“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.