Garbage in, garbage outWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
He’d be the first to tell you it doesn’t happen very often (I’d be the second), but John Robinson Block and I had something in common last week; we both played a role in facilitating the production of garbage.
Block, the editor in chief of The Blade, met presidential candidate Barack Obama and saw to it that the historic moment was immortalized on the front page of his newspaper. I replaced a garbage disposal under my kitchen sink.
Obama appeared in Toledo Feb. 24 to a packed Savage Hall. Before he addressed his supporters, he met with Block and the editorial board of The Blade. The photo on the Feb. 24 Blade, across most of the top of Page 1, showed Block greeting Obama with a schoolgirl-crush grin and a bow tie, both of which Elton John would dismiss as too tacky. The caption on the photo reported Block “greeted Mr. Obama at the front entrance of the newspaper shortly after 2:45 p.m., telling him, ‘The Toledo Blade is a newspaper that believes in justice and never has supported George Bush.’”
There is absolutely no news value in the photo or that caption other than a massive ejaculation of ego and arrogance. It’s inconceivable, or at least, it was until Feb. 25, that a newspaper of The Blade’s stature would use its most important space for such rubbish; it’s simply not done. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. I am offering a $100 cash bounty to the first person who can show me any U.S. daily newspaper of The Blade’s circulation or larger that has published a Page 1, above-the-fold photo of its editor in chief shaking hands with Obama, or Hillary Clinton or John McCain. Happy hunting.
The caption does provide some rare insight into Block’s mindset. “The Toledo Blade is a newspaper that believes in justice …” he said.
Most newspapers believe in news. But Block, who lives in Pittsburgh, sees his newspaper as a tool to manipulate the ebb and flow of justice. At least he’s now committed that stance to public record.
Then we get the nugget that the newspaper “never has supported George Bush.” A lot of people feel that way, but it should unsettle you that a newspaper with The Blade’s influence and reach, diminishing as it may be, has an implied dictate to never support anything the current president of the United States has done, does or ever will do. Again, at least this firm kiss to Obama’s backside puts this bias on the record.
I can’t imagine even the beaten-down editors of the daily newspaper were proud to put this garbage on the front page. Or maybe they were, which also explains a lot.
This visit, combined with a series of ads featuring Block’s brother Al challenging visiting candidates to help our region, with the tone of an impatient schoolmarm, must have made quite the impression on Obama and his fellow travelers. I wonder how much time passed between Obama’s meeting with Captain Justice and his next hot shower. There’s no way Obama could have known that a Blade endorsement might hurt his cause, but Clinton handily defeated him in Lucas County; Obama’s momentum was dismantled faster than you can say “Seneca County Courthouse.”
Recently, the garbage disposal in my kitchen started rattling, then began issuing an impotent whirring sound when chopping any discarded vegetable tops, crusts and other refuse. I dread moments like this; I can work my way through painting and some minor carpentry, but anything involving plumbing and electricity is beyond my ambition and reach. Still, a hardware store employee told me replacing the unit would be a simple matter of following the printed instructions, so I purchased a Waste King
3⁄4-horsepower model and took it home. I carefully read the instructions, and discovered that the broken garbage disposal was a three-screw mount while the one I purchased was an “EZ mount,” which meant I could not just unscrew and drop the old one, I would have to completely remove the mounting apparatus attached to the sink.
I took my time and managed to remove the old one, with only one mishap. As I released the pipe to the sink trap, three day’s worth of rotting, unprocessed food debris sludged down my right hand to my elbow, a grimy, nasty concoction that made me feel like I had shaken hands with “South Park’s” Mr. Hankey while being several hours removed from a hot shower (which means I might have had something in common with Obama the same day I was linked to Block — a twofer!).
I cleaned the work area and began the installation of the shiny new garbage disposal, when I discovered the mounting bracket would not come loose. Thirty minutes of struggling and several scraped knuckles later, I trudged to the hardware store for help. The man behind the counter, who could tell just by looking at me that he was the better handyman, tried to conceal his contempt but soon discovered he could not loosen the bracket, either. Long story short, they replaced the unit, I took it home, and today, we can grind and liquefy any kitchen refuse we produce.
Listening to the unit purr as it chewed garbage, I felt great satisfaction, almost a smug pleasure at my work and my accomplishment.
But I would never put a picture of myself changing the garbage disposal on Page 1. I know the difference between trash and just plain trashy.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.