When was the last time you knew the name of the Deputy Director of the FBI? Or the deputy director of anything in Washington? Probably not since Watergate. Why? Because most years our federal government is fairly anonymous. Makes few headlines. Just does its everyday unremarkable job like our everyday unremarkable mail carrier.
Weather forecasters and reporters may thrive on the remarkable. The rest of us not so much. There is an entire generation of Tribune readers out here who can remember going weeks in which the headlines were so predictably routine, they were downright dull.
Dull like Mayor meeting with Boy Scouts rather than convening conference on gun violence …dull like another Expo featuring appliances rather than security apps….dull like the Cubs being swept by the Cardinals, but not to worry because we weren’t going anywhere anyway….dull like an expressway accident involving drivers not shooters ….dull like another Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day in which most deaths reported were due to fireworks not gang feuds.
The ancient Chinese had this curse: “May you live in interesting times.” My generation may be the last to really understand its sting. True, we did live during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Dallas, Woodstock, Watergate, Saddam and 9/11. Yet there was a difference. When we read your editions, we tended to believe our government was one with us in our fears and fortunes.
Today that is no longer as true, and how my generation wishes it were again. You see, dull is usually another way of saying normal. As it once was when kids could walk to school without following “safe passage” signs…clerics could preach love without snickers in the pews…. movie houses could feature flag-waving flicks we all could wave with….and when doors could be closed at night without bolt-locking.
Sure, our memories play tricks on us. But my generation can document these by your own headlines over this last half century. By most measures you have shifted tone from relatively dull to unrelentingly delirious. And if the Tribune has changed, obviously the news it covers has changed too.
Events now tumble over us like unpredictable gusts in a sudden spring storm. The usual suspects – — Russia, spies, extremists, rich New York playboys — seem to be more in than out of the loop. Some readers still have their old reliables to loath — drag queens, transgenders, spoiled college kids — but the Tribune just doesn’t seem so dependably dull as it once was. You know, when pols were only skilled hustlers, not smarmy hucksters. When we could still invite them to our neighborhood’s Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day events with a straight face.
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