Some who are eager to “save” newspapers say the only way to do so is with subsidies. The idea is not a new one, and its critics have been around as long as its proponents. Newsman will Irwin had this to say in his classic Collier’s magazine series, “The American Newspaper,” in 1911:
“Finally, the theorists have assumed that the newspaper occupies the same relation to society as the theater and the opera. since an endowed theater in Europe has elevated – if not purified – the state of the Continental drama, why should not an endowed newspaper elevate American journalism? These theorists forget that while the drama is purely a luxury, the newspaper is primarily a necessity. although it serves to spread the taste and desire for culture through the masses, it is nevertheless concerned mainly with economic and political needs; it is not an ornament to the cornice of society, but a girder in the frame-work. It is part of the workaday world; it will serve best if it is free to fight its own way toward perfection, to maintain its own athletic relations to the other forces of society.”
Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Frazier, the Boston columnist of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Poet L.E. Sissman, quoted in Charles Fountain’s biography of Frazier, another Man’s Poison, captured him:
“[Frazier] may be the last of that tiny and vanishing race of American controversialists who keep us more honest, alert, and aware by hunting – or poaching – without a license. Today we have a lot of tame court jesters who are licensed to be irreverent in print … and thus are defused before they start… But we have no Mencken, no Shaw, not even a Muggeridge to think the unthinkable and say the unsayable in print. this is precisely what George Frazier, on his best days, does.”
Four sons of Mashpee left for war last month, following a group send-off at Dino’s Sports Bar. U.S. Marines ages 22 to 24 – Cpl. Marc. Amaral, Cpl. Joseph G. Green, Lance Cpl. Joshua T. Little, and Sgt. John W. “Jack” Lynch III – posed with their mothers for a front-page picture in The Mashpee Enterprise. The young men, who played football as teammates at Mashpee High and in the Pop Warner football program, are being deployed to Afghanistan. “We received a tremendous outpouring of support from the town and can’t thank Dino Mitrokostas enough for his generosity and kindness,” mom Kathleen Lynch said, “however, there’s nothing good about sending your child off to war, no matter how proud you are of their service.”
The Columbia Journalism Review hands out “darts” and “laurels” in its criticism of the media. in that spirit, we award a laurel to a Cape weekly for having the good sense to publish Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell’s Statehouse testimony on gaming. a dart’s on the way as well, however, in recognition of the paper’s editorializing headline: “mr. Cromwell Sells the Tribal Casino.”
Here’s another contribution from former Cape Comment columnist Ed Semprini:
There was agreement that Jan Freeman’s column The Word in the Sunday Boston Globe is a “must-read.” Freeman writes about words and phrases – their use, mis-use, over-use and uselessness, and, certainly, that should be a fascinating attraction for one who daily pounds out words and phrases in a newspaper office.
Earlier this year, Freeman wrote a column about “pop language watchers” banishing trendy words. she explained that since 1976 Lake Superior State University in Michigan has been issuing a list of words and phrases to be banished for mis-use, over-use, and general uselessness, and wondered, “How did word-hating become a game all Americans could play?”
In response to playing the game, we’d be interested in Freeman’s opinion of a word (and it is not really a word) we would suggest for banishment: “gig.” Now there, we say, is a word real ripe for plucking!
Chatham selectmen’s meetings have been wild and woolly in the recent past, but even so, we doubt that Police Chief mark Pawlina will be armed when he sits with the board as interim town manager for the next month or three. The selectmen’s decision drew this letter of comment, mentioning a former chief, in The Cape Cod Chronicle: “So now, it is finally official…at long last, the cops are really running the town! from whatever his current vantage point, Barry Eldredge must be, to quote Don McLean, ‘laughing with delight!’”
Thanks to Nicole Muller of The Register for introducing us to Henry C. Boles, the first African American elected to the Dennis Board of Selectman. The late architect, whose preparation of the town’s application for All-America City status in 1978 is cited as a major reason for the effort’s success, lives on in the Henry C. Boles Citizenship Award, given to 3rd and 8th graders in the town’s elementary and middle schools.
A Cape paper had this slip in its story about Cape Cod Community College’s graduation, quoting speaker Sir Harold Evans on what the world lacked when he was born: e-mail, cell phones and, “there was no such thing as the uplift brazier.” wonder if they come in charcoal grey…
Peter Burgess of Truro is a gardener with roots, both the kind that grow into the ground and the kind that reach into the past. Rich Eldred of The Cape Codder, himself a botanist, paid a call on the heirloom farmer who grows venerable varieties of vegetables on land bisected by the Old King’s Highway. He stores them in a root cellar the Pilgrims might have recognized, but they’d have scratched their heads over the humidifier he runs in the cellar and the hot tub he uses to keep seedlings warm in his “spa house.”
He’s in tune with the dunes. Rob Costa, who operates Art’s Dune Tours in Provincetown, loves following in the sandy tracks of his late father, Arthur. The Provincetown Banner chatted with Rob on the 65th anniversary and heard some tales, including Art’s discovery years ago of “a complete skeleton of a horse from the old life-saver’s station.”
Joseph Brodsky of East Falmouth is not happy with the town’s historic districts commission. Here’s what he said in a letter to the Enterprise: “Can you imagine one of the retired sea captains who built the houses around the Village Green being told what he could or could not do to his house by a local commission? He would have them keelhauled or raised from the nearest yardarm!”
A 16-year-old from Minneapolis isn’t running away to join the circus, though it may seem so. Doreen Leggett of The Cape Codder introduces us to 16-year-old Nick Zelle, a frequent summer visitor to Orleans, who’ll be performing with youngsters ages 10 to 18 when Circus Smirkus appears Aug. 1 to 3 at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich. his summer travels have led the budding aerialist to consider attending a professional circus school when he graduates. this year’s show sounds like a natural for readers of The Exchange: “front Page Follies – Big Top News,” which the Codder says is “built around the theme of old-time journalism.”
Some may have been startled when Councilor Rick Barry spoke during a town council meeting last month of several gangs operating in the western reaches of Barnstable. in his column for the Enterprise papers, county Sheriff Jim Cummings offered confirmation: “Gangs have established a presence on the Cape and there are no signs it’s petering out. our own methodical scrutiny of Barnstable County inmates removes all doubt, for anyone who cares to look. in the past two years, more than 200 of those booked at our jail listed both a Cape Cod address and some evidence of gang affiliation – tattoos being the most common indicator.”
You can’t blame Barry Kavanaugh for being a little grouchy. For months, he’s been fielding questions about another presence on his property overlooking Eldredge Park in Orleans. “It’s hard to believe that many people are interested in this damn hunk of wood,” he told The Cape Codder. That hunk of wood, a statue known as The Player, returned to action last week in time for the Cape Cod Baseball League season (the Orleans Firebirds play across the road). The work’s rotted legs required replacement surgery performed by its carver, Edoardo Mattiuzzi. Now drivers can look forward to seeing The Player’s rotating outfits once again. Said Kavanaugh; “It’s got more clothes in the cellar than I do.”
Sixty years after the 1952 Coast Guard rescue of the crew of the Pendleton tanker off Chatham, images now available only as faded photographs may spring back to life. Casey Sherman, co-author of The Finest Hours, told The Cape Cod Chronicle that screenwriters and a producer are working to create a film version of the peril-filled rescue of 32 seamen, and they intend to shoot the movie here. If they need a narrator, we suggest sticking a microphone in front of retired Cape newsman Ed Semprini, who more than half a century ago held one as he interviewed the survivors and their rescuers.
A Cape weekly reported a homeowner discovered two things missing after a break-in: a 32-inch TV and a $60 bottle of Southern Comfort. Hard to say which would have damaged more brain cells.
Shakespeare wrote, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” unless you’re John Stewart. The beloved Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School teacher, who died following a heart attack earlier this year, remains an inspiration, according to The Cape Codder. Stewart’s mock trial team wanted to continue to compete and drew the support of attorney Ben Zehnder, retired charter school teacher Joanne Amaru and former Stewart student Molly Pechukas-Simonia as coaches. “they were very committed to this process for John,” Zehnder said of the team. “they would form a ring and say ‘Huzzah’ for him before and after.” Huzzah, indeed, to Stewart’s students, who won all four of their trials.
A friend tipped us to the encouraging website whoneedsnewspapers.org, where results of an ongoing survey of the nation’s papers are available. Practical information is leavened with just enough encouragement to keep us typing. As a bonus, there are pointed quotes such as Erwin Knoll’s: “everything you read in newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge.”