The zombie newspaper.

I see the word got out that my alma mater, the News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., alma mater of my husband as well, not to mention a few of our commentariat and some very good journalists who used it as a stepping stone to bigger careers elsewhere, is muerte.

Or rather, not dead, just downsized. How, you might be wondering, is that even possible, when the staff — around 80something when Alan and I worked there — is now down to eight? Easy. You lay off seven of them. This allegedly daily newspaper, which dispensed of its print product when it downsized to eight, will now be staffed by a single soul, who happens to be the right-wing columnist who also does news stories, because hey, having a columnist is kind of a luxury, when ya think about it.

Here’s the closest thing to a company press release, delivered two full days after the layoff happened. Get a load of this bullshit:

“We’ll still have a website. We’ll still have a page in The Journal Gazette every Monday through Saturday. And we’ll still have a presence at key events in the area,” he said. “Kevin Leininger is staying with us to provide great community, business and political coverage.”

That’s the “publisher,” a company man recently called back to corporate HQ in West Virginia. I hope he enjoyed his time squeezing every last nickel out of the place. I wonder who will get the Pulitzer hanging on the wall when they finally call it quits.

Guys! Let’s put together a raiding party and steal it! If the building security is anything like it used to be, it’ll be a proverbial candy/baby situation. (Once a female security guard maced herself. It’s a long, embarrassing [for her] story; another time.) We can donate it to the Newseum or find a more useful place for it than on the wall of an empty newsroom, or, worse, on their corporate boardroom wall, assuming they have one. For all I know, this outfit operates out of a former strip-mall insurance office down there in Parkersburg, West-by-God.

Yes, a little testy about this, I must say. I’ll also say this: There is always meat on a carcass’ bones, no matter how long after it dropped to its knees and expired out there on the prairie. And there is always a scavenger willing to gnaw off its share.

Otherwise, not a bad weekend. Got a fair amount done, including two workouts and a dinner on the table. Alan’s been curious about Filmstruck, the new all-movies streaming service, for a while now, and finally bit the equipment-upgrade bullet necessary to get it here — it only works with the second-generation AppleTV, evidently, unless you want to link it to your laptop somehow. So I’m accustomed to hearing chortling coming from downstairs as I drift off to sleep, as Alan plows through the entire Jim Jarmusch catalog, for instance.

Last night we watched “Reflections in a Golden Eye,” a John Huston adaptation of Carson McCullers’ novel, c. 1967. Talk about ahead of its time: Marlon Brando plays a repressed homosexual Army major, teaching “leadership” or some such on a remote southern base, so far off the beaten path it could be existing in a dream. (It’s dedicated to the mounted — as in, on horseback — cavalry. This after World War II.) Elizabeth Taylor is his wife, described in the synopsis as a “nymphomaniac,” which I guess means that she finds sexual solace other than in her gay husband’s arms. Her lover is Brian Keith, of all people. Her role is basically Martha from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” almost down to the letter — she’s a middle-age spoiled brat whose husband will never be as manly and powerful as daddy. Then there’s Julie Harris as Keith’s neurotic wife, Zorro David as her mincing Filipino houseboy and “Introducing Robert Forster.” He plays a young private, gifted with horses, who becomes obsessed with Liz while Brando becomes obsessed with him. (He — the private — likes to take a horse out for a bareback spin, stopping to shed his own clothes after he’s out of eyeshot of the barn. Bareback and bareassed.

It’s quite a story, and of course it tanked. The gay stuff was probably unheard-of for a mid-’60s audience, and very explicit without being so; at one point Liz takes off all her clothes to taunt her husband, who flies into a rage. The idea of America’s violet-eyed sex goddess not being devoured by a healthy man couldn’t have sent a stronger message that Maj. Penderton was not all there, sexually.

Fun fact, via Wikipedia: Stills of Brando in character, and in uniform, as Maj. Penderton were used in “Apocalypse Now” — they’re the pictures in the dossier about Col. Kurtz that Martin Sheen looks through as he goes upriver.

Now I think I’ll go downstairs and start scaring up some dinner. There might be some purple involved:

Variations on a theme of #Purple. #farmersmarket #detroit

A post shared by nderringer (@nderringer) on

Have a good week ahead, all. The pace should be slower. I certainly hope so.

Posted at 6:12 pm in Media, Movies |

46 responses to “The zombie newspaper.”

  1. brian stouder said on August 12, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Pam is our designated technology person, and she goes from one good series to the next, wherein she binge watches for a week or so…but now she’s pulled into a series that’s new, and therefore she cannot binge – and this irritates her… a 2018-dilemma!

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  2. LAMary said on August 12, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Is that the movie with the nasty hedge clipper situation? We were shown that one in film class back in the Jurassic age when I was in college.

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  3. brian stouder said on August 12, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    The News-Sentinel implosion is making me feel like an old man. My mom loved/loved/loved the News-Sentinel; and my dad – who grew up in Fort Wayne, always called it the “News-and- Sentinel” which, at this late date, at least adds a little perspective. I s’pose the news business – as with all industries – has always been subject to big changes/consolidations/success/dissolution.

    A really wealthy person or family could assure that this or that outlet continues to exist, but we only have so many of those (civic-minded wealthy families), eh?

    Speaking of news – I was reduced to muttering profanities (“Holy ^&#%^&%@!! What the %&#%$%??!!, etc etc) at the stunning, troubling, scarey news from Sherry’s corner of the nation – wherein a ground-crew guy hopped into a commercial airliner and took it into the sky for a several-hour fly-around and then suicide.

    That story could very easily have been exponentially worse, if he’d have chosen to end the flight in Seattle itself….but at least President Trump (et al) wouldn’t have been able to pin it on the color of his skin, or his religious heritage

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  4. Dexter Friend said on August 13, 2018 at 12:41 am

    I saw “Reflections…” first run , and like so many movies, or reading Twain, when I saw it as an old man , I saw a completely different movie. Forster as a sort of “Equus” character was easier to understand after I had lived a lifetime observing the wicked world and all its shenanigans. Twain is another one…how was a little Indiana boy living in a rented farmhouse supposed to understand Clemens’ take on racism and so many other comments on life? As an adult, I nodded in agreement like a waterglass constantly bobbing stork.
    Goodbye “News and Sentinel”, as the old folks called it.
    We were JG people, Grandma and some uncles and aunts liked the NS.
    My re-visited movie was Stone’s “Platoon”. It was released in 1986 to so much ballyhoo there were Welles-like scare warnings to Vietnam War vets to think twice before entering the theater lest we go berserk. I remember giving the short acknowledging nod to some guys my age who I just knew were fellow VietVets, and the movie is accurate as to what Oliver Stone experienced, I bet anything, but outside of the stoned-in-the-hootch scenes where the reefer smoke was thick and the beer was flowing, and the Dust-Off (helicopter ambulance) scenes which I was involved in as a medic on the chopper 7 times, well, the horrible meanness, cruelty, burning, raping…shee-itt…never participated or saw anything remotely like that shit. Damn.

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  5. alex said on August 13, 2018 at 7:18 am

    By sheer coincidence, the home of former News-Sentinel publisher Helene Foellinger came back on the market this weekend:

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  6. Suzanne said on August 13, 2018 at 7:33 am

    My parents always subscribed to both Fort Wayne papers. The past few years, I noticed that the N-S kept shrinking and when I took the time to read it when I visited them, it seemed to have become nothing more than right wing fish wrapping. It was disappointing. I grew up reading both Fort Wayne papers and always saw them as equals but that had obviously changed. RIP N-S.

    If I had an extra million or so, I would buy that Foellinger home! Beautiful!

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  7. Alan Stamm said on August 13, 2018 at 7:56 am

    “They’re not publishers. They’re printers.”
    Line of the Day, from your Facebook post on Sunday

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  8. ROGirl said on August 13, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Liz Taylor’s southern gothic bona fides were also given free rein in the Tennessee Williams tale of cannibalism and lobotomies Suddenly Last Summer.

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  9. nancy said on August 13, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Are you sure that’s her place, Alex? I thought she lived in the gray stone one one door south. Striped awnings, slate roof? I ask because the owner of that one is a regular reader here who never comments. Very nice man.

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  10. Suzanne said on August 13, 2018 at 8:54 am

    I was in the Foellinger home years ago on some historic home tour, but I can’t remember exactly which one it is. There are some fabulous homes in that area.

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  11. alex said on August 13, 2018 at 9:15 am

    Now that you mention it, I think you’re right.

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  12. Julie Robinson said on August 13, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Under the terms of the JOA (Joint Operating Agreement) neither newspaper can close, nor could either publish in the other’s time slot. So technically they’ve met the requirements of the JOA to keep the N-S open. Now they can sit back and let the JG provide them with profits. Really, a perfect coup.

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  13. Peter said on August 13, 2018 at 9:37 am

    I know that Trump Token Oma is an established liar and deadbeat, but it’s a damning indictment that every tale you hear from the book seems completely plausible and believable.

    Except for a couple – she was notified in a meeting in the Situation Room? More likely it happened in the outer vestibule so they could lock the inner doors and push her out the exit. Also, I’ve only been fired once, but I thought what Kelley said was standard procedure – you don’t want to jeopardize future employment options by badmouthing people who will be called on for a reference, right?

    An aside – when I was in college I worked as an intern for a large architectural firm. One of my tasks was when someone was being fired, I had to go to their desk with a large cardboard box, fill it with their personal belongings, wait outside the conference room, then hand the box to the lucky guy on his way out the door.

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  14. Icarus said on August 13, 2018 at 9:55 am

    If I had an extra million or so, I would buy that Foellinger home! Beautiful!

    Me too. It does need some updating and looks like it has radiator heat, not sure about AC. I’ve sworn my next home will have Central Air.

    But it definitely satisfies my Old Home Fetish and I love that outdoor space. Maybe I can find a smaller version in GP or lower cost version near Memphis.

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  15. Bitter Scribe said on August 13, 2018 at 10:39 am

    In this post-literate age, you really couldn’t expect a town like Fort Wayne to support two daily papers, could you?

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  16. Suzanne said on August 13, 2018 at 10:57 am

    According to this document, found thanks to my friend Google, the address of the Foellinger home is not the one for sale.

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  17. CW said on August 13, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Nancy is correct; the Foellinger house is one south of the house for sale.

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  18. Brian stouder said on August 13, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Regarding beautiful homes in Fort Wayne, there’s a show on the public-access channel that I’ve caught a time or two, wherein a couple of (genuine) experts wander around and comment on various beautiful homes. The shows I’ve caught included North Anthony, West Rudisill, and of course The Foster Park area. So cheesey that it”s good!

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  19. Sheryl Prentice said on August 13, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    I grew up reading both the Journal Gazette and the News-Sentinel along with the local Evening Star, despite living in the rural wilds of DeKalb County. My grandparents took the JG and my parents took the NS, mostly because we liked the comics. Every day or so my mom and grandma swapped editions, easy to do because the grandparents lived the next road over.
    I laughed out loud when Nancy mentioned a raiding party to get the Pulitzer. I could have walked out of that building with the Pulitzer myself, after one of my many overnight shifts from January 2006 to December 2012. I can probably still get in!
    The outsourced “security guards” (which I can outrun to this day) were the first thing to go in the Great Recession of 2008. The second thing? A 6 percent chunk out of our paychecks disappeared permanently.
    The NS was a zombie newspaper even then. I would see 3, maybe 4 staffers drag themselves up the stairs every morning about 4 a.m. from my vantage point as Queen of the (empty) JG newsroom, and wonder how they put a paper out. As a creature of the night, I never saw the pushy, Lutheran, conservative “columnist” whose swill stained the front page nor any of the other toiling, isolated souls there.
    The NS is dead, even if there is a couple of muscle jerks before rigor mortis sets in. I’m just surprised it took that long.

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  20. Deborah said on August 13, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    That Leininger guy looks familiar to me. I swear I went to college (Lutheran in Nebraska) with a guy with that same last name, maybe an older brother of Kevin? When the Leininger guy graduated he ended up in Texas and caused a lot of drama in the LCMS there because he didn’t believe it was conservative enough (?!). He later was sort of outed as being gay and he was married, had kids too I think. This was a long time ago. It was a bit of a scandal back in the day.

    The Perseids were a dud in the wee hours this morning (a bit after 2am) in Abiquiu. The sky was fairly clear but smokey so we only saw about 1 per minute. Two years ago LB and I saw about 1 every 7 seconds so I’m spoiled.

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  21. Mark P said on August 13, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Our local paper, the Rome (Ga) News-Tribune, has been published since the 1840’s. Even a small city like Rome used to have multiple papers, but all of them disappeared before I was born. I went to high school with the son of the publisher. He took over when his father retired. Some time in the 1980’s or ’90’s the paper began buying small papers in the area, but by 2015 the paper went bankrupt and was bought by the owner of the paper in Marietta, Ga, a suburb of Atlanta. I can’t tell any difference from before and after the bankruptcy. It was never a very good paper, but I stopped subscribing when their rah-rah-chamber-of-commerce editorial stance began seeping into the news stories. Today I glance at the front page when I leave the grocery store and confirm my decision not to subscribe. The stories on the front are literally all the news in the entire paper, except for obits, sports and classified ads, and those stories aren’t worth 75 cents.

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  22. David C. said on August 13, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    I’ve only been sacked once too. The exit was nothing like that. The circumstances were quite different. The company I worked for lost a contract and we all knew some of us were going. But nobody told us keep quiet or we could make this very difficult for you. I did enjoy the Donald’s phone call. It sounded like a kid who’s mom said “Oh shit, I forgot to buy lima beans”. “No lima beans, mom? They’re my favorite”.

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  23. Dexter Friend said on August 14, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Prayer vigil in Detroit at 5:00 AM, as Aretha’s condition deteriorates:

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  24. Julie Robinson said on August 14, 2018 at 9:22 am

    The N-S page in the JG this morning: a syndicated cartoon, two syndicated columns, and the usual drivel from Leininger. Also, the font is now a couple of points larger than the rest of the paper. My old eyes would appreciate this if there was anything I wanted to read.

    I’m taking a guess at the identity of the security guard who maced herself. First initial M, second initial G?

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  25. Suzanne said on August 14, 2018 at 9:34 am

    I noticed the difference in the font size of the “stuck in the middle with you” N-S page in the J-G, too, Julie. It looked strange. I wonder if we can petition the J-G to put it in the classified section or something so it’s easier to ignore.

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  26. Suzanne said on August 14, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Deborah, you got me curious about Leininger(s). I think this is they guy you mention:
    It doesn’t say where he went to college.

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  27. Julie Robinson said on August 14, 2018 at 10:48 am

    So not his brother but maybe a cousin. My great aunts were also put out to service as household help in order to put the great uncles through seminary. They were German Lutherans in Iowa about a hundred years ago, but things haven’t changed that much.

    Also the story gets it wrong when it mentions LC-MS as the most conservative Lutheran denomination. The Wisconsin Synod (WELS) won’t even pray with other Lutherans, much less Christians, much less those of other faiths. In their world view mixing will taint them. Or something.

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  28. Jakash said on August 14, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I guess I’ll throw this into the mix. I posted this question to Gene Weingarten of WaPo’s weekly chat. The Q and his reply, FWIW.

    Q: Maggie Haberman

    Did you happen to see this? Some random Irish guy wrote a long, well-researched Twitter thread laying out his opinion about Maggie Haberman being an “access journalist,” or whatever, and showing how she helped out Trump when she could, while holding Hillary to a different standard. Any thoughts about Ms. Haberman’s reporting, Gene? (BTW, the guy went from 200 Twitter followers to 8,000 on the basis of that one thread, evidently.)

    A: Gene Weingarten

    This is interesting.

    I asm going to share a journalistic secret.

    Stories like this are called “beat sweeteners.” If you cover Trump, if that is your “beat,” you want access to Trump, meaning you search for positive stories with positive spin, that you also think are true. This is to load you up for a single time you REALLY need his access on a really big negative story. That’s the ultimate goal. My memory is that Maggie had more of her fair share of negative stories.

    As for her reporting on Hillary’s emals? We all did. I think we collectively went nuts on the whole hillary side, including the russia-stolen emails.

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  29. Sherri said on August 14, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    This is what all those beat sweeteners, Republicans in Congress, and James Comey have enabled.

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  30. Sherri said on August 14, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    I had a very interesting day yesterday. Through a connection in the leadership program I’m in, I toured the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. We interviewed some of the staff, toured parts of the facility, and chatted with some of the inmates. It was instructive to see the different perspectives on changes being implemented from the associate superintendent vs the counselors and corrections officers. It was also fascinating to see a different side of Walla Walla, after having spent time there before more around the college and the tourist-focused downtown. The prison is a major employment center for the town, of course, and while Whitman does do some work to connect its students to the prison, if you never venture outside the wine-tasting filled downtown area, you wouldn’t even be aware there was a state pen there, others than as this huge thing off in the distance you see as you enter and leave town.

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  31. alex said on August 14, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you, Suzanne, for finding that juicy dirt on the Leininger klan.

    Even if Kevin’s just a cousin, it certainly helps explain why he’s always throwing nanna-nanna-boo-boos at other Christian sects and the foolish libertines who join them thinking they won’t burn in hell for their guilt-free fornication.

    He married a Catholic and attends services with her (and always makes it sound as if he does so begrudgingly) and it’s not clear whether he considers the Mother Church exempt from his scorn or simply has made it his life’s mission to goad his poor spouse until she repents and acknowledges that the Missouri Synod is the One True. I suspect that she doesn’t plan on spending eternity with that insufferable ass and is simply doing her earthly duty under the Catholic rules to stay married ’til death do them part.

    I think it’s befitting that he’s left holding the sack of shit that the News-Sentinel has become in no small part because of him. It really does deserve its own typeface, just like the ad copy for erection supplements.

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  32. Dexter Friend said on August 15, 2018 at 12:32 am

    Thanks, Sherri. I have seen many prisons as I watch cable prison shows and my favorite is Litchfield, of course, the fictional NY state pen on “Orange is the New Black.” There actually was an old prison in Connecticut called Litchfield I am told. In 1996 I was is San Francisco and was hoping for a cancellation so maybe we could catch the Alcatraz boat…no dice, full, of course, as always. A few years a gimmick was running where one could plunk down some cash and be locked into a cell overnight at the defunct Mansfield castle-prison in Ohio, which everybody will recall is the setting of “Shawshank”. I had no desire to do that dumb shit.

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  33. Sherri said on August 15, 2018 at 7:44 am

    The Alcatraz tour is a must see if you ever get the chance, but it does require advance planning. The self guided audio tour is really well done.

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  34. Connie said on August 15, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Loved the Alcatraz tour.

    So the library at which I am employed is a minor co-sponsor of the Jewish Community Book Fair held at the very large Jewish Community Center in the next community east of us. We have received our list of authors from which we may choose the author we are sponsoring.

    This year the list includes Mitch Albom. Who has a new book out momentarily. Still talking in heaven.

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  35. Suzanne said on August 15, 2018 at 10:52 am

    This makes me very sad. Look at the top two nonfiction bestsellers:

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  36. Sherri said on August 15, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Conservative imprints and authors are pretty notorious for buying their way onto best-seller lists, I believe.

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  37. basset said on August 15, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Filed my retirement papers this morning. Going Sept. 14 or whenever Mrs. B gets out of the nursing home, whatever cones first.

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  38. Julie Robinson said on August 15, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Congratulations, basset! For both your sakes, I hope Mrs. B is able to come home earlier.

    Did you sign up for Medicare and all its parts? A friend told me her brother never signed up for Medicare Part B or D, I’ve forgotten which, and now he’s in the hospital and racking up debt. There’s some rule that you have to do it right away, or you pay a penalty every month. We’ve got to get schooled in all this. Although maybe it will all be different in three years; one can hope.

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  39. jcburns said on August 15, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    This post’s headline will go down as one of my favorites. Something about that headline, along with Mark P’s thoughts about the paper in Floyd County Georgia made me pick up my copy of ‘The Last Linotype’, by Georgia old newspaper guy Millard Grimes and thumb through the stories of papers down here now largely dead and gone. I’m not sure what I expected the transition of journalism into the digital age to look like, but I sure didn’t visualize anything like this.

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  40. David C. said on August 15, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    You’re right, Sherri. The Times used to indicate that a book’s place in the best seller list was because of bulk sales. The cons who buy up all the books threw a hissy fit as they do, and the Times stopped. From what I’ve heard, most of the books are never taken out of their boxes. They go from the publisher, to a warehouse, to the recyclers without ever seeing the light of day.

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  41. beb said on August 15, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    The Rc in PA is just terrible. 300 priests molested over 1000 kids over a period of 70 years. Why hasn’t the church been declared a predatory organization?

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  42. Dexter Friend said on August 15, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Sherri, first time I gazed upon Alcatraz was in 1970, which history buffs will recall as the era of “Indians of all Tribes” occupation of the island. Every few days back then we got updates on the situation from The Examiner. John Trudell became a hero of mine. He passed a few years ago.

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  43. Deborah said on August 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    As I type my email into the designated slot I’ve noticed sometimes after the fact that autocorrect has “corrected” it to something unrecognizable. So some of my comments are delayed or lost forever. No big deal of course just something I’ve noticed happening when I’m in Abiquiu.

    I’m rereading Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop and finding it much more interesting than I did the first time I read it. That was after my first trip to NM back in the late 80s. Since I know more about the culture and geography now, it’s much more meaningful.

    We are closing in on our last few days staying in Abiquiu, my husband leaves Sunday and I stay in NM two more weeks after that. LB and I will come out to spend a night or two in the cabin but we’ll mostly be in Santa Fe busily completing some projects. When I finally go back to Chicago I will have been in NM for 4 months, save for that 2 week road trip. It’s been quite relaxing except for those times when I get all wound up with politics. How many days until the Nov elections?

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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 15, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Deborah, isn’t that just a marvelous piece of writing and cultural insight? I love Cather’s work more and more the older I get.

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  45. Suzanne said on August 15, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Love Willa Cather. I read One of Ours a few years ago. Amazing book. Song of the Lark, My Antonia, Lucy Gayheart…I could go on and on.

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  46. basset said on August 17, 2018 at 9:01 am

    We had Bird scooters for just a few days here in Nashville, then the city ordered that they be removed, now there is some kind of regulation in process which will allow them back with many restrictions:

    Meanwhile, Mrs. B’s therapists say she is progressing well but still has some way to go. Need to get her weight & strength back up, too.

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