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Quiet Desperation

Looking for things that will keep? Keep looking


When I was 18-19, I thought I wanted a career in hand-drawn illustration, and my goal was album covers.

Glad I didn’t.

Hand-drawn illustrations are mostly gone, and so are (long playing) album covers.

You can still find vinyl stores like the one in “High Fidelity,” but they are few and far between (like pay phones).

Some of us no longer have any kind — vinyl, cassette, CD — of individually packaged music.

Travel agents? You can still find them too. But they are disappearing too.

Daily print newspapers?

Denver’s only daily just cut 30 percent of its staff. It breaks my heart, because I know what’s next, and I have seen it coming for a long time.

I have subscribed to daily newspapers since I was an undergraduate. The math is 50 years. Subscribing to The Los Angeles Times in my late teens was a subscription to the big table in the room. I learned the names of reporters and columnists, and I became familiar with liberals and conservatives — and idiots.

Too harsh?

Idiots are convinced that any newspaper’s factual stories are either liberal or conservative, even when they are simply factual stories.

One Post reader wrote, “You totally alienate half of the state and wonder why you need to eliminate a third of your staff?”

Truth is, The Post didn’t wonder why it had to be done.

Reader preferences and economic factors were involved.

How news is being accessed has been changing for some time. Likewise, shopping preferences. I haven’t been to a mall in 10 years, maybe longer.

The internet isn’t entirely to blame for all of this. But it’s an accomplice.

You can find out what just happened anywhere in the world right now on the internet, not the next day in a print edition.

It goes further: Local televised news is losing viewership. It lost mine years ago.

The panel format is too convivial. Big stories are side by side with stories about cats wearing clothes. They tease you, so you don’t use the remote during a commercial. I used a remote during commercials.

Another Post reader blamed “out-of-state hedge-fund owners who have no regard for local news.”

There’s blame — or credit — to go around, but what it amounts to is a loss. The loss of a hand-held sheaf of words, images, ideas, and opinions.

But that’s not enough to keep something around anymore. Our preferences, aligned with new technologies, replace dated formats all day long.

Jennifer just made a trip to Ohio to see her family. I asked her if she wanted to borrow a book. She said, “No, thanks. I have a book on Kindle.”

She didn’t see my reaction because I was in another room.

I lowered my head.

My morning paper goes splat on the driveway about 4 a.m. It’s a trigger, that sound. I can smell the coffee before I can smell the coffee.

Something’s charm, if that’s what it is, isn’t enough. Otherwise we’d all still be taking the train.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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