Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dropping Trow

Monday newspapers are like Sunday papers, but smaller. Much of the front page contended for Sunday publication but didn't make the cut, or needed another day to percolate. Match today's lead story with the publication:

Pinochet obit
Immigration-raid feature
Private investigator feature
High-rise murder folo

Stephen Metcalf in Slate marks the death of New Yorker writer George W.S. Trow by recalling his 1980 article Within the Context of No Context. I'd never heard of this essay, and maybe that's the point. Trow saw pop culture as a subversive hustle against adult legitimacy. Seems to me anyone who has seen a Bugs Bunny cartoon knows that.

The New Yorker navel-gazing tradition certainly has taken a beating since then, and newspapers are less consciously serious. The Tribune worked up the immigration synocdote; the Sun-Times, death at a patent-law office, RedEye the private-eye procedural. Only Spanish-language Hoy led with the death of Pinochet (I say pin-oh-SHAY, but it's it's pee-no-CHET to those unfamiliar with his legacy of state-sponsored torture.

Not only is Pinochet's death the old-school news story in the bunch, but the emerging cult of the grifter that Trow foretold would have marveled at the Chilean dictator's grand crimes. That Pinochet drew so little interest in death says more about our collective lack of curiosity about life.

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