June 28, 2009

The Heart of Sunday Morning

I used to have a weekly routine.

Every Sunday, I'd grab the Miami Herald, and head to a diner for breakfast. When I lived in Palm Beach, I might have included the Post. Later, in Broward, I'd occasionally pick up a Sun-Sentinel, but only if I expected specific coverage of something: never been a fan of the Sun-Sentinel. I don't like the writing, the font, the layout of the pages: everything about it gives me a headache.

I'd sit sort out the sections of the Herald into my reading preference: National news (Section A), followed by Local News. Breakfast would show up about the time I got to Arts and Entertainment, and would last through the editorial pages. Then, I'd enjoy my coffee (and the last of the home fries) over Tropic Magazine, the heart of the Sunday paper. All the best stuff, collected into one convenient place.

And, oh yeah, The Hunt. They still have The Hunt. But one day a year doesn't equal a year of Sundays.

For years, you could find me at the counter of Dontee's in West Palm Beach, or The Floridian in Fort Lauderdale. Sports? Here, keep it, not interested. Business? Yeah, I finished with Business, here you go. Sure, have the Travel section. Sorry, I left the ads in the car, I clip those at home. Funnies? Same place, I save those for...well, let's just say I read them at home. You can't have them.

Then I moved to Coral Gables. No diners. I kept trying places, but nothing was quite right. So I started doing breakfast at home. I missed having my cup re-filled for me, but frankly, the coffee was better. And then I had dishes to contend with. But such is life.

And then came The Day That Sunday Morning Died: some asshole shit for brains idiot pencil-pushing moron asshole at the Herald canceled Tropic. Too expensive to maintain, they said. But we'll keep the content, they said. It will just be spread around, is all.

Of course, if they're keeping all the content, why couldn't they keep it in one place? They didn't have to keep the glossy magazine format, but they could have done what they did a couple of years later with their daily Tropical Life section. Which, btw, only seems to have come into existence because someone realized that people like that magazine format for certain kinds of stories.

So, it was economically viable to do that format five days a week, but it wasn't economically viable to do it on Sundays? And you wonder why the Herald is going down the shitter toilet?

No, the Sunday Herald without Tropic just isn't worth the bother. There's no payoff. It was the beginning of the end of the Herald. Each year, their readership evaporates, and the idiots running it fire reporters, robbing the paper of its vitality. It's still better than the Sun-Sentinel, mind you. The Sun-Sentinel has become so wretched they took the name off the banner., probably in shame. Now it's just a big "S." It stands for "sucks," I suppose.

But all of them fail to address the reasons their readers are leaving: the papers simply are not worth reading anymore. They threw away the best parts, leaving mostly dreck. They don't pay attention to what people want to read, instead piling on what is easy to report: wire stories.

Although I'm back in Fort Lauderdale, with a couple of diners to choose from, Sunday breakfast at the counter is just not the same without a good paper. I make coffee, and pick through my fridge, and huddle over my computer, trying not to dribble crumbs into my keyboard.

11 years later, I sorely miss Tropic Magazine, the heart of Sunday morning.

1 comment:

  1. Amen the Tropic lament. Gene Wingarten and crew, one of whom (graphic artist) I got to know much later on. She said it was a joy to go to work every day.

    Were I single again, your Sundays would be my routine as well, right down to the diner. Now Guido and I bicycle over to the Hollywood broadwalk for breakfast. Food isn't as good as a diner's, but the view and the fresh air are worth it.

    Sunday paper? I go through the entire Hurled on the shitter, often tempted to wipe with it afterwards. The real treat is the NY Times. The book review section alone is worth it.

    But I suspect papers won't be with us much longer anyway.