I do “get” nostalgia.
My first radio station – KEYJ, which became KQDJ during my senior year of high school – was one of the formative experiences of my life.
But sometime around 2000, it changed from a local middle-of-the-road station to a “computer in a closet” station relaying ESPN Sportsradio and the occasional high school sports event. They moved the studio from above the drugstore on mainstreet to a nondescript suite in a strip mall downwind from a Walmart. I don’t drop by to visit, because it’s not the station it was when I was 16. It’s not a radio station anyone in 1980 would have recognized at all.
The past is a keen, formative memory. The present is a 10 year old PC passing along people jabbering about the NBA.
If it disappeared tomorrow, the memory would remain. The present wouldn’t be lamented at all.
The CIty Pages – which was the last survivor of an endless stream of “alternative” weekly tabloids (Twin Cities Reader, Nightbeat, Cake, Buzz, and no doubt others) that used to sit in bins outside record stores, co-ops and cafes all over town – has closed, effective whoah, that was fast:
“Since City Pages revenue is 100% driven by advertisers and events—and those investments have dropped precipitously—there’s no reasonable financial scenario that would enable us to continue operations in the face of this pandemic,” Star Tribune Chief Revenue Office Paul Kasbohm said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we foresee no meaningful recovery of these sectors or their advertising investments in the near future, leaving us no other options than to close City Pages.”
City Pages will stop publishing in print and online immediately, according to a news release. The last print edition of City Pages will be distributed this week.
The closure eliminates all City Pages positions.
I come not to praise the City Pages, but to bury it. But fairness demands a little clarity.
The City Pages were the last survivor of what used to be a bumper crop of freebie tabloids that popped up in bins outside restaurants, co-ops, record stores and bars. There were a bunch – Nightbeat in the eighties, Twin Cities Reader in the eighties and nineties, joined by Cake and Buzz and a few others in the nineties. The field winnowed down to just the City Pages by about 2000.
In the eighties, it was where writers like David Brauer, Brian Lambert and James Lileks got their starts – indeed, it was where Lileks gave me my first legit-media plug, 33 years ago.
And for a few years, in the ’90s and early 2000s, City Pages did some great journalism. They did more, better long-form and investigative reporting than the Strib or PiPress, at their best, under editor Steve “Don’t even think about singing ‘Oh Sherry’ around me” Perry. It was biased to the left to a fault. But beneath all that, the reporting was otherwise generally solid. And Perry could go off the reservation; in about 1997, Perry was the first journo in the Twin Cities to write that the swelling push for carry permit reform in Minnesota hadn’t brought blood to the streets of a couple dozen other states, wasn’t going to bring it to Minnesota, either.
When Perry left in 2005-ish (to return as editor of the Soros-funded attack-PR site Minnesota Monitor, which became the Minnesota Independent, and distinguished itself in journalistic glory under neither guise), the City Pages slid and slid hard. For most of the past 10-15 years, the paper’s “journalism” has been at best risible hackery, or incompetent hackery, self-parodying hackery, or sloppy gurgitations of DFL chanting points or, when female conservative politicians were involved, creepy panty-sniffing.
If the City Pages had been its 1998 self, its collapse would have been something to mourn, maybe, for some reason other than the nostalgia local establishment journos have been venting about.
But the City Pages of the 21st Century has been not a shadow, but a mockery, of anything of real value that it may once have been.