Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Put this in your newspapers


Hostile as I am to the modern press, owned or run as it is exclusively by the rich and powerful, I decided it was time to sum up my feelings in a brilliant quote for the ages. This should be a quote that can speak to anyone who is even mildly interested, and yet still contain a winking cleverness that expresses my own inimitable style.

Fortunately, I found one of these close at hand:

"If you don't read the newspaper you're uninformed. If you do read the newspaper you're misinformed."

-Feldenstein Calypso

Part of what I love about this quote is the repetition of words and phrases, but with small, simple twists that turn everything on its head. It has some of the structure of a joke: It starts out looking as if it will be conventionally respectful of newspapers, and focus on the foolish people who eschew them, but with a short, elegant, and surprising turn it completely and plausibly skewers everything a newspaper fancies itself to be.

It reminds me of another favorite quote of mine that actually is a joke rather than a social analysis. By curious coincidence, reading also comes into this one:

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

It's short and full of movement. These quotes set a cadence and expectation and then elegantly subvert it in an astonishingly economical space.

I wish that I had thought of that quote about newspapers! But I did not. 

Amazingly, though, it was laying around unclaimed! Over the past couple of decades, the general attribution has gone to Mark Twain, as it often does with clever quotes pulled out of the ether. But Mark Twain was decidedly not the author of this quote. 

No one was.

So I thought I'd scoop it up. Call dibs. Stake my claim. 

How does anyone own anything, I ask you? 






And while I'm at it I might as well take that clever "Too dark to read" quote too. Groucho Marx usually had it ascribed to him though he did not say it. There was a jockey who someone attributed it to glancingly, except had it all regarding a horse (which suggests how long ago this was), and I question the whole thing. I think such a great quote would be better given over to the clever fellow who once said "If you don't read the newspaper you're uninformed. If you do read the newspaper you're misinformed."

It kind of sounds like something he'd say anyway.


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