What is it about the usual, the comfortable? I will go out of my way to find it.
Certain things in a routine are sanity threatening: doing the dishes, cleaning up dog poop. To combat these aspects of my life I need a good, hot cup of Earl Grey Tea and a newspaper I can devour.
The San Francisco Chronicle is our home newspaper. We also take the New York Times. I always leap for the Times first--starting with the art pages--but when it's time for that cup of tea I very often have the Chronicle in front of me.
This morning it was announced on the front page that the Chronicle was going to be going the way of a lot of things these days. Major layoffs are in store etc. etc. The Chronicle is owned by the Hearst Corporation so it's not like it's a small town operation that's coming onto hard times. If the cost cutting doesn't work then Hearst will try to sell the Chronicle and if they're unable to sell it they'll close it down.
Something strange and disquieting happened with the Chronicle about two weeks ago which seems contrary to a newspaper trying to stay afloat. A big thing was made of it--a week of little hints as to what was going to happen and then the big announcement! Next day guys you will see a new Chronicle!
Pfffft. A big nothing. In fact I hate the look of the new paper. The comforting look of the old paper is gone, column widths have been changed, layout has been changed, typeface has been changed. Everything looks washed out. Worst of all, a washed out color has been added around titles of sections. Pfffft. The usual is gone. The new--in all its strangeness, is here. Why oh why when disaster is around the corner would the powers to be do this? Apparently this is an interim step to tying in with a hot shot operation in Canada that hopefully will rectify all this pffft.
It is strange what a change of layout will do in a piece of writing. One of my favorite columnists in the Chronicle is Jon Carroll. I am particularly enamored of his stories about his cats, one of whom is named Bucket. I feel like I personally know this man and I like him. I know and love Bucket. There's another cat but the name escapes me for now.
Once I decided to send a copy of one of his columns to a friend who also likes cats and went to the online site. I was disheartened to find that the particular column I was interested in looked totally different on the site. I did not react to it the same way. I didn't laugh. That's what the new Chronicle looks like: it's hot off the internet, no human is at work here. As if to molify it's readers and the lovers of cats like Bucket and columnists like Jon Carroll they give us a little washed out picture of Mr. Carroll. He looks totally different than I imagined. Not bad. Kinda cute, really. But the nice, grandfatherly look I had invisioned for him is not there.
I used to think the Chronicle was disposable. I rather looked down on it. It's not the Times. Now I know I'll miss it. Who would want to buy pfffft.
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