For the record: I love newspapers – especially the New York Post.
That outfit has fun with the news, which is refreshing as many of my former colleagues and their bosses treat today’s news and their copy like it is holy writ. For the record: It is not.
Day in and day out, the shrinking pod of American news reporters bust their tails to bring you the news. They use catchy headlines and crisp lede (this is the correct spelling) paragraphs to draw your attention to the story hoping you will read it all the way through.
Sometimes the news is good, especially stories that feature the word rescue in the headline. Sometimes they are bad. We all know those stories quoting long-faced political leaders offering their thoughts and prayers.
Sometimes a story is political. Depending on your view, the story is good when it says your candidate won and not so good when it says he lost.
Sometimes the news is just goofy, like the supermarket tabloids featuring stores from folks claiming they saw Big Foot hiding in the woods not far from Jackman.
But the NY Post uses a wry and sometimes bawdy humor to grab your attention. Like the time a New York Congressman named Anthony Weiner got caught up in a sex scandal. You can guess how much fun they had while writing headlines about his peccadilloes. Just pretend you are a sixth-grade boy and imagine the rest.
Of course, the Post’s best-known headline came on a story about a nightclub murder.
It would have been a routine five-paragraph story buried way inside the pages, not far from the truss ads, until a clever headline writer penned: “Headless body in topless bar,” and it was splashed all over the cover.
One of the Post headline writers is one of my favorite pals, a former colleague named Deb Pines. She is a delightful fountain of zingers. She writes fine mystery novels too. I ramble on about this stuff to introduce you to a story from last week from the Post’s gossip maven, Cindy Adams. She stuck her tongue in her cheek and wrote a column about her summer vacation in Maine.
She mentioned the state’s natural beauty, praised our lobsters as being the size of Radio City Music Hall, but she threw in a few zingers just to show the New York City crowd they, and not Maine, still lead the fashion parade.
“Mainers consider flannel formal,” she said, adding our concept of dressing is for salad and that our restaurants were not classy enough.
If you want to read the rest of what she said, I suggest you look it up.
Ms. Cindy has been around for a long time. She joined the news biz when a woman reporter had to be twice as smart as a man. To compete with the boys, she had to have the nerve of a burglar, the skin of a rhino, and the elbows of a pro linebacker.
In TV land, it was worse. If a female TV reporter looked like a real woman, not Hollywood Playboy Barbie, or if some executive spotted her coif out of place, a bulge around the midriff, or, perish the thought, a wrinkle or three, it mattered none if she had a brain and a shelf full of Emmys. Many were quietly eased out the side door.
I ramble on this topic because I want to send a gentle note to my hyper-excited friends in Maine newspaper land and the smiling faces that let me know there will be a film at 11.
A few of them grabbed Ms. Adams’ column, attacked it, and mounted a spirited defense of the great state of Maine. Some got real personal about her age.
First of all, the GSOM does not need defending. It is what it is, and we are damn proud of it. Second, age is off-limits.
Ms. A is a pro and probably suffers from TMB (too many birthdays) like the rest of us, but she is still working. Over the years, she gave New York City the inside story of the news celebrity universe. She and her connections helped save the Post when the former owner went broke.
So, at 92 years old, if the old gal figured out a way to monetize her summer vacation by sticking her tongue in her cheek and writing a quick column that generated some headlines, so what? Maybe she was able to put some of the vacation bills on her expense account. And heaps of salt.
We ought to give her a break. Cut her some slack. The old news gal has earned the right to have some fun in a column.
Bully for her.