Autumn 2004

Circulation Woefully Low, Says Retiring Publisher

By Sinclair Growden, no sadder than usual, and Henrietta Potstocker, 80-something and gray as a dead mouse

What if you publish a newspaper that nobody reads? Such is the predicament of the writers, photographers and editors of our local online press, the Crooked Corners Gazette.

"If anyone saw last spring's issue, it was accidental," Miles Bloom, future publisher emeritus. "Most people just took the rubber band and threw the rest away. I doubt if anyone even used it to swat at flies."

Needless to say, the term "newspaper" hardly applies to a journal published electronically. Bloom nevertheless seems obsessed with his reproach of modern times.Retiring publisher Erik Haugli reaches for the off switch.

"As computers replace paper in this increasingly bit-for-byte world, the multi-use functionality of printed information conveyance has been snuffed out like a gaslight, if such a thing exists. For example, can you imagine using a computer to line a birdcage? To fill the extra inch of your oversized galoshes? Things done just a decade ago are completely lost. As creators of artificial news, we are the victims, not the benefactors of this rapid change. We've fallen into the pothole of history, only to be covered up with cheap asphalt and patted down with shovels."

In odd contrast, Crooked Corners itself seems frozen in a perpetual state of inertia due to lack of civic interest. The world seems cold to the goings-on of our fair town as the once bright and shiny novelty of bumpkins and bumblers has lost its luster. Immigrant mutants have far outgrown the native populace, giant homes have replaced gentle hillsides, and indoor plumbing has taken our women from the well. The entire populace seems focused on the allure of softly glowing screens of varying size and resolution. Some of these screens tell stories, some have decks of cards, some have racing cars, but, alas, none have the Crooked Corners Gazette flickering upon them.

According to Bloom, "Nobody reads anymore. They allow televised and digital images to force feed them whatever the cockeyed corporate crackpots cook up, and there is no discrimination between delicacy and junk food, leather and plastic. The written word is not only ignored by the mass populace today, it is boisterously scorned by everyone but middle-class American housewives, and they don't count. In a dozen years, there will be universal agreement that books were a passing fancy and fellows like Melville and Shakespeare wasted their time. The hope that a good story might linger on in the human unconscious has no bearing outside of ancient religious rants. Fame? Posterity? Immortality? These are the dreams of fools."

When asked if such turgid monologues serve merely as a mask to hide his deep desire to avoid work, Bloom agrees. "Yes, it is very tiresome to come up with such nonsense every six to eight months. My vocabulary is strained, I hear voices at night using small words. Why, they're not in the least loquacious, and I feel so free when they speak to me, so less garrulous. I must stop now, I must live out my days in ease and with slippers." Among other plans, Bloom mentioned renting a recreational vehicle to tour the countryside at 15 miles per hour.

The staff at the Gazette is fictional, so no severence or goodbye party is planned. Thus, until the earth is rediscovered by a literate race of aliens stopping by to use the facilities, we end transmission. Over and out.