February 2009


Economic Distress

It’s great to be in Bloomington.

I had lunch today with a couple friends at Wee Willies (as good as I remember), and then I struck out alone for dinner at Greek’s Pizza (I think its fall from grace is complete—the pizza is not as good as it used to be).

I also picked up and started reading the current issue of Bloom, that awful pretentious city magazine dedicated to one of the world’s greatest little cities, Bloomington. Really the magazine is out of sync with the city’s down-to-earth liberalism—although it certainly tries.

Take the current, January/February 2009, issue in which Malcolm Abrams, the editor and publisher, notes that the economy sucks and that it’s time for Americans, in general, and Bloomington citizens, to be specific, to pitch in. Citizens should volunteer, donate lots of money, and, if you own a business, don’t layoff your employees. He even suggests that somebody will donate a much needed vehicle to the local food bank.

Really, this isn’t actually bad—it’s a veneer of the altruistic nature that drives the Bloomington community—the magazine’s attempt to fit in with the locals.

Except Malcolm continues with one last “Note”:

Due to these challenging times, we have taken out our “60 Days or so” events calendar from the magazine. We chose to sacrifice the calendar because there are other places where this information is available. Also not in this issue is our regular “20 Questions” feature and our “Letters” page. These will appear intermittently in future issues. We plan to restore everything to every issue when times improve – which we believe they surely will.

Perhaps I read too much into this, but it suggests to me that maybe—just maybe—he’s laid somebody off—specifically the person who puts together the “60 Days or so” calendar. I don’t see how eliminating this feature saves the magazine any money—unless it’s the time and effort of the person who assembles the information.

As for the “20 Questions” feature, I don’t recall what it was—I’d guess that is a feature where they give 20 questions to some locally notable person and print their responses. I’ll hazard a guess that this feature was eliminated because locally notable people ceased being interested in answering the questions.

And the elimination of the “Letters” page? That’s easy—either they’ve stopped receiving letters, or the only letters they receive are critical. As I vaguely recall, 95% of the letters that I’ve read could be summarized as saying, “Dear Editor, This is a wonderful magazine. Sincerely, Your Reader.”

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