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Newspaper of the dead


Today the Star chooses to highlight on Page One — the most important story, allegedly — the All Souls procession that will take place in three days. This is an important story because it is about marching. It is also about the dead. There are, if you have not already surmised, many dead people. Presumably they do not read the paper and won’t be marching. When it comes to the Star, however, they may make an exception and take in the deathly prose. They — the dead, that is — should be honored sometimes. Usually we do that when they die. But then Nov. 2 was the DAY OF THE DEAD. That’s a time to remember those who have kicked the bucket and to go to the cemetery and dine with the dead. November 6, the day of the dead march, also marks the temporary death of Daylight Savings and the birthday of Emma Stone, who is not dead. It’s also Ethan Hawke’s birthday, who isn’t dead either, but nonetheless gives deadening performances.

But back to today: The paper noted in a deadly dull story on Page one below the fold that some cancer drugs pose “rare heart risks.” There’s another story below the fold that says Hillary Clinton’s appearance in Tempe was one of her biggest yet.

That was news.

For the record

cropped-PB020001.jpgPlease note that at the top of the Star’s alleged editorial page, there is a label “editorial page.”

This is a lie.

There are no editorials. In the place where you might think an editorial might be, there’s a columnist from the Washington Post. She does not represent the view of the newspaper. The paper has no views. It is afraid of views because it is afraid of offending somebody. It has not occurred to the intellectual giants running the paper that some readers might be offended that it has no editorial page. It would be good to change the label to the “noneditorial page.”

Meanwhile, one wonders if the fear of being offensive might account for the fact that in the last 10 years 49,996 daily Star subscribers have quit the paper. Sunday circulation over the same period has dropped 54,099.

Maybe some change is in order?


The Star greets November

img_1731Today’s Front Page of the Arizona Daily Star gives much pause. It touts the election above the fold, something it has not done of late, Sunday anyway.

The absolutely scintillating, Pulitzer-prize winning photo top left of a man and his toy boat,  is an extraordinary image worthy of exhibit in the MoMA. The record October heat story by Tom Beal reminds one of the New Yorker cartoon: An obviously irritated weather man is speaking into radio microphone. The caption: “If you want to know the weather, look out the Goddamn window.”

Interesting about the patch and the peanut allergies. Fascinating is it not? There are 15 million Americans who suffer from peanut allergies. Most of them, one supposes, live in Tucson. Remarkable placement/judgment.

By the way, the Iraqis with American help are fighting still in Mosul. That story is on page 9, war not being not on the same level of importance as food allergies.

By the other way, Batshit Crazy Bashar al-Assad, the president of Rubble, told Western reporters yesterday that all was hunky dory in Syria, that the social fabric of his country was “much better than before” the war. Some social fabric. How does one weave, poison gas, indiscriminate killing, Russian bombs, the death of women and children, the displacement of millions into a comfy social scarf? That story was not in the Star, which favors photos of toy boats.








Woe is the Star

This is a quote from the SEC 10-Q statement filed in August by Lee Enterprises, owner of the Arizona Daily Star and bunch of other newspapers:

Due to our federal and state net operating loss carryforwards and based on historical levels of performance, we do not expect any significant income tax payments in the current year.

That is but a symptom of the problems at the Star. No taxes mean no profit. No profit means revenue decreases and the need for more cuts.

Here are the circulation totals for the Star as reported in the company’s 2015 annual 10k SEC filing along with population numbers for Pima County. The first number is daily circulation, the second is Sunday and the third number is county population.

                               Daily           Sunday     County   

2006                   104,731      156,694     975,476

2012                    82,305       133,558     992,395

2015                    57,735        102,595    1,010,025

Daily circulation has decreased by about half and Sunday circulation by a third. Meanwhile the county’s population has increased by a modest 3.5 percent. Thus the Star reaches about 6 percent of the population on weekdays and a little more than 10 percent on Sundays. It’s likely the next 10k will show greater circulation losses. Lee’s August filing reported a decrease in circulation revenue. It’s impressive that the Star still attracts advertising.

It is sheer speculation but there may come a time when Lee finally gives up and sells its 50 percent to Gannett, thereby allowing the Arizona Republic to publish a Tucson edition.

The Republic, mirabile dictu, still has news.


The Star’s stinky hed

The Sunday Star’s lede story was about some guy who proposes to use wastewater to make beer. The “eww” is an attempt to be cute. But it doesn’t work. Nor does the lead picture of aimg_1726 lung transplant patient. The hed is lousy and the picture is less than mediocre. But the issue is this: The most important election in my memory is but a bit more than a week. That is not as important as some guy trying to make dirty water into beer? Election stories are below the fold.

BTW, we wonder if the Star will endorse anyone for president of the United States. Probably not. Such a controversy might scare off readers and advertisers. After all, many still think of it as the Red Star.

Judging by the 40-page basketball section, the most likely endorsement will be for Coach Miller.


Anybody notice that besides being the nation’s most famous sexual predator, Donald John Trump gasps for air? Or he has a serious sinus problem. Either way, my grandfather would have accurately described him as a suck-egg mule.

Hee, hee, ho, ho, heeee, heeee

The (pitiful) Mayor and Council propose to ask the voters to approve a financial package upwards of $100 million to finance street improvements.

The City Fathers and Mothers reportedly intend to ask taxpayers to approve an additional sales tax and a secondary property tax to pay for the Big Fix. If these be wise stewards of the public purse, then we shall henceforth expect the sun to rise in the West, set in the East and Donald Trump to speak the Truth.

And taxpayers will vote to give them the money.

Bumpy roads

This last weekend as I was driving down Country Club, I tried to remember if it ever was smooth.

Did it ever feel like a Phoenix street? You know, smooth, rut-free and unholely?

I could not remember. Still can’t. Not since I first came to this burg in 1967, nearly a half century ago, has Country Club Road ever been free of ruts, holes and gaping cracks. It is a street designed to ruin tires, misalign front ends and bend axels. This is the nature of Tucson streets. They are abysmal. 

They are so bad that when you find a stretch like the 300 or so yards on Ft. Lowell running east of Swan, you are stunned. The road is glass. Makes you giddy with delight. How did it come about? Who did this? Why not more?

Tis the season of promises. At least one of the candidates for the board of supervisors promises to fix our streets. She’s an incumbent so why make the promise now when she has had four years to fix them up? This does not inspire confidence. Makes me a teensy-weensy cynical.

Actually, none of Tucson’s governance inspires much confidence. The streets have been terrible for 50 years. The city is pretty much useless when it comes to street maintenance and the county isn’t a whole lot better. But we continue to elect candidates who make empty promises about fixing something as basic as a city street. But they can’t. Sometimes they say it’s because of our extreme temperatures and such. But how do they explain the fact that Phoenix to the north is able to maintain its streets?

Fact is, the entire network of streets in Tucson amounts to pile of horse pucky. And no one seems to be accountable, not the Mayor and Council, which is about as useful as a buggy whip. The board of supervisors is about the same if just a smidge better.

Amazing how tolerant we are. We are resigned. And jaded. Don’t think the Sups or the bumbling Mayor & Co. could pass a 5-cent bond issue. Makes it nasty circle. Government won’t/can’t fix streets and the voters refuse to give the money against so many broken promises.

Seems like a leadership problem.

Vanity, thy name is Trump

Donald John Trump has the temperament of a NFL player who’s just scored a touchdown. He thumps his chest and struts. He bumps his buddies, flexes his biceps. He is the DOMINATOR.

From his orange makeup to his hair covering bald spots, the low-life, scum-sucking narcissist in Trump is evident. Here is what male vanity is about. This is from the London Daily Mail:


Men with an inflated view of their own brilliance might look like they breeze through life in a bubble of confidence.

In reality, though, they are likely to be so plagued by worry that they put their health at risk, according to a study.

It found narcissism, or self-love, is on the rise in men and is causing them to suffer stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. 

Psychologists asked 106 men and women to take personality questionnaires and took two saliva samples from them to measure levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone.

Men who showed ‘unhealthy’ levels of narcissism in the questionnaires also had high levels of cortisol, even in a relaxed situation. In women, this was not the case.

The study’s authors say the reasons are unclear, but suggest the pressure to fulfil traditional male traits – such as strength and dominance – may be taking its toll. ‘Even though narcissists have grandiose self-perceptions, they also have fragile views of themselves, and often resort to defensive strategies like aggression when their sense of superiority is threatened,’ said co-author David Reinhard of the University of Michigan.

‘These kinds of coping strategies are linked with increased cardiovascular reactivity to stress and higher blood pressure, so it makes sense that higher levels of maladaptive narcissism would contribute to highly reactive stress response systems and chronically elevated levels of stress.’


Show me the 400-pound hacker

Trump actually said it might be a 400-pound cyber hacker —instead of the Russians — rustling our bytes. Now there’s a presidential mind at work.

He sounded like bar room drunk spouting incoherent nonsense. He mugged and fidgeted; he barked and brayed.