Pure Unadulterated Filth

“A newspaper is the lowest thing that there is”  -Richard J Daley

I’ve read a good number of articles over the past few years decrying the end of the newspaper.  For all intents and purposes, the medium is a dying breed.  People are getting their news from the Internet, television and other sources much more frequently. The importance of the medium has been unquestionable.  Some of the most significant writers of the last hundred years owe their livelihoods to it.  However, the day the last copy of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal (or whatever behemoth newspaper outlet manages to be the last one standing) disappear into the gutter of history I will dance a jig in the streets. The fact of the matter is that newspaper is the single most disgusting thing that has ever been created.

Forget the content for a minute.  This is a case where McLuhan’s “Medium is the Message” idea really makes sense.  In this case, the medium is enough to turn one’s stomach.  The most vile odor ever created is the smell of newspaper.  When I am in a restaurant and the person at the table next to me is reading a newspaper, I try to move to another seat.  I’d rather the person sit there with a cup of coffee while vivisecting the stomach of a moose.  The worst are the cheap local papers or supermarket tabloids.  They stink like The Boston Harbor on the Fourth of July.  The odor is simply unbearable.

If it just smelled badly it might well be tolerable, but the texture of it is enough to send me into sepsis.  Accidently brushing into one or, worse, touching it with my hands is unquestionably the worst sensation possible.   If I were ever captured and interrogated by the police all they would need to do is threaten to place a copy of the Op-Ed Page of the Washington Post over my face for 10 minutes and I’d cop to anything from the assassination of William McKinley to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh Baby.

I live in constant, unending terror over the thought of wet newspaper.  Oh dear God!  Even writing about it makes me want to vomit.  The way it wilts and bleeds into the other pages.  The horror!  I am filled with anger anytime I see someone lick his or her fingers and turn the page.  What type of disgusting animal would do such a thing?  Of all the loathsome, repugnant habits!  I could sit for hours in a smoke filled room with people eating raw steak and washing it down with phlegm flavored soda and not beat an eyelash, but if one of those folks licked their fingers and touched a newspaper I’d tear my eyes out faster than old King Oedipus.

My working definition of hell is a place where I am covered in a giant pile of wet newspaper for all of eternity.  If there were actually a passage in the Bible that referred to this, I’d sit front row for every Billy Graham sermon from now until my dying day wearing sackcloth and screaming “AMEN!” even when he didn’t ask me to.

The ultimate obscenity is food on newspaper.  To me, there is no greater assault on dignity and virtue then a newspaper stained with the residue of a pork chop.  Ever since the day I first heard that the British will occasionally eat fish and chips off of newspaper, I have refused to see them as a civilized people.   They could come up with fifty Magna Cartas and it would not overcome the sheer tastelessness of one guy at a Yorkshire tavern going ham on a pile of fried cod over a week old copy of The London Times.  Disgusting!  What goes through their minds?  And the idea of wrapping fish in newspaper?!?!?  What sort of sadist would think of such a thing?  Take the most awful scent known to mankind and rap the corpse of a rotting animal in it.  Really?  Think of the aroma!  What is wrong with people?

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with this awful gagging sensation caused by a recurring nightmare where I have to clean up a tipped over garbage can with the remains of expired potato salad meshed with newspaper.  I prefer the dreams where I am attacked by hordes of raging vampires.  Sure I die violently, but by comparison it’s a walk in the park.

I’m not the type of fellow with a horribly weak stomach.  I’ve had to man up and change a lot of terrible, noxious diapers over the past four years.  I handle it like a pro.  However, there is a limit for how much wretchedness a person can take.   At least I live in Atlanta, a city that is not newspaper crazy.  I just spent two months in Minnesota and those people love it.  They would take off their clothes and roll around in copy of the Pioneer Press if they could.  All anyone ever talks about is what is in the paper.  They have no idea how nauseating their habit is.

The newspaper is an affront to hygiene and good taste.  The thing is a pure abomination.  I don’t ask much of the future, just a world where my children and my children’s children don’t have to live with the constant fear of this putrid entity.  That is all I ask.

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  1. #1 by John Erickson on August 20, 2011 - 6:31 PM

    Ya know, for a guy gone vegan, ya talk an AWFUL lot about meats….. 😉
    Being a good Chicagoan, there is NO way I can argue with “Da Mayor”. However, also coming from a big-time newspaper town (we had THREE dailies back in the early 80s, down to 2 plus a bunch of oddballs including a Polish-language daily for the 2nd largest city of Polish population in THE WORLD!), I gotta say I do have a soft spot for the old rags. I can easily live without them, but that 15-pound lump that is (or at least used to be) the Sunday Tribune, complete with colour comics, is a childhood memory that will delight forever. As a food wrapper, insanity. As entertainment on a cold winter morning (and heat for that morning once read), I’ll have to side with the newspaper.
    Mind you, I haven’t held one in over 15 years, get most of my news from the Internet (from newspaper sites, nonetheless), and burn the few bits of newsprint I get hands on. Who says loyalty goes with romantic memories? 😀

    • #2 by Keith Spillett on August 21, 2011 - 3:21 PM

      I heard the Polish newspaper is written in French. Thanks! I’ll be here all week.

      • #3 by John Erickson on August 21, 2011 - 3:33 PM

        As of when I was forced to leave my Windy City, Chicago did actually have the 2nd largest population of Poles in the world, 2nd only to Warsaw! There’s an entire area of the NW side that is a Polish enclave, right down to the street and store signs being in Polish (English too – they’re nice folk). It’s kinda cool – if you let your mind drift a bit (and ignore the blatantly American early-1900s architecture), you can pretend you’re walking through Poland! 😀

      • #4 by Keith Spillett on August 21, 2011 - 3:36 PM

        If only I could walk through Poland….just once…..

  2. #5 by Jim Wheeler on August 20, 2011 - 8:39 PM

    Now if the newspaper is wet I might agree with you, Keith. Not about the smell but the sheer unmanageability of the stuff. It only takes one pinhole in the thin plastic sheath they use these days and any amount of moisture is instantly sucked up. I dare say, newsprint has to be just about the most absorbent material on the planet. But smell? I don’t even detect it! It must be a genetic thing. If you were complaining about how the ink comes off on your hands, then I could commiserate. (But it washes off easily.)

    Smells. Even though I can’t smell newsprint I can certainly smell books. Strangely, I can’t summon up the smell on command, but when I smell it, I know it. In my old home town we had an Andrew Carnegie library and it had that characteristic smell. The smell itself was neither good nor bad, it was simply characteristic, but to me it represented a universe of knowledge and enjoyment. Pulp science fiction. Astounding SF. Galaxy Magazine. Sexy girls threatened by aliens on the covers. Hmm. I wonder if someone could reproduce that and make it emanate from a kindle? The Library Bouquet app! I’d buy it!

    You need a cure, Keith. Maybe gene splicing?



    • #6 by Keith Spillett on August 21, 2011 - 3:23 PM

      The smell of books is okay with me. I even kinda like it. It’s newspaper. Ehhhhhhhh….the thought gives me hives.

      I’ll have to see about the gene splicing. My wife told me no more surgery until we completely pay off the goiter I had added.

  3. #7 by sekanblogger on August 21, 2011 - 8:13 AM

    Next week’s edition: rotary phones.

    • #8 by Keith Spillett on August 21, 2011 - 3:09 PM

      See, now, I love rotary phones. I keep asking about a rotary cell phone, but the folks at the Verizon store just give me a bemused “Whatever dude” look.

      • #9 by John Erickson on August 21, 2011 - 3:22 PM

        I could actually hook you up (pun intended). Most phone systems still can accept the old “pulse dial” – what you had with rotary phones before push-button “Dial Tone” (TM). I can get you a rotary dial handset used by telephone techs to test lines. Then I can gut it, put in some cell phone’s guts, and cross-hook the keypad. Alternately, there are some old phones that had the number keypad in the rotary shape – I could graft that on so you had the rotary shape but push-button convenience! 😀

      • #10 by Keith Spillett on August 21, 2011 - 3:30 PM

        If they ever bring MacGyver back to television, you might want to consider writing for it. This is an utterly fantastic idea. I think this could be a hit. I wish I had about 10 million laying around to invest in marketing these.

  4. #11 by Jay on February 26, 2012 - 12:34 PM

    Mate, I think you need to take a chill pill. Ok I get that you have a thing against newspapers, however the smell of a paper? The feel of a newspaper? Wet Newspaper? Oh please! Appart from actually being a nice smell, how you can call anyone an ‘animal’ for licking their fingers and turning the pages beggars belief. I think you obviously lack anything of real substance in your life to moan about.

    • #12 by Keith Spillett on February 26, 2012 - 12:55 PM

      I think you are underrating the sheer horror of newspaper. You probably roll around of a copy of the New York Times. You are sick.

  5. #13 by Virginia Hammond on May 18, 2013 - 10:03 AM

    I have to admit, I am still addicted to newsprint. Oh, I have my I-Pad for reading volumes and volumes of books. (Now that I saw that I realize that I need to take a gander at my I-Tunes account – they make it waaay too easy to buy books.) I have weaned myself down to the Sunday Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but I can’t give up my Sunday morning ritual. I make cup after cup of coffee, dish up a plate full of stuffed French toast running with syrup, and read until my fingers, the tip of my nose and half of the sofa is black with newsprint. Oh, God, I get hot just thinking about it.

    • #14 by Keith Spillett on May 18, 2013 - 12:38 PM

      Any decent society would censor what you just wrote and throw you in jail.

    • #15 by Jim Wheeler on May 18, 2013 - 1:44 PM

      Me too, Virginia, my Sunday morning ritual especially. I read it front to back. Front page is the appetizer, actually, since the reports and stories are often just continuations of ongoing scandals, happenings and trends. A soupcon then of weather and miscellany. The entree: Opinion, editorials, op-ed letters. Big crossword for dessert. But no smell, not for me. I think Keith’s is all in his head. Bada boom. 😆

      • #16 by Keith Spillett on May 18, 2013 - 2:12 PM

        It’s this sort of thing that is making America a second rate nation.

  6. #17 by Deborah Hunter on January 19, 2014 - 11:06 PM

    Finally! Someone else who can’t stand the smell of wet newspaper. Actually, it’s that smell concentrated that one sometimes get a whiff of upon entering a bathroom after some foul person. I have what feels like an instinctive gut reaction to it that makes my want to run away as fast as my legs will carry me -(Not any repressed memory or anything like that). I keep wondering if it’s associated with some infectious agent. (If so, what?)
    Just as curious to me, there is sometimes an undercurrent of an aroma in a dishwasher or washing machine that I find positively delicious. One can take detergents and wash them out without ever producing this fragrance undertone. Could it be the result of some beneficial bacteria or fungi? If so, I wonder which one? As one who dabbles in natural perfumery, I’m dying to know.

    • #18 by Keith Spillett on January 20, 2014 - 12:32 PM

      Not sure, but I wish women wore gasoline instead of perfume. The smell is intoxicating.

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