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MOVING WITH THE TIMES
August 6, 2007
 
The New York Times will be narrower from now on -- physically, not editorially, I trust. To make up for it, the headline will be smaller and they say there will be more pages. Other papers have already done this, so it's probably a good thing. Perhaps we won't annoy each other opening and folding the paper on the train as much: we are very close together when we are three to a seat, and the struggle to read the news without accidentally punching your neighbor in the face is an exciting part of the ride.

The way the newspaper looks occupies a deep psychic place in its readers. You see the familiar typeface of the headline as a shape even before you see it as a series of words; from across the street you can tell which one is the Times and which is the Journal just from the layout. You see the great grainy splash of the photograph on the front of the Post and the Daily News, with their vertically arranged headlines, designed to titillate; the distinctive peach color of the Observer, the busy workmanlike look of El Diario/La Prensa, the ornate banners of all the other papers in a great city, in all their languages: columns and columns of beautiful curly Hindi, blocky Chinese and its more nimble-looking Japanese and Korean cousins, the elegant look of Oggi, beautiful just because it's Italian; the Polish and Russian papers, with their lines text that look to an English speaker like something she ought to be able to read, but somehow can't. They're all beautiful, each in its own way. You love seeing all these papers in the stand; you walk on down the block, grateful to live in a place where everyone doesn't look alike. In the airport, on your way home from somewhere else, you search the bottom shelf of the newsstand to see if they have your paper. The printed word itself is beautiful. Writing itself, the very acts of reading and writing: they are nourishing.

Dick and Anna commuted together for years. They'd find a seat together, if they were lucky, and open their respective newspapers -- his Wall Street Journal, her New York Times. Occasionally, one would read a paragraph to the other -- sometimes, at the other: their politics are not identical, and they have neutralized each other's votes in more than one election. An good way to enter the work day, as the mind awakens to the company with other minds and bids them all good morning.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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