(First published Sep. 23, 2010)
Sunday mornings are made for comfy sweats, long brunches and thick newspapers. I don’t have the right book at hand, so I quote loosely: “For six days thou shall bust thy back, but on the seventh day thou shall kick back and not do any work” – or words to that effect. The background being that the good lord himself gave it a rest after a particularly busy week. That’s probably how and why the Sunday issue of the New York Times came into being; the brilliant old chap instantly saw that it was all good.
For those who have not yet had the pleasure of holding the Sunday issue: It weighs in on a solid six lbs. (2,7 kg) of cellulose and holds a market value of five bucks. The pages are neatly creased and folded into 14 parts, completed with an in-depth special magazine and topped up with an extensive selection of not-so-thought-provoking ads.
The store clerk offers you a shopping bag when you pick up your sample of the Sunday New York Times. It’s unlikely that you are able to carry take-out coffee or anything else but the paper as you make your way home. Remember, you also are still in loafers, which makes the short shuffle challenging enough on a day where you’re not supposed to put in any work.
Just carting this marvel of news media through the streets gives a certain sense of je-ne-sais-quoi; one feels more updated, intellectually sharper, more concerned about society before even reading the first headline. And this delightful delusion lingers on, as one needs to carry the paper around several times after purchase. I myself tend to bring it along, shedding spreads and sections until I’m done.
There must be a great many ways of spending a newspaper. I use the word quite consciously as “reading” seems somewhat limited: One can nibble the headlines, scarf down some selected parts, or slowly digest the whole thing. There are simply so many levels one can take in information. And I haven’t even gotten around to all the uses of the paper sheets. But I’m sidestepping now. My point was to direct the attention to myself and my reading habits. Effective as they may be, they are not efficient. My attention snags on Karl Lagerfeldt’s diet and Tiger Woods’ divorce settlement, and like a single-celled animal I drift aimlessly through the pages, bumping into comics and spinning off short news from Reuters before I can get a grip and forcefully return to the pages that bring me up to speed on Afghanistan.
So, some recent Sunday, during the late morning hours, I read the breaking news, sports, style and the book reviews, making coffee three times until I realized I needed to add a couple of more activities to the day to call it wisely spent. I brought the rest of the paper with me to the laundry, polishing off science and real estate, and later on to the park, absorbing health and automobiles sections. By dinnertime I had the paper slimmed down to half. By bedtime I killed off yet another chunk, arts, I believe. By Wednesday, I still had business, travel, opinions, technology and parts of the in-depth-magazine left.
On the seventh day, I therefore took some time off from the newspaper. Despite its Sunday nature, I figured it resembled too closely to work.
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