I found this column via Romenesko, and if you can’t open it (I think Philly requires registration), here’s the relevant passage:
I was a year out of college and working as a copy editor at a lackluster little newspaper in western Michigan. Because the paper was published in the afternoon, my shift began at an ungodly 4:45 a.m. My job was to clean up the copy of others – the best I could often hope for was to nudge the truly awful up to merely mediocre – and then put a headline on it.
On Dec. 8, 1980, I went to bed early without turning on the television or radio, clueless about the seismic shock waves emanating from the west side of Central Park in New York. The next morning I walked into the newsroom unaware, and the other copy editors – older men who reveled in pushing my buttons – gleefully awaited me, Associated Press copy in hand.
“Your little hero Johnny Lennon bit the big one last night,” one of them, a washed-up back-bencher named Brandon, said.
I literally reeled backward. I stuttered and stumbled. “He what?” I asked, trying to process it. They all found this immensely amusing.
This is the second column I’ve read this month about a generational divide in newsrooms over Lennon’s death. I wasn’t working in Metro, nor in Entertainment, in 1980, so I can’t say what happened in my newsroom then.
But I do remember getting on the elevator at the paper with my friend Kirk, not long after another tragic rock-related event, this one in 1979. Eleven people had been crushed or trampled to death trying to get “festival seating” before a Who concert in Cincinnati. The doors opened, and we were joined by two old farts, both of whom were staring at us as though we had blood dripping from our hands. One of the OFs made some comment about the tragedy; I recall the words “killing their own kind, like animals.”
(Why do people always try to pin human crimes on animals? Most animals treat others of the same species pretty well.)
Anyway, I don’t know what I said; I’m sure it wasn’t profound or even interesting. But I remember how accusatory the OF was, as though I had to personally take responsibility for the actions of everyone closer to my age than his, and those looks — like we were a repulsive alien species that had somehow infiltrated the building.
Oh, well. Time is a great leveler. I’m sure at least one of those OFs, and perhaps both, have bit the big one by now. And who was it who chuckled over the hand-wringing over Kurt Cobain. Uh, that would be me.
OK, then. I hope I’m not blowing her cover, but Laura Lippman keeps a down-low blog called The Memory Project. She throws out a memory and asks for people to contribute their own. Sometimes I contribute, mostly I don’t, but today she set the hook deep: For research on her next book, contribute the smells of the ’70s. (If you were a teenage girl, that is.)
I hadn’t considered this in, like, forever, but since smell is the most evocative sense, it’s been hard to forget. (I had a colleague who wore the same cologne as an old boyfriend. I was always finding reasons to hang around his desk and sort of stick my nose near his neck.) Laura started the ball rolling with Noxema. It made me think of Herbal Essence, a smell I hadn’t even thought of in 20 years or more.
What’s your ’70s smell? Charlie? Emeraude? Or Ten-o-Six?