Friday, June 7, 2013

Times Again

Last Fall I picked up a copy of my local paper, The Times of Northport & East Northport, and was so blown away by the antics I had to share it with the rest of the world. Last week I came across their Memorial Day issue which was, by comparison and in its own independent right, disappointingly lacking in adventure. And I felt compelled to ask: ‘Would the real Northport & East Northport please stand up?’

In the latest issue, as evidenced below, silliness predominates – if not by the town’s own doing then in the capers of those entrusted to its journalistic representations.

And they waste no time. On the front page, below a piece about the ongoing legal mumbo-jumbo involving the school district and the power company and $47.9 million, we see an article on summertime water safety with the (perhaps intentionally) vague headline ‘Constant Visual Contact.’ Skip this blurb though; go straight to the sub-headline which says it all. ‘To prevent drowning, adults must keep eyes on kids’. Wow. With sharp snatches like this what need is there for the article? Hey, there’s an idea. Instead of an entire newspaper they could put out a single page newsletter comprised solely of headlines. ‘To prevent starvation, adults must feed kids’ for example. Imagine the lives they could save, and for all the money they save on ink and paper the school district and the power company can chill out and have a barbeque.

Pop Quiz: identify the stupid two-word phrase in ‘…out of the 10 people who die every day from unintentional drowning…’

In the ‘Continued on Page 5’ part of this article, Jane McCormack, ‘trauma program manager at Stony Brook University Hospital who works with Susan Katz, the coordinator for Safe Kids Suffolk County Coalition, an organization that specializes in outreach and prevention programs’ (yes all this copied verbatim from the article), offers this priceless nugget: ‘I think the single biggest thing for parents is [to have] constant visual contact.’ Thanks Jane. You’ve certainly earned your title. I think the single biggest thing for parents is [to be] feeding their kids [daily]. Can I be a program manager too now?

Page 2 sports another water safety-related piece, this one all about the Sea Tow Foundation’s life jacket loaner program whereby people going out for a jaunt on the family speedboat can pick up extra life jackets for the friends they brought along and, if disaster struck, would rather not to see drown given the choice and the opportunity to prevent such a catastrophe at no cost. These life jackets, offered for use ‘on the honor system’, are (and I am not making this up) sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. Yes folks, remember to enjoy a few beers out there while you’re busy being safe with your life jackets on. Interesting note: the one and only location in Northport these life jackets will be available is the Britannia Yachting Center.

And the rich get richer.

Page 3 shows an ad for a learning center whose selling point for the upcoming Fall registration period is their use of Smart Boards, which ‘transform classrooms into dynamic learning environments, allowing every child to participate.’ Idea: how about having Smart Teachers transform the classroom into a dynamic learning environment by making sure every kid has a crayon and a piece of chalk.

Page 4: A local mom is appealing to the Board of Education to have her children’s bus stop moved from down the street to the end of her driveway because making her children walk along Maplewood Avenue, where traffic is heavy and speeds are excessive ‘is an accident waiting to happen.’ As part of the Board’s look-see into the situation, trustee Joe Sabia ‘parked in a driveway on Maplewood to observe the traffic situation for himself.’ His subsequent comment: ‘Almost no one stops at the stop signs…I hit a garbage man once myself there.’ Wait wait wait wait wait! A trustee of the Board of Education… has hit a person while driving… along a road where kids are walking to school? I wonder, what accolades are showered upon the person who takes out the mailman?

At the bottom of Page 5 (under the aforementioned article on unintentional drowning in which we learn there is something called the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, which has been working to distance itself from the recent trend of intentional drownings) there is a three-column banner ad where the paper touts its slogan ‘Our Community Newspaper With Its Eye On The World’. I read the newspaper front to back, but only saw two references to anything outside of Long Island. One was a piece by a woman whose trip to Venice must have been somewhat of a letdown as she spends most of the article plagiarizing the history section of her guide book. The other worldly bit? 25 Down: Capital of Belarus.

Page 6 is ‘Sports Week’ where we learn that the Northport girls lacrosse season has ended abruptly and fishing in June should be good.

Page 7: I appreciate the travel piece on Venice despite the notable dearth of exposition on the author’s actual experiences there. (Perhaps she flipped out when she learned her first night in town that those gondoliers don’t really give a crap what you want them to sing and couldn’t recover from the emotional trauma before her four days was up.) Too many ‘travel’ articles today are written by people whose experiences begin and end with search engines. Kudos to Leah Dunaief for getting out there. Better luck in Florence.

And on the back a full-page ad for Carl Bongiorno & Sons, a landscaping and masonry outfit from East Setauket. From their photos they seem to do nice work. The testimonial quotes, however – replete with adjectives like courteous, professional, skilled, patience and grace (nouns, I know, breathe deep and try to relax), truthful, respectful, etc. – leave a suspicious taste in the mouth as they are attributed not to people but to entire towns (none of which are East Setauket). Come to think of it, I don’t believe his name is Bongiorno. Are we to believe there are people in Italy saying to Carl’s grandfather ‘Good morning Mr. Goodmorning’?

Enough of this, I’m going to go unwind with a crossword puzzle. Anyone out there know the capital of Belarus?

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