I might also have titled this “the tortured reader.” (there are a ton of news stories I haven’t yet gotten to today)
Most creative people have a bigger audience than themselves and I am no exception. While I write for myself I can’t help but look over my shoulder whether its making snow sculptures, news or posting on my blog. We are social creatures and we do not operate in a vacuum. We differ in how much we let our audience sway us. Some people pander to the masses. Others confound the masses for a smaller slice of audience. But even this smaller slice may tempt us to pander to their particular interests. At its most isolated a creative person may begin to pander to his/her own peculiarities.
This is a lot of preface to say I check my blog stats almost every day to see what’s cooking. I’ve been a very spotty blogger since a little before 2019 began. Its not my first drier spell but it is a sign that I’m keen to do something more than reach the smallish audience I’ve pontificated before for the past 13 years. My eight loyal readers know I’ve agonized about writing a book for ages. In fact, my first serious foray into writing was self publishing a 200 plus page adventure novel for young readers. It was a great test of my perseverance but a creative disappointment.
Yesterday I attempted unsuccessfully to write a third weekly column for the Duluth Reader. I had a subject I was eager to write about. So eager was I that I went to the Duluth Public Library at noon and spent a couple hours researching old newspapers on microfilm. Rather than print out the stories that caught my eye I simply took a cell phone picture of them. This is the picture that would have graced my column had I finished it.
Finding this was almost a confirmation that God or the fates wanted me to write the column. Here’s the story.
Back in 2006 I began this blog with two objectives. I wanted to use it to run for Congress and I wanted to use it to gin up interest in a 30 year-old political mystery that had kept me under its spell. A column I had written in 2005 in anticipating of entering the race as either a democrat or independent candidate had pulled me into the orbit of the one person who knew more about the mystery than almost anyone still living. There is a long story to this too but I’ll confine this post to the story about the picture above.
That old mystery eluded the Duluth News Tribune and every other news source in the late 1970’s. I was beginning to figure it all out and used my blog as a way to advertise a book I planned to write which I would use to finance my congressional campaign. (I have been searching for a means to finance an independent campaign for the last 40 years.)
I could never figure out a way to tell that story the way it deserved to be told and the time I spent attempting to made a serious run close to impossible as I once again had no means to finance a campaign. Then in the following year when I still had hopes of writing the book I got sidetracked by the biggest boondoggle ever witnessed in Duluth. It was called the Red Plan and this blog has probably devoted two million words to explaining it.
Thinking back on the extensive news coverage of the never explained 1970’s mystery and the incurious coverage of the Red Plan by the Duluth News Tribune from 2007 on I concluded that the golden age of newspapers had taken place post Watergate. It came to a screeching halt about the same time as the Housing bubble popped. Major cities had been losing their rival newspapers for years. Duluth’s afternoon paper folded a couple years after I moved to town in the 1970’s. But even monopolies didn’t save them. And the Internet wasn’t their first menace. In the 1980’s the Gannet Organization began printing the nationalized “USA Today” which they distributed all over the US. The news in general had become the punching bag for southern politicians who hated how they were depicted in the “North” for denying governance and voting rights to black citizens. This distaste for the press became the legacy of the South when in the Reagan years white southerners who once hated Lincoln’s Republicans converted to Nixon and later Reagan Republicans overnight. While the sunny Reagan played pied piper his successors have played Donald Trump’s Fake News card without realizing he would out play that card a couple decades later and beat the hell out of former party of the “big tent.”
All of this was too big a mouthful for a single column especially after having frittered two writing hours away pouring over the microfilm evidence.
The banner headline above is the first story I looked at on microfilm. You will notice that the date is thirteen years and seven days ago. It was 13 years before the beginning of the 2019 week I was comparing it to.
After dinner last night I realized it was too late to straighten out my spaghetti dinner into straight lines of noodles before the deadline.
At this point in my 68 year old life I’m more interested in writing some books than I am blog posts or weekly columns in a once-a-week tabloid. I cranked out a book as a very inexperienced writer in about a year back in 1991. I ordered a garage full of books and ended up taking most of them to a landfill twenty-five years later. I’m still looking for an audience beyond my own nose.
NOTE: I KNOW THIS IS UNPROOFED AS OF THIS PUBLISHING. MAYBE I’LL DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT LATER IN THE DAY BUT I’VE GOT OTHER THINGS TO DO BEFORE THAT. OR MAYBE NOT! (I made one attempt at a serious editing this post. If this had been intended for a print I’d have proofed it a dozen times.)