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Updated: 02/27/02

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Wednesday, 27 February, 2002

Last night, Alien got all the phone calls. First, her vet, Dr. C. called. She said that she had most of the test results back. The good news is her liver, kidneys and white blood cell count are fine, and she doesn't have feline leukemia or AIDS. Bad news is that she still doesn't know what is causing the uveitis - eye infection. She still has some other tests to run and will let me know when she has the results.

Then Mom called to see how Alien was. She was "down the hill" from Nan and Don's so she could use her cell phone. Later Ellen called to see how Alien's vet visit had gone. Ellen has been Alien's cat-sitter in the past, and has been slapped in the face by Alien at a party or two, so they have a bond.

[OK, so my cat has a more active social life than I do. What's it to you?]

Last year, SEPTA, which is the SE Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, began distributing a small newspaper called "Philadelphia Metro" at its stations. It's not big - usually 20-25 pages, and the stories are not lengthy, but it gives a nice summary of world, national and local headlines, along with brief sports and public interest snippets and a few ads. It's put out by a company called Metropoint that provides editions in a smattering of countries throughout the world: Spain, France, Canada, Italy, sweden. They cover two cities in the US: Philly and Boston.

Did I mention that it is FREE? Big stacks of them at the stations in the morning, and recycling bins at the major Center City train and subway stops. It obviously doesn't have all of the coverage and stories that a paper like the NY Times or even the Philadelphia Inquirer does, but for someone like me who is on a subway train for at most ten minutes a day during the week, it is just enough. And it's free.

Which leads me to wonder, what has this done to the subscription service and newstand purchases for the Inquirer? I get the Sunday Inquirer, as I like being able to take the paper over to the Snow White Diner at 2nd and Market on Saturday and Sunday mornings and read slowly while they make my bacon and cheese omelette and call me "Hon." But I stopped buying the daily edition before I get on the subway to go to work because I never have time to read it all in the morning, and by the time I get home at night, I've gotten most of the top stories online at CNN, CNBC, Yahoo, and even the Inquirer's on-line site.

I have to wonder about a newspaper having an on-line site that gives readers the same thing for free that they would have to pay 50 cents to get in hardcopy. Isn't that like setting up your own direct competitor? I suppose that the major target group for the hardcopy versions will continue to be those people who commute in from the far-off suburbs on trains and have a long ride each way, so maybe the website is just there to reach people who wouldn't normally buy a paper anyway.

[Like me.]

Where was I going with this? Ah, yes. So I checked out the Inquirer website this morning to see what I am missing. I looked over the Op/Ed page and one of the captions caught my eye:

"Jones approached cartoons with a radical point of view"
By Crispin Sartwell

The whole story is here but to summarize, the author is blaming the "long-haired, anti-authoritarian, free-love, new left '60s" on Chuck Jones.

OK, I can see the fact that Chuck's protagonists are largely rebels experimenting with munitions and they are rather violent. And who knows? Maybe Chuck would have appreciated this guy crediting him with being the cartoon behind the reality of Abbie Hoffman, Country Joe and the Fish, and the Weather Underground. Whatever.

I also don't disagree entirely with Crispin's statement that, "Children's video in the '70s and '80s became an utter blank, a politically correct insipidity, a mindless parade of friendly tokens," citing the Care Bears, Sesame Street, and Barney. But here's where the whole thing breaks down for me. He writes:

"Little wonder that our era has also produced public figures of stupefying emptiness (Al Gore comes to mind) who say nothing, do nothing, and indeed are nothing."

Dude, even Al Gore watched those subversive Looney Tunes cartoons when he was growing up! It's not because of a poor supply of anarchistic animation that Al Gore is what he is [or isn't as the case may be]. Presumably, Al did not spend the '70's and '80's watching The Care Bears, although perhaps others may disagree [and it may explain some things]. Just because the old Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons were created in the 1950's does not mean that they have gone unseen since their first run. My friend Laurie's kids, Merryl and Lloyd (ages 15 and 12, respectively) know these cartoons inside and out, but I don't think that it will cause them to be neo-anarchists later in life.

[I mean, there are all sorts of OTHER reasons they might do that - like their Mother - but I digress.]

Now where was I going with this again? Oh, right. Perhaps the whole point of Op/Ed is to prattle on long enough to cause some hapless reader to take issue with whatever off-target rot is being thrown about.

[Hey, wait, that's what I'm doing! Copy cats.]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"We started trying to set up
a small anarchist community,
but the people wouldn't obey the rules."

-- Alan Bennett (1934 - ____)

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