Monday, March 16, 2020


Games Over. That was the headline of the six-page reduced Sports Section of the newspaper last week. The next five pages consisted of stories about the closure or suspension of the baseball season, basketball tournament, hockey championship playoffs, golf etc... In other words, life as we know it. Sports have long blurred into Finance, Theater and front-page news but never before into a sweeping Obit.

What more endearing and enduring signifier for spring than the crack of the bat, green grass and the smell of hot dogs? Our National Pastime is now out of time. For grown-ups none of this matters much but for those of us who never grew up our alternative universe just disappeared.

My memory bank just opened its vault to my twelve year old innocence when I imagined the demise of all newspapers in NYC during the summer of 1945. Up until August that year I had been avidly following the progress of the war on the front page of the N.Y. Times (morning) and N.Y. Post (evening). I must have thought that all news was war news and it was all good as the Allies pushed across Europe and the Pacific Islands. With the surrender of Germany in May and Japan in August hostilities came to a screeching halt and I wondered how the eight newspapers in New York would ever survive. Of course my worry was about 65 years premature.

News is what's happening and also what isn't. When the voter turnout for the recent primary was only a mere 25% in some counties that is news. When the pomegranate, now regarded as the true forbidden fruit in Eden, is said to contain 613 seeds matching the number of commandments (mitzvahs) in the Old Testament that was news to me but doesn't qualify as newsworthy. 

It also happens not to be true but that never stopped our illustrious fable-maker, the incorrigible liar-in-chief from tweeting himself down the toilet. Bad news seems to have more legs than the good. I recently read that the Israeli/Palestinian corridor is a fly-over migratory route for 500 million birds twice a year of 483 different species. Ironic how birds and butterflies know whose woods these are while humans continue to build walls and check points.

News is not an acronym for North, East, West, South. Nor does it stand for News Events, Weather and Sports. It is simply the English form of the Latin word for New as in novelty, supernova or renovate. Sometimes we see things that aren't there like the peach in impeachment, juicy as it was.

Peggy has a sign over her bathtub which says, Make It New. These are the words of Ezra Pound, that politically misguided Modernist poet. He was better at mentoring others (Eliot, Hemingway, Joyce, Williams) than he was a poet or pundit. 

I should add that the word NEW has long ago been hijacked and subverted by the advertising world. New and Improved usually means neither.

No news, these days, is good news since we are being fed a diet ranging from the calamitous to the dire. Could it be that this dreaded virus will bind our national wound communally even as it takes its toll? Friends and neighbors are looking out for one another. It feels like a return to that summer of '45 when chapter one of a new narrative was happening with everyone on the verge instead of on the brink. 

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