The greatest newspaper—ever!—is and was the Weekly World News. Its presence next to every grocery store checkout lane is thoroughly missed by every non-Bat Boy walking among us.
Most American boys who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, and by most, I mean me, made this progression in our reading: from Cracked magazine, which quickly revealed itself to be a pale imitation of Mad magazine, to Mad magazine, which was brilliant but I (we) stopped looking at it around age 14, through a wasteland of our teen years and the New York Times and homework—heck, the Times and all newspapers everywhere just feel like permanent homework, don’t they? AmIRight?—to, finally, the discovery that the Weekly World News existed.
It is a three-word title and only one of those three words is true: Weekly.
Is this terrible? No. That is a .333 average, and a baseball player with a career batting average that high would be elected to the Hall of Fame. So, “Weekly”? yes. “World”? A printing press in central Florida, which is where it was printed when it was a physical publication, certainly is on the globe. But “world” is an exaggeration. And “News”? Well, upon finishing every article I would say out loud, “It’s news to me.”
An alien named P’lod regularly visited the White House and advised presidents Clinton and Bush? News to me. Where is CNN? Someone call somebody. There’s a boy abused by his own shadow? That’s a heartbreaking slice of life story. (An admission: When I was young, my own shadow was faster than me, too. It only happened when lights were behind me, but still.) “Bat Boy”? You can’t make this stuff up … because why, why would anyone? That is why everything the WWN reported had to be true … ish … or, okay, not at all.
Twinkies are a superfood? In my life, on occasion, ‘deed they were. (I have now been sober for almost six years.) I love this article, TWINKIES: THE NEW SUPERFOOD!, by the way; look at that photo. How small is the staff working there now? How small is the budget? Once upon a time, the reported paid circulation was a quarter-million readers, and, as some of you may recall, all of the Men in Black. The staff could not afford the minutes to leave the office and spend two dollars on some real fruit and berries and real Twinkies, so they had to copy-and-paste a clip-art photo of a broken Twinkie over a clip-art photo of some fruit? Even in the name of truth or comedy? You can see the white border around the middle Twinkie!
I would like to think that someone spent extra time to make this photomontage look this sloppy, in the same way that I like to think, for approximately six seconds, that every word in the newspaper is true.
The newspaper—and yes, only half of that term is correct, in that the publication was in fact printed on paper—the paper ran into hard times and only exists online now. It is there that you will find a few, a precious few, examples of the paper’s opinion writer, Ed Anger, who appeared in its pages from 1979 till around a few years ago. The title of his book, “Let’s Pave the Stupid Rainforests & Give School Teachers Stun Guns: And Other Ways to Save America,” gives a taste of his typical opinion.
Ed Anger was a creation of a staff writer named Rafe Klinger and then was the pet project of the editor, a man named Eddie Clontz. After Clontz died, several writers revealed that they took turns editorializing as Ed Anger in the years since. Klinger sued the WWN, arguing that the paper could not continue to run the angry Anger editorials, but he lost. Thus, there was some real anger animating Ed Anger’s anger.
Ed Anger hates (present tense) everything and everyone, especially Democrats, foreigners, religions other than his, wild animals that somehow need protection even though they have claws, complicated foods, and most television programming. Each editorial begins with, “I’m madder than a” and then promptly becomes less funny over the subsequent four hundred words or so.
Ed Anger amused me because I remembered a real Ed Anger in my hometown when I was growing up. I do not remember the gentleman’s name, but people in Dutchess County, New York, may remember in the 1970s a self-published newspaper—a blog, but on paper—by a writer who devoted pages to convincing his readers that all people of color were bad, that all Democrats were Communists, that the local Democrats were Satanists, that his new tin-foil hat was protecting him. (I made that last one, and only that last one, up.)
Now, anyone can think anything they like about anyone and anything and hate anyone and anything all they may want to, and anyone can write inspiringly dull sentences that outline these many hatreds, and anyone can self-publish these sentences in a self-published newspaper or blog, and, finally, anyone meeting all of these criteria can spend money getting copies printed and distributed, but this man, the real-life Ed Anger of my youth, he had advertising in his local production! Real ads! His racist and anti-semitic, single-note, single-theme weekly newspaper, which was basically an eight-page run-on sentence interrupted by headlines, had ads in it. There were local businesses that I perhaps spent money in whose owners maybe did not want to rile people up by publicizing their political leanings, but they paid for ads in this one man’s hate-filled quirk.
As Ed Anger might have written: “You know what I think of that?” The answer is not printable in a family blog like this one.
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This is a re-write of a column from January 2015.
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The WordPress Daily Prompt for April 11 asks us to reflect on the word, “Newspaper.”
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