Opinion » Bill Cope

The Paper Chaste

Re-reviewing our daily rag


I don't know how to write a column without bitching about something.

There. I said it, and now you know. For those of you who are always bitching that all I do is bitch, this should explain everything. I simply can not do this unless I have something to complain about.

Even when I write those rare pieces where I sing the praises of some particular individual or concept or group or natural wonder, it's implicit therein that I have a gripe with the opposite of that subject. For instance, I can't tell you what a fine person I consider Jimmy Carter to be without implying there is something wrong with anyone who isn't like Jimmy Carter. Put another way, the very act of being positive about Jimmy is a bitch about everyone else. Get it?

So now you understand. Even were I to flip a new leaf and write nothing but glowing profiles of colorful local characters who haven't missed a Boise State tailgate party in 40 years, or glowing exposes on the immense fun you and your gal pals can have if you start a kitchen-makeover club, or glowing coverage of Bikers for Christ rallies and glowing reports about up and comers in the real estate scene or glowing raves on whatever thrash band is playing at the Big Easy tonight, I would still be bitching. It's the Yin that can not be separated from the Yang and frankly, I'd rather bitch overtly than bitch by omission. If you don't like it, go read something some pleasant person wrote. I suggest Tim Woodward. He seems to be a pleasant person.

And with that said, I am now moving on to a review of the new Statesman. I've put it off for as long as possible, partly because I wanted to give it a chance to settle in, and partly because I am so uninterested in the new Statesman that I've been dreading the prospect of having to come up with something to write about it.

Nevertheless, I've invested a great deal of time bitching about the old Statesman, so I feel obligated to bitch about the new Statesman. Fair's fair.

The only way to do this right is to go through the paper section by section, giving each equal consideration. After all, a modern newspaper must reflect and report on every facet of our lives and lifestyles, no matter how insignificant. No matter how irrelevant and trivial. No matter how paltry and puny and puerile. No matter how childish or distracting or meaningless or trite or dull or pandering or preposterous. If you don't believe me, go check out a copy of USA Today.

• So then, the first thing we notice in the new Statesman is now the local and state news, which in the old Statesman was located anywhere from directly behind the national news to buried deep within the classifieds. Not only has local been elevated over national, they have three different versions of the local, depending on where in Ada County you live. (In my corner of Ada County, the paper informed us on their first day out that Meridian's population was growing and that traffic problems were getting worse. Now see, if the old Statesman were still around, we might have never learned that.)

Personally, I think national and international news are slightly more important than whoever in Eagle is suing whom over high water or whatever Jim Risch is up to to prove he's the boss. But I concede that's a matter of taste. After all, not everyone wants to read about a nasty ol' war or genocide in Africa first thing in the morning. And as long as I can be assured that, yes indeed, there is a national section somewhere further on down the paper, I'll adjust.

• But what's this? The national section is one mighty skinny section, is it not? Judging from page count alone, there must be about twice as much stuff going on in our precious Treasure Valley than in all the rest of the world, combined. Is this possible?

Not only that, but at least one page--often more--of the national section is dedicated to local obituaries. That's right, the more people there are who have died, the less we learn of national and international affairs. Damn, if Karl Rove gets indicted, I hope it happens on a slow day for the mortuaries.

• As to the addition of Mallard Filmore to the editorial page, I understand why they did it. We all agree that a mediocre, undistinctive little spiritless rag which panders to the broadest possible audience must never, ever be perceived as favoring one perspective over the other, no matter how demonstrably screwed up the other is. And since a year ago or so, the old Statesman pandered itself into having to shift Doonesbury onto the editorial page for no other good reason than to shut conservatives the hell up, it's entirely reasonable that the newspaper would then be intimidated into adding a balancing voice to Gary Trudeau's witty and nuanced strip. Too bad they couldn't find a witty and nuanced strip--or even a mildly funny one--for true balance. But then, finding wit, nuance and humor among conservatives is like finding morels in fresh cow flop. I'm not saying it can't happen. I'm just saying I've never seen it.

• We're running low on room here, so moving quickly on to the "Life" section: Yes, I am disturbed that this section, too, is fatter than the national news. But I suppose in a town like Boise, there are so many people who want to get a picture of their home or dog or kid in the paper, something's gotta give. Let's just pray there isn't a big garden tour on the day Rove gets indicted.

I guess I'll have to put off for another time the question of why the new Statesman was kind enough to add Sudoku to their puzzle stable, but sadistic enough to position it on the page so it takes a degree in origami to get the fold right. Also, why do I now have to Google "Dan Popkey" to find out what page he's on anymore? Also, why in the hell is Michael Deeds ... ah, but my word limit fast approaches and I'm about all bitched out for one day.

As to my over-all impression of the new Statesman? Funny ... but I don't have one. It's like trying to come up with a description for low-fat mayonnaise. I did want to add one thing, though. It's about the new titles. The gray titles. I like gray. Really. I'm on my third gray suit in a row. I think the best looking cars on the road are the gray ones, and when I had a house painted some years ago, I went with a blue-gray for the siding and what they call slate-gray for the trim. In fact, about the only things I'd prefer weren't gray are my lunch meat, my complexion, and the titles on the paper I read every day.