ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO SQUINT
If the New York Times disappears, will the world survive? DAVID BLUM ponders a future without ink stains.
By David Blum
Gay Talese won’t go online, bless his ornery old-fashioned soul. He answers his phone like people used to (he’s listed in the phone book and it’s a land line, remember those? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing! Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!) and says “Hello?” and if you have a request he’ll ask you to please fax it to him, because, yes, Gay has progressed into the modern era far enough to own a fax machine, he doesn’t mind that particular whirring contraption, probably because it involves paper and the ringing of a phone…it’s like a Dixie cup and a string, only longer, looser, lighter than air, the connection invisible yet somehow tangible. He rises every morning and paws through the newspaper with the diligence of an obedient journalism student and checks his mailbox for letters with stamps on them (and there will be letters; people write to Gay Talese; I did when I was a young starry-eyed reporter; wouldn’t you if you were?) and puts on an elegant Italian suit and, often, a wide-brimmed hat to match. He walks the streets of his Upper East Side neighborhood with the gait of a go-getting reporter, because he still is one, and he presses his opinions on people with the passion of a high-school debate team captain, only with more grace, more wit, more aplomb. Yes, the man has aplomb.
You wouldn’t like being Gay Talese. It’s hard work and the rewards don’t seem very obvious to someone with a website and a password and high-speed Internet access, the ultimate vrooooom vroooooom vroooooom… Remember vrooooom? No you don’t, but that’s okay because Tom Wolfe isn’t New Journalism anymore, his old hats are old hat. Gonzo is the way of the world. Everyone writes in lower case. The world has abandoned traditional words and grammar in favor of shit that fits on a phone screen. Will u b there 4 a few mins? Meet u at ur apt 4 dinner? No time for apostrophes, my friend. Can’t be bothered with articles. Won’t. Fuck that. No point. By the clicking of our thumbs, something wicked this way comes.