Wrapped in five layers and dripping snot against a stiff sea breeze, I cut through Penn Station late Saturday night on my way back to my hotel in Midtown. I headed straight for a short stack of fresh Sunday New York Times. The print edition of the NYT is a rare orchid in Montana–it’s a 160 mile ride to Missoula on a Tuesday to pick up a mangled, three-day-stale SundayTimes.
Here at the Hudson Newsstand, people had already touched the top copy in the stack, limp with fresh-frozen ink. I slid out a thick folded copy halfway down and traded it for a five spot. There’s a special joy spreading out the Sunday Times on my hotel bed on a frigid Saturday night. I swallow hard at the fourth estate’s subdivided real estate at the bottom of the front page: a blue banner ad for Citibank.
The Times’ headlines are often brittle. “Information Law Empowers Indians”, “The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum”. These word-walls often fall in the very first paragraph with a gripping personal story. If my heart doesn’t follow my head, I rarely “see page 8”. Pages two and three serve up appetizers: synopses in the center framed by the best wares from Gucci, Barney’s and always in the upper right corner, Tiffany & Co. The Times’ dark meat resides deep in this first section–articles about Iran’s nuclear program, Ireland, Tunisia and spies across from full page ads that fight wrinkles, urge international travel and extoll Audi’s aluminum frame.
To remind us that our opportunity to make a difference has been shortened by another week, the front section ends with the obituaries of the sort-of-notable, and a tiny Lost and Found column whose single odd listing is ‘Jewish Home Lifecare’. If you’ve found a member of the Lost Tribe, please contact them. By the time I’ve slogged through the front streamate section, I deserve ‘Sunday Style’. This week I’m disappointed. I don’t watch‘Modern Family’ and I’m not a fan of boxing–either gender. Even the Gucci bag in the banner ad looks like a scary hybrid of something my grandmother carried: for many dollars, a handbag dipped in dowdy.
Inside are shoes I could never wear, art I cannot afford, an ad for engraved stationery (how do they stay in business?) accompanied by a vaguely depressing ‘Modern Love’ story about a woman who is resigned to looking at the bright side of living with her ex. My big consolation of this week’s ‘Sunday Style’ is the full size, full color picture of the Ralph Lauren saddlebag, which I could cut out and carry into the subway, pasted over my plastic laptop case. From a distance, it might look convincing.
I have never read more than two sentences of a ‘Vows’ story. OK, I admit I look to see if someone in a wedding is from Montana, because at least, by population, I have a one in a million chance of having met them. Charity parties? Never had enough means to be invited to one. Not far inside the New York Times, I find…the front page of The New York Post. Big black bold type, babe-breasts a red banner, Silvio Berlusconi. Below the fold? Obama and Chinese president Hu. In the ‘Week in Review’, State budgets, a story on immolation, and two whole pages under the headline of ‘Super Jobs’ followed by the words ‘Careers in Education’. I need to ask friends in education if, once they get them, these positions are really super jobs.
If the need is to impress, go directly to ‘Sunday Opinion’. Do not pause at original Livejasmin news: it’s much more important to know the buzz than to be genuinely informed about the stinger. If you don’t have time to read the opinions, at an awkward pause in your next dinner party, repeat the handy one sentence synopsis. It will do nicely. Try, “The feds crack down, but Lucky Luciano will have the last laugh”. If this does not work, try “Tunisian democracy has a chance, but it won’t likely spread”. I am afraid to read my former favorite section of the Sunday Times: ‘Real Estate’. I spent the last year, six trips and god-knows-how-much-money to fulfill my dream of owning a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan. This dream is about to come true, and I dread seeing an even nicer place for less money.
If someone pasted hundred dollar bills inside the auto section, I’d never see them. And it’s not that I don’t like (some) sports, it’s just that I don’t like reading about them. The ‘Travel Section’? New York City is my default destination. Within the City there are enclaves and eateries from just about every culture on earth, only in January it’s probably colder.
The ‘Metropolitan’ section could be retitled “Mishmash”. Stories about Yoga, abortion and changing city blocks share a single page. Inside the content is lively, which is perfect counterpoint for a half-page ad for a club called “BJ’s”. Good god, don’t you easterners know what a BJ is? A BJ club probably has comfortable seats and plush carpet. I am a sucker for charts and graphs and maps with colored bubbles. There’s a spiffy one in the ‘Metropolitan’ today. It’s reassuring that people still want to convert numbers into pictures so I don’t have to.
By the time I hit ‘Sunday Business’, I’m beat. Besides, I rationalize. I didn’t buy the Wall Street Journal. I scan the headlines and marvel at the tiny yet legible type in the classified job listings. The last stop before bed on my late Saturday night is ‘Arts & Leisure’. Since I’m booked up until I leave on Tuesday, I resent seeing all the stuff I’m going to miss. I also resent the article on the Top Ten Composers since McCartney/Lennon didn’t make the cut.
By now it’s already late enough on Sunday morning that I’m no longer ahead of the curve. Early risers are beginning what I just finished, so there. Oh, and I’m saving the Magazine and Book Review for Monday morning’s bagel and schmear.