As I go through my day and have ideas or find links I might want to write about, I throw them in a draft post here. I’ve only accidentally published it once. Most days, there are at least a few ticklers by the time I sit down to write. Today, it’s this:
And that’s it. I assume it’s David Brooks, but I have no idea which one, or what would have moved me about it — scanning his recent archive, all I thought was, nope, not that one. Perhaps this suggests my opinions about this and that are fleeting things. They are. One of my most shameful moments as a monger of opinions was the day a reader approached me at an event to tell me he’d really liked that thing I wrote about something, two years ago.
“I wrote about that?” I said. “I can’t remember.”
He was crushed. “You seemed very emotional about it, too,” he said. Honestly, I couldn’t remember one detail from it. And you know what else? I didn’t care enough to go spelunking into the archive to discover what I was so het up about, either. It’s times like that when you remember what happens to old newspapers, shrug and maybe add, “I am large, I contain multitudes.”
An so, with that in mind, I read this column in the Detroit News, editorial-page editor Nolan Finley misting up over the coming loss of his office space:
For me, The News building is furnished with memories. I’ve spent my entire adult life here. I know it the way a farmer knows his fields. I’ve been in its newsroom for every historical moment of the past four decades, and most of the mundane ones as well. It’s where I’ve met the people who shaped my career and where I bid many of them farewell. I’ve seen it gutted and restored. I’ve known it when it was too small to hold all of the people we needed to put out a newspaper and when it became so big for the staff on hand you could hear echoes.
It is what we used to call in the south The Home Place.
Excuse me, I feel the need for a little musical accompaniment here. Beyond that, not much more.
But that’s just me. I may feel differently tomorrow.
A far tougher read was in the NYT — Sunday’s magazine cover story, on a developing strategy in prosecuting child pornography offenders — making those found in possession of illegal images pay financial restitution to victims who can be identified — whether they had anything to do with taking them. The story focuses on two women who were abused by relatives, men who photographed the acts, which became among the most-downloaded illegal images in the child-porn portfolio. Both women have received substantial sums over the years, and a recent higher-court decision affirms the strategy is legal and so it will likely continue. But just to read about what these women went through in the first place, and how long it’s taken them to even partially recover (they are, as Marcellus Wallace said after a similar assault, pretty effin’ far from OK), all one can think of is: It’s not enough, it’ll never be enough. I also noted that one of the pedophiles charged with paying was a former vice president with a major pharmaceutical company. Having spent five years or so clipping stories about the lavish compensation packages in that industry, all I could think was: She should have asked for more.
And because we seem to be crepe-hanging today, let’s take a moment to consider the staggering death toll in a Brazil nightclub fire over the weekend. We have nothing to brag about on this score, except maybe comparatively; American public facilities have had and likely will continue to have tragedies like this. But it reminded me of something I noticed in Argentina few years back — how so many of the safety measures we take for granted here are virtually non-existent elsewhere in the world. Sidewalk repairs would appear out of nowhere without so much as an orange cone of warning, that sort of thing. Maybe this is just yet another reminder of the terrifying speed at which fire can move, and why it’s always wise to note the exits before you step into a crowded room.
But that’s a journalist talking, a long way from the old home place. Have a good Monday.