This is our first house, in Brockton, Massachusetts. We lived there 1986-89. There were two families of Cape Verdeans next door who always invited us to their parties and shared their wonderful food with us. My favorite was something they called pastel, a scrumptious fried fish pie that contributed mightily to the destruction of my theretofore trim physique! One Halloween, we cut a jack-o-lantern face in an old window shade and hung it in our upstairs bedroom. We had a long driveway, but you could see it all the way from the street, and all the kids in the neighborhood loved it.
“Judgment Day is on its way. For many, this coming election may very well be judgment day, for this election will measure us.” — Bishop Robert Hermann, St. Louis
“Recently, a politician made a promise. Politicians usually do. If this politician fulfills his promise, not only will many of our freedoms as Americans be taken from us, but the innocent and vulnerable will spill their blood.” — Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Paterson, New Jersey
“With the economic crisis darkening the political horizon, the past month has left little room for other issues to penetrate the minds of Americans as we prepare to vote in the upcoming election.” — Archbishop José Gomez, San Antonio
I’ve been reading the Washington Times for roughly 20 years now. During all that time, it was the single best conservative newspaper in America — not that there were that many to choose from, because there weren’t. Until the recent redesign of the website, I would spend an hour every morning reading it. Now, baffled by all the techno-gadgetry and unable to find the great articles and columns I once devoured, I read only two cherished items: John McCaslin’s daily “Inside the Beltway” column and former editor Wes Pruden’s twice-weekly “Pruden on Politics.” The announcement earlier this year that a Washington Post reporter would replace Pruden as editor was certainly disturbing, but I had no idea as a reader what was going on internally and, like an idiot, hoped that nothing much would change. (Just found this article online, which certainly explains things). Eventually, I noticed familiar bylines showing up elsewhere on the Net and wondered what was going on.
Well, it’s official: The Washington Times is no longer the best conservative paper in America. It’s hardly conservative at all, anymore.
My dad did his master’s thesis at LSU on the history of the newspaper he worked for, the New Orleans States, which was subsequently merged with the Item and the Times-Picayune and has since passed into oblivion. Each chapter of his thesis was devoted to a different editor — whose opinions, personality, and sense of style made the paper what it was. For my dad coming up, there were five or six distinctive daily papers in town; for me, only one dull monopoly. I can still remember how excited I was when I first discovered the Washington Times and recognized it as the type of paper (and Pruden as the type of editor) my father had worked for and written about so fondly. Years ago, I even sent Pruden a sorry xerox copy of my dad’s onion-skin thesis.
Such a shame. It was a great paper while it lasted.
Some good may come of this, however. Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, but in doing so it dispersed great Creole and Cajun chefs all across the nation. You can now get a good bowl of gumbo or plate of jambalaya in the most surprising places — and, if that’s not a good thing, what is? Maybe this journalistic hurricane will have a similar effect: destroying a great paper, but sending its able and dedicated alumni on to other publications that will profit from, and appreciate, their skills and perspectives.
I certainly hope so.
I never could see the appeal of Happy Days, but The Andy Griffith Show, in my opinion, was the single best television comedy ever broadcast. Sheriff Andy Taylor was my surrogate TV father when I was growing up (Laura Petrie my surrogate mom, from whom I became alienated when she metamorphosed into Mary Richards). Despite all the cracks about it being a show for seniors, I’ve been a big fan of Matlock since it first aired in 1986. And the great horse opera parody Rustler’s Rhapsody, with Griffith in a supporting role as an evil cattle baron, is one of my favorite movies. That’s why, when I saw the Obama endorsement that Ron Howard, in the guise of Opie and Richie Cunningham, put together with Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler, I wanted to vomit. Instead, I spit out this week’s Politickle:
“He’s compared to the Christ and to Gandhi,
He’s offered us all bags of candy,
But he got my vote when
The endorsements came in
From the Fonz, Richie, Opie, and Andy.”
NIGHT OF THE VOTING DEAD
“We’ll be summoned from slumberous state
To endorse the quadrennial slate;
Then it’s back to the grave,
Where we’ll try to behave
‘Til the conclave of 2008!”
The polls open and who comes in?
Mary Poppins and Mickey Finn,
Then Betty Boop
And Alley Oop,
Sherlock Holmes and Gunga Din!
What compares to the horrible fright
That will haunt us on Halloween night?
Consider the fear,
As elections draw near,
Ghoulish candidates soon will excite!
There once was a man named Vlad
Who was known for a habit he had:
With such pride in his nailing,
When he took to impaling
No one ever would challenge his chad.
Of the varied lay orders he scoured,
Opus Dei above others towered,
But the postulant was dopey
And espoused Deus Opie,
Unaware that they worshipped Ron Howard.
Last week’s limerick:
“I’m a master at deceivin’,
At wigglin’, wafflin’, weavin’;
And when I create
A socialist state,
You’ll have change you can believe in.”