Funny you should ask.
Just this week I subscribed to the New York Times. I am headed for retirement and thought I would have time to read it. Plus it offered 50% off.
The Chronicle, sports aside, takes me, oh... 10 minutes? The Times, which does not deliver even one of last night’s scores, accompanies me from home to office, joins me at the café, sometimes hangs around through dinner. It is enough to raise the question how much do I really need to know about Japanese prime ministers and Hungarian coal mines? When, I worry, will I see The New Yorker and NYRB again? Everything in its time and place is how I live. This at breakfast, that on the toilet, the other in the bag for BART. Now another center explodes.
I used to say I avoided the Times because I did not want it defining what was important. Which music, which book, which election. I preferred to foster my particular vision through my idiosyncratically acquired wisdoms. But, I conceded, what had my vision done for me lately? Maybe I could benefit from more information about the deplorable state of gypsies, the slaughtered family of the physician in Connecticut.
Yet... Feuding Italians, angry Germans, angrier Poles. Butchered Indians and Pakastanis and Iraquis and Afghanis. The even worse off Sudanese. (I find myself humming the old Kingston Trio tune: “They’re rioting in Africa; they’re starving in Spain...” Well, things are looking up Iberia-wise, anyway, in under half a century.) Should it matter to me that a city in Thailand is broadening its economic base by adding polo tournaments to its sex industry? Do all these pages need to be filled by such lunacies? Is it because the Times has the ad revenue to pay for them, or does it require the stories in order to provide sufficient authority to peddle the shoes and watches and perfumes it seems to believe people require?
My doctor, when my blood pressure concerned him, counseled me to refrain from all news for 30 days. I consider him wiser with each passing day.
Causes Bob Levin Supports
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, ACLU, PEN, Berkeley Emergency Food & Housing Project.