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On September 15, 1982 USA Today issued it’s first edition! I don’t remember those early papers, although I do recall some of the furor over the “McPaper” of news. Of course, that was just at the beginning of the continuous news cycles, before the “twitter” headline and the thirty-second sound byte as the complete story….. In other words, before the two paragraph articles of USA Today were considered in-depth coverage.

I love newspapers. I remember putting on my Dad’s shoes (they were size 13 and looked like clown shoes on my 12-year old feet) and walking down the driveway to get the paper for Mama. She would skim the headlines on the front page, and then lay it aside. After breakfast, and getting us at school or set up on some summer chore, she would sit down with the newspaper, a pad and pen for her “hour of power.” She would read each section, each article and make notes everyday. Sometimes, she highlighted articles for Daddy, or when my brothers and I had to bring “current events” to class, she would note those for us as well.

She would do it again in the afternoon on those days when the mail brought newspapers from the other towns in which she had lived. They were very small towns, with weekly editions full of friends, family and wedding announcements so descriptive you needed to send the happy couple a gift.

Finding current event articles in the local Greensboro paper for Mr. Farkas’ seventh grade science class turned into my own little challenge, when I started adding clippings from Mama’s other papers. Eventually, Daddy and I would seek out other papers to supplement the Stanley News & Press and the Smithfield Herald with the London Times, the Wall Street Journal and once I brought in an article from Le Figaro (mostly pics, since I read little French at the time).

Dateline wherever…. always thrilled me. When I was in college, I read about the exploits of Woodward & Bernstein and fell in love with All the President’s Men. And while I may have crushed a little on the real W & B, I think in my mind it was more Hoffman and Redford I was imagining, don’t you think? I re-read Oriana Fallaci’s book of interviews multiple times — she became rather bitter and xenophobic as she aged, but her early conversations have such passion and intimacy.

While journalism in the age of saturation has taken a hit, I still find that many of the writers I gravitate towards either start out as news reporters or bring that sensibility to their writing. Two that immediately spring to mind are Jon Meacham and Timothy Egan. Meacham’s Franklin and Winston delivers solid research couched in an eloquent narrative. And Timothy Egan could probably write the nutritional info on the back of my early morning cereal box and it would be compelling. Barring that career choice pick up either The Worst Hard Time or The Big Burn for some of the most compelling non-fiction you will ever read.

way back down deep: Cowboy Junkies –> The Trinity Session (the 2nd album for the Timmins siblings with Alan Anton on bass, recorded in an old church on a single day (more or less). The songwriting, the covers and the spare arrangements make for an intimate and amazing listening experience that doesn’t dim with time)
Mining for Gold (you can feel the black dust, and I find myself wanting to read bios of Mother Jones & John L. Lewis)
Misguided Angel (my favorite cut, one of the sultriest hooks ever devised)
Blue Moon Revisited [Song for Elvis] (take off on “blue moon, you saw me standing alone,” I might, just might even love it more)
I Don’t Get It (jazzy blues, this is where the recording acoustics really shine)
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams would raise a glass or even a fifth to this achingly perfect cover)
To Love is to Bury (narcotic is how the reviewer from the Tampa Trib describes the album, but in a medical sense as opposed to boredom, he prescribes it as a “morning after” album)
200 More Miles (absolutely dreamy road song, trudging not skipping)
Dreaming my Dreams with You (country songwriter Allen Reynolds traditional country ballad becomes a sleepy little waltz)
Sweet Jane (Lou Reed signed off on this cover, which is probably one of the best you’ll ever find)
Working on a Building (traditional gospel song becomes sparer and yet larger in this version)
Postcard Blues (slow build on this one)
Walking After Midnight (Patsy Cline’s song, re-imagined by Margo Timmins into something almost gothic in scope)

Once in East Africa, on the shores on an ancient lake, I sat alone and suddenly it struck me what community is. It is gathering around a fire and listening to someone tell us a story. –> Bill Moyers

Take care,
Aly

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