Media nostalgia bedevils all living journalists. We get it all the time. Oh, back in the [fill in decade here], the [fill in media outlet here] was so much better than the garbage it puts out these days.
A recent example of this unfortunate form of hindsight surfaced in connection with the threatened Village Voice strike. Elizabeth Flock of The Washington Post argued that a strike might be a good thing for Voice journalism. That’s because, she argued, the blog platform that the writers were preparing to use would channel the Voice of yore. In some ways, TheRealVoice.org seems like a natural progression for the Voice if it wants to stay true to roots.
Yes, those glorious roots. The trouble with the Voice’s roots is that you can see them. Google has built a cool collection of Voice back issues, which make for some fun scrolling. If you stop long enough to read some of the stories, though, you might be less inclined to romanticize the institution.
Yes, Mailer & Co. did things that newspapers had never done before. Yes, they were transgressive, subversive and progressive. Yes, there are some gems in the archives. And yes, there’s also this story from the Jan. 2, 1969, issue of the Voice. I will excerpt the lede, provided that I can tell where it ends. Here we go:
A Stockingful of Love, but No Re-admission
by Lucian Truscott IV
“Wow!” I thought. A free thing on Christmas at the Electric Circus. How East Villageness and community closeness and everybody will be together and the whole love-peace-free beautiful scene will predominate. Quite a prospect — a very pleasant one indeed — when all one has to face on Christmas morn is his Lower East Side pad styled in the inimitable Lower East Side style of interior decoration, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Lower East Side street.
And so ... up and out into the 20 degree cold and over to St. Mark’s Place — the very first time I have been the only one on the street, no kidding — where I found the Hog Farm buses parked somewhat illegally one behind the other in front of the Electric Circus.
The only other place to find writing that bad is in the early days of blogging. And if that’s the brand of lede to which the Voice will return if a strike happens, I am rooting for a settlement. Staffer Graham Rayman tells me that as of 2:53 p.m., “the talks are ongoing right now. No movement at this point.”