The End of an Era

For the past few days I've been obsessed about the big media news in town: the buy-out of the Chicago Reader, our city's leading alternative weekly, by Creative Loafing, an out-of-town chain that, from what I read, is not known for hard-hitting journalism or great writing. The first piece I had in the Reader was maybe in the late 1970s or 80s and I've been an intermittent contributor since. Maybe seven years ago I was part of a small group of freelancers who negotiated better terms with editors, and that made me feel more part of the newspaper and the freelance community. I've had my battles with editors over story ideas and the rhythm of my sentences (don't mess with the rhythm of my sentences) and the editors did decline to include this blog on its pages or site, but I am grateful that they published some of my non-mainstream work, and gave me deadlines when I needed them. About a half-dozen of the pieces in my essay collection were first published in the Reader. If you would like to be obsessed too, then I urge you to join what's become a town forum of readers and employees. It's in the comments section of Michael Miner's blog on the Reader site. It is hoped that the Reader's name won't change. It's disconcerting to read of an alt weekly in the chain referred to as "the Loaf."

But as the French say, after bread, art is the great need of the people. I think the French said it. I saw an exhibition on the saying in a Paris gallery in the late 1970s. All the sculpture was made of bread dough. According to Danton, "Après le pain, l'éducation est le premier besoin du peuple." Kropotkin says this, "After bread has been secured, leisure is the supreme aim," but I prefer "art" to "education" or "leisure." But maybe "leisure" is right, and thus, the supremacy of creative loafing over the art that is or was the Reader.