives you an idea what the media world was like in 1975:

   
  Imagine that: not being able to hear a song the instant you thought of it.
   

The more things change, etc., dept.

IHere’s the real Israel angle: what the husband did.

 

 

That would be Prem Rawat to you:

Don't recollect the name?

Prem Pal Singh Rawat (born 10 December 1957) is an international speaker also known formerly as Maharaji. Rawat's teachings include a meditation practice he calls "Knowledge",[1] and peace education based on the discovery of personal resources such as inner strength, choice, appreciation and hope.

Prem Rawat is the youngest son of Hans Ram Singh Rawat, an Indian guru and the founder of the Divya Sandesh Parishad, later known as Divine Light Mission (DLM). After his father's death, eight-year-old Prem Rawat assumed his role. At 13, he traveled to the West and took up residence in the United States. When young adults took interest in his message the movement grew by tens of thousands. Many in the news media were perplexed by his youth and claims of divine status; he was criticized for a lack of intellectual content in his public discourses, and for leading an opulent lifestyle.

Still a guru for some, I gather.

BREAKING: MAN GOES ON PLANE

     
 

He never had the need to go anywhere before!

Facebook says he runs a computer consulting business now.

   

Finally, a comic forgotten today: Short Ribs, by Frank Hill. He took it over from Frank O’Neal, and it ran until 1982.


The last strip is here. The daily is a bit underwhelming. The Sunday hints at a more clever talent.

 

   

 
   

That'll do! Fifities Hooch awaits.

 

 

 

 

 
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